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Sooth. If every of your wishes had a womb, And fertile every wish, a million.8
Char. Out, fool! I forgive thee for a witch.
Alex. You think, none but your sheets are privy to your wishes.
Char. Nay, come, tell Iras hers.
Alex. We'll know all our fortunes.
Eno. Mine, and most of our fortunes, to-night, shall be—drunk to bed.
Iras. There's a palm presages chastity, if nothing else.
Char. Even as the o'erflowing Nilus presageth famine.
Iras. Go, you wild bedfellow, you cannot soothsay.
Char. Nay, if an oily palm be not a fruitful prognostication, I cannot scratch mine ear.— Pr'ythee, tell her but a worky-day fortune.
Sooth. Your fortunes are alike.
Iras. But how, but how? give me particulars.
Sooth. I have said.
Iras. Am I not an inch of fortune better than she?
Char. Well, if you were but an inch of fortune better than I, where would you choose it?
Iras. Not in my husband's nose.
Char. Our worser thoughts heavens 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!•
name children, that is, I am never to be married. However, tell me the truth, tell me., how many boys and wenches? * If every of your wishes had a womb, And fertile every wish, a million.] If every one of your wishes, says the Soothsayer, had a womb, and each womb-invested wish were likewise fertile, you then would have a million of children.
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!
Alex. Lo, now! if it lay in their hands to make me a cuckold, they would make themselves whores, but they'd do't.
Eno. Hush! here comes Antony.
Char. Not he, the queen.
Cleo. Saw you my lord?
Cleo. Was he not here?
Char. No, madam.
Cleo. He was dispos'd to mirth; but on the sudden A Roman thought hath struck him.—Enobarhus,— Eno. Madam. Cleo. Seek him, and bring him hither. Where's
Alexas? Alex. Here, madam, at your service.—My lord approaches.
Enter Antony, with a Messenger and Attendants.
Cleo. We will not look upon him: Go with us. [Exeunt Cleopatra, Enobarbus, Alexas, Iras, Charmian, Soothsayer, and Attendants.
Mess. Fulvia thy wife first came into the field.
Ant. Against my brother Lucius?Mess. Ay:
Ant. Well, What worst?
Mess. The nature of bad news infects the teller.
Ant. When it concerns the fool, or coward.—On: Things, that are past, are done, with me.—Ti8 thus; Who tells me true, though in his tale lie death, I hear him as he flatter'd.
Mess. Labienus (This is stiff' news) hath, with his Parthian force, Extended Asia from Euphrates;9 His conquering banner shook, from Syria To Lydia, and to Ionia; Whilst—
Ant. Antony, thou would'st say,—
Mess. O, my lord!
Ant. Speak to me home, mince not the general tongue; Name Cleopatra as she's 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;1 and our ills told us, Is as our earing. Fare thee well a while.
Mess. At your noble pleasure. [Exit. Ant. From Sicyon how the news? Speak there. 1 Att. The man from Sicyon.—Is there such an one?
9 Extended Asiafrom Euphrates;'] To extend, is a term used for to seize.
1 When our quick winds lie still;] The sense is, that man, not agitated by censure, like soil not ventilated by quick winds, produces more evil than good. This is Dr. Johnson's opinion, but the expression has been controverted at great length by all the eornmentators.
1 Att. He stays upon your will.
Ant. Let him appear,—
These strong Egyptian fetters I must break,
Enter another Messenger.
Or lose myself in dotage.—What are you?
2 Mess. Fulvia thy wife is dead.
Ant. Where died she?
'2 Mess. In Sicyon: Her length of sickness, with what else more serious Importeth thee to know, this bears.
[Gives a Letter.
Ant. Forbear me.—
[Exit 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:1 she's good, being gone; The hand could pluck her back,a 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!
• the present pleasure
By revolution lowering, does become
The opposite of itself.-] I believe revolution means change of circumstances. This sense appears to remove every difficulty from the passage.—The pleasure of to-day, by revolution of events and change of circumstances, often loses all its value to us, and becomes to-morrow a pain. Steevens.
'The hand could pluck her back, &c] The verb could has a peculiar signification in this place; it does not denote power but inclination. The sense is, the hand that drove her off would now, willingly pluck her back again.
Eno. What's your pleasure, sir?
Ant. I must with haste from hence.
Eno. 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.
Ant. I must be gone.
Eno. 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:4 I do think, there is mettle in death, which commits some loving act upon her, she hath such a celerity in dying.
Ant. She is cunning past man's thought.
Eno. 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 almanacks can report: this cannot be cunning in her; if it be, she makes a shower of rain as well as Jove.
Ant. 'Would I had never seen her!
Eno. O, sir, you had then left unseen a wonderful piece of work; which not to have been blessed "Withal, would have discredited your travel.
Ant. Fulvia is dead.
Ant. Fulvia is dead.
Eno. Why, sir, give the gods a thankful sacrifice.
4 —— poorer moment:] For less reason; upon meaner motives.