Cymbeline, King of Britain

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Act I, Scene 6

The same. Another room in the palace.

       
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[Enter IMOGEN]

  • Imogen. A father cruel, and a step-dame false;
    A foolish suitor to a wedded lady,
    That hath her husband banish'd;—O, that husband!
    My supreme crown of grief! and those repeated 605
    Vexations of it! Had I been thief-stol'n,
    As my two brothers, happy! but most miserable
    Is the desire that's glorious: blest be those,
    How mean soe'er, that have their honest wills,
    Which seasons comfort. Who may this be? Fie! 610

[Enter PISANIO and IACHIMO]

  • Pisanio. Madam, a noble gentleman of Rome,
    Comes from my lord with letters.
  • Iachimo. Change you, madam?
    The worthy Leonatus is in safety 615
    And greets your highness dearly.

[Presents a letter]

  • Imogen. Thanks, good sir:
    You're kindly welcome.
  • Iachimo. [Aside] All of her that is out of door most rich! 620
    If she be furnish'd with a mind so rare,
    She is alone the Arabian bird, and I
    Have lost the wager. Boldness be my friend!
    Arm me, audacity, from head to foot!
    Or, like the Parthian, I shall flying fight; 625
    Rather directly fly.
  • Imogen. [Reads] 'He is one of the noblest note, to whose
    kindnesses I am most infinitely tied. Reflect upon
    him accordingly, as you value your trust—
    LEONATUS.' 630
    So far I read aloud:
    But even the very middle of my heart
    Is warm'd by the rest, and takes it thankfully.
    You are as welcome, worthy sir, as I
    Have words to bid you, and shall find it so 635
    In all that I can do.
  • Iachimo. Thanks, fairest lady.
    What, are men mad? Hath nature given them eyes
    To see this vaulted arch, and the rich crop
    Of sea and land, which can distinguish 'twixt 640
    The fiery orbs above and the twinn'd stones
    Upon the number'd beach? and can we not
    Partition make with spectacles so precious
    'Twixt fair and foul?
  • Imogen. What makes your admiration? 645
  • Iachimo. It cannot be i' the eye, for apes and monkeys
    'Twixt two such shes would chatter this way and
    Contemn with mows the other; nor i' the judgment,
    For idiots in this case of favour would
    Be wisely definite; nor i' the appetite; 650
    Sluttery to such neat excellence opposed
    Should make desire vomit emptiness,
    Not so allured to feed.
  • Imogen. What is the matter, trow?
  • Iachimo. The cloyed will, 655
    That satiate yet unsatisfied desire, that tub
    Both fill'd and running, ravening first the lamb
    Longs after for the garbage.
  • Imogen. What, dear sir,
    Thus raps you? Are you well? 660
  • Iachimo. Thanks, madam; well.
    [To PISANIO]
    Beseech you, sir, desire
    My man's abode where I did leave him: he
    Is strange and peevish. 665
  • Pisanio. I was going, sir,
    To give him welcome.

[Exit]

  • Imogen. Continues well my lord? His health, beseech you?
  • Imogen. Is he disposed to mirth? I hope he is.
  • Iachimo. Exceeding pleasant; none a stranger there
    So merry and so gamesome: he is call'd
    The Briton reveller.
  • Imogen. When he was here, 675
    He did incline to sadness, and oft-times
    Not knowing why.
  • Iachimo. I never saw him sad.
    There is a Frenchman his companion, one
    An eminent monsieur, that, it seems, much loves 680
    A Gallian girl at home; he furnaces
    The thick sighs from him, whiles the jolly Briton—
    Your lord, I mean—laughs from's free lungs, cries 'O,
    Can my sides hold, to think that man, who knows
    By history, report, or his own proof, 685
    What woman is, yea, what she cannot choose
    But must be, will his free hours languish for
    Assured bondage?'
  • Iachimo. Ay, madam, with his eyes in flood with laughter: 690
    It is a recreation to be by
    And hear him mock the Frenchman. But, heavens know,
    Some men are much to blame.
  • Iachimo. Not he: but yet heaven's bounty towards him might 695
    Be used more thankfully. In himself, 'tis much;
    In you, which I account his beyond all talents,
    Whilst I am bound to wonder, I am bound
    To pity too.
  • Imogen. What do you pity, sir? 700
  • Imogen. Am I one, sir?
    You look on me: what wreck discern you in me
    Deserves your pity?
  • Iachimo. Lamentable! What, 705
    To hide me from the radiant sun and solace
    I' the dungeon by a snuff?
  • Imogen. I pray you, sir,
    Deliver with more openness your answers
    To my demands. Why do you pity me? 710
  • Iachimo. That others do—
    I was about to say—enjoy your—But
    It is an office of the gods to venge it,
    Not mine to speak on 't.
  • Imogen. You do seem to know 715
    Something of me, or what concerns me: pray you,—
    Since doubling things go ill often hurts more
    Than to be sure they do; for certainties
    Either are past remedies, or, timely knowing,
    The remedy then born—discover to me 720
    What both you spur and stop.
  • Iachimo. Had I this cheek
    To bathe my lips upon; this hand, whose touch,
    Whose every touch, would force the feeler's soul
    To the oath of loyalty; this object, which 725
    Takes prisoner the wild motion of mine eye,
    Fixing it only here; should I, damn'd then,
    Slaver with lips as common as the stairs
    That mount the Capitol; join gripes with hands
    Made hard with hourly falsehood—falsehood, as 730
    With labour; then by-peeping in an eye
    Base and unlustrous as the smoky light
    That's fed with stinking tallow; it were fit
    That all the plagues of hell should at one time
    Encounter such revolt. 735
  • Imogen. My lord, I fear,
    Has forgot Britain.
  • Iachimo. And himself. Not I,
    Inclined to this intelligence, pronounce
    The beggary of his change; but 'tis your graces 740
    That from pay mutest conscience to my tongue
    Charms this report out.
  • Iachimo. O dearest soul! your cause doth strike my heart
    With pity, that doth make me sick. A lady 745
    So fair, and fasten'd to an empery,
    Would make the great'st king double,—to be partner'd
    With tomboys hired with that self-exhibition
    Which your own coffers yield! with diseased ventures
    That play with all infirmities for gold 750
    Which rottenness can lend nature! such boil'd stuff
    As well might poison poison! Be revenged;
    Or she that bore you was no queen, and you
    Recoil from your great stock.
  • Imogen. Revenged! 755
    How should I be revenged? If this be true,—
    As I have such a heart that both mine ears
    Must not in haste abuse—if it be true,
    How should I be revenged?
  • Iachimo. Should he make me 760
    Live, like Diana's priest, betwixt cold sheets,
    Whiles he is vaulting variable ramps,
    In your despite, upon your purse? Revenge it.
    I dedicate myself to your sweet pleasure,
    More noble than that runagate to your bed, 765
    And will continue fast to your affection,
    Still close as sure.
  • Iachimo. Let me my service tender on your lips.
  • Imogen. Away! I do condemn mine ears that have 770
    So long attended thee. If thou wert honourable,
    Thou wouldst have told this tale for virtue, not
    For such an end thou seek'st,—as base as strange.
    Thou wrong'st a gentleman, who is as far
    From thy report as thou from honour, and 775
    Solicit'st here a lady that disdains
    Thee and the devil alike. What ho, Pisanio!
    The king my father shall be made acquainted
    Of thy assault: if he shall think it fit,
    A saucy stranger in his court to mart 780
    As in a Romish stew and to expound
    His beastly mind to us, he hath a court
    He little cares for and a daughter who
    He not respects at all. What, ho, Pisanio!
  • Iachimo. O happy Leonatus! I may say 785
    The credit that thy lady hath of thee
    Deserves thy trust, and thy most perfect goodness
    Her assured credit. Blessed live you long!
    A lady to the worthiest sir that ever
    Country call'd his! and you his mistress, only 790
    For the most worthiest fit! Give me your pardon.
    I have spoke this, to know if your affiance
    Were deeply rooted; and shall make your lord,
    That which he is, new o'er: and he is one
    The truest manner'd; such a holy witch 795
    That he enchants societies into him;
    Half all men's hearts are his.
  • Iachimo. He sits 'mongst men like a descended god:
    He hath a kind of honour sets him off, 800
    More than a mortal seeming. Be not angry,
    Most mighty princess, that I have adventured
    To try your taking a false report; which hath
    Honour'd with confirmation your great judgment
    In the election of a sir so rare, 805
    Which you know cannot err: the love I bear him
    Made me to fan you thus, but the gods made you,
    Unlike all others, chaffless. Pray, your pardon.
  • Imogen. All's well, sir: take my power i' the court
    for yours. 810
  • Iachimo. My humble thanks. I had almost forgot
    To entreat your grace but in a small request,
    And yet of moment to, for it concerns
    Your lord; myself and other noble friends,
    Are partners in the business. 815
  • Iachimo. Some dozen Romans of us and your lord—
    The best feather of our wing—have mingled sums
    To buy a present for the emperor
    Which I, the factor for the rest, have done 820
    In France: 'tis plate of rare device, and jewels
    Of rich and exquisite form; their values great;
    And I am something curious, being strange,
    To have them in safe stowage: may it please you
    To take them in protection? 825
  • Imogen. Willingly;
    And pawn mine honour for their safety: since
    My lord hath interest in them, I will keep them
    In my bedchamber.
  • Iachimo. They are in a trunk, 830
    Attended by my men: I will make bold
    To send them to you, only for this night;
    I must aboard to-morrow.
  • Iachimo. Yes, I beseech; or I shall short my word 835
    By lengthening my return. From Gallia
    I cross'd the seas on purpose and on promise
    To see your grace.
  • Imogen. I thank you for your pains:
    But not away to-morrow! 840
  • Iachimo. O, I must, madam:
    Therefore I shall beseech you, if you please
    To greet your lord with writing, do't to-night:
    I have outstood my time; which is material
    To the tender of our present. 845
  • Imogen. I will write.
    Send your trunk to me; it shall safe be kept,
    And truly yielded you. You're very welcome.

[Exeunt]

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