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  • 1601-1612
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‘Tis the ninth hour o’ th’ morn.
ARVIRAGUS. Brother, farewell.
IMOGEN. I wish ye sport.
ARVIRAGUS. Your health. [To BELARIUS] So please you, sir. IMOGEN. [Aside] These are kind creatures. Gods, what lies I have heard!
Our courtiers say all’s savage but at court. Experience, O, thou disprov’st report! Th’ imperious seas breed monsters; for the dish, Poor tributary rivers as sweet fish.
I am sick still; heart-sick. Pisanio, I’ll now taste of thy drug. [Swallows some] GUIDERIUS. I could not stir him.
He said he was gentle, but unfortunate; Dishonestly afflicted, but yet honest. ARVIRAGUS. Thus did he answer me; yet said hereafter I might know more.
BELARIUS. To th’ field, to th’ field! We’ll leave you for this time. Go in and rest. ARVIRAGUS. We’ll not be long away.
BELARIUS. Pray be not sick,
For you must be our huswife.
IMOGEN. Well, or ill,
I am bound to you.
BELARIUS. And shalt be ever. Exit IMOGEN into the cave This youth, howe’er distress’d, appears he hath had Good ancestors.
ARVIRAGUS. How angel-like he sings! GUIDERIUS. But his neat cookery! He cut our roots in characters, And sauc’d our broths as Juno had been sick, And he her dieter.
ARVIRAGUS. Nobly he yokes
A smiling with a sigh, as if the sigh Was that it was for not being such a smile; The smile mocking the sigh that it would fly From so divine a temple to commix
With winds that sailors rail at.
GUIDERIUS. I do note
That grief and patience, rooted in him both, Mingle their spurs together.
ARVIRAGUS. Grow patience!
And let the stinking elder, grief, untwine His perishing root with the increasing vine! BELARIUS. It is great morning. Come, away! Who’s there?


CLOTEN. I cannot find those runagates; that villain Hath mock’d me. I am faint.
BELARIUS. Those runagates?
Means he not us? I partly know him; ’tis Cloten, the son o’ th’ Queen. I fear some ambush. I saw him not these many years, and yet I know ’tis he. We are held as outlaws. Hence! GUIDERIUS. He is but one; you and my brother search What companies are near. Pray you away; Let me alone with him. Exeunt BELARIUS and ARVIRAGUS CLOTEN. Soft! What are you
That fly me thus? Some villain mountaineers? I have heard of such. What slave art thou? GUIDERIUS. A thing
More slavish did I ne’er than answering ‘A slave’ without a knock.
CLOTEN. Thou art a robber,
A law-breaker, a villain. Yield thee, thief. GUIDERIUS. To who? To thee? What art thou? Have not I An arm as big as thine, a heart as big? Thy words, I grant, are bigger, for I wear not My dagger in my mouth. Say what thou art; Why I should yield to thee.
CLOTEN. Thou villain base,
Know’st me not by my clothes?
GUIDERIUS. No, nor thy tailor, rascal, Who is thy grandfather; he made those clothes, Which, as it seems, make thee.
CLOTEN. Thou precious varlet,
My tailor made them not.
GUIDERIUS. Hence, then, and thank
The man that gave them thee. Thou art some fool; I am loath to beat thee.
CLOTEN. Thou injurious thief,
Hear but my name, and tremble.
GUIDERIUS. What’s thy name?
CLOTEN. Cloten, thou villain.
GUIDERIUS. Cloten, thou double villain, be thy name, I cannot tremble at it. Were it toad, or adder, spider, ‘Twould move me sooner.
CLOTEN. To thy further fear,
Nay, to thy mere confusion, thou shalt know I am son to th’ Queen.
GUIDERIUS. I’m sorry for’t; not seeming So worthy as thy birth.
CLOTEN. Art not afeard?
GUIDERIUS. Those that I reverence, those I fear- the wise: At fools I laugh, not fear them.
CLOTEN. Die the death.
When I have slain thee with my proper hand, I’ll follow those that even now fled hence, And on the gates of Lud’s Town set your heads. Yield, rustic mountaineer. Exeunt, fighting


BELARIUS. No company’s abroad.
ARVIRAGUS. None in the world; you did mistake him, sure. BELARIUS. I cannot tell; long is it since I saw him, But time hath nothing blurr’d those lines of favour Which then he wore; the snatches in his voice, And burst of speaking, were as his. I am absolute ‘Twas very Cloten.
ARVIRAGUS. In this place we left them. I wish my brother make good time with him, You say he is so fell.
BELARIUS. Being scarce made up,
I mean to man, he had not apprehension Or roaring terrors; for defect of judgment Is oft the cease of fear.

Re-enter GUIDERIUS with CLOTEN’S head

But, see, thy brother.
GUIDERIUS. This Cloten was a fool, an empty purse; There was no money in’t. Not Hercules
Could have knock’d out his brains, for he had none; Yet I not doing this, the fool had borne My head as I do his.
BELARIUS. What hast thou done?
GUIDERIUS. I am perfect what: cut off one Cloten’s head, Son to the Queen, after his own report; Who call’d me traitor, mountaineer, and swore With his own single hand he’d take us in, Displace our heads where- thank the gods!- they grow, And set them on Lud’s Town.
BELARIUS. We are all undone.
GUIDERIUS. Why, worthy father, what have we to lose But that he swore to take, our lives? The law Protects not us; then why should we be tender To let an arrogant piece of flesh threat us, Play judge and executioner all himself, For we do fear the law? What company
Discover you abroad?
BELARIUS. No single soul
Can we set eye on, but in an safe reason He must have some attendants. Though his humour Was nothing but mutation- ay, and that From one bad thing to worse- not frenzy, not Absolute madness could so far have rav’d, To bring him here alone. Although perhaps It may be heard at court that such as we Cave here, hunt here, are outlaws, and in time May make some stronger head- the which he hearing, As it is like him, might break out and swear He’d fetch us in; yet is’t not probable To come alone, either he so undertaking Or they so suffering. Then on good ground we fear, If we do fear this body hath a tail
More perilous than the head.
ARVIRAGUS. Let ordinance
Come as the gods foresay it. Howsoe’er, My brother hath done well.
BELARIUS. I had no mind
To hunt this day; the boy Fidele’s sickness Did make my way long forth.
GUIDERIUS. With his own sword,
Which he did wave against my throat, I have ta’en His head from him. I’ll throw’t into the creek Behind our rock, and let it to the sea And tell the fishes he’s the Queen’s son, Cloten. That’s all I reck. Exit BELARIUS. I fear’twill be reveng’d.
Would, Polydore, thou hadst not done’t! though valour Becomes thee well enough.
ARVIRAGUS. Would I had done’t,
So the revenge alone pursu’d me! Polydore, I love thee brotherly, but envy much
Thou hast robb’d me of this deed. I would revenges, That possible strength might meet, would seek us through, And put us to our answer.
BELARIUS. Well, ’tis done.
We’ll hunt no more to-day, nor seek for danger Where there’s no profit. I prithee to our rock. You and Fidele play the cooks; I’ll stay Till hasty Polydore return, and bring him To dinner presently.
ARVIRAGUS. Poor sick Fidele!
I’ll willingly to him; to gain his colour I’d let a parish of such Cloten’s blood, And praise myself for charity. Exit BELARIUS. O thou goddess,
Thou divine Nature, thou thyself thou blazon’st In these two princely boys! They are as gentle As zephyrs blowing below the violet,
Not wagging his sweet head; and yet as rough, Their royal blood enchaf’d, as the rud’st wind That by the top doth take the mountain pine And make him stoop to th’ vale. ‘Tis wonder That an invisible instinct should frame them To royalty unlearn’d, honour untaught, Civility not seen from other, valour
That wildly grows in them, but yields a crop As if it had been sow’d. Yet still it’s strange What Cloten’s being here to us portends, Or what his death will bring us.


GUIDERIUS. Where’s my brother?
I have sent Cloten’s clotpoll down the stream, In embassy to his mother; his body’s hostage For his return. [Solemn music] BELARIUS. My ingenious instrument!
Hark, Polydore, it sounds. But what occasion Hath Cadwal now to give it motion? Hark! GUIDERIUS. Is he at home?
BELARIUS. He went hence even now.
GUIDERIUS. What does he mean? Since death of my dear’st mother It did not speak before. All solemn things Should answer solemn accidents. The matter? Triumphs for nothing and lamenting toys Is jollity for apes and grief for boys. Is Cadwal mad?

Re-enter ARVIRAGUS, with IMOGEN as dead, bearing her in his arms

BELARIUS. Look, here he comes,
And brings the dire occasion in his arms Of what we blame him for!
ARVIRAGUS. The bird is dead
That we have made so much on. I had rather Have skipp’d from sixteen years of age to sixty, To have turn’d my leaping time into a crutch, Than have seen this.
GUIDERIUS. O sweetest, fairest lily! My brother wears thee not the one half so well As when thou grew’st thyself.
BELARIUS. O melancholy!
Who ever yet could sound thy bottom? find The ooze to show what coast thy sluggish crare Might’st easiliest harbour in? Thou blessed thing! Jove knows what man thou mightst have made; but I, Thou diedst, a most rare boy, of melancholy. How found you him?
ARVIRAGUS. Stark, as you see;
Thus smiling, as some fly had tickled slumber, Not as death’s dart, being laugh’d at; his right cheek Reposing on a cushion.
ARVIRAGUS. O’ th’ floor;
His arms thus leagu’d. I thought he slept, and put My clouted brogues from off my feet, whose rudeness Answer’d my steps too loud.
GUIDERIUS. Why, he but sleeps.
If he be gone he’ll make his grave a bed; With female fairies will his tomb be haunted, And worms will not come to thee.
ARVIRAGUS. With fairest flowers,
Whilst summer lasts and I live here, Fidele, I’ll sweeten thy sad grave. Thou shalt not lack The flower that’s like thy face, pale primrose; nor The azur’d hare-bell, like thy veins; no, nor The leaf of eglantine, whom not to slander, Out-sweet’ned not thy breath. The ruddock would, With charitable bill- O bill, sore shaming Those rich-left heirs that let their fathers lie Without a monument!- bring thee all this; Yea, and furr’d moss besides, when flow’rs are none, To winter-ground thy corse-
GUIDERIUS. Prithee have done,
And do not play in wench-like words with that Which is so serious. Let us bury him,
And not protract with admiration what Is now due debt. To th’ grave.
ARVIRAGUS. Say, where shall’s lay him? GUIDERIUS. By good Euriphile, our mother. ARVIRAGUS. Be’t so;
And let us, Polydore, though now our voices Have got the mannish crack, sing him to th’ ground, As once to our mother; use like note and words, Save that Euriphile must be Fidele.
I cannot sing. I’ll weep, and word it with thee; For notes of sorrow out of tune are worse Than priests and fanes that lie.
ARVIRAGUS. We’ll speak it, then.
BELARIUS. Great griefs, I see, med’cine the less, for Cloten Is quite forgot. He was a queen’s son, boys; And though he came our enemy, remember He was paid for that. Though mean and mighty rotting Together have one dust, yet reverence- That angel of the world- doth make distinction Of place ‘tween high and low. Our foe was princely; And though you took his life, as being our foe, Yet bury him as a prince.
GUIDERIUS. Pray you fetch him hither. Thersites’ body is as good as Ajax’,
When neither are alive.
ARVIRAGUS. If you’ll go fetch him, We’ll say our song the whilst. Brother, begin. Exit BELARIUS
GUIDERIUS. Nay, Cadwal, we must lay his head to th’ East; My father hath a reason for’t.
ARVIRAGUS. ‘Tis true.
GUIDERIUS. Come on, then, and remove him. ARVIRAGUS. So. Begin.


GUIDERIUS. Fear no more the heat o’ th’ sun Nor the furious winter’s rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done, Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages. Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

ARVIRAGUS. Fear no more the frown o’ th’ great; Thou art past the tyrant’s stroke. Care no more to clothe and eat;
To thee the reed is as the oak. The sceptre, learning, physic, must All follow this and come to dust.
GUIDERIUS. Fear no more the lightning flash, ARVIRAGUS. Nor th’ all-dreaded thunder-stone; GUIDERIUS. Fear not slander, censure rash; ARVIRAGUS. Thou hast finish’d joy and moan. BOTH. All lovers young, all lovers must Consign to thee and come to dust.

GUIDERIUS. No exorciser harm thee!
ARVIRAGUS. Nor no witchcraft charm thee! GUIDERIUS. Ghost unlaid forbear thee!
ARVIRAGUS. Nothing ill come near thee! BOTH. Quiet consummation have,
And renowned be thy grave!

Re-enter BELARIUS with the body of CLOTEN

GUIDERIUS. We have done our obsequies. Come, lay him down. BELARIUS. Here’s a few flowers; but ’bout midnight, more. The herbs that have on them cold dew o’ th’ night Are strewings fit’st for graves. Upon their faces. You were as flow’rs, now wither’d. Even so These herblets shall which we upon you strew. Come on, away. Apart upon our knees.
The ground that gave them first has them again. Their pleasures here are past, so is their pain. Exeunt all but IMOGEN IMOGEN. [Awaking] Yes, sir, to Milford Haven. Which is the way? I thank you. By yond bush? Pray, how far thither? ‘Ods pittikins! can it be six mile yet? I have gone all night. Faith, I’ll lie down and sleep. But, soft! no bedfellow. O gods and goddesses! [Seeing the body] These flow’rs are like the pleasures of the world; This bloody man, the care on’t. I hope I dream; For so I thought I was a cave-keeper,
And cook to honest creatures. But ’tis not so; ‘Twas but a bolt of nothing, shot at nothing, Which the brain makes of fumes. Our very eyes Are sometimes, like our judgments, blind. Good faith, I tremble still with fear; but if there be Yet left in heaven as small a drop of pity As a wren’s eye, fear’d gods, a part of it! The dream’s here still. Even when I wake it is Without me, as within me; not imagin’d, felt. A headless man? The garments of Posthumus? I know the shape of’s leg; this is his hand, His foot Mercurial, his Martial thigh, The brawns of Hercules; but his Jovial face- Murder in heaven! How! ‘Tis gone. Pisanio, All curses madded Hecuba gave the Greeks, And mine to boot, be darted on thee! Thou, Conspir’d with that irregulous devil, Cloten, Hath here cut off my lord. To write and read Be henceforth treacherous! Damn’d Pisanio Hath with his forged letters- damn’d Pisanio- From this most bravest vessel of the world Struck the main-top. O Posthumus! alas, Where is thy head? Where’s that? Ay me! where’s that? Pisanio might have kill’d thee at the heart, And left this head on. How should this be? Pisanio? ‘Tis he and Cloten; malice and lucre in them Have laid this woe here. O, ’tis pregnant, pregnant! The drug he gave me, which he said was precious And cordial to me, have I not found it Murd’rous to th’ senses? That confirms it home. This is Pisanio’s deed, and Cloten. O! Give colour to my pale cheek with thy blood, That we the horrider may seem to those Which chance to find us. O, my lord, my lord! [Falls fainting on the body]


CAPTAIN. To them the legions garrison’d in Gallia, After your will, have cross’d the sea, attending You here at Milford Haven; with your ships, They are in readiness.
LUCIUS. But what from Rome?
CAPTAIN. The Senate hath stirr’d up the confiners And gentlemen of Italy, most willing spirits, That promise noble service; and they come Under the conduct of bold Iachimo,
Sienna’s brother.
LUCIUS. When expect you them?
CAPTAIN. With the next benefit o’ th’ wind. LUCIUS. This forwardness
Makes our hopes fair. Command our present numbers Be muster’d; bid the captains look to’t. Now, sir, What have you dream’d of late of this war’s purpose? SOOTHSAYER. Last night the very gods show’d me a vision- I fast and pray’d for their intelligence- thus: I saw Jove’s bird, the Roman eagle, wing’d From the spongy south to this part of the west, There vanish’d in the sunbeams; which portends, Unless my sins abuse my divination,
Success to th’ Roman host.
LUCIUS. Dream often so,
And never false. Soft, ho! what trunk is here Without his top? The ruin speaks that sometime It was a worthy building. How? a page? Or dead or sleeping on him? But dead, rather; For nature doth abhor to make his bed
With the defunct, or sleep upon the dead. Let’s see the boy’s face.
CAPTAIN. He’s alive, my lord.
LUCIUS. He’ll then instruct us of this body. Young one, Inform us of thy fortunes; for it seems They crave to be demanded. Who is this Thou mak’st thy bloody pillow? Or who was he That, otherwise than noble nature did, Hath alter’d that good picture? What’s thy interest In this sad wreck? How came’t? Who is’t? What art thou? IMOGEN. I am nothing; or if not,
Nothing to be were better. This was my master, A very valiant Briton and a good,
That here by mountaineers lies slain. Alas! There is no more such masters. I may wander From east to occident; cry out for service; Try many, all good; serve truly; never Find such another master.
LUCIUS. ‘Lack, good youth!
Thou mov’st no less with thy complaining than Thy master in bleeding. Say his name, good friend. IMOGEN. Richard du Champ. [Aside] If I do lie, and do No harm by it, though the gods hear, I hope They’ll pardon it.- Say you, sir?
LUCIUS. Thy name?
IMOGEN. Fidele, sir.
LUCIUS. Thou dost approve thyself the very same; Thy name well fits thy faith, thy faith thy name. Wilt take thy chance with me? I will not say Thou shalt be so well master’d; but, be sure, No less belov’d. The Roman Emperor’s letters, Sent by a consul to me, should not sooner Than thine own worth prefer thee. Go with me. IMOGEN. I’ll follow, sir. But first, an’t please the gods, I’ll hide my master from the flies, as deep As these poor pickaxes can dig; and when With wild wood-leaves and weeds I ha’ strew’d his grave, And on it said a century of prayers,
Such as I can, twice o’er, I’ll weep and sigh; And leaving so his service, follow you, So please you entertain me.
LUCIUS. Ay, good youth;
And rather father thee than master thee. My friends,
The boy hath taught us manly duties; let us Find out the prettiest daisied plot we can, And make him with our pikes and partisans A grave. Come, arm him. Boy, he is preferr’d By thee to us; and he shall be interr’d As soldiers can. Be cheerful; wipe thine eyes. Some falls are means the happier to arise. Exeunt

Britain. CYMBELINE’S palace

Enter CYMBELINE, LORDS, PISANIO, and attendants

CYMBELINE. Again! and bring me word how ’tis with her. Exit an attendant A fever with the absence of her son;
A madness, of which her life’s in danger. Heavens, How deeply you at once do touch me! Imogen, The great part of my comfort, gone; my queen Upon a desperate bed, and in a time
When fearful wars point at me; her son gone, So needful for this present. It strikes me past The hope of comfort. But for thee, fellow, Who needs must know of her departure and Dost seem so ignorant, we’ll enforce it from thee By a sharp torture.
PISANIO. Sir, my life is yours;
I humbly set it at your will; but for my mistress, I nothing know where she remains, why gone, Nor when she purposes return. Beseech your Highness, Hold me your loyal servant.
LORD. Good my liege,
The day that she was missing he was here. I dare be bound he’s true and shall perform All parts of his subjection loyally. For Cloten, There wants no diligence in seeking him, And will no doubt be found.
CYMBELINE. The time is troublesome. [To PISANIO] We’ll slip you for a season; but our jealousy Does yet depend.
LORD. So please your Majesty,
The Roman legions, all from Gallia drawn, Are landed on your coast, with a supply Of Roman gentlemen by the Senate sent. CYMBELINE. Now for the counsel of my son and queen! I am amaz’d with matter.
LORD. Good my liege,
Your preparation can affront no less Than what you hear of. Come more, for more you’re ready. The want is but to put those pow’rs in motion That long to move.
CYMBELINE. I thank you. Let’s withdraw, And meet the time as it seeks us. We fear not What can from Italy annoy us; but
We grieve at chances here. Away! Exeunt all but PISANIO PISANIO. I heard no letter from my master since I wrote him Imogen was slain. ‘Tis strange. Nor hear I from my mistress, who did promise To yield me often tidings. Neither know What is betid to Cloten, but remain
Perplex’d in all. The heavens still must work. Wherein I am false I am honest; not true, to be true. These present wars shall find I love my country, Even to the note o’ th’ King, or I’ll fall in them. All other doubts, by time let them be clear’d: Fortune brings in some boats that are not steer’d. Exit

Wales. Before the cave of BELARIUS


GUIDERIUS. The noise is round about us. BELARIUS. Let us from it.
ARVIRAGUS. What pleasure, sir, find we in life, to lock it From action and adventure?
GUIDERIUS. Nay, what hope
Have we in hiding us? This way the Romans Must or for Britons slay us, or receive us For barbarous and unnatural revolts
During their use, and slay us after. BELARIUS. Sons,
We’ll higher to the mountains; there secure us. To the King’s party there’s no going. Newness Of Cloten’s death- we being not known, not muster’d Among the bands-may drive us to a render Where we have liv’d, and so extort from’s that Which we have done, whose answer would be death, Drawn on with torture.
GUIDERIUS. This is, sir, a doubt
In such a time nothing becoming you Nor satisfying us.
ARVIRAGUS. It is not likely
That when they hear the Roman horses neigh, Behold their quarter’d fires, have both their eyes And ears so cloy’d importantly as now, That they will waste their time upon our note, To know from whence we are.
BELARIUS. O, I am known
Of many in the army. Many years,
Though Cloten then but young, you see, not wore him From my remembrance. And, besides, the King Hath not deserv’d my service nor your loves, Who find in my exile the want of breeding, The certainty of this hard life; aye hopeless To have the courtesy your cradle promis’d, But to be still hot summer’s tanlings and The shrinking slaves of winter.
GUIDERIUS. Than be so,
Better to cease to be. Pray, sir, to th’ army. I and my brother are not known; yourself So out of thought, and thereto so o’ergrown, Cannot be questioned.
ARVIRAGUS. By this sun that shines, I’ll thither. What thing is’t that I never Did see man die! scarce ever look’d on blood But that of coward hares, hot goats, and venison! Never bestrid a horse, save one that had A rider like myself, who ne’er wore rowel Nor iron on his heel! I am asham’d
To look upon the holy sun, to have The benefit of his blest beams, remaining So long a poor unknown.
GUIDERIUS. By heavens, I’ll go!
If you will bless me, sir, and give me leave, I’ll take the better care; but if you will not, The hazard therefore due fall on me by The hands of Romans!
ARVIRAGUS. So say I. Amen.
BELARIUS. No reason I, since of your lives you set So slight a valuation, should reserve
My crack’d one to more care. Have with you, boys! If in your country wars you chance to die, That is my bed too, lads, and there I’ll lie. Lead, lead. [Aside] The time seems long; their blood thinks scorn Till it fly out and show them princes born. Exeunt


Britain. The Roman camp

Enter POSTHUMUS alone, with a bloody handkerchief

POSTHUMUS. Yea, bloody cloth, I’ll keep thee; for I wish’d Thou shouldst be colour’d thus. You married ones, If each of you should take this course, how many Must murder wives much better than themselves For wrying but a little! O Pisanio!
Every good servant does not all commands; No bond but to do just ones. Gods! if you Should have ta’en vengeance on my faults, I never Had liv’d to put on this; so had you saved The noble Imogen to repent, and struck Me, wretch more worth your vengeance. But alack, You snatch some hence for little faults; that’s love, To have them fall no more. You some permit To second ills with ills, each elder worse, And make them dread it, to the doer’s thrift. But Imogen is your own. Do your best wills, And make me blest to obey. I am brought hither Among th’ Italian gentry, and to fight Against my lady’s kingdom. ‘Tis enough That, Britain, I have kill’d thy mistress; peace! I’ll give no wound to thee. Therefore, good heavens, Hear patiently my purpose. I’ll disrobe me Of these Italian weeds, and suit myself As does a Britain peasant. So I’ll fight Against the part I come with; so I’ll die For thee, O Imogen, even for whom my life Is every breath a death. And thus unknown, Pitied nor hated, to the face of peril Myself I’ll dedicate. Let me make men know More valour in me than my habits show. Gods, put the strength o’ th’ Leonati in me! To shame the guise o’ th’ world, I will begin The fashion- less without and more within. Exit

Britain. A field of battle between the British and Roman camps

Enter LUCIUS, IACHIMO, and the Roman army at one door, and the British army at another, LEONATUS POSTHUMUS following like a poor soldier. They march over and go out. Alarums. Then enter again, in skirmish, IACHIMO and POSTHUMUS. He vanquisheth and disarmeth IACHIMO, and then leaves him

IACHIMO. The heaviness and guilt within my bosom Takes off my manhood. I have belied a lady, The Princess of this country, and the air on’t Revengingly enfeebles me; or could this carl, A very drudge of nature’s, have subdu’d me In my profession? Knighthoods and honours borne As I wear mine are titles but of scorn. If that thy gentry, Britain, go before This lout as he exceeds our lords, the odds Is that we scarce are men, and you are gods. Exit

The battle continues; the BRITONS fly; CYMBELINE is taken. Then enter to his rescue BELARIUS, GUIDERIUS, and ARVIRAGUS

BELARIUS. Stand, stand! We have th’ advantage of the ground; The lane is guarded; nothing routs us but The villainy of our fears.
GUIDERIUS and ARVIRAGUS. Stand, stand, and fight!

Re-enter POSTHUMUS, and seconds the Britons; they rescue CYMBELINE, and exeunt. Then re-enter LUCIUS and IACHIMO, with IMOGEN

LUCIUS. Away, boy, from the troops, and save thyself; For friends kill friends, and the disorder’s such As war were hoodwink’d.
IACHIMO. ‘Tis their fresh supplies. LUCIUS. It is a day turn’d strangely. Or betimes Let’s reinforce or fly. Exeunt

Another part of the field

Enter POSTHUMUS and a Britain LORD

LORD. Cam’st thou from where they made the stand? POSTHUMUS. I did:
Though you, it seems, come from the fliers. LORD. I did.
POSTHUMUS. No blame be to you, sir, for all was lost, But that the heavens fought. The King himself Of his wings destitute, the army broken, And but the backs of Britons seen, an flying, Through a strait lane- the enemy, full-hearted, Lolling the tongue with slaught’ring, having work More plentiful than tools to do’t, struck down Some mortally, some slightly touch’d, some falling Merely through fear, that the strait pass was damm’d With dead men hurt behind, and cowards living To die with length’ned shame.
LORD. Where was this lane?
POSTHUMUS. Close by the battle, ditch’d, and wall’d with turf, Which gave advantage to an ancient soldier- An honest one, I warrant, who deserv’d So 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 than to commit such slaughter; With faces fit for masks, or rather fairer Than those for preservation cas’d or shame- Made good the passage, cried to those that fled ‘Our Britain’s harts die flying, not our men. To darkness fleet souls that fly backwards! Stand; Or we are Romans and will give you that, Like beasts, which you shun beastly, and may save But to look back in frown. Stand, stand!’ These three, Three thousand confident, in act as many- For three performers are the file when all The rest do nothing- with this word ‘Stand, stand!’ Accommodated by the place, more charming With their own nobleness, which could have turn’d A distaff to a lance, gilded pale looks, Part shame, part spirit renew’d; that some turn’d coward But by example- O, a sin in war
Damn’d in the first beginners!- gan to look The way that they did and to grin like lions Upon the pikes o’ th’ hunters. Then began A stop i’ th’ chaser, a retire; anon
A rout, confusion thick. Forthwith they fly, Chickens, the way which they stoop’d eagles; slaves, The strides they victors made; and now our cowards, Like fragments in hard voyages, became The life o’ th’ need. Having found the back-door open Of the unguarded hearts, heavens, how they wound! Some slain before, some dying, some their friends O’erborne i’ th’ former wave. Ten chas’d by one Are now each one the slaughterman of twenty. Those that would die or ere resist are grown The mortal bugs o’ th’ field.
LORD. This was strange chance:
A narrow lane, an old man, and two boys. POSTHUMUS. Nay, do not wonder at it; you are made Rather to wonder at the things you hear Than to work any. Will you rhyme upon’t, And vent it for a mock’ry? Here is one: ‘Two boys, an old man (twice a boy), a lane, Preserv’d the Britons, was the Romans’ bane.’ LORD. Nay, be not angry, sir.
POSTHUMUS. ‘Lack, to what end?
Who dares not stand his foe I’ll be his friend; For if he’ll do as he is made to do,
I know he’ll quickly fly my friendship too. You have put me into rhyme.
LORD. Farewell; you’re angry. Exit POSTHUMUS. Still going? This is a lord! O noble misery, To be i’ th’ field and ask ‘What news?’ of me! To-day how many would have given their honours To have sav’d their carcasses! took heel to do’t, And yet died too! I, in mine own woe charm’d, Could not find death where I did hear him groan, Nor feel him where he struck. Being an ugly monster, ‘Tis strange he hides him in fresh cups, soft beds, Sweet words; or hath moe ministers than we That draw his knives i’ th’ war. Well, I will find him; For being now a favourer to the Briton, No more a Briton, I have resum’d again The part I came in. Fight I will no more, But yield me to the veriest hind that shall Once touch my shoulder. Great the slaughter is Here made by th’ Roman; great the answer be Britons must take. For me, my ransom’s death; On either side I come to spend my breath, Which neither here I’ll keep nor bear again, But end it by some means for Imogen.

Enter two BRITISH CAPTAINS and soldiers

FIRST CAPTAIN. Great Jupiter be prais’d! Lucius is taken. ‘Tis thought the old man and his sons were angels. SECOND CAPTAIN. There was a fourth man, in a silly habit, That gave th’ affront with them.
FIRST CAPTAIN. So ’tis reported;
But none of ’em can be found. Stand! who’s there? POSTHUMUS. A Roman,
Who had not now been drooping here if seconds Had answer’d him.
SECOND CAPTAIN. Lay hands on him; a dog! A leg of Rome shall not return to tell What crows have peck’d them here. He brags his service, As if he were of note. Bring him to th’ King.

Enter CYMBELINE, BELARIUS, GUIDERIUS, ARVIRAGUS, PISANIO, and Roman captives. The CAPTAINS present POSTHUMUS to CYMBELINE, who delivers him over to a gaoler. Exeunt omnes

Britain. A prison


FIRST GAOLER. You shall not now be stol’n, you have locks upon you; So graze as you find pasture.
SECOND GAOLER. Ay, or a stomach. Exeunt GAOLERS POSTHUMUS. Most welcome, bondage! for thou art a way, I think, to liberty. Yet am I better
Than one that’s sick o’ th’ gout, since he had rather Groan so in perpetuity than be cur’d
By th’ sure physician death, who is the key T’ unbar these locks. My conscience, thou art fetter’d More than my shanks and wrists; you good gods, give me The penitent instrument to pick that bolt, Then, free for ever! Is’t enough I am sorry? So children temporal fathers do appease; Gods are more full of mercy. Must I repent, I cannot do it better than in gyves,
Desir’d more than constrain’d. To satisfy, If of my freedom ’tis the main part, take No stricter render of me than my all.
I know you are more clement than vile men, Who of their broken debtors take a third, A sixth, a tenth, letting them thrive again On their abatement; that’s not my desire. For Imogen’s dear life take mine; and though ‘Tis not so dear, yet ’tis a life; you coin’d it. ‘Tween man and man they weigh not every stamp; Though light, take pieces for the figure’s sake; You rather mine, being yours. And so, great pow’rs, If you will take this audit, take this life, And cancel these cold bonds. O Imogen! I’ll speak to thee in silence. [Sleeps]

Solemn music. Enter, as in an apparition, SICILIUS LEONATUS, father to POSTHUMUS, an old man attired like a warrior; leading in his hand an ancient matron, his WIFE, and mother to POSTHUMUS, with music before them. Then, after other music, follows the two young LEONATI, brothers to POSTHUMUS, with wounds, as they died in the wars. They circle POSTHUMUS round as he lies sleeping

SICILIUS. No more, thou thunder-master, show Thy spite on mortal flies.
With Mars fall out, with Juno chide, That thy adulteries
Rates and revenges.
Hath my poor boy done aught but well, Whose face I never saw?
I died whilst in the womb he stay’d Attending nature’s law;
Whose father then, as men report Thou orphans’ father art,
Thou shouldst have been, and shielded him From this earth-vexing smart.

MOTHER. Lucina lent not me her aid, But took me in my throes,
That from me was Posthumus ripp’d, Came crying ‘mongst his foes,
A thing of pity.

SICILIUS. Great Nature like his ancestry Moulded the stuff so fair
That he deserv’d the praise o’ th’ world As great Sicilius’ heir.

FIRST BROTHER. When once he was mature for man, In Britain where was he
That could stand up his parallel, Or fruitful object be
In eye of Imogen, that best
Could deem his dignity?

MOTHER. With marriage wherefore was he mock’d, To be exil’d and thrown
From Leonati seat and cast
From her his dearest one,
Sweet Imogen?

SICILIUS. Why did you suffer Iachimo, Slight thing of Italy,
To taint his nobler heart and brain With needless jealousy,
And to become the geck and scorn O’ th’ other’s villainy?

SECOND BROTHER. For this from stiller seats we came, Our parents and us twain,
That, striking in our country’s cause, Fell bravely and were slain,
Our fealty and Tenantius’ right With honour to maintain.

FIRST BROTHER. Like hardiment Posthumus hath To Cymbeline perform’d.
Then, Jupiter, thou king of gods, Why hast thou thus adjourn’d
The graces for his merits due, Being all to dolours turn’d?

SICILIUS. Thy crystal window ope; look out; No longer exercise
Upon a valiant race thy harsh And potent injuries.

MOTHER. Since, Jupiter, our son is good, Take off his miseries.

SICILIUS. Peep through thy marble mansion. Help! Or we poor ghosts will cry
To th’ shining synod of the rest Against thy deity.

BROTHERS. Help, Jupiter! or we appeal, And from thy justice fly.

JUPITER descends-in thunder and lightning, sitting upon an eagle. He throws a thunderbolt. The GHOSTS fall on their knees

JUPITER. No more, you petty spirits of region low, Offend our hearing; hush! How dare you ghosts Accuse the Thunderer whose bolt, you know, Sky-planted, batters all rebelling coasts? Poor shadows of Elysium, hence and rest Upon your never-withering banks of flow’rs. Be not with mortal accidents opprest:
No care of yours it is; you know ’tis ours. Whom best I love I cross; to make my gift, The more delay’d, delighted. Be content; Your low-laid son our godhead will uplift; His comforts thrive, his trials well are spent. Our Jovial star reign’d at his birth, and in Our temple was he married. Rise and fade! He shall be lord of Lady Imogen,
And happier much by his affliction made. This tablet lay upon his breast, wherein Our pleasure his full fortune doth confine; And so, away; no farther with your din Express impatience, lest you stir up mine. Mount, eagle, to my palace crystalline. [Ascends] SICILIUS. He came in thunder; his celestial breath Was sulpherous to smell; the holy eagle Stoop’d as to foot us. His ascension is More sweet than our blest fields. His royal bird Prunes the immortal wing, and cloys his beak, As when his god is pleas’d.
ALL. Thanks, Jupiter!
SICILIUS. The marble pavement closes, he is enter’d His radiant roof. Away! and, to be blest, Let us with care perform his great behest. [GHOSTS vanish]

POSTHUMUS. [Waking] Sleep, thou has been a grandsire and begot A father to me; and thou hast created
A mother and two brothers. But, O scorn, Gone! They went hence so soon as they were born. And so I am awake. Poor wretches, that depend On greatness’ favour, dream as I have done; Wake and find nothing. But, alas, I swerve; Many dream not to find, neither deserve, And yet are steep’d in favours; so am I, That have this golden chance, and know not why. What fairies haunt this ground? A book? O rare one! Be not, as is our fangled world, a garment Nobler than that it covers. Let thy effects So follow to be most unlike our courtiers, As good as promise.

[Reads] ‘When as a lion’s whelp shall, to himself unknown, without seeking find, and be embrac’d by a piece of tender air; and when from a stately cedar shall be lopp’d branches which, being dead many years, shall after revive, be jointed to the old stock, and freshly grow; then shall Posthumus end his miseries, Britain be fortunate and flourish in peace and plenty.’

‘Tis still a dream, or else such stuff as madmen Tongue, and brain not; either both or nothing, Or senseless speaking, or a speaking such As sense cannot untie. Be what it is,
The action of my life is like it, which I’ll keep, if but for sympathy.

Re-enter GAOLER

GAOLER. Come, sir, are you ready for death? POSTHUMUS. Over-roasted rather; ready long ago. GAOLER. Hanging is the word, sir; if you be ready for that, you are well cook’d.
POSTHUMUS. So, if I prove a good repast to the spectators, the dish pays the shot.
GAOLER. A heavy reckoning for you, sir. But the comfort is, you shall be called to no more payments, fear no more tavern bills, which are often the sadness of parting, as the procuring of mirth. You come in faint for want of meat, depart reeling with too much drink; sorry that you have paid too much, and sorry that you are paid too much; purse and brain both empty; the brain the heavier for being too light, the purse too light, being drawn of heaviness. O, of this contradiction you shall now be quit. O, the charity of a penny cord! It sums up thousands in a trice. You have no true debitor and creditor but it; of what’s past, is, and to come, the discharge. Your neck, sir, is pen, book, and counters; so the acquittance follows.
POSTHUMUS. I am merrier to die than thou art to live. GAOLER. Indeed, sir, he that sleeps feels not the toothache. But a man that were to sleep your sleep, and a hangman to help him to bed, I think he would change places with his officer; for look you, sir, you know not which way you shall go. POSTHUMUS. Yes indeed do I, fellow.
GAOLER. Your death has eyes in’s head, then; I have not seen him so pictur’d. You must either be directed by some that take upon them to know, or to take upon yourself that which I am sure you do not know, or jump the after-inquiry on your own peril. And how you shall speed in your journey’s end, I think you’ll never return to tell one.
POSTHUMUS. I tell thee, fellow, there are none want eyes to direct them the way I am going, but such as wink and will not use them. GAOLER. What an infinite mock is this, that a man should have the best use of eyes to see the way of blindness! I am sure hanging’s the way of winking.


MESSENGER. Knock off his manacles; bring your prisoner to the King. POSTHUMUS. Thou bring’st good news: I am call’d to be made free. GAOLER. I’ll be hang’d then.
POSTHUMUS. Thou shalt be then freer than a gaoler; no bolts for the dead. Exeunt POSTHUMUS and MESSENGER GAOLER. Unless a man would marry a gallows and beget young gibbets, I never saw one so prone. Yet, on my conscience, there are verier knaves desire to live, for all he be a Roman; and there be some of them too that die against their wills; so should I, if I were one. I would we were all of one mind, and one mind good. O, there were desolation of gaolers and gallowses! I speak against my present profit, but my wish hath a preferment in’t. Exit

Britain. CYMBELINE’S tent


CYMBELINE. Stand by my side, you whom the gods have made Preservers of my throne. Woe is my heart That the poor soldier that so richly fought, Whose rags sham’d gilded arms, whose naked breast Stepp’d before targes of proof, cannot be found. He shall be happy that can find him, if Our grace can make him so.
BELARIUS. I never saw
Such noble fury in so poor a thing; Such precious deeds in one that promis’d nought But beggary and poor looks.
CYMBELINE. No tidings of him?
PISANIO. He hath been search’d among the dead and living, But no trace of him.
CYMBELINE. To my grief, I am
The heir of his reward; [To BELARIUS, GUIDERIUS, and ARVIRAGUS] which I will add
To you, the liver, heart, and brain, of Britain, By whom I grant she lives. ‘Tis now the time To ask of whence you are. Report it.
In Cambria are we born, and gentlemen; Further to boast were neither true nor modest, Unless I add we are honest.
CYMBELINE. Bow your knees.
Arise my knights o’ th’ battle; I create you Companions to our person, and will fit you With dignities becoming your estates.


There’s business in these faces. Why so sadly Greet you our victory? You look like Romans, And not o’ th’ court of Britain.
CORNELIUS. Hail, great King!
To sour your happiness I must report The Queen is dead.
CYMBELINE. Who worse than a physician Would this report become? But I consider By med’cine’life may be prolong’d, yet death Will seize the doctor too. How ended she? CORNELIUS. With horror, madly dying, like her life; Which, being cruel to the world, concluded Most cruel to herself. What she confess’d I will report, so please you; these her women Can trip me if I err, who with wet cheeks Were present when she finish’d.
CYMBELINE. Prithee say.
CORNELIUS. First, she confess’d she never lov’d you; only Affected greatness got by you, not you; Married your royalty, was wife to your place; Abhorr’d your person.
CYMBELINE. She alone knew this;
And but she spoke it dying, I would not Believe her lips in opening it. Proceed. CORNELIUS. Your daughter, whom she bore in hand to love With such integrity, she did confess
Was as a scorpion to her sight; whose life, But that her flight prevented it, she had Ta’en off by poison.
CYMBELINE. O most delicate fiend!
Who is’t can read a woman? Is there more? CORNELIUS. More, sir, and worse. She did confess she had For you a mortal mineral, which, being took, Should by the minute feed on life, and ling’ring, By inches waste you. In which time she purpos’d, By watching, weeping, tendance, kissing, to O’ercome you with her show; and in time, When she had fitted you with her craft, to work Her son into th’ adoption of the crown; But failing of her end by his strange absence, Grew shameless-desperate, open’d, in despite Of heaven and men, her purposes, repented The evils she hatch’d were not effected; so, Despairing, died.
CYMBELINE. Heard you all this, her women? LADY. We did, so please your Highness.
CYMBELINE. Mine eyes
Were not in fault, for she was beautiful; Mine ears, that heard her flattery; nor my heart That thought her like her seeming. It had been vicious To have mistrusted her; yet, O my daughter! That it was folly in me thou mayst say, And prove it in thy feeling. Heaven mend all!

Enter LUCIUS, IACHIMO, the SOOTHSAYER, and other Roman prisoners, guarded; POSTHUMUS behind, and IMOGEN

Thou com’st not, Caius, now for tribute; that The Britons have raz’d out, though with the loss Of many a bold one, whose kinsmen have made suit That their good souls may be appeas’d with slaughter Of you their captives, which ourself have granted; So think of your estate.
LUCIUS. Consider, sir, the chance of war. The day Was yours by accident; had it gone with us, We should not, when the blood was cool, have threaten’d Our prisoners with the sword. But since the gods Will have it thus, that nothing but our lives May be call’d ransom, let it come. Sufficeth A Roman with a Roman’s heart can suffer. Augustus lives to think on’t; and so much For my peculiar care. This one thing only I will entreat: my boy, a Briton born, Let him be ransom’d. Never master had
A page so kind, so duteous, diligent, So tender over his occasions, true,
So feat, so nurse-like; let his virtue join With my request, which I’ll make bold your Highness Cannot deny; he hath done no Briton harm Though he have serv’d a Roman. Save him, sir, And spare no blood beside.
CYMBELINE. I have surely seen him; His favour is familiar to me. Boy,
Thou hast look’d thyself into my grace, And art mine own. I know not why, wherefore To say ‘Live, boy.’ Ne’er thank thy master. Live; And ask of Cymbeline what boon thou wilt, Fitting my bounty and thy state, I’ll give it; Yea, though thou do demand a prisoner, The noblest ta’en.
IMOGEN. I humbly thank your Highness. LUCIUS. I do not bid thee beg my life, good lad, And yet I know thou wilt.
IMOGEN. No, no! Alack,
There’s other work in hand. I see a thing Bitter to me as death; your life, good master, Must shuffle for itself.
LUCIUS. The boy disdains me,
He leaves me, scorns me. Briefly die their joys That place them on the truth of girls and boys. Why stands he so perplex’d?
CYMBELINE. What wouldst thou, boy? I love thee more and more; think more and more What’s best to ask. Know’st him thou look’st on? Speak, Wilt have him live? Is he thy kin? thy friend? IMOGEN. He is a Roman, no more kin to me Than I to your Highness; who, being born your vassal, Am something nearer.
CYMBELINE. Wherefore ey’st him so? IMOGEN. I’ll tell you, sir, in private, if you please To give me hearing.
CYMBELINE. Ay, with all my heart,
And lend my best attention. What’s thy name? IMOGEN. Fidele, sir.
CYMBELINE. Thou’rt my good youth, my page; I’ll be thy master. Walk with me; speak freely. [CYMBELINE and IMOGEN converse apart] BELARIUS. Is not this boy reviv’d from death? ARVIRAGUS. One sand another
Not more resembles- that sweet rosy lad Who died and was Fidele. What think you? GUIDERIUS. The same dead thing alive.
BELARIUS. Peace, peace! see further. He eyes us not; forbear. Creatures may be alike; were’t he, I am sure He would have spoke to us.
GUIDERIUS. But we saw him dead.
BELARIUS. Be silent; let’s see further. PISANIO. [Aside] It is my mistress.
Since she is living, let the time run on To good or bad. [CYMBELINE and IMOGEN advance] CYMBELINE. Come, stand thou by our side; Make thy demand aloud. [To IACHIMO] Sir, step you forth; Give answer to this boy, and do it freely, Or, by our greatness and the grace of it, Which is our honour, bitter torture shall Winnow the truth from falsehood. On, speak to him. IMOGEN. My boon is that this gentleman may render Of whom he had this ring.
POSTHUMUS. [Aside] What’s that to him? CYMBELINE. That diamond upon your finger, say How came it yours?
IACHIMO. Thou’lt torture me to leave unspoken that Which to be spoke would torture thee.
IACHIMO. I am glad to be constrain’d to utter that Which torments me to conceal. By villainy I got this ring; ’twas Leonatus’ jewel, Whom thou didst banish; and- which more may grieve thee, As it doth me- a nobler sir ne’er liv’d ‘Twixt sky and ground. Wilt thou hear more, my lord? CYMBELINE. All that belongs to this.
IACHIMO. That paragon, thy daughter, For whom my heart drops blood and my false spirits Quail to remember- Give me leave, I faint. CYMBELINE. My daughter? What of her? Renew thy strength; I had rather thou shouldst live while nature will Than die ere I hear more. Strive, man, and speak. IACHIMO. Upon a time- unhappy was the clock That struck the hour!- was in Rome- accurs’d The mansion where!- ’twas at a feast- O, would Our viands had been poison’d, or at least Those which I heav’d to head!- the good Posthumus- What should I say? he was too good to be Where ill men were, and was the best of all Amongst the rar’st of good ones- sitting sadly Hearing us praise our loves of Italy
For beauty that made barren the swell’d boast Of him that best could speak; for feature, laming The shrine of Venus or straight-pight Minerva, Postures beyond brief nature; for condition, A shop of all the qualities that man
Loves woman for; besides that hook of wiving, Fairness which strikes the eye-
CYMBELINE. I stand on fire.
Come to the matter.
IACHIMO. All too soon I shall,
Unless thou wouldst grieve quickly. This Posthumus, Most like a noble lord in love and one That had a royal lover, took his hint; And not dispraising whom we prais’d- therein He was as calm as virtue- he began
His mistress’ picture; which by his tongue being made, And then a mind put in’t, either our brags Were crack’d of kitchen trulls, or his description Prov’d us unspeaking sots.
CYMBELINE. Nay, nay, to th’ purpose. IACHIMO. Your daughter’s chastity- there it begins. He spake of her as Dian had hot dreams And she alone were cold; whereat I, wretch, Made scruple of his praise, and wager’d with him Pieces of gold ‘gainst this which then he wore Upon his honour’d finger, to attain
In suit the place of’s bed, and win this ring By hers and mine adultery. He, true knight, No lesser of her honour confident
Than I did truly find her, stakes this ring; And would so, had it been a carbuncle
Of Phoebus’ wheel; and might so safely, had it Been all the worth of’s car. Away to Britain Post I in this design. Well may you, sir, Remember me at court, where I was taught Of your chaste daughter the wide difference ‘Twixt amorous and villainous. Being thus quench’d Of hope, not longing, mine Italian brain Gan in your duller Britain operate
Most vilely; for my vantage, excellent; And, to be brief, my practice so prevail’d That I return’d with simular proof enough To make the noble Leonatus mad,
By wounding his belief in her renown With tokens thus and thus; averring notes Of chamber-hanging, pictures, this her bracelet- O cunning, how I got it!- nay, some marks Of secret on her person, that he could not But think her bond of chastity quite crack’d, I having ta’en the forfeit. Whereupon- Methinks I see him now-
POSTHUMUS. [Coming forward] Ay, so thou dost, Italian fiend! Ay me, most credulous fool, Egregious murderer, thief, anything
That’s due to all the villains past, in being, To come! O, give me cord, or knife, or poison, Some upright justicer! Thou, King, send out For torturers ingenious. It is I
That all th’ abhorred things o’ th’ earth amend By being worse than they. I am Posthumus, That kill’d thy daughter; villain-like, I lie- That caus’d a lesser villain than myself, A sacrilegious thief, to do’t. The temple Of virtue was she; yea, and she herself. Spit, and throw stones, cast mire upon me, set The dogs o’ th’ street to bay me. Every villain Be call’d Posthumus Leonatus, and
Be villainy less than ’twas! O Imogen! My queen, my life, my wife! O Imogen,
Imogen, Imogen!
IMOGEN. Peace, my lord. Hear, hear! POSTHUMUS. Shall’s have a play of this? Thou scornful page, There lies thy part. [Strikes her. She falls] PISANIO. O gentlemen, help!
Mine and your mistress! O, my lord Posthumus! You ne’er kill’d Imogen till now. Help, help! Mine honour’d lady!
CYMBELINE. Does the world go round? POSTHUMUS. How comes these staggers on me? PISANIO. Wake, my mistress!
CYMBELINE. If this be so, the gods do mean to strike me To death with mortal joy.
PISANIO. How fares my mistress?
IMOGEN. O, get thee from my sight; Thou gav’st me poison. Dangerous fellow, hence! Breathe not where princes are.
CYMBELINE. The tune of Imogen!
The gods throw stones of sulphur on me, if That box I gave you was not thought by me A precious thing! I had it from the Queen. CYMBELINE. New matter still?
IMOGEN. It poison’d me.
I left out one thing which the Queen confess’d, Which must approve thee honest. ‘If Pisanio Have’ said she ‘given his mistress that confection Which I gave him for cordial, she is serv’d As I would serve a rat.’
CYMBELINE. What’s this, Cornelius? CORNELIUS. The Queen, sir, very oft importun’d me To temper poisons for her; still pretending The satisfaction of her knowledge only In killing creatures vile, as cats and dogs, Of no esteem. I, dreading that her purpose Was of more danger, did compound for her A certain stuff, which, being ta’en would cease The present pow’r of life, but in short time All offices of nature should again
Do their due functions. Have you ta’en of it? IMOGEN. Most like I did, for I was dead. BELARIUS. My boys,
There was our error.
GUIDERIUS. This is sure Fidele.
IMOGEN. Why did you throw your wedded lady from you? Think that you are upon a rock, and now Throw me again. [Embracing him] POSTHUMUS. Hang there like fruit, my soul, Till the tree die!
CYMBELINE. How now, my flesh? my child? What, mak’st thou me a dullard in this act? Wilt thou not speak to me?
IMOGEN. [Kneeling] Your blessing, sir. BELARIUS. [To GUIDERIUS and ARVIRAGUS] Though you did love this youth, I blame ye not;
You had a motive for’t.
CYMBELINE. My tears that fall
Prove holy water on thee! Imogen, Thy mother’s dead.
IMOGEN. I am sorry for’t, my lord. CYMBELINE. O, she was naught, and long of her it was That we meet here so strangely; but her son Is gone, we know not how nor where.
PISANIO. My lord,
Now fear is from me, I’ll speak troth. Lord Cloten, Upon my lady’s missing, came to me
With his sword drawn, foam’d at the mouth, and swore, If I discover’d not which way she was gone, It was my instant death. By accident
I had a feigned letter of my master’s Then in my pocket, which directed him
To seek her on the mountains near to Milford; Where, in a frenzy, in my master’s garments, Which he enforc’d from me, away he posts With unchaste purpose, and with oath to violate My lady’s honour. What became of him
I further know not.
GUIDERIUS. Let me end the story:
I slew him there.
CYMBELINE. Marry, the gods forfend! I would not thy good deeds should from my lips Pluck a hard sentence. Prithee, valiant youth, Deny’t again.
GUIDERIUS. I have spoke it, and I did it. CYMBELINE. He was a prince.
GUIDERIUS. A most incivil one. The wrongs he did me Were nothing prince-like; for he did provoke me With language that would make me spurn the sea, If it could so roar to me. I cut off’s head, And am right glad he is not standing here To tell this tale of mine.
CYMBELINE. I am sorry for thee.
By thine own tongue thou art condemn’d, and must Endure our law. Thou’rt dead.
IMOGEN. That headless man
I thought had been my lord.
CYMBELINE. Bind the offender,
And take him from our presence.
BELARIUS. Stay, sir King.
This man is better than the man he slew, As well descended as thyself, and hath More of thee merited than a band of Clotens Had ever scar for. [To the guard] Let his arms alone; They were not born for bondage.
CYMBELINE. Why, old soldier,
Wilt thou undo the worth thou art unpaid for By tasting of our wrath? How of descent As good as we?
ARVIRAGUS. In that he spake too far. CYMBELINE. And thou shalt die for’t.
BELARIUS. We will die all three;
But I will prove that two on’s are as good As I have given out him. My sons, I must For mine own part unfold a dangerous speech, Though haply well for you.
ARVIRAGUS. Your danger’s ours.
GUIDERIUS. And our good his.
BELARIUS. Have at it then by leave! Thou hadst, great King, a subject who
Was call’d Belarius.
CYMBELINE. What of him? He is
A banish’d traitor.
BELARIUS. He it is that hath
Assum’d this age; indeed a banish’d man; I know not how a traitor.
CYMBELINE. Take him hence,
The whole world shall not save him. BELARIUS. Not too hot.
First pay me for the nursing of thy sons, And let it be confiscate all, so soon
As I have receiv’d it.
CYMBELINE. Nursing of my sons?
BELARIUS. I am too blunt and saucy: here’s my knee. Ere I arise I will prefer my sons;
Then spare not the old father. Mighty sir, These two young gentlemen that call me father, And think they are my sons, are none of mine; They are the issue of your loins, my liege, And blood of your begetting.
CYMBELINE. How? my issue?
BELARIUS. So sure as you your father’s. I, old Morgan, Am that Belarius whom you sometime banish’d. Your pleasure was my mere offence, my punishment Itself, and all my treason; that I suffer’d Was all the harm I did. These gentle princes- For such and so they are- these twenty years Have I train’d up; those arts they have as Could put into them. My breeding was, sir, as Your Highness knows. Their nurse, Euriphile, Whom for the theft I wedded, stole these children Upon my banishment; I mov’d her to’t,
Having receiv’d the punishment before For that which I did then. Beaten for loyalty Excited me to treason. Their dear loss, The more of you ’twas felt, the more it shap’d Unto my end of stealing them. But, gracious sir, Here are your sons again, and I must lose Two of the sweet’st companions in the world. The benediction of these covering heavens Fall on their heads like dew! for they are worthy To inlay heaven with stars.
CYMBELINE. Thou weep’st and speak’st. The service that you three have done is more Unlike than this thou tell’st. I lost my children. If these be they, I know not how to wish A pair of worthier sons.
BELARIUS. Be pleas’d awhile.
This gentleman, whom I call Polydore, Most worthy prince, as yours, is true Guiderius; This gentleman, my Cadwal, Arviragus,
Your younger princely son; he, sir, was lapp’d In a most curious mantle, wrought by th’ hand Of his queen mother, which for more probation I can with ease produce.
CYMBELINE. Guiderius had
Upon his neck a mole, a sanguine star; It was a mark of wonder.
BELARIUS. This is he,
Who hath upon him still that natural stamp. It was wise nature’s end in the donation, To be his evidence now.
CYMBELINE. O, what am I?
A mother to the birth of three? Ne’er mother Rejoic’d deliverance more. Blest pray you be, That, after this strange starting from your orbs, You may reign in them now! O Imogen,
Thou hast lost by this a kingdom. IMOGEN. No, my lord;
I have got two worlds by’t. O my gentle brothers, Have we thus met? O, never say hereafter But I am truest speaker! You call’d me brother, When I was but your sister: I you brothers, When we were so indeed.
CYMBELINE. Did you e’er meet?
ARVIRAGUS. Ay, my good lord.
GUIDERIUS. And at first meeting lov’d, Continu’d so until we thought he died. CORNELIUS. By the Queen’s dram she swallow’d. CYMBELINE. O rare instinct!
When shall I hear all through? This fierce abridgment Hath to it circumstantial branches, which Distinction should be rich in. Where? how liv’d you? And when came you to serve our Roman captive? How parted with your brothers? how first met them? Why fled you from the court? and whither? These, And your three motives to the battle, with I know not how much more, should be demanded, And all the other by-dependences,
From chance to chance; but nor the time nor place Will serve our long interrogatories. See, Posthumus anchors upon Imogen;
And she, like harmless lightning, throws her eye On him, her brothers, me, her master, hitting Each object with a joy; the counterchange Is severally in all. Let’s quit this ground, And smoke the temple with our sacrifices. [To BELARIUS] Thou art my brother; so we’ll hold thee ever. IMOGEN. You are my father too, and did relieve me To see this gracious season.
CYMBELINE. All o’erjoy’d
Save these in bonds. Let them be joyful too, For they shall taste our comfort.
IMOGEN. My good master,
I will yet do you service.
LUCIUS. Happy be you!
CYMBELINE. The forlorn soldier, that so nobly fought, He would have well becom’d this place and grac’d The thankings of a king.
POSTHUMUS. I am, sir,
The soldier that did company these three In poor beseeming; ’twas a fitment for The purpose I then follow’d. That I was he, Speak, Iachimo. I had you down, and might Have made you finish.
IACHIMO. [Kneeling] I am down again; But now my heavy conscience sinks my knee, As then your force did. Take that life, beseech you, Which I so often owe; but your ring first, And here the bracelet of the truest princess That ever swore her faith.
POSTHUMUS. Kneel not to me.
The pow’r that I have on you is to spare you; The malice towards you to forgive you. Live, And deal with others better.
CYMBELINE. Nobly doom’d!
We’ll learn our freeness of a son-in-law; Pardon’s the word to all.
ARVIRAGUS. You holp us, sir,
As you did mean indeed to be our brother; Joy’d are we that you are.
POSTHUMUS. Your servant, Princes. Good my lord of Rome, Call forth your soothsayer. As I slept, methought Great Jupiter, upon his eagle back’d,
Appear’d to me, with other spritely shows Of mine own kindred. When I wak’d, I found This label on my bosom; whose containing Is so from sense in hardness that I can Make no collection of it. Let him show His skill in the construction.
LUCIUS. Philarmonus!
SOOTHSAYER. Here, my good lord.
LUCIUS. Read, and declare the meaning. SOOTHSAYER. [Reads] ‘When as a lion’s whelp shall, to himself unknown, without seeking find, and be embrac’d by a piece of tender air; and when from a stately cedar shall be lopp’d branches which, being dead many years, shall after revive, be jointed to the old stock, and freshly grow; then shall Posthumus end his miseries, Britain be fortunate and flourish in peace and plenty.’
Thou, Leonatus, art the lion’s whelp; The fit and apt construction of thy name, Being Leo-natus, doth import so much.
[To CYMBELINE] The piece of tender air, thy virtuous daughter, Which we call ‘mollis aer,’ and ‘mollis aer’ We term it ‘mulier’; which ‘mulier’ I divine Is this most constant wife, who even now Answering the letter of the oracle,
Unknown to you, unsought, were clipp’d about With this most tender air.
CYMBELINE. This hath some seeming. SOOTHSAYER. The lofty cedar, royal Cymbeline, Personates thee; and thy lopp’d branches point Thy two sons forth, who, by Belarius stol’n, For many years thought dead, are now reviv’d, To the majestic cedar join’d, whose issue Promises Britain peace and plenty.
My peace we will begin. And, Caius Lucius, Although the victor, we submit to Caesar And to the Roman empire, promising
To pay our wonted tribute, from the which We were dissuaded by our wicked queen, Whom heavens in justice, both on her and hers, Have laid most heavy hand.
SOOTHSAYER. The fingers of the pow’rs above do tune The harmony of this peace. The vision
Which I made known to Lucius ere the stroke Of yet this scarce-cold battle, at this instant Is full accomplish’d; for the Roman eagle, From south to west on wing soaring aloft, Lessen’d herself and in the beams o’ th’ sun So vanish’d; which foreshow’d our princely eagle, Th’imperial Caesar, Caesar, should again unite His favour with the radiant Cymbeline, Which shines here in the west.
CYMBELINE. Laud we the gods;
And let our crooked smokes climb to their nostrils From our bless’d altars. Publish we this peace To all our subjects. Set we forward; let A Roman and a British ensign wave
Friendly together. So through Lud’s Town march; And in the temple of great Jupiter
Our peace we’ll ratify; seal it with feasts. Set on there! Never was a war did cease, Ere bloody hands were wash’d, with such a peace. Exeunt





by William Shakespeare

Dramatis Personae

Claudius, King of Denmark.
Marcellus, Officer.
Hamlet, son to the former, and nephew to the present king. Polonius, Lord Chamberlain.
Horatio, friend to Hamlet.
Laertes, son to Polonius.
Voltemand, courtier.
Cornelius, courtier.
Rosencrantz, courtier.
Guildenstern, courtier.
Osric, courtier.
A Gentleman, courtier.
A Priest.
Marcellus, officer.
Bernardo, officer.
Francisco, a soldier
Reynaldo, servant to Polonius.
Two Clowns, gravediggers.
Fortinbras, Prince of Norway.
A Norwegian Captain.
English Ambassadors.

Getrude, Queen of Denmark, mother to Hamlet. Ophelia, daughter to Polonius.

Ghost of Hamlet’s Father.

Lords, ladies, Officers, Soldiers, Sailors, Messengers, Attendants.


SCENE.- Elsinore.

ACT I. Scene I.
Elsinore. A platform before the Castle.

Enter two Sentinels-[first,] Francisco, [who paces up and down at his post; then] Bernardo, [who approaches him].

Ber. Who’s there.?
Fran. Nay, answer me. Stand and unfold yourself. Ber. Long live the King!
Fran. Bernardo?
Ber. He.
Fran. You come most carefully upon your hour. Ber. ‘Tis now struck twelve. Get thee to bed, Francisco. Fran. For this relief much thanks. ‘Tis bitter cold, And I am sick at heart.
Ber. Have you had quiet guard?
Fran. Not a mouse stirring.
Ber. Well, good night.
If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus, The rivals of my watch, bid them make haste.

Enter Horatio and Marcellus.

Fran. I think I hear them. Stand, ho! Who is there? Hor. Friends to this ground.
Mar. And liegemen to the Dane.
Fran. Give you good night.
Mar. O, farewell, honest soldier.
Who hath reliev’d you?
Fran. Bernardo hath my place.
Give you good night. Exit. Mar. Holla, Bernardo!
Ber. Say-
What, is Horatio there ?
Hor. A piece of him.
Ber. Welcome, Horatio. Welcome, good Marcellus. Mar. What, has this thing appear’d again to-night? Ber. I have seen nothing.
Mar. Horatio says ’tis but our fantasy, And will not let belief take hold of him Touching this dreaded sight, twice seen of us. Therefore I have entreated him along, With us to watch the minutes of this night, That, if again this apparition come,
He may approve our eyes and speak to it. Hor. Tush, tush, ’twill not appear.
Ber. Sit down awhile,
And let us once again assail your ears, That are so fortified against our story, What we two nights have seen.
Hor. Well, sit we down,
And let us hear Bernardo speak of this. Ber. Last night of all,
When yond same star that’s westward from the pole Had made his course t’ illume that part of heaven Where now it burns, Marcellus and myself, The bell then beating one-

Enter Ghost.

Mar. Peace! break thee off! Look where it comes again! Ber. In the same figure, like the King that’s dead. Mar. Thou art a scholar; speak to it, Horatio. Ber. Looks it not like the King? Mark it, Horatio. Hor. Most like. It harrows me with fear and wonder. Ber. It would be spoke to.
Mar. Question it, Horatio.
Hor. What art thou that usurp’st this time of night Together with that fair and warlike form In which the majesty of buried Denmark Did sometimes march? By heaven I charge thee speak! Mar. It is offended.
Ber. See, it stalks away!
Hor. Stay! Speak, speak! I charge thee speak! Exit Ghost.
Mar. ‘Tis gone and will not answer. Ber. How now, Horatio? You tremble and look pale. Is not this something more than fantasy? What think you on’t?
Hor. Before my God, I might not this believe Without the sensible and true avouch
Of mine own eyes.
Mar. Is it not like the King?
Hor. As thou art to thyself.
Such was the very armour he had on When he th’ ambitious Norway combated. So frown’d he once when, in an angry parle, He smote the sledded Polacks on the ice. ‘Tis strange.
Mar. Thus twice before, and jump at this dead hour, With martial stalk hath he gone by our watch. Hor. In what particular thought to work I know not; But, in the gross and scope of my opinion, This bodes some strange eruption to our state. Mar. Good now, sit down, and tell me he that knows, Why this same strict and most observant watch So nightly toils the subject of the land, And why such daily cast of brazen cannon And foreign mart for implements of war; Why such impress of shipwrights, whose sore task Does not divide the Sunday from the week. What might be toward, that this sweaty haste Doth make the night joint-labourer with the day? Who is’t that can inform me?
Hor. That can I.
At least, the whisper goes so. Our last king, Whose image even but now appear’d to us, Was, as you know, by Fortinbras of Norway, Thereto prick’d on by a most emulate pride, Dar’d to the combat; in which our valiant Hamlet (For so this side of our known world esteem’d him) Did slay this Fortinbras; who, by a seal’d compact, Well ratified by law and heraldry,
Did forfeit, with his life, all those his lands Which he stood seiz’d of, to the conqueror; Against the which a moiety competent
Was gaged by our king; which had return’d To the inheritance of Fortinbras,
Had he been vanquisher, as, by the same comart And carriage of the article design’d,
His fell to Hamlet. Now, sir, young Fortinbras, Of unimproved mettle hot and full,
Hath in the skirts of Norway, here and there, Shark’d up a list of lawless resolutes, For food and diet, to some enterprise
That hath a stomach in’t; which is no other, As it doth well appear unto our state, But to recover of us, by strong hand
And terms compulsatory, those foresaid lands So by his father lost; and this, I take it, Is the main motive of our preparations, The source of this our watch, and the chief head Of this post-haste and romage in the land. Ber. I think it be no other but e’en so. Well may it sort that this portentous figure Comes armed through our watch, so like the King That was and is the question of these wars. Hor. A mote it is to trouble the mind’s eye. In the most high and palmy state of Rome, A little ere the mightiest Julius fell, The graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted dead Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets; As stars with trains of fire, and dews of blood, Disasters in the sun; and the moist star Upon whose influence Neptune’s empire stands Was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse. And even the like precurse of fierce events, As harbingers preceding still the fates And prologue to the omen coming on,
Have heaven and earth together demonstrated Unto our climature and countrymen.

Enter Ghost again.

But soft! behold! Lo, where it comes again! I’ll cross it, though it blast me.- Stay illusion! Spreads his arms. If thou hast any sound, or use of voice, Speak to me.
If there be any good thing to be done, That may to thee do ease, and, race to me, Speak to me.
If thou art privy to thy country’s fate, Which happily foreknowing may avoid,
O, speak!
Or if thou hast uphoarded in thy life Extorted treasure in the womb of earth (For which, they say, you spirits oft walk in death), The cock crows. Speak of it! Stay, and speak!- Stop it, Marcellus! Mar. Shall I strike at it with my partisan? Hor. Do, if it will not stand.
Ber. ‘Tis here!
Hor. ‘Tis here!
Mar. ‘Tis gone!
Exit Ghost. We do it wrong, being so majestical,
To offer it the show of violence; For it is as the air, invulnerable,
And our vain blows malicious mockery. Ber. It was about to speak, when the cock crew. Hor. And then it started, like a guilty thing Upon a fearful summons. I have heard
The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn, Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat Awake the god of day; and at his warning, Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air, Th’ extravagant and erring spirit hies To his confine; and of the truth herein This present object made probation.
Mar. It faded on the crowing of the cock. Some say that ever, ‘gainst that season comes Wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated, The bird of dawning singeth all night long; And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad, The nights are wholesome, then no planets strike, No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm, So hallow’d and so gracious is the time. Hor. So have I heard and do in part believe it. But look, the morn, in russet mantle clad, Walks o’er the dew of yon high eastward hill. Break we our watch up; and by my advice Let us impart what we have seen to-night Unto young Hamlet; for, upon my life,
This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him. Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it, As needful in our loves, fitting our duty? Let’s do’t, I pray; and I this morning know Where we shall find him most conveniently. Exeunt.

Scene II.
Elsinore. A room of state in the Castle.

Flourish. [Enter Claudius, King of Denmark, Gertrude the Queen, Hamlet, Polonius, Laertes and his sister Ophelia, [Voltemand, Cornelius,] Lords Attendant.

King. Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother’s death The memory be green, and that it us befitted To bear our hearts in grief, and our whole kingdom To be contracted in one brow of woe,
Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature That we with wisest sorrow think on him Together with remembrance of ourselves. Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen, Th’ imperial jointress to this warlike state, Have we, as ’twere with a defeated joy, With an auspicious, and a dropping eye, With mirth in funeral, and with dirge in marriage, In equal scale weighing delight and dole, Taken to wife; nor have we herein barr’d Your better wisdoms, which have freely gone With this affair along. For all, our thanks. Now follows, that you know, young Fortinbras, Holding a weak supposal of our worth,
Or thinking by our late dear brother’s death Our state to be disjoint and out of frame, Colleagued with this dream of his advantage, He hath not fail’d to pester us with message Importing the surrender of those lands Lost by his father, with all bands of law, To our most valiant brother. So much for him. Now for ourself and for this time of meeting. Thus much the business is: we have here writ To Norway, uncle of young Fortinbras,
Who, impotent and bedrid, scarcely hears Of this his nephew’s purpose, to suppress His further gait herein, in that the levies, The lists, and full proportions are all made Out of his subject; and we here dispatch You, good Cornelius, and you, Voltemand, For bearers of this greeting to old Norway, Giving to you no further personal power To business with the King, more than the scope Of these dilated articles allow. [Gives a paper.] Farewell, and let your haste commend your duty. Cor., Volt. In that, and all things, will we show our duty. King. We doubt it nothing. Heartily farewell. Exeunt Voltemand and Cornelius. And now, Laertes, what’s the news with you? You told us of some suit. What is’t, Laertes? You cannot speak of reason to the Dane And lose your voice. What wouldst thou beg, Laertes,