British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan

By George Henry Nettleton; Arthur Eillicot Case | Go to book overview
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And if I have offended you, then kill me, But do not banish me.

ANT. I must not hear you. 560
I have a fool within me takes your part; But honor stops my ears.

CLEO. For pity hear me!
Would you cast off a slave who followed you?
Who crouched beneath your spurn? -- He has no pity!

See, if he gives one tear to my departure, 565
One look, one kind farewell: O iron heart! Let all the gods look down, and judge betwixt us,
If he did ever love!

ANT. No more. ----- Alexas!
DOLA. A perjured villain!
ANT. (to CLEOPATRA). Your Alexas, yours!

CLEO. Oh, 'twas his plot, his ruinous design, 570
T' engage you in my love by jealousy. Hear him; confront him with me; let him speak.

ANT. I have; I have.
CLEO. And if he clear me not -----
ANT. Your creature! one who hangs upon your smiles!

Watches your eye, to say or to unsay 575
Whate'er you please! I am not to be moved.

CLEO. Then must we part? Farewell, my cruel lord! Th' appearance is against me; and I go,
Unjustified, for ever from your sight.

How I have loved, you know; how yet I love, 580
My only comfort is, I know myself: I love you more, ev'n now you are unkind,
Than when you loved me most: so well, so truly,
I'll never strive against it; but die pleased,
To think you once were mine. 585

ANT. Good heav'n, they weep at parting! Must I weep too? That calls 'em innocent.
I must not weep; and yet I must, to think
That I must not forgive.
Live, but live wretched; 'tis but just you

should, 590
Who made me so. Live from each other's sight: Let me not hear you meet: set all the earth
And all the seas, betwixt your sundered loves:
View nothing common but the sun and skies.
Now, all take several ways; 595
And each your own sad fate, with mine, deplore; That you were false, and I could trust no more.

Exeunt severally.


ACT V

[SCENE I]

CLEOPATRA, CHARMON, IRAS.

CHAR. Be juster, heav'n: such virtue punished thus,
Will make us think that chance rules all above, And shuffles, with a random hand, the lots
Which man is forced to draw.

CLEO. I could tear out these eyes, that gained his

heart, 5
And had not pow'r to keep it. O the curse Of doting on, ev'n when I find it dotage!
Bear witness, gods, you heard him bid me go;
You, whom he mocked with imprecating vows
Of promised faith! ----- I'll die; I will not bear it. 10
(She pulls out her dagger, and they hold her.)
You may hold me -----
But I can keep my breath; I can die inward,
And choke this love.

Enter ALEXAS.

IRAS. Help, O Alexas, help!
The queen grows desperate; her soul struggles in her

With all the agonies of love and rage, 15
And strives to force its passage.

CLEO. Let me go. Art thou there, traitor! -- Oh!
Oh, for a little breath, to vent my rage!
Give, give me way, and let me loose upon him.

ALEX. Yes, I deserve it, for my ill-timed

truth. 20
Was it for me to prop The ruins of a falling majesty?
To place myself beneath the mighty flaw,
Thus to be crushed, and pounded into atoms,
By its o'erwhelming weight? 'Tis too presuming 25
For subjects to preserve that wilful pow'r Which courts its own destruction.

CLEO. I would reason
More calmly with you. Did not you o'errule,
And force my plain, direct, and open love

Into these crooked paths of jealousy? 30
Now, what's th' event? Octavia is removed; But Cleopatra's banished. Thou, thou, villain,
Has[t] pushed my boat to open sea; to prove,
At my sad cost, if thou canst steer it back.
It cannot be; I'm lost too far; I'm ruined! 35
Hence, thou impostor, traitor, monster, devil! -- I can no more: thou, and my griefs, have sunk
Me down so low, that I want voice to curse thee.

ALEX. Suppose some shipwracked seaman near the shore,

Dropping and faint, with climbing up the cliff, 40
If, from above, some charitable hand Pull him to safety, hazarding himself
To draw the other's weight; would he look back,
And curse him for his pains? The case is yours;
But one step more, and you have gained the
height. 45

CLEO. Sunk, never more to rise.

ALEX. Octavia's gone, and Dolabella banished.
Believe me, madam, Antony is yours.

____________________
33] QQF has.
39] Q1 some; Q2Q3F from.

-107-

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British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan
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