Antony and Cleopatra
Act I. Scene III.
The Same. Another Room.
Enter CLEOPATRA, CHARMIAN, IRAS, and ALEXAS.
- Where is he?
- I did not see him since.
- See where he is, who’s with him, what he does;
I did not send you: if you find him sad,
Say I am dancing; if in mirth, report
That I am sudden sick: quick, and return. Exit ALEXAS.
- Madam, methinks, if you did love him dearly,
You do not hold the method to enforce
The like from him.
- What should I do I do not?
- In each thing give him way, cross him in nothing.
- Thou teachest like a fool; the way to lose him.
- Tempt him not so too far; I wish, forbear:
In time we hate that which we often fear.
But here comes Antony.
- I am sick and sullen.
- I am sorry to give breathing to my purpose,—
- Help me away, dear Charmian, I shall fall:
It cannot be thus long, the sides of nature
Will not sustain it.
- Now, my dearest queen,—
- Pray you, stand further from me.
- What’s the matter?
- I know, by that same eye, there’s some good news.
What says the married woman? You may go:
Would she had never given you leave to come!
Let her not say ’tis I that keep you here;
I have no power upon you; hers you are.
- The gods best know,—
- O! never was there queen
So mightily betray’d; yet at the first
I saw the treasons planted.
- Why should I think you can be mine and true,
Though you in swearing shake the throned gods,
Who have been false to Fulvia? Riotous madness,
To be entangled with those mouth-made vows,
Which break themselves in swearing!
- Most sweet queen,—
- Nay, pray you, seek no colour for your going,
But bid farewell, and go: when you su’d staying
Then was the time for words; no going then:
Eternity was in our lips and eyes,
Bliss in our brows bent; none our parts so poor
But was a race of heaven; they are so still,
Or thou, the greatest soldier of the world,
Art turn’d the greatest liar.
- How now, lady!
- I would I had thy inches; thou shouldst know
There were a heart in Egypt.
- Hear me, queen:
The strong necessity of time commands
Our services awhile, but my full heart
Remains in use with you. Our Italy
Shines o’er with civil swords; Sextus Pompeius
Makes his approaches to the port of Rome;
Equality of two domestic powers
Breeds scrupulous faction. The hated, grown to strength,
Are newly grown to love; the condemn’d Pompey,
Rich in his father’s honour, creeps apace
Into the hearts of such as have not thriv’d
Upon the present state, whose numbers threaten;
And quietness, grown sick of rest, would purge
By any desperate change. My more particular,
And that which most with you should safe my going,
Is Fulvia’s death.
- Though age from folly could not give me freedom,
It does from childishness: can Fulvia die?
- She’s dead, my queen:
Look here, and at thy sovereign leisure read
The garboils she awak’d; at the last, best,
See when and where she died.
- O most false love!
Where be the sacred vials thou shouldst fill
With sorrowful water? Now I see, I see,
In Fulvia’s death, how mine receiv’d shall be.
- Quarrel no more, but be prepar’d to know
The purposes I bear, which are or cease
As you shall give the advice. By the fire
That quickens Nilus’ slime, I go from hence
Thy soldier, servant, making peace or war
As thou affect’st.
- Cut my lace, Charmian, come;
But let it be: I am quickly ill, and well;
So Antony loves.
- My precious queen, forbear,
And give true evidence to his love which stands
An honourable trial.
- So Fulvia told me.
I prithee, turn aside and weep for her;
Then bid adieu to me, and say the tears
Belong to Egypt: good now, play one scene
Of excellent dissembling, and let it look
Like perfect honour.
- You’ll heat my blood; no more.
- You can do better yet, but this is meetly.
- Now, by my sword,—
- And target. Still he mends;
But this is not the best. Look, prithee, Charmian,
How this Herculean Roman does become
The carriage of his chafe.
- I’ll leave you, lady.
- Courteous lord, one word.
Sir, you and I must part, but that’s not it:
Sir, you and I have lov’d, but there’s not it;
That you know well: something it is I would,—
O! my oblivion is a very Antony,
And I am all forgotten.
- But that your royalty
Holds idleness your subject, I should take you
For idleness itself.
- ’Tis sweating labour
To bear such idleness so near the heart
As Cleopatra this. But, sir, forgive me;
Since my becomings kill me when they do not
Eye well to you: your honour calls you hence;
Therefore be deaf to my unpitied folly,
And all the gods go with you! Upon your sword
Sit laurel victory! and smooth success
Be strew’d before your feet!
- Let us go. Come;
Our separation so abides and flies,
That thou, residing here, go’st yet with me,
And I, hence fleeting, here remain with thee.