William Shakespeare: Cymbeline, Act V, Scene V

Scene V

Cymbeline's tent

Enter Cymbeline, Belarius, Guiderius, Arviragus, Pisanio, Lords, Officers, and Attendants

Cymbeline

Stand by my side, you whom the gods have made Preservers of my throne. Woe is my heart That the poor soldier that so richly fought, Whose rags shamed gilded arms, whose naked breast Stepp'd before larges of proof, cannot be found: He shall be happy that can find him, if Our grace can make him so.

Belarius

I never saw Such noble fury in so poor a thing; Such precious deeds in one that promises nought But beggary and poor looks.

Cymbeline

No tidings of him?

Pisanio

He hath been search'd among the dead and living, But no trace of him.

Cymbeline

To my grief, I am The heir of his reward;

To Belarius, Guiderius, and Arviragus

which I will add To you, the liver, heart and brain of Britain, By whom I grant she lives. 'Tis now the time To ask of whence you are. Report it.

Belarius

Sir, In Cambria are we born, and gentlemen: Further to boast were neither true nor modest, Unless I add, we are honest.

Cymbeline

Bow your knees. Arise my knights o' the battle: I create you Companions to our person and will fit you With dignities becoming your estates.

Enter Cornelius and Ladies

There's business in these faces. Why so sadly Greet you our victory? you look like Romans, And not o' the court of Britain.

Cornelius

Hail, great king! To sour your happiness, I must report The queen is dead.

Cymbeline

Who worse than a physician Would this report become? But I consider, By medicine life may be prolong'd, yet death Will seize the doctor too. How ended she?

Cornelius

With horror, madly dying, like her life, Which, being cruel to the world, concluded Most cruel to herself. What she confess'd I will report, so please you: these her women Can trip me, if I err; who with wet cheeks Were present when she finish'd.

Cymbeline

Prithee, say.

Cornelius

First, she confess'd she never loved you, only Affected greatness got by you, not you: Married your royalty, was wife to your place; Abhorr'd your person.

Cymbeline

She alone knew this; And, but she spoke it dying, I would not Believe her lips in opening it. Proceed.

Cornelius

Your daughter, whom she bore in hand to love With such integrity, she did confess Was as a scorpion to her sight; whose life, But that her flight prevented it, she had Ta'en off by poison.

Cymbeline

O most delicate fiend! Who is 't can read a woman? Is there more?

Cornelius

More, sir, and worse. She did confess she had For you a mortal mineral; which, being took, Should by the minute feed on life and lingering By inches waste you: in which time she purposed, By watching, weeping, tendance, kissing, to O'ercome you with her show, and in time, When she had fitted you with her craft, to work Her son into the adoption of the crown: But, failing of her end by his strange absence, Grew shameless-desperate; open'd, in despite Of heaven and men, her purposes; repented The evils she hatch'd were not effected; so Despairing died.

Cymbeline

Heard you all this, her women?

First Lady

We did, so please your highness.

Cymbeline

Mine eyes Were not in fault, for she was beautiful; Mine ears, that heard her flattery; nor my heart, That thought her like her seeming; it had been vicious To have mistrusted her: yet, O my daughter! That it was folly in me, thou mayst say, And prove it in thy feeling. Heaven mend all!

Enter Lucius, Iachimo, the Soothsayer, and other Roman Prisoners, guarded; Posthumus Leonatus behind, and Imogen

Thou comest not, Caius, now for tribute that The Britons have razed out, though with the loss Of many a bold one; whose kinsmen have made suit That their good souls may be appeased with slaughter Of you their captives, which ourself have granted: So think of your estate.

Caius Lucius

Consider, sir, the chance of war: the day Was yours by accident; had it gone with us, We should not, when the blood was cool, have threaten'd Our prisoners with the sword. But since the gods Will have it thus, that nothing but our lives May be call'd ransom, let it come: sufficeth A Roman with a Roman's heart can suffer: Augustus lives to think on't: and so much For my peculiar care. This one thing only I will entreat; my boy, a Briton born, Let him be ransom'd: never master had A page so kind, so duteous, diligent, So tender over his occasions, true, So feat, so nurse-like: let his virtue join With my request, which I make bold your highness Cannot deny; he hath done no Briton harm, Though he have served a Roman: save him, sir, And spare no blood beside.

Cymbeline

I have surely seen him: His favour is familiar to me. Boy, Thou hast look'd thyself into my grace, And art mine own. I know not why, wherefore, To say 'live, boy:' ne'er thank thy master; live: And ask of Cymbeline what boon thou wilt, Fitting my bounty and thy state, I'll give it; Yea, though thou do demand a prisoner, The noblest ta'en.

Imogen

I humbly thank your highness.

Caius Lucius

I do not bid thee beg my life, good lad; And yet I know thou wilt.

Imogen

No, no: alack, There's other work in hand: I see a thing Bitter to me as death: your life, good master, Must shuffle for itself.

Caius Lucius

The boy disdains me, He leaves me, scorns me: briefly die their joys That place them on the truth of girls and boys. Why stands he so perplex'd?

Cymbeline

What wouldst thou, boy? I love thee more and more: think more and more What's best to ask. Know'st him thou look'st on? speak, Wilt have him live? Is he thy kin? thy friend?

Imogen

He is a Roman; no more kin to me Than I to your highness; who, being born your vassal, Am something nearer.

Cymbeline

Wherefore eyest him so?

Imogen

I'll tell you, sir, in private, if you please To give me hearing.

Cymbeline

Ay, with all my heart, And lend my best attention. What's thy name?

Imogen

Fidele, sir.

Cymbeline

Thou'rt my good youth, my page; I'll be thy master: walk with me; speak freely.

Cymbeline and Imogen converse apart

Belarius

Is not this boy revived from death?

Arviragus

One sand another Not more resembles that sweet rosy lad Who died, and was Fidele. What think you?

Guiderius

The same dead thing alive.

Belarius

Peace, peace! see further; he eyes us not; forbear; Creatures may be alike: were 't he, I am sure He would have spoke to us.

Guiderius

But we saw him dead.

Belarius

Be silent; let's see further.

Pisanio

Aside

It is my mistress: Since she is living, let the time run on To good or bad.

Cymbeline and Imogen come forward

Cymbeline

Come, stand thou by our side; Make thy demand aloud.

To Iachimo

Sir, step you forth; Give answer to this boy, and do it freely; Or, by our greatness and the grace of it, Which is our honour, bitter torture shall Winnow the truth from falsehood. On, speak to him.

Imogen

My boon is, that this gentleman may render Of whom he had this ring.

Posthumus Leonatus

Aside

What's that to him?

Cymbeline

That diamond upon your finger, say How came it yours?

Iachimo

Thou'lt torture me to leave unspoken that Which, to be spoke, would torture thee.

Cymbeline

How! me?

Iachimo

I am glad to be constrain'd to utter that Which torments me to conceal. By villany I got this ring: 'twas Leonatus' jewel; Whom thou didst banish; and—which more may grieve thee, As it doth me—a nobler sir ne'er lived 'Twixt sky and ground. Wilt thou hear more, my lord?

Cymbeline

All that belongs to this.

Iachimo

That paragon, thy daughter,— For whom my heart drops blood, and my false spirits Quail to remember—Give me leave; I faint.

Cymbeline

My daughter! what of her? Renew thy strength: I had rather thou shouldst live while nature will Than die ere I hear more: strive, man, and speak.

Iachimo

Upon a time,—unhappy was the clock That struck the hour!—it was in Rome,—accursed The mansion where!—'twas at a feast,—O, would Our viands had been poison'd, or at least Those which I heaved to head!—the good Posthumus— What should I say? he was too good to be Where ill men were; and was the best of all Amongst the rarest of good ones,—sitting sadly, Hearing us praise our loves of Italy For beauty that made barren the swell'd boast Of him that best could speak, for feature, laming The shrine of Venus, or straight-pight Minerva. Postures beyond brief nature, for condition, A shop of all the qualities that man Loves woman for, besides that hook of wiving, Fairness which strikes the eye—

Cymbeline

I stand on fire: Come to the matter.

Iachimo

All too soon I shall, Unless thou wouldst grieve quickly. This Posthumus, Most like a noble lord in love and one That had a royal lover, took his hint; And, not dispraising whom we praised,—therein He was as calm as virtue—he began His mistress' picture; which by his tongue being made, And then a mind put in't, either our brags Were crack'd of kitchen-trolls, or his description Proved us unspeaking sots.

Cymbeline

Nay, nay, to the purpose.

Iachimo

Your daughter's chastity—there it begins. He spake of her, as Dian had hot dreams, And she alone were cold: whereat I, wretch, Made scruple of his praise; and wager'd with him Pieces of gold 'gainst this which then he wore Upon his honour'd finger, to attain In suit the place of's bed and win this ring By hers and mine adultery. He, true knight, No lesser of her honour confident Than I did truly find her, stakes this ring; And would so, had it been a carbuncle Of Phoebus' wheel, and might so safely, had it Been all the worth of's car. Away to Britain Post I in this design: well may you, sir, Remember me at court; where I was taught Of your chaste daughter the wide difference 'Twixt amorous and villanous. Being thus quench'd Of hope, not longing, mine Italian brain 'Gan in your duller Britain operate Most vilely; for my vantage, excellent: And, to be brief, my practise so prevail'd, That I return'd with simular proof enough To make the noble Leonatus mad, By wounding his belief in her renown With tokens thus, and thus; averting notes Of chamber-hanging, pictures, this her bracelet,— O cunning, how I got it!—nay, some marks Of secret on her person, that he could not But think her bond of chastity quite crack'd, I having ta'en the forfeit. Whereupon— Methinks, I see him now—

Posthumus Leonatus

Advancing

Ay, so thou dost, Italian fiend! Ay me, most credulous fool, Egregious murderer, thief, any thing That's due to all the villains past, in being, To come! O, give me cord, or knife, or poison, Some upright justicer! Thou, king, send out For torturers ingenious: it is I That all the abhorred things o' the earth amend By being worse than they. I am Posthumus, That kill'd thy daughter:—villain-like, I lie— That caused a lesser villain than myself, A sacrilegious thief, to do't: the temple Of virtue was she; yea, and she herself. Spit, and throw stones, cast mire upon me, set The dogs o' the street to bay me: every villain Be call'd Posthumus Leonitus; and Be villany less than 'twas! O Imogen! My queen, my life, my wife! O Imogen, Imogen, Imogen!

Imogen

Peace, my lord; hear, hear—

Posthumus Leonatus

Shall's have a play of this? Thou scornful page, There lie thy part.

Striking her: she falls

Pisanio

O, gentlemen, help! Mine and your mistress! O, my lord Posthumus! You ne'er kill'd Imogen til now. Help, help! Mine honour'd lady!

Cymbeline

Does the world go round?

Posthumus Leonatus

How come these staggers on me?

Pisanio

Wake, my mistress!

Cymbeline

If this be so, the gods do mean to strike me To death with mortal joy.

Pisanio

How fares thy mistress?

Imogen

O, get thee from my sight; Thou gavest me poison: dangerous fellow, hence! Breathe not where princes are.

Cymbeline

The tune of Imogen!

Pisanio

Lady, The gods throw stones of sulphur on me, if That box I gave you was not thought by me A precious thing: I had it from the queen.

Cymbeline

New matter still?

Imogen

It poison'd me.

Cornelius

O gods! I left out one thing which the queen confess'd. Which must approve thee honest: 'If Pisanio Have,' said she, 'given his mistress that confection Which I gave him for cordial, she is served As I would serve a rat.'

Cymbeline

What's this, Comelius?

Cornelius

The queen, sir, very oft importuned me To temper poisons for her, still pretending The satisfaction of her knowledge only In killing creatures vile, as cats and dogs, Of no esteem: I, dreading that her purpose Was of more danger, did compound for her A certain stuff, which, being ta'en, would cease The present power of life, but in short time All offices of nature should again Do their due functions. Have you ta'en of it?

Imogen

Most like I did, for I was dead.

Belarius

My boys, There was our error.

Guiderius

This is, sure, Fidele.

Imogen

Why did you throw your wedded lady from you? Think that you are upon a rock; and now Throw me again.

Embracing him

Posthumus Leonatus

Hang there like a fruit, my soul, Till the tree die!

Cymbeline

How now, my flesh, my child! What, makest thou me a dullard in this act? Wilt thou not speak to me?

Imogen

Kneeling

Your blessing, sir.

Belarius

To Guiderius and Arviragus

Though you did love this youth, I blame ye not: You had a motive for't.

Cymbeline

My tears that fall Prove holy water on thee! Imogen, Thy mother's dead.

Imogen

I am sorry for't, my lord.

Cymbeline

O, she was nought; and long of her it was That we meet here so strangely: but her son Is gone, we know not how nor where.

Pisanio

My lord, Now fear is from me, I'll speak troth. Lord Cloten, Upon my lady's missing, came to me With his sword drawn; foam'd at the mouth, and swore, If I discover'd not which way she was gone, It was my instant death. By accident, I had a feigned letter of my master's Then in my pocket; which directed him To seek her on the mountains near to Milford; Where, in a frenzy, in my master's garments, Which he enforced from me, away he posts With unchaste purpose and with oath to violate My lady's honour: what became of him I further know not.

Guiderius

Let me end the story: I slew him there.

Cymbeline

Marry, the gods forfend! I would not thy good deeds should from my lips Pluck a bard sentence: prithee, valiant youth, Deny't again.

Guiderius

I have spoke it, and I did it.

Cymbeline

He was a prince.

Guiderius

A most incivil one: the wrongs he did me Were nothing prince-like; for he did provoke me With language that would make me spurn the sea, If it could so roar to me: I cut off's head; And am right glad he is not standing here To tell this tale of mine.

Cymbeline

I am sorry for thee: By thine own tongue thou art condemn'd, and must Endure our law: thou'rt dead.

Imogen

That headless man I thought had been my lord.

Cymbeline

Bind the offender, And take him from our presence.

Belarius

Stay, sir king: This man is better than the man he slew, As well descended as thyself; and hath More of thee merited than a band of Clotens Had ever scar for.

To the Guard

Let his arms alone; They were not born for bondage.

Cymbeline

Why, old soldier, Wilt thou undo the worth thou art unpaid for, By tasting of our wrath? How of descent As good as we?

Arviragus

In that he spake too far.

Cymbeline

And thou shalt die for't.

Belarius

We will die all three: But I will prove that two on's are as good As I have given out him. My sons, I must, For mine own part, unfold a dangerous speech, Though, haply, well for you.

Arviragus

Your danger's ours.

Guiderius

And our good his.

Belarius

Have at it then, by leave. Thou hadst, great king, a subject who Was call'd Belarius.

Cymbeline

What of him? he is A banish'd traitor.

Belarius

He it is that hath Assumed this age; indeed a banish'd man; I know not how a traitor.

Cymbeline

Take him hence: The whole world shall not save him.

Belarius

Not too hot: First pay me for the nursing of thy sons; And let it be confiscate all, so soon As I have received it.

Cymbeline

Nursing of my sons!

Belarius

I am too blunt and saucy: here's my knee: Ere I arise, I will prefer my sons; Then spare not the old father. Mighty sir, These two young gentlemen, that call me father And think they are my sons, are none of mine; They are the issue of your loins, my liege, And blood of your begetting.

Cymbeline

How! my issue!

Belarius

So sure as you your father's. I, old Morgan, Am that Belarius whom you sometime banish'd: Your pleasure was my mere offence, my punishment Itself, and all my treason; that I suffer'd Was all the harm I did. These gentle princes— For such and so they are—these twenty years Have I train'd up: those arts they have as I Could put into them; my breeding was, sir, as Your highness knows. Their nurse, Euriphile, Whom for the theft I wedded, stole these children Upon my banishment: I moved her to't, Having received the punishment before, For that which I did then: beaten for loyalty Excited me to treason: their dear loss, The more of you 'twas felt, the more it shaped Unto my end of stealing them. But, gracious sir, Here are your sons again; and I must lose Two of the sweet'st companions in the world. The benediction of these covering heavens Fall on their heads like dew! for they are worthy To inlay heaven with stars.

Cymbeline

Thou weep'st, and speak'st. The service that you three have done is more Unlike than this thou tell'st. I lost my children: If these be they, I know not how to wish A pair of worthier sons.

Belarius

Be pleased awhile. This gentleman, whom I call Polydore, Most worthy prince, as yours, is true Guiderius: This gentleman, my Cadwal, Arviragus, Your younger princely son; he, sir, was lapp'd In a most curious mantle, wrought by the hand Of his queen mother, which for more probation I can with ease produce.

Cymbeline

Guiderius had Upon his neck a mole, a sanguine star; It was a mark of wonder.

Belarius

This is he; Who hath upon him still that natural stamp: It was wise nature's end in the donation, To be his evidence now.

Cymbeline

O, what, am I A mother to the birth of three? Ne'er mother Rejoiced deliverance more. Blest pray you be, That, after this strange starting from your orbs, may reign in them now! O Imogen, Thou hast lost by this a kingdom.

Imogen

No, my lord; I have got two worlds by 't. O my gentle brothers, Have we thus met? O, never say hereafter But I am truest speaker you call'd me brother, When I was but your sister; I you brothers, When ye were so indeed.

Cymbeline

Did you e'er meet?

Arviragus

Ay, my good lord.

Guiderius

And at first meeting loved; Continued so, until we thought he died.

Cornelius

By the queen's dram she swallow'd.

Cymbeline

O rare instinct! When shall I hear all through? This fierce abridgement Hath to it circumstantial branches, which Distinction should be rich in. Where? how lived You? And when came you to serve our Roman captive? How parted with your brothers? how first met them? Why fled you from the court? and whither? These, And your three motives to the battle, with I know not how much more, should be demanded; And all the other by-dependencies, From chance to chance: but nor the time nor place Will serve our long inter'gatories. See, Posthumus anchors upon Imogen, And she, like harmless lightning, throws her eye On him, her brother, me, her master, hitting Each object with a joy: the counterchange Is severally in all. Let's quit this ground, And smoke the temple with our sacrifices.

To Belarius

Thou art my brother; so we'll hold thee ever.

Imogen

You are my father too, and did relieve me, To see this gracious season.

Cymbeline

All o'erjoy'd, Save these in bonds: let them be joyful too, For they shall taste our comfort.

Imogen

My good master, I will yet do you service.

Caius Lucius

Happy be you!

Cymbeline

The forlorn soldier, that so nobly fought, He would have well becomed this place, and graced The thankings of a king.

Posthumus Leonatus

I am, sir, The soldier that did company these three In poor beseeming; 'twas a fitment for The purpose I then follow'd. That I was he, Speak, Iachimo: I had you down and might Have made you finish.

Iachimo

Kneeling

I am down again: But now my heavy conscience sinks my knee, As then your force did. Take that life, beseech you, Which I so often owe: but your ring first; And here the bracelet of the truest princess That ever swore her faith.

Posthumus Leonatus

Kneel not to me: The power that I have on you is, to spare you; The malice towards you to forgive you: live, And deal with others better.

Cymbeline

Nobly doom'd! We'll learn our freeness of a son-in-law; Pardon's the word to all.

Arviragus

You holp us, sir, As you did mean indeed to be our brother; Joy'd are we that you are.

Posthumus Leonatus

Your servant, princes. Good my lord of Rome, Call forth your soothsayer: as I slept, methought Great Jupiter, upon his eagle back'd, Appear'd to me, with other spritely shows Of mine own kindred: when I waked, I found This label on my bosom; whose containing Is so from sense in hardness, that I can Make no collection of it: let him show His skill in the construction.

Caius Lucius

Philarmonus!

Soothsayer

Here, my good lord.

Caius Lucius

Read, and declare the meaning.

Soothsayer

Reads

When as a lion's whelp shall, to himself unknown, without seeking find, and be embraced by a piece of tender air; and when from a stately cedar shall be lopped branches, which, being dead many years, shall after revive, be jointed to the old stock, and freshly grow; then shall Posthumus end his miseries, Britain be fortunate and flourish in peace and plenty.

Thou, Leonatus, art the lion's whelp; The fit and apt construction of thy name, Being Leonatus, doth import so much.

To Cymbeline

The piece of tender air, thy virtuous daughter, Which we call 'mollis aer;' and 'mollis aer' We term it 'mulier:' which 'mulier' I divine Is this most constant wife; who, even now, Answering the letter of the oracle, Unknown to you, unsought, were clipp'd about With this most tender air.

Cymbeline

This hath some seeming.

Soothsayer

The lofty cedar, royal Cymbeline, Personates thee: and thy lopp'd branches point Thy two sons forth; who, by Belarius stol'n, For many years thought dead, are now revived, To the majestic cedar join'd, whose issue Promises Britain peace and plenty.

Cymbeline

Well My peace we will begin. And, Caius Lucius, Although the victor, we submit to Caesar, And to the Roman empire; promising To pay our wonted tribute, from the which We were dissuaded by our wicked queen; Whom heavens, in justice, both on her and hers, Have laid most heavy hand.

Soothsayer

The fingers of the powers above do tune The harmony of this peace. The vision Which I made known to Lucius, ere the stroke Of this yet scarce-cold battle, at this instant Is full accomplish'd; for the Roman eagle, From south to west on wing soaring aloft, Lessen'd herself, and in the beams o' the sun So vanish'd: which foreshow'd our princely eagle, The imperial Caesar, should again unite His favour with the radiant Cymbeline, Which shines here in the west.

Cymbeline

Laud we the gods; And let our crooked smokes climb to their nostrils From our blest altars. Publish we this peace To all our subjects. Set we forward: let A Roman and a British ensign wave Friendly together: so through Lud's-town march: And in the temple of great Jupiter Our peace we'll ratify; seal it with feasts. Set on there! Never was a war did cease, Ere bloody hands were wash'd, with such a peace.

Exeunt