Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > Cymbeline
William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
Act I. Scene I.
Britain.  The Garden of CYMBELINE’S Palace.
Enter two Gentlemen.
  First Gent.  You do not meet a man but frowns; our bloods
No more obey the heavens than our courtiers
Still seem as does the king.        5
  Sec. Gent.        But what’s the matter?
  First Gent.  His daughter, and the heir of ’s kingdom, whom
He purpos’d to his wife’s sole son,—a widow
That late he married,—hath referr’d herself
Unto a poor but worthy gentleman. She’s wedded;        10
Her husband banish’d, she imprison’d: all
Is outward sorrow, though I think the king
Be touch’d at very heart.
  Sec. Gent.        None but the king?
  First Gent.  He that hath lost her too; so is the queen,        15
That most desir’d the match; but not a courtier,
Although they wear their faces to the bent
Of the king’s looks, hath a heart that is not
Glad at the thing they scowl at.
  Sec. Gent.        And why so?        20
  First Gent.  He that hath miss’d the princess is a thing
Too bad for bad report; and he that hath her,—
I mean that married her, alack! good man!
And therefore banish’d—is a creature such
As, to seek through the regions of the earth        25
For one his like, there would be something failing
In him that should compare. I do not think
So fair an outward and such stuff within
Endows a man but he.
  Sec. Gent.        You speak him far.        30
  First Gent.  I do extend him, sir, within himself,
Crush him together rather than unfold
His measure duly.
  Sec. Gent.        What’s his name and birth?
  First Gent.  I cannot delve him to the root: his father        35
Was called Sicilius, who did join his honour
Against the Romans with Cassibelan,
But had his titles by Tenantius whom
He serv’d with glory and admir’d success,
So gain’d the sur-addition Leonatus;        40
And had, besides this gentleman in question,
Two other sons, who in the wars o’ the time
Died with their swords in hand; for which their father—
Then old and fond of issue—took such sorrow
That he quit being, and his gentle lady,        45
Big of this gentleman, our theme, deceas’d
As he was born. The king, he takes the babe
To his protection; calls him Posthumus Leonatus;
Breeds him and makes him of his bedchamber,
Puts to him all the learnings that his time        50
Could make him the receiver of; which he took,
As we do air, fast as ’twas minister’d,
And in ’s spring became a harvest; liv’d in court,—
Which rare it is to do—most prais’d, most lov’d;
A sample to the youngest, to the more mature        55
A glass that feated them, and to the graver
A child that guided dotards; to his mistress,
For whom he now is banish’d, her own price
Proclaims how she esteem’d him and his virtue;
By her election may be truly read        60
What kind of man he is.
  Sec. Gent.        I honour him,
Even out of your report. But pray you, tell me,
Is she sole child to the king?
  First Gent.        His only child.        65
He had two sons,—if this be worth your hearing,
Mark it,—the eldest of them at three years old,
I’ the swathing clothes the other, from their nursery
Were stol’n; and to this hour no guess in knowledge
Which way they went.        70
  Sec. Gent.        How long is this ago?
  First Gent.  Some twenty years.
  Sec. Gent.  That a king’s children should be so convey’d,
So slackly guarded, and the search so slow,
That could not trace them!        75
  First Gent.        Howsoe’er ’tis strange,
Or that the negligence may well be laugh’d at,
Yet is it true, sir.
  Sec. Gent.        I do well believe you.
  First Gent.  We must forbear. Here comes the gentleman,        80
The queen, and princess.  [Exeunt.
  Queen.  No, be assur’d you shall not find me, daughter,
After the slander of most step-mothers,
Evil-ey’d unto you; you’re my prisoner, but        85
Your gaoler shall deliver you the keys
That lock up your restraint. For you, Posthumus,
So soon as I can win the offended king,
I will be known your advocate; marry, yet
The fire of rage is in him, and ’twere good        90
You lean’d unto his sentence with what patience
Your wisdom may inform you.
  Post.        Please your highness,
I will from hence to-day.
  Queen.        You know the peril:        95
I’ll fetch a turn about the garden, pitying
The pangs of barr’d affections, though the king
Hath charg’d you should not speak together.  [Exit.
  Imo.        O!
Dissembling courtesy. How fine this tyrant        100
Can tickle where she wounds! My dearest husband,
I something fear my father’s wrath; but nothing,—
Always reserv’d my holy duty,—what
His rage can do on me. You must be gone;
And I shall here abide the hourly shot        105
Of angry eyes, not comforted to live,
But that there is this jewel in the world
That I may see again.
  Post.        My queen! my mistress!
O lady, weep no more, lest I give cause        110
To be suspected of more tenderness
Than doth become a man. I will remain
The loyal’st husband that did e’er plight troth.
My residence in Rome at one Philario’s,
Who to my father was a friend, to me        115
Known but by letter; thither write, my queen,
And with mine eyes I’ll drink the words you send,
Though ink be made of gall.
Re-enter QUEEN.
  Queen.        Be brief, I pray you;        120
If the king come, I shall incur I know not
How much of his displeasure.  [Aside.]  Yet I’ll move him
To walk this way. I never do him wrong,
But he does buy my injuries to be friends,
Pays dear for my offences.  [Exit.        125
  Post.        Should we be taking leave
As long a term as yet we have to live,
The loathness to depart would grow. Adieu!
  Imo.  Nay, stay a little:
Were you but riding forth to air yourself        130
Such parting were too petty. Look here, love;
This diamond was my mother’s; take it, heart;
But keep it till you woo another wife,
When Imogen is dead.
  Post.        How! how! another?        135
You gentle gods, give me but this I have,
And sear up my embracements from a next
With bonds of death!—Remain, remain thou here  [Putting on the ring.
While sense can keep it on! And, sweetest, fairest,
As I my poor self did exchange for you,        140
To your so infinite loss, so in our trifles
I still win of you; for my sake wear this;
It is a manacle of love; I’ll place it
Upon this fairest prisoner.  [Putting a bracelet on her arm.
  Imo.        O the gods!        145
When shall we see again?
Enter CYMBELINE and Lords.
  Post.        Alack! the king!
  Cym.  Thou basest thing, avoid! hence, from my sight!
If after this command thou fraught the court        150
With thy unworthiness, thou diest. Away!
Thou’rt poison to my blood.
  Post.        The gods protect you
And bless the good remainders of the court!
I am gone.  [Exit.        155
  Imo.  There cannot be a pinch in death
More sharp than this is.
  Cym.        O disloyal thing,
That shouldst repair my youth, thou heap’st instead
A year’s age on me.        160
  Imo.        I beseech you, sir,
Harm not yourself with your vexation;
I am senseless of your wrath; a touch more rare
Subdues all pangs, all fears.
  Cym.        Past grace? obedience?        165
  Imo.  Past hope, and in despair; that way, past grace.
  Cym.  That mightst have had the sole son of my queen!
  Imo.  O bless’d, that I might not! I chose an eagle
And did avoid a puttock.
  Cym.  Thou took’st a beggar; wouldst have made my throne        170
A seat for baseness.
  Imo.        No; I rather added
A lustre to it.
  Cym.        O thou vile one!
  Imo.                Sir,        175
It is your fault that I have lov’d Posthumus;
You bred him as my playfellow, and he is
A man worth any woman, overbuys me
Almost the sum he pays.
  Cym.        What! art thou mad?        180
  Imo.  Almost, sir; heaven restore me! Would I were
A neat-herd’s daughter, and my Leonatus
Our neighbour shepherd’s son!
  Cym.        Thou foolish thing!
Re-enter QUEEN.
They were again together; you have done
Not after our command. Away with her,
And pen her up.
  Queen.        Beseech your patience. Peace!
Dear lady daughter, peace! Sweet sovereign,        190
Leave us to ourselves, and make yourself some comfort
Out of your best advice.
  Cym.        Nay, let her languish
A drop of blood a day; and, being aged,
Die of this folly!  [Exeunt CYMBELINE and Lords.        195
  Queen.        Fie! you must give way:
Here is your servant. How now, sir! What news?
  Pis.  My lord your son drew on my master.
  Queen.        Ha!        200
No harm, I trust, is done?
  Pis.        There might have been,
But that my master rather play’d than fought,
And had no help of anger; they were parted
By gentlemen at hand.        205
  Queen.        I am very glad on ’t.
  Imo.  Your son’s my father’s friend; he takes his part.
To draw upon an exile! O brave sir!
I would they were in Afric both together,
Myself by with a needle, that I might prick        210
The goer-back. Why came you from your master?
  Pis.  On his command: he would not suffer me
To bring him to the haven; left these notes
Of what commands I should be subject to,
When ’t pleas’d you to employ me.        215
  Queen.        This hath been
Your faithful servant; I dare lay mine honour
He will remain so.
  Pis.        I humbly thank your highness.
  Queen.  Pray, walk a while.        220
  Imo.  [To PISANIO.]  About some half-hour hence,
I pray you, speak with me. You shall at least
Go see my lord aboard; for this time leave me.  [Exeunt.

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