Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Jennifer Forsyth
Peer Reviewed

Cymbeline (Folio 1, 1623)

The Tragedy of Cymbeline.
The freezing houres away? We haue seene nothing:
We are beastly; subtle as the Fox for prey,
Like warlike as the Wolfe, for what we eate:
Our Valour is to chace what flyes: Our Cage
1600We make a Quire, as doth the prison'd Bird,
And sing our Bondage freely.
Bel. How you speake.
Did you but know the Citties Vsuries,
And felt them knowingly: the Art o'th'Court,
1605As hard to leaue, as keepe: whose top to climbe
Is certaine falling: or so slipp'ry, that
The feare's as bad as falling. The toyle o'th'Warre,
A paine that onely seemes to seeke out danger
I'th'name of Fame, and Honor, which dyes i'th'search,
1610And hath as oft a sland'rous Epitaph,
As Record of faire Act. Nay, many times
Doth ill deserue, by doing well: what's worse
Must curt'sie at the Censure. Oh Boyes, this Storie
The World may reade in me: My bodie's mark'd
1615With Roman Swords; and my report, was once
First, with the best of Note. Cymbeline lou'd me,
And when a Souldier was the Theame, my name
Was not farre off: then was I as a Tree
Whose boughes did bend with fruit. But in one night,
1620A Storme, or Robbery (call it what you will)
Shooke downe my mellow hangings: nay my Leaues,
And left me bare to weather.
Gui. Vncertaine fauour.
Bel. My fault being nothing (as I haue told you oft)
1625But that two Villaines, whose false Oathes preuayl'd
Before my perfect Honor, swore to Cymbeline,
I was Confederate with the Romanes: so
Followed my Banishment, and this twenty yeeres,
This Rocke, and these Demesnes, haue bene my World,
1630Where I haue liu'd at honest freedome, payed
More pious debts to Heauen, then in all
The fore-end of my time. But, vp to'th'Mountaines,
This is not Hunters Language; he that strikes
The Venison first, shall be the Lord o'th'Feast,
1635To him the other two shall minister,
And we will feare no poyson, which attends
In place of greater State:
Ile meete you in the Valleyes.
How hard it is to hide the sparkes of Nature?
1640These Boyes know little they are Sonnes to'th'King,
Nor Cymbeline dreames that they are aliue.
They thinke they are mine,
And though train'd vp thus meanely
I'th' Caue, whereon the Bowe their thoughts do hit,
1645The Roofes of Palaces, and Nature prompts them
In simple and lowe things, to Prince it, much
Beyond the tricke of others. This Paladour,
The heyre of Cymbeline and Britaine, who
The King his Father call'd Guiderius. Ioue,
1650When on my three-foot stoole I sit, and tell
The warlike feats I haue done, his spirits flye out
Into my Story: say thus mine Enemy fell,
And thus I set my foote on's necke, euen then
The Princely blood flowes in his Cheeke, he sweats,
1655Straines his yong Nerues, and puts himselfe in posture
That acts my words. The yonger Brother Cadwall,
Once Aruiragus, in as like a figure
Strikes life into my speech, and shewes much more
His owne conceyuing. Hearke, the Game is rows'd,
1660Oh Cymbeline, Heauen and my Conscience knowes
Thou didd'st vniustly banish me: whereon
At three, and two yeeres old, I stole these Babes,
Thinking to barre thee of Succession, as
Thou refts me of my Lands. Euriphile,
1665Thou was't their Nurse, they took thee for their mother,
And euery day do honor to her graue:
My selfe Belarius, that am Mergan call'd
They take for Naturall Father. The Game is vp.

Scena Quarta.

Enter Pisanio and Imogen.
Imo. Thou told'st me when we came frõ horse, ye place
Was neere at hand: Ne're long'd my Mother so
To see me first, as I haue now. Pisanio, Man:
Where is Posthumus? What is in thy mind
1675That makes thee stare thus? Wherefore breaks that sigh
From th'inward of thee? One, but painted thus
Would be interpreted a thing perplex'd
Beyond selfe-explication. Put thy selfe
Into a hauiour of lesse feare, ere wildnesse
1680Vanquish my stayder Senses. What's the matter?
Why tender'st thou that Paper to me, with
A looke vntender? If't be Summer Newes
Smile too't before: if Winterly, thou need'st
But keepe that count'nance stil. My Husbands hand?
1685That Drug-damn'd Italy, hath out-craftied him,
And hee's at some hard point. Speake man, thy Tongue
May take off some extreamitie, which to reade
Would be euen mortall to me.
Pis. Please you reade,
1690And you shall finde me (wretched man) a thing
The most disdain'd of Fortune.

Imogen reades.
THy Mistris (Pisanio) hath plaide the Strumpet in my
Bed: the Testimonies whereof, lyes bleeding in me. I speak
1695not out of weake Surmises, but from proofe as strong as my
greefe, and as certaine as I expect my Reuenge. That part, thou
(Pisanio) must acte for me, if thy Faith be not tainted with the
breach of hers; let thine owne hands take away her life: I shall
giue thee opportunity at Milford Hauen. She hath my Letter
1700for the purpose; where, if thou feare to strike, and to make mee
certaine it is done, thou art the Pander to her dishonour, and
equally to me disloyall.

Pis. What shall I need to draw my Sword, the Paper
Hath cut her throat alreadie? No, 'tis Slander,
1705Whose edge is sharper then the Sword, whose tongue
Out-venomes all the Wormes of Nyle, whose breath
Rides on the posting windes, and doth belye
All corners of the World. Kings, Queenes, and States,
Maides, Matrons, nay the Secrets of the Graue
1710This viperous slander enters. What cheere, Madam?
Imo. False to his Bed? What is it to be false?
To lye in watch there, and to thinke on him?
To weepe 'twixt clock and clock? If sleep charge Nature,
To breake it with a fearfull dreame of him,
1715And cry my selfe awake? That's false to's bed? Is it?
Pisa. Alas good Lady.
Imo. I false? Thy Conscience witnesse: Iachimo,
Thou didd'st accuse him of Incontinencie,
Thou then look'dst like a Villaine: now, me thinkes