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.
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?
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
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?
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.