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A man whose blood
Is very snow-broth; one who never feels
The wanton stings and motions of the sense.

      — Measure for Measure, Act I Scene 4


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Cymbeline, King of Britain

Act II

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Scene 1. Britain. Before Cymbeline’s palace.

Scene 2. Imogen’s bedchamber in Cymbeline’s palace:

Scene 3. An ante-chamber adjoining Imogen’s apartments.

Scene 4. Rome. Philario’s house.

Scene 5. Another room in Philario’s house.


Act II, Scene 1

Britain. Before Cymbeline’s palace.

      next scene .

[Enter CLOTEN and two Lords]

  • Cloten. Was there ever man had such luck! when I kissed the
    jack, upon an up-cast to be hit away! I had a
    hundred pound on't: and then a whoreson jackanapes
    must take me up for swearing; as if I borrowed mine
    oaths of him and might not spend them at my pleasure. 855
  • First Lord. What got he by that? You have broke his pate with
    your bowl.
  • Second Lord. [Aside] If his wit had been like him that broke it,
    it would have run all out.
  • Cloten. When a gentleman is disposed to swear, it is not for 860
    any standers-by to curtail his oaths, ha?
  • Second Lord. No my lord;
    nor crop the ears of them.
  • Cloten. Whoreson dog! I give him satisfaction? 865
    Would he had been one of my rank!
  • Cloten. I am not vexed more at any thing in the earth: a
    pox on't! I had rather not be so noble as I am;
    they dare not fight with me, because of the queen my 870
    mother: every Jack-slave hath his bellyful of
    fighting, and I must go up and down like a cock that
    nobody can match.
  • Second Lord. [Aside] You are cock and capon too; and you crow,
    cock, with your comb on. 875
  • Second Lord. It is not fit your lordship should undertake every
    companion that you give offence to.
  • Cloten. No, I know that: but it is fit I should commit
    offence to my inferiors. 880
  • First Lord. Did you hear of a stranger that's come to court to-night?
  • Cloten. A stranger, and I not know on't!
  • Second Lord. [Aside] He's a strange fellow himself, and knows it 885
  • First Lord. There's an Italian come; and, 'tis thought, one of
    Leonatus' friends.
  • Cloten. Leonatus! a banished rascal; and he's another,
    whatsoever he be. Who told you of this stranger? 890
  • Cloten. Is it fit I went to look upon him? is there no
    derogation in't?
  • Cloten. Not easily, I think. 895
  • Second Lord. [Aside] You are a fool granted; therefore your
    issues, being foolish, do not derogate.
  • Cloten. Come, I'll go see this Italian: what I have lost
    to-day at bowls I'll win to-night of him. Come, go.
  • Second Lord. I'll attend your lordship. 900
    [Exeunt CLOTEN and First Lord]
    That such a crafty devil as is his mother
    Should yield the world this ass! a woman that
    Bears all down with her brain; and this her son
    Cannot take two from twenty, for his heart, 905
    And leave eighteen. Alas, poor princess,
    Thou divine Imogen, what thou endurest,
    Betwixt a father by thy step-dame govern'd,
    A mother hourly coining plots, a wooer
    More hateful than the foul expulsion is 910
    Of thy dear husband, than that horrid act
    Of the divorce he'ld make! The heavens hold firm
    The walls of thy dear honour, keep unshaked
    That temple, thy fair mind, that thou mayst stand,
    To enjoy thy banish'd lord and this great land! 915


. previous scene      

Act II, Scene 2

Imogen’s bedchamber in Cymbeline’s palace:

      next scene .

a trunk in one corner of it.

[IMOGEN in bed, reading; a Lady attending]

  • Imogen. Who's there? my woman Helen?
  • Lady. Please you, madam 920
  • Lady. Almost midnight, madam.
  • Imogen. I have read three hours then: mine eyes are weak:
    Fold down the leaf where I have left: to bed:
    Take not away the taper, leave it burning; 925
    And if thou canst awake by four o' the clock,
    I prithee, call me. Sleep hath seized me wholly
    [Exit Lady]
    To your protection I commend me, gods.
    From fairies and the tempters of the night 930
    Guard me, beseech ye.

[Sleeps. IACHIMO comes from the trunk]

  • Iachimo. The crickets sing, and man's o'er-labour'd sense
    Repairs itself by rest. Our Tarquin thus
    Did softly press the rushes, ere he waken'd 935
    The chastity he wounded. Cytherea,
    How bravely thou becomest thy bed, fresh lily,
    And whiter than the sheets! That I might touch!
    But kiss; one kiss! Rubies unparagon'd,
    How dearly they do't! 'Tis her breathing that 940
    Perfumes the chamber thus: the flame o' the taper
    Bows toward her, and would under-peep her lids,
    To see the enclosed lights, now canopied
    Under these windows, white and azure laced
    With blue of heaven's own tinct. But my design, 945
    To note the chamber: I will write all down:
    Such and such pictures; there the window; such
    The adornment of her bed; the arras; figures,
    Why, such and such; and the contents o' the story.
    Ah, but some natural notes about her body, 950
    Above ten thousand meaner moveables
    Would testify, to enrich mine inventory.
    O sleep, thou ape of death, lie dull upon her!
    And be her sense but as a monument,
    Thus in a chapel lying! Come off, come off: 955
    [Taking off her bracelet]
    As slippery as the Gordian knot was hard!
    'Tis mine; and this will witness outwardly,
    As strongly as the conscience does within,
    To the madding of her lord. On her left breast 960
    A mole cinque-spotted, like the crimson drops
    I' the bottom of a cowslip: here's a voucher,
    Stronger than ever law could make: this secret
    Will force him think I have pick'd the lock and ta'en
    The treasure of her honour. No more. To what end? 965
    Why should I write this down, that's riveted,
    Screw'd to my memory? She hath been reading late
    The tale of Tereus; here the leaf's turn'd down
    Where Philomel gave up. I have enough:
    To the trunk again, and shut the spring of it. 970
    Swift, swift, you dragons of the night, that dawning
    May bare the raven's eye! I lodge in fear;
    Though this a heavenly angel, hell is here.
    [Clock strikes]
    One, two, three: time, time! 975

[Goes into the trunk. The scene closes]

. previous scene      

Act II, Scene 3

An ante-chamber adjoining Imogen’s apartments.

      next scene .

[Enter CLOTEN and Lords]

  • First Lord. Your lordship is the most patient man in loss, the
    most coldest that ever turned up ace.
  • Cloten. It would make any man cold to lose. 980
  • First Lord. But not every man patient after the noble temper of
    your lordship. You are most hot and furious when you win.
  • Cloten. Winning will put any man into courage. If I could
    get this foolish Imogen, I should have gold enough.
    It's almost morning, is't not? 985
  • Cloten. I would this music would come: I am advised to give
    her music o' mornings; they say it will penetrate.
    [Enter Musicians]
    Come on; tune: if you can penetrate her with your 990
    fingering, so; we'll try with tongue too: if none
    will do, let her remain; but I'll never give o'er.
    First, a very excellent good-conceited thing;
    after, a wonderful sweet air, with admirable rich
    words to it: and then let her consider. 995
    Hark, hark! the lark at heaven's gate sings,
    And Phoebus 'gins arise,
    His steeds to water at those springs
    On chaliced flowers that lies; 1000
    And winking Mary-buds begin
    To ope their golden eyes:
    With every thing that pretty is,
    My lady sweet, arise:
    Arise, arise. 1005
  • Cloten. So, get you gone. If this penetrate, I will
    consider your music the better: if it do not, it is
    a vice in her ears, which horse-hairs and
    calves'-guts, nor the voice of unpaved eunuch to
    boot, can never amend. 1010

[Exeunt Musicians]

  • Cloten. I am glad I was up so late; for that's the reason I
    was up so early: he cannot choose but take this
    service I have done fatherly. 1015
    [Enter CYMBELINE and QUEEN]
    Good morrow to your majesty and to my gracious mother.
  • Cymbeline. Attend you here the door of our stern daughter?
    Will she not forth?
  • Cloten. I have assailed her with music, but she vouchsafes no notice. 1020
  • Cymbeline. The exile of her minion is too new;
    She hath not yet forgot him: some more time
    Must wear the print of his remembrance out,
    And then she's yours.
  • Queen. You are most bound to the king, 1025
    Who lets go by no vantages that may
    Prefer you to his daughter. Frame yourself
    To orderly soliciting, and be friended
    With aptness of the season; make denials
    Increase your services; so seem as if 1030
    You were inspired to do those duties which
    You tender to her; that you in all obey her,
    Save when command to your dismission tends,
    And therein you are senseless.
  • Cloten. Senseless! not so. 1035

[Enter a Messenger]

  • Messenger. So like you, sir, ambassadors from Rome;
    The one is Caius Lucius.
  • Cymbeline. A worthy fellow,
    Albeit he comes on angry purpose now; 1040
    But that's no fault of his: we must receive him
    According to the honour of his sender;
    And towards himself, his goodness forespent on us,
    We must extend our notice. Our dear son,
    When you have given good morning to your mistress, 1045
    Attend the queen and us; we shall have need
    To employ you towards this Roman. Come, our queen.

[Exeunt all but CLOTEN]

  • Cloten. If she be up, I'll speak with her; if not,
    Let her lie still and dream. 1050
    By your leave, ho!
    I Know her women are about her: what
    If I do line one of their hands? 'Tis gold
    Which buys admittance; oft it doth; yea, and makes 1055
    Diana's rangers false themselves, yield up
    Their deer to the stand o' the stealer; and 'tis gold
    Which makes the true man kill'd and saves the thief;
    Nay, sometime hangs both thief and true man: what
    Can it not do and undo? I will make 1060
    One of her women lawyer to me, for
    I yet not understand the case myself.
    By your leave.

[Enter a Lady]

  • Lady. Who's there that knocks?
  • Cloten. Yes, and a gentlewoman's son.
  • Lady. That's more 1070
    Than some, whose tailors are as dear as yours,
    Can justly boast of. What's your lordship's pleasure?
  • Cloten. Your lady's person: is she ready?
  • Lady. Ay,
    To keep her chamber. 1075
  • Cloten. There is gold for you;
    Sell me your good report.
  • Lady. How! my good name? or to report of you
    What I shall think is good?—The princess!

[Enter IMOGEN]

  • Cloten. Good morrow, fairest: sister, your sweet hand.

[Exit Lady]

  • Imogen. Good morrow, sir. You lay out too much pains
    For purchasing but trouble; the thanks I give
    Is telling you that I am poor of thanks 1085
    And scarce can spare them.
  • Cloten. Still, I swear I love you.
  • Imogen. If you but said so, 'twere as deep with me:
    If you swear still, your recompense is still
    That I regard it not. 1090
  • Imogen. But that you shall not say I yield being silent,
    I would not speak. I pray you, spare me: 'faith,
    I shall unfold equal discourtesy
    To your best kindness: one of your great knowing 1095
    Should learn, being taught, forbearance.
  • Cloten. To leave you in your madness, 'twere my sin:
    I will not.
  • Imogen. Fools are not mad folks.
  • Cloten. Do you call me fool? 1100
  • Imogen. As I am mad, I do:
    If you'll be patient, I'll no more be mad;
    That cures us both. I am much sorry, sir,
    You put me to forget a lady's manners,
    By being so verbal: and learn now, for all, 1105
    That I, which know my heart, do here pronounce,
    By the very truth of it, I care not for you,
    And am so near the lack of charity—
    To accuse myself—I hate you; which I had rather
    You felt than make't my boast. 1110
  • Cloten. You sin against
    Obedience, which you owe your father. For
    The contract you pretend with that base wretch,
    One bred of alms and foster'd with cold dishes,
    With scraps o' the court, it is no contract, none: 1115
    And though it be allow'd in meaner parties—
    Yet who than he more mean?—to knit their souls,
    On whom there is no more dependency
    But brats and beggary, in self-figured knot;
    Yet you are curb'd from that enlargement by 1120
    The consequence o' the crown, and must not soil
    The precious note of it with a base slave.
    A hilding for a livery, a squire's cloth,
    A pantler, not so eminent.
  • Imogen. Profane fellow 1125
    Wert thou the son of Jupiter and no more
    But what thou art besides, thou wert too base
    To be his groom: thou wert dignified enough,
    Even to the point of envy, if 'twere made
    Comparative for your virtues, to be styled 1130
    The under-hangman of his kingdom, and hated
    For being preferred so well.
  • Cloten. The south-fog rot him!
  • Imogen. He never can meet more mischance than come
    To be but named of thee. His meanest garment, 1135
    That ever hath but clipp'd his body, is dearer
    In my respect than all the hairs above thee,
    Were they all made such men. How now, Pisanio!


  • Cloten. 'His garment!' Now the devil— 1140
  • Imogen. To Dorothy my woman hie thee presently—
  • Imogen. I am sprited with a fool.
    Frighted, and anger'd worse: go bid my woman
    Search for a jewel that too casually 1145
    Hath left mine arm: it was thy master's: 'shrew me,
    If I would lose it for a revenue
    Of any king's in Europe. I do think
    I saw't this morning: confident I am
    Last night 'twas on mine arm; I kiss'd it: 1150
    I hope it be not gone to tell my lord
    That I kiss aught but he.
  • Imogen. I hope so: go and search.


  • Cloten. You have abused me:
    'His meanest garment!'
  • Imogen. Ay, I said so, sir:
    If you will make't an action, call witness to't.
  • Cloten. I will inform your father. 1160
  • Imogen. Your mother too:
    She's my good lady, and will conceive, I hope,
    But the worst of me. So, I leave you, sir,
    To the worst of discontent.


  • Cloten. I'll be revenged:
    'His meanest garment!' Well.


. previous scene      

Act II, Scene 4

Rome. Philario’s house.

      next scene .


  • 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.


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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—
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.


. previous scene      

Act II, Scene 5

Another room in Philario’s house.



  • Posthumus Leonatus. Is there no way for men to be but women
    Must be half-workers? We are all bastards;
    And that most venerable man which I
    Did call my father, was I know not where 1375
    When I was stamp'd; some coiner with his tools
    Made me a counterfeit: yet my mother seem'd
    The Dian of that time so doth my wife
    The nonpareil of this. O, vengeance, vengeance!
    Me of my lawful pleasure she restrain'd 1380
    And pray'd me oft forbearance; did it with
    A pudency so rosy the sweet view on't
    Might well have warm'd old Saturn; that I thought her
    As chaste as unsunn'd snow. O, all the devils!
    This yellow Iachimo, in an hour,—wast not?— 1385
    Or less,—at first?—perchance he spoke not, but,
    Like a full-acorn'd boar, a German one,
    Cried 'O!' and mounted; found no opposition
    But what he look'd for should oppose and she
    Should from encounter guard. Could I find out 1390
    The woman's part in me! For there's no motion
    That tends to vice in man, but I affirm
    It is the woman's part: be it lying, note it,
    The woman's; flattering, hers; deceiving, hers;
    Lust and rank thoughts, hers, hers; revenges, hers; 1395
    Ambitions, covetings, change of prides, disdain,
    Nice longing, slanders, mutability,
    All faults that may be named, nay, that hell knows,
    Why, hers, in part or all; but rather, all;
    For even to vice 1400
    They are not constant but are changing still
    One vice, but of a minute old, for one
    Not half so old as that. I'll write against them,
    Detest them, curse them: yet 'tis greater skill
    In a true hate, to pray they have their will: 1405
    The very devils cannot plague them better.