Antony and Cleopatra
Act II. Scene V.
Alexandria. A Room in the Palace.
Enter CLEOPATRA, CHARMIAN, IRAS, ALEXAS, and Attendant.
- Give me some music; music, moody food
Of us that trade in love.
- The music, ho!
- Let it alone; let’s to billiards: come, Charmian.
- My arm is sore; best play with Mardian.
- As well a woman with a eunuch play’d
As with a woman. Come, you’ll play with me, sir?
- As well as I can, madam.
- And when good will is show’d, though’t come too short,
The actor may plead pardon. I’ll none now.
Give me mine angle; we’ll to the river: there—
My music playing far off—I will betray
Tawny-finn’d fishes; my bended hook shall pierce
Their slimy jaws; and, as I draw them up,
I’ll think them every one an Antony,
And say, ‘Ah, ha!’ you’re caught.
- ’Twas merry when
You wager’d on your angling; when your diver
Did hang a salt-fish on his hook, which he
With fervency drew up.
- That time—O times!—
I laugh’d him out of patience; and that night
I laugh’d him into patience: and next morn,
Ere the ninth hour, I drunk him to his bed;
Then put my tires and mantles on him, whilst
I wore his sword Philippan
Enter a Messenger.
O! from Italy;
Ram thou thy fruitful tidings in mine ears,
That long time have been barren.
- Madam, madam,—
- Antony ’s dead! if thou say so, villain,
Thou kill’st thy mistress; but well and free,
If thou so yield him, there is gold, and here
My bluest veins to kiss; a hand that kings
Have lipp’d, and trembled kissing.
- First, madam, he is well.
- Why, there’s more gold.
But, sirrah, mark, we use
To say the dead are well: bring it to that,
The gold I give thee will I melt, and pour
Down thy ill-uttering throat.
- Good madam, hear me.
- Well, go to, I will;
But there’s no goodness in thy face; if Antony
Be free and healthful, so tart a favour
To trumpet such good tidings! if not well,
Thou shouldst come like a Fury crown’d with snakes,
Not like a formal man.
- Will ’t please you hear me?
- I have a mind to strike thee ere thou speak’st:
Yet, if thou say Antony lives, is well,
Or friends with Caesar, or not captive to him,
I’ll set thee in a shower of gold, and hail
Rich pearls upon thee.
- Madam, he’s well.
- Well said.
- And friends with Caesar.
- Thou’rt an honest man.
- Caesar and he are greater friends than ever.
- Make thee a fortune from me.
- But yet, madam,—
- I do not like ‘but yet,’ it does allay
The good precedence; fie upon ‘but yet!’
‘But yet’ is as a gaoler to bring forth
Some monstrous malefactor. Prithee, friend,
Pour out the pack of matter to mine ear,
The good and bad together. He’s friends with Caesar;
In state of health, thou sayst; and thou sayst, free.
- Free, madam! no; I made no such report:
He’s bound unto Octavia.
- For what good turn?
- For the best turn i’ the bed.
- I am pale, Charmian!
- Madam, he’s married to Octavia.
- The most infectious pestilence upon thee! [Strikes him down.]
- Good madam, patience.
- What say you? Hence, [Strikes him again.]
Horrible villain! or I’ll spurn thine eyes
Like balls before me; I’ll unhair thy head: [She hales him up and down.]
Thou shalt be whipp’d with wire, and stew’d in brine,
Smarting in lingering pickle.
- Gracious madam,
I, that do bring the news made not the match.
- Say ’tis not so, a province I will give thee,
And make thy fortunes proud; the blow thou hadst
Shall make thy peace for moving me to rage,
And I will boot thee with what gift beside
Thy modesty can beg.
- He’s married, madam.
- Rogue! thou hast liv’d too long. [Draws a knife.]
- Nay, then I’ll run.
What mean you, madam? I have made no fault. [Exit.]
- Good madam, keep yourself within yourself;
The man is innocent.
- Some innocents ’scape not the thunderbolt.
Melt Egypt into Nile! and kindly creatures
Turn all to serpents! Call the slave again:
Though I am mad, I will not bite him. Call.
- He is afeard to come.
- I will not hurt him. [Exit CHARMIAN.]
These hands do lack nobility, that they strike
A meaner than myself; since I myself
Have given myself the cause.
Re-enter CHARMIAN, and Messenger. Come hither, sir.
Though it be honest, it is never good
To bring bad news; give to a gracious message
A host of tongues, but let ill tidings tell
Themselves when they be felt.
- I have done my duty.
- Is he married?
I cannot hate thee worser than I do
If thou again say ‘Yes.’
- He’s married, madam.
- The gods confound thee! dost thou hold there still?
- Should I lie, madam?
- O! I would thou didst,
So half my Egypt were submerg’d and made
A cistern for scal’d snakes. Go, get thee hence;
Hadst thou Narcissus in thy face, to me
Thou wouldst appear most ugly. He is married?
- I crave your highness’ pardon.
- He is married?
- Take no offence that I would not offend you;
To punish me for what you make me do
Seems much unequal; he’s married to Octavia.
- O! that his fault should make a knave of thee,
That art not what thou’rt sure of. Get thee hence;
The merchandise which thou hast brought from Rome
Are all too dear for me; lie they upon thy hand
And be undone by ’em! [Exit Messenger.]
- Good your highness, patience.
- In praising Antony I have disprais’d Caesar.
- Many times, madam.
- I am paid for ’t now.
Lead me from hence;
I faint. O Iras! Charmian! ’Tis no matter.
Go to the fellow, good Alexas; bid him
Report the feature of Octavia, her years,
Her inclination, let him not leave out
The colour of her hair: bring me word quickly. [Exit ALEXAS.]
Let him forever go:—let him not—Charmian!—
Though he be painted one way like a Gorgon,
The other way’s a Mars. [To MARDIAN.] Bid you Alexas
Bring me word how tall she is. Pity me, Charmian,
But do not speak to me. Lead me to my chamber. [Exeunt.]