Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > Cymbeline
William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
Act V. Scene V.
  Cym.  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,        5
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.
  Bel.        I never saw        10
Such noble fury in so poor a thing;
Such precious deeds in one that promis’d nought
But beggary and poor looks.
  Cym.        No tidings of him?
  Pis.  He hath been search’d among the dead and living,        15
But no trace of him.
  Cym.        To my grief, I am
The heir of his reward; which I will add  [To BELARIUS, GUIDERIUS, and ARVIRAGUS.
To you, the liver, heart, and brain of Britain,
By whom, I grant, she lives. ’Tis now the time        20
To ask of whence you are: report it.
  Bel.        Sir,
In Cambria are we born, and gentlemen:
Further to boast were neither true nor modest,
Unless I add, we are honest.        25
  Cym.        Bow your knees.
Arise, my knights o’ the battle: I create you
Companions to our person, and will fit you
With dignities becoming your estates.
Enter CORNELIUS and Ladies.
There’s business in these faces. Why so sadly
Greet you our victory? you look like Romans,
And not o’ the court of Britain.
  Cor.        Hail, great king!
To sour your happiness, I must report        35
The queen is dead.
  Cym.        Whom worse than a physician
Would this report become? But I consider,
By medicine life may be prolong’d, yet death
Will seize the doctor too. How ended she?        40
  Cor.  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        45
Were present when she finish’d.
  Cym.        Prithee, say.
  Cor.  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;        50
Abhorr’d your person.
  Cym.        She alone knew this;
And, but she spoke it dying, I would not
Believe her lips in opening it. Proceed.
  Cor.  Your daughter, whom she bore in hand to love        55
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.
  Cym.        O most delicate fiend!        60
Who is ’t can read a woman? Is there more?
  Cor.  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,        65
By watching, weeping, tendance, kissing, to
O’ercome you with her show; yea, and in time—
When she had fitted you with her craft—to work
Her son into the adoption of the crown;
But failing of her end by his strange absence,        70
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.
  Cym.        Heard you all this, her women?        75
  First Lady.  We did, so please your highness.
  Cym.        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        80
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        85
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.        90
  Luc.  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        95
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,        100
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        105
Cannot deny; he hath done no Briton harm,
Though he have serv’d a Roman. Save him, sir,
And spare no blood beside.
  Cym.  I have surely seen him;
His favour is familiar to me. Boy,        110
Thou hast look’d thyself into my grace,
And art mine own. I know not why nor 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;        115
Yea, though thou do demand a prisoner,
The noblest ta’en.
  Imo.        I humbly thank your highness.
  Luc.  I do not bid thee beg my life, good lad;
And yet I know thou wilt.        120
  Imo.        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.
  Luc.        The boy disdains me,        125
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?
  Cym.        What wouldst thou, boy?
I love thee more and more; think more and more        130
What’s best to ask. Know’st him thou look’st on? speak;
Wilt have him live? Is he thy kin? thy friend?
  Imo.  He is a Roman; no more kin to me
Than I to your highness; who, being born your vassal,
Am something nearer.        135
  Cym.        Wherefore ey’st him so?
  Imo.  I’ll tell you, sir, in private, if you please
To give me hearing.
  Cym.        Ay, with all my heart,
And lend my best attention. What’s thy name?        140
  Imo.  Fidele, sir.
  Cym.        Thou’rt my good youth, my page;
I’ll be thy master: walk with me; speak freely.  [CYMBELINE and IMOGEN converse apart.
  Bel.  Is not this boy reviv’d from death?
  Arv.        One sand another        145
Not more resembles;—that sweet rosy lad
Who died, and was Fidele. What think you?
  Gui.  The same dead thing alive.
  Bel.  Peace, peace! see further; he eyes us not; forbear;
Creatures may be alike; were ’t he, I am sure        150
He would have spoke to us.
  Gui.        But we saw him dead.
  Bel.  Be silent; let’s see further.
  Pis.        [Aside.]  It is my mistress:
Since she is living, let the time run on        155
To good, or bad.  [CYMBELINE and IMOGEN come forward.
  Cym.        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,        160
Which is our honour, bitter torture shall
Winnow the truth from falsehood. On, speak to him.
  Imo.  My boon is, that this gentleman may render
Of whom he had this ring.
  Post.        [Aside.]  What’s that to him?        165
  Cym.  That diamond upon your finger, say
How came it yours?
  Iach.  Thou’lt torture me to leave unspoken that
Which, to be spoke, would torture thee.
  Cym.        How! me?        170
  Iach.  I am glad to be constrain’d to utter that
Which torments me to conceal. By villany
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        175
’Twixt sky and ground. Wilt thou hear more, my lord?
  Cym.  All that belongs to this.
  Iach.        That paragon, thy daughter,—
For whom my heart drops blood, and my false spirits
Quail to remember,—Give me leave; I faint.        180
  Cym.  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.
  Iach.  Upon a time,—unhappy was the clock
That struck the hour!—it was in Rome,—accurs’d        185
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        190
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,        195
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.
  Cym.        I stand on fire.        200
Come to the matter.
  Iach.        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;        205
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        210
Prov’d us unspeaking sots.
  Cym.        Nay, nay, to the purpose.
  Iach.  Your daughter’s chastity, there it begins.
He spake of her as Dian had hot dreams,
And she alone were cold; whereat I, wretch,        215
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 his bed, and win this ring
By hers and mine adultery. He, true knight,        220
No lesser of her honour confident
Than I did truly find her, stakes this ring;
And would so, had it been a carbuncle
Of Phœbus’ wheel; and might so safely, had it
Been all the worth of ’s car. Away to Britain        225
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 villanous. Being thus quench’d
Of hope, not longing, mine Italian brain        230
’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,        235
By wounding his belief in her renown
With tokens thus, and thus; averring notes
Of chamber-hanging, pictures, this her bracelet;—
Oh cunning! how I got it!—nay, some marks
Of secret on her person, that he could not        240
But think her bond of chastity quite crack’d,
I having ta’en the forfeit. Whereupon,—
Methinks I see him now,—
  Post.  [Coming forward.]  Ay, so thou dost,
Italian fiend!—Ay me, most credulous fool,        245
Egregious murderer, thief, any thing
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        250
That all the abhorred things o’ the 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        255
Of virtue was she; yea, and she herself.
Spit, and throw stones, cast mire upon me, set
The dogs o’ the street to bay me; every villain
Be call’d Posthumus Leonatus; and
Be villany less than ’twas! O Imogen!        260
My queen, my life, my wife! O Imogen,
Imogen, Imogen!
  Imo.        Peace, my lord! hear, hear!
  Post.  Shall’s have a play of this? Thou scornful page,
There lie thy part.  [Striking her: she falls.        265
  Pis.        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!
  Cym.        Does the world go round?        270
  Post.  How come these staggers on me?
  Pis.        Wake, my mistress!
  Cym.  If this be so, the gods do mean to strike me
To death with mortal joy.
  Pis.        How fares my mistress?        275
  Imo.  O! get thee from my sight:
Thou gav’st me poison: dangerous fellow, hence!
Breathe not where princess are.
  Cym.        The tune of Imogen!
  Pis.  Lady,        280
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.
  Cym.  New matter still?
  Imo.        It poison’d me.        285
  Cor.                O gods!
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        290
As I would serve a rat.’
  Cym.        What’s this, Cornelius?
  Cor.  The queen, sir, very oft importun’d me
To temper poisons for her, still pretending
The satisfaction of her knowledge only        295
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 power of life, but in short time        300
All offices of nature should again
Do their due functions. Have you ta’en of it?
  Imo.  Most like I did, for I was dead.
  Bel.        My boys,
There was our error.        305
  Gui.        This is, sure, Fidele.
  Imo.  Why did you throw your wedded lady from you?
Think that you are upon a rock; and now
Throw me again.  [Embracing him.
  Post.        Hang there like fruit, my soul,        310
Till the tree die!
  Cym.        How now, my flesh, my child!
What, mak’st thou me a dullard in this act?
Wilt thou not speak to me?
  Imo        [Kneeling.]  Your blessing, sir.        315
  Bel.  [To GUIDERIUS and ARVIRAGUS.]  Though you did love this youth, I blame ye not;
You had a motive for ’t.
  Cym.        My tears that fall
Prove holy water on thee! Imogen,
Thy mother’s dead.        320
  Imo.        I am sorry for ’t, my lord.
  Cym.  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.
  Pis.        My lord,        325
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,        330
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        335
With unchaste purpose and with oath to violate
My lady’s honour; what became of him
I further know not.
  Gui.        Let me end the story:
I slew him there.        340
  Cym.        Marry, the gods forfend!
I would not thy good deeds should from my lips
Pluck a hard sentence: prithee, valiant youth,
Deny ’t again.
  Gui.        I have spoke it, and I did it.        345
  Cym.  He was a prince.
  Gui.  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;        350
And am right glad he is not standing here
To tell this tale of mine.
  Cym.        I am sorry for thee:
By thine own tongue thou art condemn’d, and must
Endure our law. Thou’rt dead.        355
  Imo.        That headless man
I thought had been my lord.
  Cym.        Bind the offender,
And take him from our presence.
  Bel.        Stay, sir king:        360
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.        365
  Cym.        Why, old soldier,
Wilt thou undo the worth thou art unpaid for,
By tasting of our wrath? How of descent
As good as we?
  Arv.        In that he spake too far.        370
  Cym.  And thou shalt die for ’t.
  Bel.        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,        375
Though, haply, well for you.
  Arv.        Your danger’s ours.
  Gui.  And our good his.
  Bel.        Have at it, then, by leave.
Thou hadst, great king, a subject who was call’d        380
  Cym.        What of him? he is
A banish’d traitor.
  Bel.        He it is that hath
Assum’d this age: indeed, a banish’d man;        385
I know not how a traitor.
  Cym.        Take him hence:
The whole world shall not save him.
  Bel.        Not too hot:
First pay me for the nursing of thy sons;        390
And let it be confiscate all so soon
As I have receiv’d it.
  Cym.        Nursing of my sons!
  Bel.  I am too blunt and saucy; here’s my knee:
Ere I arise I will prefer my sons;        395
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.        400
  Cym.        How! my issue!
  Bel.  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        405
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 I
Could put into them; my breeding was, sir, as
Your highness knows. Their nurse, Euriphile,        410
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,        415
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        420
Fall on their heads like dew! for they are worthy
To inlay heaven with stars.
  Cym.        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:        425
If these be they, I know not how to wish
A pair of worthier sons.
  Bel.        Be pleas’d awhile.
This gentleman, whom I call Polydore,
Most worthy prince, as yours, is true Guiderius;        430
This gentleman, my Cadwal, Arviragus,
Your younger princely son; he, sir, was lapp’d
In a most curious mantle, wrought by the hand
Of his queen mother, which, for more probation,
I can with ease produce.        435
  Cym.        Guiderius had
Upon his neck a mole, a sanguine star;
It was a mark of wonder.
  Bel.        This is he,
Who hath upon him still that natural stamp.        440
It was wise nature’s end in the donation,
To be his evidence now.
  Cym.        O! what, am I
A mother to the birth of three? Ne’er mother
Rejoic’d deliverance more. Blest pray you be,        445
That, after this strange starting from your orbs,
You may reign in them now. O Imogen!
Thou hast lost by this a kingdom.
  Imo.        No, my lord;
I have got two worlds by ’t. O my gentle brothers!        450
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 ye were so indeed.
  Cym.        Did you e’er meet?        455
  Arv.  Ay, my good lord.
  Gui.        And at first meeting lov’d;
Continu’d so, until we thought he died.
  Cor.  By the queen’s dram she swallow’d.
  Cym.        O rare instinct!        460
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?        465
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-dependances,
From chance to chance, but nor the time nor place        470
Will serve our long inter’gatories. 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        475
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.
  Imo.  You are my father too; and did relieve me,
To see this gracious season.        480
  Cym.        All o’erjoy’d
Save these in bonds; let them be joyful too,
For they shall taste our comfort.
  Imo.        My good master,
I will yet do you service.        485
  Luc.        Happy be you!
  Cym.  The forlorn soldier, that so nobly fought
He would have well becom’d this place and grac’d
The thankings of a king.
  Post.        I am, sir,        490
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.        495
  Iach.        [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        500
That ever swore her faith.
  Post.        Kneel not to me:
The power that I have on you is to spare you;
The malice towards you to forgive you. Live,
And deal with others better.        505
  Cym.        Nobly doom’d:
We’ll learn our freeness of a son-in-law;
Pardon’s the word to all.
  Arv.        You holp us, sir,
As you did mean indeed to be our brother;        510
Joy’d are we that you are.
  Post.  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        515
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.        520
  Luc.        Philarmonus!
  Sooth.  Here, my good lord.
  Luc.        Read, and declare the meaning.
  Sooth.  Whenas a lion’s whelp shall, to himself unknown, without seeking find, and be embraced by a piece of tender air; and when from a stately cedar shall be lopped 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;        525
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,        530
Is this most constant wife; who, even now,
Answering the letter of the oracle,
Unknown to you,  [To POSTHUMUS.]  unsought, were clipp’d about
With this most tender air.
  Cym.        This hath some seeming.        535
  Sooth.  The lofty cedar, royal Cymbeline,
Personates thee, and thy lopp’d branches point
Thy two sons forth; who, by Belarius stolen,
For many years thought dead, are now reviv’d,
To the majestic cedar join’d, whose issue        540
Promises Britain peace and plenty.
  Cym.        Well;
My peace we will begin. And, Caius Lucius,
Although the victor, we submit to Cæsar,
And to the Roman empire; promising        545
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.
  Sooth.  The fingers of the powers above do tune        550
The harmony of this peace. The vision
Which I made known to Lucius ere the stroke
Of this yet scarce-cold battle, at this instant
Is full accomplish’d; for the Roman eagle,
From south to west on wing soaring aloft,        555
Lessen’d herself, and in the beams o’ the sun
So vanish’d: which foreshow’d our princely eagle,
The imperial Cæsar, should again unite
His favour with the radiant Cymbeline,
Which shines here in the west.        560
  Cym.        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        565
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.        570

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