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The head is not more native to the heart.

      — Hamlet, Act I Scene 2


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Cymbeline, King of Britain

Act V

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Scene 1. Britain. The Roman camp.

Scene 2. Field of battle between the British and Roman camps.

Scene 3. Another part of the field.

Scene 4. A British prison.

Scene 5. Cymbeline’s tent.


Act V, Scene 1

Britain. The Roman camp.

      next scene .

[Enter POSTHUMUS, with a bloody handkerchief]

  • Posthumus Leonatus. Yea, bloody cloth, I'll keep thee, for I wish'd
    Thou shouldst be colour'd thus. You married ones,
    If each of you should take this course, how many
    Must murder wives much better than themselves 2955
    For wrying but a little! O Pisanio!
    Every good servant does not all commands:
    No bond but to do just ones. Gods! if you
    Should have ta'en vengeance on my faults, I never
    Had lived to put on this: so had you saved 2960
    The noble Imogen to repent, and struck
    Me, wretch more worth your vengeance. But, alack,
    You snatch some hence for little faults; that's love,
    To have them fall no more: you some permit
    To second ills with ills, each elder worse, 2965
    And make them dread it, to the doers' thrift.
    But Imogen is your own: do your best wills,
    And make me blest to obey! I am brought hither
    Among the Italian gentry, and to fight
    Against my lady's kingdom: 'tis enough 2970
    That, Britain, I have kill'd thy mistress; peace!
    I'll give no wound to thee. Therefore, good heavens,
    Hear patiently my purpose: I'll disrobe me
    Of these Italian weeds and suit myself
    As does a Briton peasant: so I'll fight 2975
    Against the part I come with; so I'll die
    For thee, O Imogen, even for whom my life
    Is every breath a death; and thus, unknown,
    Pitied nor hated, to the face of peril
    Myself I'll dedicate. Let me make men know 2980
    More valour in me than my habits show.
    Gods, put the strength o' the Leonati in me!
    To shame the guise o' the world, I will begin
    The fashion, less without and more within.


. previous scene      

Act V, Scene 2

Field of battle between the British and Roman camps.

      next scene .

[Enter, from one side, LUCIUS, IACHIMO, and] [p]the Roman Army: from the other side, the [p]British Army; POSTHUMUS LEONATUS following, [p]like a poor soldier. They march over and go [p]out. Then enter again, in skirmish, IACHIMO [p]and POSTHUMUS LEONATUS he vanquisheth and disarmeth [p]IACHIMO, and then leaves him]

  • Iachimo. The heaviness and guilt within my bosom
    Takes off my manhood: I have belied a lady,
    The princess of this country, and the air on't 2995
    Revengingly enfeebles me; or could this carl,
    A very drudge of nature's, have subdued me
    In my profession? Knighthoods and honours, borne
    As I wear mine, are titles but of scorn.
    If that thy gentry, Britain, go before 3000
    This lout as he exceeds our lords, the odds
    Is that we scarce are men and you are gods.
    [The battle continues; the Britons fly; CYMBELINE is]
    taken: then enter, to his rescue, BELARIUS, 3005
  • Belarius. Stand, stand! We have the advantage of the ground;
    The lane is guarded: nothing routs us but
    The villany of our fears.
  • Guiderius. [with Arviragus] Stand, stand, and fight! 3010
    [Re-enter POSTHUMUS LEONATUS, and seconds the]
    Britons: they rescue CYMBELINE, and exeunt. Then
    re-enter LUCIUS, and IACHIMO, with IMOGEN]
  • Caius Lucius. Away, boy, from the troops, and save thyself;
    For friends kill friends, and the disorder's such 3015
    As war were hoodwink'd.
  • Iachimo. 'Tis their fresh supplies.
  • Caius Lucius. It is a day turn'd strangely: or betimes
    Let's reinforce, or fly.


. previous scene      

Act V, Scene 3

Another part of the field.

      next scene .

[Enter POSTHUMUS LEONATUS and a British Lord]

  • Lord. Camest thou from where they made the stand?
  • Posthumus Leonatus. No blame be to you, sir; for all was lost,
    But that the heavens fought: the king himself
    Of his wings destitute, the army broken,
    And but the backs of Britons seen, all flying
    Through a straight lane; the enemy full-hearted, 3030
    Lolling the tongue with slaughtering, having work
    More plentiful than tools to do't, struck down
    Some mortally, some slightly touch'd, some falling
    Merely through fear; that the straight pass was damm'd
    With dead men hurt behind, and cowards living 3035
    To die with lengthen'd shame.
  • Lord. Where was this lane?
  • Posthumus Leonatus. Close by the battle, ditch'd, and wall'd with turf;
    Which gave advantage to an ancient soldier,
    An honest one, I warrant; who deserved 3040
    So long a breeding as his white beard came to,
    In doing this for's country: athwart the lane,
    He, with two striplings-lads more like to run
    The country base than to commit such slaughter
    With faces fit for masks, or rather fairer 3045
    Than those for preservation cased, or shame—
    Made good the passage; cried to those that fled,
    'Our Britain s harts die flying, not our men:
    To darkness fleet souls that fly backwards. Stand;
    Or we are Romans and will give you that 3050
    Like beasts which you shun beastly, and may save,
    But to look back in frown: stand, stand.'
    These three,
    Three thousand confident, in act as many—
    For three performers are the file when all 3055
    The rest do nothing—with this word 'Stand, stand,'
    Accommodated by the place, more charming
    With their own nobleness, which could have turn'd
    A distaff to a lance, gilded pale looks,
    Part shame, part spirit renew'd; that some, 3060
    turn'd coward
    But by example—O, a sin in war,
    Damn'd in the first beginners!—gan to look
    The way that they did, and to grin like lions
    Upon the pikes o' the hunters. Then began 3065
    A stop i' the chaser, a retire, anon
    A rout, confusion thick; forthwith they fly
    Chickens, the way which they stoop'd eagles; slaves,
    The strides they victors made: and now our cowards,
    Like fragments in hard voyages, became 3070
    The life o' the need: having found the backdoor open
    Of the unguarded hearts, heavens, how they wound!
    Some slain before; some dying; some their friends
    O'er borne i' the former wave: ten, chased by one,
    Are now each one the slaughter-man of twenty: 3075
    Those that would die or ere resist are grown
    The mortal bugs o' the field.
  • Lord. This was strange chance
    A narrow lane, an old man, and two boys.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. Nay, do not wonder at it: you are made 3080
    Rather to wonder at the things you hear
    Than to work any. Will you rhyme upon't,
    And vent it for a mockery? Here is one:
    'Two boys, an old man twice a boy, a lane,
    Preserved the Britons, was the Romans' bane.' 3085
  • Lord. Nay, be not angry, sir.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. 'Lack, to what end?
    Who dares not stand his foe, I'll be his friend;
    For if he'll do as he is made to do,
    I know he'll quickly fly my friendship too. 3090
    You have put me into rhyme.
  • Lord. Farewell; you're angry.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. Still going?
    [Exit Lord]
    This is a lord! O noble misery, 3095
    To be i' the field, and ask 'what news?' of me!
    To-day how many would have given their honours
    To have saved their carcasses! took heel to do't,
    And yet died too! I, in mine own woe charm'd,
    Could not find death where I did hear him groan, 3100
    Nor feel him where he struck: being an ugly monster,
    'Tis strange he hides him in fresh cups, soft beds,
    Sweet words; or hath more ministers than we
    That draw his knives i' the war. Well, I will find him
    For being now a favourer to the Briton, 3105
    No more a Briton, I have resumed again
    The part I came in: fight I will no more,
    But yield me to the veriest hind that shall
    Once touch my shoulder. Great the slaughter is
    Here made by the Roman; great the answer be 3110
    Britons must take. For me, my ransom's death;
    On either side I come to spend my breath;
    Which neither here I'll keep nor bear again,
    But end it by some means for Imogen.

[Enter two British Captains and Soldiers]

  • First British Captain. Great Jupiter be praised! Lucius is taken.
    'Tis thought the old man and his sons were angels.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. A Roman,
    Who had not now been drooping here, if seconds
    Had answer'd him.
  • Second British Captain. Lay hands on him; a dog! 3125
    A leg of Rome shall not return to tell
    What crows have peck'd them here. He brags
    his service
    As if he were of note: bring him to the king.
    PISANIO, Soldiers, Attendants, and Roman Captives.
    The Captains present POSTHUMUS LEONATUS to
    CYMBELINE, who delivers him over to a Gaoler:
    then exeunt omnes]
. previous scene      

Act V, Scene 4

A British prison.

      next scene .

[Enter POSTHUMUS LEONATUS and two Gaolers]

  • First Gaoler. You shall not now be stol'n, you have locks upon you;
    So graze as you find pasture.

[Exeunt Gaolers]

  • Posthumus Leonatus. Most welcome, bondage! for thou art away, 3140
    think, to liberty: yet am I better
    Than one that's sick o' the gout; since he had rather
    Groan so in perpetuity than be cured
    By the sure physician, death, who is the key
    To unbar these locks. My conscience, thou art fetter'd 3145
    More than my shanks and wrists: you good gods, give me
    The penitent instrument to pick that bolt,
    Then, free for ever! Is't enough I am sorry?
    So children temporal fathers do appease;
    Gods are more full of mercy. Must I repent? 3150
    I cannot do it better than in gyves,
    Desired more than constrain'd: to satisfy,
    If of my freedom 'tis the main part, take
    No stricter render of me than my all.
    I know you are more clement than vile men, 3155
    Who of their broken debtors take a third,
    A sixth, a tenth, letting them thrive again
    On their abatement: that's not my desire:
    For Imogen's dear life take mine; and though
    'Tis not so dear, yet 'tis a life; you coin'd it: 3160
    'Tween man and man they weigh not every stamp;
    Though light, take pieces for the figure's sake:
    You rather mine, being yours: and so, great powers,
    If you will take this audit, take this life,
    And cancel these cold bonds. O Imogen! 3165
    I'll speak to thee in silence.
    [Solemn music. Enter, as in an apparition,]
    SICILIUS LEONATUS, father to Posthumus Leonatus,
    an old man, attired like a warrior; leading in 3170
    his hand an ancient matron, his wife, and mother
    to Posthumus Leonatus, with music before them:
    then, after other music, follow the two young
    Leonati, brothers to Posthumus Leonatus, with
    wounds as they died in the wars. They circle 3175
    Posthumus Leonatus round, as he lies sleeping]
  • Sicilius Leonatus. No more, thou thunder-master, show
    Thy spite on mortal flies:
    With Mars fall out, with Juno chide,
    That thy adulteries 3180
    Rates and revenges.
    Hath my poor boy done aught but well,
    Whose face I never saw?
    I died whilst in the womb he stay'd
    Attending nature's law: 3185
    Whose father then, as men report
    Thou orphans' father art,
    Thou shouldst have been, and shielded him
    From this earth-vexing smart.
  • Mother. Lucina lent not me her aid, 3190
    But took me in my throes;
    That from me was Posthumus ript,
    Came crying 'mongst his foes,
    A thing of pity!
  • Sicilius Leonatus. Great nature, like his ancestry, 3195
    Moulded the stuff so fair,
    That he deserved the praise o' the world,
    As great Sicilius' heir.
  • First Brother. When once he was mature for man,
    In Britain where was he 3200
    That could stand up his parallel;
    Or fruitful object be
    In eye of Imogen, that best
    Could deem his dignity?
  • Mother. With marriage wherefore was he mock'd, 3205
    To be exiled, and thrown
    From Leonati seat, and cast
    From her his dearest one,
    Sweet Imogen?
  • Sicilius Leonatus. Why did you suffer Iachimo, 3210
    Slight thing of Italy,
    To taint his nobler heart and brain
    With needless jealosy;
    And to become the geck and scorn
    O' th' other's villany? 3215
  • Second Brother. For this from stiller seats we came,
    Our parents and us twain,
    That striking in our country's cause
    Fell bravely and were slain,
    Our fealty and Tenantius' right 3220
    With honour to maintain.
  • First Brother. Like hardiment Posthumus hath
    To Cymbeline perform'd:
    Then, Jupiter, thou king of gods,
    Why hast thou thus adjourn'd 3225
    The graces for his merits due,
    Being all to dolours turn'd?
  • Sicilius Leonatus. Thy crystal window ope; look out;
    No longer exercise
    Upon a valiant race thy harsh 3230
    And potent injuries.
  • Mother. Since, Jupiter, our son is good,
    Take off his miseries.
  • Sicilius Leonatus. Peep through thy marble mansion; help;
    Or we poor ghosts will cry 3235
    To the shining synod of the rest
    Against thy deity.
  • Second Brother. [with First Brother] Help, Jupiter; or we appeal,
    And from thy justice fly.
    [Jupiter descends in thunder and lightning, sitting] 3240
    upon an eagle: he throws a thunderbolt. The
    Apparitions fall on their knees]
  • Jupiter. No more, you petty spirits of region low,
    Offend our hearing; hush! How dare you ghosts
    Accuse the thunderer, whose bolt, you know, 3245
    Sky-planted batters all rebelling coasts?
    Poor shadows of Elysium, hence, and rest
    Upon your never-withering banks of flowers:
    Be not with mortal accidents opprest;
    No care of yours it is; you know 'tis ours. 3250
    Whom best I love I cross; to make my gift,
    The more delay'd, delighted. Be content;
    Your low-laid son our godhead will uplift:
    His comforts thrive, his trials well are spent.
    Our Jovial star reign'd at his birth, and in 3255
    Our temple was he married. Rise, and fade.
    He shall be lord of lady Imogen,
    And happier much by his affliction made.
    This tablet lay upon his breast, wherein
    Our pleasure his full fortune doth confine: 3260
    and so, away: no further with your din
    Express impatience, lest you stir up mine.
    Mount, eagle, to my palace crystalline.


  • Sicilius Leonatus. He came in thunder; his celestial breath 3265
    Was sulphurous to smell: the holy eagle
    Stoop'd as to foot us: his ascension is
    More sweet than our blest fields: his royal bird
    Prunes the immortal wing and cloys his beak,
    As when his god is pleased. 3270
  • All. Thanks, Jupiter!
  • Sicilius Leonatus. The marble pavement closes, he is enter'd
    His radiant root. Away! and, to be blest,
    Let us with care perform his great behest.

[The Apparitions vanish]

  • Posthumus Leonatus. [Waking] Sleep, thou hast been a grandsire, and begot
    A father to me; and thou hast created
    A mother and two brothers: but, O scorn!
    Gone! they went hence so soon as they were born:
    And so I am awake. Poor wretches that depend 3280
    On greatness' favour dream as I have done,
    Wake and find nothing. But, alas, I swerve:
    Many dream not to find, neither deserve,
    And yet are steep'd in favours: so am I,
    That have this golden chance and know not why. 3285
    What fairies haunt this ground? A book? O rare one!
    Be not, as is our fangled world, a garment
    Nobler than that it covers: let thy effects
    So follow, to be most unlike our courtiers,
    As good as promise. 3290
    'When as a lion's whelp shall, to himself unknown,
    without seeking find, and be embraced by a piece of
    tender air; and when from a stately cedar shall be
    lopped branches, which, being dead many years, 3295
    shall after revive, be jointed to the old stock and
    freshly grow; then shall Posthumus end his miseries,
    Britain be fortunate and flourish in peace and plenty.'
    'Tis still a dream, or else such stuff as madmen
    Tongue and brain not; either both or nothing; 3300
    Or senseless speaking or a speaking such
    As sense cannot untie. Be what it is,
    The action of my life is like it, which
    I'll keep, if but for sympathy.

[Re-enter First Gaoler]

  • First Gaoler. Hanging is the word, sir: if
    you be ready for that, you are well cooked.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. So, if I prove a good repast to the 3310
    spectators, the dish pays the shot.
  • First Gaoler. A heavy reckoning for you, sir. But the comfort is,
    you shall be called to no more payments, fear no
    more tavern-bills; which are often the sadness of
    parting, as the procuring of mirth: you come in 3315
    flint for want of meat, depart reeling with too
    much drink; sorry that you have paid too much, and
    sorry that you are paid too much; purse and brain
    both empty; the brain the heavier for being too
    light, the purse too light, being drawn of 3320
    heaviness: of this contradiction you shall now be
    quit. O, the charity of a penny cord! It sums up
    thousands in a trice: you have no true debitor and
    creditor but it; of what's past, is, and to come,
    the discharge: your neck, sir, is pen, book and 3325
    counters; so the acquittance follows.
  • First Gaoler. Indeed, sir, he that sleeps feels not the
    tooth-ache: but a man that were to sleep your
    sleep, and a hangman to help him to bed, I think he 3330
    would change places with his officer; for, look you,
    sir, you know not which way you shall go.
  • First Gaoler. Your death has eyes in 's head then; I have not seen
    him so pictured: you must either be directed by 3335
    some that take upon them to know, or do take upon
    yourself that which I am sure you do not know, or
    jump the after inquiry on your own peril: and how
    you shall speed in your journey's end, I think you'll
    never return to tell one. 3340
  • Posthumus Leonatus. I tell thee, fellow, there are none want eyes to
    direct them the way I am going, but such as wink and
    will not use them.
  • First Gaoler. What an infinite mock is this, that a man should
    have the best use of eyes to see the way of 3345
    blindness! I am sure hanging's the way of winking.

[Enter a Messenger]

  • Messenger. Knock off his manacles; bring your prisoner to the king.

[Exeunt POSTHUMUS LEONATUS and Messenger]

  • First Gaoler. Unless a man would marry a gallows and beget young
    gibbets, I never saw one so prone. Yet, on my
    conscience, there are verier knaves desire to live, 3355
    for all he be a Roman: and there be some of them
    too that die against their wills; so should I, if I
    were one. I would we were all of one mind, and one
    mind good; O, there were desolation of gaolers and
    gallowses! I speak against my present profit, but 3360
    my wish hath a preferment in 't.


. previous scene      

Act V, Scene 5

Cymbeline’s tent.


[Enter CYMBELINE, BELARIUS, GUIDERIUS, ARVIRAGUS,] [p]PISANIO, Lords, Officers, and Attendants]

  • Cymbeline. Stand by my side, you whom the gods have made 3365
    Preservers of my throne. Woe is my heart
    That the poor soldier that so richly fought,
    Whose rags shamed gilded arms, whose naked breast
    Stepp'd before larges of proof, cannot be found:
    He shall be happy that can find him, if 3370
    Our grace can make him so.
  • Belarius. I never saw
    Such noble fury in so poor a thing;
    Such precious deeds in one that promises nought
    But beggary and poor looks. 3375
  • Pisanio. He hath been search'd among the dead and living,
    But no trace of him.
  • Cymbeline. To my grief, I am
    The heir of his reward; 3380
    which I will add
    To you, the liver, heart and brain of Britain,
    By whom I grant she lives. 'Tis now the time
    To ask of whence you are. Report it. 3385
  • Belarius. Sir,
    In Cambria are we born, and gentlemen:
    Further to boast were neither true nor modest,
    Unless I add, we are honest.
  • Cymbeline. Bow your knees. 3390
    Arise my knights o' the battle: I create you
    Companions to our person and will fit you
    With dignities becoming your estates.
    [Enter CORNELIUS and Ladies]
    There's business in these faces. Why so sadly 3395
    Greet you our victory? you look like Romans,
    And not o' the court of Britain.
  • Cornelius. Hail, great king!
    To sour your happiness, I must report
    The queen is dead. 3400
  • Cymbeline. Who worse than a physician
    Would this report become? But I consider,
    By medicine life may be prolong'd, yet death
    Will seize the doctor too. How ended she?
  • Cornelius. With horror, madly dying, like her life, 3405
    Which, being cruel to the world, concluded
    Most cruel to herself. What she confess'd
    I will report, so please you: these her women
    Can trip me, if I err; who with wet cheeks
    Were present when she finish'd. 3410
  • Cornelius. First, she confess'd she never loved you, only
    Affected greatness got by you, not you:
    Married your royalty, was wife to your place;
    Abhorr'd your person. 3415
  • Cymbeline. She alone knew this;
    And, but she spoke it dying, I would not
    Believe her lips in opening it. Proceed.
  • Cornelius. Your daughter, whom she bore in hand to love
    With such integrity, she did confess 3420
    Was as a scorpion to her sight; whose life,
    But that her flight prevented it, she had
    Ta'en off by poison.
  • Cymbeline. O most delicate fiend!
    Who is 't can read a woman? Is there more? 3425
  • Cornelius. More, sir, and worse. She did confess she had
    For you a mortal mineral; which, being took,
    Should by the minute feed on life and lingering
    By inches waste you: in which time she purposed,
    By watching, weeping, tendance, kissing, to 3430
    O'ercome you with her show, and in time,
    When she had fitted you with her craft, to work
    Her son into the adoption of the crown:
    But, failing of her end by his strange absence,
    Grew shameless-desperate; open'd, in despite 3435
    Of heaven and men, her purposes; repented
    The evils she hatch'd were not effected; so
    Despairing died.
  • Cymbeline. Mine eyes
    Were not in fault, for she was beautiful;
    Mine ears, that heard her flattery; nor my heart,
    That thought her like her seeming; it had
    been vicious 3445
    To have mistrusted her: yet, O my daughter!
    That it was folly in me, thou mayst say,
    And prove it in thy feeling. Heaven mend all!
    [Enter LUCIUS, IACHIMO, the Soothsayer, and other]
    Roman Prisoners, guarded; POSTHUMUS LEONATUS 3450
    behind, and IMOGEN]
    Thou comest not, Caius, now for tribute that
    The Britons have razed out, though with the loss
    Of many a bold one; whose kinsmen have made suit
    That their good souls may be appeased with slaughter 3455
    Of you their captives, which ourself have granted:
    So think of your estate.
  • Caius Lucius. Consider, sir, the chance of war: the day
    Was yours by accident; had it gone with us,
    We should not, when the blood was cool, 3460
    have threaten'd
    Our prisoners with the sword. But since the gods
    Will have it thus, that nothing but our lives
    May be call'd ransom, let it come: sufficeth
    A Roman with a Roman's heart can suffer: 3465
    Augustus lives to think on't: and so much
    For my peculiar care. This one thing only
    I will entreat; my boy, a Briton born,
    Let him be ransom'd: never master had
    A page so kind, so duteous, diligent, 3470
    So tender over his occasions, true,
    So feat, so nurse-like: let his virtue join
    With my request, which I make bold your highness
    Cannot deny; he hath done no Briton harm,
    Though he have served a Roman: save him, sir, 3475
    And spare no blood beside.
  • Cymbeline. I have surely seen him:
    His favour is familiar to me. Boy,
    Thou hast look'd thyself into my grace,
    And art mine own. I know not why, wherefore, 3480
    To say 'live, boy:' ne'er thank thy master; live:
    And ask of Cymbeline what boon thou wilt,
    Fitting my bounty and thy state, I'll give it;
    Yea, though thou do demand a prisoner,
    The noblest ta'en. 3485
  • Imogen. I humbly thank your highness.
  • Caius Lucius. I do not bid thee beg my life, good lad;
    And yet I know thou wilt.
  • Imogen. No, no: alack,
    There's other work in hand: I see a thing 3490
    Bitter to me as death: your life, good master,
    Must shuffle for itself.
  • Caius Lucius. The boy disdains me,
    He leaves me, scorns me: briefly die their joys
    That place them on the truth of girls and boys. 3495
    Why stands he so perplex'd?
  • Cymbeline. What wouldst thou, boy?
    I love thee more and more: think more and more
    What's best to ask. Know'st him thou look'st on? speak,
    Wilt have him live? Is he thy kin? thy friend? 3500
  • Imogen. He is a Roman; no more kin to me
    Than I to your highness; who, being born your vassal,
    Am something nearer.
  • Imogen. I'll tell you, sir, in private, if you please 3505
    To give me hearing.
  • Cymbeline. Ay, with all my heart,
    And lend my best attention. What's thy name?
  • Cymbeline. Thou'rt my good youth, my page; 3510
    I'll be thy master: walk with me; speak freely.

[CYMBELINE and IMOGEN converse apart]

  • Belarius. Is not this boy revived from death?
  • Arviragus. One sand another
    Not more resembles that sweet rosy lad 3515
    Who died, and was Fidele. What think you?
  • Belarius. Peace, peace! see further; he eyes us not; forbear;
    Creatures may be alike: were 't he, I am sure
    He would have spoke to us. 3520
  • Belarius. Be silent; let's see further.
  • Pisanio. [Aside]. It is my mistress:
    Since she is living, let the time run on
    To good or bad. 3525

[CYMBELINE and IMOGEN come forward]

  • Cymbeline. Come, stand thou by our side;
    Make thy demand aloud.
    [To IACHIMO]
    Sir, step you forth; 3530
    Give answer to this boy, and do it freely;
    Or, by our greatness and the grace of it,
    Which is our honour, bitter torture shall
    Winnow the truth from falsehood. On, speak to him.
  • Imogen. My boon is, that this gentleman may render 3535
    Of whom he had this ring.
  • Cymbeline. That diamond upon your finger, say
    How came it yours?
  • Iachimo. Thou'lt torture me to leave unspoken that 3540
    Which, to be spoke, would torture thee.
  • Iachimo. I am glad to be constrain'd to utter that
    Which torments me to conceal. By villany
    I got this ring: 'twas Leonatus' jewel; 3545
    Whom thou didst banish; and—which more may
    grieve thee,
    As it doth me—a nobler sir ne'er lived
    'Twixt sky and ground. Wilt thou hear more, my lord?
  • Iachimo. That paragon, thy daughter,—
    For whom my heart drops blood, and my false spirits
    Quail to remember—Give me leave; I faint.
  • Cymbeline. My daughter! what of her? Renew thy strength:
    I had rather thou shouldst live while nature will 3555
    Than die ere I hear more: strive, man, and speak.
  • Iachimo. Upon a time,—unhappy was the clock
    That struck the hour!—it was in Rome,—accursed
    The mansion where!—'twas at a feast,—O, would
    Our viands had been poison'd, or at least 3560
    Those which I heaved to head!—the good Posthumus—
    What should I say? he was too good to be
    Where ill men were; and was the best of all
    Amongst the rarest of good ones,—sitting sadly,
    Hearing us praise our loves of Italy 3565
    For beauty that made barren the swell'd boast
    Of him that best could speak, for feature, laming
    The shrine of Venus, or straight-pight Minerva.
    Postures beyond brief nature, for condition,
    A shop of all the qualities that man 3570
    Loves woman for, besides that hook of wiving,
    Fairness which strikes the eye—
  • Cymbeline. I stand on fire:
    Come to the matter.
  • Iachimo. All too soon I shall, 3575
    Unless thou wouldst grieve quickly. This Posthumus,
    Most like a noble lord in love and one
    That had a royal lover, took his hint;
    And, not dispraising whom we praised,—therein
    He was as calm as virtue—he began 3580
    His mistress' picture; which by his tongue
    being made,
    And then a mind put in't, either our brags
    Were crack'd of kitchen-trolls, or his description
    Proved us unspeaking sots. 3585
  • Iachimo. Your daughter's chastity—there it begins.
    He spake of her, as Dian had hot dreams,
    And she alone were cold: whereat I, wretch,
    Made scruple of his praise; and wager'd with him 3590
    Pieces of gold 'gainst this which then he wore
    Upon his honour'd finger, to attain
    In suit the place of's bed and win this ring
    By hers and mine adultery. He, true knight,
    No lesser of her honour confident 3595
    Than I did truly find her, stakes this ring;
    And would so, had it been a carbuncle
    Of Phoebus' wheel, and might so safely, had it
    Been all the worth of's car. Away to Britain
    Post I in this design: well may you, sir, 3600
    Remember me at court; where I was taught
    Of your chaste daughter the wide difference
    'Twixt amorous and villanous. Being thus quench'd
    Of hope, not longing, mine Italian brain
    'Gan in your duller Britain operate 3605
    Most vilely; for my vantage, excellent:
    And, to be brief, my practise so prevail'd,
    That I return'd with simular proof enough
    To make the noble Leonatus mad,
    By wounding his belief in her renown 3610
    With tokens thus, and thus; averting notes
    Of chamber-hanging, pictures, this her bracelet,—
    O cunning, how I got it!—nay, some marks
    Of secret on her person, that he could not
    But think her bond of chastity quite crack'd, 3615
    I having ta'en the forfeit. Whereupon—
    Methinks, I see him now—
  • Posthumus Leonatus. [Advancing] Ay, so thou dost,
    Italian fiend! Ay me, most credulous fool,
    Egregious murderer, thief, any thing 3620
    That's due to all the villains past, in being,
    To come! O, give me cord, or knife, or poison,
    Some upright justicer! Thou, king, send out
    For torturers ingenious: it is I
    That all the abhorred things o' the earth amend 3625
    By being worse than they. I am Posthumus,
    That kill'd thy daughter:—villain-like, I lie—
    That caused a lesser villain than myself,
    A sacrilegious thief, to do't: the temple
    Of virtue was she; yea, and she herself. 3630
    Spit, and throw stones, cast mire upon me, set
    The dogs o' the street to bay me: every villain
    Be call'd Posthumus Leonitus; and
    Be villany less than 'twas! O Imogen!
    My queen, my life, my wife! O Imogen, 3635
    Imogen, Imogen!
  • Imogen. Peace, my lord; hear, hear—

[Striking her: she falls]

  • Pisanio. O, gentlemen, help!
    Mine and your mistress! O, my lord Posthumus!
    You ne'er kill'd Imogen til now. Help, help!
    Mine honour'd lady!
  • Cymbeline. If this be so, the gods do mean to strike me
    To death with mortal joy.
  • Pisanio. How fares thy mistress? 3650
  • Imogen. O, get thee from my sight;
    Thou gavest me poison: dangerous fellow, hence!
    Breathe not where princes are.
  • Pisanio. Lady, 3655
    The gods throw stones of sulphur on me, if
    That box I gave you was not thought by me
    A precious thing: I had it from the queen.
  • Cornelius. O gods!
    I left out one thing which the queen confess'd.
    Which must approve thee honest: 'If Pisanio
    Have,' said she, 'given his mistress that confection
    Which I gave him for cordial, she is served 3665
    As I would serve a rat.'
  • Cornelius. The queen, sir, very oft importuned me
    To temper poisons for her, still pretending
    The satisfaction of her knowledge only 3670
    In killing creatures vile, as cats and dogs,
    Of no esteem: I, dreading that her purpose
    Was of more danger, did compound for her
    A certain stuff, which, being ta'en, would cease
    The present power of life, but in short time 3675
    All offices of nature should again
    Do their due functions. Have you ta'en of it?
  • Imogen. Most like I did, for I was dead.
  • Belarius. My boys,
    There was our error. 3680
  • Imogen. Why did you throw your wedded lady from you?
    Think that you are upon a rock; and now
    Throw me again.

[Embracing him]

  • Cymbeline. How now, my flesh, my child!
    What, makest thou me a dullard in this act?
    Wilt thou not speak to me? 3690
  • Imogen. [Kneeling] Your blessing, sir.
  • Belarius. [To GUIDERIUS and ARVIRAGUS] Though you did love
    this youth, I blame ye not:
    You had a motive for't.
  • Cymbeline. My tears that fall 3695
    Prove holy water on thee! Imogen,
    Thy mother's dead.
  • Imogen. I am sorry for't, my lord.
  • Cymbeline. O, she was nought; and long of her it was
    That we meet here so strangely: but her son 3700
    Is gone, we know not how nor where.
  • Pisanio. My lord,
    Now fear is from me, I'll speak troth. Lord Cloten,
    Upon my lady's missing, came to me
    With his sword drawn; foam'd at the mouth, and swore, 3705
    If I discover'd not which way she was gone,
    It was my instant death. By accident,
    had a feigned letter of my master's
    Then in my pocket; which directed him
    To seek her on the mountains near to Milford; 3710
    Where, in a frenzy, in my master's garments,
    Which he enforced from me, away he posts
    With unchaste purpose and with oath to violate
    My lady's honour: what became of him
    I further know not. 3715
  • Guiderius. Let me end the story:
    I slew him there.
  • Cymbeline. Marry, the gods forfend!
    I would not thy good deeds should from my lips
    Pluck a bard sentence: prithee, valiant youth, 3720
    Deny't again.
  • Guiderius. A most incivil one: the wrongs he did me
    Were nothing prince-like; for he did provoke me 3725
    With language that would make me spurn the sea,
    If it could so roar to me: I cut off's head;
    And am right glad he is not standing here
    To tell this tale of mine.
  • Cymbeline. I am sorry for thee: 3730
    By thine own tongue thou art condemn'd, and must
    Endure our law: thou'rt dead.
  • Imogen. That headless man
    I thought had been my lord.
  • Cymbeline. Bind the offender, 3735
    And take him from our presence.
  • Belarius. Stay, sir king:
    This man is better than the man he slew,
    As well descended as thyself; and hath
    More of thee merited than a band of Clotens 3740
    Had ever scar for.
    [To the Guard]
    Let his arms alone;
    They were not born for bondage.
  • Cymbeline. Why, old soldier, 3745
    Wilt thou undo the worth thou art unpaid for,
    By tasting of our wrath? How of descent
    As good as we?
  • Belarius. We will die all three:
    But I will prove that two on's are as good
    As I have given out him. My sons, I must,
    For mine own part, unfold a dangerous speech,
    Though, haply, well for you. 3755
  • Belarius. Have at it then, by leave.
    Thou hadst, great king, a subject who
    Was call'd Belarius. 3760
  • Cymbeline. What of him? he is
    A banish'd traitor.
  • Belarius. He it is that hath
    Assumed this age; indeed a banish'd man;
    I know not how a traitor. 3765
  • Cymbeline. Take him hence:
    The whole world shall not save him.
  • Belarius. Not too hot:
    First pay me for the nursing of thy sons;
    And let it be confiscate all, so soon 3770
    As I have received it.
  • Belarius. I am too blunt and saucy: here's my knee:
    Ere I arise, I will prefer my sons;
    Then spare not the old father. Mighty sir, 3775
    These two young gentlemen, that call me father
    And think they are my sons, are none of mine;
    They are the issue of your loins, my liege,
    And blood of your begetting.
  • Belarius. So sure as you your father's. I, old Morgan,
    Am that Belarius whom you sometime banish'd:
    Your pleasure was my mere offence, my punishment
    Itself, and all my treason; that I suffer'd
    Was all the harm I did. These gentle princes— 3785
    For such and so they are—these twenty years
    Have I train'd up: those arts they have as I
    Could put into them; my breeding was, sir, as
    Your highness knows. Their nurse, Euriphile,
    Whom for the theft I wedded, stole these children 3790
    Upon my banishment: I moved her to't,
    Having received the punishment before,
    For that which I did then: beaten for loyalty
    Excited me to treason: their dear loss,
    The more of you 'twas felt, the more it shaped 3795
    Unto my end of stealing them. But, gracious sir,
    Here are your sons again; and I must lose
    Two of the sweet'st companions in the world.
    The benediction of these covering heavens
    Fall on their heads like dew! for they are worthy 3800
    To inlay heaven with stars.
  • Cymbeline. Thou weep'st, and speak'st.
    The service that you three have done is more
    Unlike than this thou tell'st. I lost my children:
    If these be they, I know not how to wish 3805
    A pair of worthier sons.
  • Belarius. Be pleased awhile.
    This gentleman, whom I call Polydore,
    Most worthy prince, as yours, is true Guiderius:
    This gentleman, my Cadwal, Arviragus, 3810
    Your younger princely son; he, sir, was lapp'd
    In a most curious mantle, wrought by the hand
    Of his queen mother, which for more probation
    I can with ease produce.
  • Cymbeline. Guiderius had 3815
    Upon his neck a mole, a sanguine star;
    It was a mark of wonder.
  • Belarius. This is he;
    Who hath upon him still that natural stamp:
    It was wise nature's end in the donation, 3820
    To be his evidence now.
  • Cymbeline. O, what, am I
    A mother to the birth of three? Ne'er mother
    Rejoiced deliverance more. Blest pray you be,
    That, after this strange starting from your orbs, 3825
    may reign in them now! O Imogen,
    Thou hast lost by this a kingdom.
  • Imogen. No, my lord;
    I have got two worlds by 't. O my gentle brothers,
    Have we thus met? O, never say hereafter 3830
    But I am truest speaker you call'd me brother,
    When I was but your sister; I you brothers,
    When ye were so indeed.
  • Guiderius. And at first meeting loved;
    Continued so, until we thought he died.
  • Cornelius. By the queen's dram she swallow'd.
  • Cymbeline. O rare instinct!
    When shall I hear all through? This fierce 3840
    Hath to it circumstantial branches, which
    Distinction should be rich in. Where? how lived You?
    And when came you to serve our Roman captive?
    How parted with your brothers? how first met them? 3845
    Why fled you from the court? and whither? These,
    And your three motives to the battle, with
    I know not how much more, should be demanded;
    And all the other by-dependencies,
    From chance to chance: but nor the time nor place 3850
    Will serve our long inter'gatories. See,
    Posthumus anchors upon Imogen,
    And she, like harmless lightning, throws her eye
    On him, her brother, me, her master, hitting
    Each object with a joy: the counterchange 3855
    Is severally in all. Let's quit this ground,
    And smoke the temple with our sacrifices.
    Thou art my brother; so we'll hold thee ever.
  • Imogen. You are my father too, and did relieve me, 3860
    To see this gracious season.
  • Cymbeline. All o'erjoy'd,
    Save these in bonds: let them be joyful too,
    For they shall taste our comfort.
  • Imogen. My good master, 3865
    I will yet do you service.
  • Cymbeline. The forlorn soldier, that so nobly fought,
    He would have well becomed this place, and graced
    The thankings of a king. 3870
  • Posthumus Leonatus. I am, sir,
    The soldier that did company these three
    In poor beseeming; 'twas a fitment for
    The purpose I then follow'd. That I was he,
    Speak, Iachimo: I had you down and might 3875
    Have made you finish.
  • Iachimo. [Kneeling] I am down again:
    But now my heavy conscience sinks my knee,
    As then your force did. Take that life, beseech you,
    Which I so often owe: but your ring first; 3880
    And here the bracelet of the truest princess
    That ever swore her faith.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. Kneel not to me:
    The power that I have on you is, to spare you;
    The malice towards you to forgive you: live, 3885
    And deal with others better.
  • Cymbeline. Nobly doom'd!
    We'll learn our freeness of a son-in-law;
    Pardon's the word to all.
  • Arviragus. You holp us, sir, 3890
    As you did mean indeed to be our brother;
    Joy'd are we that you are.
  • Posthumus Leonatus. Your servant, princes. Good my lord of Rome,
    Call forth your soothsayer: as I slept, methought
    Great Jupiter, upon his eagle back'd, 3895
    Appear'd to me, with other spritely shows
    Of mine own kindred: when I waked, I found
    This label on my bosom; whose containing
    Is so from sense in hardness, that I can
    Make no collection of it: let him show 3900
    His skill in the construction.
  • Soothsayer. [Reads] 'When as a lion's whelp shall, to himself 3905
    unknown, without seeking find, and be embraced by a
    piece of tender air; and when from a stately cedar
    shall be lopped branches, which, being dead many
    years, shall after revive, be jointed to the old
    stock, and freshly grow; then shall Posthumus end 3910
    his miseries, Britain be fortunate and flourish in
    peace and plenty.'
    Thou, Leonatus, art the lion's whelp;
    The fit and apt construction of thy name,
    Being Leonatus, doth import so much. 3915
    The piece of tender air, thy virtuous daughter,
    Which we call 'mollis aer;' and 'mollis aer'
    We term it 'mulier:' which 'mulier' I divine
    Is this most constant wife; who, even now, 3920
    Answering the letter of the oracle,
    Unknown to you, unsought, were clipp'd about
    With this most tender air.
  • Soothsayer. The lofty cedar, royal Cymbeline, 3925
    Personates thee: and thy lopp'd branches point
    Thy two sons forth; who, by Belarius stol'n,
    For many years thought dead, are now revived,
    To the majestic cedar join'd, whose issue
    Promises Britain peace and plenty. 3930
  • Cymbeline. Well
    My peace we will begin. And, Caius Lucius,
    Although the victor, we submit to Caesar,
    And to the Roman empire; promising
    To pay our wonted tribute, from the which 3935
    We were dissuaded by our wicked queen;
    Whom heavens, in justice, both on her and hers,
    Have laid most heavy hand.
  • Soothsayer. The fingers of the powers above do tune
    The harmony of this peace. The vision 3940
    Which I made known to Lucius, ere the stroke
    Of this yet scarce-cold battle, at this instant
    Is full accomplish'd; for the Roman eagle,
    From south to west on wing soaring aloft,
    Lessen'd herself, and in the beams o' the sun 3945
    So vanish'd: which foreshow'd our princely eagle,
    The imperial Caesar, should again unite
    His favour with the radiant Cymbeline,
    Which shines here in the west.
  • Cymbeline. Laud we the gods; 3950
    And let our crooked smokes climb to their nostrils
    From our blest altars. Publish we this peace
    To all our subjects. Set we forward: let
    A Roman and a British ensign wave
    Friendly together: so through Lud's-town march: 3955
    And in the temple of great Jupiter
    Our peace we'll ratify; seal it with feasts.
    Set on there! Never was a war did cease,
    Ere bloody hands were wash'd, with such a peace.