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Cymbeline (Pelican Shakespeare Series)by William Shakespeare, Peter Holland (Editor), Stephen Orgel (Editor), A. R. Braunmuller (Editor)
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“A feast of literary and historical information.”—The Wall Street Journal
Read an Excerpt
Act 1 Scene 1 running scene 1
Enter two Gentlemen
FIRST GENTLEMAN??You do not meet a man but frowns. Our bloods
No more obey the heavens than our courtiers
Still seem as does the king.
SECOND GENTLEMAN??But what's the matter?
FIRST GENTLEMAN??His daughter, and the heir of's kingdom, whom
He purposed to his wife's sole son - a widow
That late he married - hath referred herself
Unto a poor but worthy gentleman. She's wedded,
Her husband banished, she imprisoned, all
Is outward sorrow, though I think the king
Be touched at very heart.
SECOND GENTLEMAN??None but the king?
FIRST GENTLEMAN??He that hath lost her too: so is the queen,
That most desired the match. But not a courtier,
Although they wear their faces to the bent
Of the king's looks, hath a heart that is not
Glad at the thing they scowl at.
SECOND GENTLEMAN??And why so?
FIRST GENTLEMAN??He that hath missed the princess is a thing
Too bad for bad report: and he that hath her -
I mean, that married her, alack, good man,
And therefore banished - is a creature such
As, to seek through the regions of the earth
For one his like, there would be something failing
In him that should compare. I do not think
So fair an outward and such stuff within
Endows a man but he.
SECOND GENTLEMAN??You speak him far.
FIRST GENTLEMAN??I do extend, sir, within himself,
Crush him together rather than unfold
His measure duly.
SECOND GENTLEMAN??What's his name and birth?
FIRST GENTLEMAN??I cannot delve him to the root: his father
Was called Sicilius, who did join his honour
Against the Romans with Cassibelan,
But had his titles by Tenantius whom
He served with glory and admired success:
So gained the sur-addition Leonatus.
And had, besides this gentleman in question,
Two other sons, who in the wars o'th'time
Died with their swords in hand. For which their father,
Then old and fond of issue, took such sorrow
That he quit being, and his gentle lady,
Big of this gentleman, our theme, deceased
As he was born. The king he takes the babe
To his protection, calls him Posthumus Leonatus,
Breeds him, and makes him of his bedchamber,
Puts to him all the learnings that his time
Could make him the receiver of, which he took
As we do air, fast as 'twas ministered,
And in's spring became a harvest: lived in court -
Which rare it is to do - most praised, most loved:
A sample to the youngest, to th'more mature
A glass that feated them, and to the graver,
A child that guided dotards. To his mistress,
For whom he now is banished, her own price
Proclaims how she esteemed him; and his virtue
By her election may be truly read,
What kind of man he is.
SECOND GENTLEMAN??I honour him even out of your report.
But pray you tell me, is she sole child to th'king?
FIRST GENTLEMAN??His only child.
He had two sons - if this be worth your hearing,
Mark it - the eldest of them at three years old,
I'th'swathing clothes the other, from their nursery
Were stol'n, and to this hour no guess in knowledge
Which way they went.
SECOND GENTLEMAN??How long is this ago?
FIRST GENTLEMAN??Some twenty years.
SECOND GENTLEMAN??That a king's children should be so conveyed,
So slackly guarded, and the search so slow
That could not trace them.
FIRST GENTLEMAN??Howsoe'er 'tis strange,
Or that the negligence may well be laughed at,
Yet is it true, sir.
SECOND GENTLEMAN??I do well believe you.
FIRST GENTLEMAN??We must forbear. Here comes the gentleman,
The queen and princess. Exeunt
Enter the Queen, Posthumus and Innogen
QUEEN No, be assured you shall not find me, daughter,
After the slander of most stepmothers,
Evil-eyed unto you. You're my prisoner, but
Your jailer shall deliver you the keys
That lock up your restraint. For you, Posthumus,
So soon as I can win th'offended king,
I will be known your advocate: marry, yet
The fire of rage is in him, and 'twere good
You leaned unto his sentence, with what patience
Your wisdom may inform you.
POSTHUMUS Please your highness,
I will from hence today.
QUEEN You know the peril.
I'll fetch a turn about the garden, pitying
The pangs of barred affections, though the king
Hath charged you should not speak together. Exit
INNOGEN O dissembling courtesy! How fine this tyrant
Can tickle where she wounds! My dearest husband,
I something fear my father's wrath, but nothing -
Always reserved my holy duty - what
His rage can do on me. You must be gone,
And I shall here abide the hourly shot
Of angry eyes: not comforted to live,
But that there is this jewel in the world
That I may see again.
POSTHUMUS My queen, my mistress:
O lady, weep no more, lest I give cause
To be suspected of more tenderness
Than doth become a man. I will remain
The loyal'st husband that did e'er plight troth.
My residence in Rome, at one Philario's,
Who to my father was a friend, to me
Known but by letter: thither write, my queen,
And with mine eyes I'll drink the words you send,
Though ink be made of gall.
QUEEN Be brief, I pray you:
If the king come, I shall incur I know not
How much of his displeasure.- Yet I'll move him Aside
To walk this way: I never do him wrong,
But he does buy my injuries to be friends:
Pays dear for my offences. [Exit]
POSTHUMUS Should we be taking leave
As long a term as yet we have to live,
The loathness to depart would grow. Adieu.
INNOGEN Nay, stay a little:
Were you but riding forth to air yourself,
Such parting were too petty. Look here, love,
This diamond was my mother's; take it, heart, Gives a ring
But keep it till you woo another wife,
When Innogen is dead.
POSTHUMUS How, how? Another?
You gentle gods, give me but this I have,
And cere up my embracements from a next
With bonds of death. Remain, remain thou here Puts on the ring
While sense can keep it on: and sweetest, fairest,
As I my poor self did exchange for you
To your so infinite loss, so in our trifles
I still win of you. For my sake wear this,
It is a manacle of love. I'll place it
Upon this fairest prisoner. Puts a bracelet on her arm
INNOGEN O, the gods!
When shall we see again?
Enter Cymbeline and Lords
POSTHUMUS Alack, the king!
CYMBELINE Thou basest thing, avoid hence, from my sight:
If after this command thou fraught the court
With thy unworthiness, thou diest. Away,
Thou'rt poison to my blood.
POSTHUMUS The gods protect you,
And bless the good remainders of the court:
I am gone. Exit
INNOGEN There cannot be a pinch in death
More sharp than this is.
CYMBELINE O disloyal thing,
That shouldst repair my youth, thou heap'st
A year's age on me.
INNOGEN I beseech you, sir,
Harm not yourself with your vexation,
I am senseless of your wrath; a touch more rare
Subdues all pangs, all fears.
CYMBELINE Past grace? Obedience?
INNOGEN Past hope and in despair: that way past grace.
CYMBELINE That mightst have had the sole son of my queen.
INNOGEN O, blest that I might not: I chose an eagle,
And did avoid a puttock.
CYMBELINE Thou took'st a beggar, wouldst have made my throne
A seat for baseness.
INNOGEN No, I rather added a lustre to it.
CYMBELINE O thou vile one!
It is your fault that I have loved Posthumus:
You bred him as my playfellow, and he is
A man worth any woman: overbuys me
Almost the sum he pays.
CYMBELINE What? Art thou mad?
INNOGEN Almost, sir: heaven restore me! Would I were
A neatherd's daughter, and my Leonatus
Our neighbour shepherd's son.
CYMBELINE Thou foolish thing!-
They were again together: you have done To Queen
Not after our command.- Away with her,
And pen her up.
QUEEN Beseech your patience: peace,
Dear lady daughter, peace. Sweet sovereign,
Leave us to ourselves, and make yourself some comfort
Out of your best advice.
CYMBELINE Nay, let her languish
A drop of blood a day, and being aged,
Die of this folly. Exeunt [Cymbeline and Lords]
QUEEN Fie, you must give way.
Here is your servant.- How now, sir? What news?
PISANIO My lord your son drew on my master.
No harm I trust is done?
PISANIO There might have been,
But that my master rather played than fought,
And had no help of anger: they were parted
By gentlemen at hand.
QUEEN I am very glad on't.
INNOGEN Your son's my father's friend, he takes his part
To draw upon an exile.- O brave sir!-
I would they were in Afric both together,
Myself by with a needle, that I might prick
The goer-back.-Why came you from your master?
PISANIO On his command: he would not suffer me
To bring him to the haven: left these notes
Of what commands I should be subject to,
When't pleased you to employ me.
QUEEN This hath been
Your faithful servant: I dare lay mine honour
He will remain so.
PISANIO I humbly thank your highness.
QUEEN Pray walk awhile. To Innogen
INNOGEN About some half hour hence, pray you speak with me. To Pisanio
You shall, at least, go see my lord aboard.
For this time leave me. Exeunt
Act 1 Scene 2 running scene 1 continues
Enter Cloten and two Lords
FIRST LORD Sir, I would advise you to shift a shirt; the violence of action hath made you reek as a sacrifice: where air comes out, air comes in: there's none abroad so wholesome as that you vent.
CLOTEN If my shirt were bloody, then to shift it. Have I hurt him?
SECOND LORD??No, faith: not so much as his patience. Aside
FIRST LORD Hurt him? His body's a passable carcass if he be not hurt. It is a thoroughfare for steel if it be not hurt.
SECOND LORD??His steel was in debt, it went o'th'backside the town. Aside
CLOTEN The villain would not stand me.
SECOND LORD??No, but he fled forward still, toward your face. Aside
FIRST LORD Stand you? You have land enough of your own: but he added to your having, gave you some ground.
SECOND LORD??As many inches as you have oceans. Puppies! Aside
CLOTEN I would they had not come between us.
SECOND LORD??So would I, till you had measured how long a fool you were upon the ground. Aside
CLOTEN And that she should love this fellow, and refuse me!
SECOND LORD??If it be a sin to make a true election, she is damned. Aside
FIRST LORD Sir, as I told you always: her beauty and her brain go not together. She's a good sign, but I have seen small reflection of her wit.
SECOND LORD??She shines not upon fools, lest the reflection should hurt her. Aside
CLOTEN Come, I'll to my chamber: would there had been some hurt done.
SECOND LORD??I wish not so, unless it had been the fall of an ass, which is no great hurt. Aside
CLOTEN You'll go with us?
FIRST LORD I'll attend your lordship.
CLOTEN Nay, come, let's go together.
SECOND LORD??Well, my lord. Exeunt
Act 1 Scene 3 running scene 1 continues
Enter Innogen and Pisanio
INNOGEN I would thou grew'st unto the shores o'th'haven,
And questioned'st every sail: if he should write,
And I not have it, 'twere a paper lost,
As offered mercy is. What was the last
That he spake to thee?
PISANIO It was his queen, his queen.
INNOGEN Then waved his handkerchief?
PISANIO And kissed it, madam.
INNOGEN Senseless linen, happier therein than I:
And that was all?
PISANIO No, madam: for so long
As he could make me with this eye, or ear,
Distinguish him from others, he did keep
The deck, with glove, or hat, or handkerchief,
Still waving, as the fits and stirs of's mind
Could best express how slow his soul sailed on,
How swift his ship.
INNOGEN Thou shouldst have made him
As little as a crow, or less, ere left
To after-eye him.
PISANIO Madam, so I did.
INNOGEN I would have broke mine eyestrings, cracked them, but
To look upon him, till the diminution
Of space had pointed him sharp as my needle:
Nay, followed him, till he had melted from
The smallness of a gnat to air: and then
Have turned mine eye, and wept. But, good Pisanio,
When shall we hear from him?
PISANIO Be assured, madam,
With his next vantage.
INNOGEN I did not take my leave of him, but had
Most pretty things to say: ere I could tell him
How I would think on him at certain hours,
Such thoughts and such: or I could make him swear
The shes of Italy should not betray
Mine interest and his honour: or have charged him,
At the sixth hour of morn, at noon, at midnight,
T'encounter me with orisons, for then
I am in heaven for him: or ere I could
Give him that parting kiss, which I had set
Betwixt two charming words, comes in my father,
And like the tyrannous breathing of the north,
Shakes all our buds from growing.
Enter a Lady
LADY The queen, madam,
Desires your highness' company.
INNOGEN Those things I bid you do, get them dispatched.
I will attend the queen.
PISANIO Madam, I shall. Exeunt
Act 1 Scene 4 running scene 2
Enter Philario, Iachimo, a Frenchman, a Dutchman and a Spaniard
IACHIMO Believe it, sir, I have seen him in Britain; he was then of a crescent note, expected to prove so worthy as since he hath been allowed the name of. But I could then have looked on him without the help of admiration, though the catalogue of his endowments had been tabled by his side and I to peruse him by items.
PHILARIO You speak of him when he was less furnished than now he is with that which makes him both without and within.
FRENCHMAN I have seen him in France: we had very many there could behold the sun with as firm eyes as he.
IACHIMO This matter of marrying his king's daughter, wherein he must be weighed rather by her value than his own, words him, I doubt not, a great deal from the matter.
FRENCHMAN And then his banishment.
IACHIMO Ay, and the approbation of those that weep this lamentable divorce under her colours are wonderfully to extend him, be it but to fortify her judgement, which else an easy battery might lay flat, for taking a beggar without less quality. But how comes it he is to sojourn with you? How creeps acquaintance?
PHILARIO His father and I were soldiers together, to whom I have been often bound for no less than my life.
Here comes the Briton. Let him be so entertained amongst you as suits with gentlemen of your knowing to a stranger of his quality. I beseech you all be better known to this gentleman, whom I commend to you as a noble friend of mine. How worthy he is I will leave to appear hereafter, rather than story him in his own hearing.
Meet the Author
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE was born at Stratford upon Avon in April, 1564. He was the third child, and eldest son, of John Shakespeare and Mary Arden. His father was one of the most prosperous men of Stratford, who held in turn the chief offices in the town. His mother was of gentle birth, the daughter of Robert Arden of Wilmcote. In December, 1582, Shakespeare married Ann Hathaway, daughter of a farmer of Shottery, near Stratford; their first child Susanna was baptized on May 6, 1583, and twins, Hamnet and Judith, on February 22, 1585. Little is known of Shakespeare’s early life; but it is unlikely that a writer who dramatized such an incomparable range and variety of human kinds and experiences should have spent his early manhood entirely in placid pursuits in a country town. There is one tradition, not universally accepted, that he fled from Stratford because he was in trouble for deer stealing, and had fallen foul of Sir Thomas Lucy, the local magnate; another that he was for some time a schoolmaster.
From 1592 onwards the records are much fuller. In March, 1592, the Lord Strange’s players produced a new play at the Rose Theatre called Harry the Sixth, which was very successful, and was probably the First Part of Henry VI. In the autumn of 1592 Robert Greene, the best known of the professional writers, as he was dying wrote a letter to three fellow writers in which he warned them against the ingratitude of players in general, and in particular against an ‘upstart crow’ who ‘supposes he is as much able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you: and being an absolute Johannes Factotum is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a country.’ This is the first reference to Shakespeare, and the whole passage suggests that Shakespeare had become suddenly famous as a playwright. At this time Shakespeare was brought into touch with Edward Alleyne the great tragedian, and Christopher Marlowe, whose thundering parts of Tamburlaine, the Jew of Malta, and Dr Faustus Alleyne was acting, as well as Hieronimo, the hero of Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy, the most famous of all Elizabethan plays.
In April, 1593, Shakespeare published his poem Venus and Adonis, which was dedicated to the young Earl of Southampton: it was a great and lasting success, and was reprinted nine times in the next few years. In May, 1594, his second poem, The Rape of Lucrece, was also dedicated to Southampton.
There was little playing in 1593, for the theatres were shut during a severe outbreak of the plague; but in the autumn of 1594, when the plague ceased, the playing companies were reorganized, and Shakespeare became a sharer in the Lord Chamberlain’s company who went to play in the Theatre in Shoreditch. During these months Marlowe and Kyd had died. Shakespeare was thus for a time without a rival. He had already written the three parts of Henry VI, Richard III, Titus Andronicus, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Comedy of Errors, and The Taming of the Shrew. Soon afterwards he wrote the first of his greater plays – Romeo and Juliet – and he followed this success in the next three years with A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Richard II, and The Merchant of Venice. The two parts of Henry VI, introducing Falstaff, the most popular of all his comic characters, were written in 1597–8.
The company left the Theatre in 1597 owing to disputes over a renewal of the ground lease, and went to play at the Curtain in the same neighbourhood. The disputes continued throughout 1598, and at Christmas the players settled the matter by demolishing the old Theatre and re-erecting a new playhouse on the South bank of the Thames, near Southwark Cathedral. This playhouse was named the Globe. The expenses of the new building were shared by the chief members of the Company, including Shakespeare, who was now a man of some means. In 1596 he had bought New Place, a large house in the centre of Stratford, for £60, and through his father purchased a coat-of-arms from the Heralds, which was the official recognition that he and his family were gentlefolk.
By the summer of 1598 Shakespeare was recognized as the greatest of English dramatists. Booksellers were printing his more popular plays, at times even in pirated or stolen versions, and he received a remarkable tribute from a young writer named Francis Meres, in his book Palladis Tamia. In a long catalogue of English authors Meres gave Shakespeare more prominence than any other writer, and mentioned by name twelve of his plays.
Shortly before the Globe was opened, Shakespeare had completed the cycle of plays dealing with the whole story of the Wars of the Roses with Henry V. It was followed by As You Like it, and Julius Caesar, the first of the maturer tragedies. In the next three years he wrote Troilus and Cressida, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Hamlet, and Twelfth Night.
On March 24, 1603, Queen Elizabeth died. The company had often performed before her, but they found her successor a far more enthusiastic patron. One of the first acts of King James was to take over the company and to promote them to be his own servants, so that henceforward they were known as the King’s Men. They acted now very frequently at Court, and prospered accordingly. In the early years of the reign Shakespeare wrote the more sombre comedies, All’s Well that Ends Well, and Measure for Measure, which were followed by Othello, Macbeth, and King Lear. Then he returned to Roman themes with Antony and Cleopatra and Coriolanus.
Since 1601 Shakespeare had been writing less, and there were now a number of rival dramatists who were introducing new styles of drama, particularly Ben Jonson (whose first successful comedy, Every Man in his Humour, was acted by Shakespeare’s company in 1598), Chapman, Dekker, Marston, and Beaumont and Fletcher who began to write in 1607. In 1608 the King’s Men acquired a second playhouse, an indoor private theatre in the fashionable quarter of the Blackfriars. At private theatres, plays were performed indoors; the prices charged were higher than in the public playhouses, and the audience consequently was more select. Shakespeare seems to have retired from the stage about this time: his name does not occur in the various lists of players after 1607. Henceforward he lived for the most part at Stratford, where he was regarded as one of the most important citizens. He still wrote a few plays, and he tried his hand at the new form of tragi-comedy – a play with tragic incidents but a happy ending – which Beaumont and Fletcher had popularized. He wrote four of these – Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest, which was acted at Court in 1611. For the last four years of his life he lived in retirement. His son Hamnet had died in 1596: his two daughters were now married. Shakespeare died at Stratford upon Avon on April 23, 1616, and was buried in the chancel of the church, before the high altar. Shortly afterwards a memorial which still exists, with a portrait bust, was set up on the North wall. His wife survived him.
When Shakespeare died fourteen of his plays had been separately published in Quarto booklets. In 1623 his surviving fellow actors, John Heming and Henry Condell, with the co-operation of a number of printers, published a collected edition of thirty-six plays in one Folio volume, with an engraved portrait, memorial verses by Ben Jonson and others, and an Epistle to the Reader in which Heming a
A. R. Braunmuller is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California at Los Angeles, where he teaches courses on English and European drama from 1500 to the present. He has written critical volumes on George Peele and George Chapman and has edited plays in both the Oxford (King John) and Cambridge (Macbeth) series of Shakespeare editions. He is also general editor of The New Cambridge Shakespeare.
Stephen Orgel is the Jackson Eli Reynolds Professor of the Humanities at Stanford University and general editor of the Cambridge Studies in Renaissance Literature and Culture. He has edited Ben Johnson's masques, Christopher Marlowe's poems and translations, and many other classics. His books include The Authentic Shakespeare (2002), Impersonations: The Performance of Gender in Shakespeare's England (1996) and The Illusion of Power (1975).
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