Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: Cymbeline (Modern)
  • 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 (Modern)


    Enter Imogen alone
    Imogen A father cruel and a stepdame false,
    A foolish suitor to a wedded lady
    595That hath her husband banished -- oh, that husband,
    My supreme crown of grief, and those repeated
    Vexations of it! Had I been thief-stolen
    As my two brothers, happy; but most miserable
    Is the desire that's glorious. Blessed be those,
    600How mean soe'er, that have their honest wills,
    Which seasons comfort. Who may this be? Fie!
    Enter Pisanio and Iachimo
    Pisanio 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.
    Thanks, good sir;
    You're kindly welcome.
    610Iachimo [Aside] All of her that is out of door, most rich;
    If she be furnished with a mind so rare,
    She is alone th'Arabian bird, and I
    Have lost the wager. Boldness, be my friend;
    Arm me, audacity, from head to foot,
    615Or like the Parthian I shall flying fight --
    Rather, directly fly.
    [Gives a letter]
    Imogen Reads
    He is one of the noblest note, to whose kindnesses I am most infinitely tied. Reflect upon him accordingly, as you value your 620trust.
    So far I read aloud.
    But even the very middle of my heart
    Is warmed by th'rest, and takes it thankfully.
    You are as welcome, worthy sir, as I
    625Have 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
    630Of sea and land, which can distinguish 'twixt
    The fiery orbs above and the twinned stones
    Upon th'unnumbered beach, and can we not
    Partition make with spectacles so precious
    'Twixt fair and foul?
    What makes your admiration?
    Iachimo It cannot be i'th' eye, for apes and monkeys
    'Twixt two such shes would chatter this way and
    Condemn with mows the other; nor i'th' judgment,
    For idiots in this case of favor would
    640Be wisely definite; nor i'th' appetite:
    Sluttery to such neat excellence opposed
    Should make desire vomit emptiness,
    Not so allured to feed.
    What is the matter, trow?
    The cloyèd will,
    That satiate yet unsatisfied desire, that tub
    Both filled and running, ravening first the lamb,
    Longs after for the garbage.
    What, dear sir,
    650Thus raps you? Are you well?
    Thanks, madam, well. --
    [To Pisanio]
    Beseech you, sir, desire my man's abode,
    Where I did leave him; he's strange and peevish.
    Pisanio I was going, sir, 655to give him welcome.
    Imogen Continues well my lord? His health, beseech you?
    Iachimo Well, madam.
    Imogen Is he disposed to mirth? I hope he is.
    660Iachimo Exceeding pleasant. None a stranger there
    So merry and so gamesome; he is called
    The Briton Reveler.
    When he was here
    He did incline to sadness and oft-times
    665Not 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
    670The thick sighs from him whiles the jolly Briton,
    Your lord I mean, laughs from's free lungs, cries, "Oh,
    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
    675But must be, will's free hours languish for
    Assurèd bondage?"
    Will my lord say so?
    Iachimo Aye, madam, with his eyes in flood with laughter.
    It is a recreation to be by
    680And hear him mock the Frenchman. But heavens know
    Some men are much to blame.
    Not he, I hope.
    Iachimo Not he; but yet Heaven's bounty towards him might
    685Be 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 wrack discern you in me
    Deserves your pity?
    Lamentable! What,
    695To hide me from the radiant sun and solace
    I'th' dungeon by a snuff?
    I pray you, sir,
    Deliver with more openness your answers
    To my demands. Why do you pity me?
    700Iachimo 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
    705Something of me or what concerns me; pray you,
    Since doubting things go ill often hurts more
    Than to be sure they do (for certainties
    Either are past remedies, or, timely knowing,
    The remedy then borne), discover to me
    710What 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 th' oath of loyalty; this object, which
    715Takes prisoner the wild motion of mine eye,
    Firing it only here; should I, damned then,
    Slaver with lips as common as the stairs
    That mount the Capitol, join grips with hands
    Made hard with hourly falsehood (falsehood as
    720With labor), then by-peeping in an eye
    Base and illustrous 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
    730That from my mutest conscience to my tongue
    Charms this report out.
    Let me hear no more.
    Iachimo O dearest soul, your cause doth strike my heart
    With pity that doth make me sick. A lady
    735So fair and fastened to an empery
    Would make the great'st king double, to be partnered
    With tomboys hired with that self exhibition
    Which your own coffers yield; with diseased ventures
    That play with all infirmities for gold
    740Which rottenness can lend Nature. Such boiled stuff
    As well might poison poison. Be revenged,
    Or she that bore you was no queen and you
    Recoil from your great stock.
    Imogen Revenged?
    745How 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
    750Live 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,
    755And will continue fast to your affection,
    Still close as sure.
    What ho, Pisanio?
    Iachimo Let me my service tender on your lips.
    Imogen Away! I do condemn mine ears that have
    760So long attended thee. If thou wert honorable,
    Thou wouldst have told this tale for virtue, not
    For such an end thou seekst, as base as strange.
    Thou wrongst a gentleman who is as far
    From thy report as thou from honor, and
    765Solicits 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
    770As 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?
    Iachimo O happy Leonatus, I may say,
    775The 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 called his, and you his mistress, only
    780For 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 mannered, such a holy witch
    785That he enchants societies into him;
    Half all men's hearts are his.
    You make amends.
    Iachimo He sits 'mongst men like a descended god;
    He hath a kind of honor sets him off
    790More than a mortal seeming. Be not angry,
    Most mighty princess, that I have adventured
    To try your taking of a false report, which hath
    Honored with confirmation your great judgment
    In the election of a sir so rare,
    795Which 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.
    Imogen All's well, sir; take my power i'th' court for yours.
    800Iachimo My humble thanks. I had almost forgot
    T'entreat Your Grace but in a small request,
    And yet of moment too, for it concerns:
    Your lord, myself, and other noble friends
    Are partners in the business.
    Pray what is't?
    Iachimo 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
    810In 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 honor for their safety; since
    My lord hath interest in them, I will keep them
    In my bedchamber.
    They are in a trunk
    820Attended by my men. I will make bold
    To send them to you, only for this night;
    I must aboard tomorrow.
    Oh, no, no.
    Iachimo Yes, I beseech, or I shall short my word
    825By length'ning my return. From Gallia,
    I crossed the seas on purpose and on promise
    To see Your Grace.
    I thank you for your pains,
    But not away tomorrow.
    Oh, I must, madam;
    Therefore, I shall beseech you, if you please
    To greet your lord with writing, do't tonight.
    I have outstood my time, which is material
    To th' 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.