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ALEXAS, the Queen's Eunuch. VENTIDIUS, his General. SERAPION, Priest of Isis. DOLABELLA, his Friend. MYRIs, another Priest.

Servants to Antony. CLEOPATRA, Queen of Egypt. CHARMION, OCTAVIA, Antony's Wife. IRAS,

Antony's two little Daughters.

}Cleopatra's Maids.



SCENE I.- The Temple of Isis

Enter SERAPION, MYRIS, Priests of Isis

ORTENTS and prodigies have grown so frequent,

That they have lost their name. Our fruitful Nile

Flowed ere the wonted season, with a torrent
So unexpected, and so wondrous fierce,
That the wild deluge overtook the haste
Even of the hinds that watched it: Men and beasts
Were borne above the tops of trees, that grew
On the utmost margin of the water-mark.
Then, with so swift an ebb the flood drove backward,
It slipt from underneath the scaly herd:
Here monstrous phocæ panted on the shore;
Forsaken dolphins there with their broad tails,
Lay lashing the departing waves: hard by them,

Sea horses floundering in the slimy mud,
Tossed up their heads, and dashed the ooze about them.

Enter ALEXAS behind them
MYR. Avert these omens, Heaven!

SERAP. Last night, between the hours of twelve and one,
In a lone aisle of the temple while I walked,
A whirlwind rose, that, with a violent blast,
Shook all the dome: the doors around me clapt;
The iron wicket, that defends the vault,
Where the long race of Ptolemies is laid,
Burst open, and disclosed the mighty dead.
From out each monument, in order placed,
An armed ghost starts up: the boy-king last
Reared his inglorious head. A peal of groans
Then followed, and a lamentable voice
Cried, Egypt is no more! My blood ran back,
My shaking knees against each other knocked;
On the cold pavement down I fell entranced,
And so unfinished left the horrid scene.
Alex. And dreamed you this? or did invent the story,

[Showing himself. To frighten our Egyptian boys withal, And train them up, betimes, in fear of priesthood ?

SERAP. My lord, I saw you not,
Nor meant my words should reach your ears; but what
I uttered was most true.

ALEX. A foolish dream,
Bred from the fumes of indigested feasts,
And holy luxury.

SERAP. I know my duty:
This goes no further.

ALEX. 'Tis not fit it should;
Nor would the times now bear it, were it true.
All southern, from yon hills, the Roman camp
Hangs o'er us black and threatening like a storm
Just breaking on our heads.

SERAP. Our faint Egyptians pray for Antony;
But in their servile hearts they own Octavius.

MYR. Why then does Antony dream out his hours, And tempts not fortune for a noble day, Which might redeem what Actium lost?

Alex. He thinks 'tis past recovery.

SERAP. Yet the foe
Seems not to press the siege.

ALEX. Oh, there's the wonder.
Mæcenas and Agrippa, who can most
With Cæsar, are his foes. His wife Octavia,
Driven from his house, solicits her revenge;
And Dolabella, who was once his friend,
Upon some private grudge, now seeks his ruin:
Yet still war seems on either side to sleep.

SERAP. 'Tis strange that Antony, for some days past,
Has not beheld the face of Cleopatra;
But here, in Isis' temple, lives retired,
And makes his heart a prey to black despair.

Alex. 'Tis true; and we much fear he hopes by absence To cure his mind of love.

SERAP. If he be vanquished,
Or make his peace, Egypt is doomed to be
A Roman province; and our plenteous harvests
Must then redeem the scarceness of their soil.
While Antony stood firm, our Alexandria
Rivalled proud Rome (dominion's other seat),
And fortune striding, like a vast Colossus,
Could fix an equal foot of empire here.

Alex. Had I my wish, these tyrants of all nature,
Who lord it o'er mankind, should perish,--perish
Each by the other's sword; But, since our will
Is lamely followed by our power, we must
Depend on one; with him to rise or fall.

SERAP. How stands the queen affected ?

ALEX. Oh, she dotes,
She dotes, Serapion, on this vanquished man,
And winds herself about his mighty ruins;
Whom would she yet forsake, yet yield him up,
This hunted prey, to his pursuer's hands,
She might preserve us all: but 'tis in vain-
This changes my designs, this blasts my counsels,

And makes me use all means to keep him here.
Whom I could wish divided from her arms,
Far as the earth's deep centre. Well, you know
The state of things; no more of your ill omens
And black prognostics; labour to confirm
The people's hearts.

Enter VENTIDIUS, talking aside with a

Gentleman of Antony's
SERAP. These Romans will o'erhear us.
But who's that stranger ? By his warlike port,
His fierce demeanour, and erected look,
He's of no vulgar note.

ALEX. Oh, 'tis Ventidius,
Our emperor's great lieutenant in the East,
Who first showed Rome that Parthia could be conquered.
When Antony returned from Syria last,
He left this man to guard the Roman frontiers.

SERAP. You seem to know him well.

Alex. Too well. I saw him at Cilicia first, When Cleopatra there met Antony: A mortal foe he was to us, and Egypt. But,- let me witness to the worth I hate, A braver Roman never drew a sword; Firm to his prince, but as a friend, not slave, He ne'er was of his pleasures; but presides O’er all his cooler hours, and morning counsels: In short the plainness, fierceness, rugged virtue, Of an old true-stampt Roman lives in him. His coming bodes I know not what of ill To our affairs. Withdraw to mark him better; And I'll acquaint you why I sought you here, And what's our present work. [They withdraw to a corner of the stage; and VEN

TIDIUS, with the other, comes forward to the front. Vent. Not see him; say you? I say, I must, and will.

Gent. He has commanded, On pain of death, none should approach his presence.

VENT. I bring him news will raise his drooping spirits, Give him new life.

GENT. He sees not Cleopatra.
VENT. Would he had never seen her!

GENT. He eats not, drinks not, sleeps not, has no use
Of anything, but thought; or if he talks,
'Tis to himself, and then 'tis perfect raving:
Then he defies the world, and bids it pass,
Sometimes he gnaws his lips, and curses loud
The boy Octavius; then he draws his mouth
Into a scornful smile, and cries, “ Take all,
The world's not worth my care.”

VENT. Just, just his nature.
Virtue's his path; but sometimes 'tis too narrow
For his vast soul; and then he starts out wide,
And bounds into a vice, that bears him far
From his first course, and plunges him in ills:
But, when his danger makes him find his faults,
Quick to observe, and full of sharp remorse,
He censures eagerly his own misdeeds,
Judging himself with malice to himself,
And not forgiving what as man he did,
Because his other parts are more than man.-
He must not thus be lost.

[ALEXAS and the Priests come forward. Alex. You have your full instructions, now advance, Proclaim your orders loudly.

SERAP. Romans, Egyptians, hear the queen's command. Thus Cleopatra bids: Let labour cease; To pomp and triumphs give this happy day, That gave the world a lord: 'tis Antony's. Live, Antony; and Cleopatra live! Be this the general voice sent up to heaven And every public place repeat this echo. Vent. Fine pageantry!

[Aside. SERAP. Set out before your doors The images of all your sleeping fathers, With laurels crowned; with laurels wreath your posts, And strew with flowers the pavement; let the priests Do present sacrifice; pour out the wine,

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