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ACT III. - William Shakespeare, Cymbeline 
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (The Oxford Shakespeare), ed. with a glossary by W.J. Craig M.A. (Oxford University Press, 1916).
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Britain. A Hall inCymbeline’sPalace.
Enter at one doorCymbeline, Queen, Cloten,and Lords; and at anotherCaius Luciusand Attendants.
Now say what would Augustus Cæsar with us?
When Julius Cæsar—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,—
Famous in Cæsar’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.
And, to kill the marvel,
Shall be so ever.
There be many Cæsars
Ere such another Julius. Britain is
A world by itself, and we will nothing pay
For wearing our own noses.
Which then they had to take from ’s, to resume,
We have again. Remember, sir, my liege,
The kings your ancestors, together with
The natural bravery of your isle, which stands
As Neptune’s park, ribbed and paled in
With rocks unscaleable and roaring waters,
With sands, that will not bear your enemies’ boats,
But suck them up to the topmast. A kind of conquest
Cæsar made here, but made not here his brag
Of ‘came, and saw, and overcame:’ with shame—
The first that ever touch’d him—he was carried
From off our coast, twice beaten; and his shipping—
Poor ignorant baubles!—on our terrible seas,
Like egg-shells mov’d upon their surges, crack’d
As easily ’gainst our rocks: for joy whereof
The fam’d Cassibelan, who was once at point—
O giglot fortune!—to master Cæsar’s sword,
Made Lud’s town with rejoicing-fires bright,
And Britons stiut with courage.
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 Cæsars; other of them may have crooked noses, but to owe such straight arms, none.
Son, let your mother end.
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 Cæsar can hide the sun from us with a blanket, or put the moon in his pocket, we will pay him tribute for light; else, sir, no more tribute, pray you now.
You must know,
Till the injurious Romans did extort
This tribute from us, we were free; Cæsar’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 war-like people, whom we reckon
Ourselves to be. We do say then to Cæsar
Our ancestor was that Mulmutius which
Ordain’d our laws, whose use the sword of Cæsar
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
Himself a king.
I am sorry, Cymbeline,
That I am to pronounce Augustus Cæsar—
Cæsar, that hath more kings his servants than
Thyself domestic officers—thine enemy.
Receive it from me, then: war and confusion
In Cæsar’s name pronounce I ’gainst thee: look
For fury not to be resisted. Thus defied,
I thank thee for myself.
Thou art welcome, Caius.
Thy Cæsar 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
Their liberties are now in arms; a precedent
Which not to read would show the Britons cold:
So Cæsar shall not find them.
Let proof speak.
His majesty bids you welcome. Make 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 for you; and there’s an end.
I know your master’s pleasure and he mine:
All the remain is ‘Welcome!’
Another Room in the Same.
EnterPisanio,reading a letter.
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—
As poisonous-tongu’d 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!
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
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
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.
I am ignorant in what I am commanded.
How now, Pisanio!
Madam, here is a letter from my lord.
Who? thy lord? that is my lord, Leonatus.
O! learn’d indeed were that astronomer
That knew the stars as I his characters;
He’d 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
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. Bless’d be
You bees that make these locks of counsel! Lovers
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 in his dominion, could not be so cruel to me, as you, O the dearest of creatures, would not 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 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
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,—
O! let me ’bate,—but not like me; yet long’st,
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,
Tell me how Wales was made so happy as
T’ 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 hencegoing
And our return, to excuse; but first, how get hence.
Why should excuse be born or ere begot?
We’ll talk of that hereafter. Prithee, speak,
How many score of miles may we well ride
’Twixt hour and hour?
One score ’twixt sun and sun,
Madam, ’s enough for you, and too much too.
Why, one that rode to ’s execution, man,
Could never go so slow: I have heard of 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
A riding-suit, no costlier than would fit
A franklin’s housewife.
Madam, you’re best consider.
I see before me, man; nor here, nor here,
Nor what ensues, but have a fog in them,
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.
Wales. A mountainous Country with a Cave.
Enter from the Cave,Belarius, Guiderius,andArviragus.
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
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.
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,
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
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 check,
Richer than doing nothing for a bribe,
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.
Out of your proof you speak; we, poor unfledg’d,
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
A cell of ignorance, travelling a-bed,
A prison for a debtor, that not dares
To stride a limit.
What should we speak of
When we are old as you? when we shall hear
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 war-like as the wolf for what we eat;
Our valour is to chase what flies; our cage
We make a quire, as doth the prison’d bird,
And sing our bondage freely.
How you speak!
Did you but know the city’s usuries
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 of the war,
A pain that only seems to seek out danger
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,
Must curtsy 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 lov’d me,
And when a soldier was the theme, my name
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.
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
Follow’d my banishment, and this twenty years
This rock and these demesnes have been my world,
Where I have liv’d at honest freedom, paid
More pious debts to heaven than in all
The fore-end of my time. But, up to the mountains!
This is not hunter’s 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.
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 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,
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 war-like feats I have done, his spirits fly out
Into my story: say, ‘Thus mine enemy fell,
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,
Strikes life into my speech and shows much more
His own conceiving. Hark! the game is rous’d.
O Cymbeline! heaven and my conscience knows
Thou didst unjustly banish me; whereon,
At three and two years old, I stole these babes,
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:
Myself, Belarius, that am Morgan call’d,
They take for natural father. The game is up.
Thou told’st me, when we came from horse, the place
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,
Would be interpreted a thing perplex’d
Beyond self-explication; put thyself
Into a haviour of less fear, ere wildness
Vanquish my staider senses. What’s the matter?
Why tender’st thou that paper to me with
A look untender? If ’t be summer news,
Smile to ’t before; if winterly, thou need’st
But keep that count’nance 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
May take off some extremity, which to read
Would be even mortal to me.
Please you, read;
And you shall find me, wretched man, a thing
The most disdain’d of fortune.
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, 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 it is done, thou art the pandar to her dishonour and equally to me disloyal.
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
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?
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,
And cry myself awake? that’s false to ’s bed, is it?
Alas! good lady.
I false! Thy conscience witness! Iachimo,
Thou didst accuse him of incontinency;
Thou then look’dst like a villain; now methinks
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!
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.
Good madam, hear me.
True honest men being heard, like false Æneas,
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;
Goodly and gallant shall be false and perjur’d
From thy great fail. Come, fellow, be thou honest;
Do thou thy master’s bidding. When thou seest him,
A little witness my obedience; look!
I draw the sword myself; take it, and hit
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,
But now thou seem’st a coward.
Hence, vile instrument!
Thou shalt not damn my hand.
Why, I must die;
And if I do not by thy hand, thou art
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?
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 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,
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 disedg’d by her
That now thou tir’st 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.
O, gracious lady!
Since I receiv’d command to do this business
I have not slept one wink.
Do ’t, and to bed then.
I’ll wake mine eyeballs blind first.
Didst undertake it? Why hast thou abus’d
So many miles with a pretence? this place?
Mine action and thine own? our horses’ labour?
The time inviting thee? the perturb’d court,
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?
But to win time
To lose so bad employment, in the which
I have consider’d of a course. Good lady,
Hear me with patience.
Talk thy tongue weary; speak:
I have heard I am a strumpet, and mine ear,
Therein false struck, can take no greater wound,
Nor tent to bottom that. But speak.
I thought you would not back again.
Bringing me here to kill me.
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 abus’d; some villain,
Some villain, ay, and singular in his art,
Hath done you both this cursed injury.
Some Roman courtezan.
No, on my life.
I’ll give but notice you are dead and send him
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.
Why, good fellow,
What shall I do the while? where bide? how live?
Or in my life what comfort, when I am
Dead to my husband?
If you’ll back to the court,—
No court, no father; nor no more ado
With that harsh, noble, simple nothing Cloten!
That Cloten, whose love-suit hath been to me
As fearful as a siege.
If not at court,
Then not in Britain must you bide.
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.
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
That which, t’ 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
Report should render him hourly to your ear
As truly as he moves.
O! for such means:
Though peril to my modesty, not death on ’t,
I would adventure.
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 it pretty self—into a waggish courage;
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
Of common-kissing Titan, and forget
Your laboursome and dainty trims, wherein
You made great Juno angry.
Nay, be brief:
I see into thy end, and am almost
A man already.
First, make yourself but like one.
Forethinking this, I have already fit—
’Tis in my cloak-bag—doublet, hat, hose, all
That answer to them; would you in their serving,
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 are happy,—which you’ll make him know,
If that his head have ear in music,—doubtless
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.
Thou art all the comfort
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’m soldier to, and will abide it with
A prince’s courage. Away, I prithee.
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,
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!
Amen. I thank thee
A Room inCymbeline’sPalace.
EnterCymbeline, Queen, Cloten, Lucius, Lords, and Attendants.
Thus far; and so farewell.
Thanks, royal sir.
My emperor hath wrote, I must from hence;
And am right sorry that I must report ye
My master’s enemy.
Our subjects, sir,
Will not endure his yoke; and for ourself
To show less sovereignty than they, must needs
So, sir: I desire of you
A conduct over land to Milford-Haven.
Madam, all joy befall your Grace.
My lords, you are appointed for that office;
The due of honour in no point omit.
So, farewell, noble Lucius.
Your hand, my lord.
Receive it friendly; but from this time forth
I wear it as your enemy.
Sir, the event
Is yet to name the winner. Fare you well.
Leave not the worthy Lucius, good my lords,
Till he have cross’d the Severn. Happiness!
He goes hence frowning; but it honours us
That we have given him cause.
’Tis all the better;
Your valiant Britons have their wishes in it.
Lucius hath wrote already to the emperor
How it goes here. It fits us therefore ripely
Our chariots and horsemen be in readiness;
The powers that he already hath in Gallia
Will soon be drawn to head, from whence he moves
His war for Britain.
’Tis not sleepy business;
But must be look’d to speedily and strongly.
Our expectation that it would be thus
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:
We have noted it. Call her before us, for
We have been too slight in sufferance.
[Exit an Attendant.
Since the exile of Posthumus, most retir’d
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.
Where is she, sir? How
Can her contempt be answer’d?
Please you, sir,
Her chambers are all lock’d, and there’s no answer
That will be given to the loudest noise we make.
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,
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.
Her doors lock’d!
Not seen of late! Grant, heavens, that which I fear
Son, I say, follow the king.
That man of hers, Pisanio, her old servant,
I have not seen these two days.
Go, look after.
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
It is a thing most precious. But for her,
Where is she gone? Haply, despair hath sciz’d her,
Or, wing’d with fervour of her love, she’s flown
To her desir’d Posthumus. Gone she is
To death or to dishonour, and my end
Can make good use of either; she being down,
I have the placing of the British crown.
How now, my son!
’Tis certain she is fled.
Go in and cheer the king; he rages, none
Dare come about him.
[Aside.] All the better; may
This night forestall him of the coming day!
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
Disdaining me and throwing favours on
The low Posthumus slanders so her judgment
That what’s else rare is chok’d, and in that point
I will conclude to hate her, nay, indeed,
To be reveng’d upon her. For, when fools
Who is here? What! are you packing, sirrah?
Come hither. Ah! you precious pandar. Villain,
Where is thy lady? In a word; or else
Thou art straightway with the fiends.
O! good my lord.
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?
From whose so many weights of baseness cannot
A dram of worth be drawn.
Alas! my lord,
How can she be with him? When was she miss’d?
He is in Rome.
Where is she, sir? Come nearer,
No further halting; satisfy me home
What is become of her?
O! my all-worthy lord.
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.
This paper is the history of my knowledge
Touching her flight.
[Presenting a letter.
Let’s see ’t. I will pursue her
Even to Augustus’ throne.
[Aside.] Or this, or perish.
She’s far enough; and what he learns by this
May prove his travel, not her danger.
[Aside.] I’ll write to my lord she’s dead. O Imogen!
Safe mayst thou wander, safe return agen!
Sirrah, is this letter true?
Sir, as I think.
It is Posthumus’ hand; I know ’t. Sirrah, if thou wouldst not be a villain, but do me true service, 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 relief nor my voice for thy preferment.
Well, my good lord.
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 course of gratitude, but be a diligent follower of mine. Wilt thou serve me?
Sir, I will.
Give me thy hand; here’s my purse. Hast any of thy late master’s garments in thy possession?
I have, my lord, at my lodging, the same suit he wore when he took leave of my lady and mistress.
The first service thou dost me, fetch that suit hither: let it be thy first service; go.
I shall, my lord.
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 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 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 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-enterPisanio,with the clothes.
Be those the garments?
Ay, my noble lord.
How long is ’t since she went to Milford-Haven?
She can scarce be there yet.
Bring this apparel to my chamber; that is the second thing that I have commanded thee: the third is, 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.
Thou bidd’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 pursu’st. Flow, flow,
You heavenly blessings, on her! This fool’s speed
Be cross’d with slowness; labour be his meed!
Wales. Before the Cave ofBelarius.
EnterImogen,in boy’s clothes.
I see a man’s life is a tedious one;
I have tir’d myself, and for two nights together
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,
Where they should be reliev’d. 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
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?
Here is a path to ’t; ’tis some savage hold;
I were best not call, I dare not call, yet famine,
Ere clean it o’erthrow nature, makes it valiant.
Plenty and peace breeds cowards, hardness ever
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.
Such a foe, good heavens!
[Exit to the cave.
You, Polydore, have prov’d best woodman, and
Are master of the feast; Cadwal and I
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
Finds the down pillow hard. Now, peace be here,
Poor house, that keep’st thyself!
I am throughly weary.
I am weak with toil, yet strong in appetite.
There is cold meat i’ the cave; we’ll browse on that,
Whilst what we have kill’d be cook’d.
[Looking into the cave.] Stay; come not in;
But that it eats our victuals, I should think
Here were a fairy.
What’s the matter, sir?
By Jupiter, an angel! or, if not,
An earthly paragon! Behold divineness
No elder than a boy!
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
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.
All gold and silver rather turn to dirt!
As ’tis no better reckon’d but of those
Who worship dirty gods.
I see you’re angry.
Know, if you kill me for my fault, I should
Have died had I not made it.
What’s your name?
Fidele, sir. I have a kinsman who
Is bound for Italy; he embark’d at Milford:
To whom being going, almost spent with hunger,
I am fall’n in this offence.
Prithee, fair youth,
Think us no churis, nor measure our good minds
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.
Were you a woman, youth,
I should woo hard but be your groom. In honesty,
I bid for you, as I do buy.
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
After a long absence, such is yours: most welcome!
Be sprightly, for you fall ’mongst friends.
If brothers. [Aside.] 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.
He wrings at some distress.
Would I could free ’t!
Or I, whate’er it be,
What pain it cost, what danger. Gods!
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,—
Could not out-peer these twain. Pardon me, gods!
I’d change my sex to be companion with them,
Since Leonatus’ false.
It shall be so.
Boys, we’ll go dress our hunt. Fair youth, come in:
Discourse is heavy, fasting; when we have supp’d,
We’ll mannerly demand thee of thy story,
So far as thou wilt speak it.
Pray, draw near.
The night to the owl and morn to the lark less welcome.
I pray, draw near.
Rome. A Public Place.
Enter two Senators and Tribunes.
This is the tenour 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
The fall’n-off Britons, that we do incite
The gentry to this business. He creates
Lucius pro-consul; and to you the tribunes,
For this immediate levy, he commends
His absolute commission. Long live Cæsar!
Is Lucius general of the forces?
Remaining now in Gallia?
With those legions
Which I have spoke of, whereunto your levy
Must be supplyant; the words of your commission
Will tie you to the numbers and the time
Of their dispatch.
We will discharge our duty.