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Cymbeline - Act 1, scene 1
Last updated: Fri, Jul 31, 2015
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Navigate this workCymbeline - Act 1, scene 1
Act 1, scene 1
At the court of King Cymbeline, the princess, Imogen, has secretly married a gentleman named Posthumus Leonatus. Imogen is the king’s only heir, since his two sons were stolen long ago, and the king had intended her to marry Cloten, the son of his present queen. The furious Cymbeline banishes Posthumus and, in effect, imprisons Imogen.Enter two Gentlemen.
0001 You do not meet a man but frowns. Our bloods
0002 No more obey the heavens than our courtiers’
0003 Still seem as does the King’s.
SECOND GENTLEMAN 0004 But what’s the matter?
0005 5 His daughter, and the heir of ’s kingdom, whom
0006 He purposed to his wife’s sole son—a widow
0007 That late he married—hath referred herself
0008 Unto a poor but worthy gentleman. She’s wedded,
0009 Her husband banished, she imprisoned. All
0010 10 Is outward sorrow, though I think the King
0011 Be touched at very heart.
SECOND GENTLEMAN 0012 None but the King?
0013 He that hath lost her, too. So is the Queen,
0014 That most desired the match. But not a courtier,
0015 15 Although they wear their faces to the bent
0016 Of the King’s looks, hath a heart that is not
0017 Glad at the thing they scowl at.
SECOND GENTLEMAN 0018 And why so?
0019 He that hath missed the Princess is a thing
0020 20 Too bad for bad report, and he that hath her—
p. 90021 I mean, that married her, alack, good man!
0022 And therefore banished—is a creature such
0023 As, to seek through the regions of the Earth
0024 For one his like, there would be something failing
0025 25 In him that should compare. I do not think
0026 So fair an outward and such stuff within
0027 Endows a man but he.
SECOND GENTLEMAN 0028 You speak him far.
0029 I do extend him, sir, within himself,
0030 30 Crush him together rather than unfold
0031 His measure duly.
SECOND GENTLEMAN 0032 What’s his name and birth?
0033 I cannot delve him to the root. His father
0034 Was called Sicilius, who did join his honor
0035 35 Against the Romans with Cassibelan,
0036 But had his titles by Tenantius, whom
0037 He served with glory and admired success,
0038 So gained the sur-addition Leonatus;
0039 And had, besides this gentleman in question,
0040 40 Two other sons, who in the wars o’ th’ time
0041 Died with their swords in hand. For which their
0043 Then old and fond of issue, took such sorrow
0044 That he quit being; and his gentle lady,
0045 45 Big of this gentleman our theme, deceased
0046 As he was born. The King he takes the babe
0047 To his protection, calls him Posthumus Leonatus,
0048 Breeds him and makes him of his bedchamber,
0049 Puts to him all the learnings that his time
0050 50 Could make him the receiver of, which he took
0051 As we do air, fast as ’twas ministered,
0052 And in ’s spring became a harvest; lived in court—
0053 Which rare it is to do—most praised, most loved,
0054 A sample to the youngest, to th’ more mature
p. 110055 55 A glass that feated them, and to the graver
0056 A child that guided dotards. To his mistress,
0057 For whom he now is banished, her own price
0058 Proclaims how she esteemed him; and his virtue
0059 By her election may be truly read
0060 60 What kind of man he is.
SECOND GENTLEMAN 0061 I honor him
0062 Even out of your report. But pray you tell me,
0063 Is she sole child to th’ King?
FIRST GENTLEMAN 0064 His only child.
0065 65 He had two sons—if this be worth your hearing,
0066 Mark it—the eldest of them at three years old,
0067 I’ th’ swathing clothes the other, from their nursery
0068 Were stol’n, and to this hour no guess in knowledge
0069 Which way they went.
SECOND GENTLEMAN 0070 70How long is this ago?
FIRST GENTLEMAN 0071 Some twenty years.
0072 That a king’s children should be so conveyed,
0073 So slackly guarded, and the search so slow
0074 That could not trace them!
FIRST GENTLEMAN 0075 75 Howsoe’er ’tis strange,
0076 Or that the negligence may well be laughed at,
0077 Yet is it true, sir.
SECOND GENTLEMAN 0078 I do well believe you.
0079 We must forbear. Here comes the gentleman,
0080 80 The Queen and Princess.
Enter the Queen, Posthumus, and Imogen.
0081 No, be assured you shall not find me, daughter,
0082 After the slander of most stepmothers,
0083 Evil-eyed unto you. You’re my prisoner, but
0084 Your jailer shall deliver you the keys
p. 130085 85 That lock up your restraint.—For you, Posthumus,
0086 So soon as I can win th’ offended king,
0087 I will be known your advocate. Marry, yet
0088 The fire of rage is in him, and ’twere good
0089 You leaned unto his sentence with what patience
0090 90 Your wisdom may inform you.
POSTHUMUS 0091 Please your Highness,
0092 I will from hence today.
QUEEN 0093 You know the peril.
0094 I’ll fetch a turn about the garden, pitying
0095 95 The pangs of barred affections, though the King
0096 Hath charged you should not speak together.She exits.
IMOGEN 0097 O,
0098 Dissembling courtesy! How fine this tyrant
0099 Can tickle where she wounds! My dearest husband,
0100 100 I something fear my father’s wrath, but nothing—
0101 Always reserved my holy duty—what
0102 His rage can do on me. You must be gone,
0103 And I shall here abide the hourly shot
0104 Of angry eyes, not comforted to live
0105 105 But that there is this jewel in the world
0106 That I may see again.⌜She weeps.⌝
POSTHUMUS 0107 My queen, my mistress!
0108 O lady, weep no more, lest I give cause
0109 To be suspected of more tenderness
0110 110 Than doth become a man. I will remain
0111 The loyal’st husband that did e’er plight troth.
0112 My residence in Rome at one Philario’s,
0113 Who to my father was a friend, to me
0114 Known but by letter; thither write, my queen,
0115 115 And with mine eyes I’ll drink the words you send,
0116 Though ink be made of gall.
QUEEN 0117 Be brief, I pray you.
0118 If the King come, I shall incur I know not
p. 150119 How much of his displeasure. (⌜Aside.⌝) Yet I’ll move
0120 120 him
0121 To walk this way. I never do him wrong
0122 But he does buy my injuries, to be friends,
0123 Pays dear for my offenses.⌜She exits.⌝
POSTHUMUS 0124 Should we be taking leave
0125 125 As long a term as yet we have to live,
0126 The loathness to depart would grow. Adieu.
IMOGEN 0127 Nay, stay a little!
0128 Were you but riding forth to air yourself,
0129 Such parting were too petty. Look here, love:
0130 130 This diamond was my mother’s. (⌜She offers a
ring.⌝) 0131 Take it, heart,
0132 But keep it till you woo another wife
0133 When Imogen is dead.
POSTHUMUS 0134 How, how? Another?
0135 135 You gentle gods, give me but this I have,
0136 And cere up my embracements from a next
0137 With bonds of death.(⌜He puts the ring on his finger.⌝)
0138 Remain, remain thou here,
0139 While sense can keep it on.—And sweetest, fairest,
0140 140 As I my poor self did exchange for you
0141 To your so infinite loss, so in our trifles
0142 I still win of you. For my sake, wear this.
⌜He offers a bracelet.⌝
0143 It is a manacle of love. I’ll place it
0144 Upon this fairest prisoner.⌜He puts it on her wrist.⌝
IMOGEN 0145 145 O the gods!
0146 When shall we see again?
Enter Cymbeline and Lords.
POSTHUMUS 0147 Alack, the King.
0148 Thou basest thing, avoid hence, from my sight!
0149 If after this command thou fraught the court
0150 150 With thy unworthiness, thou diest. Away!
0151 Thou ’rt poison to my blood.
p. 17POSTHUMUS 0152 The gods protect you,
0153 And bless the good remainders of the court.
0154 I am gone.He exits.
IMOGEN 0155 155 There cannot be a pinch in death
0156 More sharp than this is.
CYMBELINE 0157 O disloyal thing
0158 That shouldst repair my youth, thou heap’st
0159 A year’s age on me.
IMOGEN 0160 160 I beseech you, sir,
0161 Harm not yourself with your vexation.
0162 I am senseless of your wrath. A touch more rare
0163 Subdues all pangs, all fears.
CYMBELINE 0164 Past grace? Obedience?
0165 165 Past hope and in despair; that way past grace.
0166 That mightst have had the sole son of my queen!
0167 O, blessèd that I might not! I chose an eagle
0168 And did avoid a puttock.
0169 Thou took’st a beggar, wouldst have made my throne
0170 170 A seat for baseness.
IMOGEN 0171 No, I rather added
0172 A luster to it.
CYMBELINE 0173 O thou vile one!
IMOGEN 0174 Sir,
0175 175 It is your fault that I have loved Posthumus.
0176 You bred him as my playfellow, and he is
0177 A man worth any woman, overbuys me
0178 Almost the sum he pays.
CYMBELINE 0179 What, art thou mad?
0180 180 Almost, sir. Heaven restore me! Would I were
0181 A neatherd’s daughter, and my Leonatus
0182 Our neighbor shepherd’s son.⌜She weeps.⌝
p. 19CYMBELINE 0183 Thou foolish thing!
0184 They were again together. You have done
0185 185 Not after our command. Away with her
0186 And pen her up.
QUEEN 0187 Beseech your patience.—Peace,
0188 Dear lady daughter, peace.—Sweet sovereign,
0189 Leave us to ourselves, and make yourself some
0190 190 comfort
0191 Out of your best advice.
CYMBELINE 0192 Nay, let her languish
0193 A drop of blood a day, and being aged
0194 Die of this folly.He exits, ⌜with Lords.⌝
QUEEN 0195 195 Fie, you must give way.
0196 Here is your servant.—How now, sir? What news?
0197 My lord your son drew on my master.
QUEEN 0198 Ha?
0199 No harm, I trust, is done?
PISANIO 0200 200 There might have been,
0201 But that my master rather played than fought
0202 And had no help of anger. They were parted
0203 By gentlemen at hand.
QUEEN 0204 I am very glad on ’t.
0205 205 Your son’s my father’s friend; he takes his part
0206 To draw upon an exile. O, brave sir!
0207 I would they were in Afric both together,
0208 Myself by with a needle, that I might prick
0209 The goer-back.—Why came you from your master?
0210 210 On his command. He would not suffer me
0211 To bring him to the haven, left these notes
p. 210212 Of what commands I should be subject to
0213 When ’t pleased you to employ me.
QUEEN, ⌜to Imogen⌝ 0214 This hath been
0215 215 Your faithful servant. I dare lay mine honor
0216 He will remain so.
PISANIO 0217 I humbly thank your Highness.
QUEEN, ⌜to Imogen⌝
0218 Pray, walk awhile.
IMOGEN, ⌜to Pisanio⌝ 0219 About some half hour hence,
0220 220 Pray you, speak with me. You shall at least
0221 Go see my lord aboard. For this time leave me.