Title: Cymbeline

Author: William Shakespeare

Language: English

Year of First Publication: 1623

Edition: First Folio, Isaac Jaggard, and Edward Blount, London, 1623

License: Public Domain

Last revision: May 27, 2020


William Shakespeare



Act 1

- Scene 1: Britain. The garden of Cymbeline's palace.

- Scene 2: The same. A public place.

- Scene 3: A room in Cymbeline's palace.

- Scene 4: Rome. Philario's house.

- Scene 5: Britain. A room in Cymbeline's palace.

- Scene 6: The same. Another room in the palace.

Act 2

- Scene 1: Britain. Before Cymbeline's palace.

- Scene 2: Imogen's bedchamber in Cymbeline's palace.

- Scene 3: An ante-chamber adjoining Imogen's apartments.

- Scene 4: Rome. Philario's house.

- Scene 5: Another room in Philario's house.

Act 3

- Scene 1: Britain. A hall in Cymbeline's palace.

- Scene 2: Another room in the palace.

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

- Scene 4: Country near Milford-Haven.

- Scene 5: A room in Cymbeline's palace.

- Scene 6: Wales. Before the cave of Belarius.

- Scene 7: Rome. A public place.

Act 4

- Scene 1: Wales: near the cave of Belarius.

- Scene 2: Before the cave of Belarius.

- Scene 3: A room in Cymbeline's palace.

- Scene 4: Wales: before the cave of Belarius.

Act 5

- 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.



SCENE I. Britain. The garden of Cymbeline's palace.

Enter two Gentlemen

First Gentleman

You do not meet a man but frowns: our bloods

No more obey the heavens than our courtiers

Still seem as does the king.

Second Gentleman

But what's the matter?

First Gentleman

His daughter, and the heir of's kingdom, whom

He purposed to his wife's sole son--a widow

That late he married--hath referr'd herself

Unto a poor but worthy gentleman: she's wedded;

Her husband banish'd; she imprison'd: all

Is outward sorrow; though I think the king

Be touch'd at very heart.

Second Gentleman

None but the king?

First Gentleman

He that hath lost her too; so is the queen,

That most desired the match; but not a courtier,

Although they wear their faces to the bent

Of the king's look's, hath a heart that is not

Glad at the thing they scowl at.

Second Gentleman

And why so?

First Gentleman

He that hath miss'd the princess is a thing

Too bad for bad report: and he that hath her--

I mean, that married her, alack, good man!

And therefore banish'd--is a creature such

As, to seek through the regions of the earth

For one his like, there would be something failing

In him that should compare. I do not think

So fair an outward and such stuff within

Endows a man but he.

Second Gentleman

You speak him far.

First Gentleman

I do extend him, sir, within himself,

Crush him together rather than unfold

His measure duly.

Second Gentleman

What's his name and birth?

First Gentleman

I cannot delve him to the root: his father

Was call'd Sicilius, who did join his honour

Against the Romans with Cassibelan,

But had his titles by Tenantius whom

He served with glory and admired success,

So gain'd the sur-addition Leonatus;

And had, besides this gentleman in question,

Two other sons, who in the wars o' the time

Died with their swords in hand; for which

their father,

Then old and fond of issue, took such sorrow

That he quit being, and his gentle lady,

Big of this gentleman our theme, deceased

As he was born. The king he takes the babe

To his protection, calls him Posthumus Leonatus,

Breeds him and makes him of his bed-chamber,

Puts to him all the learnings that his time

Could make him the receiver of; which he took,

As we do air, fast as 'twas minister'd,

And in's spring became a harvest, lived in court--

Which rare it is to do--most praised, most loved,

A sample to the youngest, to the more mature

A glass that feated them, and to the graver

A child that guided dotards; to his mistress,

For whom he now is banish'd, her own price

Proclaims how she esteem'd him and his virtue;

By her election may be truly read

What kind of man he is.

Second Gentleman

I honour him

Even out of your report. But, pray you, tell me,

Is she sole child to the king?

First Gentleman

His only child.

He had two sons: if this be worth your hearing,

Mark it: the eldest of them at three years old,

I' the swathing-clothes the other, from their nursery

Were stol'n, and to this hour no guess in knowledge

Which way they went.

Second Gentleman

How long is this ago?

First Gentleman

Some twenty years.

Second Gentleman

That a king's children should be so convey'd,

So slackly guarded, and the search so slow,

That could not trace them!

First Gentleman

Howsoe'er 'tis strange,

Or that the negligence may well be laugh'd at,

Yet is it true, sir.

Second Gentleman

I do well believe you.

First Gentleman

We must forbear: here comes the gentleman,

The queen, and princess.




No, be assured you shall not find me, daughter,

After the slander of most stepmothers,

Evil-eyed unto you: you're my prisoner, but

Your gaoler shall deliver you the keys

That lock up your restraint. For you, Posthumus,

So soon as I can win the offended king,

I will be known your advocate: marry, yet

The fire of rage is in him, and 'twere good

You lean'd unto his sentence with what patience

Your wisdom may inform you.


Please your highness,

I will from hence to-day.


You know the peril.

I'll fetch a turn about the garden, pitying

The pangs of barr'd affections, though the king

Hath charged you should not speak together.




Dissembling courtesy! How fine this tyrant

Can tickle where she wounds! My dearest husband,

I something fear my father's wrath; but nothing--

Always reserved my holy duty--what

His rage can do on me: you must be gone;

And I shall here abide the hourly shot

Of angry eyes, not comforted to live,

But that there is this jewel in the world

That I may see again.


My queen! my mistress!

O lady, weep no more, lest I give cause

To be suspected of more tenderness

Than doth become a man. I will remain

The loyal'st husband that did e'er plight troth:

My residence in Rome at one Philario's,

Who to my father was a friend, to me

Known but by letter: thither write, my queen,

And with mine eyes I'll drink the words you send,

Though ink be made of gall.

Re-enter QUEEN


Be brief, I pray you:

If the king come, I shall incur I know not

How much of his displeasure.


Yet I'll move him

To walk this way: I never do him wrong,

But he does buy my injuries, to be friends;

Pays dear for my offences.



Should we be taking leave

As long a term as yet we have to live,

The loathness to depart would grow. Adieu!


Nay, stay a little:

Were you but riding forth to air yourself,

Such parting were too petty. Look here, love;

This diamond was my mother's: take it, heart;

But keep it till you woo another wife,

When Imogen is dead.


How, how! another?

You gentle gods, give me but this I have,

And sear up my embracements from a next

With bonds of death!

Putting on the ring

Remain, remain thou here

While sense can keep it on. And, sweetest, fairest,

As I my poor self did exchange for you,

To your so infinite loss, so in our trifles

I still win of you: for my sake wear this;

It is a manacle of love; I'll place it

Upon this fairest prisoner.

Putting a bracelet upon her arm


O the gods!

When shall we see again?

Enter CYMBELINE and Lords


Alack, the king!


Thou basest thing, avoid! hence, from my sight!

If after this command thou fraught the court

With thy unworthiness, thou diest: away!

Thou'rt poison to my blood.


The gods protect you!

And bless the good remainders of the court! I am gone.



There cannot be a pinch in death

More sharp than this is.


O disloyal thing,

That shouldst repair my youth, thou heap'st

A year's age on me.


I beseech you, sir,

Harm not yourself with your vexation

I am senseless of your wrath; a touch more rare

Subdues all pangs, all fears.


Past grace? obedience?


Past hope, and in despair; that way, past grace.


That mightst have had the sole son of my queen!


O blest, that I might not! I chose an eagle,

And did avoid a puttock.


Thou took'st a beggar; wouldst have made my throne

A seat for baseness.


No; I rather added

A lustre to it.


O thou vile one!



It is your fault that I have loved Posthumus:

You bred him as my playfellow, and he is

A man worth any woman, overbuys me

Almost the sum he pays.


What, art thou mad?


Almost, sir: heaven restore me! Would I were

A neat-herd's daughter, and my Leonatus

Our neighbour shepherd's son!


Thou foolish thing!

Re-enter QUEEN

They were again together: you have done

Not after our command. Away with her,

And pen her up.


Beseech your patience. Peace,

Dear lady daughter, peace! Sweet sovereign,

Leave us to ourselves; and make yourself some comfort

Out of your best advice.


Nay, let her languish

A drop of blood a day; and, being aged,

Die of this folly!

Exeunt CYMBELINE and Lords


Fie! you must give way.


Here is your servant. How now, sir! What news?


My lord your son drew on my master.



No harm, I trust, is done?


There might have been,

But that my master rather play'd than fought

And had no help of anger: they were parted

By gentlemen at hand.


I am very glad on't.


Your son's my father's friend; he takes his part.

To draw upon an exile! O brave sir!

I would they were in Afric both together;

Myself by with a needle, that I might prick

The goer-back. Why came you from your master?


On his command: he would not suffer me

To bring him to the haven; left these notes

Of what commands I should be subject to,

When 't pleased you to employ me.


This hath been

Your faithful servant: I dare lay mine honour

He will remain so.


I humbly thank your highness.


Pray, walk awhile.


About some half-hour hence,

I pray you, speak with me: you shall at least

Go see my lord aboard: for this time leave me.


SCENE II. The same. A public place.

Enter CLOTEN and two Lords

First Lord

Sir, I would advise you to shift a shirt; the

violence of action hath made you reek as a

sacrifice: where air comes out, air comes in:

there's none abroad so wholesome as that you vent.


If my shirt were bloody, then to shift it. Have I hurt him?

Second Lord

[Aside] No, 'faith; not so much as his patience.

First Lord

Hurt him! his body's a passable carcass, if he be

not hurt: it is a thoroughfare for steel, if it be not hurt.

Second Lord

[Aside] His steel was in debt; it went o' the

backside the town.


The villain would not stand me.

Second Lord

[Aside] No; but he fled forward still, toward your face.

First Lord

Stand you! You have land enough of your own: but

he added to your having; gave you some ground.

Second Lord

[Aside] As many inches as you have oceans. Puppies!


I would they had not come between us.

Second Lord

[Aside] So would I, till you had measured how long

a fool you were upon the ground.


And that she should love this fellow and refuse me!

Second Lord

[Aside] If it be a sin to make a true election, she

is damned.

First Lord

Sir, as I told you always, her beauty and her brain

go not together: she's a good sign, but I have seen

small reflection of her wit.

Second Lord

[Aside] She shines not upon fools, lest the

reflection should hurt her.


Come, I'll to my chamber. Would there had been some

hurt done!

Second Lord

[Aside] I wish not so; unless it had been the fall

of an ass, which is no great hurt.


You'll go with us?

First Lord

I'll attend your lordship.


Nay, come, let's go together.

Second Lord

Well, my lord.


SCENE III. A room in Cymbeline's palace.



I would thou grew'st unto the shores o' the haven,

And question'dst every sail: if he should write

And not have it, 'twere a paper lost,

As offer'd mercy is. What was the last

That he spake to thee?


It was his queen, his queen!


Then waved his handkerchief?


And kiss'd it, madam.


Senseless Linen! happier therein than I!

And that was all?


No, madam; for so long

As he could make me with this eye or ear

Distinguish him from others, he did keep

The deck, with glove, or hat, or handkerchief,

Still waving, as the fits and stirs of 's mind

Could best express how slow his soul sail'd on,

How swift his ship.


Thou shouldst have made him

As little as a crow, or less, ere left

To after-eye him.


Madam, so I did.


I would have broke mine eye-strings; crack'd them, but

To look upon him, till the diminution

Of space had pointed him sharp as my needle,

Nay, follow'd him, till he had melted from

The smallness of a gnat to air, and then

Have turn'd mine eye and wept. But, good Pisanio,

When shall we hear from him?


Be assured, madam,

With his next vantage.


I did not take my leave of him, but had

Most pretty things to say: ere I could tell him

How I would think on him at certain hours

Such thoughts and such, or I could make him swear

The shes of Italy should not betray

Mine interest and his honour, or have charged him,

At the sixth hour of morn, at noon, at midnight,

To encounter me with orisons, for then

I am in heaven for him; or ere I could

Give him that parting kiss which I had set

Betwixt two charming words, comes in my father

And like the tyrannous breathing of the north

Shakes all our buds from growing.

Enter a Lady


The queen, madam,

Desires your highness' company.


Those things I bid you do, get them dispatch'd.

I will attend the queen.


Madam, I shall.


SCENE IV. Rome. Philario's house.

Enter PHILARIO, IACHIMO, a Frenchman, a Dutchman, and a Spaniard


Believe it, sir, I have seen him in Britain: he was

then of a crescent note, expected to prove so worthy

as since he hath been allowed the name of; but I

could then have looked on him without the help of

admiration, though the catalogue of his endowments

had been tabled by his side and I to peruse him by items.


You speak of him when he was less furnished than now

he is with that which makes him both without and within.


I have seen him in France: we had very many there

could behold the sun with as firm eyes as he.


This matter of marrying his king's daughter, wherein

he must be weighed rather by her value than his own,

words him, I doubt not, a great deal from the matter.


And then his banishment.


Ay, and the approbation of those that weep this

lamentable divorce under her colours are wonderfully

to extend him; be it but to fortify her judgment,

which else an easy battery might lay flat, for

taking a beggar without less quality. But how comes

it he is to sojourn with you? How creeps



His father and I were soldiers together; to whom I

have been often bound for no less than my life.

Here comes the Briton: let him be so entertained

amongst you as suits, with gentlemen of your

knowing, to a stranger of his quality.


I beseech you all, be better known to this

gentleman; whom I commend to you as a noble friend

of mine: how worthy he is I will leave to appear

hereafter, rather than story him in his own hearing.


Sir, we have known together in Orleans.


Since when I have been debtor to you for courtesies,

which I will be ever to pay and yet pay still.


Sir, you o'er-rate my poor kindness: I was glad I

did atone my countryman and you; it had been pity

you should have been put together with so mortal a

purpose as then each bore, upon importance of so

slight and trivial a nature.


By your pardon, sir, I was then a young traveller;

rather shunned to go even with what I heard than in

my every action to be guided by others' experiences:

but upon my mended judgment--if I offend not to say

it is mended--my quarrel was not altogether slight.


'Faith, yes, to be put to the arbitrement of swords,

and by such two that would by all likelihood have

confounded one the other, or have fallen both.


Can we, with manners, ask what was the difference?


Safely, I think: 'twas a contention in public,

which may, without contradiction, suffer the report.

It was much like an argument that fell out last

night, where each of us fell in praise of our

country mistresses; this gentleman at that time

vouching--and upon warrant of bloody

affirmation--his to be more fair, virtuous, wise,

chaste, constant-qualified and less attemptable

than any the rarest of our ladies in France.


That lady is not now living, or this gentleman's

opinion by this worn out.


She holds her virtue still and I my mind.


You must not so far prefer her 'fore ours of Italy.


Being so far provoked as I was in France, I would

abate her nothing, though I profess myself her

adorer, not her friend.


As fair and as good--a kind of hand-in-hand

comparison--had been something too fair and too good

for any lady in Britain. If she went before others

I have seen, as that diamond of yours outlustres

many I have beheld. I could not but believe she

excelled many: but I have not seen the most

precious diamond that is, nor you the lady.


I praised her as I rated her: so do I my stone.


What do you esteem it at?


More than the world enjoys.


Either your unparagoned mistress is dead, or she's

outprized by a trifle.


You are mistaken: the one may be sold, or given, if

there were wealth enough for the purchase, or merit

for the gift: the other is not a thing for sale,

and only the gift of the gods.


Which the gods have given you?


Which, by their graces, I will keep.


You may wear her in title yours: but, you know,

strange fowl light upon neighbouring ponds. Your

ring may be stolen too: so your brace of unprizable

estimations; the one is but frail and the other

casual; a cunning thief, or a that way accomplished

courtier, would hazard the winning both of first and last.


Your Italy contains none so accomplished a courtier

to convince the honour of my mistress, if, in the

holding or loss of that, you term her frail. I do

nothing doubt you have store of thieves;

notwithstanding, I fear not my ring.


Let us leave here, gentlemen.


Sir, with all my heart. This worthy signior, I

thank him, makes no stranger of me; we are familiar at first.


With five times so much conversation, I should get

ground of your fair mistress, make her go back, even

to the yielding, had I admittance and opportunity to friend.


No, no.


I dare thereupon pawn the moiety of my estate to

your ring; which, in my opinion, o'ervalues it

something: but I make my wager rather against your

confidence than her reputation: and, to bar your

offence herein too, I durst attempt it against any

lady in the world.


You are a great deal abused in too bold a

persuasion; and I doubt not you sustain what you're

worthy of by your attempt.


What's that?


A repulse: though your attempt, as you call it,

deserve more; a punishment too.


Gentlemen, enough of this: it came in too suddenly;

let it die as it was born, and, I pray you, be

better acquainted.


Would I had put my estate and my neighbour's on the

approbation of what I have spoke!


What lady would you choose to assail?


Yours; whom in constancy you think stands so safe.

I will lay you ten thousand ducats to your ring,

that, commend me to the court where your lady is,

with no more advantage than the opportunity of a

second conference, and I will bring from thence

that honour of hers which you imagine so reserved.


I will wage against your gold, gold to it: my ring

I hold dear as my finger; 'tis part of it.


You are afraid, and therein the wiser. If you buy

ladies' flesh at a million a dram, you cannot

preserve it from tainting: but I see you have some

religion in you, that you fear.


This is but a custom in your tongue; you bear a

graver purpose, I hope.


I am the master of my speeches, and would undergo

what's spoken, I swear.


Will you? I shall but lend my diamond till your

return: let there be covenants drawn between's: my

mistress exceeds in goodness the hugeness of your

unworthy thinking: I dare you to this match: here's my ring.


I will have it no lay.


By the gods, it is one. If I bring you no

sufficient testimony that I have enjoyed the dearest

bodily part of your mistress, my ten thousand ducats

are yours; so is your diamond too: if I come off,

and leave her in such honour as you have trust in,

she your jewel, this your jewel, and my gold are

yours: provided I have your commendation for my more

free entertainment.


I embrace these conditions; let us have articles

betwixt us. Only, thus far you shall answer: if

you make your voyage upon her and give me directly

to understand you have prevailed, I am no further

your enemy; she is not worth our debate: if she

remain unseduced, you not making it appear

otherwise, for your ill opinion and the assault you

have made to her chastity you shall answer me with

your sword.


Your hand; a covenant: we will have these things set

down by lawful counsel, and straight away for

Britain, lest the bargain should catch cold and

starve: I will fetch my gold and have our two

wagers recorded.





Will this hold, think you?


Signior Iachimo will not from it.

Pray, let us follow 'em.


SCENE V. Britain. A room in Cymbeline's palace.

Enter QUEEN, Ladies, and CORNELIUS


Whiles yet the dew's on ground, gather those flowers;

Make haste: who has the note of them?

First Lady

I, madam.



Exeunt Ladies

Now, master doctor, have you brought those drugs?


Pleaseth your highness, ay: here they are, madam:

Presenting a small box

But I beseech your grace, without offence,--

My conscience bids me ask--wherefore you have

Commanded of me those most poisonous compounds,

Which are the movers of a languishing death;

But though slow, deadly?


I wonder, doctor,

Thou ask'st me such a question. Have I not been

Thy pupil long? Hast thou not learn'd me how

To make perfumes? distil? preserve? yea, so

That our great king himself doth woo me oft

For my confections? Having thus far proceeded,--

Unless thou think'st me devilish--is't not meet

That I did amplify my judgment in

Other conclusions? I will try the forces

Of these thy compounds on such creatures as

We count not worth the hanging, but none human,

To try the vigour of them and apply

Allayments to their act, and by them gather

Their several virtues and effects.


Your highness

Shall from this practise but make hard your heart:

Besides, the seeing these effects will be

Both noisome and infectious.


O, content thee.



Here comes a flattering rascal; upon him

Will I first work: he's for his master,

An enemy to my son. How now, Pisanio!

Doctor, your service for this time is ended;

Take your own way.


[Aside] I do suspect you, madam;

But you shall do no harm.


[To PISANIO] Hark thee, a word.


[Aside] I do not like her. She doth think she has

Strange lingering poisons: I do know her spirit,

And will not trust one of her malice with

A drug of such damn'd nature. Those she has

Will stupefy and dull the sense awhile;

Which first, perchance, she'll prove on

cats and dogs,

Then afterward up higher: but there is

No danger in what show of death it makes,

More than the locking-up the spirits a time,

To be more fresh, reviving. She is fool'd

With a most false effect; and I the truer,

So to be false with her.


No further service, doctor,

Until I send for thee.


I humbly take my leave.



Weeps she still, say'st thou? Dost thou think in time

She will not quench and let instructions enter

Where folly now possesses? Do thou work:

When thou shalt bring me word she loves my son,

I'll tell thee on the instant thou art then

As great as is thy master, greater, for

His fortunes all lie speechless and his name

Is at last gasp: return he cannot, nor

Continue where he is: to shift his being

Is to exchange one misery with another,

And every day that comes comes to decay

A day's work in him. What shalt thou expect,

To be depender on a thing that leans,

Who cannot be new built, nor has no friends,

So much as but to prop him?

The QUEEN drops the box: PISANIO takes it up

Thou takest up

Thou know'st not what; but take it for thy labour:

It is a thing I made, which hath the king

Five times redeem'd from death: I do not know

What is more cordial. Nay, I prethee, take it;

It is an earnest of a further good

That I mean to thee. Tell thy mistress how

The case stands with her; do't as from thyself.

Think what a chance thou changest on, but think

Thou hast thy mistress still, to boot, my son,

Who shall take notice of thee: I'll move the king

To any shape of thy preferment such

As thou'lt desire; and then myself, I chiefly,

That set thee on to this desert, am bound

To load thy merit richly. Call my women:

Think on my words.


A sly and constant knave,

Not to be shaked; the agent for his master

And the remembrancer of her to hold

The hand-fast to her lord. I have given him that

Which, if he take, shall quite unpeople her

Of liegers for her sweet, and which she after,

Except she bend her humour, shall be assured

To taste of too.

Re-enter PISANIO and Ladies

So, so: well done, well done:

The violets, cowslips, and the primroses,

Bear to my closet. Fare thee well, Pisanio;

Think on my words.

Exeunt QUEEN and Ladies


And shall do:

But when to my good lord I prove untrue,

I'll choke myself: there's all I'll do for you.


SCENE VI. The same. Another room in the palace.



A father cruel, and a step-dame false;

A foolish suitor to a wedded lady,

That hath her husband banish'd;--O, that husband!

My supreme crown of grief! and those repeated

Vexations of it! Had I been thief-stol'n,

As my two brothers, happy! but most miserable

Is the desire that's glorious: blest be those,

How mean soe'er, that have their honest wills,

Which seasons comfort. Who may this be? Fie!



Madam, a noble gentleman of Rome,

Comes from my lord with letters.


Change you, madam?

The worthy Leonatus is in safety

And greets your highness dearly.

Presents a letter


Thanks, good sir:

You're kindly welcome.


[Aside] All of her that is out of door most rich!

If she be furnish'd with a mind so rare,

She is alone the Arabian bird, and I

Have lost the wager. Boldness be my friend!

Arm me, audacity, from head to foot!

Or, like the Parthian, I shall flying fight;

Rather directly fly.


[Reads] 'He is one of the noblest note, to whose

kindnesses I am most infinitely tied. Reflect upon

him accordingly, as you value your trust--


So far I read aloud:

But even the very middle of my heart

Is warm'd by the rest, and takes it thankfully.

You are as welcome, worthy sir, as I

Have words to bid you, and shall find it so

In all that I can do.


Thanks, fairest lady.

What, are men mad? Hath nature given them eyes

To see this vaulted arch, and the rich crop

Of sea and land, which can distinguish 'twixt

The fiery orbs above and the twinn'd stones

Upon the number'd beach? and can we not

Partition make with spectacles so precious

'Twixt fair and foul?


What makes your admiration?


It cannot be i' the eye, for apes and monkeys

'Twixt two such shes would chatter this way and

Contemn with mows the other; nor i' the judgment,

For idiots in this case of favour would

Be wisely definite; nor i' the appetite;

Sluttery to such neat excellence opposed

Should make desire vomit emptiness,

Not so allured to feed.


What is the matter, trow?


The cloyed will,

That satiate yet unsatisfied desire, that tub

Both fill'd and running, ravening first the lamb

Longs after for the garbage.


What, dear sir,

Thus raps you? Are you well?


Thanks, madam; well.


Beseech you, sir, desire

My man's abode where I did leave him: he

Is strange and peevish.


I was going, sir,

To give him welcome.



Continues well my lord? His health, beseech you?


Well, madam.


Is he disposed to mirth? I hope he is.


Exceeding pleasant; none a stranger there

So merry and so gamesome: he is call'd

The Briton reveller.


When he was here,

He did incline to sadness, and oft-times

Not knowing why.


I never saw him sad.

There is a Frenchman his companion, one

An eminent monsieur, that, it seems, much loves

A Gallian girl at home; he furnaces

The thick sighs from him, whiles the jolly Briton--

Your lord, I mean--laughs from's free lungs, cries 'O,

Can my sides hold, to think that man, who knows

By history, report, or his own proof,

What woman is, yea, what she cannot choose

But must be, will his free hours languish for

Assured bondage?'


Will my lord say so?


Ay, madam, with his eyes in flood with laughter:

It is a recreation to be by

And hear him mock the Frenchman. But, heavens know,

Some men are much to blame.


Not he, I hope.


Not he: but yet heaven's bounty towards him might

Be used more thankfully. In himself, 'tis much;

In you, which I account his beyond all talents,

Whilst I am bound to wonder, I am bound

To pity too.


What do you pity, sir?


Two creatures heartily.


Am I one, sir?

You look on me: what wreck discern you in me

Deserves your pity?


Lamentable! What,

To hide me from the radiant sun and solace

I' the dungeon by a snuff?


I pray you, sir,

Deliver with more openness your answers

To my demands. Why do you pity me?


That others do--

I was about to say--enjoy your--But

It is an office of the gods to venge it,

Not mine to speak on 't.


You do seem to know

Something of me, or what concerns me: pray you,--

Since doubling things go ill often hurts more

Than to be sure they do; for certainties

Either are past remedies, or, timely knowing,

The remedy then born--discover to me

What both you spur and stop.


Had I this cheek

To bathe my lips upon; this hand, whose touch,

Whose every touch, would force the feeler's soul

To the oath of loyalty; this object, which

Takes prisoner the wild motion of mine eye,

Fixing it only here; should I, damn'd then,

Slaver with lips as common as the stairs

That mount the Capitol; join gripes with hands

Made hard with hourly falsehood--falsehood, as

With labour; then by-peeping in an eye

Base and unlustrous as the smoky light

That's fed with stinking tallow; it were fit

That all the plagues of hell should at one time

Encounter such revolt.


My lord, I fear,

Has forgot Britain.


And himself. Not I,

Inclined to this intelligence, pronounce

The beggary of his change; but 'tis your graces

That from pay mutest conscience to my tongue

Charms this report out.


Let me hear no more.


O dearest soul! your cause doth strike my heart

With pity, that doth make me sick. A lady

So fair, and fasten'd to an empery,

Would make the great'st king double,--to be partner'd

With tomboys hired with that self-exhibition

Which your own coffers yield! with diseased ventures

That play with all infirmities for gold

Which rottenness can lend nature! such boil'd stuff

As well might poison poison! Be revenged;

Or she that bore you was no queen, and you

Recoil from your great stock.



How should I be revenged? If this be true,--

As I have such a heart that both mine ears

Must not in haste abuse--if it be true,

How should I be revenged?


Should he make me

Live, like Diana's priest, betwixt cold sheets,

Whiles he is vaulting variable ramps,

In your despite, upon your purse? Revenge it.

I dedicate myself to your sweet pleasure,

More noble than that runagate to your bed,

And will continue fast to your affection,

Still close as sure.


What, ho, Pisanio!


Let me my service tender on your lips.


Away! I do condemn mine ears that have

So long attended thee. If thou wert honourable,

Thou wouldst have told this tale for virtue, not

For such an end thou seek'st,--as base as strange.

Thou wrong'st a gentleman, who is as far

From thy report as thou from honour, and

Solicit'st here a lady that disdains

Thee and the devil alike. What ho, Pisanio!

The king my father shall be made acquainted

Of thy assault: if he shall think it fit,

A saucy stranger in his court to mart

As in a Romish stew and to expound

His beastly mind to us, he hath a court

He little cares for and a daughter who

He not respects at all. What, ho, Pisanio!


O happy Leonatus! I may say

The credit that thy lady hath of thee

Deserves thy trust, and thy most perfect goodness

Her assured credit. Blessed live you long!

A lady to the worthiest sir that ever

Country call'd his! and you his mistress, only

For the most worthiest fit! Give me your pardon.

I have spoke this, to know if your affiance

Were deeply rooted; and shall make your lord,

That which he is, new o'er: and he is one

The truest manner'd; such a holy witch

That he enchants societies into him;

Half all men's hearts are his.


You make amends.


He sits 'mongst men like a descended god:

He hath a kind of honour sets him off,

More than a mortal seeming. Be not angry,

Most mighty princess, that I have adventured

To try your taking a false report; which hath

Honour'd with confirmation your great judgment

In the election of a sir so rare,

Which you know cannot err: the love I bear him

Made me to fan you thus, but the gods made you,

Unlike all others, chaffless. Pray, your pardon.


All's well, sir: take my power i' the court

for yours.


My humble thanks. I had almost forgot

To entreat your grace but in a small request,

And yet of moment to, for it concerns

Your lord; myself and other noble friends,

Are partners in the business.


Pray, what is't?


Some dozen Romans of us and your lord--

The best feather of our wing--have mingled sums

To buy a present for the emperor

Which I, the factor for the rest, have done

In France: 'tis plate of rare device, and jewels

Of rich and exquisite form; their values great;

And I am something curious, being strange,

To have them in safe stowage: may it please you

To take them in protection?



And pawn mine honour for their safety: since

My lord hath interest in them, I will keep them

In my bedchamber.


They are in a trunk,

Attended by my men: I will make bold

To send them to you, only for this night;

I must aboard to-morrow.


O, no, no.


Yes, I beseech; or I shall short my word

By lengthening my return. From Gallia

I cross'd the seas on purpose and on promise

To see your grace.


I thank you for your pains:

But not away to-morrow!


O, I must, madam:

Therefore I shall beseech you, if you please

To greet your lord with writing, do't to-night:

I have outstood my time; which is material

To the tender of our present.


I will write.

Send your trunk to me; it shall safe be kept,

And truly yielded you. You're very welcome.



SCENE I. Britain. Before Cymbeline's palace.

Enter CLOTEN and two Lords


Was there ever man had such luck! when I kissed the

jack, upon an up-cast to be hit away! I had a

hundred pound on't: and then a whoreson jackanapes

must take me up for swearing; as if I borrowed mine

oaths of him and might not spend them at my pleasure.

First Lord

What got he by that? You have broke his pate with

your bowl.

Second Lord

[Aside] If his wit had been like him that broke it,

it would have run all out.


When a gentleman is disposed to swear, it is not for

any standers-by to curtail his oaths, ha?

Second Lord

No my lord;


nor crop the ears of them.


Whoreson dog! I give him satisfaction?

Would he had been one of my rank!

Second Lord

[Aside] To have smelt like a fool.


I am not vexed more at any thing in the earth: a

pox on't! I had rather not be so noble as I am;

they dare not fight with me, because of the queen my

mother: every Jack-slave hath his bellyful of

fighting, and I must go up and down like a cock that

nobody can match.

Second Lord

[Aside] You are cock and capon too; and you crow,

cock, with your comb on.


Sayest thou?

Second Lord

It is not fit your lordship should undertake every

companion that you give offence to.


No, I know that: but it is fit I should commit

offence to my inferiors.

Second Lord

Ay, it is fit for your lordship only.


Why, so I say.

First Lord

Did you hear of a stranger that's come to court to-night?


A stranger, and I not know on't!

Second Lord

[Aside] He's a strange fellow himself, and knows it


First Lord

There's an Italian come; and, 'tis thought, one of

Leonatus' friends.


Leonatus! a banished rascal; and he's another,

whatsoever he be. Who told you of this stranger?

First Lord

One of your lordship's pages.


Is it fit I went to look upon him? is there no

derogation in't?

Second Lord

You cannot derogate, my lord.


Not easily, I think.

Second Lord

[Aside] You are a fool granted; therefore your

issues, being foolish, do not derogate.


Come, I'll go see this Italian: what I have lost

to-day at bowls I'll win to-night of him. Come, go.

Second Lord

I'll attend your lordship.

Exeunt CLOTEN and First Lord

That such a crafty devil as is his mother

Should yield the world this ass! a woman that

Bears all down with her brain; and this her son

Cannot take two from twenty, for his heart,

And leave eighteen. Alas, poor princess,

Thou divine Imogen, what thou endurest,

Betwixt a father by thy step-dame govern'd,

A mother hourly coining plots, a wooer

More hateful than the foul expulsion is

Of thy dear husband, than that horrid act

Of the divorce he'ld make! The heavens hold firm

The walls of thy dear honour, keep unshaked

That temple, thy fair mind, that thou mayst stand,

To enjoy thy banish'd lord and this great land!


SCENE II. Imogen's bedchamber in Cymbeline's palace:

a trunk in one corner of it.

IMOGEN in bed, reading; a Lady attending


Who's there? my woman Helen?


Please you, madam


What hour is it?


Almost midnight, madam.


I have read three hours then: mine eyes are weak:

Fold down the leaf where I have left: to bed:

Take not away the taper, leave it burning;

And if thou canst awake by four o' the clock,

I prithee, call me. Sleep hath seized me wholly

Exit Lady

To your protection I commend me, gods.

From fairies and the tempters of the night

Guard me, beseech ye.

Sleeps. IACHIMO comes from the trunk


The crickets sing, and man's o'er-labour'd sense

Repairs itself by rest. Our Tarquin thus

Did softly press the rushes, ere he waken'd

The chastity he wounded. Cytherea,

How bravely thou becomest thy bed, fresh lily,

And whiter than the sheets! That I might touch!

But kiss; one kiss! Rubies unparagon'd,

How dearly they do't! 'Tis her breathing that

Perfumes the chamber thus: the flame o' the taper

Bows toward her, and would under-peep her lids,

To see the enclosed lights, now canopied

Under these windows, white and azure laced

With blue of heaven's own tinct. But my design,

To note the chamber: I will write all down:

Such and such pictures; there the window; such

The adornment of her bed; the arras; figures,

Why, such and such; and the contents o' the story.

Ah, but some natural notes about her body,

Above ten thousand meaner moveables

Would testify, to enrich mine inventory.

O sleep, thou ape of death, lie dull upon her!

And be her sense but as a monument,

Thus in a chapel lying! Come off, come off:

Taking off her bracelet

As slippery as the Gordian knot was hard!

'Tis mine; and this will witness outwardly,

As strongly as the conscience does within,

To the madding of her lord. On her left breast

A mole cinque-spotted, like the crimson drops

I' the bottom of a cowslip: here's a voucher,

Stronger than ever law could make: this secret

Will force him think I have pick'd the lock and ta'en

The treasure of her honour. No more. To what end?

Why should I write this down, that's riveted,

Screw'd to my memory? She hath been reading late

The tale of Tereus; here the leaf's turn'd down

Where Philomel gave up. I have enough:

To the trunk again, and shut the spring of it.

Swift, swift, you dragons of the night, that dawning

May bare the raven's eye! I lodge in fear;

Though this a heavenly angel, hell is here.

Clock strikes

One, two, three: time, time!

Goes into the trunk. The scene closes

SCENE III. An ante-chamber adjoining Imogen's apartments.

Enter CLOTEN and Lords

First Lord

Your lordship is the most patient man in loss, the

most coldest that ever turned up ace.


It would make any man cold to lose.

First Lord

But not every man patient after the noble temper of

your lordship. You are most hot and furious when you win.


Winning will put any man into courage. If I could

get this foolish Imogen, I should have gold enough.

It's almost morning, is't not?

First Lord

Day, my lord.


I would this music would come: I am advised to give

her music o' mornings; they say it will penetrate.

Enter Musicians

Come on; tune: if you can penetrate her with your

fingering, so; we'll try with tongue too: if none

will do, let her remain; but I'll never give o'er.

First, a very excellent good-conceited thing;

after, a wonderful sweet air, with admirable rich

words to it: and then let her consider.


Hark, hark! the lark at heaven's gate sings,

And Phoebus 'gins arise,

His steeds to water at those springs

On chaliced flowers that lies;

And winking Mary-buds begin

To ope their golden eyes:

With every thing that pretty is,

My lady sweet, arise:

Arise, arise.


So, get you gone. If this penetrate, I will

consider your music the better: if it do not, it is

a vice in her ears, which horse-hairs and

calves'-guts, nor the voice of unpaved eunuch to

boot, can never amend.

Exeunt Musicians

Second Lord

Here comes the king.


I am glad I was up so late; for that's the reason I

was up so early: he cannot choose but take this

service I have done fatherly.


Good morrow to your majesty and to my gracious mother.


Attend you here the door of our stern daughter?

Will she not forth?


I have assailed her with music, but she vouchsafes no notice.


The exile of her minion is too new;

She hath not yet forgot him: some more time

Must wear the print of his remembrance out,

And then she's yours.


You are most bound to the king,

Who lets go by no vantages that may

Prefer you to his daughter. Frame yourself

To orderly soliciting, and be friended

With aptness of the season; make denials

Increase your services; so seem as if

You were inspired to do those duties which

You tender to her; that you in all obey her,

Save when command to your dismission tends,

And therein you are senseless.


Senseless! not so.

Enter a Messenger


So like you, sir, ambassadors from Rome;

The one is Caius Lucius.


A worthy fellow,

Albeit he comes on angry purpose now;

But that's no fault of his: we must receive him

According to the honour of his sender;

And towards himself, his goodness forespent on us,

We must extend our notice. Our dear son,

When you have given good morning to your mistress,

Attend the queen and us; we shall have need

To employ you towards this Roman. Come, our queen.

Exeunt all but CLOTEN


If she be up, I'll speak with her; if not,

Let her lie still and dream.


By your leave, ho!

I Know her women are about her: what

If I do line one of their hands? 'Tis gold

Which buys admittance; oft it doth; yea, and makes

Diana's rangers false themselves, yield up

Their deer to the stand o' the stealer; and 'tis gold

Which makes the true man kill'd and saves the thief;

Nay, sometime hangs both thief and true man: what

Can it not do and undo? I will make

One of her women lawyer to me, for

I yet not understand the case myself.


By your leave.

Enter a Lady


Who's there that knocks?


A gentleman.


No more?


Yes, and a gentlewoman's son.


That's more

Than some, whose tailors are as dear as yours,

Can justly boast of. What's your lordship's pleasure?


Your lady's person: is she ready?



To keep her chamber.


There is gold for you;

Sell me your good report.


How! my good name? or to report of you

What I shall think is good?--The princess!



Good morrow, fairest: sister, your sweet hand.

Exit Lady


Good morrow, sir. You lay out too much pains

For purchasing but trouble; the thanks I give

Is telling you that I am poor of thanks

And scarce can spare them.


Still, I swear I love you.


If you but said so, 'twere as deep with me:

If you swear still, your recompense is still

That I regard it not.


This is no answer.


But that you shall not say I yield being silent,

I would not speak. I pray you, spare me: 'faith,

I shall unfold equal discourtesy

To your best kindness: one of your great knowing

Should learn, being taught, forbearance.


To leave you in your madness, 'twere my sin:

I will not.


Fools are not mad folks.


Do you call me fool?


As I am mad, I do:

If you'll be patient, I'll no more be mad;

That cures us both. I am much sorry, sir,

You put me to forget a lady's manners,

By being so verbal: and learn now, for all,

That I, which know my heart, do here pronounce,

By the very truth of it, I care not for you,

And am so near the lack of charity--

To accuse myself--I hate you; which I had rather

You felt than make't my boast.


You sin against

Obedience, which you owe your father. For

The contract you pretend with that base wretch,

One bred of alms and foster'd with cold dishes,

With scraps o' the court, it is no contract, none:

And though it be allow'd in meaner parties--

Yet who than he more mean?--to knit their souls,

On whom there is no more dependency

But brats and beggary, in self-figured knot;

Yet you are curb'd from that enlargement by

The consequence o' the crown, and must not soil

The precious note of it with a base slave.

A hilding for a livery, a squire's cloth,

A pantler, not so eminent.


Profane fellow

Wert thou the son of Jupiter and no more

But what thou art besides, thou wert too base

To be his groom: thou wert dignified enough,

Even to the point of envy, if 'twere made

Comparative for your virtues, to be styled

The under-hangman of his kingdom, and hated

For being preferred so well.


The south-fog rot him!


He never can meet more mischance than come

To be but named of thee. His meanest garment,

That ever hath but clipp'd his body, is dearer

In my respect than all the hairs above thee,

Were they all made such men. How now, Pisanio!



'His garment!' Now the devil--


To Dorothy my woman hie thee presently--


'His garment!'


I am sprited with a fool.

Frighted, and anger'd worse: go bid my woman

Search for a jewel that too casually

Hath left mine arm: it was thy master's: 'shrew me,

If I would lose it for a revenue

Of any king's in Europe. I do think

I saw't this morning: confident I am

Last night 'twas on mine arm; I kiss'd it:

I hope it be not gone to tell my lord

That I kiss aught but he.


'Twill not be lost.


I hope so: go and search.



You have abused me:

'His meanest garment!'


Ay, I said so, sir:

If you will make't an action, call witness to't.


I will inform your father.


Your mother too:

She's my good lady, and will conceive, I hope,

But the worst of me. So, I leave you, sir,

To the worst of discontent.



I'll be revenged:

'His meanest garment!' Well.


SCENE IV. Rome. Philario's house.



Fear it not, sir: I would I were so sure

To win the king as I am bold her honour

Will remain hers.


What means do you make to him?


Not any, but abide the change of time,

Quake in the present winter's state and wish

That warmer days would come: in these sear'd hopes,

I barely gratify your love; they failing,

I must die much your debtor.


Your very goodness and your company

O'erpays all I can do. By this, your king

Hath heard of great Augustus: Caius Lucius

Will do's commission throughly: and I think

He'll grant the tribute, send the arrearages,

Or look upon our Romans, whose remembrance

Is yet fresh in their grief.


I do believe,

Statist though I am none, nor like to be,

That this will prove a war; and you shall hear

The legions now in Gallia sooner landed

In our not-fearing Britain than have tidings

Of any penny tribute paid. Our countrymen

Are men more order'd than when Julius Caesar

Smiled at their lack of skill, but found

their courage

Worthy his frowning at: their discipline,

Now mingled with their courages, will make known

To their approvers they are people such

That mend upon the world.



See! Iachimo!


The swiftest harts have posted you by land;

And winds of all the comers kiss'd your sails,

To make your vessel nimble.


Welcome, sir.


I hope the briefness of your answer made

The speediness of your return.


Your lady

Is one of the fairest that I have look'd upon.


And therewithal the best; or let her beauty

Look through a casement to allure false hearts

And be false with them.


Here are letters for you.


Their tenor good, I trust.


'Tis very like.


Was Caius Lucius in the Britain court

When you were there?


He was expected then,

But not approach'd.


All is well yet.

Sparkles this stone as it was wont? or is't not

Too dull for your good wearing?


If I had lost it,

I should have lost the worth of it in gold.

I'll make a journey twice as far, to enjoy

A second night of such sweet shortness which

Was mine in Britain, for the ring is won.


The stone's too hard to come by.


Not a whit,

Your lady being so easy.


Make not, sir,

Your loss your sport: I hope you know that we

Must not continue friends.


Good sir, we must,

If you keep covenant. Had I not brought

The knowledge of your mistress home, I grant

We were to question further: but I now

Profess myself the winner of her honour,

Together with your ring; and not the wronger

Of her or you, having proceeded but

By both your wills.


If you can make't apparent

That you have tasted her in bed, my hand

And ring is yours; if not, the foul opinion

You had of her pure honour gains or loses

Your sword or mine, or masterless leaves both

To who shall find them.


Sir, my circumstances,

Being so near the truth as I will make them,

Must first induce you to believe: whose strength

I will confirm with oath; which, I doubt not,

You'll give me leave to spare, when you shall find

You need it not.




First, her bedchamber,--

Where, I confess, I slept not, but profess

Had that was well worth watching--it was hang'd

With tapesty of silk and silver; the story

Proud Cleopatra, when she met her Roman,

And Cydnus swell'd above the banks, or for

The press of boats or pride: a piece of work

So bravely done, so rich, that it did strive

In workmanship and value; which I wonder'd

Could be so rarely and exactly wrought,

Since the true life on't was--


This is true;

And this you might have heard of here, by me,

Or by some other.


More particulars

Must justify my knowledge.


So they must,

Or do your honour injury.


The chimney

Is south the chamber, and the chimney-piece

Chaste Dian bathing: never saw I figures

So likely to report themselves: the cutter

Was as another nature, dumb; outwent her,

Motion and breath left out.


This is a thing

Which you might from relation likewise reap,

Being, as it is, much spoke of.


The roof o' the chamber

With golden cherubins is fretted: her andirons--

I had forgot them--were two winking Cupids

Of silver, each on one foot standing, nicely

Depending on their brands.


This is her honour!

Let it be granted you have seen all this--and praise

Be given to your remembrance--the description

Of what is in her chamber nothing saves

The wager you have laid.


Then, if you can,

Showing the bracelet

Be pale: I beg but leave to air this jewel; see!

And now 'tis up again: it must be married

To that your diamond; I'll keep them.



Once more let me behold it: is it that

Which I left with her?


Sir--I thank her--that:

She stripp'd it from her arm; I see her yet;

Her pretty action did outsell her gift,

And yet enrich'd it too: she gave it me, and said

She prized it once.


May be she pluck'd it off

To send it me.


She writes so to you, doth she?


O, no, no, no! 'tis true. Here, take this too;

Gives the ring

It is a basilisk unto mine eye,

Kills me to look on't. Let there be no honour

Where there is beauty; truth, where semblance; love,

Where there's another man: the vows of women

Of no more bondage be, to where they are made,

Than they are to their virtues; which is nothing.

O, above measure false!


Have patience, sir,

And take your ring again; 'tis not yet won:

It may be probable she lost it; or

Who knows if one of her women, being corrupted,

Hath stol'n it from her?


Very true;

And so, I hope, he came by't. Back my ring:

Render to me some corporal sign about her,

More evident than this; for this was stolen.


By Jupiter, I had it from her arm.


Hark you, he swears; by Jupiter he swears.

'Tis true:--nay, keep the ring--'tis true: I am sure

She would not lose it: her attendants are

All sworn and honourable:--they induced to steal it!

And by a stranger!--No, he hath enjoyed her:

The cognizance of her incontinency

Is this: she hath bought the name of whore

thus dearly.

There, take thy hire; and all the fiends of hell

Divide themselves between you!


Sir, be patient:

This is not strong enough to be believed

Of one persuaded well of--


Never talk on't;

She hath been colted by him.


If you seek

For further satisfying, under her breast--

Worthy the pressing--lies a mole, right proud

Of that most delicate lodging: by my life,

I kiss'd it; and it gave me present hunger

To feed again, though full. You do remember

This stain upon her?


Ay, and it doth confirm

Another stain, as big as hell can hold,

Were there no more but it.


Will you hear more?


Spare your arithmetic: never count the turns;

Once, and a million!


I'll be sworn--


No swearing.

If you will swear you have not done't, you lie;

And I will kill thee, if thou dost deny

Thou'st made me cuckold.


I'll deny nothing.


O, that I had her here, to tear her limb-meal!

I will go there and do't, i' the court, before

Her father. I'll do something--



Quite besides

The government of patience! You have won:

Let's follow him, and pervert the present wrath

He hath against himself.


With an my heart.


SCENE V. Another room in Philario's house.



Is there no way for men to be but women

Must be half-workers? We are all bastards;

And that most venerable man which I

Did call my father, was I know not where

When I was stamp'd; some coiner with his tools

Made me a counterfeit: yet my mother seem'd

The Dian of that time so doth my wife

The nonpareil of this. O, vengeance, vengeance!

Me of my lawful pleasure she restrain'd

And pray'd me oft forbearance; did it with

A pudency so rosy the sweet view on't

Might well have warm'd old Saturn; that I thought her

As chaste as unsunn'd snow. O, all the devils!

This yellow Iachimo, in an hour,--wast not?--

Or less,--at first?--perchance he spoke not, but,

Like a full-acorn'd boar, a German one,

Cried 'O!' and mounted; found no opposition

But what he look'd for should oppose and she

Should from encounter guard. Could I find out

The woman's part in me! For there's no motion

That tends to vice in man, but I affirm

It is the woman's part: be it lying, note it,

The woman's; flattering, hers; deceiving, hers;

Lust and rank thoughts, hers, hers; revenges, hers;

Ambitions, covetings, change of prides, disdain,

Nice longing, slanders, mutability,

All faults that may be named, nay, that hell knows,

Why, hers, in part or all; but rather, all;

For even to vice

They are not constant but are changing still

One vice, but of a minute old, for one

Not half so old as that. I'll write against them,

Detest them, curse them: yet 'tis greater skill

In a true hate, to pray they have their will:

The very devils cannot plague them better.



SCENE I. Britain. A hall in Cymbeline's palace.

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


Now say, what would Augustus Caesar with us?


When Julius Caesar, whose remembrance yet

Lives in men's eyes and will to ears and tongues

Be theme and hearing ever, was in this Britain

And conquer'd it, Cassibelan, thine uncle,--

Famous in Caesar's praises, no whit less

Than in his feats deserving it--for him

And his succession granted Rome a tribute,

Yearly three thousand pounds, which by thee lately

Is left untender'd.


And, to kill the marvel,

Shall be so ever.


There be many Caesars,

Ere such another Julius. Britain is

A world by itself; and we will nothing pay

For wearing our own noses.


That opportunity

Which then they had to take from 's, to resume

We have again. Remember, sir, my liege,

The kings your ancestors, together with

The natural bravery of your isle, which stands

As Neptune's park, ribbed and paled in

With rocks unscalable and roaring waters,

With sands that will not bear your enemies' boats,

But suck them up to the topmast. A kind of conquest

Caesar made here; but made not here his brag

Of 'Came' and 'saw' and 'overcame: ' with shame--

That first that ever touch'd him--he was carried

From off our coast, twice beaten; and his shipping--

Poor ignorant baubles!-- upon our terrible seas,

Like egg-shells moved upon their surges, crack'd

As easily 'gainst our rocks: for joy whereof

The famed Cassibelan, who was once at point--

O giglot fortune!--to master Caesar's sword,

Made Lud's town with rejoicing fires bright

And Britons strut with courage.


Come, there's no more tribute to be paid: our

kingdom is stronger than it was at that time; and,

as I said, there is no moe such Caesars: other of

them may have crook'd noses, but to owe such

straight arms, none.


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

Caesar 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:

Caesar's ambition,

Which swell'd so much that it did almost stretch

The sides o' the world, against all colour here

Did put the yoke upon 's; which to shake off

Becomes a warlike people, whom we reckon

Ourselves to be.


Lords, We do.


Say, then, to Caesar,

Our ancestor was that Mulmutius which

Ordain'd our laws, whose use the sword of Caesar

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 Caesar--

Caesar, that hath more kings his servants than

Thyself domestic officers--thine enemy:

Receive it from me, then: war and confusion

In Caesar's name pronounce I 'gainst thee: look

For fury not to be resisted. Thus defied,

I thank thee for myself.


Thou art welcome, Caius.

Thy Caesar knighted me; my youth I spent

Much under him; of him I gather'd honour;

Which he to seek of me again, perforce,

Behoves me keep at utterance. I am perfect

That the Pannonians and Dalmatians for

Their liberties are now in arms; a precedent

Which not to read would show the Britons cold:

So Caesar 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.


So, sir.


I know your master's pleasure and he mine:

All the remain is 'Welcome!'


SCENE II. Another room in the palace.

Enter PISANIO, with 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-tongued as handed, hath prevail'd

On thy too ready hearing? Disloyal! No:

She's punish'd for her truth, and undergoes,

More goddess-like than wife-like, such assaults

As would take in some virtue. O my master!

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'ld lay the future open. You good gods,

Let what is here contain'd relish of love,

Of my lord's health, of his content, yet not

That we two are asunder; let that grieve him:

Some griefs are med'cinable; that is one of them,

For it doth physic love: of his content,

All but in that! Good wax, thy leave. Blest be

You bees that make these locks of counsel! Lovers

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 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, LEONATUS POSTHUMUS.'

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,--

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

To inherit such a haven: but first of all,

How we may steal from hence, and for the gap

That we shall make in time, from our hence-going

And our return, to excuse: but first, how get hence:

Why should excuse be born or e'er begot?

We'll talk of that hereafter. Prithee, speak,

How many score of miles may we well ride

'Twixt hour and hour?


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.


SCENE III. Wales: a mountainous country with a cave.

Enter, from the cave, BELARIUS; GUIDERIUS, and ARVIRAGUS following


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.


Hail, heaven!


Hail, heaven!


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 cheque,

Richer than doing nothing for a bauble,

Prouder than rustling in unpaid-for silk:

Such gain the cap of him that makes 'em fine,

Yet keeps his book uncross'd: no life to ours.


Out of your proof you speak: we, poor unfledged,

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 warlike 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 o' 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 court'sy at the censure:--O boys, this story

The world may read in me: my body's mark'd

With Roman swords, and my report was once

First with the best of note: Cymbeline loved me,

And when a soldier was the theme, my name

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.


Uncertain favour!


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 lived 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 hunters' language: he that strikes

The venison first shall be the lord o' the feast;

To him the other two shall minister;

And we will fear no poison, which attends

In place of greater state. I'll meet you in the valleys.


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 warlike 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 roused!

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.


SCENE IV. Country near Milford-Haven.



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 havior 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 countenance still. My husband's hand!

That drug-damn'd Italy hath out-craftied him,

And he's at some hard point. Speak, man: thy tongue

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.


[Reads] 'Thy mistress, Pisanio, hath played the

strumpet in my bed; the testimonies whereof lie

bleeding in me. I speak not out of weak surmises,

but from proof as strong as my grief and as certain

as I expect my revenge. That part thou, Pisanio,

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 Aeneas,

Were in his time thought false, and Sinon's weeping

Did scandal many a holy tear, took pity

From most true wretchedness: so thou, Posthumus,

Wilt lay the leaven on all proper men;

Goodly and gallant shall be false and perjured

From thy great fall. Come, fellow, be thou honest:

Do thou thy master's bidding: when thou see'st him,

A little witness my obedience: look!

I draw the sword myself: take it, and hit

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 disedged by her

That now thou tirest on, how thy memory

Will then be pang'd by me. Prithee, dispatch:

The lamb entreats the butcher: where's thy knife?

Thou art too slow to do thy master's bidding,

When I desire it too.


O gracious lady,

Since I received command to do this business

I have not slept one wink.


Do't, and to bed then.


I'll wake mine eye-balls blind first.


Wherefore then

Didst undertake it? Why hast thou abused

So many miles with a pretence? this place?

Mine action and thine own? our horses' labour?

The time inviting thee? the perturb'd court,

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.


Then, madam,

I thought you would not back again.


Most like;

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 abused:

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 where? 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,

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.


Where then

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, to appear itself, must not yet be

But by self-danger, you should tread a course

Pretty and full of view; yea, haply, near

The residence of Posthumus; so nigh at least

That though his actions were not visible, yet

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 its 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.

Fore-thinking this, I have already fit--

'Tis in my cloak-bag--doublet, hat, hose, all

That answer to them: would you in their serving,

And with what imitation you can borrow

From youth of such a season, 'fore noble Lucius

Present yourself, desire his service, tell him

wherein you're happy,--which you'll make him know,

If that his head have ear in music,--doubtless

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 am 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.

Exeunt, severally

SCENE V. A room in Cymbeline's palace.

Enter CYMBELINE, 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

Appear unkinglike.


So, sir: I desire of you

A conduct over-land to Milford-Haven.

Madam, all joy befal your grace!


And you!


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!

Exeunt LUCIUS and Lords


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 our 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


Royal sir,

Since the exile of Posthumus, most retired

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.

Re-enter Attendant


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

Prove false!



Son, I say, follow the king.


That man of hers, Pisanio, her old servant,

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 seized her,

Or, wing'd with fervor of her love, she's flown

To her desired Posthumus: gone she is

To death or to dishonour; and my end

Can make good use of either: she being down,

I have the placing of the British crown.

Re-enter CLOTEN

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 choked; and in that point

I will conclude to hate her, nay, indeed,

To be revenged upon her. For when fools Shall--


Who is here? What, are you packing, sirrah?

Come hither: ah, you precious pander! Villain,

Where is thy lady? In a word; or else

Thou art straightway with the fiends.


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 missed?

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!


All-worthy villain!

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.


Then, sir,

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 again!


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 lint 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-enter PISANIO, 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 bid'st me to my loss: for true to thee

Were to prove false, which I will never be,

To him that is most true. To Milford go,

And find not her whom thou pursuest. Flow, flow,

You heavenly blessings, on her! This fool's speed

Be cross'd with slowness; labour be his meed!


SCENE VI. Wales. Before the cave of Belarius.

Enter IMOGEN, in boy's clothes


I see a man's life is a tedious one:

I have tired 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 relieved. Two beggars told me

I could not miss my way: will poor folks lie,

That have afflictions on them, knowing 'tis

A punishment or trial? Yes; no wonder,

When rich ones scarce tell true. To lapse in fulness

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 to 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, Polydote, have proved 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 thoroughly 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!

Re-enter IMOGEN


Good masters, harm me not:

Before I enter'd here, I call'd; and thought

To have begg'd or bought what I have took:

good troth,

I have stol'n nought, nor would not, though I had found

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.


Money, youth?


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.


Whither bound?


To Milford-Haven.


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 churls, 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'd 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 long absence, such is yours: most welcome!

Be sprightly, for you fall 'mongst friends.


'Mongst friends,

If brothers.


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. God's!


Hark, boys.



Great men,

That had a court no bigger than this cave,

That did attend themselves and had the virtue

Which their own conscience seal'd them--laying by

That nothing-gift of differing multitudes--

Could not out-peer these twain. Pardon me, gods!

I'd change my sex to be companion with them,

Since Leonatus's 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.


Thanks, sir.


I pray, draw near.


SCENE VII. Rome. A public place.

Enter two Senators and Tribunes

First Senator

This is the tenor of the emperor's writ:

That since the common men are now in action

'Gainst the Pannonians and Dalmatians,

And that the legions now in Gallia are

Full weak to undertake our wars against

The fall'n-off Britons, that we do incite

The gentry to this business. He creates

Lucius preconsul: and to you the tribunes,

For this immediate levy, he commends

His absolute commission. Long live Caesar!

First Tribune

Is Lucius general of the forces?

Second Senator


First Tribune

Remaining now in Gallia?

First Senator

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.

First Tribune

We will discharge our duty.



SCENE I. Wales: near the cave of Belarius.



I am near to the place where they should meet, if

Pisanio have mapped it truly. How fit his garments

serve me! Why should his mistress, who was made by

him that made the tailor, not be fit too? the

rather--saving reverence of the word--for 'tis said

a woman's fitness comes by fits. Therein I must

play the workman. I dare speak it to myself--for it

is not vain-glory for a man and his glass to confer

in his own chamber--I mean, the lines of my body are

as well drawn as his; no less young, more strong,

not beneath him in fortunes, beyond him in the

advantage of the time, above him in birth, alike

conversant in general services, and more remarkable

in single oppositions: yet this imperceiverant

thing loves him in my despite. What mortality is!

Posthumus, thy head, which now is growing upon thy

shoulders, shall within this hour be off; thy

mistress enforced; thy garments cut to pieces before

thy face: and all this done, spurn her home to her

father; who may haply be a little angry for my so

rough usage; but my mother, having power of his

testiness, shall turn all into my commendations. My

horse is tied up safe: out, sword, and to a sore

purpose! Fortune, put them into my hand! This is

the very description of their meeting-place; and

the fellow dares not deceive me.


SCENE II. Before the cave of Belarius.



[To IMOGEN] You are not well: remain here in the cave;

We'll come to you after hunting.


[To IMOGEN] Brother, stay here

Are we not brothers?


So man and man should be;

But clay and clay differs in dignity,

Whose dust is both alike. I am very sick.


Go you to hunting; I'll abide with him.


So sick I am not, yet I am not well;

But not so citizen a wanton as

To seem to die ere sick: so please you, leave me;

Stick to your journal course: the breach of custom

Is breach of all. I am ill, but your being by me

Cannot amend me; society is no comfort

To one not sociable: I am not very sick,

Since I can reason of it. Pray you, trust me here:

I'll rob none but myself; and let me die,

Stealing so poorly.


I love thee; I have spoke it

How much the quantity, the weight as much,

As I do love my father.


What! how! how!


If it be sin to say so, I yoke me

In my good brother's fault: I know not why

I love this youth; and I have heard you say,

Love's reason's without reason: the bier at door,

And a demand who is't shall die, I'd say

'My father, not this youth.'


[Aside] O noble strain!

O worthiness of nature! breed of greatness!

Cowards father cowards and base things sire base:

Nature hath meal and bran, contempt and grace.

I'm not their father; yet who this should be,

Doth miracle itself, loved before me.

'Tis the ninth hour o' the morn.


Brother, farewell.


I wish ye sport.


You health. So please you, sir.


[Aside] These are kind creatures. Gods, what lies

I have heard!

Our courtiers say all's savage but at court:

Experience, O, thou disprovest report!

The imperious seas breed monsters, for the dish

Poor tributary rivers as sweet fish.

I am sick still; heart-sick. Pisanio,

I'll now taste of thy drug.

Swallows some


I could not stir him:

He said he was gentle, but unfortunate;

Dishonestly afflicted, but yet honest.


Thus did he answer me: yet said, hereafter

I might know more.


To the field, to the field!

We'll leave you for this time: go in and rest.


We'll not be long away.


Pray, be not sick,

For you must be our housewife.


Well or ill,

I am bound to you.


And shalt be ever.

Exit IMOGEN, to the cave

This youth, how'er distress'd, appears he hath had

Good ancestors.


How angel-like he sings!


But his neat cookery! he cut our roots

In characters,

And sauced our broths, as Juno had been sick

And he her dieter.


Nobly he yokes

A smiling with a sigh, as if the sigh

Was that it was, for not being such a smile;

The smile mocking the sigh, that it would fly

From so divine a temple, to commix

With winds that sailors rail at.


I do note

That grief and patience, rooted in him both,

Mingle their spurs together.


Grow, patience!

And let the stinking elder, grief, untwine

His perishing root with the increasing vine!


It is great morning. Come, away!--

Who's there?



I cannot find those runagates; that villain

Hath mock'd me. I am faint.


'Those runagates!'

Means he not us? I partly know him: 'tis

Cloten, the son o' the queen. I fear some ambush.

I saw him not these many years, and yet

I know 'tis he. We are held as outlaws: hence!


He is but one: you and my brother search

What companies are near: pray you, away;

Let me alone with him.



Soft! What are you

That fly me thus? some villain mountaineers?

I have heard of such. What slave art thou?


A thing

More slavish did I ne'er than answering

A slave without a knock.


Thou art a robber,

A law-breaker, a villain: yield thee, thief.


To who? to thee? What art thou? Have not I

An arm as big as thine? a heart as big?

Thy words, I grant, are bigger, for I wear not

My dagger in my mouth. Say what thou art,

Why I should yield to thee?


Thou villain base,

Know'st me not by my clothes?


No, nor thy tailor, rascal,

Who is thy grandfather: he made those clothes,

Which, as it seems, make thee.


Thou precious varlet,

My tailor made them not.


Hence, then, and thank

The man that gave them thee. Thou art some fool;

I am loath to beat thee.


Thou injurious thief,

Hear but my name, and tremble.


What's thy name?


Cloten, thou villain.


Cloten, thou double villain, be thy name,

I cannot tremble at it: were it Toad, or

Adder, Spider,

'Twould move me sooner.


To thy further fear,

Nay, to thy mere confusion, thou shalt know

I am son to the queen.


I am sorry for 't; not seeming

So worthy as thy birth.


Art not afeard?


Those that I reverence those I fear, the wise:

At fools I laugh, not fear them.


Die the death:

When I have slain thee with my proper hand,

I'll follow those that even now fled hence,

And on the gates of Lud's-town set your heads:

Yield, rustic mountaineer.

Exeunt, fighting



No companies abroad?


None in the world: you did mistake him, sure.


I cannot tell: long is it since I saw him,

But time hath nothing blurr'd those lines of favour

Which then he wore; the snatches in his voice,

And burst of speaking, were as his: I am absolute

'Twas very Cloten.


In this place we left them:

I wish my brother make good time with him,

You say he is so fell.


Being scarce made up,

I mean, to man, he had not apprehension

Of roaring terrors; for the effect of judgment

Is oft the cause of fear. But, see, thy brother.

Re-enter GUIDERIUS, with CLOTEN'S head


This Cloten was a fool, an empty purse;

There was no money in't: not Hercules

Could have knock'd out his brains, for he had none:

Yet I not doing this, the fool had borne

My head as I do his.


What hast thou done?


I am perfect what: cut off one Cloten's head,

Son to the queen, after his own report;

Who call'd me traitor, mountaineer, and swore

With his own single hand he'ld take us in

Displace our heads where--thank the gods!--they grow,

And set them on Lud's-town.


We are all undone.


Why, worthy father, what have we to lose,

But that he swore to take, our lives? The law

Protects not us: then why should we be tender

To let an arrogant piece of flesh threat us,

Play judge and executioner all himself,

For we do fear the law? What company

Discover you abroad?


No single soul

Can we set eye on; but in all safe reason

He must have some attendants. Though his humour

Was nothing but mutation, ay, and that

From one bad thing to worse; not frenzy, not

Absolute madness could so far have raved

To bring him here alone; although perhaps

It may be heard at court that such as we

Cave here, hunt here, are outlaws, and in time

May make some stronger head; the which he hearing--

As it is like him--might break out, and swear

He'ld fetch us in; yet is't not probable

To come alone, either he so undertaking,

Or they so suffering: then on good ground we fear,

If we do fear this body hath a tail

More perilous than the head.


Let ordinance

Come as the gods foresay it: howsoe'er,

My brother hath done well.


I had no mind

To hunt this day: the boy Fidele's sickness

Did make my way long forth.


With his own sword,

Which he did wave against my throat, I have ta'en

His head from him: I'll throw't into the creek

Behind our rock; and let it to the sea,

And tell the fishes he's the queen's son, Cloten:

That's all I reck.



I fear 'twill be revenged:

Would, Polydote, thou hadst not done't! though valour

Becomes thee well enough.


Would I had done't

So the revenge alone pursued me! Polydore,

I love thee brotherly, but envy much

Thou hast robb'd me of this deed: I would revenges,

That possible strength might meet, would seek us through

And put us to our answer.


Well, 'tis done:

We'll hunt no more to-day, nor seek for danger

Where there's no profit. I prithee, to our rock;

You and Fidele play the cooks: I'll stay

Till hasty Polydote return, and bring him

To dinner presently.


Poor sick Fidele!

I'll weringly to him: to gain his colour

I'ld let a parish of such Clotens' blood,

And praise myself for charity.



O thou goddess,

Thou divine Nature, how thyself thou blazon'st

In these two princely boys! They are as gentle

As zephyrs blowing below the violet,

Not wagging his sweet head; and yet as rough,

Their royal blood enchafed, as the rudest wind,

That by the top doth take the mountain pine,

And make him stoop to the vale. 'Tis wonder

That an invisible instinct should frame them

To royalty unlearn'd, honour untaught,

Civility not seen from other, valour

That wildly grows in them, but yields a crop

As if it had been sow'd. Yet still it's strange

What Cloten's being here to us portends,

Or what his death will bring us.



Where's my brother?

I have sent Cloten's clotpoll down the stream,

In embassy to his mother: his body's hostage

For his return.

Solemn music


My ingenious instrument!

Hark, Polydore, it sounds! But what occasion

Hath Cadwal now to give it motion? Hark!


Is he at home?


He went hence even now.


What does he mean? since death of my dear'st mother

it did not speak before. All solemn things

Should answer solemn accidents. The matter?

Triumphs for nothing and lamenting toys

Is jollity for apes and grief for boys.

Is Cadwal mad?


Look, here he comes,

And brings the dire occasion in his arms

Of what we blame him for.

Re-enter ARVIRAGUS, with IMOGEN, as dead, bearing her in his arms


The bird is dead

That we have made so much on. I had rather

Have skipp'd from sixteen years of age to sixty,

To have turn'd my leaping-time into a crutch,

Than have seen this.


O sweetest, fairest lily!

My brother wears thee not the one half so well

As when thou grew'st thyself.


O melancholy!

Who ever yet could sound thy bottom? find

The ooze, to show what coast thy sluggish crare

Might easiliest harbour in? Thou blessed thing!

Jove knows what man thou mightst have made; but I,

Thou diedst, a most rare boy, of melancholy.

How found you him?


Stark, as you see:

Thus smiling, as some fly hid tickled slumber,

Not as death's dart, being laugh'd at; his

right cheek

Reposing on a cushion.




O' the floor;

His arms thus leagued: I thought he slept, and put

My clouted brogues from off my feet, whose rudeness

Answer'd my steps too loud.


Why, he but sleeps:

If he be gone, he'll make his grave a bed;

With female fairies will his tomb be haunted,

And worms will not come to thee.


With fairest flowers

Whilst summer lasts and I live here, Fidele,

I'll sweeten thy sad grave: thou shalt not lack

The flower that's like thy face, pale primrose, nor

The azured harebell, like thy veins, no, nor

The leaf of eglantine, whom not to slander,

Out-sweeten'd not thy breath: the ruddock would,

With charitable bill,--O bill, sore-shaming

Those rich-left heirs that let their fathers lie

Without a monument!--bring thee all this;

Yea, and furr'd moss besides, when flowers are none,

To winter-ground thy corse.


Prithee, have done;

And do not play in wench-like words with that

Which is so serious. Let us bury him,

And not protract with admiration what

Is now due debt. To the grave!


Say, where shall's lay him?


By good Euriphile, our mother.


Be't so:

And let us, Polydore, though now our voices

Have got the mannish crack, sing him to the ground,

As once our mother; use like note and words,

Save that Euriphile must be Fidele.



I cannot sing: I'll weep, and word it with thee;

For notes of sorrow out of tune are worse

Than priests and fanes that lie.


We'll speak it, then.


Great griefs, I see, medicine the less; for Cloten

Is quite forgot. He was a queen's son, boys;

And though he came our enemy, remember

He was paid for that: though mean and

mighty, rotting

Together, have one dust, yet reverence,

That angel of the world, doth make distinction

Of place 'tween high and low. Our foe was princely

And though you took his life, as being our foe,

Yet bury him as a prince.


Pray You, fetch him hither.

Thersites' body is as good as Ajax',

When neither are alive.


If you'll go fetch him,

We'll say our song the whilst. Brother, begin.



Nay, Cadwal, we must lay his head to the east;

My father hath a reason for't.


'Tis true.


Come on then, and remove him.


So. Begin.



Fear no more the heat o' the sun,

Nor the furious winter's rages;

Thou thy worldly task hast done,

Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages:

Golden lads and girls all must,

As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.


Fear no more the frown o' the great;

Thou art past the tyrant's stroke;

Care no more to clothe and eat;

To thee the reed is as the oak:

The sceptre, learning, physic, must

All follow this, and come to dust.


Fear no more the lightning flash,


Nor the all-dreaded thunder-stone;


Fear not slander, censure rash;


Thou hast finish'd joy and moan:



All lovers young, all lovers must

Consign to thee, and come to dust.


No exorciser harm thee!


Nor no witchcraft charm thee!


Ghost unlaid forbear thee!


Nothing ill come near thee!



Quiet consummation have;

And renowned be thy grave!

Re-enter BELARIUS, with the body of CLOTEN


We have done our obsequies: come, lay him down.


Here's a few flowers; but 'bout midnight, more:

The herbs that have on them cold dew o' the night

Are strewings fitt'st for graves. Upon their faces.

You were as flowers, now wither'd: even so

These herblets shall, which we upon you strew.

Come on, away: apart upon our knees.

The ground that gave them first has them again:

Their pleasures here are past, so is their pain.



[Awaking] Yes, sir, to Milford-Haven; which is

the way?--

I thank you.--By yond bush?--Pray, how far thither?

'Ods pittikins! can it be six mile yet?--

I have gone all night. 'Faith, I'll lie down and sleep.

But, soft! no bedfellow!--O god s and goddesses!

Seeing the body of CLOTEN

These flowers are like the pleasures of the world;

This bloody man, the care on't. I hope I dream;

For so I thought I was a cave-keeper,

And cook to honest creatures: but 'tis not so;

'Twas but a bolt of nothing, shot at nothing,

Which the brain makes of fumes: our very eyes

Are sometimes like our judgments, blind. Good faith,

I tremble stiff with fear: but if there be

Yet left in heaven as small a drop of pity

As a wren's eye, fear'd gods, a part of it!

The dream's here still: even when I wake, it is

Without me, as within me; not imagined, felt.

A headless man! The garments of Posthumus!

I know the shape of's leg: this is his hand;

His foot Mercurial; his Martial thigh;

The brawns of Hercules: but his Jovial face

Murder in heaven?--How!--'Tis gone. Pisanio,

All curses madded Hecuba gave the Greeks,

And mine to boot, be darted on thee! Thou,

Conspired with that irregulous devil, Cloten,

Hast here cut off my lord. To write and read

Be henceforth treacherous! Damn'd Pisanio

Hath with his forged letters,--damn'd Pisanio--

From this most bravest vessel of the world

Struck the main-top! O Posthumus! alas,

Where is thy head? where's that? Ay me!

where's that?

Pisanio might have kill'd thee at the heart,

And left this head on. How should this be? Pisanio?

'Tis he and Cloten: malice and lucre in them

Have laid this woe here. O, 'tis pregnant, pregnant!

The drug he gave me, which he said was precious

And cordial to me, have I not found it

Murderous to the senses? That confirms it home:

This is Pisanio's deed, and Cloten's: O!

Give colour to my pale cheek with thy blood,

That we the horrider may seem to those

Which chance to find us: O, my lord, my lord!

Falls on the body

Enter LUCIUS, a Captain and other Officers, and a Soothsayer


To them the legions garrison'd in Gailia,

After your will, have cross'd the sea, attending

You here at Milford-Haven with your ships:

They are in readiness.


But what from Rome?


The senate hath stirr'd up the confiners

And gentlemen of Italy, most willing spirits,

That promise noble service: and they come

Under the conduct of bold Iachimo,

Syenna's brother.


When expect you them?


With the next benefit o' the wind.


This forwardness

Makes our hopes fair. Command our present numbers

Be muster'd; bid the captains look to't. Now, sir,

What have you dream'd of late of this war's purpose?


Last night the very gods show'd me a vision--

I fast and pray'd for their intelligence--thus:

I saw Jove's bird, the Roman eagle, wing'd

From the spongy south to this part of the west,

There vanish'd in the sunbeams: which portends--

Unless my sins abuse my divination--

Success to the Roman host.


Dream often so,

And never false. Soft, ho! what trunk is here

Without his top? The ruin speaks that sometime

It was a worthy building. How! a page!

Or dead, or sleeping on him? But dead rather;

For nature doth abhor to make his bed

With the defunct, or sleep upon the dead.

Let's see the boy's face.


He's alive, my lord.


He'll then instruct us of this body. Young one,

Inform us of thy fortunes, for it seems

They crave to be demanded. Who is this

Thou makest thy bloody pillow? Or who was he

That, otherwise than noble nature did,

Hath alter'd that good picture? What's thy interest

In this sad wreck? How came it? Who is it?

What art thou?


I am nothing: or if not,

Nothing to be were better. This was my master,

A very valiant Briton and a good,

That here by mountaineers lies slain. Alas!

There is no more such masters: I may wander

From east to occident, cry out for service,

Try many, all good, serve truly, never

Find such another master.


'Lack, good youth!

Thou movest no less with thy complaining than

Thy master in bleeding: say his name, good friend.


Richard du Champ.


If I do lie and do

No harm by it, though the gods hear, I hope

They'll pardon it.--Say you, sir?


Thy name?


Fidele, sir.


Thou dost approve thyself the very same:

Thy name well fits thy faith, thy faith thy name.

Wilt take thy chance with me? I will not say

Thou shalt be so well master'd, but, be sure,

No less beloved. The Roman emperor's letters,

Sent by a consul to me, should not sooner

Than thine own worth prefer thee: go with me.


I'll follow, sir. But first, an't please the gods,

I'll hide my master from the flies, as deep

As these poor pickaxes can dig; and when

With wild wood-leaves and weeds I ha' strew'd his grave,

And on it said a century of prayers,

Such as I can, twice o'er, I'll weep and sigh;

And leaving so his service, follow you,

So please you entertain me.


Ay, good youth!

And rather father thee than master thee.

My friends,

The boy hath taught us manly duties: let us

Find out the prettiest daisied plot we can,

And make him with our pikes and partisans

A grave: come, arm him. Boy, he is preferr'd

By thee to us, and he shall be interr'd

As soldiers can. Be cheerful; wipe thine eyes

Some falls are means the happier to arise.


SCENE III. A room in Cymbeline's palace.

Enter CYMBELINE, Lords, PISANIO, and Attendants


Again; and bring me word how 'tis with her.

Exit an Attendant

A fever with the absence of her son,

A madness, of which her life's in danger. Heavens,

How deeply you at once do touch me! Imogen,

The great part of my comfort, gone; my queen

Upon a desperate bed, and in a time

When fearful wars point at me; her son gone,

So needful for this present: it strikes me, past

The hope of comfort. But for thee, fellow,

Who needs must know of her departure and

Dost seem so ignorant, we'll enforce it from thee

By a sharp torture.


Sir, my life is yours;

I humbly set it at your will; but, for my mistress,

I nothing know where she remains, why gone,

Nor when she purposes return. Beseech your highness,

Hold me your loyal servant.

First Lord

Good my liege,

The day that she was missing he was here:

I dare be bound he's true and shall perform

All parts of his subjection loyally. For Cloten,

There wants no diligence in seeking him,

And will, no doubt, be found.


The time is troublesome.


We'll slip you for a season; but our jealousy

Does yet depend.

First Lord

So please your majesty,

The Roman legions, all from Gallia drawn,

Are landed on your coast, with a supply

Of Roman gentlemen, by the senate sent.


Now for the counsel of my son and queen!

I am amazed with matter.

First Lord

Good my liege,

Your preparation can affront no less

Than what you hear of: come more, for more

you're ready:

The want is but to put those powers in motion

That long to move.


I thank you. Let's withdraw;

And meet the time as it seeks us. We fear not

What can from Italy annoy us; but

We grieve at chances here. Away!

Exeunt all but PISANIO


I heard no letter from my master since

I wrote him Imogen was slain: 'tis strange:

Nor hear I from my mistress who did promise

To yield me often tidings: neither know I

What is betid to Cloten; but remain

Perplex'd in all. The heavens still must work.

Wherein I am false I am honest; not true, to be true.

These present wars shall find I love my country,

Even to the note o' the king, or I'll fall in them.

All other doubts, by time let them be clear'd:

Fortune brings in some boats that are not steer'd.


SCENE IV. Wales: before the cave of Belarius.



The noise is round about us.


Let us from it.


What pleasure, sir, find we in life, to lock it

From action and adventure?


Nay, what hope

Have we in hiding us? This way, the Romans

Must or for Britons slay us, or receive us

For barbarous and unnatural revolts

During their use, and slay us after.



We'll higher to the mountains; there secure us.

To the king's party there's no going: newness

Of Cloten's death--we being not known, not muster'd

Among the bands--may drive us to a render

Where we have lived, and so extort from's that

Which we have done, whose answer would be death

Drawn on with torture.


This is, sir, a doubt

In such a time nothing becoming you,

Nor satisfying us.


It is not likely

That when they hear the Roman horses neigh,

Behold their quarter'd fires, have both their eyes

And ears so cloy'd importantly as now,

That they will waste their time upon our note,

To know from whence we are.


O, I am known

Of many in the army: many years,

Though Cloten then but young, you see, not wore him

From my remembrance. And, besides, the king

Hath not deserved my service nor your loves;

Who find in my exile the want of breeding,

The certainty of this hard life; aye hopeless

To have the courtesy your cradle promised,

But to be still hot summer's tamings and

The shrinking slaves of winter.


Than be so

Better to cease to be. Pray, sir, to the army:

I and my brother are not known; yourself

So out of thought, and thereto so o'ergrown,

Cannot be question'd.


By this sun that shines,

I'll thither: what thing is it that I never

Did see man die! scarce ever look'd on blood,

But that of coward hares, hot goats, and venison!

Never bestrid a horse, save one that had

A rider like myself, who ne'er wore rowel

Nor iron on his heel! I am ashamed

To look upon the holy sun, to have

The benefit of his blest beams, remaining

So long a poor unknown.


By heavens, I'll go:

If you will bless me, sir, and give me leave,

I'll take the better care, but if you will not,

The hazard therefore due fall on me by

The hands of Romans!


So say I amen.


No reason I, since of your lives you set

So slight a valuation, should reserve

My crack'd one to more care. Have with you, boys!

If in your country wars you chance to die,

That is my bed too, lads, an there I'll lie:

Lead, lead.


The time seems long; their blood

thinks scorn,

Till it fly out and show them princes born.



SCENE I. Britain. The Roman camp.

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?


I did.

Though you, it seems, come from the fliers.


I did.


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.'

These three,

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,

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

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.


Still going?

Exit Lord

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

First Captain

Great Jupiter be praised! Lucius is taken.

'Tis thought the old man and his sons were angels.

Second Captain

There was a fourth man, in a silly habit,

That gave the affront with them.

First Captain

So 'tis reported:

But none of 'em can be found. Stand! who's there?


A Roman,

Who had not now been drooping here, if seconds

Had answer'd him.

Second Captain

Lay hands on him; a dog!

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.

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

First Gaoler

You shall not now be stol'n, you have locks upon you;

So graze as you find pasture.

Second Gaoler

Ay, or a stomach.

Exeunt Gaolers


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

Sicilius Leonatus

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!

Sicilius Leonatus

Great nature, like his ancestry,

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

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,

Sweet Imogen?

Sicilius Leonatus

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?

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

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

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

And potent injuries.


Since, Jupiter, our son is good,

Take off his miseries.

Sicilius Leonatus

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.


Sicilius Leonatus

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.


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

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

First Gaoler

Come, sir, are you ready for death?


Over-roasted rather; ready long ago.

First Gaoler

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.

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

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.

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

would change places with his officer; for, look you,

sir, you know not which way you shall go.


Yes, indeed do I, fellow.

First Gaoler

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.

First Gaoler

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.

First Gaoler

I'll be hang'd then.


Thou shalt be then freer than a gaoler; no bolts for the dead.

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,

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.



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;


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.


Prithee, say.


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

Despairing died.


Heard you all this, her women?

First Lady

We did, so please your highness.


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

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,

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:

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?


Fidele, sir.


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.


How! me?


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

grieve thee,

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

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.


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,

Imogen, 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.


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

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.


My boys,

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.

Embracing him


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.


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,

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,

Deny't again.


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 the 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.


Guiderius had

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.


All o'erjoy'd,

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.


Nobly doom'd!

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.