Antony and Cleopatra
Act I. Scene II.
The Same. Another Room.
Enter CHARMIAN, IRAS, ALEXAS, and a Soothsayer.
Lord Alexas, sweet Alexas, most any thing Alexas, almost most absolute Alexas, where’s the soothsayer that you praised so to the queen? O! that I knew this husband, which, you say, must charge his horns with garlands.
SOOTHSAYER Your will?
CHARMIAN Is this the man? Is ’t you, sir, that know things?
SOOTHSAYER In nature’s infinite book of secrecy
A little I can read.
ALEXAS Show him your hand.
ENOBARBUS Bring in the banquet quickly; wine enough
Cleopatra’s health to drink.
CHARMIAN Good sir, give me good fortune
SOOTHSAYER I make not, but foresee.
CHARMIAN Pray then, foresee me one.
SOOTHSAYER You shall be yet far fairer than you are.
CHARMIAN He means in flesh.
IRAS No, you shall paint when you are old.
CHARMIAN Wrinkles forbid!
ALEXAS Vex not his prescience; be attentive.
SOOTHSAYER You shall be more beloving than belov’d.
CHARMIAN I had rather heat my liver with drinking.
ALEXAS Nay, hear him.
CHARMIAN Good now, some excellent fortune! Let me be married to three kings in a forenoon, and widow them all; let me have a child at fifty, to whom Herod of Jewry may do homage; find me to marry me with Octavius Caesar, and companion me with my mistress.
SOOTHSAYER You shall outlive the lady whom you serve.
CHARMIAN O excellent! I love long life better than figs.
SOOTHSAYER You have seen and prov’d a fairer former fortune
Than that which is to approach.
CHARMIAN Then, belike, my children shall have no names; prithee, how many boys and wenches must I have?
SOOTHSAYER If every of your wishes had a womb, And fertile every wish, a million.
CHARMIAN Out, fool! I forgive thee for a witch.
ALEXAS You think none but your sheets are privy to your wishes.
CHARMIAN Nay, come, tell Iras hers.
ALEXAS We’ll know all our fortunes.
ENOBARBUS Mine, and most of our fortunes, to-night, shall be,—drunk to bed.
IRAS There’s a palm presages chastity, if nothing else.
CHARMIAN E’en as the overflowing Nilus presageth famine.
IRAS Go, you wild bedfellow, you cannot soothsay.
CHARMIAN Nay, if an oily palm be not a fruitful prognostication, I cannot scratch mine ear. Prithee, tell her but a worky-day fortune.
SOOTHSAYER Your fortunes are alike.
IRAS But how? but how? give me particulars.
SOOTHSAYER I have said.
IRAS Am I not an inch of fortune better than she?
CHARMIAN Well, if you were but an inch of fortune better than I, where would you choose it?
IRAS Not in my husband’s nose.
CHARMIAN Our worser thoughts heaven mend! Alexas,—come, his fortune, his fortune. O! let him marry a woman that cannot go, sweet Isis, I beseech thee; and let her die too, and give him a worse; and let worse follow worse, till the worst of all follow him laughing to his grave, fifty-fold a cuckold! Good Isis, hear me this prayer, though thou deny me a matter of more weight; good Isis, I beseech thee!
IRAS Amen. Dear goddess, hear that prayer of the people! for, as it is a heart-breaking to see a handsome man loose-wived, so it is a deadly sorrow to behold a foul knave uncuckolded: therefore, dear Isis, keep decorum, and fortune him accordingly!
ALEXAS Lo, now! if it lay in their hands to make me a cuckold, they would make themselves whores, but they’d do ’t!
ENOBARBUS Hush! here comes Antony.
CHARMIAN Not he; the queen.
CLEOPATRA Saw you my lord?
ENOBARBUS No, lady.
CLEOPATRA Was he not here?
CHARMIAN No, madam.
CLEOPATRA He was dispos’d to mirth; but on the sudden
A Roman thought hath struck him. Enobarbus!
CLEOPATRA Seek him, and bring him hither. Where’s Alexas?
ALEXAS Here, at your service. My lord approaches.
Enter ANTONY, with a Messenger and Attendants.
CLEOPATRA We will not look upon him; go with us. [Exeunt] CLEOPATRA, ENOBARBUS, ALEXAS, IRAS, CHARMIAN, Soothsayer, and Attendants.
MESSENGER Fulvia thy wife first came into the field.
ANTONY Against my brother Lucius?
But soon that war had end, and the time’s state
Made friends of them, jointing their force ’gainst Caesar,
Whose better issue in the war, from Italy
Upon the first encounter drave them.
ANTONY Well, what worst?
MESSENGER The nature of bad news infects the teller.
ANTONY When it concerns the fool, or coward. On;
Things that are past are done with me. ’Tis thus:
Who tells me true, though in his tale lay death,
I hear him as he flatter’d.
This is stiff news—hath, with his Parthian force
Extended Asia; from Euphrates
His conquering banner shook from Syria
To Lydia and to Ionia: whilst—
ANTONY Antony, thou wouldst say,—
MESSENGER O! my lord.
ANTONY Speak to me home, mince not the general tongue;
Name Cleopatra as she is call’d in Rome;
Rail thou in Fulvia’s phrase; and taunt my faults
With such full licence as both truth and malice
Have power to utter. O! then we bring forth weeds
When our quick winds lie still; and our ills told us
Is as our earing. Fare thee well awhile.
MESSENGER At your noble pleasure. [Exit.]
ANTONY From Sicyon, ho, the news! Speak there!
FIRST ATTENDANT The man from Sicyon, is there such an one?
SECOND ATTENDANT He stays upon your will.
ANTONY Let him appear.
These strong Egyptian fetters I must break,
Or lose myself in dotage.
Enter another Messenger.
SECOND MESSENGER Fulvia thy wife is dead.
ANTONY Where died she?
SECOND MESSENGER In Sicyon:
Her length of sickness, with what else more serious
Importeth thee to know, this bears. [Giving a letter.]
ANTONY Forbear me. Exit Second Messenger.
There’s a great spirit gone! Thus did I desire it:
What our contempts do often hurl from us
We wish it ours again; the present pleasure,
By revolution lowering, does become
The opposite of itself: she’s good, being gone;
The hand could pluck her back that shov’d her on.
I must from this enchanting queen break off;
Ten thousand harms, more than the ills I know,
My idleness doth hatch. How now! Enobarbus!
ENOBARBUS What’s your pleasure, sir?
ANTONY I must with haste from hence.
ENOBARBUS Why, then, we kill all our women. We see how mortal an unkindness is to them; if they suffer our departure, death’s the word.
ANTONY I must be gone.
ENOBARBUS Under a compelling occasion let women die; it were pity to cast them away for nothing; though between them and a great cause they should be esteemed nothing. Cleopatra, catching but the least noise of this, dies instantly; I have seen her die twenty times upon far poorer moment. I do think there is mettle in death which commits some loving act upon her, she hath such a celerity in dying.
ANTONY She is cunning past man’s thought.
ENOBARBUS Alack! sir, no; her passions are made of nothing but the finest part of pure love. We cannot call her winds and waters sighs and tears; they are greater storms and tempests than almanacs can report: this cannot be cunning in her; if it be, she makes a shower of rain as well as Jove.
ANTONY Would I had never seen her!
ENOBARBUS O, sir! you had then left unseen a wonderful piece of work which not to have been blessed withal would have discredited your travel.
ANTONY Fulvia is dead.
ANTONY Fulvia is dead.
ENOBARBUS Why, sir, give the gods a thankful sacrifice. When it pleaseth their deities to take the wife of a man from him, it shows to man the tailors of the earth; comforting therein, that when old robes are worn out, there are members to make new. If there were no more women but Fulvia, then had you indeed a cut, and the case to be lamented: this grief is crowned with consolation; your old smock brings forth a new petticoat; and indeed the tears live in an onion that should water this sorrow.
ANTONY The business she hath broached in the state
Cannot endure my absence.
ENOBARBUS And the business you have broached here cannot be without you; especially that of Cleopatra’s, which wholly depends on your abode.
ANTONY No more light answers. Let our officers Have notice what we purpose. I shall break
The cause of our expedience to the queen,
And get her leave to part. For not alone
The death of Fulvia, with more urgent touches,
Do strongly speak to us, but the letters too
Of many our contriving friends in Rome
Petition us at home. Sextus Pompeius
Hath given the dare to Caesar, and commands
The empire of the sea; our slippery people—
Whose love is never link’d to the deserver
Till his deserts are past—begin to throw
Pompey the Great and all his dignities
Upon his son; who, high in name and power,
Higher than both in blood and life, stands up
For the main soldier, whose quality, going on,
The sides o’ the world may danger. Much is breeding,
Which, like the courser’s hair, hath yet but life,
And not a serpent’s poison. Say, our pleasure,
To such whose place is under us, requires
Our quick remove from hence.
ENOBARBUS I shall do it. [Exeunt.]