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Why was I raised the meteor of the world,
Hung in the skies, and blazing as I travelled,
Till all my fires were spent, and then cast downward
To be trod out by Cæsar?
Vent. [Aside.] On my soul
'Tis mournful, wondrous mournful!
Ant. Count thy gains,
Now, Antony: wouldst thou be born for this ?
Glutton of fortune, thy devouring youth
Has starved thy wanting age.
Vent. [Aside.] How sorrow shakes him !
So now the tempest tears him by th’ roots,
And on the ground extends the noble ruin.
Ant. [Having thrown himself down.] Lie there, thou
shadow of an emperor !
The place thou pressest on thy mother earth
Is all thy empire now: now it contains thee;
Some few days hence, and then 'twill be too large,
When thou’rt contracted in thy narrow urn,
Shrunk to a few cold ashes; then Octavia
(For Cleopatra will not live to see it),
Octavia then will have thee all her own,
And bear thee in her widowed hand to Cæsar.
Cæsar will weep,
the crocodile will weep,
To see his rival of the universe
Lie still and peaceful there. l’ll think no more on't.
Give me some music; look that it be sad;
I'll soothe my melancholy, till I swell,
And burst myself with sighing.
'Tis somewhat to my humour. Stay, I fancy
I'm now turned wild, a commoner of nature ;
Of all forsaken, and forsaking all ;
Live in a shady forest's sylvan scene;
Stretched at my length beneath some blasted oak,
bark, And look just of a piece, as I grew
from it: My uncombed locks, matted like mistletoe, Hang o'er my hoary face; a murm’ring brook Runs at my foot
Vent. Methinks I fancy
Myself there too.
Ant. The herd come jumping by me,
And, fearless, quench their thirst, while I look on,
And take me for their fellow-citizen.
More of this image-more; it lulls my thoughts.
Vent. I must disturb him. I can hold no longer.
[Stands before h. Ant. [Starting up.] Art thou Ventidius?
Vent. Are you Antony?
I'm liker what I was, than you to him
Ant. I'm angry.
Vent. So am I.
Ant. I would be private. Leave me.
Vent. Sir, I love you,
And therefore will not leave you.
Ant. Will not leave me !
Where have you learned that answer ? Who am I?
Vent. My emperor; the man I love next Heaven.
If I said more, I think ’twere scarce a sin:
You're all that's good and godlike.
Ant. All that's wretched. You will not leave me, then ?
Vent. 'Twas too presuming
I would not : but I dare not leave you;
And ’tis unkind in you to chide me hence
So soon, when I so far have come to see you.
Ant. Now thou hast seen me, art thou satisfied ?
For, if a friend, thou hast beheld enough ;
And, if a foe, too much.
Vent. Look, emperor, this is no common dew;
I have not wept these forty years; but now
My mother comes afresh unto my eyes ;
I cannot help her softness.
Ant. By Heaven, he weeps !--poor, good old man, he
The big round drops course one another down
The furrows of his cheeks. Stop 'em, Ventidius,
Or I shall blush to death; they set my shame,
That caused 'em, full before me.
Vent. I'll do
Ant. Sure there's contagion in the tears of friends;
See, I have caught it too. Believe me, 'tis not
For my own griefs, but thine-Nay, father-
Vent. Emperor !
Ant. Emperor ? Why, that's the style of victory!
The conqu’ring soldier, and with unfelt wounds,
Salutes his general so: but never more
Shall that sound reach my ears.
Vent. I warrant you.
Ant. Actium, Actium ! Oh-
Vent. It sits too near you.
Ant. Here, here it lies; a lump of lead by day;
And in my short, distracted, nightly slumbers,
The hag that rides my
Vent. Out with it! give it vent.
Ant. Urge not my shame-
I lost a battle!
Vent. So has Julius done.
Ant. Thou favour'st me, and speak’st not half thou
For Julius fought it out, and lost it fairly;
Vent. Nay, stop not.
(Well, thou wilt have it), like a coward, fled,-
Fled while his soldiers fought !-fled first, Ventidius.
Thou long'st to curse me, and I give thee leave.
I know thou cam’st prepared to rail.
Vent. I did.
Ant. I'll help thee—I have been a man, Ventidius,
Vent. Yes, and a brave but
Ant. I know thy meaning.
But I have lost my reason, have disgraced
The name of soldier with inglorious ease;
In the full vintage of my flowing honours
Sat still, and saw it pressed by other hands.
Fortune came smiling to my youth, and wooed it.
And purple greatness met my ripened years.
When first I came to empire, I was borne
On tides of people, crowding to my triumphs.
The wish of nations, and the willing world,
Received me as its pledge of future peace.
I was so great, so happy, so beloved,
Fate could not ruin me; till I took pains,
And worked against my fortune, chid her from me,
And turned her loose : yet still she came again.
My careless days and my luxurious nights
At length have wearied her, and now she's gone ;
Gone, gone, divorced forever. Help me, soldier,
To curse this madman, this industrious fool,
Who laboured to be wretched. Pr’ythee curse me.
Vent. You are too sensible already
Of what you've done; too conscious of your failings.
And like a scorpion, whipped by others first
To fury, sting yourself in mad revenge.
I would bring balm, and pour it in your wounds,
Cure your distempered mind, and heal your fortunes.
Ant. I know thou wouldst.
Vent. I will.
Ant. Ha, ha, ha, ha!
Vent. You laugh.
Ant. I do, to see officious love
Give cordials to the dead.
Vent. You would be lost, then ?
Ant. I am.
Vent. I say you are not.
Try your fortune.
Ant. I have to the utmost. Dost thou think me des-
Without just cause ? No; when I found all lost
Beyond repair, I hid me from the world,
And learned to scorn it here; which now I do
So heartily, I think it is not worth
The cost of keeping.
Vent. Cæsar thinks not so:
He'll thank you for the gift he could not take.
You would be killed like Tully, would you? Do
Hold out your throat to Cæsar, and die tamely.