William Shakespeare: Cymbeline, Act II, Scene IV

Scene IV

Rome. Philario's house

Enter Posthumus and Philario

Posthumus Leonatus

Fear it not, sir: I would I were so sure To win the king as I am bold her honour Will remain hers.

Philario

What means do you make to him?

Posthumus Leonatus

Not any, but abide the change of time, Quake in the present winter's state and wish That warmer days would come: in these sear'd hopes, I barely gratify your love; they failing, I must die much your debtor.

Philario

Your very goodness and your company O'erpays all I can do. By this, your king Hath heard of great Augustus: Caius Lucius Will do's commission throughly: and I think He'll grant the tribute, send the arrearages, Or look upon our Romans, whose remembrance Is yet fresh in their grief.

Posthumus Leonatus

I do believe, Statist though I am none, nor like to be, That this will prove a war; and you shall hear The legions now in Gallia sooner landed In our not-fearing Britain than have tidings Of any penny tribute paid. Our countrymen Are men more order'd than when Julius Caesar Smiled at their lack of skill, but found their courage Worthy his frowning at: their discipline, Now mingled with their courages, will make known To their approvers they are people such That mend upon the world.

Enter Iachimo

Philario

See! Iachimo!

Posthumus Leonatus

The swiftest harts have posted you by land; And winds of all the comers kiss'd your sails, To make your vessel nimble.

Philario

Welcome, sir.

Posthumus Leonatus

I hope the briefness of your answer made The speediness of your return.

Iachimo

Your lady Is one of the fairest that I have look'd upon.

Posthumus Leonatus

And therewithal the best; or let her beauty Look through a casement to allure false hearts And be false with them.

Iachimo

Here are letters for you.

Posthumus Leonatus

Their tenor good, I trust.

Iachimo

'Tis very like.

Philario

Was Caius Lucius in the Britain court When you were there?

Iachimo

He was expected then, But not approach'd.

Posthumus Leonatus

All is well yet. Sparkles this stone as it was wont? or is't not Too dull for your good wearing?

Iachimo

If I had lost it, I should have lost the worth of it in gold. I'll make a journey twice as far, to enjoy A second night of such sweet shortness which Was mine in Britain, for the ring is won.

Posthumus Leonatus

The stone's too hard to come by.

Iachimo

Not a whit, Your lady being so easy.

Posthumus Leonatus

Make not, sir, Your loss your sport: I hope you know that we Must not continue friends.

Iachimo

Good sir, we must, If you keep covenant. Had I not brought The knowledge of your mistress home, I grant We were to question further: but I now Profess myself the winner of her honour, Together with your ring; and not the wronger Of her or you, having proceeded but By both your wills.

Posthumus Leonatus

If you can make't apparent That you have tasted her in bed, my hand And ring is yours; if not, the foul opinion You had of her pure honour gains or loses Your sword or mine, or masterless leaves both To who shall find them.

Iachimo

Sir, my circumstances, Being so near the truth as I will make them, Must first induce you to believe: whose strength I will confirm with oath; which, I doubt not, You'll give me leave to spare, when you shall find You need it not.

Posthumus Leonatus

Proceed.

Iachimo

First, her bedchamber,— Where, I confess, I slept not, but profess Had that was well worth watching—it was hang'd With tapesty of silk and silver; the story Proud Cleopatra, when she met her Roman, And Cydnus swell'd above the banks, or for The press of boats or pride: a piece of work So bravely done, so rich, that it did strive In workmanship and value; which I wonder'd Could be so rarely and exactly wrought, Since the true life on't was—

Posthumus Leonatus

This is true; And this you might have heard of here, by me, Or by some other.

Iachimo

More particulars Must justify my knowledge.

Posthumus Leonatus

So they must, Or do your honour injury.

Iachimo

The chimney Is south the chamber, and the chimney-piece Chaste Dian bathing: never saw I figures So likely to report themselves: the cutter Was as another nature, dumb; outwent her, Motion and breath left out.

Posthumus Leonatus

This is a thing Which you might from relation likewise reap, Being, as it is, much spoke of.

Iachimo

The roof o' the chamber With golden cherubins is fretted: her andirons— I had forgot them—were two winking Cupids Of silver, each on one foot standing, nicely Depending on their brands.

Posthumus Leonatus

This is her honour! Let it be granted you have seen all this—and praise Be given to your remembrance—the description Of what is in her chamber nothing saves The wager you have laid.

Iachimo

Then, if you can,

Showing the bracelet

Be pale: I beg but leave to air this jewel; see! And now 'tis up again: it must be married To that your diamond; I'll keep them.

Posthumus Leonatus

Jove! Once more let me behold it: is it that Which I left with her?

Iachimo

Sir—I thank her—that: She stripp'd it from her arm; I see her yet; Her pretty action did outsell her gift, And yet enrich'd it too: she gave it me, and said She prized it once.

Posthumus Leonatus

May be she pluck'd it off To send it me.

Iachimo

She writes so to you, doth she?

Posthumus Leonatus

O, no, no, no! 'tis true. Here, take this too;

Gives the ring

It is a basilisk unto mine eye, Kills me to look on't. Let there be no honour Where there is beauty; truth, where semblance; love, Where there's another man: the vows of women Of no more bondage be, to where they are made, Than they are to their virtues; which is nothing. O, above measure false!

Philario

Have patience, sir, And take your ring again; 'tis not yet won: It may be probable she lost it; or Who knows if one of her women, being corrupted, Hath stol'n it from her?

Posthumus Leonatus

Very true; And so, I hope, he came by't. Back my ring: Render to me some corporal sign about her, More evident than this; for this was stolen.

Iachimo

By Jupiter, I had it from her arm.

Posthumus Leonatus

Hark you, he swears; by Jupiter he swears. 'Tis true:—nay, keep the ring—'tis true: I am sure She would not lose it: her attendants are All sworn and honourable:—they induced to steal it! And by a stranger!—No, he hath enjoyed her: The cognizance of her incontinency Is this: she hath bought the name of whore thus dearly. There, take thy hire; and all the fiends of hell Divide themselves between you!

Philario

Sir, be patient: This is not strong enough to be believed Of one persuaded well of—

Posthumus Leonatus

Never talk on't; She hath been colted by him.

Iachimo

If you seek For further satisfying, under her breast— Worthy the pressing—lies a mole, right proud Of that most delicate lodging: by my life, I kiss'd it; and it gave me present hunger To feed again, though full. You do remember This stain upon her?

Posthumus Leonatus

Ay, and it doth confirm Another stain, as big as hell can hold, Were there no more but it.

Iachimo

Will you hear more?

Posthumus Leonatus

Spare your arithmetic: never count the turns; Once, and a million!

Iachimo

I'll be sworn—

Posthumus Leonatus

No swearing. If you will swear you have not done't, you lie; And I will kill thee, if thou dost deny Thou'st made me cuckold.

Iachimo

I'll deny nothing.

Posthumus Leonatus

O, that I had her here, to tear her limb-meal! I will go there and do't, i' the court, before Her father. I'll do something—

Exit

Philario

Quite besides The government of patience! You have won: Let's follow him, and pervert the present wrath He hath against himself.

Iachimo

With an my heart.

Exeunt