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Cymbeline - Act 3, scene 4
Last updated: Fri, Jul 31, 2015
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Navigate this workCymbeline - Act 3, scene 4
Act 3, scene 4
On the journey to Milford Haven, Pisanio reveals to Imogen that he is supposed to kill her. She is so distraught at Posthumus’s lack of faith in her that she encourages Pisanio to stab her immediately. Instead, he proposes that she disguise herself as a boy and serve Caius Lucius, who is soon to land at Milford Haven. When she agrees to this plan, he gives her the box containing what he thinks is a restorative medicine.Enter Pisanio and Imogen.
1662 Thou told’st me, when we came from horse, the place
1663 Was near at hand. Ne’er longed my mother so
1664 To see me first as I have now. Pisanio, man,
1665 Where is Posthumus? What is in thy mind
1666 5 That makes thee stare thus? Wherefore breaks that
1668 From th’ inward of thee? One but painted thus
1669 Would be interpreted a thing perplexed
1670 Beyond self-explication. Put thyself
1671 10 Into a havior of less fear, ere wildness
1672 Vanquish my staider senses. What’s the matter?
⌜Pisanio hands her a paper.⌝
1673 Why tender’st thou that paper to me with
1674 A look untender? If ’t be summer news,
1675 Smile to ’t before; if winterly, thou need’st
1676 15 But keep that count’nance still. My husband’s hand!
p. 1211677 That drug-damned Italy hath out-craftied him,
1678 And he’s at some hard point. Speak, man! Thy tongue
1679 May take off some extremity, which to read
1680 Would be even mortal to me.
PISANIO 1681 20 Please you read,
1682 And you shall find me, wretched man, a thing
1683 The most disdained of fortune.
IMOGEN reads: 1684 Thy mistress, Pisanio, hath played the
1685 strumpet in my bed, the testimonies whereof lies
1686 25 bleeding in me. I speak not out of weak surmises but
1687 from proof as strong as my grief and as certain as I
1688 expect my revenge. That part thou, Pisanio, must act
1689 for me, if thy faith be not tainted with the breach of
1690 hers. Let thine own hands take away her life. I shall
1691 30 give thee opportunity at Milford Haven—she hath
1692 my letter for the purpose—where, if thou fear to
1693 strike and to make me certain it is done, thou art the
1694 pander to her dishonor and equally to me disloyal.
1695 What shall I need to draw my sword? The paper
1696 35 Hath cut her throat already. No, ’tis slander,
1697 Whose edge is sharper than the sword, whose tongue
1698 Outvenoms all the worms of Nile, whose breath
1699 Rides on the posting winds and doth belie
1700 All corners of the world. Kings, queens, and states,
1701 40 Maids, matrons, nay, the secrets of the grave
1702 This viperous slander enters.—What cheer, madam?
1703 False to his bed? What is it to be false?
1704 To lie in watch there and to think on him?
1705 To weep ’twixt clock and clock? If sleep charge nature,
1706 45 To break it with a fearful dream of him
1707 And cry myself awake? That’s false to ’s bed, is it?
PISANIO 1708 Alas, good lady!
1709 I false? Thy conscience witness! Iachimo,
p. 1231710 Thou didst accuse him of incontinency.
1711 50 Thou then looked’st like a villain. Now methinks
1712 Thy favor’s good enough. Some jay of Italy,
1713 Whose mother was her painting, hath betrayed him.
1714 Poor I am stale, a garment out of fashion,
1715 And, for I am richer than to hang by th’ walls,
1716 55 I must be ripped. To pieces with me! O,
1717 Men’s vows are women’s traitors! All good seeming,
1718 By thy revolt, O husband, shall be thought
1719 Put on for villainy, not born where ’t grows,
1720 But worn a bait for ladies.
PISANIO 1721 60 Good madam, hear me.
1722 True honest men, being heard like false Aeneas,
1723 Were in his time thought false, and Sinon’s weeping
1724 Did scandal many a holy tear, took pity
1725 From most true wretchedness. So thou, Posthumus,
1726 65 Wilt lay the leaven on all proper men;
1727 Goodly and gallant shall be false and perjured
1728 From thy great fail.—Come, fellow, be thou honest;
1729 Do thou thy master’s bidding. When thou seest him,
1730 A little witness my obedience. Look,
1731 70 I draw the sword myself.
⌜She draws Pisanio’s sword from its
scabbard and hands it to him.⌝
1732 Take it, and hit
1733 The innocent mansion of my love, my heart.
1734 Fear not; ’tis empty of all things but grief.
1735 Thy master is not there, who was indeed
1736 75 The riches of it. Do his bidding; strike.
1737 Thou mayst be valiant in a better cause,
1738 But now thou seem’st a coward.
PISANIO, ⌜throwing down the sword⌝ 1739 Hence, vile
1741 80 Thou shalt not damn my hand.
IMOGEN 1742 Why, I must die,
p. 1251743 And if I do not by thy hand, thou art
1744 No servant of thy master’s. Against self-slaughter
1745 There is a prohibition so divine
1746 85 That cravens my weak hand. Come, here’s my heart—
1747 Something’s ⌜afore ’t.⌝ Soft, soft! We’ll no defense—
1748 Obedient as the scabbard. What is here?
⌜She takes papers from her bodice.⌝
1749 The scriptures of the loyal Leonatus,
1750 All turned to heresy? Away, away!
⌜She throws away the letters.⌝
1751 90 Corrupters of my faith, you shall no more
1752 Be stomachers to my heart. Thus may poor fools
1753 Believe false teachers. Though those that are betrayed
1754 Do feel the treason sharply, yet the traitor
1755 Stands in worse case of woe. And thou, Posthumus,
1756 95 That didst set up
1757 My disobedience ’gainst the King my father
1758 And ⌜make⌝ me put into contempt the suits
1759 Of princely fellows, shalt hereafter find
1760 It is no act of common passage, but
1761 100 A strain of rareness: and I grieve myself
1762 To think, when thou shalt be disedged by her
1763 That now thou tirest on, how thy memory
1764 Will then be panged by me.—Prithee, dispatch.
1765 The lamb entreats the butcher. Where’s thy knife?
1766 105 Thou art too slow to do thy master’s bidding
1767 When I desire it too.
PISANIO 1768 O gracious lady,
1769 Since I received command to do this business
1770 I have not slept one wink.
IMOGEN 1771 110 Do ’t, and to bed, then.
1772 I’ll wake mine eyeballs ⌜out⌝ first.
IMOGEN 1773 Wherefore then
1774 Didst undertake it? Why hast thou abused
1775 So many miles with a pretense? This place?
p. 1271776 115 Mine action and thine own? Our horses’ labor?
1777 The time inviting thee? The perturbed court
1778 For my being absent, whereunto I never
1779 Purpose return? Why hast thou gone so far
1780 To be unbent when thou hast ta’en thy stand,
1781 120 Th’ elected deer before thee?
PISANIO 1782 But to win time
1783 To lose so bad employment, in the which
1784 I have considered of a course. Good lady,
1785 Hear me with patience.
IMOGEN 1786 125 Talk thy tongue weary.
1788 I have heard I am a strumpet, and mine ear,
1789 Therein false struck, can take no greater wound,
1790 Nor tent to bottom that. But speak.
PISANIO 1791 130 Then, madam,
1792 I thought you would not back again.
IMOGEN 1793 Most like,
1794 Bringing me here to kill me.
PISANIO 1795 Not so, neither.
1796 135 But if I were as wise as honest, then
1797 My purpose would prove well. It cannot be
1798 But that my master is abused. Some villain,
1799 Ay, and singular in his art, hath done
1800 You both this cursèd injury.
1801 140 Some Roman courtesan?
PISANIO 1802 No, on my life.
1803 I’ll give but notice you are dead, and send him
1804 Some bloody sign of it, for ’tis commanded
1805 I should do so. You shall be missed at court,
1806 145 And that will well confirm it.
IMOGEN 1807 Why, good fellow,
1808 What shall I do the while? Where bide? How live?
1809 Or in my life what comfort when I am
1810 Dead to my husband?
p. 129PISANIO 1811 150 If you’ll back to th’ court—
1812 No court, no father, nor no more ado
1813 With that harsh, noble, simple nothing,
1814 That Cloten, whose love suit hath been to me
1815 As fearful as a siege.
PISANIO 1816 155 If not at court,
1817 Then not in Britain must you bide.
IMOGEN 1818 Where, then?
1819 Hath Britain all the sun that shines? Day, night,
1820 Are they not but in Britain? I’ th’ world’s volume
1821 160 Our Britain seems as of it, but not in ’t,
1822 In a great pool a swan’s nest. Prithee think
1823 There’s livers out of Britain.
PISANIO 1824 I am most glad
1825 You think of other place. Th’ ambassador,
1826 165 Lucius the Roman, comes to Milford Haven
1827 Tomorrow. Now, if you could wear a mind
1828 Dark as your fortune is, and but disguise
1829 That which t’ appear itself must not yet be
1830 But by self-danger, you should tread a course
1831 170 Pretty and full of view: yea, haply near
1832 The residence of Posthumus; so nigh, at least,
1833 That though his actions were not visible, yet
1834 Report should render him hourly to your ear
1835 As truly as he moves.
IMOGEN 1836 175 O, for such means,
1837 Though peril to my modesty, not death on ’t,
1838 I would adventure.
PISANIO 1839 Well then, here’s the point:
1840 You must forget to be a woman; change
1841 180 Command into obedience, fear and niceness—
1842 The handmaids of all women, or, more truly,
1843 Woman it pretty self—into a waggish courage,
1844 Ready in gibes, quick-answered, saucy, and
p. 1311845 As quarrelous as the weasel. Nay, you must
1846 185 Forget that rarest treasure of your cheek,
1847 Exposing it—but O, the harder heart!
1848 Alack, no remedy—to the greedy touch
1849 Of common-kissing Titan, and forget
1850 Your laborsome and dainty trims, wherein
1851 190 You made great Juno angry.
IMOGEN 1852 Nay, be brief.
1853 I see into thy end and am almost
1854 A man already.
PISANIO 1855 First, make yourself but like one.
1856 195 Forethinking this, I have already fit—
1857 ’Tis in my cloakbag—doublet, hat, hose, all
1858 That answer to them. Would you, in their serving,
1859 And with what imitation you can borrow
1860 From youth of such a season, ’fore noble Lucius
1861 200 Present yourself, desire his service, tell him
1862 Wherein you’re happy—which will make him know,
1863 If that his head have ear in music—doubtless
1864 With joy he will embrace you, for he’s honorable
1865 And, doubling that, most holy. Your means abroad:
1866 205 You have me, rich, and I will never fail
1867 Beginning nor supplyment.
IMOGEN, ⌜taking the cloakbag⌝ 1868 Thou art all the comfort
1869 The gods will diet me with. Prithee, away.
1870 There’s more to be considered, but we’ll even
1871 210 All that good time will give us. This attempt
1872 I am soldier to, and will abide it with
1873 A prince’s courage. Away, I prithee.
1874 Well, madam, we must take a short farewell,
1875 Lest, being missed, I be suspected of
1876 215 Your carriage from the court. My noble mistress,
1877 Here is a box. I had it from the Queen.
⌜He hands her the box.⌝
p. 1331878 What’s in ’t is precious. If you are sick at sea
1879 Or stomach-qualmed at land, a dram of this
1880 Will drive away distemper. To some shade,
1881 220 And fit you to your manhood. May the gods
1882 Direct you to the best.
IMOGEN 1883 Amen. I thank thee.