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 Queen, Ladies, and Cornelius
    Whiles yet the dew's on ground, gather those flowers;
    Make haste. Who has the note of them?
    I, madam.
    Exeunt Ladies
    495Now, Master Doctor, have you brought those drugs?
    Pleaseth Your Highness, aye; here they are, madam.
    But I beseech Your Grace, without offense,
    My conscience bids me ask wherefore you have
    Commanded of me these most poisonous compounds
    500Which are the movers of a languishing death,
    But, though slow, deadly.
    I wonder, Doctor,
    Thou askst me such a question. Have I not been
    Thy pupil long? Hast thou not learned me how
    505To make perfumes? Distill? Preserve? Yea, so
    That our great King himself doth woo me oft
    For my confections? Having thus far proceeded,
    Unless thou thinkst me devilish, is't not meet
    That I did amplify my judgment in
    510Other 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 vigor of them and apply
    Allayments to their act, and by them gather
    515Their several virtues and effects.
    Your Highness
    Shall from this practice but make hard your heart;
    Besides, the seeing these effects will be
    Both noisome and infectious.
    Oh, content thee. --
    Enter Pisanio
    [Aside] Here comes a flattering rascal; upon him
    Will I first work: he's for his master
    And enemy to my son. -- How now, Pisanio? --
    525Doctor, your service for this time is ended;
    Take your own way.
    Cornelius [Aside]
    I do suspect you, madam,
    But you shall do no harm.
    Queen [To Pisanio]
    Hark thee, a word.
    530Cornelius [Aside]
    I do not like her. She doth think she has
    Strange ling'ring poisons; I do know her spirit
    And will not trust one of her malice with
    A drug of such damned nature. Those she has
    Will stupefy and dull the sense awhile,
    535Which 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 fooled
    540With a most false effect, and I the truer,
    So to be false with her.
    Queen [To Cornelius]
    No further service, Doctor,
    Until I send for thee.
    I humbly take my leave.
    Weeps she still, sayst 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,
    550I'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
    555Is 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
    560So much as but to prop him?
    [Queen drops the drug, which Pisanio picks up]
    Thou tak'st up
    Thou knowst not what, but take it for thy labor.
    It is a thing I made which hath the King
    Five times redeemed from death. I do not know
    What is more cordial. Nay, I prithee, take it;
    565It is an earnest of a farther 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,
    570Who 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.
    575Think on my words.
    Exit Pisanio
    A sly and constant knave,
    Not to be shaked; the agent for his master,
    And the remembrancer of her to hold
    The handfast to her lord. I have given him that
    Which, if he take, shall quite unpeople her
    580Of liegers for her sweet, and which she after,
    Except she bend her humor, shall be assured
    To taste of too. --
    Enter Pisanio and Ladies
    [To Ladies] So, so; well done, well done:
    585The 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,
    590I'll choke myself: there's all I'll do for you.