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Please you read; And you shall find me, wretched man, a thing
The most disdain'd of fortune.
Imo. [Reads.] 'Thy mistress, Pisanio, hath played the strumpet in my bed: the testimonies whereof lie bleeding in me. I speak not out of weak surmises; but from proof as strong as my grief, and as certain as I expect my revenge. That part, thou, Pisanio, must act for me, if thy faith be not tainted with the breach of hers. Let thine own hands take away her life: I shall give thee opportunity at MilfordHaven: she hath my letter for the purpose: Where, if thou fear to strike, and to make me certain it is done, thou art the pandar to her dishonour, and equally to me disloyal.'
a Some jay of Italy, &c. The Italian putta has a double meaning. The jay of Italy is the "Roman courtezan," as well as the painted bird. This is one of the many proofs of Shakspere's acquaintance with the Italian. But how shall we explain the original reading, "whose other was her painting?" Johnson says, "the creature not of nature but of painting. In this sense painting may be not improperly termed her mother." Steevens, in illustration of this, gives a quotation from an old comedy:-"A parcel of conceited feather-caps, whose fathers were their garments." The reading of the original, on the authority of the Corrector of the folio of 1632, has been changed by Mr. Collier to
"Some jay of Italy,
Who smothers her with painting, hath betray'd him." Mr. Collier, in his admiration of the correction, hazards the assertion, that "genuine passion avoids figures of speech." Certainly Shakspere is not an example of this proposition. Although the original passage may be obscure, it contains a strong poetical image. The correction is prosaic enough to suit any Shakspere made Easy.
A little witness my obedience: Look!
There is a prohibition so divine
That cravens my weak hand. Come, here's my
Do feel the treason sharply, yet the traitor
And thou, Posthumus, that didst set up
a Afore't. The original reads afoot-evidently an error.
And make me put into contempt the suit
A strain of rareness: and I grieve myself,
Thou art too slow to do thy master's bidding, When I desire it too.
Pis. O gracious lady, Since I receiv'd command to do this business, I have not slept one wink. Imo. Do 't, and to bed then. Pis. I'll wake mine eye-balls blind first." Imo. Wherefore then Didst undertake it? Why hast thou abus'd So many miles, with a pretence? this place? Mine action, and thine own? our horses' labour? The time inviting thee? the perturb'd court, For my being absent; whereunto I never Purpose return? Why hast thou gone so far To be unbent when thou has ta'en thy stand, The elected decr before thee?
Talk thy tongue weary; speak: I have heard I am a strumpet; and mine ear, Therein false struck, can take no greater wound, Nor tent to bottom that. But speak. Pis. Then, madam, I thought you would not back again. Imo.
Bringing me here to kill me.
Some villain, ay, and singular in his art,
Imo. Why, good fellow, What shall I do the while? Where bide? How live ?
In the original the line stands, "I'll wake mine eyeballs first." Hanmer and Johnson suggested the insertion of blind.
Or in my life what comfort, when I am Dead to my husband?
Pis. If you 'll back to the court,— Imo. No court, no father; nor no more ado With that harsh, noble, simple, nothing: That Cloten, whose love-suit hath been to me As fearful as a siege. Pis. If not at court, Then not in Britain must you bide. Imo. Where then? Hath Britain all the sun that shines? Day, night, Are they not but in Britain? I' the world's volume Our Britain seems as of it, but not in it; In a great pool, a swan's nest. There's livers out of Britain.
I am most glad You think of other place. The ambassador, Lucius the Roman, comes to Milford-Haven To-morrow: Now, if you could wear a mind Dark as your fortune is - and but disguise That which, to appear itself, must not yet be, But by self-danger ;—you should tread a course Pretty, and full of view: yea, haply, near The residence of Posthumus: so nigh, at least, That, though his actions were not visible, yet Report should render him hourly to your ear, As truly as he moves.
Imo. O, for such means! Though peril to my modesty, not death on 't, I would adventure.
Pis. Well then, here's the point : You must forget to be a woman; change Command into obedience; fear, and niceness, (The handmaids of all women, or, more truly, Woman its pretty self,) to a waggish courage; Ready in gibes, quick-answer'd, saucy, and As quarrellous as the weasel; nay, you must Forget that rarest treasure of your check, Exposing it (but, O, the harder heart! Alack no remedy !) to the greedy touch Of common-kissing Titan: and forget Your laboursome and dainty trims, wherein You made great Juno angry.
Imo. Nay, be brief: I see into thy end, and am almost A man already. Pis.
First, make yourself but like one. Fore-thinking this, I have already fit, ('Tis in my cloak-bag,) doublet, hat, hose, all That answer to them: Would you, in their serving, And with what imitation you can borrow From youth of such a season, 'fore noble Lucius Present yourself, desire his service, tell him Wherein you are happy, (which you'll make him know,
[Exeunt. SCENE V.—A Room in Cymbeline's Palace. Enter CYMBELINE, QUEEN, CLOTen, Lucius, and Lords. Cym. Thus far; and so farewell. Luc.
Thanks, royal sir. My emperor hath wrote; I must from hence; And am right sorry that I must report ye My master's enemy.
Cym. My lords, you are appointed for that
office; The due of honour in no point omit.
So, farewell, noble Lucius.
I wear it as your enemy.
Sir, the event
Malone interprets this, "As for your subsistence abroad, you may rely on me." Surely abroad is not here used in the sense of being in foreign parts. It is the old adverb on brede. The means of Imogen are far off-not at hand-all abroad-as we still say. But Pisanio tells her, failing her ewn means, you have me, rich."
His war for Britain.
Queen. 'Tis not sleepy business; But must be look'd to speedily, and strongly.
Cym. Our expectation that it would be thus Hath made us forward. But, my gentle qucen, Where is our daughter? She hath not appear'd Before the Roman, nor to us hath tender'd The duty of the day: She looks us like A thing more made of malice than of duty: We have noted it.-Call her before for We have been too slight in sufferance. [Exit an Attendant. Queen. Royal sir, Since the exile of Posthumus, most retir'd Hath her life been; the cure whereof, my lord, 'Tis time must do. 'Beseech your majesty, Forbear sharp speeches to her: She's a lady So tender of rebukes, that words are strokes, And strokes death to her.
Queen. All the better: May This night forestall him of the coming day! [Exit QUEEN. ate her: for she 's fair and
Clo. I love, and
I will conclude to hate her, nay, indeed,
Shall-Who is here? What are you packing, sirrah?
Come hither: Ah, you precious pander! Villain,
Pis. Alas, my lord, How can she be with him? When was she miss'd? He is in Rome.
a There is a somewhat similar form of expression in All's Well that Ends Well, Act 11., Sc. 111.-"To any count; to all counts; to wha is man."
Clo. Where is she, sir? Come nearer; No further halting: satisfy me home What is become of her?
Pis. O, my all-worthy lord! Clo. All-worthy villain! Discover where thy mistress is, at once, At the next word,—No more of worthy lord,— Speak, or thy silence on the instant is Thy condemnation and thy death. Pis.
Then, sir, This paper is the history of my knowledge Touching her flight. [Presenting a letter. Clo. Let's see 't:-I will pursue her Even to Augustus' throne.
Pis. Or this, or perish." She's far enough; and what he learns by this, May prove his travel, not her danger. [Aside. Clo. Humph! Pis. I'll write to my lord she's dead. O Imogen, Safe may'st thou wander, safe return again!
Clo. Sirrah, is this letter true? Pis. Sir, as I think. Clo. It is Posthumus' hand; I know 't.— Sirrah, if thou would'st not be a villain, but do me true service, undergo those employments wherein I should have cause to use thee, with a serious industry,—that is, what villainy soe'er I bid thee do, to perform it directly and truly,I would think thee an honest man; thou should'st neither want my means for thy relief nor my voice for thy preferment.
Pis. Well, my good lord.
Clo. Wilt thou serve me? For since patiently and constantly thou hast stuck to the bare fortune of that beggar Posthumus, thou canst not in the course of gratitude but be a diligent follower of mine. Wilt thou serve me?
Pis. Sir, I will.
Clo. Give me thy hand, here's my purse. Hast any of thy late master's garments in thy possession ?
Pis. I have, my lord, at my lodging, the same suit he wore when he took leave of my lady and mistress.
Clo. The first service thou dost me, fetch that suit hither: let it be thy first service; go.
Pis. I shall, my lord.
Clo. Meet thee at Milford-Haven :-I forgot to ask him one thing; I'll remember 't anon :— Even there, thou villain, Posthumus, will I kill
Pisanio, in giving Cloten a letter which is to mislead him, means to say, I must either adopt this stratagem or perish by his fury.
thee. I would these garments were come. She said upon a time (the bitterness of it I now belch from my heart), that she held the very garment of Posthumus in more respect than my noble and natural person, together with the adornment of my qualities. With that suit upon my back will I ravish her: First kill him, and in her eyes; there shall she see my valour, which will then be a torment to her contempt. He on the ground, my speech of insultment ended on his dead body, and when my lust hath dined (which, as I say, to vex her I will execute in the clothes that she so praised), to the court I'll knock her back, foot her home again. She hath despised me rejoicingly, and I'll be merry in my