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CYMBELINE first appeared in print in the Folio of 1623, and there is no evidence of any pre. vious attempt at publication. The text, which presents many difficulties, has been edited on the basis of this original, with the assistance, as usual, of the results of later editors.
For the date of production the later limit is the death 1611 of Simon Forman, who records in his “ Booke of Plaies " a performance of Cymbeline witnessed by him. The entry is undated, but the records of performances of Winter's Tale and Macbeth, between which it occurs, belong respectively to May 15, 1611, and April 20, 1610. The metrical tests point to the years 1609– 1611, and we may with some assurance regard 1610 as coming within a year of the date of composition.
Of authentic history in Cymbeline there is very little beyond the fact of the existence, about the beginning of the Christian era, of a British king, Cunobelinus. The pseudo-historical element Shakespeare derived from Holinshed, whose narrative is here chiefly legendary. The Chronicle represents Cymbeline as having been brought up in Rome and knighted by Augustus Cæsar, and as the father of two sons, Guiderius and Arviragus. Conflicting stories are reported about the payment of tribute to Rome, but Holinshed puts stress on the friendship existing between Cymbeline and the Emperor, and makes the refusal of tribute come from Guiderius after his father's death. The references to previous conflicts between Rome and Britain are derived from the Chronicle. The account of the battle in the fifth act, and of the saving of the day by Belarius and the two princes, is based on Holinshed's story of a fight between the Danes and the Scots, in which the fleeing Scots were rallied in a lane by a husbandman and his two sons.
The romantic element in the plot belongs to a very widely diffused type of story. It is found repeatedly in French romance and drama, and occurs also in Italian, German, Scandinavian, Gaelic, and other literatures. In most versions there persist the characteristic features of the wager, the repulse of the villain, the deceptive tokens, the attempt of the husband or lover to punish the supposed infidelity by death, the wanderings of the heroine in disguise, the final reconciliation, and the confession of the villain. Shakespeare's version approaches most closely that of Boccaccio in the ninth novel of the second day of the Decameron, which he may have known in a lost English translation or in one of the current French editions. The English version which appears in Westward for Smelts cannot be proved to have been printed before 1620 ; and its author may himself have been indebted to Shakespeare, or both may have borrowed from an English source now lost.
A number of subsidiary sources have been suggested. The early anonymous play of The Rare Triumphs of Love and Fortune (printed 1589) has resemblances to our play, especially in the rôles of Imogen, Posthumus, Cloten, and Belarius, and the heroine is named Fidelia. The relation of the Queen to her son and Imogen recalls the familiar stepmother motive of Germanic folk-lore, and, with the episode in the cave, more specifically the fairy-tale of Little Snow-white. But from whatever sources Shakespeare drew these various details, the interweaving and the atmosphere are his own, and all the wealth of poetry and characterization which gives the drama its charm.
If Pericles be set aside as primarily a dramatized tale of adventure, Cymbeline is the first of that group of so-called “dramatic romances" with which Shakespeare closed his career. The difficulty of fixing a certain chronology prevents us from stating with assurance the relation of these plays to the somewhat similar group produced about the same time by Beaumont and Fletcher; but a close relation between the present play and the Philaster of these authors is beyond question, the balance of evidence favoring the younger authors as inventors of the type.
Doubt has been cast upon the authenticity of several passages in the play, especially the vision of Posthumus in v. iv. The device itself is paralleled by the spectacular elements in The Tempest and Winter's Tale ; but the inferior quality of such verses as 30-92 lends color to the belief that the scene was at least expanded by another hand than Shakespeare's.
[DRAMATIS PERSONÆ CYMBELINE, king of Britain.
CORNELIUS, a physician.
A Roman Captain.
Two Lords of Cymbeline's court.
sons to Cymbeline, disguised under the Two Gentlemen of the same, ARVIRAGUS,
name of Polydore and Cadwal, supposed Two Gaolers.
sons to Morgan. PHILARIO, friend to Posthumus, } Italians.
QUEEN, wife to Cymbeline. IACHIMO, friend to Philario,
IMOGEN, daughter to Cymbeline by a former Queen CAIUS LUCIUs, general of the Roman forces.
HELEN, a lady attending on Imogen. PISANIO, servant to Posthumus. Lords, Ladies, Roman Senators, Tribunos, a Soothsayer, a Dutchman, a Spaniard, Musicians, Officers, Captains
Soldiers, Messengers, and other Attendants.
ACT I SCENE I. (Britain. The garden of Cymbeline's
Enter two GENTLEMEN. 1. Gent. You do not meet a man but frowns.
Our bloods No more obey the heavens than our courtiers Still seem as does the King. 2. Gent.
But what's the matter? 1. Gent. His daughter, and the heir of 's
kingdom, whom He purpos'd to his wife's sole son - a widow 5 That late he married - hath referr'd herself Unto a poor but worthy gentleman. She 's
wedded, Her husband banish'd, she imprison'd; all Is outward sorrow ; though I think the King Be touch'd at very heart. 2. Gent.
None but the King ? 1. Gent. He that hath lost her too; so is the
Queen, That most desir'd the match: but not a cour
tier, 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. 2. Gent.
And why so ? 1. Gent. He that hath miss'd 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 banish'd - is a creature such As, to seek through the regions of the earth 20 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
You speak him far. 1. Gent. I do extend him, sir, within him
self, Crush him together rather than unfold His measure duly. 2. Gent.
What's his name and birth? 1. Gent. I cannot delve him to the root. His
father Was callid Sicilius, who did gain his honour Against the Romans with Cassibelan, But had his titles by Tenantius whom He serv'd with glory and admir'd success, So gain'd the sur-addition Leonatus ; And had, besides this gentleman in question, Two other sons, who in the wars o' the time s 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, deceas'd As he was born. The King he takes the
babe To his protection, calls him Posthumus Leona
tus, Breeds him and makes him of his bed-chamber, Puts to him all the learnings that his time Could make him the receiver of; which he
took, As we do air, fast as 't was minist'red, And in 's spring became a harvest; liv'd in
court Which rare it is to do – most prais'd, most
lov'd, A sample to the youngest, to the more mature A glass that feated them, and to the graver A child that guided dotards; to his mis
For whom he now is banish'd, - her own price Proclaims how she esteem'd him and his
virtue; By her election may be truly read What kind of man he is. 2. Gent.
I honour him Even out of your report. But, pray you, tell Is she sole child to the g? 1. Gent.
His only child. He had two sons, - if this be worth your hear
ing, Mark it - the eldest of them at three years old, I' the swathing-clothes the other, from their
nursery Were stolen, and to this hour no guess in
knowledge Which way they went. 2. Gent.
How long is this ago? 1. Gent. Some twenty years. 2. Gent. That a king's children should be so
convey'd, So slackly guarded, and the search so slow, That could not trace them! 1. Gent.
Howsoe'er 't is strange; 65 Or that the negligence may well be laugh'd at, Yet is it true, sir. 2. Gent.
I do well believe you. 1. Gent. We must forbear; here comes the
gentleman, The Queen, and Princess.
[Exeunt. Enter the QUEEN, POSTHUMUS, and IMOGEN. Queen. No, be assurd you shall not find me,
daughter, After the slander of most stepmothers, Evil-ey'd unto you. You're
prisoner, but Your gaoler shall deliver you the keys That lock up your restraint. For you, Posthu
mus, So soon as I can win the offended King, I will be known your advocate. Marry, yet The fire of rage is in him, and 't were good Yon lean’d unto his sentence with what pa
tience Your wisdom may inform you. Post.
Please your Highness, I will from hence to-day. Queen.
You know the peril. I'll fetch a turn about the garden, pitying The pangs of barr'd affections, though the
King Hath charg'd you should not speak together.
o Dissembling courtesy! How fine this tyrant Can tickle where she wounds! My dearest hus
band, I something fear my father's wrath ; but no
My queen! my mistress !
O lady, weep no more, lest I give cause
Be brief, I pray you. If the King come, I shall incur I know not How much of his displeasure. [Aside.] Yet
I'll move him To walk this way. I never do him wrong But he does buy my injuries, to be friends; 105 Pays dear for my offences.
Should we be taking leave As long a term as yet we have to live, The loathness to depart would grow. Adieu !
Imo. 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; But keep it till you woo another wife, When Imogen is dead. Post.
How, how ! another ? You gentle gods, give me but this I have, And cere up my embracements from a next With bonds of death! (Putting on the ring.)
Remain, remain thou here
(Putting a bracelet upon her arm.) Imo.
O the gods!
Enter CYMBELINE and Lords.
Alack, the King !
from my sight! If after this command thou fraught the court With thy unworthiness, thou diest. Away! Thou ’rt poison to my blood. Post.
The gods protect you! And bless the good remainders of the court ! I am gone.
O disloyal thing,
I beseech you, sir,
Past grace? obedience ? Past hope, and in despair; that way, past grace.
Cym. That mightst have had the sole son of I pray you, speak with me; you shall at least my queen!
Go see my lord aboard. For this time leave Imo. O blest, that I might not! I chose an
(Ereunt. eagle, And did avoid a puttock.
SCENE (II. The same. A public place.] Cym. Thou took'st a beggar; wouldst have
Enter CLOTEN and two LORDS. made my throne A seat for baseness.
1. Lord. Sir, I would advise you to shift a Imo.
No; I rather added shirt; the violence of action hath made you A lustre to it.
reek as a sacrifice. Where air comes out, air Cym. O thou vile one!
comes in ; there's none abroad so wholesome Imo.
as that you vent. It is your fault that I have lov'd Posthumus. Clo. If my shirt were bloody, then to shift You bred him as my playfellow, and he is it. Have I hurt him? A man worth any woman; overbuys me
2. Lord. (Aside.] No, faith ; not so much as Almost the sum he pays.
his patience. Cym.
What, art thou mad ? 1. Lord. Hurt him! His body 's a passable Imo. Almost, sir ; heaven restore me! Would carcass, if he be not hurt; it is a throughfare I were
for steel, if it be not hurt. A neat-herd's daughter, and my Leonatus 2. Lord. (Aside. His steel was in debt; it Our neighbour shepherd's son !
went o' the backside the town. Re-enter QUEEN.
Clo. The villain would not stand me.
2. Lord. (Aside.) No; but he fled forward Cym.
Thou foolish thing! still, toward your face. - They were again together ; you have done 151 1. 'Lord. Stand you! You have land enough Not after our command. Away with her, of your own; but he added to your having, And pen her up.
gave you some ground. Queen. Beseech your patience. Peace, 2. Lord. (Aside.! As many inches as you Dear lady daughter, peace! Sweet sovereign, have oceans. Puppies ! Leave us to ourselves; and make yourself some Clo. I would they had not come between us. comfort
2. Lord. (Aside.) So would I, till you had Out of your best advice.
measur'd how long a fool you were upon the Cym. Nay, let her languish
ground. A drop of blood a day; and, being aged,
Clo. And that she should love this fellow Die of this folly!
and refuse me! [Exeunt (Cymbeline and Lords). 2. Lord. (Aside.) If it be a sin to make a Enter PISANIO.
true election, she is damn'd.
1. Lord. Sir, as I told you always, her beauty Queen.
Fie! you must give way. and her brain go not together. She's a good Here is your servant. How now, sir! What sign, but I have seen small reflection of her wit. news?
2. Lord. [Aside.] She shines not upon fools, Pis. My lord your son drew on my master. lest the reflection should hurt her. Queen.
Ha! Clo. Come, I'll to my chamber. Would there No harm, I trust, is done ?
had been some hurt done! Pis.
There might have been, 2. Lord. (Aside.] I wish not so ; unless it had But that my master rather play'd than fought been the fall of an ass, which is no great hurt. And had no help of anger. They were parted Clo. You'll go with us? By gentlemen at hand.
1. Lord. I 'll attend your lordship. Queen.
I am very glad on 't. Clo. Nay, come, let 's go together. Imo. Your son 's my father's friend; he 2. Lord. Well, my lord.
(Eseunt. takes his part To draw upon an exile. O brave sir !
SCENE (III. A room in Cymbeline's palace.) I would they were in Afric both together; Myself by with a needle, that I might prick
Enter IMOGEN and PISANIO. The goer-back. Why came you from your Imo. I would thou grew'st unto the shores master ?
o' the haven, Pis. On his command. He would not suffer And question’dst every sail. If he should write
And I not have it, 't were a paper lost,
It was his queen, his queen! Queen.
This hath been Imo. Then wav'd his handkerchief? Your faithful servant. I dare lay mine honour Pis.
And kiss'd it, madam He will remain so.
Imo. Senseless linen ! happier therein than 1: Pis. I humbly thank your Highness. 175 And that was all ? Queen. Pray, walk a while.
No, madam; for so long About some half-hour hence, As he could make me with this eye or ear
Distinguish him from others, he did keep by her value than his own, words him, I doubt
French. And then bis banishment.
weep this lamentable divorce under her colours Imo.
'Thou shouldst have made him are wonderfully to extend him; be it but to As little as a crow, or less, ere left
fortify her judgement, which else an easy batTo after-eye him.
tery might lay flat, for taking a beggar withPis. Madam, so I did.
out less quality. But how comes it he is to Imo. I would have broke mine eye-strings ; sojourn with you? How creeps acquaintance ? crack'd them, but
Phi. His father and I were soldiers to- (26 To look upon him, till the diminution
gether; to whom I have been often bound for Of space had pointed him sharp as my needle ; no less than
my life. Nay, follow'd him, till he had melted from The smallness of a gnat to air, and then
Enter POSTHUMUS. Have turn'd mine eye and wept. But, good Here comes the Briton. Let him be so enterPisanio,
tained amongst you as suits with gentlemen When shall we hear from him ?
of your knowing to a stranger of his quality. [.. Pis.
Be assured, madam, - I beseech you all, be better known to this With his next vantage.
gentleman, whom I commend to you as a noble Imo. I did not take my leave of him, but had friend of mine. How worthy he is I will leave Most pretty things to say. Ere I could tell him to appear hereafter, rather than story him in How I would think on him at certain hours his own hearing. Such thoughts and such, or I could make him French. Sir, we have known together in Orswear
leans. The shes of Italy should not betray
Post. Since when I have been debtor to you Mine interest and his honour, or have charg'd for courtesies, which I will be ever to pay and him,
pay still. At the sixth hour of morn, at noon, at mid- French. Sir, you o'er-rate my poor kindness. night,
I was glad I did atone my countryman and To encounter me with orisons, for then
you. It had been pity you should have been I am in heaven for him; or ere I could
put together with so mortal a purpose as then Give him that parting kiss which I had set each bore, upon importance of so slight and Betwixt two charming words, comes in my trivial a nature. father
Post. By your pardon, sir, I was then a young And like the tyrannous breathing of the north traveller ; rather shunn'd to go even with what Shakes all our buds from growing.
I heard than in my every action to be guided Enter a LADY.
by others' experiences : but upon my mended
judgement - if I offend (not) to say it is mended Lady.
The Queen, madam, my quarrel was not altogether slight. Desires your Highness' company.
French. Faith, yes, to be put to the arbitreImo. Those things I bid you do, get them ment of swords, and by such two that would dispatch'd.
by all likelihood have confounded one the I will attend the Queen.
other, or have fallen both. Pis. Madam, I shall.
Iach. Can we, with manners, ask what was [Exeunt. the difference ?
French. Safely, I think; 't was a contention SCENE (IV. Rome. Philario's house.] in public, which may, without contradiction,
suffer the report. It was much like an arguEnter PHILARIO, LACHIMO, a FRENCHMAN, a
ment that fell out last night, where each of us (60 Dutchman, and a Spaniard.
fell in praise of our country-mistresses ; this lach. Believe it, sir, I have seen him in Brit- gentleman at that time vouching -- and upon ain. He was then of a crescent note, expected warrant of bloody affirmation his to be more to prove so worthy as since he hath been al- fair, virtuous, wise, chaste, constant, qualified, lowed the name of ; but I could then have and less attemptable than any the rarest of our look'd on him without the help of admiration, ladies in France. though the catalogue of his endowments had lach. That lady is not now living, or this been tabled by his side and I to peruse him by gentleman's opinion by this worn out. items.
Post. She holds her virtue still, and I my Phi. You speak of him when he was less mind. furnish'd than now he is with that which makes Iach. You must not so far prefer her 'fore him both without and within.
ours of Italy. French. I have seen him in France. We had Post. Being so far provok'd as I was in very many there could behold the sun with as France, I would abate her nothing, though I firm eyes as he.
profess myself her adorer, not her friend. Iach. This matter of marrying his king's Iach. As fair and as good - a kind of handdaughter, wherein he must be weighed rather in-hand comparison - had been something too