Open Source Shakespeare

Cymbeline, King of Britain

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Act II, Scene 4

Rome. Philario’s house.



  • Posthumus Leonatus. Fear it not, sir: I would I were so sure
    To win the king as I am bold her honour
    Will remain hers.
  • Philario. What means do you make to him?
  • Posthumus Leonatus. Not any, but abide the change of time, 1175
    Quake in the present winter's state and wish
    That warmer days would come: in these sear'd hopes,
    I barely gratify your love; they failing,
    I must die much your debtor.
  • Philario. Your very goodness and your company 1180
    O'erpays all I can do. By this, your king
    Hath heard of great Augustus: Caius Lucius
    Will do's commission throughly: and I think
    He'll grant the tribute, send the arrearages,
    Or look upon our Romans, whose remembrance 1185
    Is yet fresh in their grief.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. I do believe,
    Statist though I am none, nor like to be,
    That this will prove a war; and you shall hear
    The legions now in Gallia sooner landed 1190
    In our not-fearing Britain than have tidings
    Of any penny tribute paid. Our countrymen
    Are men more order'd than when Julius Caesar
    Smiled at their lack of skill, but found
    their courage 1195
    Worthy his frowning at: their discipline,
    Now mingled with their courages, will make known
    To their approvers they are people such
    That mend upon the world.


  • Philario. See! Iachimo!
  • Posthumus Leonatus. The swiftest harts have posted you by land;
    And winds of all the comers kiss'd your sails,
    To make your vessel nimble.
  • Philario. Welcome, sir. 1205
  • Posthumus Leonatus. I hope the briefness of your answer made
    The speediness of your return.
  • Iachimo. Your lady
    Is one of the fairest that I have look'd upon.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. And therewithal the best; or let her beauty 1210
    Look through a casement to allure false hearts
    And be false with them.
  • Iachimo. Here are letters for you.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. Their tenor good, I trust.
  • Iachimo. 'Tis very like. 1215
  • Philario. Was Caius Lucius in the Britain court
    When you were there?
  • Iachimo. He was expected then,
    But not approach'd.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. All is well yet. 1220
    Sparkles this stone as it was wont? or is't not
    Too dull for your good wearing?
  • Iachimo. If I had lost it,
    I should have lost the worth of it in gold.
    I'll make a journey twice as far, to enjoy 1225
    A second night of such sweet shortness which
    Was mine in Britain, for the ring is won.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. The stone's too hard to come by.
  • Iachimo. Not a whit,
    Your lady being so easy. 1230
  • Posthumus Leonatus. Make not, sir,
    Your loss your sport: I hope you know that we
    Must not continue friends.
  • Iachimo. Good sir, we must,
    If you keep covenant. Had I not brought 1235
    The knowledge of your mistress home, I grant
    We were to question further: but I now
    Profess myself the winner of her honour,
    Together with your ring; and not the wronger
    Of her or you, having proceeded but 1240
    By both your wills.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. If you can make't apparent
    That you have tasted her in bed, my hand
    And ring is yours; if not, the foul opinion
    You had of her pure honour gains or loses 1245
    Your sword or mine, or masterless leaves both
    To who shall find them.
  • Iachimo. Sir, my circumstances,
    Being so near the truth as I will make them,
    Must first induce you to believe: whose strength 1250
    I will confirm with oath; which, I doubt not,
    You'll give me leave to spare, when you shall find
    You need it not.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. Proceed.
  • Iachimo. First, her bedchamber,— 1255
    Where, I confess, I slept not, but profess
    Had that was well worth watching—it was hang'd
    With tapesty of silk and silver; the story
    Proud Cleopatra, when she met her Roman,
    And Cydnus swell'd above the banks, or for 1260
    The press of boats or pride: a piece of work
    So bravely done, so rich, that it did strive
    In workmanship and value; which I wonder'd
    Could be so rarely and exactly wrought,
    Since the true life on't was— 1265
  • Posthumus Leonatus. This is true;
    And this you might have heard of here, by me,
    Or by some other.
  • Iachimo. More particulars
    Must justify my knowledge. 1270
  • Posthumus Leonatus. So they must,
    Or do your honour injury.
  • Iachimo. The chimney
    Is south the chamber, and the chimney-piece
    Chaste Dian bathing: never saw I figures 1275
    So likely to report themselves: the cutter
    Was as another nature, dumb; outwent her,
    Motion and breath left out.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. This is a thing
    Which you might from relation likewise reap, 1280
    Being, as it is, much spoke of.
  • Iachimo. The roof o' the chamber
    With golden cherubins is fretted: her andirons—
    I had forgot them—were two winking Cupids
    Of silver, each on one foot standing, nicely 1285
    Depending on their brands.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. This is her honour!
    Let it be granted you have seen all this—and praise
    Be given to your remembrance—the description
    Of what is in her chamber nothing saves 1290
    The wager you have laid.
  • Iachimo. Then, if you can,
    [Showing the bracelet]
    Be pale: I beg but leave to air this jewel; see!
    And now 'tis up again: it must be married 1295
    To that your diamond; I'll keep them.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. Jove!
    Once more let me behold it: is it that
    Which I left with her?
  • Iachimo. Sir—I thank her—that: 1300
    She stripp'd it from her arm; I see her yet;
    Her pretty action did outsell her gift,
    And yet enrich'd it too: she gave it me, and said
    She prized it once.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. May be she pluck'd it off 1305
    To send it me.
  • Iachimo. She writes so to you, doth she?
  • Posthumus Leonatus. O, no, no, no! 'tis true. Here, take this too;
    [Gives the ring]
    It is a basilisk unto mine eye, 1310
    Kills me to look on't. Let there be no honour
    Where there is beauty; truth, where semblance; love,
    Where there's another man: the vows of women
    Of no more bondage be, to where they are made,
    Than they are to their virtues; which is nothing. 1315
    O, above measure false!
  • Philario. Have patience, sir,
    And take your ring again; 'tis not yet won:
    It may be probable she lost it; or
    Who knows if one of her women, being corrupted, 1320
    Hath stol'n it from her?
  • Posthumus Leonatus. Very true;
    And so, I hope, he came by't. Back my ring:
    Render to me some corporal sign about her,
    More evident than this; for this was stolen. 1325
  • Iachimo. By Jupiter, I had it from her arm.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. Hark you, he swears; by Jupiter he swears.
    'Tis true:—nay, keep the ring—'tis true: I am sure
    She would not lose it: her attendants are
    All sworn and honourable:—they induced to steal it! 1330
    And by a stranger!—No, he hath enjoyed her:
    The cognizance of her incontinency
    Is this: she hath bought the name of whore
    thus dearly.
    There, take thy hire; and all the fiends of hell 1335
    Divide themselves between you!
  • Philario. Sir, be patient:
    This is not strong enough to be believed
    Of one persuaded well of—
  • Posthumus Leonatus. Never talk on't; 1340
    She hath been colted by him.
  • Iachimo. If you seek
    For further satisfying, under her breast—
    Worthy the pressing—lies a mole, right proud
    Of that most delicate lodging: by my life, 1345
    I kiss'd it; and it gave me present hunger
    To feed again, though full. You do remember
    This stain upon her?
  • Posthumus Leonatus. Ay, and it doth confirm
    Another stain, as big as hell can hold, 1350
    Were there no more but it.
  • Iachimo. Will you hear more?
  • Posthumus Leonatus. Spare your arithmetic: never count the turns;
    Once, and a million!
  • Iachimo. I'll be sworn— 1355
  • Posthumus Leonatus. No swearing.
    If you will swear you have not done't, you lie;
    And I will kill thee, if thou dost deny
    Thou'st made me cuckold.
  • Iachimo. I'll deny nothing. 1360
  • Posthumus Leonatus. O, that I had her here, to tear her limb-meal!
    I will go there and do't, i' the court, before
    Her father. I'll do something—


  • Philario. Quite besides 1365
    The government of patience! You have won:
    Let's follow him, and pervert the present wrath
    He hath against himself.
  • Iachimo. With an my heart.