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Cleo. Cut my lace, Charmian, come :-
Ant. My precious queen, forbear;
Cleo. So Fulvia told me.
Ant. You'll heat my blood—no more.
Cleo. And target.—Still he mends ;
Ant. I'll leave you, lady.
Cleo. Courteous lord, one word.
Ant. But that your royalty
Cleo. 'Tis sweating labour
She now changes from her raillery to the impassioned strain of a warrior's mistress :
“But, sir, forgive me ; Since my becomings kill me, when they do not Eye well to you : your honour calls you hence ; Therefore be death to my unpitied folly, And all the gods go with you! Upon your sword Sit laurell’d victory! and smooth success Be strewed before your feet.”*
I shall not give more of the pleasant talk of Cleopatra, to which ample, perhaps more than ample, justice has been done by Mrs. Jameson:t one piece, however, of practical badinage, mentioned by Plutarch, that engaging writer does not notice ;“ Cleo. 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.
Charmian. 'Twas merry, when
Charmian's allusion is to a story told by Plutarch ; Antony, to conceal his bad angling, sent down divers, who put upon his hook fish that had been caught before. Cleopatra discovered this trick, and sent down her divers with fish ready salted.
All following incidents are taken from Plutarch. The peace which Cæsar and Antony made up with Pompey, the insidious suggestions of Menas to Pompey, and his reply; the subsequent quarrel between Cæsar and Antony, Cleopatra's flight at the battle of Actium, the mission of Thyreus and Antony's jealousy of him, t and his belief in Cleopatra's treachery, are all related in the play as they stand in the history. The defection of Enobarbus, and Antony's generosity to him, are in Plutarch, though related of another person. I
Octavia's conflict of duty between her husband and her brother, 9 and her journey to meet the
* Act ii. Sc. 5.
+ North, 780. He is called Domitius. See North, 776. § Ib. 766.
latter; and all the circumstances attending the successes of Cæsar, and the confessions of the Egyptian treasurer, (even Cleopatra's speech on that occasion,) the death of Antony and Cleopatra, are equally warranted by the Grecian writer.
As to historians, by whom Plutarch may be corrected, nearly the same remarks are applicable as those which have been made on Julius Cæsar. The outline of the history is probably correct ; though there is no historian of the time upon whom we can depend.*
Dr. Johnson says, that~
“ This play keeps curiosity always busy, and the passions always interested. The continual hurry of the action, the variety of the incidents, and the quick succession of one personage to another, call the mind forward without intermission, from the first act to the last. But the power of delighting is derived principally from the frequent changes of the scene; for, except the feminine arts, some of which are too low, which distinguish Cleopatra, no character is very strongly discriminated. Upton, who did
vered that the language of Antony is, with great skill and learning, made pompous and superb, according to his real practice. But I think his diction not distinguishable from that of others ; the most tumid
See Velleius Paterculus, lib. ii. 85-7.
speech in the play is that which Cæsar makes to Octavia.* The events, of which the principal are described according to history, are produced without any act of connection, or care of disposition.t
This, the last of Dr.Johnson's criticisms which I have to quote, is, perhaps, the least satisfactory of all. In some of the worst plays (for instance, in Henry VI.), the changes of scene and of persons are remarkably frequent; but this play has one merit, in which some, even of the plays possessing the highest merit, as to separate passages, are deficient. The fascination of Antony by Cleopatra, and its effect upon public events, furnish a definite and interesting
• In Act iii. Sc. 6.
† Bosw. 426.