Britain. A hall in Cymbeline's palace.

Enter in state, CYMBELINE, QUEEN, CLOTEN, and Lords at one door, and at another, CAIUS LUCIUS and Attendants


Now say, what would Augustus Caesar with us?


When Julius Caesar, whose remembrance yet

Lives in men's eyes and will to ears and tongues

Be theme and hearing ever, was in this Britain

And conquer'd it, Cassibelan, thine uncle,--

Famous in Caesar's praises, no whit less

Than in his feats deserving it--for him

And his succession granted Rome a tribute,

Yearly three thousand pounds, which by thee lately

Is left untender'd.


And, to kill the marvel,

Shall be so ever.


There be many Caesars,

Ere such another Julius. Britain is

A world by itself; and we will nothing pay

For wearing our own noses.


That opportunity

Which then they had to take from 's, to resume

We have again. Remember, sir, my liege,

The kings your ancestors, together with

The natural bravery of your isle, which stands

As Neptune's park, ribbed and paled in

With rocks unscalable and roaring waters,

With sands that will not bear your enemies' boats,

But suck them up to the topmast. A kind of conquest

Caesar made here; but made not here his brag

Of 'Came' and 'saw' and 'overcame: ' with shame--

That first that ever touch'd him--he was carried

From off our coast, twice beaten; and his shipping--

Poor ignorant baubles!-- upon our terrible seas,

Like egg-shells moved upon their surges, crack'd

As easily 'gainst our rocks: for joy whereof

The famed Cassibelan, who was once at point--

O giglot fortune!--to master Caesar's sword,

Made Lud's town with rejoicing fires bright

And Britons strut with courage.


Come, there's no more tribute to be paid: our

kingdom is stronger than it was at that time; and,

as I said, there is no moe such Caesars: other of

them may have crook'd noses, but to owe such

straight arms, none.


Son, let your mother end.


We have yet many among us can gripe as hard as

Cassibelan: I do not say I am one; but I have a

hand. Why tribute? why should we pay tribute? If

Caesar can hide the sun from us with a blanket, or

put the moon in his pocket, we will pay him tribute

for light; else, sir, no more tribute, pray you now.


You must know,

Till the injurious Romans did extort

This tribute from us, we were free:

Caesar's ambition,

Which swell'd so much that it did almost stretch

The sides o' the world, against all colour here

Did put the yoke upon 's; which to shake off

Becomes a warlike people, whom we reckon

Ourselves to be.


We do.


Say, then, to Caesar,

Our ancestor was that Mulmutius which

Ordain'd our laws, whose use the sword of Caesar

Hath too much mangled; whose repair and franchise

Shall, by the power we hold, be our good deed,

Though Rome be therefore angry: Mulmutius made our laws,

Who was the first of Britain which did put

His brows within a golden crown and call'd

Himself a king.


I am sorry, Cymbeline,

That I am to pronounce Augustus Caesar--

Caesar, that hath more kings his servants than

Thyself domestic officers--thine enemy:

Receive it from me, then: war and confusion

In Caesar's name pronounce I 'gainst thee: look

For fury not to be resisted. Thus defied,

I thank thee for myself.


Thou art welcome, Caius.

Thy Caesar knighted me; my youth I spent

Much under him; of him I gather'd honour;

Which he to seek of me again, perforce,

Behoves me keep at utterance. I am perfect

That the Pannonians and Dalmatians for

Their liberties are now in arms; a precedent

Which not to read would show the Britons cold:

So Caesar shall not find them.


Let proof speak.


His majesty bids you welcome. Make

pastime with us a day or two, or longer: if

you seek us afterwards in other terms, you

shall find us in our salt-water girdle: if you

beat us out of it, it is yours; if you fall in

the adventure, our crows shall fare the better

for you; and there's an end.


So, sir.


I know your master's pleasure and he mine:

All the remain is 'Welcome!'


SCENE II. Another room in the palace.

Enter PISANIO, with a letter


How? of adultery? Wherefore write you not

What monster's her accuser? Leonatus,

O master! what a strange infection

Is fall'n into thy ear! What false Italian,

As poisonous-tongued as handed, hath prevail'd

On thy too ready hearing? Disloyal! No:

She's punish'd for her truth, and undergoes,

More goddess-like than wife-like, such assaults

As would take in some virtue. O my master!

Thy mind to her is now as low as were

Thy fortunes. How! that I should murder her?

Upon the love and truth and vows which I

Have made to thy command? I, her? her blood?

If it be so to do good service, never

Let me be counted serviceable. How look I,

That I should seem to lack humanity

so much as this fact comes to?


'Do't: the letter

that I have sent her, by her own command

Shall give thee opportunity.' O damn'd paper!

Black as the ink that's on thee! Senseless bauble,

Art thou a feodary for this act, and look'st

So virgin-like without? Lo, here she comes.

I am ignorant in what I am commanded.



How now, Pisanio!


Madam, here is a letter from my lord.


Who? thy lord? that is my lord, Leonatus!

O, learn'd indeed were that astronomer

That knew the stars as I his characters;

He'ld lay the future open. You good gods,

Let what is here contain'd relish of love,

Of my lord's health, of his content, yet not

That we two are asunder; let that grieve him:

Some griefs are med'cinable; that is one of them,

For it doth physic love: of his content,

All but in that! Good wax, thy leave. Blest be

You bees that make these locks of counsel! Lovers

And men in dangerous bonds pray not alike:

Though forfeiters you cast in prison, yet

You clasp young Cupid's tables. Good news, gods!


'Justice, and your father's wrath, should he take me

in his dominion, could not be so cruel to me, as

you, O the dearest of creatures, would even renew me

with your eyes. Take notice that I am in Cambria,

at Milford-Haven: what your own love will out of

this advise you, follow. So he wishes you all

happiness, that remains loyal to his vow, and your,

increasing in love,


O, for a horse with wings! Hear'st thou, Pisanio?

He is at Milford-Haven: read, and tell me

How far 'tis thither. If one of mean affairs

May plod it in a week, why may not I

Glide thither in a day? Then, true Pisanio,--

Who long'st, like me, to see thy lord; who long'st,--

let me bate,-but not like me--yet long'st,

But in a fainter kind:--O, not like me;

For mine's beyond beyond--say, and speak thick;

Love's counsellor should fill the bores of hearing,

To the smothering of the sense--how far it is

To this same blessed Milford: and by the way

Tell me how Wales was made so happy as

To inherit such a haven: but first of all,

How we may steal from hence, and for the gap

That we shall make in time, from our hence-going

And our return, to excuse: but first, how get hence:

Why should excuse be born or e'er begot?

We'll talk of that hereafter. Prithee, speak,

How many score of miles may we well ride

'Twixt hour and hour?


One score 'twixt sun and sun,

Madam, 's enough for you:


and too much too.


Why, one that rode to's execution, man,

Could never go so slow: I have heard of

riding wagers,

Where horses have been nimbler than the sands

That run i' the clock's behalf. But this is foolery:

Go bid my woman feign a sickness; say

She'll home to her father: and provide me presently

A riding-suit, no costlier than would fit

A franklin's housewife.


Madam, you're best consider.


I see before me, man: nor here, nor here,

Nor what ensues, but have a fog in them,

That I cannot look through. Away, I prithee;

Do as I bid thee: there's no more to say,

Accessible is none but Milford way.


SCENE III. Wales: a mountainous country with a cave.

Enter, from the cave, BELARIUS; GUIDERIUS, and ARVIRAGUS following


A goodly day not to keep house, with such

Whose roof's as low as ours! Stoop, boys; this gate

Instructs you how to adore the heavens and bows you

To a morning's holy office: the gates of monarchs

Are arch'd so high that giants may jet through

And keep their impious turbans on, without

Good morrow to the sun. Hail, thou fair heaven!

We house i' the rock, yet use thee not so hardly

As prouder livers do.


Hail, heaven!


Hail, heaven!


Now for our mountain sport: up to yond hill;

Your legs are young; I'll tread these flats. Consider,

When you above perceive me like a crow,

That it is place which lessens and sets off;

And you may then revolve what tales I have told you

Of courts, of princes, of the tricks in war:

This service is not service, so being done,

But being so allow'd: to apprehend thus,

Draws us a profit from all things we see;

And often, to our comfort, shall we find

The sharded beetle in a safer hold

Than is the full-wing'd eagle. O, this life

Is nobler than attending for a cheque,

Richer than doing nothing for a bauble,

Prouder than rustling in unpaid-for silk:

Such gain the cap of him that makes 'em fine,

Yet keeps his book uncross'd: no life to ours.


Out of your proof you speak: we, poor unfledged,

Have never wing'd from view o' the nest, nor know not

What air's from home. Haply this life is best,

If quiet life be best; sweeter to you

That have a sharper known; well corresponding

With your stiff age: but unto us it is

A cell of ignorance; travelling a-bed;

A prison for a debtor, that not dares

To stride a limit.


What should we speak of

When we are old as you? when we shall hear

The rain and wind beat dark December, how,

In this our pinching cave, shall we discourse

The freezing hours away? We have seen nothing;

We are beastly, subtle as the fox for prey,

Like warlike as the wolf for what we eat;

Our valour is to chase what flies; our cage

We make a quire, as doth the prison'd bird,

And sing our bondage freely.


How you speak!

Did you but know the city's usuries

And felt them knowingly; the art o' the court

As hard to leave as keep; whose top to climb

Is certain falling, or so slippery that

The fear's as bad as falling; the toil o' the war,

A pain that only seems to seek out danger

I' the name of fame and honour; which dies i'

the search,

And hath as oft a slanderous epitaph

As record of fair act; nay, many times,

Doth ill deserve by doing well; what's worse,

Must court'sy at the censure:--O boys, this story

The world may read in me: my body's mark'd

With Roman swords, and my report was once

First with the best of note: Cymbeline loved me,

And when a soldier was the theme, my name

Was not far off: then was I as a tree

Whose boughs did bend with fruit: but in one night,

A storm or robbery, call it what you will,

Shook down my mellow hangings, nay, my leaves,

And left me bare to weather.


Uncertain favour!


My fault being nothing--as I have told you oft--

But that two villains, whose false oaths prevail'd

Before my perfect honour, swore to Cymbeline

I was confederate with the Romans: so

Follow'd my banishment, and this twenty years

This rock and these demesnes have been my world;

Where I have lived at honest freedom, paid

More pious debts to heaven than in all

The fore-end of my time. But up to the mountains!

This is not hunters' language: he that strikes

The venison first shall be the lord o' the feast;

To him the other two shall minister;

And we will fear no poison, which attends

In place of greater state. I'll meet you in the valleys.


How hard it is to hide the sparks of nature!

These boys know little they are sons to the king;

Nor Cymbeline dreams that they are alive.

They think they are mine; and though train'd

up thus meanly

I' the cave wherein they bow, their thoughts do hit

The roofs of palaces, and nature prompts them

In simple and low things to prince it much

Beyond the trick of others. This Polydore,

The heir of Cymbeline and Britain, who

The king his father call'd Guiderius,--Jove!

When on my three-foot stool I sit and tell

The warlike feats I have done, his spirits fly out

Into my story: say 'Thus, mine enemy fell,

And thus I set my foot on 's neck;' even then

The princely blood flows in his cheek, he sweats,

Strains his young nerves and puts himself in posture

That acts my words. The younger brother, Cadwal,

Once Arviragus, in as like a figure,

Strikes life into my speech and shows much more

His own conceiving.--Hark, the game is roused!

O Cymbeline! heaven and my conscience knows

Thou didst unjustly banish me: whereon,

At three and two years old, I stole these babes;

Thinking to bar thee of succession, as

Thou reft'st me of my lands. Euriphile,

Thou wast their nurse; they took thee for

their mother,

And every day do honour to her grave:

Myself, Belarius, that am Morgan call'd,

They take for natural father. The game is up.


SCENE IV. Country near Milford-Haven.



Thou told'st me, when we came from horse, the place

Was near at hand: ne'er long'd my mother so

To see me first, as I have now. Pisanio! man!

Where is Posthumus? What is in thy mind,

That makes thee stare thus? Wherefore breaks that sigh

From the inward of thee? One, but painted thus,

Would be interpreted a thing perplex'd

Beyond self-explication: put thyself

Into a havior of less fear, ere wildness

Vanquish my staider senses. What's the matter?

Why tender'st thou that paper to me, with

A look untender? If't be summer news,

Smile to't before; if winterly, thou need'st

But keep that countenance still. My husband's hand!

That drug-damn'd Italy hath out-craftied him,

And he's at some hard point. Speak, man: thy tongue

May take off some extremity, which to read

Would be even mortal to me.


Please you, read;

And you shall find me, wretched man, a thing

The most disdain'd of fortune.


[Reads] 'Thy mistress, Pisanio, hath played the

strumpet in my bed; the testimonies whereof lie

bleeding in me. I speak not out of weak surmises,

but from proof as strong as my grief and as certain

as I expect my revenge. That part thou, Pisanio,

must act for me, if thy faith be not tainted with

the breach of hers. Let thine own hands take away

her life: I shall give thee opportunity at

Milford-Haven. She hath my letter for the purpose

where, if thou fear to strike and to make me certain

it is done, thou art the pandar to her dishonour and

equally to me disloyal.'


What shall I need to draw my sword? the paper

Hath cut her throat already. No, 'tis slander,

Whose edge is sharper than the sword, whose tongue

Outvenoms all the worms of Nile, whose breath

Rides on the posting winds and doth belie

All corners of the world: kings, queens and states,

Maids, matrons, nay, the secrets of the grave

This viperous slander enters. What cheer, madam?


False to his bed! What is it to be false?

To lie in watch there and to think on him?

To weep 'twixt clock and clock? if sleep

charge nature,

To break it with a fearful dream of him

And cry myself awake? that's false to's bed, is it?


Alas, good lady!


I false! Thy conscience witness: Iachimo,

Thou didst accuse him of incontinency;

Thou then look'dst like a villain; now methinks

Thy favour's good enough. Some jay of Italy

Whose mother was her painting, hath betray'd him:

Poor I am stale, a garment out of fashion;

And, for I am richer than to hang by the walls,

I must be ripp'd:--to pieces with me!--O,

Men's vows are women's traitors! All good seeming,

By thy revolt, O husband, shall be thought

Put on for villany; not born where't grows,

But worn a bait for ladies.


Good madam, hear me.


True honest men being heard, like false Aeneas,

Were in his time thought false, and Sinon's weeping

Did scandal many a holy tear, took pity

From most true wretchedness: so thou, Posthumus,

Wilt lay the leaven on all proper men;

Goodly and gallant shall be false and perjured

From thy great fall. Come, fellow, be thou honest:

Do thou thy master's bidding: when thou see'st him,

A little witness my obedience: look!

I draw the sword myself: take it, and hit

The innocent mansion of my love, my heart;

Fear not; 'tis empty of all things but grief;

Thy master is not there, who was indeed

The riches of it: do his bidding; strike

Thou mayst be valiant in a better cause;

But now thou seem'st a coward.


Hence, vile instrument!

Thou shalt not damn my hand.


Why, I must die;

And if I do not by thy hand, thou art

No servant of thy master's. Against self-slaughter

There is a prohibition so divine

That cravens my weak hand. Come, here's my heart.

Something's afore't. Soft, soft! we'll no defence;

Obedient as the scabbard. What is here?

The scriptures of the loyal Leonatus,

All turn'd to heresy? Away, away,

Corrupters of my faith! you shall no more

Be stomachers to my heart. Thus may poor fools

Believe false teachers: though those that

are betray'd

Do feel the treason sharply, yet the traitor

Stands in worse case of woe.

And thou, Posthumus, thou that didst set up

My disobedience 'gainst the king my father

And make me put into contempt the suits

Of princely fellows, shalt hereafter find

It is no act of common passage, but

A strain of rareness: and I grieve myself

To think, when thou shalt be disedged by her

That now thou tirest on, how thy memory

Will then be pang'd by me. Prithee, dispatch:

The lamb entreats the butcher: where's thy knife?

Thou art too slow to do thy master's bidding,

When I desire it too.


O gracious lady,

Since I received command to do this business

I have not slept one wink.


Do't, and to bed then.


I'll wake mine eye-balls blind first.


Wherefore then

Didst undertake it? Why hast thou abused

So many miles with a pretence? this place?

Mine action and thine own? our horses' labour?

The time inviting thee? the perturb'd court,

For my being absent? whereunto I never

Purpose return. Why hast thou gone so far,

To be unbent when thou hast ta'en thy stand,

The elected deer before thee?


But to win time

To lose so bad employment; in the which

I have consider'd of a course. Good lady,

Hear me with patience.


Talk thy tongue weary; speak

I have heard I am a strumpet; and mine ear

Therein false struck, can take no greater wound,

Nor tent to bottom that. But speak.


Then, madam,

I thought you would not back again.


Most like;

Bringing me here to kill me.


Not so, neither:

But if I were as wise as honest, then

My purpose would prove well. It cannot be

But that my master is abused:

Some villain, ay, and singular in his art.

Hath done you both this cursed injury.


Some Roman courtezan.


No, on my life.

I'll give but notice you are dead and send him

Some bloody sign of it; for 'tis commanded

I should do so: you shall be miss'd at court,

And that will well confirm it.


Why good fellow,

What shall I do the where? where bide? how live?

Or in my life what comfort, when I am

Dead to my husband?


If you'll back to the court--


No court, no father; nor no more ado

With that harsh, noble, simple nothing,

That Cloten, whose love-suit hath been to me

As fearful as a siege.


If not at court,

Then not in Britain must you bide.


Where then

Hath Britain all the sun that shines? Day, night,

Are they not but in Britain? I' the world's volume

Our Britain seems as of it, but not in 't;

In a great pool a swan's nest: prithee, think

There's livers out of Britain.


I am most glad

You think of other place. The ambassador,

Lucius the Roman, comes to Milford-Haven

To-morrow: now, if you could wear a mind

Dark as your fortune is, and but disguise

That which, to appear itself, must not yet be

But by self-danger, you should tread a course

Pretty and full of view; yea, haply, near

The residence of Posthumus; so nigh at least

That though his actions were not visible, yet

Report should render him hourly to your ear

As truly as he moves.


O, for such means!

Though peril to my modesty, not death on't,

I would adventure.


Well, then, here's the point:

You must forget to be a woman; change

Command into obedience: fear and niceness--

The handmaids of all women, or, more truly,

Woman its pretty self--into a waggish courage:

Ready in gibes, quick-answer'd, saucy and

As quarrelous as the weasel; nay, you must

Forget that rarest treasure of your cheek,

Exposing it--but, O, the harder heart!

Alack, no remedy!--to the greedy touch

Of common-kissing Titan, and forget

Your laboursome and dainty trims, wherein

You made great Juno angry.


Nay, be brief

I see into thy end, and am almost

A man already.


First, make yourself but like one.

Fore-thinking this, I have already fit--

'Tis in my cloak-bag--doublet, hat, hose, all

That answer to them: would you in their serving,

And with what imitation you can borrow

From youth of such a season, 'fore noble Lucius

Present yourself, desire his service, tell him

wherein you're happy,--which you'll make him know,

If that his head have ear in music,--doubtless

With joy he will embrace you, for he's honourable

And doubling that, most holy. Your means abroad,

You have me, rich; and I will never fail

Beginning nor supplyment.


Thou art all the comfort

The gods will diet me with. Prithee, away:

There's more to be consider'd; but we'll even

All that good time will give us: this attempt

I am soldier to, and will abide it with

A prince's courage. Away, I prithee.


Well, madam, we must take a short farewell,

Lest, being miss'd, I be suspected of

Your carriage from the court. My noble mistress,

Here is a box; I had it from the queen:

What's in't is precious; if you are sick at sea,

Or stomach-qualm'd at land, a dram of this

Will drive away distemper. To some shade,

And fit you to your manhood. May the gods

Direct you to the best!


Amen: I thank thee.

Exeunt, severally

SCENE V. A room in Cymbeline's palace.

Enter CYMBELINE, QUEEN, CLOTEN, LUCIUS, Lords, and Attendants


Thus far; and so farewell.


Thanks, royal sir.

My emperor hath wrote, I must from hence;

And am right sorry that I must report ye

My master's enemy.


Our subjects, sir,

Will not endure his yoke; and for ourself

To show less sovereignty than they, must needs

Appear unkinglike.


So, sir: I desire of you

A conduct over-land to Milford-Haven.

Madam, all joy befal your grace!


And you!


My lords, you are appointed for that office;

The due of honour in no point omit.

So farewell, noble Lucius.


Your hand, my lord.


Receive it friendly; but from this time forth

I wear it as your enemy.


Sir, the event

Is yet to name the winner: fare you well.


Leave not the worthy Lucius, good my lords,

Till he have cross'd the Severn. Happiness!

Exeunt LUCIUS and Lords


He goes hence frowning: but it honours us

That we have given him cause.


'Tis all the better;

Your valiant Britons have their wishes in it.


Lucius hath wrote already to the emperor

How it goes here. It fits us therefore ripely

Our chariots and our horsemen be in readiness:

The powers that he already hath in Gallia

Will soon be drawn to head, from whence he moves

His war for Britain.


'Tis not sleepy business;

But must be look'd to speedily and strongly.


Our expectation that it would be thus

Hath made us forward. But, my gentle queen,

Where is our daughter? She hath not appear'd

Before the Roman, nor to us hath tender'd

The duty of the day: she looks us like

A thing more made of malice than of duty:

We have noted it. Call her before us; for

We have been too slight in sufferance.

Exit an Attendant


Royal sir,

Since the exile of Posthumus, most retired

Hath her life been; the cure whereof, my lord,

'Tis time must do. Beseech your majesty,

Forbear sharp speeches to her: she's a lady

So tender of rebukes that words are strokes

And strokes death to her.

Re-enter Attendant


Where is she, sir? How

Can her contempt be answer'd?


Please you, sir,

Her chambers are all lock'd; and there's no answer

That will be given to the loudest noise we make.


My lord, when last I went to visit her,

She pray'd me to excuse her keeping close,

Whereto constrain'd by her infirmity,

She should that duty leave unpaid to you,

Which daily she was bound to proffer: this

She wish'd me to make known; but our great court

Made me to blame in memory.


Her doors lock'd?

Not seen of late? Grant, heavens, that which I fear

Prove false!



Son, I say, follow the king.


That man of hers, Pisanio, her old servant,

have not seen these two days.


Go, look after.


Pisanio, thou that stand'st so for Posthumus!

He hath a drug of mine; I pray his absence

Proceed by swallowing that, for he believes

It is a thing most precious. But for her,

Where is she gone? Haply, despair hath seized her,

Or, wing'd with fervor of her love, she's flown

To her desired Posthumus: gone she is

To death or to dishonour; and my end

Can make good use of either: she being down,

I have the placing of the British crown.

Re-enter CLOTEN

How now, my son!


'Tis certain she is fled.

Go in and cheer the king: he rages; none

Dare come about him.


[Aside] All the better: may

This night forestall him of the coming day!



I love and hate her: for she's fair and royal,

And that she hath all courtly parts more exquisite

Than lady, ladies, woman; from every one

The best she hath, and she, of all compounded,

Outsells them all; I love her therefore: but

Disdaining me and throwing favours on

The low Posthumus slanders so her judgment

That what's else rare is choked; and in that point

I will conclude to hate her, nay, indeed,

To be revenged upon her. For when fools Shall--


Who is here? What, are you packing, sirrah?

Come hither: ah, you precious pander! Villain,

Where is thy lady? In a word; or else

Thou art straightway with the fiends.


O, good my lord!


Where is thy lady? Or, by Jupiter,--

I will not ask again. Close villain,

I'll have this secret from thy heart, or rip

Thy heart to find it. Is she with Posthumus?

From whose so many weights of baseness cannot

A dram of worth be drawn.


Alas, my lord,

How can she be with him? When was she missed?

He is in Rome.


Where is she, sir? Come nearer;

No further halting: satisfy me home

What is become of her.


O, my all-worthy lord!


All-worthy villain!

Discover where thy mistress is at once,

At the next word: no more of 'worthy lord!'

Speak, or thy silence on the instant is

Thy condemnation and thy death.


Then, sir,

This paper is the history of my knowledge

Touching her flight.

Presenting a letter


Let's see't. I will pursue her

Even to Augustus' throne.


[Aside] Or this, or perish.

She's far enough; and what he learns by this

May prove his travel, not her danger.




[Aside] I'll write to my lord she's dead. O Imogen,

Safe mayst thou wander, safe return again!


Sirrah, is this letter true?


Sir, as I think.


It is Posthumus' hand; I know't. Sirrah, if thou

wouldst not be a villain, but do me true service,

undergo those employments wherein I should have

cause to use thee with a serious industry, that is,

what villany soe'er I bid thee do, to perform it

directly and truly, I would think thee an honest

man: thou shouldst neither want my means for thy

relief nor my voice for thy preferment.


Well, my good lord.


Wilt thou serve me? for since patiently and

constantly thou hast stuck to the bare fortune of

that beggar Posthumus, thou canst not, in the

course of gratitude, but be a diligent follower of

mine: wilt thou serve me?


Sir, I will.


Give me thy hand; here's my purse. Hast any of thy

late master's garments in thy possession?


I have, my lord, at my lodging, the same suit he

wore when he took leave of my lady and mistress.


The first service thou dost me, fetch that suit

hither: let it be thy lint service; go.


I shall, my lord.



Meet thee at Milford-Haven!--I forgot to ask him one

thing; I'll remember't anon:--even there, thou

villain Posthumus, will I kill thee. I would these

garments were come. She said upon a time--the

bitterness of it I now belch from my heart--that she

held the very garment of Posthumus in more respect

than my noble and natural person together with the

adornment of my qualities. With that suit upon my

back, will I ravish her: first kill him, and in her

eyes; there shall she see my valour, which will then

be a torment to her contempt. He on the ground, my

speech of insultment ended on his dead body, and

when my lust hath dined,--which, as I say, to vex

her I will execute in the clothes that she so

praised,--to the court I'll knock her back, foot

her home again. She hath despised me rejoicingly,

and I'll be merry in my revenge.

Re-enter PISANIO, with the clothes

Be those the garments?


Ay, my noble lord.


How long is't since she went to Milford-Haven?


She can scarce be there yet.


Bring this apparel to my chamber; that is the second

thing that I have commanded thee: the third is,

that thou wilt be a voluntary mute to my design. Be

but duteous, and true preferment shall tender itself

to thee. My revenge is now at Milford: would I had

wings to follow it! Come, and be true.



Thou bid'st me to my loss: for true to thee

Were to prove false, which I will never be,

To him that is most true. To Milford go,

And find not her whom thou pursuest. Flow, flow,

You heavenly blessings, on her! This fool's speed

Be cross'd with slowness; labour be his meed!


SCENE VI. Wales. Before the cave of Belarius.

Enter IMOGEN, in boy's clothes


I see a man's life is a tedious one:

I have tired myself, and for two nights together

Have made the ground my bed. I should be sick,

But that my resolution helps me. Milford,

When from the mountain-top Pisanio show'd thee,

Thou wast within a ken: O Jove! I think

Foundations fly the wretched; such, I mean,

Where they should be relieved. Two beggars told me

I could not miss my way: will poor folks lie,

That have afflictions on them, knowing 'tis

A punishment or trial? Yes; no wonder,

When rich ones scarce tell true. To lapse in fulness

Is sorer than to lie for need, and falsehood

Is worse in kings than beggars. My dear lord!

Thou art one o' the false ones. Now I think on thee,

My hunger's gone; but even before, I was

At point to sink for food. But what is this?

Here is a path to't: 'tis some savage hold:

I were best not to call; I dare not call:

yet famine,

Ere clean it o'erthrow nature, makes it valiant,

Plenty and peace breeds cowards: hardness ever

Of hardiness is mother. Ho! who's here?

If any thing that's civil, speak; if savage,

Take or lend. Ho! No answer? Then I'll enter.

Best draw my sword: and if mine enemy

But fear the sword like me, he'll scarcely look on't.

Such a foe, good heavens!

Exit, to the cave



You, Polydote, have proved best woodman and

Are master of the feast: Cadwal and I

Will play the cook and servant; 'tis our match:

The sweat of industry would dry and die,

But for the end it works to. Come; our stomachs

Will make what's homely savoury: weariness

Can snore upon the flint, when resty sloth

Finds the down pillow hard. Now peace be here,

Poor house, that keep'st thyself!


I am thoroughly weary.


I am weak with toil, yet strong in appetite.


There is cold meat i' the cave; we'll browse on that,

Whilst what we have kill'd be cook'd.


[Looking into the cave]

Stay; come not in.

But that it eats our victuals, I should think

Here were a fairy.


What's the matter, sir?


By Jupiter, an angel! or, if not,

An earthly paragon! Behold divineness

No elder than a boy!

Re-enter IMOGEN


Good masters, harm me not:

Before I enter'd here, I call'd; and thought

To have begg'd or bought what I have took:

good troth,

I have stol'n nought, nor would not, though I had found

Gold strew'd i' the floor. Here's money for my meat:

I would have left it on the board so soon

As I had made my meal, and parted

With prayers for the provider.


Money, youth?


All gold and silver rather turn to dirt!

As 'tis no better reckon'd, but of those

Who worship dirty gods.


I see you're angry:

Know, if you kill me for my fault, I should

Have died had I not made it.


Whither bound?


To Milford-Haven.


What's your name?


Fidele, sir. I have a kinsman who

Is bound for Italy; he embark'd at Milford;

To whom being going, almost spent with hunger,

I am fall'n in this offence.


Prithee, fair youth,

Think us no churls, nor measure our good minds

By this rude place we live in. Well encounter'd!

'Tis almost night: you shall have better cheer

Ere you depart: and thanks to stay and eat it.

Boys, bid him welcome.


Were you a woman, youth,

I should woo hard but be your groom. In honesty,

I bid for you as I'd buy.


I'll make't my comfort

He is a man; I'll love him as my brother:

And such a welcome as I'd give to him

After long absence, such is yours: most welcome!

Be sprightly, for you fall 'mongst friends.


'Mongst friends,

If brothers.


Would it had been so, that they

Had been my father's sons! then had my prize

Been less, and so more equal ballasting

To thee, Posthumus.


He wrings at some distress.


Would I could free't!


Or I, whate'er it be,

What pain it cost, what danger. God's!


Hark, boys.



Great men,

That had a court no bigger than this cave,

That did attend themselves and had the virtue

Which their own conscience seal'd them--laying by

That nothing-gift of differing multitudes--

Could not out-peer these twain. Pardon me, gods!

I'd change my sex to be companion with them,

Since Leonatus's false.


It shall be so.

Boys, we'll go dress our hunt. Fair youth, come in:

Discourse is heavy, fasting; when we have supp'd,

We'll mannerly demand thee of thy story,

So far as thou wilt speak it.


Pray, draw near.


The night to the owl and morn to the lark

less welcome.


Thanks, sir.


I pray, draw near.


SCENE VII. Rome. A public place.

Enter two Senators and Tribunes

First Senator

This is the tenor of the emperor's writ:

That since the common men are now in action

'Gainst the Pannonians and Dalmatians,

And that the legions now in Gallia are

Full weak to undertake our wars against

The fall'n-off Britons, that we do incite

The gentry to this business. He creates

Lucius preconsul: and to you the tribunes,

For this immediate levy, he commends

His absolute commission. Long live Caesar!

First Tribune

Is Lucius general of the forces?

Second Senator


First Tribune

Remaining now in Gallia?

First Senator

With those legions

Which I have spoke of, whereunto your levy

Must be supplyant: the words of your commission

Will tie you to the numbers and the time

Of their dispatch.

First Tribune

We will discharge our duty.