Sep 2: Dryden's ALL FOR LOVE Vol. 18, pp. 88-100


                               ACT V


Char. Be juster, Heaven; 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,


And had not power to keep it. O the curse


Of doting on, even 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.


You may hold me- [She pulls out her dagger, and they hold her.


But I can keep my breath; I can die inward,


And choke this love.





Iras. Help, O Alexas, help!


The queen grows desperate; her soul struggles in her


With all the agonies of love and rage,


And strives to force its passage.


Cleo. Let me go.


Art thou there, traitor!-O,


O 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.


Was it for me to prop


The ruins of a falling majesty?


To place myself beneath mighty flaw,


Thus to be crushed, and pounded into atoms,


By its o'erwhelming weight? 'Tis too presuming


For subjects to preserve that wilful power,


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?


Now, what's the event? Octavia is removed;


But Cleopatra's banished. Thou, thou villain,


Hast 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:


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 shipwrecked seaman near the shore,


Dropping and faint, with climbing up the cliff,


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.


Cleo. Sunk, never more to rise.


Alex. Octavia's gone, and Dolabella banished.


Believe me, madam, Antony is yours.


His heart was never lost, but started off


To jealousy, love's last retreat and covert;


Where it lies hid in shades, watchful in silence,


And listening for the sound that calls it back.


Some other, any man ('tis so advanced),


May perfect this unfinished work, which I


(Unhappy only to myself) have left


So easy to his hand.


Cleo. Look well thou do't; else-


Alex. Else, what your silence threatens.-Antony


Is mounted up the Pharos; from whose turret,


He stands surveying our Egyptian galleys,


Engaged with Cæsar's fleet. Now death or conquest!


If the first happen, fate acquits my promise;


If we o'ercome, the conqueror is yours. [A distant shout within.


Char. Have comfort, madam: Did you mark that shout? [Second shout nearer.


Iras. Hark! they redouble it.


Alex. 'Tis from the port.


The loudness shows it near: Good news, kind heavens!


Cleo. Osiris make it so!





Serap. Where, where's the queen?


Alex. How frightfully the holy coward stares


As if not yet recovered of the assault,


When all his gods, and, what's more dear to him,


His offerings, were at stake.


Serap. O horror, horror!


Egypt has been; our latest hour has come:


The queen of nations, from her ancient seat,


Is sunk for ever in the dark abyss:


Time has unrolled her glories to the last,


And now closed up the volume.


Cleo. Be more plain:


Say, whence thou comest; though fate is in thy face,


Which from the haggard eyes looks wildly out,


And threatens ere thou speakest.


Serap. I came from Pharos;


From viewing (spare me, and imagine it)


Our land's last hope, your navy-


Cleo. Vanquished?


Serap. No:


They fought not.


Cleo. Then they fled.


Serap. Nor that. I saw,


With Antony, your well-appointed fleet


Row out; and thrice he waved his hand on high,


And thrice with cheerful cries they shouted back:


'Twas then false Fortune, like a fawning strumpet,


About to leave the bankrupt prodigal,


With a dissembled smile would kiss at parting,


And flatter to the last; the well-timed oars,


Now dipt from every bank, now smoothly run


To meet the foe; and soon indeed they met,


But not as foes. In few, we saw their caps


On either side thrown up; the Egyptian galleys,


Received like friends, passed through, and fell behind


The Roman rear: And now, they all come forward,


And ride within the port.


Cleo. Enough, Serapion:


I've heard my doom.-This needed not, you gods:


When I lost Antony, your work was done;


'Tis but superfluous malice.-Where's my lord?


How bears he this last blow?


Serap. His fury cannot be expressed by words:


Thrice he attempted headlong to have fallen


Full on his foes, and aimed at Cæsar's galley:


Withheld, he raves on you; cries,-He's betrayed.


Should he now find you-


Alex. Shun him; seek your safety,


Till you can clear your innocence.


Cleo. I'll stay.


Alex. You must not; haste you to your monument,


While I make speed to Cæsar.


Cleo. Cæsar! No,


I have no business with him.


Alex. I can work him


To spare your life, and let this madman perish.


Cleo. Base fawning wretch! wouldst thou betray him too?


Hence from my sight! I will not hear a traitor;


'Twas thy design brought all this ruin on us.-


Serapion, thou art honest; counsel me:


But haste, each moment's precious.


Serap. Retire; you must not yet see Antony.


He who began this mischief,


'Tis just he tempt the danger; let him clear you:


And, since he offered you his servile tongue,


To gain a poor precarious life from Cæsar,


Let him expose that fawning eloquence,


And speak to Antony.


Alex. O heavens! I dare not;


I meet my certain death.


Cleo. Slave, thou deservest it.-


Not that I fear my lord, will I avoid him;


I know him noble: when he banished me,


And thought me false, he scorned to take my life;


But I'll be justified, and then die with him.


Alex. O pity me, and let me follow you.


Cleo. To death, if thou stir hence. Speak, if thou canst,


Now for thy life, which basely thou wouldst save;


While mine I prize at-this! Come, good Serapion. [Exeunt CLEOPATRA, SERAPION, CHARMION, and IRAS.


Alex. O that I less could fear to lose this being,


Which, like a snowball in my coward hand,


The more 'tis grasped, the faster melts away.


Poor reason! what a wretched aid art thou!


For still, in spite of thee,


These two long lovers, soul and body, dread


Their final separation. Let me think:


What can I say, to save myself from death?


No matter what becomes of Cleopatra.


Ant. Which way? where? [Within.


Vent. This leads to the monument [Within.



Alex. Ah me! I hear him; yet I'm unprepared:


My gift of lying's gone;


And this court-devil, which I so oft have raised,


Forsakes me at my need. I dare not stay;


Yet cannot far go hence. [Exit.





Ant. O happy Cæsar! thou hast men to lead:


Think not 'tis thou hast conquered Antony;


But Rome has conquered Egypt. I'm betrayed.


Vent. Curse on this treacherous train!


Their soil and heaven infect them all with baseness:


And their young souls come tainted to the world


With the first breath they draw.


Ant. The original villain sure no god created;


He was a bastard of the sun, by Nile,


Aped into man; with all his mother's mud


Crusted about his soul.


Vent. The nation is


One universal traitor; and their queen


The very spirit and extract of them all.


Ant. Is there yet left


A possibility of aid from valour?


Is there one god unsworn to my destruction?


The least unmortgaged hope? for, if there be,


Methinks I cannot fall beneath the fate


Of such a boy as Cæsar.


The world's one half is yet in Antony;


And from each limb of it, that's hewed away,


The soul comes back to me.


Vent. There yet remain


Three legions in the town. The last assault


Lopt off the rest; if death be your design,-


As I must wish it now,-these are sufficient


To make a heap about us of dead foes,


An honest pile for burial.


Ant. They are enough.


We'll not divide our stars; but, side by side,


Fight emulous, and with malicious eyes


Survey each other's acts: So every death


Thou giv'st, I'll take on me, as a just debt,


And pay thee back a soul.


Vent. Now you shall see I love you. Not a word


Of chiding more. By my few hours of life,


I am so pleased with this brave Roman fate,


That I would not be Cæsar, to outlive your.


When we put off this flesh, and mount together,


I shall be shown to all the ethereal crowd,-


Lo, this is he who died with Antony!


Ant. Who knows, but we may pierce through all their troops,


And reach my veterans yet? 'tis worth the 'tempting,


To o'erleap this gulf of fate,


And leave our wandering destinies behind.



Enter ALEXAS, trembling


Vent. See, see, that villain!


See Cleopatra stamped upon that face,


With all her cunning, all her arts of falsehood!


How she looks out through those dissembling eyes!


How he sets his countenance for deceit,


And promises a lie, before he speaks!


Let me despatch him first. [Drawing.


Alex. O spare me, spare me!


Ant. Hold; he's not worth your killing.-On thy life,


Which thou may'st keep, because I scorn to take it,


No syllable to justify thy queen;


Save thy base tongue its office.


Alex. Sir, she is gone.


Where she shall never be molested more


By love, or you.


Ant. Fled to her Dolabella!


Die, traitor! I revoke my promise die! [Going to kill him.


Alex. O hold! she is not fled.


Ant. She is: my eyes


Are open to her falsehood; my whole life


Has been a golden dream of love and friendship;


But, now I wake, I'm like a merchant, roused


From soft repose, to see his vessel sinking,


And all his wealth cast over. Ungrateful woman!


Who followed me, but as the swallow summer,


Hatching her young ones in my kindly beams,


Singing her flatteries to my morning wake:


But, now my winter comes, she spreads her wings,


And seeks the spring of Cæsar.


Alex. Think not so;


Her fortunes have, in all things, mixed with yours.


Had she betrayed her naval force to Rome,


How easily might she have gone to Cæsar,


Secure by such a bribe!


Vent. She sent it first,


To be more welcome after.


Ant. 'Tis too plain;


Else would she have appeared, to clear herself.


Alex. Too fatally she has: she could not bear


To be accused by you; but shut herself


Within her monument; looked down and sighed;


While, from her unchanged face, the silent tears


Dropt, as they had not leave, but stole their parting.


Some indistinguished words she only murmured;


At last, she raised her eyes; and, with such looks


As dying Lucrece cast-


Ant. My heart forebodes-


Vent. All for the best:-Go on.


Alex. She snatched her poniard,


And, ere we could prevent the fatal blow,


Plunged it within her breast; then turned to me:


Go, bear my lord, said she, my last farewell;


And ask him, if he yet suspect my faith.


More she was saying, but death rushed betwixt.


She half pronounced your name with her last breath,


And buried half within her.


Vent. Heaven be praised!


Ant. Then art thou innocent, my poor dear love,


And art thou dead?


O those two words! their sound should be divided:


Hadst thou been false, and died; or hadst thou lived,


And hadst been true-But innocence and death!


This shows not well above. Then what am I,


The murderer of this truth, this innocence!


Thoughts cannot form themselves in words so horrid


As can express my guilt!


Vent. Is't come to this? The gods have been too gracious;


And thus you thank them for it!


Ant. [to ALEX]. Why stayest thou here?


Is it for thee to spy upon my soul,


And see its inward mourning? Get thee hence;


Thou art not worthy to behold, what now


Becomes a Roman emperor to perform.


Alex. He loves her still:


His grief betrays it. Good! the joy to find


She's yet alive, completes the reconcilement.


I've saved myself, and her. But, oh! the Romans!


Fate comes too fast upon my wit,


Hunts me too hard, and meets me at each double. [Aside. Exit.


Vent. Would she had died a little sooner, though!


Before Octavia went, you might have treated:


Now 'twill look tame, and would not be received.


Come, rouse yourself, and let's die warm together.


Ant. I will not fight: there's no more work for war.


The business of my angry hours is done.


Vent. Cæsar is at your gates.


Ant. Why, let him enter;


He's welcome now.


Vent. What lethargy has crept into your soul?


Ant. 'Tis but a scorn of life, and just desire


To free myself from bondage.


Vent. Do it bravely.


Ant. I will; but not by fighting. O Ventidius!


What should I fight for now?-my queen is dead.


I was but great for her; my power, my empire,


Were but my merchandise to buy her love;


And conquered kings, my factors. Now she's dead,


Let Cæsar take the world,-


An empty circle, since the jewel's gone


Which made it worth my strife: my being's nauseous;


For all the bribes of life are gone away.


Vent. Would you be taken?


Ant. Yes, I would be taken;


But, as a Roman ought,-dead, my Ventidius:


For I'll convey my soul from Cæsar's reach,


And lay down life myself. 'Tis time the world


Should have a lord, and know whom to obey.


We two have kept its homage in suspense,


And bent the globe, on whose each side we trod,


Till it was dented inwards. Let him walk


Alone upon't: I'm weary of my part.


My torch is out; and the world stands before me,


Like a black desert at the approach of night:


I'll lay me down, and stray no farther on.


Vent. I could be grieved,


But that I'll not outlive you: choose your death;


For, I have seen him in such various shapes,


I care not which I take: I'm only troubled,


The life I bear is worn to such a rag,


'Tis scarce worth giving. I could wish, indeed,


We threw it from us with a better grace;


That, like two lions taken in the toils,


We might at last thrust out our paws, and wound


The hunters that inclose us.


Ant. I have thought on it.


Ventidius, you must live.


Vent. I must not, sir.


Ant. Wilt thou not live, to speak some good of me?


To stand by my fair fame, and guard the approaches


From the ill tongues of men?


Vent. Who shall guard mine,


For living after you?


Ant. Say, I command it.


Vent. If we die well, our deaths will speak themselves


And need no living witness.


Ant. Thou hast loved me,


And fain I would reward thee. I must die;


Kill me, and take the merit of my death,


To make thee friends with Cæsar.


Vent. Thank your kindness.


You said I loved you; and in recompense,


You bid me turn a traitor: Did I think


You would have used me thus?-that I should die


With a hard thought of you?


Ant. Forgive me, Roman.


Since I have heard of Cleopatra's death,


My reason bears no rule upon my tongue,


But lets my thoughts break all at random out.


I've thought better; do not deny me twice.


Vent. By Heaven I will not.


Let it not be to outlive you.


Ant. Kill me first,


And then die thou; for 'tis but just thou serve


Thy friend, before thyself.



Vent. Give me your hand.


We soon shall meet again. Now, farewell, emperor!- [Embrace.


Methinks that word's too cold to be my last:


Since death sweeps all distinctions, farewell, friend!


That's all-


I will not make a business of a trifle;


And yet I cannot look on you, and kill you;


Pray turn your face.


Ant. I do: strike home, be sure.


Vent. Home as my sword will reach. [Kills himself.


Ant. Oh, thou mistak'st;


That wound was not of thine; give it me back:


Thou robb'st me of my death.


Vent. I do indeed;


But think 'tis the first time I e'er deceived you,


If that may plead my pardon.-And you, gods,


Forgive me, if you will; for I die perjured,


Rather than kill my friend. [Dies.


Ant. Farewell! Ever my leader, even in death!


My queen and thou have got the start of me,


And I'm the lag of honour.-Gone so soon?


Is Death no more? he used him carelessly,


With a familiar kindness: ere he knocked,


Ran to the door, and took him in his arms,


As who should say-You're welcome at all hours,


A friend need give no warning. Books had spoiled him;


For all the learned are cowards by profession.


'Tis not worth


My further thought; for death, for aught I know,


Is but to think no more. Here's to be satisfied. [Falls on his sword.


I've missed my heart. O unperforming hand!


Thou never couldst have erred in a worse time.


My fortune jades me to the last; and death,


Like a great man, takes state, and makes me wait


For my admittance. [Trampling within.


Some, perhaps, from Cæsar:


If he should find me living, and suspect


That I played booty with my life! I'll mend


My work, ere they can reach me. [Rises upon his knees.





Cleo. Where is my lord? where is he?


Char. There he lies,


And dead Ventidius by him.


Cleo. My tears were prophets; I am come too late.


O that accursed Alexas! [Runs to him.


Ant. Art thou living?


Or am I dead before I knew, and thou


The first kind ghost that meets me?


Cleo. Help me seat him.

Send quickly, send for help! [They place him in a chair.