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In the most high and palmy state of Rome,
A little ere the mightiest Julius fell,
The graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted dead
Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets.

      — Hamlet, Act I Scene 1


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Cymbeline, King of Britain


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Scene 1. Britain. A hall in Cymbeline’s palace.

Scene 2. Another room in the palace.

Scene 3. Wales: a mountainous country with a cave.

Scene 4. Country near Milford-Haven.

Scene 5. A room in Cymbeline’s palace.

Scene 6. Wales. Before the cave of Belarius.

Scene 7. Rome. A public place.


Act III, Scene 1

Britain. A hall in Cymbeline’s palace.

      next scene .

[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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Cymbeline. I know your master's pleasure and he mine:
    All the remain is 'Welcome!'


. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 2

Another room in the palace.

      next scene .

[Enter PISANIO, with a letter]

  • Pisanio. How? of adultery? Wherefore write you not
    What monster's her accuser? Leonatus,
    O master! what a strange infection
    Is fall'n into thy ear! What false Italian, 1510
    As poisonous-tongued as handed, hath prevail'd
    On thy too ready hearing? Disloyal! No:
    She's punish'd for her truth, and undergoes,
    More goddess-like than wife-like, such assaults
    As would take in some virtue. O my master! 1515
    Thy mind to her is now as low as were
    Thy fortunes. How! that I should murder her?
    Upon the love and truth and vows which I
    Have made to thy command? I, her? her blood?
    If it be so to do good service, never 1520
    Let me be counted serviceable. How look I,
    That I should seem to lack humanity
    so much as this fact comes to?
    'Do't: the letter 1525
    that I have sent her, by her own command
    Shall give thee opportunity.' O damn'd paper!
    Black as the ink that's on thee! Senseless bauble,
    Art thou a feodary for this act, and look'st
    So virgin-like without? Lo, here she comes. 1530
    I am ignorant in what I am commanded.

[Enter IMOGEN]

  • Pisanio. Madam, here is a letter from my lord.
  • Imogen. Who? thy lord? that is my lord, Leonatus! 1535
    O, learn'd indeed were that astronomer
    That knew the stars as I his characters;
    He'ld lay the future open. You good gods,
    Let what is here contain'd relish of love,
    Of my lord's health, of his content, yet not 1540
    That we two are asunder; let that grieve him:
    Some griefs are med'cinable; that is one of them,
    For it doth physic love: of his content,
    All but in that! Good wax, thy leave. Blest be
    You bees that make these locks of counsel! Lovers 1545
    And men in dangerous bonds pray not alike:
    Though forfeiters you cast in prison, yet
    You clasp young Cupid's tables. Good news, gods!
    'Justice, and your father's wrath, should he take me 1550
    in his dominion, could not be so cruel to me, as
    you, O the dearest of creatures, would even renew me
    with your eyes. Take notice that I am in Cambria,
    at Milford-Haven: what your own love will out of
    this advise you, follow. So he wishes you all 1555
    happiness, that remains loyal to his vow, and your,
    increasing in love,
    O, for a horse with wings! Hear'st thou, Pisanio?
    He is at Milford-Haven: read, and tell me 1560
    How far 'tis thither. If one of mean affairs
    May plod it in a week, why may not I
    Glide thither in a day? Then, true Pisanio,—
    Who long'st, like me, to see thy lord; who long'st,—
    let me bate,-but not like me—yet long'st, 1565
    But in a fainter kind:—O, not like me;
    For mine's beyond beyond—say, and speak thick;
    Love's counsellor should fill the bores of hearing,
    To the smothering of the sense—how far it is
    To this same blessed Milford: and by the way 1570
    Tell me how Wales was made so happy as
    To inherit such a haven: but first of all,
    How we may steal from hence, and for the gap
    That we shall make in time, from our hence-going
    And our return, to excuse: but first, how get hence: 1575
    Why should excuse be born or e'er begot?
    We'll talk of that hereafter. Prithee, speak,
    How many score of miles may we well ride
    'Twixt hour and hour?
  • Pisanio. One score 'twixt sun and sun, 1580
    Madam, 's enough for you:
    and too much too.
  • Imogen. Why, one that rode to's execution, man,
    Could never go so slow: I have heard of 1585
    riding wagers,
    Where horses have been nimbler than the sands
    That run i' the clock's behalf. But this is foolery:
    Go bid my woman feign a sickness; say
    She'll home to her father: and provide me presently 1590
    A riding-suit, no costlier than would fit
    A franklin's housewife.
  • Pisanio. Madam, you're best consider.
  • Imogen. I see before me, man: nor here, nor here,
    Nor what ensues, but have a fog in them, 1595
    That I cannot look through. Away, I prithee;
    Do as I bid thee: there's no more to say,
    Accessible is none but Milford way.


. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 3

Wales: a mountainous country with a cave.

      next scene .

[Enter, from the cave, BELARIUS; GUIDERIUS,] [p]and ARVIRAGUS following]

  • Belarius. A goodly day not to keep house, with such
    Whose roof's as low as ours! Stoop, boys; this gate
    Instructs you how to adore the heavens and bows you
    To a morning's holy office: the gates of monarchs 1605
    Are arch'd so high that giants may jet through
    And keep their impious turbans on, without
    Good morrow to the sun. Hail, thou fair heaven!
    We house i' the rock, yet use thee not so hardly
    As prouder livers do. 1610
  • Belarius. Now for our mountain sport: up to yond hill;
    Your legs are young; I'll tread these flats. Consider,
    When you above perceive me like a crow, 1615
    That it is place which lessens and sets off;
    And you may then revolve what tales I have told you
    Of courts, of princes, of the tricks in war:
    This service is not service, so being done,
    But being so allow'd: to apprehend thus, 1620
    Draws us a profit from all things we see;
    And often, to our comfort, shall we find
    The sharded beetle in a safer hold
    Than is the full-wing'd eagle. O, this life
    Is nobler than attending for a cheque, 1625
    Richer than doing nothing for a bauble,
    Prouder than rustling in unpaid-for silk:
    Such gain the cap of him that makes 'em fine,
    Yet keeps his book uncross'd: no life to ours.
  • Guiderius. Out of your proof you speak: we, poor unfledged, 1630
    Have never wing'd from view o' the nest, nor know not
    What air's from home. Haply this life is best,
    If quiet life be best; sweeter to you
    That have a sharper known; well corresponding
    With your stiff age: but unto us it is 1635
    A cell of ignorance; travelling a-bed;
    A prison for a debtor, that not dares
    To stride a limit.
  • Arviragus. What should we speak of
    When we are old as you? when we shall hear 1640
    The rain and wind beat dark December, how,
    In this our pinching cave, shall we discourse
    The freezing hours away? We have seen nothing;
    We are beastly, subtle as the fox for prey,
    Like warlike as the wolf for what we eat; 1645
    Our valour is to chase what flies; our cage
    We make a quire, as doth the prison'd bird,
    And sing our bondage freely.
  • Belarius. How you speak!
    Did you but know the city's usuries 1650
    And felt them knowingly; the art o' the court
    As hard to leave as keep; whose top to climb
    Is certain falling, or so slippery that
    The fear's as bad as falling; the toil o' the war,
    A pain that only seems to seek out danger 1655
    I' the name of fame and honour; which dies i'
    the search,
    And hath as oft a slanderous epitaph
    As record of fair act; nay, many times,
    Doth ill deserve by doing well; what's worse, 1660
    Must court'sy at the censure:—O boys, this story
    The world may read in me: my body's mark'd
    With Roman swords, and my report was once
    First with the best of note: Cymbeline loved me,
    And when a soldier was the theme, my name 1665
    Was not far off: then was I as a tree
    Whose boughs did bend with fruit: but in one night,
    A storm or robbery, call it what you will,
    Shook down my mellow hangings, nay, my leaves,
    And left me bare to weather. 1670
  • Belarius. My fault being nothing—as I have told you oft—
    But that two villains, whose false oaths prevail'd
    Before my perfect honour, swore to Cymbeline
    I was confederate with the Romans: so 1675
    Follow'd my banishment, and this twenty years
    This rock and these demesnes have been my world;
    Where I have lived at honest freedom, paid
    More pious debts to heaven than in all
    The fore-end of my time. But up to the mountains! 1680
    This is not hunters' language: he that strikes
    The venison first shall be the lord o' the feast;
    To him the other two shall minister;
    And we will fear no poison, which attends
    In place of greater state. I'll meet you in the valleys. 1685
    How hard it is to hide the sparks of nature!
    These boys know little they are sons to the king;
    Nor Cymbeline dreams that they are alive.
    They think they are mine; and though train'd 1690
    up thus meanly
    I' the cave wherein they bow, their thoughts do hit
    The roofs of palaces, and nature prompts them
    In simple and low things to prince it much
    Beyond the trick of others. This Polydore, 1695
    The heir of Cymbeline and Britain, who
    The king his father call'd Guiderius,—Jove!
    When on my three-foot stool I sit and tell
    The warlike feats I have done, his spirits fly out
    Into my story: say 'Thus, mine enemy fell, 1700
    And thus I set my foot on 's neck;' even then
    The princely blood flows in his cheek, he sweats,
    Strains his young nerves and puts himself in posture
    That acts my words. The younger brother, Cadwal,
    Once Arviragus, in as like a figure, 1705
    Strikes life into my speech and shows much more
    His own conceiving.—Hark, the game is roused!
    O Cymbeline! heaven and my conscience knows
    Thou didst unjustly banish me: whereon,
    At three and two years old, I stole these babes; 1710
    Thinking to bar thee of succession, as
    Thou reft'st me of my lands. Euriphile,
    Thou wast their nurse; they took thee for
    their mother,
    And every day do honour to her grave: 1715
    Myself, Belarius, that am Morgan call'd,
    They take for natural father. The game is up.


. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 4

Country near Milford-Haven.

      next scene .


  • Imogen. Thou told'st me, when we came from horse, the place 1720
    Was near at hand: ne'er long'd my mother so
    To see me first, as I have now. Pisanio! man!
    Where is Posthumus? What is in thy mind,
    That makes thee stare thus? Wherefore breaks that sigh
    From the inward of thee? One, but painted thus, 1725
    Would be interpreted a thing perplex'd
    Beyond self-explication: put thyself
    Into a havior of less fear, ere wildness
    Vanquish my staider senses. What's the matter?
    Why tender'st thou that paper to me, with 1730
    A look untender? If't be summer news,
    Smile to't before; if winterly, thou need'st
    But keep that countenance still. My husband's hand!
    That drug-damn'd Italy hath out-craftied him,
    And he's at some hard point. Speak, man: thy tongue 1735
    May take off some extremity, which to read
    Would be even mortal to me.
  • Pisanio. Please you, read;
    And you shall find me, wretched man, a thing
    The most disdain'd of fortune. 1740
  • Imogen. [Reads] 'Thy mistress, Pisanio, hath played the
    strumpet in my bed; the testimonies whereof lie
    bleeding in me. I speak not out of weak surmises,
    but from proof as strong as my grief and as certain
    as I expect my revenge. That part thou, Pisanio, 1745
    must act for me, if thy faith be not tainted with
    the breach of hers. Let thine own hands take away
    her life: I shall give thee opportunity at
    Milford-Haven. She hath my letter for the purpose
    where, if thou fear to strike and to make me certain 1750
    it is done, thou art the pandar to her dishonour and
    equally to me disloyal.'
  • Pisanio. What shall I need to draw my sword? the paper
    Hath cut her throat already. No, 'tis slander,
    Whose edge is sharper than the sword, whose tongue 1755
    Outvenoms all the worms of Nile, whose breath
    Rides on the posting winds and doth belie
    All corners of the world: kings, queens and states,
    Maids, matrons, nay, the secrets of the grave
    This viperous slander enters. What cheer, madam? 1760
  • Imogen. False to his bed! What is it to be false?
    To lie in watch there and to think on him?
    To weep 'twixt clock and clock? if sleep
    charge nature,
    To break it with a fearful dream of him 1765
    And cry myself awake? that's false to's bed, is it?
  • Imogen. I false! Thy conscience witness: Iachimo,
    Thou didst accuse him of incontinency;
    Thou then look'dst like a villain; now methinks 1770
    Thy favour's good enough. Some jay of Italy
    Whose mother was her painting, hath betray'd him:
    Poor I am stale, a garment out of fashion;
    And, for I am richer than to hang by the walls,
    I must be ripp'd:—to pieces with me!—O, 1775
    Men's vows are women's traitors! All good seeming,
    By thy revolt, O husband, shall be thought
    Put on for villany; not born where't grows,
    But worn a bait for ladies.
  • Imogen. True honest men being heard, like false Aeneas,
    Were in his time thought false, and Sinon's weeping
    Did scandal many a holy tear, took pity
    From most true wretchedness: so thou, Posthumus,
    Wilt lay the leaven on all proper men; 1785
    Goodly and gallant shall be false and perjured
    From thy great fall. Come, fellow, be thou honest:
    Do thou thy master's bidding: when thou see'st him,
    A little witness my obedience: look!
    I draw the sword myself: take it, and hit 1790
    The innocent mansion of my love, my heart;
    Fear not; 'tis empty of all things but grief;
    Thy master is not there, who was indeed
    The riches of it: do his bidding; strike
    Thou mayst be valiant in a better cause; 1795
    But now thou seem'st a coward.
  • Pisanio. Hence, vile instrument!
    Thou shalt not damn my hand.
  • Imogen. Why, I must die;
    And if I do not by thy hand, thou art 1800
    No servant of thy master's. Against self-slaughter
    There is a prohibition so divine
    That cravens my weak hand. Come, here's my heart.
    Something's afore't. Soft, soft! we'll no defence;
    Obedient as the scabbard. What is here? 1805
    The scriptures of the loyal Leonatus,
    All turn'd to heresy? Away, away,
    Corrupters of my faith! you shall no more
    Be stomachers to my heart. Thus may poor fools
    Believe false teachers: though those that 1810
    are betray'd
    Do feel the treason sharply, yet the traitor
    Stands in worse case of woe.
    And thou, Posthumus, thou that didst set up
    My disobedience 'gainst the king my father 1815
    And make me put into contempt the suits
    Of princely fellows, shalt hereafter find
    It is no act of common passage, but
    A strain of rareness: and I grieve myself
    To think, when thou shalt be disedged by her 1820
    That now thou tirest on, how thy memory
    Will then be pang'd by me. Prithee, dispatch:
    The lamb entreats the butcher: where's thy knife?
    Thou art too slow to do thy master's bidding,
    When I desire it too. 1825
  • Pisanio. O gracious lady,
    Since I received command to do this business
    I have not slept one wink.
  • Imogen. Do't, and to bed then.
  • Pisanio. I'll wake mine eye-balls blind first. 1830
  • Imogen. Wherefore then
    Didst undertake it? Why hast thou abused
    So many miles with a pretence? this place?
    Mine action and thine own? our horses' labour?
    The time inviting thee? the perturb'd court, 1835
    For my being absent? whereunto I never
    Purpose return. Why hast thou gone so far,
    To be unbent when thou hast ta'en thy stand,
    The elected deer before thee?
  • Pisanio. But to win time 1840
    To lose so bad employment; in the which
    I have consider'd of a course. Good lady,
    Hear me with patience.
  • Imogen. Talk thy tongue weary; speak
    I have heard I am a strumpet; and mine ear 1845
    Therein false struck, can take no greater wound,
    Nor tent to bottom that. But speak.
  • Pisanio. Then, madam,
    I thought you would not back again.
  • Imogen. Most like; 1850
    Bringing me here to kill me.
  • Pisanio. Not so, neither:
    But if I were as wise as honest, then
    My purpose would prove well. It cannot be
    But that my master is abused: 1855
    Some villain, ay, and singular in his art.
    Hath done you both this cursed injury.
  • Imogen. Some Roman courtezan.
  • Pisanio. No, on my life.
    I'll give but notice you are dead and send him 1860
    Some bloody sign of it; for 'tis commanded
    I should do so: you shall be miss'd at court,
    And that will well confirm it.
  • Imogen. Why good fellow,
    What shall I do the where? where bide? how live? 1865
    Or in my life what comfort, when I am
    Dead to my husband?
  • Pisanio. If you'll back to the court—
  • Imogen. No court, no father; nor no more ado
    With that harsh, noble, simple nothing, 1870
    That Cloten, whose love-suit hath been to me
    As fearful as a siege.
  • Pisanio. If not at court,
    Then not in Britain must you bide.
  • Imogen. Where then 1875
    Hath Britain all the sun that shines? Day, night,
    Are they not but in Britain? I' the world's volume
    Our Britain seems as of it, but not in 't;
    In a great pool a swan's nest: prithee, think
    There's livers out of Britain. 1880
  • Pisanio. I am most glad
    You think of other place. The ambassador,
    Lucius the Roman, comes to Milford-Haven
    To-morrow: now, if you could wear a mind
    Dark as your fortune is, and but disguise 1885
    That which, to appear itself, must not yet be
    But by self-danger, you should tread a course
    Pretty and full of view; yea, haply, near
    The residence of Posthumus; so nigh at least
    That though his actions were not visible, yet 1890
    Report should render him hourly to your ear
    As truly as he moves.
  • Imogen. O, for such means!
    Though peril to my modesty, not death on't,
    I would adventure. 1895
  • Pisanio. Well, then, here's the point:
    You must forget to be a woman; change
    Command into obedience: fear and niceness—
    The handmaids of all women, or, more truly,
    Woman its pretty self—into a waggish courage: 1900
    Ready in gibes, quick-answer'd, saucy and
    As quarrelous as the weasel; nay, you must
    Forget that rarest treasure of your cheek,
    Exposing it—but, O, the harder heart!
    Alack, no remedy!—to the greedy touch 1905
    Of common-kissing Titan, and forget
    Your laboursome and dainty trims, wherein
    You made great Juno angry.
  • Imogen. Nay, be brief
    I see into thy end, and am almost 1910
    A man already.
  • Pisanio. First, make yourself but like one.
    Fore-thinking this, I have already fit—
    'Tis in my cloak-bag—doublet, hat, hose, all
    That answer to them: would you in their serving, 1915
    And with what imitation you can borrow
    From youth of such a season, 'fore noble Lucius
    Present yourself, desire his service, tell him
    wherein you're happy,—which you'll make him know,
    If that his head have ear in music,—doubtless 1920
    With joy he will embrace you, for he's honourable
    And doubling that, most holy. Your means abroad,
    You have me, rich; and I will never fail
    Beginning nor supplyment.
  • Imogen. Thou art all the comfort 1925
    The gods will diet me with. Prithee, away:
    There's more to be consider'd; but we'll even
    All that good time will give us: this attempt
    I am soldier to, and will abide it with
    A prince's courage. Away, I prithee. 1930
  • Pisanio. Well, madam, we must take a short farewell,
    Lest, being miss'd, I be suspected of
    Your carriage from the court. My noble mistress,
    Here is a box; I had it from the queen:
    What's in't is precious; if you are sick at sea, 1935
    Or stomach-qualm'd at land, a dram of this
    Will drive away distemper. To some shade,
    And fit you to your manhood. May the gods
    Direct you to the best!
  • Imogen. Amen: I thank thee. 1940

[Exeunt, severally]

. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 5

A room in Cymbeline’s palace.

      next scene .

[Enter CYMBELINE, QUEEN, CLOTEN, LUCIUS,] [p]Lords, and Attendants]

  • Caius Lucius. Thanks, royal sir. 1945
    My emperor hath wrote, I must from hence;
    And am right sorry that I must report ye
    My master's enemy.
  • Cymbeline. Our subjects, sir,
    Will not endure his yoke; and for ourself 1950
    To show less sovereignty than they, must needs
    Appear unkinglike.
  • Caius Lucius. So, sir: I desire of you
    A conduct over-land to Milford-Haven.
    Madam, all joy befal your grace! 1955
  • Cymbeline. My lords, you are appointed for that office;
    The due of honour in no point omit.
    So farewell, noble Lucius.
  • Cloten. Receive it friendly; but from this time forth
    I wear it as your enemy.
  • Caius Lucius. Sir, the event
    Is yet to name the winner: fare you well.
  • Cymbeline. Leave not the worthy Lucius, good my lords, 1965
    Till he have cross'd the Severn. Happiness!

[Exeunt LUCIUS and Lords]

  • Queen. He goes hence frowning: but it honours us
    That we have given him cause.
  • Cloten. 'Tis all the better; 1970
    Your valiant Britons have their wishes in it.
  • Cymbeline. Lucius hath wrote already to the emperor
    How it goes here. It fits us therefore ripely
    Our chariots and our horsemen be in readiness:
    The powers that he already hath in Gallia 1975
    Will soon be drawn to head, from whence he moves
    His war for Britain.
  • Queen. 'Tis not sleepy business;
    But must be look'd to speedily and strongly.
  • Cymbeline. Our expectation that it would be thus 1980
    Hath made us forward. But, my gentle queen,
    Where is our daughter? She hath not appear'd
    Before the Roman, nor to us hath tender'd
    The duty of the day: she looks us like
    A thing more made of malice than of duty: 1985
    We have noted it. Call her before us; for
    We have been too slight in sufferance.

[Exit an Attendant]

  • Queen. Royal sir,
    Since the exile of Posthumus, most retired 1990
    Hath her life been; the cure whereof, my lord,
    'Tis time must do. Beseech your majesty,
    Forbear sharp speeches to her: she's a lady
    So tender of rebukes that words are strokes
    And strokes death to her. 1995

[Re-enter Attendant]

  • Cymbeline. Where is she, sir? How
    Can her contempt be answer'd?
  • Attendant. Please you, sir,
    Her chambers are all lock'd; and there's no answer 2000
    That will be given to the loudest noise we make.
  • Queen. My lord, when last I went to visit her,
    She pray'd me to excuse her keeping close,
    Whereto constrain'd by her infirmity,
    She should that duty leave unpaid to you, 2005
    Which daily she was bound to proffer: this
    She wish'd me to make known; but our great court
    Made me to blame in memory.
  • Cymbeline. Her doors lock'd?
    Not seen of late? Grant, heavens, that which I fear 2010
    Prove false!


  • Queen. Son, I say, follow the king.
  • Cloten. That man of hers, Pisanio, her old servant,
    have not seen these two days. 2015
  • Queen. Go, look after.
    [Exit CLOTEN]
    Pisanio, thou that stand'st so for Posthumus!
    He hath a drug of mine; I pray his absence
    Proceed by swallowing that, for he believes 2020
    It is a thing most precious. But for her,
    Where is she gone? Haply, despair hath seized her,
    Or, wing'd with fervor of her love, she's flown
    To her desired Posthumus: gone she is
    To death or to dishonour; and my end 2025
    Can make good use of either: she being down,
    I have the placing of the British crown.
    [Re-enter CLOTEN]
    How now, my son!
  • Cloten. 'Tis certain she is fled. 2030
    Go in and cheer the king: he rages; none
    Dare come about him.
  • Queen. [Aside] All the better: may
    This night forestall him of the coming day!


  • Cloten. I love and hate her: for she's fair and royal,
    And that she hath all courtly parts more exquisite
    Than lady, ladies, woman; from every one
    The best she hath, and she, of all compounded,
    Outsells them all; I love her therefore: but 2040
    Disdaining me and throwing favours on
    The low Posthumus slanders so her judgment
    That what's else rare is choked; and in that point
    I will conclude to hate her, nay, indeed,
    To be revenged upon her. For when fools Shall— 2045
    [Enter PISANIO]
    Who is here? What, are you packing, sirrah?
    Come hither: ah, you precious pander! Villain,
    Where is thy lady? In a word; or else
    Thou art straightway with the fiends. 2050
  • Cloten. Where is thy lady? Or, by Jupiter,—
    I will not ask again. Close villain,
    I'll have this secret from thy heart, or rip
    Thy heart to find it. Is she with Posthumus? 2055
    From whose so many weights of baseness cannot
    A dram of worth be drawn.
  • Pisanio. Alas, my lord,
    How can she be with him? When was she missed?
    He is in Rome. 2060
  • Cloten. Where is she, sir? Come nearer;
    No further halting: satisfy me home
    What is become of her.
  • Cloten. All-worthy villain! 2065
    Discover where thy mistress is at once,
    At the next word: no more of 'worthy lord!'
    Speak, or thy silence on the instant is
    Thy condemnation and thy death.
  • Pisanio. Then, sir, 2070
    This paper is the history of my knowledge
    Touching her flight.

[Presenting a letter]

  • Cloten. Let's see't. I will pursue her
    Even to Augustus' throne. 2075
  • Pisanio. [Aside] Or this, or perish.
    She's far enough; and what he learns by this
    May prove his travel, not her danger.
  • Pisanio. [Aside] I'll write to my lord she's dead. O Imogen, 2080
    Safe mayst thou wander, safe return again!
  • Cloten. Sirrah, is this letter true?
  • Cloten. It is Posthumus' hand; I know't. Sirrah, if thou
    wouldst not be a villain, but do me true service, 2085
    undergo those employments wherein I should have
    cause to use thee with a serious industry, that is,
    what villany soe'er I bid thee do, to perform it
    directly and truly, I would think thee an honest
    man: thou shouldst neither want my means for thy 2090
    relief nor my voice for thy preferment.
  • Cloten. Wilt thou serve me? for since patiently and
    constantly thou hast stuck to the bare fortune of
    that beggar Posthumus, thou canst not, in the 2095
    course of gratitude, but be a diligent follower of
    mine: wilt thou serve me?
  • Cloten. Give me thy hand; here's my purse. Hast any of thy
    late master's garments in thy possession? 2100
  • Pisanio. I have, my lord, at my lodging, the same suit he
    wore when he took leave of my lady and mistress.
  • Cloten. The first service thou dost me, fetch that suit
    hither: let it be thy lint service; go.


  • Cloten. Meet thee at Milford-Haven!—I forgot to ask him one
    thing; I'll remember't anon:—even there, thou
    villain Posthumus, will I kill thee. I would these
    garments were come. She said upon a time—the 2110
    bitterness of it I now belch from my heart—that she
    held the very garment of Posthumus in more respect
    than my noble and natural person together with the
    adornment of my qualities. With that suit upon my
    back, will I ravish her: first kill him, and in her 2115
    eyes; there shall she see my valour, which will then
    be a torment to her contempt. He on the ground, my
    speech of insultment ended on his dead body, and
    when my lust hath dined,—which, as I say, to vex
    her I will execute in the clothes that she so 2120
    praised,—to the court I'll knock her back, foot
    her home again. She hath despised me rejoicingly,
    and I'll be merry in my revenge.
    [Re-enter PISANIO, with the clothes]
    Be those the garments? 2125
  • Cloten. How long is't since she went to Milford-Haven?
  • Pisanio. She can scarce be there yet.
  • Cloten. Bring this apparel to my chamber; that is the second
    thing that I have commanded thee: the third is, 2130
    that thou wilt be a voluntary mute to my design. Be
    but duteous, and true preferment shall tender itself
    to thee. My revenge is now at Milford: would I had
    wings to follow it! Come, and be true.


  • Pisanio. Thou bid'st me to my loss: for true to thee
    Were to prove false, which I will never be,
    To him that is most true. To Milford go,
    And find not her whom thou pursuest. Flow, flow,
    You heavenly blessings, on her! This fool's speed 2140
    Be cross'd with slowness; labour be his meed!


. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 6

Wales. Before the cave of Belarius.

      next scene .

[Enter IMOGEN, in boy's clothes]

  • Imogen. I see a man's life is a tedious one:
    I have tired myself, and for two nights together 2145
    Have made the ground my bed. I should be sick,
    But that my resolution helps me. Milford,
    When from the mountain-top Pisanio show'd thee,
    Thou wast within a ken: O Jove! I think
    Foundations fly the wretched; such, I mean, 2150
    Where they should be relieved. Two beggars told me
    I could not miss my way: will poor folks lie,
    That have afflictions on them, knowing 'tis
    A punishment or trial? Yes; no wonder,
    When rich ones scarce tell true. To lapse in fulness 2155
    Is sorer than to lie for need, and falsehood
    Is worse in kings than beggars. My dear lord!
    Thou art one o' the false ones. Now I think on thee,
    My hunger's gone; but even before, I was
    At point to sink for food. But what is this? 2160
    Here is a path to't: 'tis some savage hold:
    I were best not to call; I dare not call:
    yet famine,
    Ere clean it o'erthrow nature, makes it valiant,
    Plenty and peace breeds cowards: hardness ever 2165
    Of hardiness is mother. Ho! who's here?
    If any thing that's civil, speak; if savage,
    Take or lend. Ho! No answer? Then I'll enter.
    Best draw my sword: and if mine enemy
    But fear the sword like me, he'll scarcely look on't. 2170
    Such a foe, good heavens!

[Exit, to the cave]


  • Belarius. You, Polydote, have proved best woodman and
    Are master of the feast: Cadwal and I 2175
    Will play the cook and servant; 'tis our match:
    The sweat of industry would dry and die,
    But for the end it works to. Come; our stomachs
    Will make what's homely savoury: weariness
    Can snore upon the flint, when resty sloth 2180
    Finds the down pillow hard. Now peace be here,
    Poor house, that keep'st thyself!
  • Arviragus. I am weak with toil, yet strong in appetite.
  • Guiderius. There is cold meat i' the cave; we'll browse on that, 2185
    Whilst what we have kill'd be cook'd.
  • Belarius. [Looking into the cave]
    Stay; come not in.
    But that it eats our victuals, I should think
    Here were a fairy. 2190
  • Belarius. By Jupiter, an angel! or, if not,
    An earthly paragon! Behold divineness
    No elder than a boy!

[Re-enter IMOGEN]

  • Imogen. Good masters, harm me not:
    Before I enter'd here, I call'd; and thought
    To have begg'd or bought what I have took:
    good troth,
    I have stol'n nought, nor would not, though I had found 2200
    Gold strew'd i' the floor. Here's money for my meat:
    I would have left it on the board so soon
    As I had made my meal, and parted
    With prayers for the provider.
  • Arviragus. All gold and silver rather turn to dirt!
    As 'tis no better reckon'd, but of those
    Who worship dirty gods.
  • Imogen. I see you're angry:
    Know, if you kill me for my fault, I should 2210
    Have died had I not made it.
  • Imogen. Fidele, sir. I have a kinsman who 2215
    Is bound for Italy; he embark'd at Milford;
    To whom being going, almost spent with hunger,
    I am fall'n in this offence.
  • Belarius. Prithee, fair youth,
    Think us no churls, nor measure our good minds 2220
    By this rude place we live in. Well encounter'd!
    'Tis almost night: you shall have better cheer
    Ere you depart: and thanks to stay and eat it.
    Boys, bid him welcome.
  • Guiderius. Were you a woman, youth, 2225
    I should woo hard but be your groom. In honesty,
    I bid for you as I'd buy.
  • Arviragus. I'll make't my comfort
    He is a man; I'll love him as my brother:
    And such a welcome as I'd give to him 2230
    After long absence, such is yours: most welcome!
    Be sprightly, for you fall 'mongst friends.
  • Imogen. 'Mongst friends,
    If brothers.
    [Aside] 2235
    Would it had been so, that they
    Had been my father's sons! then had my prize
    Been less, and so more equal ballasting
    To thee, Posthumus.
  • Belarius. He wrings at some distress. 2240
  • Arviragus. Or I, whate'er it be,
    What pain it cost, what danger. God's!


  • Imogen. Great men,
    That had a court no bigger than this cave,
    That did attend themselves and had the virtue
    Which their own conscience seal'd them—laying by
    That nothing-gift of differing multitudes— 2250
    Could not out-peer these twain. Pardon me, gods!
    I'd change my sex to be companion with them,
    Since Leonatus's false.
  • Belarius. It shall be so.
    Boys, we'll go dress our hunt. Fair youth, come in: 2255
    Discourse is heavy, fasting; when we have supp'd,
    We'll mannerly demand thee of thy story,
    So far as thou wilt speak it.
  • Arviragus. The night to the owl and morn to the lark 2260
    less welcome.


. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 7

Rome. A public place.


[Enter two Senators and Tribunes]

  • First Senator. This is the tenor of the emperor's writ:
    That since the common men are now in action
    'Gainst the Pannonians and Dalmatians,
    And that the legions now in Gallia are
    Full weak to undertake our wars against 2270
    The fall'n-off Britons, that we do incite
    The gentry to this business. He creates
    Lucius preconsul: and to you the tribunes,
    For this immediate levy, he commends
    His absolute commission. Long live Caesar! 2275
  • First Senator. With those legions
    Which I have spoke of, whereunto your levy 2280
    Must be supplyant: the words of your commission
    Will tie you to the numbers and the time
    Of their dispatch.