Cymbeline, ACT V
SCENE I. Britain. The Roman camp.
Portrait of the Actor, William Powell (1735-1769), as ‘Posthumous’ in Cymbeline Act V, Scene I
Enter POSTHUMUS, with a bloody handkerchief
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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.
SCENE II. Field of battle between the British and Roman camps.
Enter, from one side, LUCIUS, IACHIMO, and the Roman Army: from the other side, the British Army; POSTHUMUS LEONATUS following, like a poor soldier. They march over and go out. Then enter again, in skirmish, IACHIMO and POSTHUMUS LEONATUS he vanquisheth and disarmeth IACHIMO, and then leaves him
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
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
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, GUIDERIUS, and ARVIRAGUS
Stand, stand! We have the advantage of the ground;
The lane is guarded: nothing routs us but
The villany of our fears.
Stand, stand, and fight!
Re-enter POSTHUMUS LEONATUS, and seconds the Britons: they rescue CYMBELINE, and exeunt. Then re-enter LUCIUS, and IACHIMO, with IMOGEN
Away, boy, from the troops, and save thyself;
For friends kill friends, and the disorder’s such
As war were hoodwink’d.
‘Tis their fresh supplies.
It is a day turn’d strangely: or betimes
Let’s reinforce, or fly.
SCENE III. Another part of the field.
Enter POSTHUMUS LEONATUS and a British Lord
Camest thou from where they made the stand?
Though you, it seems, come from the fliers.
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,
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
To die with lengthen’d shame.
Where was this lane?
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
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
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
Like beasts which you shun beastly, and may save,
But to look back in frown: stand, stand.’
Three thousand confident, in act as many–
For three performers are the file when all
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,
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
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
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:
Those that would die or ere resist are grown
The mortal bugs o’ the field.
This was strange chance
A narrow lane, an old man, and two boys.
Nay, do not wonder at it: you are made
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.’
Nay, be not angry, sir.
‘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.
You have put me into rhyme.
Farewell; you’re angry.
This is a lord! O noble misery,
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,
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,
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
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
Great Jupiter be praised! Lucius is taken.
‘Tis thought the old man and his sons were angels.
There was a fourth man, in a silly habit,
That gave the affront with them.
So ’tis reported:
But none of ’em can be found. Stand! who’s there?
Who had not now been drooping here, if seconds
Had answer’d him.
Lay hands on him; a dog!
A leg of Rome shall not return to tell
What crows have peck’d them here. He brags
As if he were of note: bring him to the king.
Enter CYMBELINE, BELARIUS, GUIDERIUS, ARVIRAGUS, PISANIO, Soldiers, Attendants, and Roman Captives. The Captains present POSTHUMUS LEONATUS to CYMBELINE, who delivers him over to a Gaoler: then exeunt omnes
SCENE IV. A British prison.
Enter POSTHUMUS LEONATUS and two Gaolers
You shall not now be stol’n, you have locks upon you;
So graze as you find pasture.
Ay, or a stomach.
Most welcome, bondage! for thou art away,
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
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?
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,
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:
‘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!
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 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 Posthumus Leonatus round, as he lies sleeping
No more, thou thunder-master, show
Thy spite on mortal flies:
With Mars fall out, with Juno chide,
That thy adulteries
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:
Whose father then, as men report
Thou orphans’ father art,
Thou shouldst have been, and shielded him
From this earth-vexing smart.
Lucina lent not me her aid,
But took me in my throes;
That from me was Posthumus ript,
Came crying ‘mongst his foes,
A thing of pity!
Great nature, like his ancestry,
Moulded the stuff so fair,
That he deserved the praise o’ the world,
As great Sicilius’ heir.
When once he was mature for man,
In Britain where was he
That could stand up his parallel;
Or fruitful object be
In eye of Imogen, that best
Could deem his dignity?
With marriage wherefore was he mock’d,
To be exiled, and thrown
From Leonati seat, and cast
From her his dearest one,
Why did you suffer Iachimo,
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?
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
With honour to maintain.
Like hardiment Posthumus hath
To Cymbeline perform’d:
Then, Jupiter, thou king of gods,
Why hast thou thus adjourn’d
The graces for his merits due,
Being all to dolours turn’d?
Thy crystal window ope; look out;
No longer exercise
Upon a valiant race thy harsh
And potent injuries.
Since, Jupiter, our son is good,
Take off his miseries.
Peep through thy marble mansion; help;
Or we poor ghosts will cry
To the shining synod of the rest
Against thy deity.
First Brother Second Brother
Help, Jupiter; or we appeal,
And from thy justice fly.
Jupiter descends in thunder and lightning, sitting upon an eagle: he throws a thunderbolt. The Apparitions fall on their knees
No more, you petty spirits of region low,
Offend our hearing; hush! How dare you ghosts
Accuse the thunderer, whose bolt, you know,
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.
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
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:
and so, away: no further with your din
Express impatience, lest you stir up mine.
Mount, eagle, to my palace crystalline.
He came in thunder; his celestial breath
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.
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
[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
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.
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.
‘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,
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;
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
Come, sir, are you ready for death?
Over-roasted rather; ready long ago.
Hanging is the word, sir: if
you be ready for that, you are well cooked.
So, if I prove a good repast to the
spectators, the dish pays the shot.
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
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
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
counters; so the acquittance follows.
I am merrier to die than thou art to live.
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
would change places with his officer; for, look you,
sir, you know not which way you shall go.
Yes, indeed do I, fellow.
Your death has eyes in ‘s head then; I have not seen
him so pictured: you must either be directed by
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.
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.
What an infinite mock is this, that a man should
have the best use of eyes to see the way of
blindness! I am sure hanging’s the way of winking.
Enter a Messenger
Knock off his manacles; bring your prisoner to the king.
Thou bring’st good news; I am called to be made free.
I’ll be hang’d then.
Thou shalt be then freer than a gaoler; no bolts for the dead.
Exeunt POSTHUMUS LEONATUS and Messenger
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,
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
my wish hath a preferment in ‘t.
SCENE V. Cymbeline’s tent.
Enter CYMBELINE, BELARIUS, GUIDERIUS, ARVIRAGUS, PISANIO, Lords, Officers, and Attendants
Stand by my side, you whom the gods have made
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
Our grace can make him so.
I never saw
Such noble fury in so poor a thing;
Such precious deeds in one that promises nought
But beggary and poor looks.
No tidings of him?
He hath been search’d among the dead and living,
But no trace of him.
To my grief, I am
The heir of his reward;
To BELARIUS, GUIDERIUS, and ARVIRAGUS
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.
In Cambria are we born, and gentlemen:
Further to boast were neither true nor modest,
Unless I add, we are honest.
Bow your knees.
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
Greet you our victory? you look like Romans,
And not o’ the court of Britain.
Hail, great king!
To sour your happiness, I must report
The queen is dead.
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?
With horror, madly dying, like her life,
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.
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.
She alone knew this;
And, but she spoke it dying, I would not
Believe her lips in opening it. Proceed.
Your daughter, whom she bore in hand to love
With such integrity, she did confess
Was as a scorpion to her sight; whose life,
But that her flight prevented it, she had
Ta’en off by poison.
O most delicate fiend!
Who is ‘t can read a woman? Is there more?
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
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
Of heaven and men, her purposes; repented
The evils she hatch’d were not effected; so
Heard you all this, her women?
We did, so please your highness.
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
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 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
Of you their captives, which ourself have granted:
So think of your estate.
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,
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:
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,
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,
And spare no blood beside.
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,
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.
I humbly thank your highness.
I do not bid thee beg my life, good lad;
And yet I know thou wilt.
No, no: alack,
There’s other work in hand: I see a thing
Bitter to me as death: your life, good master,
Must shuffle for itself.
The boy disdains me,
He leaves me, scorns me: briefly die their joys
That place them on the truth of girls and boys.
Why stands he so perplex’d?
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?
He is a Roman; no more kin to me
Than I to your highness; who, being born your vassal,
Am something nearer.
Wherefore eyest him so?
I’ll tell you, sir, in private, if you please
To give me hearing.
Ay, with all my heart,
And lend my best attention. What’s thy name?
Thou’rt my good youth, my page;
I’ll be thy master: walk with me; speak freely.
CYMBELINE and IMOGEN converse apart
Is not this boy revived from death?
One sand another
Not more resembles that sweet rosy lad
Who died, and was Fidele. What think you?
The same dead thing alive.
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.
But we saw him dead.
Be silent; let’s see further.
[Aside] It is my mistress:
Since she is living, let the time run on
To good or bad.
CYMBELINE and IMOGEN come forward
Come, stand thou by our side;
Make thy demand aloud.
Sir, step you forth;
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.
My boon is, that this gentleman may render
Of whom he had this ring.
[Aside] What’s that to him?
That diamond upon your finger, say
How came it yours?
Thou’lt torture me to leave unspoken that
Which, to be spoke, would torture thee.
I am glad to be constrain’d to utter that
Which torments me to conceal. By villany
I got this ring: ’twas Leonatus’ jewel;
Whom thou didst banish; and–which more may
As it doth me–a nobler sir ne’er lived
‘Twixt sky and ground. Wilt thou hear more, my lord?
All that belongs to this.
That paragon, thy daughter,–
For whom my heart drops blood, and my false spirits
Quail to remember–Give me leave; I faint.
My daughter! what of her? Renew thy strength:
I had rather thou shouldst live while nature will
Than die ere I hear more: strive, man, and speak.
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
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
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
Loves woman for, besides that hook of wiving,
Fairness which strikes the eye–
I stand on fire:
Come to the matter.
All too soon I shall,
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
His mistress’ picture; which by his tongue
And then a mind put in’t, either our brags
Were crack’d of kitchen-trolls, or his description
Proved us unspeaking sots.
Nay, nay, to the purpose.
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
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
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,
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
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
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,
I having ta’en the forfeit. Whereupon–
Methinks, I see him now–
[Advancing] Ay, so thou dost,
Italian fiend! Ay me, most credulous fool,
Egregious murderer, thief, any thing
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
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.
Spit, and throw stone s, 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,
Peace, my lord; hear, hear–
Shall’s have a play of this? Thou scornful page,
There lie thy part.
Striking her: she falls
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!
Does the world go round?
How come these staggers on me?
Wake, my mistress!
If this be so, the gods do mean to strike me
To death with mortal joy.
How fares thy mistress?
O, get thee from my sight;
Thou gavest me poison: dangerous fellow, hence!
Breathe not where princes are.
The tune of Imogen!
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.
New matter still?
It poison’d me.
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
As I would serve a rat.’
What’s this, Comelius?
The queen, sir, very oft importuned me
To temper poisons for her, still pretending
The satisfaction of her knowledge only
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
All offices of nature should again
Do their due functions. Have you ta’en of it?
Most like I did, for I was dead.
There was our error.
This is, sure, Fidele.
Why did you throw your wedded lady from you?
Think that you are upon a rock; and now
Throw me again.
Hang there like a fruit, my soul,
Till the tree die!
How now, my flesh, my child!
What, makest thou me a dullard in this act?
Wilt thou not speak to me?
[Kneeling] Your blessing, sir.
[To GUIDERIUS and ARVIRAGUS] Though you did love
this youth, I blame ye not:
You had a motive for’t.
My tears that fall
Prove holy water on thee! Imogen,
Thy mother’s dead.
I am sorry for’t, my lord.
O, she was nought; and long of her it was
That we meet here so strangely: but her son
Is gone, we know not how nor where.
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,
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;
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.
Let me end the story:
I slew him there.
Marry, the gods forfend!
I would not thy good deeds should from my lips
Pluck a bard sentence: prithee, valiant youth,
I have spoke it, and I did it.
He was a prince.
A most incivil one: the wrongs he did me
Were nothing prince-like; for he did provoke me
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.
I am sorry for thee:
By thine own tongue thou art condemn’d, and must
Endure our law: thou’rt dead.
That headless man
I thought had been my lord.
Bind the offender,
And take him from our presence.
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
Had ever scar for.
To the Guard
Let his arms alone;
They were not born for bondage.
Why, old soldier,
Wilt thou undo the worth thou art unpaid for,
By tasting of our wrath? How of descent
As good as we?
In that he spake too far.
And thou shalt die for’t.
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.
Your danger’s ours.
And our good his.
Have at it then, by leave.
Thou hadst, great king, a subject who
Was call’d Belarius.
What of him? he is
A banish’d traitor.
He it is that hath
Assumed this age; indeed a banish’d man;
I know not how a traitor.
Take him hence:
The whole world shall not save him.
Not too hot:
First pay me for the nursing of thy sons;
And let it be confiscate all, so soon
As I have received it.
Nursing of my sons!
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,
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.
How! my issue!
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–
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 Theft I wedded, stole these children
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
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
To inlay heaven with stars.
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
A pair of worthier sons.
Be pleased awhile.
This gentleman, whom I call Polydore,
Most worthy prince, as yours, is true Guiderius:
This gentleman, my Cadwal, Arviragus,
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.
Upon his neck a mole, a sanguine star;
It was a mark of wonder.
This is he;
Who hath upon him still that natural stamp:
It was wise nature’s end in the donation,
To be his evidence now.
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,
may reign in them now! O Imogen,
Thou hast lost by this a kingdom.
No, my lord;
I have got two worlds by ‘t. O my gentle brothers,
Have we thus met? O, never say hereafter
But I am truest speaker you call’d me brother,
When I was but your sister; I you brothers,
When ye were so indeed.
Did you e’er meet?
Ay, my good lord.
And at first meeting loved;
Continued so, until we thought he died.
By the queen’s dram she swallow’d.
O rare instinct!
When shall I hear all through? This fierce
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?
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
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
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.
You are my father too, and did relieve me,
To see this gracious season.
Save these in bonds: let them be joyful too,
For they shall taste our comfort.
My good master,
I will yet do you service.
Happy be you!
The forlorn soldier, that so nobly fought,
He would have well becomed this place, and graced
The thankings of a king.
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
Have made you finish.
[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;
And here the bracelet of the truest princess
That ever swore her faith.
Kneel not to me:
The power that I have on you is, to spare you;
The malice towards you to forgive you: live,
And deal with others better.
We’ll learn our freeness of a son-in-law;
Pardon’s the word to all.
You holp us, sir,
As you did mean indeed to be our brother;
Joy’d are we that you are.
Your servant, princes. Good my lord of Rome,
Call forth your soothsayer: as I slept, methought
Great Jupiter, upon his eagle back’d,
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
His skill in the construction.
Here, my good lord.
Read, and declare the meaning.
[Reads] ‘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, 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.’
Thou, Leonatus, art the lion’s whelp;
The fit and apt construction of thy name,
Being Leonatus, doth import so much.
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,
Answering the letter of the oracle,
Unknown to you, unsought, were clipp’d about
With this most tender air.
This hath some seeming.
The lofty cedar, royal Cymbeline,
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.
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
We were dissuaded by our wicked queen;
Whom heavens, in justice, both on her and hers,
Have laid most heavy hand.
The fingers of the powers above do tune
The harmony of this peace. The vision
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
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.
Laud we the gods;
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:
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.