Actus Primus -



Yet doe I liue, and yet doth breath extend
My life beyond my life? nor can my graue
Shut vp my griefes, to make my end my end?
Will yet confusion haue more then I haue?
Is th'honor, wonder, glory, pompe, and all
Of Cleopatra dead, and she not dead?
Haue I out-liu'd my selfe, and seene the fall
Of all vpon me, and not ruined?
Can yet these eyes endure the ghastly looke
Of Desolations darke and ougly face,
Wont but on Fortunes fairest side to looke,
Where nought vvas but applause, but smiles, and grace?
Whiles on his shoulders all my rest relide,
On whom the burthen of m'ambition lay,
My Atlas , and supporter of my pride,
That did the world of all my glory sway,
Who now throwne downe, disgrac'd, confounded lies
Crusht vvith the weight of Shame and Infamy,
Following th'vnlucky part of mine eyes,
The traines of lust and imbecility,
Whereby my dissolution is become
The graue of Egypt, and the wracke of all ;
My vnforeseeing weakenesse must intoome
My Countries fame and glory with my fall.
Now who vvould thinke that I were she vvho late
With all the ornaments on earth inrich'd,
Enuiron'd vvith delights, compast with state,
Glittering in pomp that hearts and eyes bewitch'd ;
Should thus distrest, cast down from off that heigth
Leuell'd vvith low disgrac'd calamity,
Vnder the weight of such affliction sigh,
Reduc'd vnto th'extreamest misery?
Am I the woman whose inuentiue pride,
Adorn'd like Isis , scorn'd mortality?
Is't I would haue my frailety so belide,
That flattery could perswade I vvas not I?
Well, now I see, they but delude that praise vs,
Greatnesse is mockt, prosperity betrayes vs,
And vve are but our selues, although this cloud
Of interposed smoake make vs seeme more :
These spreading parts of pomp wherof w'are proud
Are not our parts, but parts of others store :
Witnesse these gallant fortune-following traines,
These Summer Swallowes of felicity
Gone vvith the heate : of all, see vvhat remaines,
This monument, two maydes, and vvretched I,
And I, t'adorne their triumphs am reseru'd
A captiue, kept to honour others spoyles,
Whom Caesar labours so to haue preseru'd,
And seekes to entertaine my life vvith wiles,
But Caesar , it is more then thou canst do,
Promise flatter, threaten extreamity,
Imploy thy wits and all thy force thereto,
I haue both hands, and vvill, and I can die.
Though thou, of both my country and my crowne,
Of powre, of meanes and all dost quite bereaue me ;
Though thou hast wholy Egypt made thine owne,
Yet hast thou left me that which vvill deceiue thee,
That courage vvith my blood and birth innated,
Admir'd of all the earth, as thou art now ;
Can neuer be so abiectly abated
To be thy slaue, that rul'd as good as thou
Thinke Caesar , I that liu'd and raign'd a Queene,
Do scorne to buy my life at such a rate,
That I should vnderneath my selfe be seene,
Basely induring to suruiue my state :
That Rome should see my scepter-bearing hands
Behind me bound, and glory in my teares ;
That I should passe whereas Octauia stands,
To view my misery, that purchas'd hers.
No, I disdaine that head vvhich wore a crowne,
Should stoope to take vp that which others guie ;
I must not be, vnlesse I be mine owne,
Tis sweet to die vvhen we are forc'd to lieu.
Nor had I stayd behind my selfe this space,
Nor payd such int'rest for this borrow'd breath,
But that hereby I seeke to purchase grace
For my distressed seede after my death.
It's that vvhich doth my dearest blood controule,
That's it alas detaines me from my tombe,
Whiles Nature brings to contradict my soule
The argument of mine vnhappy wombe.
You lucklesse issue of an vvofull mother,
The vvretched pledges of a vvanton bed,
You Kings designed, must subiects liue to other ;
Or else, I feare, scarce liue, vvhen I am dead.
It is for you I temporize with Caesar ,
And stay this vvhile to mediate your safety :
For you I faine content, and soothe his pleasure,
Calamity herein hath made me crafty.
But this is but to try what may be done,
For come what vvill, this stands, I must die free.
And die my selfe vncaptiu'd, and vnwonne :
Blood, Children, Nature, all must pardon me,
My soule yeelds Honor vp the victory,
And I must be a Queene, forget a mother ;
Though mother vvould I be, were I not I ;
And Queene would not be now, could I be other.
But vvhat know I if th'heauens haue decreed,
And that the sinnes of Egypt haue deseru'd
The Ptolomies should faile, and none succeed,
And that my weakenes vvas thereto reseru'd,
That I should bring confusion to my state,
And fill the measure of iniquity ;
Luxuriousnesse in me should raise the rate
Of loose and ill-dispensed liberty.
If it be so, then what neede these delaies?
Since I was made the meanes of misery :
Why should I striue but to make death my praise,
That had my life but for my infamy?
And let me vvrite in letters of my blood
A fit memoriall for the times to come :
To be example to such Princes good
As please themselues, and care not what become.
And Antony , because the world takes note
That my defects haue onely ruin'd thee :
And my ambitious practises are thought
The motiue and the cause of all to be :
Though God thou know'st, how iust this staine is layd
Vpon my soule, vvhom ill successe makes ill :
Yet since condemn'd misfortune hath no ayde
Against proud lucke that argues what it will,
I haue no meanes to vndeceiue their mindes,
But to bring in the witnesse of my blood,
To testifie the faith and loue that bindes
My equall shame, to fall vvith whom I stood.
Defects I grant I had, but this vvas worst,
That being the first to fall I di'd not first.
Though I perhaps could lighten mine owne side
With some excuse of my constrained case
Drawne down with povvre : but that were to deuide
My shame : to stand alone in my disgrace.
To cleere me so, vvould shew m'affections naught,
And make th'excuse more hainous then the fault.
Since if I should our errours difunite,
I should confound afflictions onely rest,
That from sterne death euen steales a sad delight
To die with friends or with the like distrest ;
And since we tooke of either such firme hold
In th'ouerwhelming seas of fortune cast,
What powre should be of powre to revnfold
The armes of our affections lockt so fast?
For grapling in the Ocean of our pride,
We suncke others greatnesse both together ;
And both made shipwracke of our fame beside,
Both wrought a like destruction vnto either :
And therefore I am bound to sacrifice
To Death and thee, the life that doth reproue me :
Our like distresse I feele doth simpathize,
And euen affliction makes me truely loue thee.
Which Antony , I much confesse my fault
I neuer did sincerely vntill now :
Now I protest I do, now am I taught
In death to loue, in life that knew not how.
For whilst my glory in her greatnesse stood,
And that I saw my state, and knew my beauty ;
Saw how the world admir'd me, how they woo'd,
I then thought all men must loue me of duety,
And I loue none : for my lasciuious Court,
Fertile in euer fresh and new-choyse pleasure,
Affoorded me so bountifull disport,
That I to stay on Loue had neuer leisure :
My vagabond desires no limites found,
For lust is endlesse, pleasure hath no bound.
Thou comming from the strictnesse of thy City,
And neuer this loose pomp of monarchs learnest,
Inur'd to warres, in womens vviles vnwitty,
Whilst others faind, thou fell'st to loue in earnest;
Not knowing how vve like them best that houer,
And make least reckoning of a doting louer.
And yet thou cam'st but in my beauties waine,
When new appearing vvrinckles of declining
Wrought with the hand of yeares, seem'd to detaine.
My graces light, as now but dimly shining,
Euen in the confines of mine age, when I
Failing of what I was, and was but thus :
When such as we do deeme in iealousie
That men loue for themselues, and not for vs ;
Then, and but thus, thou didst loue most sincerely,
O Antony , that best deseru'[d]st it better,
This Autumne of my beauty bought so dearely,
For which in more then death, I stand thy debter,
Which I will pay thee with so true a minde,
(Casting vp all these deepe accompts of mine)
That both our soules, and all the world shall find
All reckoning cleer'd, betwixt my loue and thine.
But to the [end] I may preuent proud Caesar ,
Who doth so eagerly my life importune,
I must preuaile me of this little leasure,
Seeming to sute my mind vnto my fortune ;
Thereby with more conuenience to prouide
For what my death and honor best shall fit :
And yeelding base content must wary hide
My last dissigne till I accomplish it,
That hereby yet the world shall see that I,
Although unwise to liue, had vvitt to die.


Behold what furies still
Torment their tortur'd brest,
Who by their doing ill,
Haue wrought the worlds unrest.
Which when being most distrest,
Yet more to vexe their sprite,
The hideous face of sinne,
(In formes they most detest)
Stands euer in their sight.
Their conscience still within
Th'eternall larum is
That euer-barking dog that calles vpon their misse.

No meanes at all to hide
Man from himselfe can finde :
No way to start aside
Out from the hell of minde.
But in himselfe confin'd,
He still see sinne before ;
And winged-footed paine,
That swiftly comes behind,
The which is euer-more
The sure and certaine gaine
Impiety doth get,
And wanton loose respect, that doth it selfe forget.

And Cleopatra now ,
Well sees the dangerous way
She tooke, and car'd not how,
Which led her to decay.
And likewise makes vs pay
For her disordred lust,
The int'rest of our blood :
Or liue a seruile pray,
Vnder a hand vniust,
As others shall thinke good.
This hath her riot wonne :
And thus she hath her state, herselfe and vs vndone.

Now euery mouth can tell,
What close was muttered :
How that she did not well,
To take the course she did.
For now is nothing hid,
Of what feare did restraine ;
No secret closely done,
But now is vttered.
The text is made most plaine
That flattry glos'd vpon,
The bed of sinne reueal'd,
And all the luxury that shame would haue conceal'd.

The scene is broken downe
And all vncou'red lyes,
The purple actors knowne
Scarce men, whom men despise.
The complots of the wise,
Proue imperfections smoakt :
And all what wonder gaue
To pleasure-gazing eyes,
Lyes scattred, dasht, all broke.
Thus much beguiled haue
Poore vnconsiderate wights,
These momentary pleasures, fugitiue delights.
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