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Cymbeline, King of Britain

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Act III, Scene 1

Britain. A hall in Cymbeline’s palace.


[Enter in state, CYMBELINE, QUEEN, CLOTEN,] [p]and Lords at one door, and at another, [p]CAIUS LUCIUS and Attendants]

  • Cymbeline. Now say, what would Augustus Caesar with us?
  • Caius Lucius. When Julius Caesar, whose remembrance yet
    Lives in men's eyes and will to ears and tongues
    Be theme and hearing ever, was in this Britain
    And conquer'd it, Cassibelan, thine uncle,— 1415
    Famous in Caesar's praises, no whit less
    Than in his feats deserving it—for him
    And his succession granted Rome a tribute,
    Yearly three thousand pounds, which by thee lately
    Is left untender'd. 1420
  • Queen. And, to kill the marvel,
    Shall be so ever.
  • Cloten. There be many Caesars,
    Ere such another Julius. Britain is
    A world by itself; and we will nothing pay 1425
    For wearing our own noses.
  • Queen. That opportunity
    Which then they had to take from 's, to resume
    We have again. Remember, sir, my liege,
    The kings your ancestors, together with 1430
    The natural bravery of your isle, which stands
    As Neptune's park, ribbed and paled in
    With rocks unscalable and roaring waters,
    With sands that will not bear your enemies' boats,
    But suck them up to the topmast. A kind of conquest 1435
    Caesar made here; but made not here his brag
    Of 'Came' and 'saw' and 'overcame: ' with shame—
    That first that ever touch'd him—he was carried
    From off our coast, twice beaten; and his shipping—
    Poor ignorant baubles!— upon our terrible seas, 1440
    Like egg-shells moved upon their surges, crack'd
    As easily 'gainst our rocks: for joy whereof
    The famed Cassibelan, who was once at point—
    O giglot fortune!—to master Caesar's sword,Made Lud's town with rejoicing fires bright
    And Britons strut with courage. 1445
  • Cloten. Come, there's no more tribute to be paid: our
    kingdom is stronger than it was at that time; and,
    as I said, there is no moe such Caesars: other of
    them may have crook'd noses, but to owe such
    straight arms, none. 1450
  • Cymbeline. Son, let your mother end.
  • Cloten. We have yet many among us can gripe as hard as
    Cassibelan: I do not say I am one; but I have a
    hand. Why tribute? why should we pay tribute? If
    Caesar can hide the sun from us with a blanket, or 1455
    put the moon in his pocket, we will pay him tribute
    for light; else, sir, no more tribute, pray you now.
  • Cymbeline. You must know,
    Till the injurious Romans did extort
    This tribute from us, we were free: 1460
    Caesar's ambition,
    Which swell'd so much that it did almost stretch
    The sides o' the world, against all colour here
    Did put the yoke upon 's; which to shake off
    Becomes a warlike people, whom we reckon 1465
    Ourselves to be.
  • Cloten. [with Lords] We do.
  • Cymbeline. Say, then, to Caesar,
    Our ancestor was that Mulmutius which
    Ordain'd our laws, whose use the sword of Caesar 1470
    Hath too much mangled; whose repair and franchise
    Shall, by the power we hold, be our good deed,
    Though Rome be therefore angry: Mulmutius made our laws,
    Who was the first of Britain which did put
    His brows within a golden crown and call'd 1475
    Himself a king.
  • Caius Lucius. I am sorry, Cymbeline,
    That I am to pronounce Augustus Caesar—
    Caesar, that hath more kings his servants than
    Thyself domestic officers—thine enemy: 1480
    Receive it from me, then: war and confusion
    In Caesar's name pronounce I 'gainst thee: look
    For fury not to be resisted. Thus defied,
    I thank thee for myself.
  • Cymbeline. Thou art welcome, Caius. 1485
    Thy Caesar knighted me; my youth I spent
    Much under him; of him I gather'd honour;
    Which he to seek of me again, perforce,
    Behoves me keep at utterance. I am perfect
    That the Pannonians and Dalmatians for 1490
    Their liberties are now in arms; a precedent
    Which not to read would show the Britons cold:
    So Caesar shall not find them.
  • Caius Lucius. Let proof speak.
  • Cloten. His majesty bids you welcome. Make 1495
    pastime with us a day or two, or longer: if
    you seek us afterwards in other terms, you
    shall find us in our salt-water girdle: if you
    beat us out of it, it is yours; if you fall in
    the adventure, our crows shall fare the better 1500
    for you; and there's an end.
  • Caius Lucius. So, sir.
  • Cymbeline. I know your master's pleasure and he mine:
    All the remain is 'Welcome!'