Cymbeline, by William Shakespeare

Act II

Scene I. Britain. Before Cymbeline’s palace.

Enter Cloten and two Lords

Cloten

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.

Cloten

When a gentleman is disposed to swear, it is not for any standers-by to curtail his oaths, ha?

Second Lord

No my lord;

Aside

nor crop the ears of them.

Cloten

Whoreson dog! I give him satisfaction?
Would he had been one of my rank!

Second Lord

[Aside] To have smelt like a fool.

Cloten

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.

Cloten

Sayest thou?

Second Lord

It is not fit your lordship should undertake every companion that you give offence to.

Cloten

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.

Cloten

Why, so I say.

First Lord

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

Cloten

A stranger, and I not know on’t!

Second Lord

[Aside] He’s a strange fellow himself, and knows it not.

First Lord

There’s an Italian come; and, ’tis thought, one of
Leonatus’ friends.

Cloten

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.

Cloten

Is it fit I went to look upon him? is there no derogation in’t?

Second Lord

You cannot derogate, my lord.

Cloten

Not easily, I think.

Second Lord

[Aside] You are a fool granted; therefore your issues, being foolish, do not derogate.

Cloten

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!

Exit

Scene II. Imogen’s bedchamber in Cymbeline’s palace: a trunk in one corner of it.

Imogen in bed, reading; a Lady attending

Imogen

Who’s there? my woman Helen?

Lady

Please you, madam

Imogen

What hour is it?

Lady

  Almost midnight, madam.

Imogen

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

Iachimo

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.

Cloten

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.

Cloten

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.

Cloten

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.

Song

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.

Cloten

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.

Cloten

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.

Enter Cymbeline and Queen

Good morrow to your majesty and to my gracious mother.

Cymbeline

Attend you here the door of our stern daughter?
Will she not forth?

Cloten

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

Cymbeline

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.

Queen

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.

Cloten

Senseless! not so.

Enter a Messenger

Messenger

So like you, sir, ambassadors from Rome;
The one is Caius Lucius.

Cymbeline

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

Cloten

If she be up, I’ll speak with her; if not,
Let her lie still and dream.

Knocks

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.

Knocks

By your leave.

Enter a Lady

Lady

Who’s there that knocks?

Cloten

A gentleman.

Lady

No more?

Cloten

Yes, and a gentlewoman’s son.

Lady

That’s more
Than some, whose tailors are as dear as yours,
Can justly boast of. What’s your lordship’s pleasure?

Cloten

Your lady’s person: is she ready?

Lady

Ay,
To keep her chamber.

Cloten

There is gold for you;
Sell me your good report.

Lady

How! my good name? or to report of you
What I shall think is good? — The princess!

Enter Imogen

Cloten

Good morrow, fairest: sister, your sweet hand.

Exit Lady

Imogen

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.

Cloten

Still, I swear I love you.

Imogen

If you but said so, ’twere as deep with me:
If you swear still, your recompense is still
That I regard it not.

Cloten

This is no answer.

Imogen

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.

Cloten

To leave you in your madness, ’twere my sin:
I will not.

Imogen

  Fools are not mad folks.

Cloten

Do you call me fool?

Imogen

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.

Cloten

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.

Imogen

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.

Cloten

The south-fog rot him!

Imogen

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!

Enter Pisanio

Cloten

‘His garment!’ Now the devil —

Imogen

To Dorothy my woman hie thee presently —

Cloten

‘His garment!’

Imogen

  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.

Pisanio

’Twill not be lost.

Imogen

I hope so: go and search.

Exit Pisanio

Cloten

You have abused me:
‘His meanest garment!’

Imogen

Ay, I said so, sir:
If you will make’t an action, call witness to’t.

Cloten

I will inform your father.

Imogen

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.

Exit

Cloten

I’ll be revenged:
‘His meanest garment!’ Well.

Exit

Cymbeline

Scene IV. Rome. Philario’s house.

Enter Posthumus and Philario

Posthumus Leonatus

Fear it not, sir: I would I were so sure
To win the king as I am bold her honour
Will remain hers.

Philario

  What means do you make to him?

Posthumus Leonatus

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.

Philario

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.

Posthumus Leonatus

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.

Enter Iachimo

Philario

See! Iachimo!

Posthumus Leonatus

The swiftest harts have posted you by land;
And winds of all the comers kiss’d your sails,
To make your vessel nimble.

Philario

Welcome, sir.

Posthumus Leonatus

I hope the briefness of your answer made
The speediness of your return.

Iachimo

Your lady
Is one of the fairest that I have look’d upon.

Posthumus Leonatus

And therewithal the best; or let her beauty
Look through a casement to allure false hearts
And be false with them.

Iachimo

Here are letters for you.

Posthumus Leonatus

Their tenor good, I trust.

Iachimo

’Tis very like.

Philario

Was Caius Lucius in the Britain court
When you were there?

Iachimo

He was expected then,
But not approach’d.

Posthumus Leonatus

All is well yet.
Sparkles this stone as it was wont? or is’t not
Too dull for your good wearing?

Iachimo

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.

Posthumus Leonatus

The stone’s too hard to come by.

Iachimo

Not a whit,
Your lady being so easy.

Posthumus Leonatus

Make not, sir,
Your loss your sport: I hope you know that we
Must not continue friends.

Iachimo

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.

Posthumus Leonatus

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.

Iachimo

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.

Posthumus Leonatus

  Proceed.

Iachimo

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 —

Posthumus Leonatus

This is true;
And this you might have heard of here, by me,
Or by some other.

Iachimo

More particulars
Must justify my knowledge.

Posthumus Leonatus

So they must,
Or do your honour injury.

Iachimo

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.

Posthumus Leonatus

This is a thing
Which you might from relation likewise reap,
Being, as it is, much spoke of.

Iachimo

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.

Posthumus Leonatus

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.

Iachimo

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.

Posthumus Leonatus

Jove!
Once more let me behold it: is it that
Which I left with her?

Iachimo

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.

Posthumus Leonatus

May be she pluck’d it off
To send it me.

Iachimo

She writes so to you, doth she?

Posthumus Leonatus

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!

Philario

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?

Posthumus Leonatus

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.

Iachimo

By Jupiter, I had it from her arm.

Posthumus Leonatus

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!

Philario

Sir, be patient:
This is not strong enough to be believed
Of one persuaded well of —

Posthumus Leonatus

Never talk on’t;
She hath been colted by him.

Iachimo

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?

Posthumus Leonatus

Ay, and it doth confirm
Another stain, as big as hell can hold,
Were there no more but it.

Iachimo

Will you hear more?

Posthumus Leonatus

Spare your arithmetic: never count the turns;
Once, and a million!

Iachimo

I’ll be sworn —

Posthumus Leonatus

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.

Iachimo

I’ll deny nothing.

Posthumus Leonatus

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 —

Exit

Philario

Quite besides
The government of patience! You have won:
Let’s follow him, and pervert the present wrath
He hath against himself.

Iachimo

With an my heart.

Exeunt

Scene V. Another room in Philario’s house.

Enter Posthumus Leonatus

Posthumus Leonatus

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.

Exit

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Last updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 22:29