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Antony and Cleopatra

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ACT V SCENE II Alexandria. A room in the monument. 
CLEOPATRAMy desolation does begin to make
A better life. 'Tis paltry to be Caesar;
Not being Fortune, he's but Fortune's knave,
A minister of her will: and it is great
To do that thing that ends all other deeds;5
Which shackles accidents and bolts up change;
Which sleeps, and never palates more the dug,
The beggar's nurse and Caesar's.
[ Enter, to the gates of the monument, PROCULEIUS, GALLUS and Soldiers ]
PROCULEIUSCaesar sends greeting to the Queen of Egypt;
And bids thee study on what fair demands10
Thou mean'st to have him grant thee.
CLEOPATRAWhat's thy name?
PROCULEIUSMy name is Proculeius.
Did tell me of you, bade me trust you; but15
I do not greatly care to be deceived,
That have no use for trusting. If your master
Would have a queen his beggar, you must tell him,
That majesty, to keep decorum, must
No less beg than a kingdom: if he please20
To give me conquer'd Egypt for my son,
He gives me so much of mine own, as I
Will kneel to him with thanks.
PROCULEIUSBe of good cheer;
You're fall'n into a princely hand, fear nothing:25
Make your full reference freely to my lord,
Who is so full of grace, that it flows over
On all that need: let me report to him
Your sweet dependency; and you shall find
A conqueror that will pray in aid for kindness,30
Where he for grace is kneel'd to.
CLEOPATRAPray you, tell him
I am his fortune's vassal, and I send him
The greatness he has got. I hourly learn
A doctrine of obedience; and would gladly35
Look him i' the face.
PROCULEIUSThis I'll report, dear lady.
Have comfort, for I know your plight is pitied
Of him that caused it.
GALLUSYou see how easily she may be surprised:40
[ Here PROCULEIUS and two of the Guard ascend the monument by a ladder placed against a window, and, having descended, come behind CLEOPATRA. Some of the Guard unbar and open the gates ]
[To PROCULEIUS and the Guard]
Guard her till Caesar come.
IRASRoyal queen!
CHARMIANO Cleopatra! thou art taken, queen:
CLEOPATRAQuick, quick, good hands.
[Drawing a dagger]
PROCULEIUSHold, worthy lady, hold:45
[Seizes and disarms her]
Do not yourself such wrong, who are in this
Relieved, but not betray'd.
CLEOPATRAWhat, of death too,
That rids our dogs of languish?
Do not abuse my master's bounty by
The undoing of yourself: let the world see
His nobleness well acted, which your death
Will never let come forth.
CLEOPATRAWhere art thou, death?55
Come hither, come! come, come, and take a queen
Worthy many babes and beggars!
PROCULEIUSO, temperance, lady!

CLEOPATRASir, I will eat no meat, I'll not drink, sir;
If idle talk will once be necessary,60
I'll not sleep neither: this mortal house I'll ruin,
Do Caesar what he can. Know, sir, that I
Will not wait pinion'd at your master's court;
Nor once be chastised with the sober eye
Of dull Octavia. Shall they hoist me up65
And show me to the shouting varletry
Of censuring Rome? Rather a ditch in Egypt
Be gentle grave unto me! rather on Nilus' mud
Lay me stark naked, and let the water-flies
Blow me into abhorring! rather make70
My country's high pyramides my gibbet,
And hang me up in chains!
PROCULEIUSYou do extend
These thoughts of horror further than you shall
Find cause in Caesar.75
What thou hast done thy master Caesar knows,
And he hath sent for thee: for the queen,
I'll take her to my guard.
PROCULEIUSSo, Dolabella,80
It shall content me best: be gentle to her.
To Caesar I will speak what you shall please,
If you'll employ me to him.
CLEOPATRASay, I would die.
[Exeunt PROCULEIUS and Soldiers]
DOLABELLAMost noble empress, you have heard of me?85
CLEOPATRAI cannot tell.
DOLABELLAAssuredly you know me.
CLEOPATRANo matter, sir, what I have heard or known.
You laugh when boys or women tell their dreams;
Is't not your trick?90
DOLABELLAI understand not, madam.
CLEOPATRAI dream'd there was an Emperor Antony:
O, such another sleep, that I might see
But such another man!
DOLABELLAIf it might please ye,--95
CLEOPATRAHis face was as the heavens; and therein stuck
A sun and moon, which kept their course,
and lighted
The little O, the earth.
DOLABELLAMost sovereign creature,--100
CLEOPATRAHis legs bestrid the ocean: his rear'd arm
Crested the world: his voice was propertied
As all the tuned spheres, and that to friends;
But when he meant to quail and shake the orb,
He was as rattling thunder. For his bounty,105
There was no winter in't; an autumn 'twas
That grew the more by reaping: his delights
Were dolphin-like; they show'd his back above
The element they lived in: in his livery
Walk'd crowns and crownets; realms and islands were110
As plates dropp'd from his pocket.
CLEOPATRAThink you there was, or might be, such a man
As this I dream'd of?
DOLABELLAGentle madam, no.115
CLEOPATRAYou lie, up to the hearing of the gods.
But, if there be, or ever were, one such,
It's past the size of dreaming: nature wants stuff
To vie strange forms with fancy; yet, to imagine
And Antony, were nature's piece 'gainst fancy,120
Condemning shadows quite.
DOLABELLAHear me, good madam.
Your loss is as yourself, great; and you bear it
As answering to the weight: would I might never
O'ertake pursued success, but I do feel,125
By the rebound of yours, a grief that smites
My very heart at root.
CLEOPATRAI thank you, sir,
Know you what Caesar means to do with me?
DOLABELLAI am loath to tell you what I would you knew.130
CLEOPATRANay, pray you, sir,--
DOLABELLAThough he be honourable,--
CLEOPATRAHe'll lead me, then, in triumph?
DOLABELLAMadam, he will; I know't.
[ Flourish, and shout within, 'Make way there: Octavius Caesar!' ]
OCTAVIUS CAESARWhich is the Queen of Egypt?135
DOLABELLAIt is the emperor, madam.
[CLEOPATRA kneels]
OCTAVIUS CAESARArise, you shall not kneel:
I pray you, rise; rise, Egypt.
CLEOPATRASir, the gods
Will have it thus; my master and my lord140
I must obey.
OCTAVIUS CAESARTake to you no hard thoughts:
The record of what injuries you did us,
Though written in our flesh, we shall remember
As things but done by chance.145
CLEOPATRASole sir o' the world,
I cannot project mine own cause so well
To make it clear; but do confess I have
Been laden with like frailties which before
Have often shamed our sex.150
OCTAVIUS CAESARCleopatra, know,
We will extenuate rather than enforce:
If you apply yourself to our intents,
Which towards you are most gentle, you shall find
A benefit in this change; but if you seek155
To lay on me a cruelty, by taking
Antony's course, you shall bereave yourself
Of my good purposes, and put your children
To that destruction which I'll guard them from,
If thereon you rely. I'll take my leave.160
CLEOPATRAAnd may, through all the world: 'tis yours; and we,
Your scutcheons and your signs of conquest, shall
Hang in what place you please. Here, my good lord.
OCTAVIUS CAESARYou shall advise me in all for Cleopatra.
CLEOPATRAThis is the brief of money, plate, and jewels,165
I am possess'd of: 'tis exactly valued;
Not petty things admitted. Where's Seleucus?
SELEUCUSHere, madam.
CLEOPATRAThis is my treasurer: let him speak, my lord,
Upon his peril, that I have reserved170
To myself nothing. Speak the truth, Seleucus.
I had rather seal my lips, than, to my peril,
Speak that which is not.
CLEOPATRAWhat have I kept back?175
SELEUCUSEnough to purchase what you have made known.
OCTAVIUS CAESARNay, blush not, Cleopatra; I approve
Your wisdom in the deed.
CLEOPATRASee, Caesar! O, behold,
How pomp is follow'd! mine will now be yours;180
And, should we shift estates, yours would be mine.
The ingratitude of this Seleucus does
Even make me wild: O slave, of no more trust
Than love that's hired! What, goest thou back? thou shalt
Go back, I warrant thee; but I'll catch thine eyes,185
Though they had wings: slave, soulless villain, dog!
O rarely base!
OCTAVIUS CAESARGood queen, let us entreat you.
CLEOPATRAO Caesar, what a wounding shame is this,
That thou, vouchsafing here to visit me,190
Doing the honour of thy lordliness
To one so meek, that mine own servant should
Parcel the sum of my disgraces by
Addition of his envy! Say, good Caesar,
That I some lady trifles have reserved,195
Immoment toys, things of such dignity
As we greet modern friends withal; and say,
Some nobler token I have kept apart
For Livia and Octavia, to induce
Their mediation; must I be unfolded200
With one that I have bred? The gods! it smites me
Beneath the fall I have.
Prithee, go hence;
Or I shall show the cinders of my spirits
Through the ashes of my chance: wert thou a man,205
Thou wouldst have mercy on me.
OCTAVIUS CAESARForbear, Seleucus.
CLEOPATRABe it known, that we, the greatest, are misthought
For things that others do; and, when we fall,
We answer others' merits in our name,210
Are therefore to be pitied.
Not what you have reserved, nor what acknowledged,
Put we i' the roll of conquest: still be't yours,
Bestow it at your pleasure; and believe,215
Caesar's no merchant, to make prize with you
Of things that merchants sold. Therefore be cheer'd;
Make not your thoughts your prisons: no, dear queen;
For we intend so to dispose you as
Yourself shall give us counsel. Feed, and sleep:220
Our care and pity is so much upon you,
That we remain your friend; and so, adieu.
CLEOPATRAMy master, and my lord!
[Flourish. Exeunt OCTAVIUS CAESAR and his train]
CLEOPATRAHe words me, girls, he words me, that I should not225
Be noble to myself: but, hark thee, Charmian.
[Whispers CHARMIAN]
IRASFinish, good lady; the bright day is done,
And we are for the dark.
CLEOPATRAHie thee again:
I have spoke already, and it is provided;230
Go put it to the haste.
CHARMIANMadam, I will.
[Re-enter DOLABELLA]
DOLABELLAWhere is the queen?
CHARMIANBehold, sir.
DOLABELLAMadam, as thereto sworn by your command,
Which my love makes religion to obey,
I tell you this: Caesar through Syria
Intends his journey; and within three days
You with your children will he send before:240
Make your best use of this: I have perform'd
Your pleasure and my promise.
I shall remain your debtor.
DOLABELLAI your servant,245
Adieu, good queen; I must attend on Caesar.
CLEOPATRAFarewell, and thanks.
Now, Iras, what think'st thou?
Thou, an Egyptian puppet, shalt be shown
In Rome, as well as I mechanic slaves250
With greasy aprons, rules, and hammers, shall
Uplift us to the view; in their thick breaths,
Rank of gross diet, shall be enclouded,
And forced to drink their vapour.
IRASThe gods forbid!255
CLEOPATRANay, 'tis most certain, Iras: saucy lictors
Will catch at us, like strumpets; and scald rhymers
Ballad us out o' tune: the quick comedians
Extemporally will stage us, and present
Our Alexandrian revels; Antony260
Shall be brought drunken forth, and I shall see
Some squeaking Cleopatra boy my greatness
I' the posture of a whore.
IRASO the good gods!
CLEOPATRANay, that's certain.265
IRASI'll never see 't; for, I am sure, my nails
Are stronger than mine eyes.
CLEOPATRAWhy, that's the way
To fool their preparation, and to conquer
Their most absurd intents.270
[Re-enter CHARMIAN]
Now, Charmian!
Show me, my women, like a queen: go fetch
My best attires: I am again for Cydnus,
To meet Mark Antony: sirrah Iras, go.
Now, noble Charmian, we'll dispatch indeed;275
And, when thou hast done this chare, I'll give thee leave
To play till doomsday. Bring our crown and all.
Wherefore's this noise?
[Exit IRAS. A noise within]
[Enter a Guardsman]
GuardHere is a rural fellow
That will not be denied your highness presence:280
He brings you figs.
CLEOPATRALet him come in.
[Exit Guardsman]
What poor an instrument
May do a noble deed! he brings me liberty.
My resolution's placed, and I have nothing285
Of woman in me: now from head to foot
I am marble-constant; now the fleeting moon
No planet is of mine.
[Re-enter Guardsman, with Clown bringing in a basket]
GuardThis is the man.
CLEOPATRAAvoid, and leave him.290
[Exit Guardsman]
Hast thou the pretty worm of Nilus there,
That kills and pains not?
ClownTruly, I have him: but I would not be the party
that should desire you to touch him, for his biting
is immortal; those that do die of it do seldom or295
never recover.
CLEOPATRARememberest thou any that have died on't?
ClownVery many, men and women too. I heard of one of
them no longer than yesterday: a very honest woman,
but something given to lie; as a woman should not300
do, but in the way of honesty: how she died of the
biting of it, what pain she felt: truly, she makes
a very good report o' the worm; but he that will
believe all that they say, shall never be saved by
half that they do: but this is most fallible, the305
worm's an odd worm.
CLEOPATRAGet thee hence; farewell.
ClownI wish you all joy of the worm.
[Setting down his basket]
ClownYou must think this, look you, that the worm will310
do his kind.
CLEOPATRAAy, ay; farewell.
ClownLook you, the worm is not to be trusted but in the
keeping of wise people; for, indeed, there is no
goodness in worm.315
CLEOPATRATake thou no care; it shall be heeded.
ClownVery good. Give it nothing, I pray you, for it is
not worth the feeding.
CLEOPATRAWill it eat me?
ClownYou must not think I am so simple but I know the320
devil himself will not eat a woman: I know that a
woman is a dish for the gods, if the devil dress her
not. But, truly, these same whoreson devils do the
gods great harm in their women; for in every ten
that they make, the devils mar five.325
CLEOPATRAWell, get thee gone; farewell.
ClownYes, forsooth: I wish you joy o' the worm.
[Re-enter IRAS with a robe, crown, &c]
CLEOPATRAGive me my robe, put on my crown; I have
Immortal longings in me: now no more
The juice of Egypt's grape shall moist this lip:330
Yare, yare, good Iras; quick. Methinks I hear
Antony call; I see him rouse himself
To praise my noble act; I hear him mock
The luck of Caesar, which the gods give men
To excuse their after wrath: husband, I come:335
Now to that name my courage prove my title!
I am fire and air; my other elements
I give to baser life. So; have you done?
Come then, and take the last warmth of my lips.
Farewell, kind Charmian; Iras, long farewell.340
[Kisses them. IRAS falls and dies]
Have I the aspic in my lips? Dost fall?
If thou and nature can so gently part,
The stroke of death is as a lover's pinch,
Which hurts, and is desired. Dost thou lie still?
If thus thou vanishest, thou tell'st the world345
It is not worth leave-taking.
CHARMIANDissolve, thick cloud, and rain; that I may say,
The gods themselves do weep!
CLEOPATRAThis proves me base:
If she first meet the curled Antony,350
He'll make demand of her, and spend that kiss
Which is my heaven to have. Come, thou
mortal wretch,
[To an asp, which she applies to her breast]
With thy sharp teeth this knot intrinsicate
Of life at once untie: poor venomous fool355
Be angry, and dispatch. O, couldst thou speak,
That I might hear thee call great Caesar ass
CHARMIANO eastern star!
CLEOPATRAPeace, peace!360
Dost thou not see my baby at my breast,
That sucks the nurse asleep?
CHARMIANO, break! O, break!
CLEOPATRAAs sweet as balm, as soft as air, as gentle,--
O Antony!--Nay, I will take thee too.365
[Applying another asp to her arm]
What should I stay--
CHARMIANIn this vile world? So, fare thee well.
Now boast thee, death, in thy possession lies
A lass unparallel'd. Downy windows, close;
And golden Phoebus never be beheld370
Of eyes again so royal! Your crown's awry;
I'll mend it, and then play.
[Enter the Guard, rushing in]
First GuardWhere is the queen?
CHARMIANSpeak softly, wake her not.
First GuardCaesar hath sent--375
CHARMIANToo slow a messenger.
[Applies an asp]
O, come apace, dispatch! I partly feel thee.
First GuardApproach, ho! All's not well: Caesar's beguiled.
Second GuardThere's Dolabella sent from Caesar; call him.
First GuardWhat work is here! Charmian, is this well done?380
CHARMIANIt is well done, and fitting for a princess
Descended of so many royal kings.
Ah, soldier!
[Re-enter DOLABELLA]
DOLABELLAHow goes it here?
Second GuardAll dead.385
DOLABELLACaesar, thy thoughts
Touch their effects in this: thyself art coming
To see perform'd the dreaded act which thou
So sought'st to hinder.
[Within 'A way there, a way for Caesar!']
[Re-enter OCTAVIUS CAESAR and all his train marching]
DOLABELLAO sir, you are too sure an augurer;390
That you did fear is done.
OCTAVIUS CAESARBravest at the last,
She levell'd at our purposes, and, being royal,
Took her own way. The manner of their deaths?
I do not see them bleed.395
DOLABELLAWho was last with them?
First GuardA simple countryman, that brought her figs:
This was his basket.
OCTAVIUS CAESARPoison'd, then.
First GuardO Caesar,400
This Charmian lived but now; she stood and spake:
I found her trimming up the diadem
On her dead mistress; tremblingly she stood
And on the sudden dropp'd.
OCTAVIUS CAESARO noble weakness!405
If they had swallow'd poison, 'twould appear
By external swelling: but she looks like sleep,
As she would catch another Antony
In her strong toil of grace.
DOLABELLAHere, on her breast,410
There is a vent of blood and something blown:
The like is on her arm.
First GuardThis is an aspic's trail: and these fig-leaves
Have slime upon them, such as the aspic leaves
Upon the caves of Nile.415
That so she died; for her physician tells me
She hath pursued conclusions infinite
Of easy ways to die. Take up her bed;
And bear her women from the monument:420
She shall be buried by her Antony:
No grave upon the earth shall clip in it
A pair so famous. High events as these
Strike those that make them; and their story is
No less in pity than his glory which425
Brought them to be lamented. Our army shall
In solemn show attend this funeral;
And then to Rome. Come, Dolabella, see
High order in this great solemnity.

Antony and Cleopatra, Scenes

Explanatory Notes for Act 5, Scene 2
From Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra. Ed. M. Eaton. Boston: Educational Publishing Company.
(Line numbers have been altered.)

3. Knave. Servant.

5. That thing. That is, commit suicide.

6. Shackles. Prevents accidents and changes of fortune from touching us.

7. Which sleeps. Which causes sleep.

7. Palates. Makes it unnecessary to taste.

8. Beggar's nurse. That is, life, the nourisher of rich and poor alike.

10. Study. Carefully consider.

19. Decorum. To do what is becoming for it.

22. As I, etc. For which I will kneel to him with thanks.

29. Dependency. That you acknowledge yourself dependent on him.

30. Pray in aid. That is, will be glad to add kindness to clemency. Pray in aid is a law term signifying a petition made in court for calling in help from another who has an interest in the case.

33. Vassal. Slave.

33. Send him. That is, send him the submission he has conquered.

35. Doctrine. Lesson.

49. Languish. Disease, suffering.

53. Acted. Displayed.

57. Worthy, etc. That is, who is worth more than the babes and beggars you are so ready to take.

58. Temperance. Control yourself.

60. If idle talk. The meaning is not quite clear. Perhaps it is "Even if idle talk be necessary to keep me awake, I'll not sleep neither."

66. Varletry. Rabble.

69. Nak'd. Pronounced as one syllable.

71. Pyramides. The Latin form of the plural is sometimes used, as here, for the sake of the metre.

79. To my guard. I will take charge of her.

83. Employ. Use me as your messenger.

99. O. A common term for a sphere.

102. Crested. Made a crest for the world. A raised arm was often used as a family crest or coat-of-arms.

102. Propertied. Endowed with the qualities, etc.

103. Tuned. According to the philosopher, Pythagoras, the spheres made music as they moved through space.

104. Quail. That is, causes the world to quail.

107. Grew. Yielded more the more it was reaped.

108. Dolphin-like. That is, in his delights he was like the dolphin, that leap out of the water in their gambols.

110. Crownets. Coronets, the insignia of noblemen. That is, he had kings and nobles for his servants.

111. Plates. Silver coins, so called because they were flat.

116. Hearing. That is, your lie is so great it reaches the ears of the gods.

119. Vie. Rival. That is, nature cannot produce forms so strange as those of fancy.

120. Piece. Masterpiece. Yet, were nature to conceive an Antony, it would be a masterpiece with which imagination could not vie.

124. Weight. With a fortitude as great as is the burden.

125. Pursued. Coveted.

125. But I do feel. If I do not feel.

146. Sole sir. Sole master.

147. Project. Shape my case, plead it.

148. To make. As to make.

149. Like, etc. Like followed by "which" is equivalent to our "such" followed by "as."

152. Enforce. Lay stress upon, exaggerate.

153. Apply. Adapt yourself to our purposes.

162. Scutcheons. Symbols of conquest. Literally, a shield on which was painted the coat-of-arms of a family.

165. Brief. Brief account, list.

167. Not petty things, etc. That is, a few trifling things excepted.

183. Wild. Mad.

184. Goest thou back. This phrase is used in a double sense to signify that Seleucus retreats before her as she is about to strike him, and also that he has deserted her.

191. Lordliness. Honoring by their lordly presence.

192. Meek. Humbled by misfortune.

193. Parcel. Item. That is, add the item of his malice (envy) to the sum of my disgraces.

196. Immoment. Of no moment, unimportant.

197. Modern. Ordinary.

199. Livia. Caesar's wife.

200. Unfolded. Exposed by.

204. Cinders. The smouldering embers.

205. Chance. Fortune.

208. Misthought. Misjudged.

210. Merits. That is, we pay the penalties which are the deserts of others.

218. Make not your thoughts. That is, do not make yourself a prisoner in imagination when really you are free.

219. Dispose you. Dispose of you.

225. Words me. Cajoles or flatters me with words.

227. Finish. Make haste to die.

231. Put it to the haste. Make utmost haste.

237. Makes religion. Makes as binding as a religious obligation.

250. Mechanic slave. Artisans.

251. Rank of. Rank with.

254. Vapor. Breath.

256. Lictors. Officers, something like police who attended on magistrates, to clear the road, inflict punishment on criminals, etc.

257. Scald. Literally, scurvy, afflicted with an eruption of the skin.

258. Ballad. Sing ballads in mockery of us.

258. Quick. Quick-witted.

259. Extemporally. Extemporaneously.

259. Present. Represent.

262. Boy. The female parts in a play were taken by boys in the time of Shakespeare.

269. Conquer. Upset, bring to nothing.

272. Show. Attire me like a queen.

273. Cydnus. I will imagine that I am again going to set sail for Cydnus.

274. Sirrah. See former note on this form of address.

275. Despatch. Make haste.

276. Chare. Task.

283. What poor an instrument. The article in Shakespeare is not infrequently placed after instead of before the adjective.

285. Placed. Fixed, determined.

287. Marble-constant. That is, as firm and hard as marble.

290. Avoid. Depart.

291. Worm. Shakespeare often uses this word for "snake."

295. Immortal. Causes death.

305. Fallible. Infallible, sure.

311. Do his kind. That is, act as nature impels it.

329. Immortal. Longings for death.

331. Yare. Quick.

337. Fire and air. The old belief was that man was composed of the four elements, fire and air, earth and water, the latter being the baser.

241. Aspic. The poison of the asp. Iras has already secretly applied the snake to herself.

342. Nature. Life.

350. Curled. That is, nobly attired.

351. Make demand. Inquire concerning me.

353. Mortal. Deadly, giving death.

354. Intrinsicate. Intricate, hard to loose.

358. Unpolicied. Without policy, stupid.

367. Vile. The folios have "wild," which many editors retain.

369. Lass. Used as a term of endearment for a young girl, generally.

369. Windows. Eyelids soft as down.

371. Of. By.

372. Mend. Set it right.

372. Play. Compare Cleopatra's words above, "I'll give thee leave to play till doomsday."

378. Beguiled. Deceived.

387. Touch their effects. Your thoughts, or anticipations, are realized.

390. Augurer. You foresee too truly.

393. Levell'd. Guessed.

408. As she. As if she.

409. Toil. In the fascinations of her graces.

411. Vent. A slight flow.

411. Blown. Somewhat swollen.

413. Aspic's trail. The mark left by an asp.

415. Caves. Some editors think this word should be "canes" or "reeds."

418. Conclusions. Experiments without number.

422. Clip. Hold, enclose.

423. High events. Such high events have their effect on those who bring them to pass.

429. High order. Fitting ceremony.

How to cite the explanatory notes:

Shakespeare, William. Antony and Cleopatra. Ed. M. Eaton. Boston: Educational Publishing Company, 1908. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < >.


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