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made them answer herself, or at least the most part of them.” *
The susceptible Antony,
“ Whom ne'er the word of no woman heard speak,”
was as little desirous as capable of offering resistance to an assault from such a combination of dangerous qualifications. The conquest obtained by Cleopatra's accomplishments her consummate art secured, for there was no flattery to which she did not condescend in order to rivet the chains which bound to her the heart of Antony. “ Plato writeth, that there are foure kinds of flatterie: but Cleopatra divided it into many kinds. For she (were it in sport, or in matters of earnest) still devised sundry new delights to have Antonius at commandment, never leaving him night nor day, nor once letting him go out of her sight. For she would play at dice with him, drinke with him, and hunt commonly with him, and also be with him when he went to any exercise or activitie of body.” + “She subtilly seemed to languish for the love of Antonius, pining her body for lacke of meat. Furthermore, she every way so framed her countenance that when Antonius came to
* Life of Antony, p. 923.
see her, she cast her eyes upon him, like a woman ravished for joy. Straight again when he went from her, she fell a weeping and blubbering, looking rufully on the matter, and still found the means that Antonius should often times find her weeping: and then when he came suddenly upon her, she made as though she dried her eyes, and turned her face away, as if she were unwilling that he should see her weepe."
Shakspeare has, with perfect knowledge of the world, assigned Cleopatra female attendants, whose virtue was not likely to be a reproach upon
the looser hours of their mistress, if their conversation in the second scene of the play may be presumed to convey any idea of their principles. The names Charmian and Iras, are found in Sir Thomas North, who calls the latter “ a woman of Cleopatra's bed-chamber, that frizelled her haire, and dressed her head.” +
The imagination of Warburton so frequently outstripped his judgment, that it is seldom safe to copy his opinions. His remarks, however, on Shakspeare's management of the character of Octavius, are skilful as well as refined. “It is observable with what judgment Shakspeare
* Life of Antonius, p. 924.
draws the character of Octavius. Antony was his hero; so the other was not to shine : yet being an historical character, there was a necessity to draw him like. He was, therefore, compelled to admit the great strokes of his character, but has, notwithstanding, contrived to leave him feeble and ineffective."
Of the three plays founded by the bard on the history of Plutarch, that of Antony and Cleopatra is the one in which he has least indulged his fancy. His adherence to his authority is minute*, and he bestowed little pains in the adaptation of the history to the purposes of the drama, beyond an ingenious, and fre
* As unnecessary a deviation from the truth of his history as any to be met with in our author's plays, however, occurs in the present. In the height of his anger at discovering the favourable reception of Thyreus by Cleopatra, Antony exclaims,
“ Have I my pillow left impress'd in Rome,
Forborne the getting of a lawful race,
Act III. sc. 11. All this is in direct opposition to Plutarch, who in one place speaks of Octavia's being “ at that time great with child, and moreover had a second daughter by him;" (Life of Antony, 927) and in another relates the marriage of these daughters; the one to “Domitius Ænobarbus, and the other, which was Antonia, unto Drusus the sonne of Livia and sonne-in-law of Cæsar.” (Ibid. p. 949.)
quently elegant, metrical arrangement of the humble prose of Sir Thomas North. But Shakspeare seldom wrote without recording, in concise and elegant language, remarks on human nature, which enlighten the understanding and improve the heart. Thus Antony, on receiving the news of Fulvia's death,
“ There's a great spirit gone! Thus did I desire it:
What our contempts do often hurl from us,
To the same purpose is the following:
“ It hath been taught us from the primal state,
Where is the reflecting mind, that has not on a variety of occasions acknowledged the justice of the succeeding admirable observation ?
“ We, ignorant of ourselves,
* Act I. sc. 2.
+ Act I. sc. 4.
† Act II. sc. 1.
The hero, whose remarkable vicissitudes of for.
.. tune constitute the subject of the play before us, has been transmitted to posterity as a man of extraordinary military skill and valour, and whose virtuous life and incorruptible honesty excited the admiration of the world, whilst his pride and irascibility drew upon him their fear and detestation.
“ He was so cholericke and impatient,” says Plutarch, “ that he would yield to no living creature: which made him churlish, uncivil, and altogether unfit for any man's conversation. Yet men marvelling much at his constancie, that he was never overcome with pleasure nor money, and how he would endure easily all manner of paines and travels: thereupon they well liked and commended his stoutnesse and temperancy.