William Shakespeare: Cymbeline, Act III

Act III

Scene I

Britain. A hall in Cymbeline's palace

Enter in state, Cymbeline, Queen, Cloten, and Lords at one door, and at another, Caius Lucius and Attendants

Cymbeline

Now say, what would Augustus Caesar with us?

Caius Lucius

When Julius Caesar, whose remembrance yet Lives in men's eyes and will to ears and tongues Be theme and hearing ever, was in this Britain And conquer'd it, Cassibelan, thine uncle,— Famous in Caesar's praises, no whit less Than in his feats deserving it—for him And his succession granted Rome a tribute, Yearly three thousand pounds, which by thee lately Is left untender'd.

Queen

And, to kill the marvel, Shall be so ever.

Cloten

There be many Caesars, Ere such another Julius. Britain is A world by itself; and we will nothing pay For wearing our own noses.

Queen

That opportunity Which then they had to take from 's, to resume We have again. Remember, sir, my liege, The kings your ancestors, together with The natural bravery of your isle, which stands As Neptune's park, ribbed and paled in With rocks unscalable and roaring waters, With sands that will not bear your enemies' boats, But suck them up to the topmast. A kind of conquest Caesar made here; but made not here his brag Of 'Came' and 'saw' and 'overcame: ' with shame— That first that ever touch'd him—he was carried From off our coast, twice beaten; and his shipping— Poor ignorant baubles!— upon our terrible seas, Like egg-shells moved upon their surges, crack'd As easily 'gainst our rocks: for joy whereof The famed Cassibelan, who was once at point— O giglot fortune!—to master Caesar's sword, Made Lud's town with rejoicing fires bright And Britons strut with courage.

Cloten

Come, there's no more tribute to be paid: our kingdom is stronger than it was at that time; and, as I said, there is no moe such Caesars: other of them may have crook'd noses, but to owe such straight arms, none.

Cymbeline

Son, let your mother end.

Cloten

We have yet many among us can gripe as hard as Cassibelan: I do not say I am one; but I have a hand. Why tribute? why should we pay tribute? If Caesar can hide the sun from us with a blanket, or put the moon in his pocket, we will pay him tribute for light; else, sir, no more tribute, pray you now.

Cymbeline

You must know, Till the injurious Romans did extort This tribute from us, we were free: Caesar's ambition, Which swell'd so much that it did almost stretch The sides o' the world, against all colour here Did put the yoke upon 's; which to shake off Becomes a warlike people, whom we reckon Ourselves to be.

Cloten, Lords

We do.

Cymbeline

Say, then, to Caesar, Our ancestor was that Mulmutius which Ordain'd our laws, whose use the sword of Caesar Hath too much mangled; whose repair and franchise Shall, by the power we hold, be our good deed, Though Rome be therefore angry: Mulmutius made our laws, Who was the first of Britain which did put His brows within a golden crown and call'd Himself a king.

Caius Lucius

I am sorry, Cymbeline, That I am to pronounce Augustus Caesar— Caesar, that hath more kings his servants than Thyself domestic officers—thine enemy: Receive it from me, then: war and confusion In Caesar's name pronounce I 'gainst thee: look For fury not to be resisted. Thus defied, I thank thee for myself.

Cymbeline

Thou art welcome, Caius. Thy Caesar knighted me; my youth I spent Much under him; of him I gather'd honour; Which he to seek of me again, perforce, Behoves me keep at utterance. I am perfect That the Pannonians and Dalmatians for Their liberties are now in arms; a precedent Which not to read would show the Britons cold: So Caesar shall not find them.

Caius Lucius

Let proof speak.

Cloten

His majesty bids you welcome. Make pastime with us a day or two, or longer: if you seek us afterwards in other terms, you shall find us in our salt-water girdle: if you beat us out of it, it is yours; if you fall in the adventure, our crows shall fare the better for you; and there's an end.

Caius Lucius

So, sir.

Cymbeline

I know your master's pleasure and he mine: All the remain is 'Welcome!'

Exeunt