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Cymbeline Scenes

Scene 6

Britain. Another room in Cymbeline’s palace.

(Imogen; Pisanio; Jachimo)

Imogen bewails her lot as Pisanio ushers in Jachimo, the last-named bringing a note of introduction from Posthumus. Jachimo slanders Posthumus as being merry in Rome. Then he proposes that she pay Posthumus back in kind, offering himself as a good opportunity to do so. Imogen indignantly rejects him. Jachimo apologizes, claiming that he was merely testing her love for his friend. Professing to be delighted to find that she is true to her husband, he asks Imogen if he may store a valuable trunk in her room. She accepts. (240 lines)

Enter Imogen alone.


A father cruel, and a step-dame false,

A foolish suitor to a wedded lady

That hath her husband banish’d. O, that husband!

My supreme crown of grief, and those repeated

Vexations of it! Had I been thief-stol’n,

As my two brothers, happy! But most miserable

Is the desire that’s glorious. Blessed be those,

How mean soe’er, that have their honest wills,

Which seasons comfort. Who may this be? Fie!

Enter Pisanio and Jachimo.


Madam, a noble gentleman of Rome,

Comes from my lord with letters.


Change you, madam:

The worthy Leonatus is in safety

And greets your Highness dearly.

Presents a letter.


Thanks, good sir,

You’re kindly welcome.



All of her that is out of door most rich!

If she be furnish’d with a mind so rare,

She is alone th’ Arabian bird, and I

Have lost the wager. Boldness be my friend;

Arm me audacity from head to foot,

Or like the Parthian I shall flying fight—

Rather, directly fly.



“He is one of the noblest note, to whose kindnesses I am most infinitely tied. Reflect upon him accordingly, as you value your trust—


So far I read aloud—

But even the very middle of my heart

Is warm’d by th’ rest—and take it thankfully.

You are as welcome, worthy sir, as I

Have words to bid you, and shall find it so

In all that I can do.


Thanks, fairest lady.

What, are men mad? Hath nature given them eyes

To see this vaulted arch and the rich crop

Of sea and land, which can distinguish ’twixt

The fiery orbs above, and the twinn’d stones

Upon the number’d beach, and can we not

Partition make with spectacles so precious

’Twixt fair and foul?


What makes your admiration?


It cannot be i’ th’ eye: for apes and monkeys

’Twixt two such shes would chatter this way, and

Contemn with mows the other; nor i’ th’ judgment:

For idiots in this case of favor would

Be wisely definite; nor i’ th’ appetite:

Sluttery, to such neat excellence oppos’d,

Should make desire vomit emptiness,

Not so allur’d to feed.


What is the matter, trow?


The cloyed will—

That satiate yet unsatisfied desire, that tub

Both fill’d and running—ravening first the lamb,

Longs after for the garbage.


What, dear sir,

Thus raps you? Are you well?


Thanks, madam, well.

To Pisanio.

Beseech you, sir,

Desire my man’s abode where I did leave him:

He’s strange and peevish.


I was going, sir,

To give him welcome.



Continues well my lord? His health, beseech you?


Well, madam.


Is he dispos’d to mirth? I hope he is.


Exceeding pleasant; none a stranger there

So merry and so gamesome. He is call’d

The Britain reveller.


When he was here,

He did incline to sadness, and oft-times

Not knowing why.


I never saw him sad.

There is a Frenchman his companion, one

An eminent monsieur that it seems much loves

A Gallian girl at home. He furnaces

The thick sighs from him, whiles the jolly Britain

(Your lord, I mean) laughs from ’s free lungs; cries “O,

Can my sides hold, to think that man, who knows

By history, report, or his own proof,

What woman is, yea, what she cannot choose

But must be, will ’s free hours languish for

Assured bondage?”


Will my lord say so?


Ay, madam, with his eyes in flood with laughter.

It is a recreation to be by

And hear him mock the Frenchman. But heavens know

Some men are much to blame.


Not he, I hope.


Not he; but yet heaven’s bounty towards him might

Be us’d more thankfully. In himself, ’tis much;

In you, which I account his, beyond all talents.

Whilst I am bound to wonder, I am bound

To pity too.


What do you pity, sir?


Two creatures heartily.


Am I one, sir?

You look on me; what wrack discern you in me

Deserves your pity?


Lamentable! What,

To hide me from the radiant sun, and solace

I’ th’ dungeon by a snuff!


I pray you, sir,

Deliver with more openness your answers

To my demands. Why do you pity me?


That others do

(I was about to say) enjoy your—But

It is an office of the gods to venge it,

Not mine to speak on’t.


You do seem to know

Something of me, or what concerns me: pray you—

Since doubting things go ill often hurts more

Than to be sure they do; for certainties

Either are past remedies, or, timely knowing,

The remedy then born—discover to me

What both you spur and stop.


Had I this cheek

To bathe my lips upon; this hand, whose touch

(Whose every touch) would force the feeler’s soul

To th’ oath of loyalty; this object, which

Takes prisoner the wild motion of mine eye,

Firing it only here; should I (damn’d then)

Slaver with lips as common as the stairs

That mount the Capitol; join gripes with hands

Made hard with hourly falsehood (falsehood, as

With labor); then by-peeping in an eye

Base and illustrious as the smoky light

That’s fed with stinking tallow: it were fit

That all the plagues of hell should at one time

Encounter such revolt.


My lord, I fear,

Has forgot Britain.


And himself. Not I

Inclin’d to this intelligence pronounce

The beggary of his change; but ’tis your graces

That from my mutest conscience to my tongue

Charms this report out.


Let me hear no more.


O dearest soul! Your cause doth strike my heart

With pity that doth make me sick. A lady

So fair, and fasten’d to an empery

Would make the great’st king double—to be partner’d

With tomboys hir’d with that self exhibition

Which your own coffers yield; with diseas’d ventures

That play with all infirmities for gold

Which rottenness can lend nature; such boil’d stuff

As well might poison poison. Be reveng’d,

Or she that bore you was no queen, and you

Recoil from your great stock.



How should I be reveng’d? If this be true

(As I have such a heart that both mine ears

Must not in haste abuse), if it be true,

How should I be reveng’d?


Should he make me

Live, like Diana’s priest, betwixt cold sheets,

Whiles he is vaulting variable ramps,

In your despite, upon your purse—revenge it.

I dedicate myself to your sweet pleasure,

More noble than that runagate to your bed,

And will continue fast to your affection,

Still close as sure.


What ho, Pisanio!


Let me my service tender on your lips.


Away, I do condemn mine ears that have

So long attended thee. If thou wert honorable,

Thou wouldst have told this tale for virtue, not

For such an end thou seek’st—as base as strange.

Thou wrong’st a gentleman, who is as far

From thy report as thou from honor, and

Solicits here a lady that disdains

Thee and the devil alike. What ho, Pisanio!

The King my father shall be made acquainted

Of thy assault. If he shall think it fit

A saucy stranger in his court to mart

As in a Romish stew, and to expound

His beastly mind to us, he hath a court

He little cares for and a daughter who

He not respects at all. What ho, Pisanio!


O happy Leonatus! I may say,

The credit that thy lady hath of thee

Deserves thy trust, and thy most perfect goodness

Her assur’d credit. Blessed live you long,

A lady to the worthiest sir that ever

Country call’d his; and you his mistress, only

For the most worthiest fit. Give me your pardon.

I have spoke this to know if your affiance

Were deeply rooted, and shall make your lord,

That which he is, new o’er; and he is one

The truest manner’d, such a holy witch

That he enchants societies into him;

Half all men’s hearts are his.


You make amends.


He sits ’mongst men like a descended god;

He hath a kind of honor sets him off,

More than a mortal seeming. Be not angry,

Most mighty Princess, that I have adventur’d

To try your taking of a false report, which hath

Honor’d with confirmation your great judgment

In the election of a sir so rare,

Which you know cannot err. The love I bear him

Made me to fan you thus, but the gods made you

(Unlike all others) chaffless. Pray your pardon.


All’s well, sir. Take my pow’r i’ th’ court for yours.


My humble thanks. I had almost forgot

T’ entreat your Grace but in a small request,

And yet of moment too, for it concerns:

Your lord, myself, and other noble friends

Are partners in the business.


Pray, what is’t?


Some dozen Romans of us and your lord

(The best feather of our wing) have mingled sums

To buy a present for the Emperor;

Which I (the factor for the rest) have done

In France. ’Tis plate of rare device, and jewels

Of rich and exquisite form, their values great,

And I am something curious, being strange,

To have them in safe stowage. May it please you

To take them in protection?



And pawn mine honor for their safety. Since

My lord hath interest in them, I will keep them

In my bedchamber.


They are in a trunk,

Attended by my men. I will make bold

To send them to you, only for this night;

I must aboard tomorrow.


O no, no.


Yes, I beseech; or I shall short my word

By length’ning my return. From Gallia

I cross’d the seas on purpose and on promise

To see your Grace.


I thank you for your pains:

But not away tomorrow!


O, I must, madam.

Therefore I shall beseech you, if you please

To greet your lord with writing, do’t tonight.

I have outstood my time, which is material

To th’ tender of our present.


I will write.

Send your trunk to me, it shall safe be kept,

And truly yielded you. You’re very welcome.



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