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The miserable have no other medicine,
But only hope.
The Vanity of Life.
Reason thus with life,—
If I do lose thee, I do lose a thing
That none but fools would keep; a breath thou art
That dost this habitation, where thou keep'st,
runs't toward him still: thou art not noble ; For all the accommodations that thou bear'st
Are nursed by baseness: thou art by no means valiant ; For thou dost fear the soft and tender fork
Of a poor worm: thy best of rest is sleep,
And that thou oft provok'st, yet grossly fear'st
Thy death, which is no more: thou art not thyself;
For thou exist'st on many a thousand grains
That issue out of dust: happy thou art not;
For what thou hast not, still thou strivest to get;
And what thou hast, forget'st thou art not certain;
For thy complexion shifts to strange effects,*
After the moon: if thou art rich, thou art poor;
For, like an ass, whose back with ingots bows,
Do curse the gout, serpigo,† and the rheum,
A Leprous disease.
For ending thee no sooner: thou hast nor youth nor age: But, as it were, an after-dinner's sleep,
Dreaming on both for all thy blessed youth
Becomes as aged, and doth beg the arms
Of palsied eld;* and when thou art old and rich,
That bears the name of life.
What's yet in this
Lie hid more thousand deaths: yet death we fear,
The Terrors of Death chiefly in Apprehension.
O, I do fear thee, Claudio; and I quake
The Fear of Death.
Ay, but to die, and go we know not where ;
* Old age.
The weariest and most loathed worldly life
To what we fear of death.
Virtue and Goodness.
Virtue is bold, and goodness never fearful.
Leonatus Posthumus has secretly married Imogen, daughter of Cymbeline, King of Britain, and his deceased queen. Cymbeline marries a second wife, who is a widow, having a son named Cloten, whom they design as a husband for Imogen. The king, incensed at the discovery of his daughter's marriage, orders her to be confined in the palace, whilst Posthumus is banished, and departs for Rome, where he takes up his abode in the house of his friend Philario. Belarius, a lord of Britain, in former years belonging to the court, has been unjustly banished, and retires into the mountains of Wales, taking with him Guiderius and Arviragus, the two infant sons of the king, whom he brings up as his own children. In the meantime war breaks out between the Romans and the Britons and a battle ensues, in which the former are at first successful, but Belarius and his two foster-sons, being joined by Posthumus, who has returned to Britain, rally their soldiers, and obtain the victory. Belarius, to the great joy of Cymbeline, restores to him his long-lost sons, and Imogen and Posthumus receive pardon for their surreptitious marriage. The queen, who has been, amongst other crimes, guilty of plotting against her husband's life, dies confessing her wickedness, and her son Cloten is slain by Guiderius in single combat. Iachimo, an Italian who has behaved treacherously to Posthumus, confesses his offences, and is forgiven, and the play concludes with a declaration of peace with the Romans.
Imogen reading in bed.
Mine eyes are weak :—
Fold down the leaf where I have left: to bed:
Take not away the taper, leave it burning ;
'Tis her breathing that
Perfumes the chamber thus: the flame o' the taper
Under these windows, white and azure, laced
A mole cinque-spotted, like the crimson drops
Hark! hark! the lark at heaven's gate sings,
And Phoebus 'gins arise,
His steeds to water at those springs
On chalic'd flowers that lies;
And winking Mary-buds begin
With every thing that pretty bin;
*The blue veins intersecting the white skin.
Which makes the true man kill'd, and saves the thief; Nay, sometime, hangs both thief and true man: what Can it not do, and undo?
Impatience of Imogen to meet her husband Posthumus. O, for a horse with wings!-Hear'st thou, Pisanio, He is at Milford-Haven: read, and tell me
How far 'tis thither.
If one of mean affairs
May plod it in a week, why may not I
Glide thither in a day?—Then, true Pisanio,
(Who long'st, like me, to see thy lord; who long'st-
For mine's beyond beyond), say, and speak thick*
Belarius' Description of his Banishment.