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ACT I SCENE IBritain. The garden of Cymbeline’s palace.
Enter two Gentlemen.
First GentlemanYou do not meet a man but frowns: our bloods
No more obey the heavens than our courtiers
Still seem as does the king.
Second GentlemanBut what’s the matter? 5
First GentlemanHis daughter, and the heir of’s kingdom, whom
He purposed 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;
Her husband banish’d; she imprison’d: all 10
Is outward sorrow; though I think the king
Be touch’d at very heart.
Second GentlemanNone but the king?
First GentlemanHe that hath lost her too; so is the queen,
That most desired the match; but not a courtier, 15
Although they wear their faces to the bent
Of the king’s look’s, hath a heart that is not
Glad at the thing they scowl at.
Second GentlemanAnd why so?
First GentlemanHe that hath miss’d the princess is a thing 20
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
For one his like, there would be something failing 25
In him that should compare. I do not think
So fair an outward and such stuff within
Endows a man but he.
Second GentlemanYou speak him far.
First GentlemanI do extend him, sir, within himself, 30
Crush him together rather than unfold
His measure duly.
Second GentlemanWhat’s his name and birth?
First GentlemanI cannot delve him to the root: his father
Was call’d Sicilius, who did join his honour 35
Against the Romans with Cassibelan,
But had his titles by Tenantius whom
He served with glory and admired success,
So gain’d the sur-addition Leonatus;
And had, besides this gentleman in question, 40
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, deceased
As he was born. The king he takes the babe
To his protection, calls him Posthumus Leonatus,
Breeds him and makes him of his bed-chamber,
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, lived in court–
Which rare it is to do–most praised, most loved,
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.
Second GentlemanI honour him
Even out of your report. But, pray you, tell me,
Is she sole child to the king?
First GentlemanHis 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
Second GentlemanHow long is this ago?
First GentlemanSome twenty years.
Second GentlemanThat a king’s children should be so convey’d,
So slackly guarded, and the search so slow,
That could not trace them! 75
First GentlemanHowsoe’er ’tis strange,
Or that the negligence may well be laugh’d at,
Yet is it true, sir.
Second GentlemanI do well believe you.
First GentlemanWe must forbear: here comes the gentleman, 80
The queen, and princess.
QUEENNo, be assured you shall not find me, daughter,
After the slander of most stepmothers,
Evil-eyed unto you: you’re my prisoner, but
Your gaoler shall deliver you the keys 85
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
You lean’d unto his sentence with what patience 90
Your wisdom may inform you.
POSTHUMUS LEONATUSPlease your highness,
I will from hence to-day.
QUEENYou know the peril.
I’ll fetch a turn about the garden, pitying 95
The pangs of barr’d affections, though the king
Hath charged you should not speak together.
IMOGENO dissembling courtesy! How fine this tyrant
Can tickle where she wounds! My dearest husband, 100
I something fear my father’s wrath; but nothing–
Always reserved my holy duty–what
His rage can do on me: you must be gone;
And I shall here abide the hourly shot
Of angry eyes, not comforted to live, 105
But that there is this jewel in the world
That I may see again.
POSTHUMUS LEONATUSMy queen! my mistress!
O lady, weep no more, lest I give cause
To be suspected of more tenderness 110
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
Known but by letter: thither write, my queen, 115
And with mine eyes I’ll drink the words you send,
Though ink be made of gall.
Re-enter QUEEN.
QUEENBe brief, I pray you:
If the king come, I shall incur I know not
How much of his displeasure. 120
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.
POSTHUMUS LEONATUSShould we be taking leave 125
As long a term as yet we have to live,
The loathness to depart would grow. Adieu!
IMOGENNay, stay a little:
Were you but riding forth to air yourself,
Such parting were too petty. Look here, love; 130
This diamond was my mother’s: take it, heart;
But keep it till you woo another wife,
When Imogen is dead.
POSTHUMUS LEONATUSHow, how! another?
You gentle gods, give me but this I have, 135
And sear up my embracements from a next
With bonds of death!
Putting on the ring
Remain, remain thou here
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 upon her arm
IMOGENO the gods! 145
When shall we see again?
Enter CYMBELINE and Lords.
CYMBELINEThou basest thing, avoid! hence, from my sight!
If after this command thou fraught the court
With thy unworthiness, thou diest: away! 150
Thou’rt poison to my blood.
POSTHUMUS LEONATUSThe gods protect you!
And bless the good remainders of the court! I am gone.
IMOGENThere cannot be a pinch in death
More sharp than this is. 155
CYMBELINEO disloyal thing,
That shouldst repair my youth, thou heap’st
A year’s age on me.
IMOGENI beseech you, sir,
Harm not yourself with your vexation 160
I am senseless of your wrath; a touch more rare
Subdues all pangs, all fears.
CYMBELINEPast grace? obedience?
IMOGENPast hope, and in despair; that way, past grace.
CYMBELINEThat mightst have had the sole son of my queen! 165
IMOGENO blest, that I might not! I chose an eagle,
And did avoid a puttock.
CYMBELINEThou took’st a beggar; wouldst have made my throne
A seat for baseness.
IMOGENNo; I rather added 170
A lustre to it.
CYMBELINEO thou vile one!
It is your fault that I have loved Posthumus:
You bred him as my playfellow, and he is 175
A man worth any woman, overbuys me
Almost the sum he pays.
CYMBELINEWhat, art thou mad?
IMOGENAlmost, sir: heaven restore me! Would I were
A neat-herd’s daughter, and my Leonatus 180
Our neighbour shepherd’s son!
CYMBELINEThou foolish thing!
Re-enter QUEEN.
They were again together: you have done
Not after our command. Away with her,
And pen her up. 185
QUEENBeseech your patience. Peace,
Dear lady daughter, peace! Sweet sovereign,
Leave us to ourselves; and make yourself some comfort
Out of your best advice.
CYMBELINENay, let her languish 190
A drop of blood a day; and, being aged,
Die of this folly!
Exeunt CYMBELINE and Lords.
QUEENFie! you must give way.
Here is your servant. How now, sir! What news?
PISANIOMy lord your son drew on my master. 195
No harm, I trust, is done?
PISANIOThere might have been,
But that my master rather play’d than fought
And had no help of anger: they were parted 200
By gentlemen at hand.
QUEENI am very glad on’t.
IMOGENYour 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; 205
Myself by with a needle, that I might prick
The goer-back. Why came you from your master?
PISANIOOn his command: he would not suffer me
To bring him to the haven; left these notes
Of what commands I should be subject to, 210
When ‘t pleased you to employ me.
QUEENThis hath been
Your faithful servant: I dare lay mine honour
He will remain so.
PISANIOI humbly thank your highness. 215
QUEENPray, walk awhile.
IMOGENAbout some half-hour hence,
I pray you, speak with me: you shall at least
Go see my lord aboard: for this time leave me.

Cymbeline, Act 1, Scene 2