Antony and Octavius. Scenes for the Study - Scene the Seventh


Antony . And so, the victor comes to taunt the vanquisht!
Is this well done, Agrippa?
Agrippa . 'Twere ill done,
And never done by me.
There have been some
Who carried to the forum and there cast
The tags and rags of mimes, and tarnisht spangles
Bag'd from the dusthole corner; gravity
Becomes me better and plain Roman garb
In action and in speech; no taunt is mine.
Antony . What then demands the vanquisher?
Agrippa . I come
To ask a favor, ask a gift, of thee.
Give me thy children.
Antony . To adopt?
Agrippa . To save:
They may have enemies; they shall have friends
If thou accedest to my last request:
Lose we no time; we shall be soon at Rome.
Antony . Ventidius may prevent it.
Agrippa . He hath serv'd thee
Faithfully, and is steddy to thy cause:
The sea is closed to him, the river closed,
Wide as the desert is, it is not open,
And half his army, more than half, is ours.
Antony . But many yet are left me, brave and true.
Agrippa . When Fortune hath deserted us, too late
Comes Valor, standing us in little stead.
They who would die for us are just the men
We should not push on death or throw away.
Antony . Too true! Octavius with his golden wand
Hath reacht from far some who defied his sword.
How little fire within warps loosen'd staves
Together, for the hoop to hold them tight!
I have too long stood balancing the world
Not to know well its weight: of that frail crust
Friends are the lightest atoms.
Agrippa . Not so all.
Antony . I thought of Dolabella and the rest.
Ventidius and Agrippa, these are men
Romulus might have wrestled with nor thrown.
I have proved both.
Agrippa . One thou shalt prove again,
In guise more friendly than when last we met.
Antony . To me well spoken hast thou for Ventidius,
Speak for him in that manner to another,
Tell him that he has done against the Parthian
What Julius might, perhaps might not, have done.
Triumph must follow. I shall never see it,
Nor shall I see, nor shalt thou either, one
On which cold eyes, dim even in youth to beauty,
Look forward.
Are there not kings left enow
To drag, by brace or leash, and back to back,
Along the Sacred Way ?
Vile wretch! his steeds
Shall never at the cries of Cleopatra
Prance up against their trappings stiff with gold.
Agrippa . Sad were the sight.
Antony . Too far hath Dolabella
Prevail'd with her.
Agrippa . Hath Dolabella come
Within these walls?
Antony . Hast thou not seen him then
Leave them within the hour?
Agrippa . Indeed not I.
My station is the harbor where the ships
Are riding, his lies nearer to the town.
Thou musest, Antony!
Antony . And well may muse.
He was my friend . . is he. Away with doubt!
Agrippa . He was the friend of Tullius, friend of Brutus,
Friend too of Lepidus, akin to each,
And yet betraid he them.
Give me the boys;
With me they enter Rome.
Antony . Take, take them; both?
Yes; both are safer, both are happier so.
I loved them; but I might have loved them more;
Now is too late.
Take them; be kind to them . .
Nay, look not back. Tears scorch the father's eyes,
The Roman should extinguish them . . and shall.
Farewell! farewell!
But turn thy face aside . .
No . . one word more.
Agrippa . Thy gladness gladdens me,
Bursting so suddenly. What happy change!
Antony . Thou hast a little daughter, my old friend,
And I two little sons . . I had at least . .
Give her the better and the braver one,
When by thy care he comes to riper age.
Agrippa . O Antony! the changes of our earth
Are suddener and oftener than the moon's,
On hers we calculate, not so on ours,
But leave them in the hands of wilful Gods,
Inflexible, yet sometimes not malign.
Antony . They have done much for me, nor shall reproach
Against them pass my lips: I might have askt,
But never thought of asking, what desert
Was mine for half the blessings they bestow'd.
I will not question them why they have cast
My greatness and my happiness so low;
They have not taken from me their best gift,
A heart for ever open to my friends:
It will be cold ere long, and one will grieve.
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