William Shakespeare: Cymbeline, Act I, Scene VI

Scene VI

The same. Another room in the palace

Enter Imogen

Imogen

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: blest be those, How mean soe'er, that have their honest wills, Which seasons comfort. Who may this be? Fie!

Enter Pisanio and Iachimo

Pisanio

Madam, a noble gentleman of Rome, Comes from my lord with letters.

Iachimo

Change you, madam? The worthy Leonatus is in safety And greets your highness dearly.

Presents a letter

Imogen

Thanks, good sir: You're kindly welcome.

Iachimo

Aside

All of her that is out of door most rich! If she be furnish'd with a mind so rare, She is alone the 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.

Imogen

Reads

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

Leonatus.

So far I read aloud: But even the very middle of my heart Is warm'd by the rest, and takes 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.

Iachimo

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?

Imogen

What makes your admiration?

Iachimo

It cannot be i' the eye, for apes and monkeys 'Twixt two such shes would chatter this way and Contemn with mows the other; nor i' the judgment, For idiots in this case of favour would Be wisely definite; nor i' the appetite; Sluttery to such neat excellence opposed Should make desire vomit emptiness, Not so allured to feed.

Imogen

What is the matter, trow?

Iachimo

The cloyed will, That satiate yet unsatisfied desire, that tub Both fill'd and running, ravening first the lamb Longs after for the garbage.

Imogen

What, dear sir, Thus raps you? Are you well?

Iachimo

Thanks, madam; well.

To Pisanio

Beseech you, sir, desire My man's abode where I did leave him: he Is strange and peevish.

Pisanio

I was going, sir, To give him welcome.

Exit

Imogen

Continues well my lord? His health, beseech you?

Iachimo

Well, madam.

Imogen

Is he disposed to mirth? I hope he is.

Iachimo

Exceeding pleasant; none a stranger there So merry and so gamesome: he is call'd The Briton reveller.

Imogen

When he was here, He did incline to sadness, and oft-times Not knowing why.

Iachimo

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 Briton— 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 his free hours languish for Assured bondage?'

Imogen

Will my lord say so?

Iachimo

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.

Imogen

Not he, I hope.

Iachimo

Not he: but yet heaven's bounty towards him might Be used 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.

Imogen

What do you pity, sir?

Iachimo

Two creatures heartily.

Imogen

Am I one, sir? You look on me: what wreck discern you in me Deserves your pity?

Iachimo

Lamentable! What, To hide me from the radiant sun and solace I' the dungeon by a snuff?

Imogen

I pray you, sir, Deliver with more openness your answers To my demands. Why do you pity me?

Iachimo

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.

Imogen

You do seem to know Something of me, or what concerns me: pray you,— Since doubling 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.

Iachimo

Had I this cheek To bathe my lips upon; this hand, whose touch, Whose every touch, would force the feeler's soul To the oath of loyalty; this object, which Takes prisoner the wild motion of mine eye, Fixing 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 labour; then by-peeping in an eye Base and unlustrous 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.

Imogen

My lord, I fear, Has forgot Britain.

Iachimo

And himself. Not I, Inclined to this intelligence, pronounce The beggary of his change; but 'tis your graces That from pay mutest conscience to my tongue Charms this report out.

Imogen

Let me hear no more.

Iachimo

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 hired with that self-exhibition Which your own coffers yield! with diseased ventures That play with all infirmities for gold Which rottenness can lend nature! such boil'd stuff As well might poison poison! Be revenged; Or she that bore you was no queen, and you Recoil from your great stock.

Imogen

Revenged! How should I be revenged? 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 revenged?

Iachimo

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.

Imogen

What, ho, Pisanio!

Iachimo

Let me my service tender on your lips.

Imogen

Away! I do condemn mine ears that have So long attended thee. If thou wert honourable, 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 honour, and Solicit'st 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!

Iachimo

O happy Leonatus! I may say The credit that thy lady hath of thee Deserves thy trust, and thy most perfect goodness Her assured 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.

Imogen

You make amends.

Iachimo

He sits 'mongst men like a descended god: He hath a kind of honour sets him off, More than a mortal seeming. Be not angry, Most mighty princess, that I have adventured To try your taking a false report; which hath Honour'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.

Imogen

All's well, sir: take my power i' the court for yours.

Iachimo

My humble thanks. I had almost forgot To entreat your grace but in a small request, And yet of moment to, for it concerns Your lord; myself and other noble friends, Are partners in the business.

Imogen

Pray, what is't?

Iachimo

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?

Imogen

Willingly; And pawn mine honour for their safety: since My lord hath interest in them, I will keep them In my bedchamber.

Iachimo

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 to-morrow.

Imogen

O, no, no.

Iachimo

Yes, I beseech; or I shall short my word By lengthening my return. From Gallia I cross'd the seas on purpose and on promise To see your grace.

Imogen

I thank you for your pains: But not away to-morrow!

Iachimo

O, I must, madam: Therefore I shall beseech you, if you please To greet your lord with writing, do't to-night: I have outstood my time; which is material To the tender of our present.

Imogen

I will write. Send your trunk to me; it shall safe be kept, And truly yielded you. You're very welcome.

Exeunt