Internet Shakespeare Editions

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.