Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: Cymbeline (Folio 1, 1623)
  • Editor: Jennifer Forsyth
  • ISBN: 1-55058-300-X

    Copyright Jennifer Forsyth. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Jennifer Forsyth
    Peer Reviewed

    Cymbeline (Folio 1, 1623)

    Scena Tertia.
    Enter Posthumus, and a Britaine Lord.
    Lor. Cam'st thou from where they made the stand?
    Post. I did,
    Though you it seemes come from the Fliers?
    Lo, I did.
    2930Post. No blame be to you Sir, for all was lost,
    But that the Heauens fought: the King himselfe
    Of his wings destitute, the Army broken,
    And but the backes of Britaines seene; all flying
    Through a strait Lane, the Enemy full-heart'd,
    2935Lolling the Tongue with slaught'ring: hauing worke
    More plentifull, then Tooles to doo't: strooke downe
    Some mortally, some slightly touch'd, some falling
    Meerely through feare, that the strait passe was damm'd
    With deadmen, hurt behinde, and Cowards liuing
    2940To dye with length'ned shame.
    Lo. Where was this Lane?
    Post. Close by the battell, ditch'd, & wall'd with turph,
    Which gaue aduantage to an ancient Soldiour
    (An honest one I warrant) who deseru'd
    2945So 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, then to commit such slaughter,
    With faces fit for Maskes, or rather fayrer
    2950Then those for preseruation cas'd, or shame)
    Made good the passage, cryed to those that fled.
    Our Britaines hearts dye flying, not our men,
    To darknesse fleete soules that flye backwards; stand,
    Or we are Romanes, and will giue you that
    2955Like beasts, which you shun beastly, and may saue
    But to looke backe in frowne: Stand, stand. These three,
    Three thousand confident, in acte as many:
    For three performers are the File, when all
    The rest do nothing. With this word stand, stand,
    2960Accomodated by the Place; more Charming
    With their owne Noblenesse, which could haue turn'd
    A Distaffe, to a Lance, guilded pale lookes;
    Part shame, part spirit renew'd, that some turn'd coward
    But by example (Oh a sinne in Warre,
    2965Damn'd in the first beginners) gan to looke
    The way that they did, and to grin like Lyons
    Vpon the Pikes o'th' Hunters. Then beganne
    A stop i'th' Chaser; a Retyre: Anon
    A Rowt, confusion thicke: forthwith they flye
    2970Chickens, the way which they stopt Eagles: Slaues
    The strides the Victors made: and now our Cowards
    Like Fragments in hard Voyages became
    The life o'th' need: hauing found the backe doore open
    Of the vnguarded hearts: heauens, how they wound,
    2975Some slaine before some dying; some their Friends
    Ore-borne i'th' former waue, ten chac'd by one,
    Are now each one the slaughter-man of twenty:
    Those that would dye, or ere resist, are growne
    The mortall bugs o'th' Field.
    2980Lord. This was strange chance:
    A narrow Lane, an old man, and two Boyes.
    Post. Nay, do not wonder at it: you are made
    Rather to wonder at the things you heare,
    Then to worke any. Will you Rime vpon't,
    2985And vent it for a Mock'rie? Heere is one:
    "Two Boyes, an Oldman (twice a Boy) a Lane,
    "Preseru'd the Britaines, was the Romanes bane.
    Lord. Nay, be not angry Sir.
    Post. Lacke, to what end?
    2990Who dares not stand his Foe, Ile be his Friend:
    For if hee'l do, as he is made to doo,
    I know hee'l quickly flye my friendship too.
    You haue put me into Rime.
    Lord. Farewell, you're angry.
    2995Post. Still going? This is a Lord: Oh Noble misery
    To be i'th' Field, and aske what newes of me:
    To day, how many would haue giuen their Honours
    To haue sau'd their Carkasses? Tooke heele to doo't,
    And yet dyed too. I, in mine owne woe charm'd
    3000Could not finde death, where I did heare him groane,
    Nor feele him where he strooke. Being an vgly Monster,
    'Tis strange he hides him in fresh Cups, soft Beds,
    Sweet words; or hath moe ministers then we
    That draw his kniues i'th' War. Well I will finde him:
    3005For being now a Fauourer to the Britaine,
    No more a Britaine, I haue resum'd againe
    The part I came in. Fight I will no more,
    But yeeld me to the veriest Hinde, that shall
    Once touch my shoulder. Great the slaughter is
    3010Heere made by'th' Romane; great the Answer be
    Britaines must take. For me, my Ransome's death,
    On eyther side I come to spend my breath;
    Which neyther heere Ile keepe, nor beare agen,
    But end it by some meanes for Imogen.
    Enter two Captaines, and Soldiers.
    1 Great Iupiter be prais'd, Lucius is taken,
    'Tis thought the old man, and his sonnes, were Angels.
    2 There was a fourth man, in a silly habit,
    That gaue th' Affront with them.
    30201 So 'tis reported:
    But none of 'em can be found. Stand, who's there?
    Post. A Roman,
    Who had not now beene drooping heere, if Seconds
    Had answer'd him.
    30252 Lay hands on him: a Dogge,
    A legge of Rome shall not returne to tell
    What Crows haue peckt them here: he brags his seruice
    As if he were of note: bring him to'th' King.
    Enter Cymbeline, Belarius, Guiderius, Aruiragus, Pisanio, and
    3030Romane Captiues. The Captaines present Posthumus to
    Cymbeline, who deliuers him ouer to a Gaoler.