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


Antony . Eros! I speak thee welcome.
Eros . Hail, our lord!
Antony . Thou hast been ever faithful to thy trust,
And spoken freely, but decorously,
On what concern'd the household and the state.
My glory is gone down, and life is cold
Without it. I have known two honest men
Among the senators and consulars . .
Eros . None among humbler?
Antony . By the Powers above!
I thought but of the powerful, men of birth.
Eros . All men are that. Some sink below their cradle,
Others rise higher than parental roof,
And want no scepter to support their steps.
Antony . Such there may be whom we have all past by.
Eros . Men cast long shadows when their life declines,
Which we cross over without noticing;
We met them in the street and gave not way,
When they were gone we lifted up both hands,
And said to neighbors These were men indeed!
Antony . Reflections such as thine had wearied me
Erewhile, and from another even now;
But what is that thou bringest me wrapt up,
Tardy in offering it as worth too little?
Eros . I bring a ruby and a hollow ring
Whereon it fitted.
Antony . Gods of Rome! at last
Ye make me grateful. Thanks, and thanks alone,
Have I to give, and one small sacrifice;
I vow it you before this hour is past.
My heart may beat against its bars awhile,
But shall not leave me yet.
Go, Eros, go,
I must lie down and rest, feeble and faint.
But come back presently.
Eros ( after some absence ). How fares our lord?
Antony . Recovered, sound again, more sound than ever.
Eros . And yet our lord looks more like other men.
Antony ( smiling ). We can not always swagger; always act
A character the wise will never learn:
When Night goes down, and the young Day resumes
His pointed shafts, and chill air breathes around,
Then we put on our own habiliments
And leave the dusty stage we proudly trod.
I have been sitting longer at life's feast
Than does me good; I will arise and go.
Philosophy would flatten her thin palm
Outspred upon my sleeve; away with her!
Cuff off, cuff out, that chattering toothless jade!
The brain she puzzles, and she blunts the sword:
Even she knows better words than that word live .
Cold Cato, colder Brutus, guide not me;
No, nor brave Cassius.
Thou hast brought me balm.
Eros . Our lord may have some message for the giver,
Which will console her.
Antony . She expected none:
I did; and it is come.
Say, lookt she pale?
Spake she no word?
Eros . Alas, most noble sir,
She would not see me. Charmian said her face
Was indeed pale, yet grew less pale than usual
After she gave the ring, and then she spake
Amid some sighs (some spasms too interposed)
More cheerfully, and said she fain would sleep.
Antony . The fondest heart, the truest, beats no more.
She listened to me, she hath answered me,
She wanted no entreaty, she obeyed,
She now commands: but no command want I.
Queen of my soul! I follow in thy train,
Thine is the triumph.
Eros, up! rejoice!
Tears, man! do tears become us at this hour?
I never had too many; thou hast seen
(If thou didst see) the last of them.
My sword!
I will march out becomingly.
Eros . O sir!
Enemies watch all round, and famine waits
Antony . Thou knowest not the prudent sons
Of Egypt; corn and wine have been supplied
Enough for many years, piled underground.
Tho' stiffened by the sludge of barbarism,
Or indolent and overgorged at home,
Briton or German would take heed that none
Who fought for him should perish for the lack
Of sustenance: the timid bird herself
Will hover round and round until she bring
The grain cried out for in the helpless nest.
Give me my sword! Is the point sharp?
Eros . In vain
To trust it now!
Antony . Come, bring it; let me try it.
Eros . O heavens and earth! Help! help! no help is nigh,
No duty left but one: less worthily
Than willingly this duty I perform. [ Stabs himself .
It pains not: for that blood I see no more.
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