Open Source Shakespeare

Cymbeline, King of Britain

Act I

Scene 1. Britain. The garden of Cymbeline’s palace.

Scene 2. The same. A public place.

Scene 3. A room in Cymbeline’s palace.

Scene 4. Rome. Philario’s house.

Scene 5. Britain. A room in Cymbeline’s palace.

Scene 6. The same. Another room in the palace.

• To print this text, click here
• To save this text, go to your browser's File menu, then select Save As


Act I, Scene 1

Britain. The garden of Cymbeline’s palace.


[Enter two Gentlemen]

  • First Gentleman. You do not meet a man but frowns: our bloods
    No more obey the heavens than our courtiers
    Still seem as does the king.
  • Second Gentleman. But what's the matter? 5
  • First Gentleman. His daughter, and the heir of's kingdom, whom
    He purposed to his wife's sole son—a widow
    That late he married—hath referr'd herself
    Unto a poor but worthy gentleman: she's wedded;
    Her husband banish'd; she imprison'd: all 10
    Is outward sorrow; though I think the king
    Be touch'd at very heart.
  • Second Gentleman. None but the king?
  • First Gentleman. He that hath lost her too; so is the queen,
    That most desired the match; but not a courtier, 15
    Although they wear their faces to the bent
    Of the king's look's, hath a heart that is not
    Glad at the thing they scowl at.
  • Second Gentleman. And why so?
  • First Gentleman. He that hath miss'd the princess is a thing 20
    Too bad for bad report: and he that hath her—
    I mean, that married her, alack, good man!
    And therefore banish'd—is a creature such
    As, to seek through the regions of the earth
    For one his like, there would be something failing 25
    In him that should compare. I do not think
    So fair an outward and such stuff within
    Endows a man but he.
  • Second Gentleman. You speak him far.
  • First Gentleman. I do extend him, sir, within himself, 30
    Crush him together rather than unfold
    His measure duly.
  • Second Gentleman. What's his name and birth?
  • First Gentleman. I cannot delve him to the root: his father
    Was call'd Sicilius, who did join his honour 35
    Against the Romans with Cassibelan,
    But had his titles by Tenantius whom
    He served with glory and admired success,
    So gain'd the sur-addition Leonatus;
    And had, besides this gentleman in question, 40
    Two other sons, who in the wars o' the time
    Died with their swords in hand; for which
    their father,
    Then old and fond of issue, took such sorrow
    That he quit being, and his gentle lady, 45
    Big of this gentleman our theme, deceased
    As he was born. The king he takes the babe
    To his protection, calls him Posthumus Leonatus,
    Breeds him and makes him of his bed-chamber,
    Puts to him all the learnings that his time 50
    Could make him the receiver of; which he took,
    As we do air, fast as 'twas minister'd,
    And in's spring became a harvest, lived in court—
    Which rare it is to do—most praised, most loved,
    A sample to the youngest, to the more mature 55
    A glass that feated them, and to the graver
    A child that guided dotards; to his mistress,
    For whom he now is banish'd, her own price
    Proclaims how she esteem'd him and his virtue;
    By her election may be truly read 60
    What kind of man he is.
  • Second Gentleman. I honour him
    Even out of your report. But, pray you, tell me,
    Is she sole child to the king?
  • First Gentleman. His only child. 65
    He had two sons: if this be worth your hearing,
    Mark it: the eldest of them at three years old,
    I' the swathing-clothes the other, from their nursery
    Were stol'n, and to this hour no guess in knowledge
    Which way they went. 70
  • Second Gentleman. How long is this ago?
  • First Gentleman. Some twenty years.
  • Second Gentleman. That a king's children should be so convey'd,
    So slackly guarded, and the search so slow,
    That could not trace them! 75
  • First Gentleman. Howsoe'er 'tis strange,
    Or that the negligence may well be laugh'd at,
    Yet is it true, sir.
  • Second Gentleman. I do well believe you.
  • First Gentleman. We must forbear: here comes the gentleman, 80
    The queen, and princess.



  • Queen. No, be assured you shall not find me, daughter,
    After the slander of most stepmothers, 85
    Evil-eyed unto you: you're my prisoner, but
    Your gaoler shall deliver you the keys
    That lock up your restraint. For you, Posthumus,
    So soon as I can win the offended king,
    I will be known your advocate: marry, yet 90
    The fire of rage is in him, and 'twere good
    You lean'd unto his sentence with what patience
    Your wisdom may inform you.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. Please your highness,
    I will from hence to-day. 95
  • Queen. You know the peril.
    I'll fetch a turn about the garden, pitying
    The pangs of barr'd affections, though the king
    Hath charged you should not speak together.


  • Imogen. O
    Dissembling courtesy! How fine this tyrant
    Can tickle where she wounds! My dearest husband,
    I something fear my father's wrath; but nothing—
    Always reserved my holy duty—what 105
    His rage can do on me: you must be gone;
    And I shall here abide the hourly shot
    Of angry eyes, not comforted to live,
    But that there is this jewel in the world
    That I may see again. 110
  • Posthumus Leonatus. My queen! my mistress!
    O lady, weep no more, lest I give cause
    To be suspected of more tenderness
    Than doth become a man. I will remain
    The loyal'st husband that did e'er plight troth: 115
    My residence in Rome at one Philario's,
    Who to my father was a friend, to me
    Known but by letter: thither write, my queen,
    And with mine eyes I'll drink the words you send,
    Though ink be made of gall. 120

[Re-enter QUEEN]

  • Queen. Be brief, I pray you:
    If the king come, I shall incur I know not
    How much of his displeasure.
    [Aside] 125
    Yet I'll move him
    To walk this way: I never do him wrong,
    But he does buy my injuries, to be friends;
    Pays dear for my offences.


  • Posthumus Leonatus. Should we be taking leave
    As long a term as yet we have to live,
    The loathness to depart would grow. Adieu!
  • Imogen. Nay, stay a little:
    Were you but riding forth to air yourself, 135
    Such parting were too petty. Look here, love;
    This diamond was my mother's: take it, heart;
    But keep it till you woo another wife,
    When Imogen is dead.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. How, how! another? 140
    You gentle gods, give me but this I have,
    And sear up my embracements from a next
    With bonds of death!
    [Putting on the ring]
    Remain, remain thou here 145
    While sense can keep it on. And, sweetest, fairest,
    As I my poor self did exchange for you,
    To your so infinite loss, so in our trifles
    I still win of you: for my sake wear this;
    It is a manacle of love; I'll place it 150
    Upon this fairest prisoner.

[Putting a bracelet upon her arm]

  • Imogen. O the gods!
    When shall we see again?

[Enter CYMBELINE and Lords]

  • Posthumus Leonatus. Alack, the king!
  • Cymbeline. Thou basest thing, avoid! hence, from my sight!
    If after this command thou fraught the court
    With thy unworthiness, thou diest: away!
    Thou'rt poison to my blood. 160
  • Posthumus Leonatus. The gods protect you!
    And bless the good remainders of the court! I am gone.


  • Imogen. There cannot be a pinch in death
    More sharp than this is. 165
  • Cymbeline. O disloyal thing,
    That shouldst repair my youth, thou heap'st
    A year's age on me.
  • Imogen. I beseech you, sir,
    Harm not yourself with your vexation 170
    I am senseless of your wrath; a touch more rare
    Subdues all pangs, all fears.
  • Cymbeline. Past grace? obedience?
  • Imogen. Past hope, and in despair; that way, past grace.
  • Cymbeline. That mightst have had the sole son of my queen! 175
  • Imogen. O blest, that I might not! I chose an eagle,
    And did avoid a puttock.
  • Cymbeline. Thou took'st a beggar; wouldst have made my throne
    A seat for baseness.
  • Imogen. No; I rather added 180
    A lustre to it.
  • Cymbeline. O thou vile one!
  • Imogen. Sir,
    It is your fault that I have loved Posthumus:
    You bred him as my playfellow, and he is 185
    A man worth any woman, overbuys me
    Almost the sum he pays.
  • Cymbeline. What, art thou mad?
  • Imogen. Almost, sir: heaven restore me! Would I were
    A neat-herd's daughter, and my Leonatus 190
    Our neighbour shepherd's son!
  • Cymbeline. Thou foolish thing!
    [Re-enter QUEEN]
    They were again together: you have done
    Not after our command. Away with her, 195
    And pen her up.
  • Queen. Beseech your patience. Peace,
    Dear lady daughter, peace! Sweet sovereign,
    Leave us to ourselves; and make yourself some comfort
    Out of your best advice. 200
  • Cymbeline. Nay, let her languish
    A drop of blood a day; and, being aged,
    Die of this folly!

[Exeunt CYMBELINE and Lords]

  • Queen. Fie! you must give way. 205
    [Enter PISANIO]
    Here is your servant. How now, sir! What news?
  • Pisanio. My lord your son drew on my master.
  • Queen. Ha!
    No harm, I trust, is done? 210
  • Pisanio. There might have been,
    But that my master rather play'd than fought
    And had no help of anger: they were parted
    By gentlemen at hand.
  • Queen. I am very glad on't. 215
  • Imogen. Your son's my father's friend; he takes his part.
    To draw upon an exile! O brave sir!
    I would they were in Afric both together;
    Myself by with a needle, that I might prick
    The goer-back. Why came you from your master? 220
  • Pisanio. On his command: he would not suffer me
    To bring him to the haven; left these notes
    Of what commands I should be subject to,
    When 't pleased you to employ me.
  • Queen. This hath been 225
    Your faithful servant: I dare lay mine honour
    He will remain so.
  • Pisanio. I humbly thank your highness.
  • Queen. Pray, walk awhile.
  • Imogen. About some half-hour hence, 230
    I pray you, speak with me: you shall at least
    Go see my lord aboard: for this time leave me.



Act I, Scene 2

The same. A public place.


[Enter CLOTEN and two Lords]

  • First Lord. Sir, I would advise you to shift a shirt; the 235
    violence of action hath made you reek as a
    sacrifice: where air comes out, air comes in:
    there's none abroad so wholesome as that you vent.
  • Cloten. If my shirt were bloody, then to shift it. Have I hurt him?
  • Second Lord. [Aside] No, 'faith; not so much as his patience. 240
  • First Lord. Hurt him! his body's a passable carcass, if he be
    not hurt: it is a thoroughfare for steel, if it be not hurt.
  • Second Lord. [Aside] His steel was in debt; it went o' the
    backside the town.
  • Cloten. The villain would not stand me. 245
  • Second Lord. [Aside] No; but he fled forward still, toward your face.
  • First Lord. Stand you! You have land enough of your own: but
    he added to your having; gave you some ground.
  • Second Lord. [Aside] As many inches as you have oceans. Puppies!
  • Cloten. I would they had not come between us. 250
  • Second Lord. [Aside] So would I, till you had measured how long
    a fool you were upon the ground.
  • Cloten. And that she should love this fellow and refuse me!
  • Second Lord. [Aside] If it be a sin to make a true election, she
    is damned. 255
  • First Lord. Sir, as I told you always, her beauty and her brain
    go not together: she's a good sign, but I have seen
    small reflection of her wit.
  • Second Lord. [Aside] She shines not upon fools, lest the
    reflection should hurt her. 260
  • Cloten. Come, I'll to my chamber. Would there had been some
    hurt done!
  • Second Lord. [Aside] I wish not so; unless it had been the fall
    of an ass, which is no great hurt.
  • Cloten. You'll go with us? 265
  • First Lord. I'll attend your lordship.
  • Cloten. Nay, come, let's go together.
  • Second Lord. Well, my lord.



Act I, Scene 3

A room in Cymbeline’s palace.



  • Imogen. I would thou grew'st unto the shores o' the haven,
    And question'dst every sail: if he should write
    And not have it, 'twere a paper lost,
    As offer'd mercy is. What was the last
    That he spake to thee? 275
  • Pisanio. It was his queen, his queen!
  • Imogen. Then waved his handkerchief?
  • Pisanio. And kiss'd it, madam.
  • Imogen. Senseless Linen! happier therein than I!
    And that was all? 280
  • Pisanio. No, madam; for so long
    As he could make me with this eye or ear
    Distinguish him from others, he did keep
    The deck, with glove, or hat, or handkerchief,
    Still waving, as the fits and stirs of 's mind 285
    Could best express how slow his soul sail'd on,
    How swift his ship.
  • Imogen. Thou shouldst have made him
    As little as a crow, or less, ere left
    To after-eye him. 290
  • Pisanio. Madam, so I did.
  • Imogen. I would have broke mine eye-strings; crack'd them, but
    To look upon him, till the diminution
    Of space had pointed him sharp as my needle,
    Nay, follow'd him, till he had melted from 295
    The smallness of a gnat to air, and then
    Have turn'd mine eye and wept. But, good Pisanio,
    When shall we hear from him?
  • Pisanio. Be assured, madam,
    With his next vantage. 300
  • Imogen. I did not take my leave of him, but had
    Most pretty things to say: ere I could tell him
    How I would think on him at certain hours
    Such thoughts and such, or I could make him swear
    The shes of Italy should not betray 305
    Mine interest and his honour, or have charged him,
    At the sixth hour of morn, at noon, at midnight,
    To encounter me with orisons, for then
    I am in heaven for him; or ere I could
    Give him that parting kiss which I had set 310
    Betwixt two charming words, comes in my father
    And like the tyrannous breathing of the north
    Shakes all our buds from growing.

[Enter a Lady]

  • Lady. The queen, madam, 315
    Desires your highness' company.
  • Imogen. Those things I bid you do, get them dispatch'd.
    I will attend the queen.
  • Pisanio. Madam, I shall.



Act I, Scene 4

Rome. Philario’s house.


[Enter PHILARIO, IACHIMO, a Frenchman, a] [p]Dutchman, and a Spaniard]

  • Iachimo. Believe it, sir, I have seen him in Britain: he was
    then of a crescent note, expected to prove so worthy
    as since he hath been allowed the name of; but I 325
    could then have looked on him without the help of
    admiration, though the catalogue of his endowments
    had been tabled by his side and I to peruse him by items.
  • Philario. You speak of him when he was less furnished than now
    he is with that which makes him both without and within. 330
  • Frenchman. I have seen him in France: we had very many there
    could behold the sun with as firm eyes as he.
  • Iachimo. This matter of marrying his king's daughter, wherein
    he must be weighed rather by her value than his own,
    words him, I doubt not, a great deal from the matter. 335
  • Frenchman. And then his banishment.
  • Iachimo. Ay, and the approbation of those that weep this
    lamentable divorce under her colours are wonderfully
    to extend him; be it but to fortify her judgment,
    which else an easy battery might lay flat, for 340
    taking a beggar without less quality. But how comes
    it he is to sojourn with you? How creeps
  • Philario. His father and I were soldiers together; to whom I
    have been often bound for no less than my life. 345
    Here comes the Briton: let him be so entertained
    amongst you as suits, with gentlemen of your
    knowing, to a stranger of his quality.
    I beseech you all, be better known to this 350
    gentleman; whom I commend to you as a noble friend
    of mine: how worthy he is I will leave to appear
    hereafter, rather than story him in his own hearing.
  • Frenchman. Sir, we have known together in Orleans.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. Since when I have been debtor to you for courtesies, 355
    which I will be ever to pay and yet pay still.
  • Frenchman. Sir, you o'er-rate my poor kindness: I was glad I
    did atone my countryman and you; it had been pity
    you should have been put together with so mortal a
    purpose as then each bore, upon importance of so 360
    slight and trivial a nature.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. By your pardon, sir, I was then a young traveller;
    rather shunned to go even with what I heard than in
    my every action to be guided by others' experiences:
    but upon my mended judgment—if I offend not to say 365
    it is mended—my quarrel was not altogether slight.
  • Frenchman. 'Faith, yes, to be put to the arbitrement of swords,
    and by such two that would by all likelihood have
    confounded one the other, or have fallen both.
  • Iachimo. Can we, with manners, ask what was the difference? 370
  • Frenchman. Safely, I think: 'twas a contention in public,
    which may, without contradiction, suffer the report.
    It was much like an argument that fell out last
    night, where each of us fell in praise of our
    country mistresses; this gentleman at that time 375
    vouching—and upon warrant of bloody
    affirmation—his to be more fair, virtuous, wise,
    chaste, constant-qualified and less attemptable
    than any the rarest of our ladies in France.
  • Iachimo. That lady is not now living, or this gentleman's 380
    opinion by this worn out.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. She holds her virtue still and I my mind.
  • Iachimo. You must not so far prefer her 'fore ours of Italy.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. Being so far provoked as I was in France, I would
    abate her nothing, though I profess myself her 385
    adorer, not her friend.
  • Iachimo. As fair and as good—a kind of hand-in-hand
    comparison—had been something too fair and too good
    for any lady in Britain. If she went before others
    I have seen, as that diamond of yours outlustres 390
    many I have beheld. I could not but believe she
    excelled many: but I have not seen the most
    precious diamond that is, nor you the lady.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. I praised her as I rated her: so do I my stone.
  • Iachimo. What do you esteem it at? 395
  • Posthumus Leonatus. More than the world enjoys.
  • Iachimo. Either your unparagoned mistress is dead, or she's
    outprized by a trifle.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. You are mistaken: the one may be sold, or given, if
    there were wealth enough for the purchase, or merit 400
    for the gift: the other is not a thing for sale,
    and only the gift of the gods.
  • Iachimo. Which the gods have given you?
  • Posthumus Leonatus. Which, by their graces, I will keep.
  • Iachimo. You may wear her in title yours: but, you know, 405
    strange fowl light upon neighbouring ponds. Your
    ring may be stolen too: so your brace of unprizable
    estimations; the one is but frail and the other
    casual; a cunning thief, or a that way accomplished
    courtier, would hazard the winning both of first and last. 410
  • Posthumus Leonatus. Your Italy contains none so accomplished a courtier
    to convince the honour of my mistress, if, in the
    holding or loss of that, you term her frail. I do
    nothing doubt you have store of thieves;
    notwithstanding, I fear not my ring. 415
  • Philario. Let us leave here, gentlemen.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. Sir, with all my heart. This worthy signior, I
    thank him, makes no stranger of me; we are familiar at first.
  • Iachimo. With five times so much conversation, I should get
    ground of your fair mistress, make her go back, even 420
    to the yielding, had I admittance and opportunity to friend.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. No, no.
  • Iachimo. I dare thereupon pawn the moiety of my estate to
    your ring; which, in my opinion, o'ervalues it
    something: but I make my wager rather against your 425
    confidence than her reputation: and, to bar your
    offence herein too, I durst attempt it against any
    lady in the world.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. You are a great deal abused in too bold a
    persuasion; and I doubt not you sustain what you're 430
    worthy of by your attempt.
  • Iachimo. What's that?
  • Posthumus Leonatus. A repulse: though your attempt, as you call it,
    deserve more; a punishment too.
  • Philario. Gentlemen, enough of this: it came in too suddenly; 435
    let it die as it was born, and, I pray you, be
    better acquainted.
  • Iachimo. Would I had put my estate and my neighbour's on the
    approbation of what I have spoke!
  • Posthumus Leonatus. What lady would you choose to assail? 440
  • Iachimo. Yours; whom in constancy you think stands so safe.
    I will lay you ten thousand ducats to your ring,
    that, commend me to the court where your lady is,
    with no more advantage than the opportunity of a
    second conference, and I will bring from thence 445
    that honour of hers which you imagine so reserved.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. I will wage against your gold, gold to it: my ring
    I hold dear as my finger; 'tis part of it.
  • Iachimo. You are afraid, and therein the wiser. If you buy
    ladies' flesh at a million a dram, you cannot 450
    preserve it from tainting: but I see you have some
    religion in you, that you fear.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. This is but a custom in your tongue; you bear a
    graver purpose, I hope.
  • Iachimo. I am the master of my speeches, and would undergo 455
    what's spoken, I swear.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. Will you? I shall but lend my diamond till your
    return: let there be covenants drawn between's: my
    mistress exceeds in goodness the hugeness of your
    unworthy thinking: I dare you to this match: here's my ring. 460
  • Philario. I will have it no lay.
  • Iachimo. By the gods, it is one. If I bring you no
    sufficient testimony that I have enjoyed the dearest
    bodily part of your mistress, my ten thousand ducats
    are yours; so is your diamond too: if I come off, 465
    and leave her in such honour as you have trust in,
    she your jewel, this your jewel, and my gold are
    yours: provided I have your commendation for my more
    free entertainment.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. I embrace these conditions; let us have articles 470
    betwixt us. Only, thus far you shall answer: if
    you make your voyage upon her and give me directly
    to understand you have prevailed, I am no further
    your enemy; she is not worth our debate: if she
    remain unseduced, you not making it appear 475
    otherwise, for your ill opinion and the assault you
    have made to her chastity you shall answer me with
    your sword.
  • Iachimo. Your hand; a covenant: we will have these things set
    down by lawful counsel, and straight away for 480
    Britain, lest the bargain should catch cold and
    starve: I will fetch my gold and have our two
    wagers recorded.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. Agreed.


  • Frenchman. Will this hold, think you?
  • Philario. Signior Iachimo will not from it.
    Pray, let us follow 'em.



Act I, Scene 5

Britain. A room in Cymbeline’s palace.


[Enter QUEEN, Ladies, and CORNELIUS]

  • Queen. Whiles yet the dew's on ground, gather those flowers;
    Make haste: who has the note of them?
  • First Lady. I, madam.
  • Queen. Dispatch.
    [Exeunt Ladies] 495
    Now, master doctor, have you brought those drugs?
  • Cornelius. Pleaseth your highness, ay: here they are, madam:
    [Presenting a small box]
    But I beseech your grace, without offence,—
    My conscience bids me ask—wherefore you have 500
    Commanded of me those most poisonous compounds,
    Which are the movers of a languishing death;
    But though slow, deadly?
  • Queen. I wonder, doctor,
    Thou ask'st me such a question. Have I not been 505
    Thy pupil long? Hast thou not learn'd me how
    To make perfumes? distil? preserve? yea, so
    That our great king himself doth woo me oft
    For my confections? Having thus far proceeded,—
    Unless thou think'st me devilish—is't not meet 510
    That I did amplify my judgment in
    Other conclusions? I will try the forces
    Of these thy compounds on such creatures as
    We count not worth the hanging, but none human,
    To try the vigour of them and apply 515
    Allayments to their act, and by them gather
    Their several virtues and effects.
  • Cornelius. Your highness
    Shall from this practise but make hard your heart:
    Besides, the seeing these effects will be 520
    Both noisome and infectious.
  • Queen. O, content thee.
    [Enter PISANIO]
    Here comes a flattering rascal; upon him 525
    Will I first work: he's for his master,
    An enemy to my son. How now, Pisanio!
    Doctor, your service for this time is ended;
    Take your own way.
  • Cornelius. [Aside] I do suspect you, madam; 530
    But you shall do no harm.
  • Queen. [To PISANIO] Hark thee, a word.
  • Cornelius. [Aside] I do not like her. She doth think she has
    Strange lingering poisons: I do know her spirit,
    And will not trust one of her malice with 535
    A drug of such damn'd nature. Those she has
    Will stupefy and dull the sense awhile;
    Which first, perchance, she'll prove on
    cats and dogs,
    Then afterward up higher: but there is 540
    No danger in what show of death it makes,
    More than the locking-up the spirits a time,
    To be more fresh, reviving. She is fool'd
    With a most false effect; and I the truer,
    So to be false with her. 545
  • Queen. No further service, doctor,
    Until I send for thee.
  • Cornelius. I humbly take my leave.


  • Queen. Weeps she still, say'st thou? Dost thou think in time 550
    She will not quench and let instructions enter
    Where folly now possesses? Do thou work:
    When thou shalt bring me word she loves my son,
    I'll tell thee on the instant thou art then
    As great as is thy master, greater, for 555
    His fortunes all lie speechless and his name
    Is at last gasp: return he cannot, nor
    Continue where he is: to shift his being
    Is to exchange one misery with another,
    And every day that comes comes to decay 560
    A day's work in him. What shalt thou expect,
    To be depender on a thing that leans,
    Who cannot be new built, nor has no friends,
    So much as but to prop him?
    [The QUEEN drops the box: PISANIO takes it up] 565
    Thou takest up
    Thou know'st not what; but take it for thy labour:
    It is a thing I made, which hath the king
    Five times redeem'd from death: I do not know
    What is more cordial. Nay, I prethee, take it; 570
    It is an earnest of a further good
    That I mean to thee. Tell thy mistress how
    The case stands with her; do't as from thyself.
    Think what a chance thou changest on, but think
    Thou hast thy mistress still, to boot, my son, 575
    Who shall take notice of thee: I'll move the king
    To any shape of thy preferment such
    As thou'lt desire; and then myself, I chiefly,
    That set thee on to this desert, am bound
    To load thy merit richly. Call my women: 580
    Think on my words.
    [Exit PISANIO]
    A sly and constant knave,
    Not to be shaked; the agent for his master
    And the remembrancer of her to hold 585
    The hand-fast to her lord. I have given him that
    Which, if he take, shall quite unpeople her
    Of liegers for her sweet, and which she after,
    Except she bend her humour, shall be assured
    To taste of too. 590
    [Re-enter PISANIO and Ladies]
    So, so: well done, well done:
    The violets, cowslips, and the primroses,
    Bear to my closet. Fare thee well, Pisanio;
    Think on my words. 595

[Exeunt QUEEN and Ladies]

  • Pisanio. And shall do:
    But when to my good lord I prove untrue,
    I'll choke myself: there's all I'll do for you.



Act I, Scene 6

The same. Another room in the palace.


[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


  • 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.


  • Imogen. Continues well my lord? His health, beseech you?
  • Iachimo. Well, madam. 670
  • 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?'
  • Imogen. Will my lord say so?
  • 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.
  • Imogen. Not he, I hope.
  • 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
  • Iachimo. Two creatures heartily.
  • 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.
  • Imogen. Let me hear no more.
  • 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.
  • Imogen. What, ho, Pisanio!
  • 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.
  • Imogen. You make amends.
  • 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
  • Imogen. Pray, what is't?
  • 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.
  • Imogen. O, no, no.
  • 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.