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Cymbeline - Act 1, scene 5
Last updated: Fri, Jul 31, 2015
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Navigate this workCymbeline - Act 1, scene 5
Act 1, scene 5
The queen obtains a box that she is told contains poison. (The audience is told that the box actually contains a sleeping potion that mimics death.) The queen gives the box of supposed poison to Pisanio, telling him it is a helpful medicine. Her hope is that with Posthumus’s servant Pisanio dead, Imogen will be less likely to cling to her love for Posthumus.Enter Queen, Ladies, and Cornelius.
0493 Whiles yet the dew’s on ground, gather those flowers.
0494 Make haste. Who has the note of them?
LADY 0495 I, madam.
QUEEN 0496 Dispatch.Ladies exit.
0497 5 Now, Master Doctor, have you brought those drugs?
0498 Pleaseth your Highness, ay. Here they are, madam.
⌜He hands her a small box.⌝
0499 But I beseech your Grace, without offense—
0500 My conscience bids me ask—wherefore you have
0501 Commanded of me these most poisonous
0502 10 compounds,
0503 Which are the movers of a languishing death,
0504 But though slow, deadly.
QUEEN 0505 I wonder, doctor,
0506 Thou ask’st me such a question. Have I not been
0507 15 Thy pupil long? Hast thou not learned me how
0508 To make perfumes, distil, preserve—yea, so
0509 That our great king himself doth woo me oft
0510 For my confections? Having thus far proceeded,
0511 Unless thou think’st me devilish, is ’t not meet
0512 20 That I did amplify my judgment in
0513 Other conclusions? I will try the forces
0514 Of these thy compounds on such creatures as
0515 We count not worth the hanging—but none human—
0516 To try the vigor of them and apply
0517 25 Allayments to their act, and by them gather
0518 Their several virtues and effects.
CORNELIUS 0519 Your Highness
0520 Shall from this practice but make hard your heart.
0521 Besides, the seeing these effects will be
0522 30 Both noisome and infectious.
QUEEN 0523 O, content thee.
0524 ⌜Aside.⌝ Here comes a flattering rascal. Upon him
0525 Will I first work. He’s for his master
0526 And enemy to my son.—How now, Pisanio?—
0527 35 Doctor, your service for this time is ended.
0528 Take your own way.
CORNELIUS, ⌜aside⌝ 0529 I do suspect you, madam,
0530 But you shall do no harm.
p. 41QUEEN, ⌜to Pisanio⌝ 0531 Hark thee, a word.
0532 40 I do not like her. She doth think she has
0533 Strange ling’ring poisons. I do know her spirit,
0534 And will not trust one of her malice with
0535 A drug of such damned nature. Those she has
0536 Will stupefy and dull the sense awhile,
0537 45 Which first perchance she’ll prove on cats and dogs,
0538 Then afterward up higher. But there is
0539 No danger in what show of death it makes,
0540 More than the locking-up the spirits a time,
0541 To be more fresh, reviving. She is fooled
0542 50 With a most false effect, and I the truer
0543 So to be false with her.
QUEEN 0544 No further service, doctor,
0545 Until I send for thee.
CORNELIUS 0546 I humbly take my leave.He exits.
0547 55 Weeps she still, sayst thou? Dost thou think in time
0548 She will not quench and let instructions enter
0549 Where folly now possesses? Do thou work.
0550 When thou shalt bring me word she loves my son,
0551 I’ll tell thee on the instant thou art then
0552 60 As great as is thy master; greater, for
0553 His fortunes all lie speechless, and his name
0554 Is at last gasp. Return he cannot, nor
0555 Continue where he is. To shift his being
0556 Is to exchange one misery with another,
0557 65 And every day that comes comes to decay
0558 A day’s work in him. What shalt thou expect,
0559 To be depender on a thing that leans,
0560 Who cannot be new built, nor has no friends
0561 So much as but to prop him? (⌜She drops the box
and Pisanio picks it up.⌝) 0562 70Thou tak’st up
0563 Thou know’st not what. But take it for thy labor.
0564 It is a thing I made which hath the King
p. 430565 Five times redeemed from death. I do not know
0566 What is more cordial. Nay, I prithee, take it.
0567 75 It is an earnest of a farther good
0568 That I mean to thee. Tell thy mistress how
0569 The case stands with her. Do ’t as from thyself.
0570 Think what a chance thou changest on, but think
0571 Thou hast thy mistress still; to boot, my son,
0572 80 Who shall take notice of thee. I’ll move the King
0573 To any shape of thy preferment such
0574 As thou ’lt desire; and then myself, I chiefly,
0575 That set thee on to this desert, am bound
0576 To load thy merit richly. Call my women.
0577 85 Think on my words.Pisanio exits.
0578 A sly and constant knave,
0579 Not to be shaked; the agent for his master
0580 And the remembrancer of her to hold
0581 The handfast to her lord. I have given him that
0582 90 Which, if he take, shall quite unpeople her
0583 Of liegers for her sweet, and which she after,
0584 Except she bend her humor, shall be assured
0585 To taste of too.
Enter Pisanio and Ladies ⌜carrying flowers.⌝
⌜To the Ladies.⌝ 0586 So, so. Well done, well done.
0587 95 The violets, cowslips, and the primroses
0588 Bear to my closet.—Fare thee well, Pisanio.
0589 Think on my words.Queen and Ladies exit.
PISANIO 0590 And shall do.
0591 But when to my good lord I prove untrue,
0592 100 I’ll choke myself; there’s all I’ll do for you.