SCENE II. -- Alexandria. A Room in the Monument.

Enter CLEOPATRA, CHARAITAN, and IRAS.

Cleo. My desolation does begin to make
A better life. 'Tis paltry to be Cæsar;
Not being Fortune, he's but Fortune's knave,1
A minister of her will: and it is great
To d o that thing that ends all other deeds;
Which shackels accidents, and bolts up change;
Which sleeps, and never palates more the dung,
The beggar's nurse and Cæsar's.2

Enter, to the gales of the monunment, PROCULEIUS, GALLUS,
and Soldiers.

Pro. Cæsar sends greeting to the Queen of Egypt;

____________________
secretly stole away, and brought Octavius Cæsar the first news of his death, and showed him his sword that was bloodied. Cæsar, hearing this news, straight wittidrew himself into a secret place of his tent, and there burst out with tears, lamenting his hard and miserable fortune, that had been his friend and brother-in law, his equal in the empire, and companion with him in sundry great battles and exploits. Then he called for all his friends, and showed them the letters Antonius had written to him, and his answers also sent him again, during their quarrel and strife; and how fiercely and proudly the other answered him, to all just and reasonable matters he wrote unto him. -- PLUTARCH.
1
Knave in its old proper sense of servant or slave. Often so.
2
There is some obscurity here, arising from the circumstance that, as Johnson observes, "the act of suicide, and the state which is the effect of suicide, are confounded." The menning seems to be about this: Voluntary death is an act that bars off all further change; and it puts us in a state where we no longer need the gross earthly sustenance in the use of which Cæsar and the beggar are on a level. Nurse appears to be used here for nourishment. Cleopatra is speaking contemptuously of this life, as if any thing that depends upon such coarse vulgar feeding were not worth keeping. So in the first scene of this play: "Our dungy earth alike feeds man as beast."

-177-

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