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Of courts, of princes, of the tricks in war:
This service is not service, so being done,
But being so allow'd : To apprehend thus
Draws us a profit from all things we see:
And often, to our comfort, shall we find
The sharded * beetle in a safer hold
Than is the full-wing'd eagle. O, this life
Is nobler, than attending for a check;t
Richer, than doing nothing for a babe;
Prouder, than rustling in unpaid-for silk:
Such gain the cap of him that makes them fine,
Yet keeps his book uncross'd: no life to ours. S
Gui. Out of your proof you speak : we, poor unfledged,
Have never wing'd from view of the nest; nor know not
What air 's from home. Haply, this life is best,
If quiet life be best; sweeter to you,
That have a sharper known; well corresponding
· With your stiff age; but, unto us, it is
A cell of ignorance; travelling abed;
A prison for a debtor, that not dares
To stride a limit.||
Arv. What should we speak of,
When we are old as you ? when we shall hear
The rain and wind beat dark December, how,
In this our pinching cave, shall we discourse
The freezing hours away? We have seen nothing:
We are beastly; subtle as the fox, for prey;
Like warlike as the wolf, for what we eat:
Our valour is, to chase what flies; our cage
We make a quire, as doth the prison bird,
And sing our bondage freely.
Bel. How you speak!.
Did you but know the city's usuries,
And felt them knowingly: the art o' the court,
As hard to leave, as keep; whose top to climb
Is certain falling, or so slippery, that
The fear 's as bad as falling: the toil of the war,
A pain that only seems to seek out danger
I’ the name of fame, and honour; which dies i' the search ;
And hath as oft a slanderous epitaph,
As record of fair act; nay, many times,
Doth ill deserve by doing well ; what's worse,
Must court'sey at the censure :-0, boys, this story
The world may read in me: My body's mark'd
With Roman swords : and my report was once
First with the best of note; Cymbeline loved me;
And when a soldier was the theme, my name
Was not far off: Then was I as a tree,
Whose boughs did bend with fruit : but in one night,
A storm, or robbery, call it what you will,
+ 1. e. a command at court. * I. e. having charge of a ward.
§ I. e. compared with ours. | Overpass his bound.
Shcok down my mellow hangings, nay, my leaves,
And left me bare to weather.
Gui. Uncertain favour!
Bel. My fault being nothing (as I have told you oft),
But that two villains, whose false oaths prevail'd
Before my perfect honour, swore to Cymbeline,
I was confederate with the Romans: so,
Follow'd my banishment; and this twenty years,
This rock, and these demesnes, have been my world :
Where I have lived at honest freedom; paid
More pious debts to heaven, than in all
The fore-end of my time.-But, up to the mountains;
This is not hunter's language:–He that strikes
The venison first, shall be the lord o’the feast;
To him the other two shall minister;
And we will fear no poison, which attends
In place of greater state. I'll meet you in the valleys.
[Exeunt GUIDERIUS and ARVIRAGUS.
How hard it is to hide the sparks of nature !
These boys know little they are sons to the king;
Nor Cymbeline dreams that they are alive.
They think they are mine: and, though train'd up thus meanly
I' the cave, wherein they bow, their thoughts do hit
The roofs of palaces; and nature prompts them,
In simple and low things to prince it, much
Beyond the trick of others. This Polydore,-
The heir of Cymbeline and Britain, whom
The king his father call’d Guiderius,-Jove !
When on my three-foot stool I sit, and tell
The warlike feats I have done, his spirits fly out
Into my story : say,-Thus mine enemy fell ;
And thus I set my foot on his neck; even then
The princely blood flows in his cheek, he sweats,
Strains his young nerves, and puts himself in posture
That acts my words. The younger brother Cadwal
(Once Arvirágus), in as like a figure,
Strikes life into my speech, and shows much more
His own conceiving. Hark! the game is roused !-
0, Cymbeline! heaven, and my conscience, knows,
Thou didst unjustly banish me: whereon
At three and two years old, I stole these babes;
Thinking to bar thee of succession, as
Thou reft'st me of my lands. Euriphile,
Thou wast their nurse; they took thee for their mother,
And every day do honour to her grave:
Myself, Belarius, that am Morgan callid,
They take for natural father. The game is up.
[Exit. SCENE IV.-Near Milford Haven.
Enter PISANIO and IMOGEN.
Imo. Thou told'st me, when we came from horse, the place
Was near at hand: Ne'er long'd my mother so
To see me first, as I have now :-Pisanio! Man !
Where is Posthumus ? What is in thy mind,
That makes thee stare thus? Wherefore breaks that sigh
From the inward of thee? One, but painted thus,
Would be interpreted a thing perplex'd
Beyond self-explication: Put thyself
Into a 'haviour* of less fear, ere wildness
Vanquish my staider senses. What's the matter?
Why tender'st thou that paper to me, with
A look untender? If it be summer news,
Smile to’t before: if winterly, thou need'st
But keep that countenance still.-My husband's hand!
That drug-damn'd Italy hath out-craftied him,
And he's at some hard point.-Speak, man; thy tongue
May take off some extremity, which to read
Would be even mortal to me.
Pis. Please you, read;
And you shall find me, wretched man, a thing
The most disdain'd of fortune.
Imo. [reads]. Thy mistress, Pisanio, hath played the strumpet in my bed; the testimonies whereof lie bleeding in me, I speak not out of weak surmises ; from proof as strong as my grief, and as certain as I expect my revenge. That part, thou, Pisanio, must act for me, if thy faith be not tainted with the breach of hers. Let thine own hands take away her life: I shall give thee oppor. tunities at Milford Haven : she hath my letter for the purpose : Where, if thou fear to strike, and to make me certain it is done, thou art the pander to her dishonour, and equally to me disloyal.
Pis. What shall I need to draw my sword ? the paper
Hath cut her throat already.-- No, 'tis slander;
Whose edge is sharper than the sword; whose tongue
Outvenoms all the worms of Nile; whose breath
Rides on the posting winds, and doth belie
All corners of the world : kings, queens, and states,
Maids, matrons, nay, the secrets of the grave
This viperous slander enters.—What cheer, madam ?
Imo. False to his bed! What is it, to be false ?
To lie in watch there, and to think on him?
To weep 'twixt clock and clock ? If sleep charge nature,
To break it with a fearful dream of him,
And cry myself awake? that's false to his bed ?
Pis. Alas, good lady!
Imo. I false? Thy conscience witness :-Iachimo,
Thou didst accuse him of incontinency;
Thou then look’dst like a villain; now, methinks
Thy favour's good enough. --Some jay of Italy,
Whose mother was her painting,t hath betrayed him:
Poor I am stale, a garment out of fashion;
And, for I am richer than to hang by the walls,
I must be ripp'd :—to pieces with me!-0,
* For behaviour.
+ I. e. whose beauty was created by artifice. # 1. e. than to be hung up in a cupboard out of the way.
Men's vows are women's traitors! All good seeming,
By thy revolt, О husband, shall be thought
Put on for villany; not born, where't grows;
But worn, a bait for ladies.
Pis. Good madam, hear me.
Imo. True honest men being heard, like false Eneas,
Were, in his time, thought false : and Sinon's weeping
Did scandal many a holy tear; took pity
From most true wretchedness': So, thou, Posthumus,
Wilt lay the leaven on all proper men;
Goodly and gallant, shall be false and perjured,
From thy great fail.-Come, fellow, be thou honest:
Do thou thy master's bidding: when thou see'st him,
A little witness my obedience: Look!
I draw the sword myself: take it; and hit
The innocent mansion of my love, my heart:
Fear not; 'tis empty of all things but grief :
Thy master is not there; who was, indeed,
The riches of it: Do his bidding; strike.
Thou mayst be valiant in a better cause;
But now thou seem'st a coward.
Pis. Hence, vile instrument !
Thou shalt not damn my hand.
Imo. Why, I must die ;
And if I do not by thy hand, thou art
No servant of thy master's : Against self-slaughter
There is a prohibition so divine,
That cravens* my weak hand. Come, here's my heart;
Something's afore’t:-Soft, soft; we'll no defence;
Obedient as the scabbard. What is here ?
The scriptures † of the loyal Leonatus,
All turn'd to heresy ? Away, away,
Corrupters of my faith! you shall no more
Be stomachers to my heart! Thus may poor fools
Believe false teachers: Though those that are betray'd
Do feel the treason sharply, yet the traitor
Stands in worse case of woe.
And thou, Posthumus, thou that didst set up
My disobedience 'gainst the king my father,
And make me put into contempt the suits
Of princely fellows, shalt hereafter find
It is no act of common passage, but
A strain of rareness: and I grieve myself,
To think, when thou shalt be disedged by her
That now thou tir’st I on, how thy memory
Will then be pang'd by me.-Prythee, despatch:
The lamb entreats the butcher: Where's thy knife ??
Thou art too slow to do thy master's bidding,
When I desire it too.
Pis. O gracious lady,
Since I received command to do this business,
I have not slept one wink.
* Makes a coward of.
† The writings.
Imo. Do’t, and to bed then.
Pis. I'll wake mine eyeballs blind first.
Imo. Wherefore then
Didst undertake it? Why hast thou abused
So many miles with a pretence ? this place?
Mine action and thine own? our horses' labour?
The time inviting thee? the perturb'd court,
For my being absent: whereunto I never
Purpose return? Why hast thou gone so far,
To be unbent, when thou hast ta'en thy stand,
The elected deer before thee ?
Pis. But to win time
To lose so bad employment: in the which
I have consider'd of a course. Good lady,
Hear me with patience.
Imo. Talk thy tongue weary; speak :
I have heard, I am a strumpet; and mine ear,
Therein false struck, can take no greater wound,
Nor tent to bottom that. But speak.
Pis. Then, madam,
I thought you would not back again.
Imo. Most like;
Bringing me here to kill me.
Pis. Not so, neither:
But if I were as wise as honest, then
My purpose would prove well.' It cannot be,
But that my master is abused :
Some villain, ay, and singular in his art,
Hath done you both this cursed injury.
Imo. Some Roman courtezan.
Pis. No, on my life.
I'll give but notice you are dead, and send him
Some bloody sign of it; for 'tis commanded
I should do so : You shall be miss'd at court,
And that will well confirm it.
Imo. Why, good fellow,
What shall I do the while ? Where bide ? How live?
Or in my life what comfort, when I am
Dead to my husband ?
Pis. If you'll back to the court,
Imo. No court, no father; nor no more ado
With that harsh, noble, simple nothing:
That Cloten, whose love-suit hath been to me
As fearful as a siege.
Pis. If not at court,
Then not in Britain must you bide.
Imo. Where then ?
Hath Britain all the sun that shines ?. Day, night,
Are they not but in Britain ? I' the world's volume
Our Britain seems as of it, but not in it;
In a great pool, a swan's nest; Prythee, think
There's livers out of Britain.
Pis. I am most glad