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Charles Bathurst

Anthony and Cleopatra is carelessly written, with no attempt at dignity, considering what great personages are introduced; but with a great deal of nature, spirit, and knowledge of character, in very many parts, and with several most beautiful passages of poetry and imagination; as, for instance, the dream of Cleopatra. It has passages, where he lets his mind loose, and follows his fancy and feeling freely; particularly, perhaps, in the end; and even the verse breaks delightfully out of its trammels, as in the speech about the cloud. The subject of the play, in fact, was likely often to lead to this looser and softer character; tenderness, even weakness, is its business. It is historical; but it is chiefly the anecdote of history, not the dignity of it. Plutarch's Lives, his only authority, is in fact but, in great degree, a collection of anecdotes. But there was no occasion to read Plutarch, to understand the part of Cleopatra. The tenderness of feeling, however, extends itself to other parts than those of the lovers; at least it is most remarkable in the death of Enobarbus—a part which, after the manner of Shakespeare, is made to throw great light on the character of Antony himself, which he meant to elevate as much as possible; notwithstanding his great weakness in all that concerns Cleopatra, and unmistakable misconduct with regard to his wife. He represents him as, what he certainly was not, a man of the most noble and high spirit, capable at times, notwithstanding the luxury he afterwards fell into, of a thoroughly soldier-like life, and full of kind and generous feelings. He seems to delight in supposing the melancholy meditations of a great and active character, when losing his power, and drawing to his end.

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