William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra in the complete original text
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Antony and Cleopatra

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Act II. Scene V.

Scene V.—Alexandria. A Room in the Palace.

ALEXAS, and Attendant.

Cleo. Give me some music; music, moody food ,
Of us that trade in love.
Attend. The music, ho!

Cleo. Let it alone; let's to billiards: come,
Char. My arm is sore; best play with Mar-
Cleo. As well a woman with a eunuch play'd
As with a woman. Come, you'll play with me,
Mar. As well as I can, madam.
Cleo. And when good will is show'd, though 't
come too short,
The actor may plead pardon. I'll none now.
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.
Char. 'Twas merry when
You wager'd on your angling; when your diver
Did hang a salt-fish on his hook, which he
With fervency drew up.
Cleo. That time—O times!—
I laugh'd him out of patience; and that night
I laugh'd him into patience: and next morn,
Ere the ninth hour, I drunk him to his bed;
Then put my tires and mantles on him, whilst
I wore his sword Philippan.

Enter a Messenger.
O! from Italy;
Ram thou thy fruitful tidings in mine ears,
That long time have been barren.
Mess. Madam, madam,—
Cleo. Antony's dead! if thou say so, villain,
Thou kill'st thy mistress; but well and free,
If thou so yield him, there is gold, and here
My bluest veins to kiss; a hand that kings
Have lipp'd, and trembled kissing.
Mess. First, madam, he is well.
Cleo. Why, there's more gold.
But, sirrah, mark, we use
To say the dead are well: bring it to that,
The gold I give thee will I melt, and pour
Down thy ill-uttering throat.
Mess. Good madam, hear me.
Cleo. Well, go to, I will;
But there's no goodness in thy face; if Antony
Be free and healthful, so tart a favour
To trumpet such good tidings! if not well,
Thou shouldst come like a Fury crown'd with
Not like a formal man.
Mess. Will't please you hear me?
Cleo. I have a mind to strike thee ere thou
Yet, if thou say Antony lives, is well,
Or friends with Cæsar, or not captive to him,
I'll set thee in a shower of gold, and hail
Rich pearls upon thee.
Mess. Madam, he's well.
Cleo. Well said.
Mess. And friends with Cæsar.
Cleo. Thou'rt an honest man.
Mess. Cæsar and he are greater friends than
Cleo. Make thee a fortune from me.
Mess. But yet, madam,—
Cleo. I do not like 'but yet,' it does allay
The good precedence; fie upon 'but yet!'
'But yet' is as a gaoler to bring forth
Some monstrous malefactor. Prithee, friend,
Pour out the pack of matter to mine ear,
The good and bad together. He's friends with
In state of health, thou sayst; and thou sayst,
Mess. Free, madam! no; I made no such re-
He's bound unto Octavia.
Cleo. For what good turn?
Mess. For the best turn i' the bed.
Cleo. I am pale, Charmian!
Mess. Madam, he's married to Octavia.
Cleo. The most infectious pestilence upon
thee! [Strikes him down.
Mess. Good madam, patience.
Cleo. What say you? Hence,
[Strikes him again.
Horrible villain! or I'll spurn thine eyes
Like balls before me; I'll unhair thy head:
[She hales him up and down.
Thou shalt be whipp'd with wire, and stew'd in
Smarting in lingering pickle.
Mess. Gracious madam,
I, that do bring the news made not the match.
Cleo. Say 'tis not so, a province I will give
And make thy fortunes proud; the blow thou
Shall make thy peace for moving me to rage,
And I will boot thee with what gift beside
Thy modesty can beg.
Mess. He's married, madam.
Cleo. Rogue! thou hast liv'd too long.
[Draws a knife.
Mess. Nay, then I'll run.
What mean you, madam? I have made no
fault. [Exit.
Char. Good madam, keep yourself within
The man is innocent.
Cleo. Some innocents 'scape not the thunder-
Melt Egypt into Nile! and kindly creatures
Turn all to serpents! -Call the slave again:
Though I am mad, I will not bite him. Call.
Char. He is afeard to come.
Cleo. I will not hurt him.
These hands do lack nobility, that they strike
A meaner than myself; since I myself
Have given myself the cause.

Re-enter CHARMIAN, and Messenger.
Come hither, sir.
Though it be honest, it is never good
To bring bad news; give to a gracious message
A host of tongues, but let ill tidings tell
Themselves when they be felt.
Mess. I have done my duty.
Cleo. Is he married?
I cannot hate thee worser than I do
If thou again say 'Yes.'
Mess. He's married, madam.
Cleo. The gods confound thee! dost thou
hold there still?
Mess. Should I lie, madam?
Cleo. O! I would thou didst,
So half my Egypt were submerg'd and made
A cistern for scal'd snakes. Go, get thee hence;
Hadst thou Narcissus in thy face, to me
Thou wouldst appear most ugly. He is married?
Mess. I crave your highness' pardon.
Cleo. He is married?
Mess. Take no offence that I would not offend
To punish me for what you make me do
Seems much unequal; he's married to Oc-
Cleo. O! that his fault should make a knave
of thee,
That art not what thou'rt sure of. Get thee
The merchandise which thou hast brought from
Are all too dear for me; lie they upon thy
And be undone by 'em! [Exit Messenger.
Char. Good your highness, patience.
Cleo. In praising Antony I have disprais'd
Char. Many times, madam.
Cleo. I am paid for't now.
Lead me from hence;
I faint. O Iras! Charmian! 'Tis no matter.
Go to the fellow, good Alexas; bid him
Report the feature of Octavia, her years,
Her inclination, let him not leave out
The colour of her hair: bring me word quickly.
Let him for ever go:—let him not—Charmian!—
Though he be painted one way like a Gorgon,
The other way's a Mars. [To MARDIAN.] Bid you
Bring me word how tall she is. Pity me, Char-
But do not speak to me. Lead me to my cham-
ber. [Exeunt.
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