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Arv. What should we speak of7, When we are old as you? when we shall hear The rain and wind beat dark December, how, In this our pinching cave, shall we discourse The freezing hours away? We have seen nothing: We are beastly; subtle as the fox, for prey; Like warlike as the wolf, for what we eat: Our valour is, to chase what flies; our cage We make a quire, as doth the prison bird, And sing our bondage freely.


How you speak 8!
Did you but know the city's usuries,
And felt them knowingly the art o'the court,
As hard to leave, as keep; whose top to climb
Is certain falling, or so slippery, that

The fear's as bad as falling: the toil of the war,
A pain that only seems to seek out danger

I'the name of fame, and honour; which dies i'the search;

And hath as oft a slanderous epitaph,

As record of fair act; nay, many times,

Doth ill deserve by doing well; what's worse,
Must court'sey at the censure:-O, boys, this story
The world may read in me: My body's mark'd
With Roman swords: and my report was once
First with the best of note: Cymbeline lov'd me;
And when a soldier was the theme, my name
Was not far off: Then was I as a tree,
Whose boughs did bend with fruit: but in one night,

7This dread of an old age unsupplied with matter for discourse and meditation, is a sentiment natural and noble. No state can be more destitute than that of him, who, when the delights of sense forsake him, has no pleasures of the mind.'


8 Otway seems to have taken many hints for the conversation which passes between Acasto and his sons from the scene before us.

A storm, or robbery, call it what you will,
Shook down my mellow hangings, nay, my leaves,
And left me bare to weather9.


Uncertain favour!

Bel. My fault being nothing (as I have told you


But that two villains, whose false oaths prevail'd
Before my perfect honour, swore to Cymbeline,
I was confederate with the Romans: so,

Follow'd my banishment; and, this twenty years,
This rock, and these demesnes, have been my world:
Where I have liv'd at honest freedom; paid
More pious debts to heaven, than in all

The fore-end of my time.-But, up to the mountains;
This is not hunters' language:—He, that strikes
The vension first, shall be the lord o'the feast;
To him the other two shall minister;

And we will fear no poison, which attends

In place of greater state 1o. I'll meet you in the


[Exeunt GUI. and ARV. How hard it is, to hide the sparks of nature! These boys know little, they are sons to the king; Nor Cymbeline dreams that they are alive.

They think, they are mine: and, though train'd up thus meanly

I'the cave, wherein they bow, their thoughts do hit
The roofs of palaces; and nature prompts them,
In simple and low things, to prince it, much
Beyond the trick of others. This Polydore,

9 Thus in Timon of Athens:


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That numberless upon me stuck, as leaves

Do on the oak, have with one winter's brush
Fallen from their boughs, and left me, open, bare,
For every storm that blows.'

nulla aconita, bibuntur

Fictilibus; tunc illa time, cum pocula sumes
Gemmata, et lato Setinum ardebit in auro,'


The heir of Cymbeline and Britain, whom
The king his father call'd Guiderius,-Jove!
When on my three-foot stool I sit, and tell
The warlike feats I have done, his spirits fly out
Into my story: say,-Thus mine enemy fell;
And thus I set my foot on his neck; even then
The princely blood flows in his cheek, he sweats,
Strains his young nerves, and puts himself in posture
That acts my words. The younger brother, Cadwal
(Once Arvirágus), in as like a figure,

Strikes life into my speech, and shows much more
His own conceiving. Hark! the game is rous'd!—
O'Cymbeline! heaven, and my conscience, knows,
Thou didst unjustly banish me: whereon,


At three, and two years old, I stole these babes 11;
Thinking to bar thee of succession, as
Thou reft'st me of my lands. Euriphile,

Thou wast their nurse; they took thee for their mother,
And every day do honour to her grave


Myself, Belarius, that am Morgan call'd,
They take for natural father.

The game is



SCENE IV. Near Milford Haven.


Imo. Thou told'st me, when we came from horse, the place

Was near at hand:-Ne'er long'd my mother so

11 Shakspeare seems to intend Belarius for a good character, yet he makes him forget the injury which he has done to the young princes, whom he has robbed of a kingdom, only to rob their father of heirs. The latter part of this soliloquy is very inartificial, there being no particular reason why Belarius should now tell to himself what he could not know better by telling it. JOHNSON.

12 i. e. to the grave of Euriphile; or to the grave of their

To see me first, as I have now :-Pisanio! Man!
Where is Posthumus1? What is in thy mind,
That makes thee stare thus? Wherefore breaks that


From the inward of thee? One, but painted thus,
Would be interpreted a thing perplex'd
Beyond self-explication: Put thyself
Into a haviour of less fear, ere wildness
Vanquish my staider senses.

What's the matter?

Why tender'st thou that paper to me, with
A look untender? If it be summer news,
Smile to't before: if winterly, thou need'st
But keep that countenance still.-My husband's

That drug-damn'd Italy hath out-craftied him,
And he's at some hard point.-Speak, man; thy


May take off some extremity, which to read
Would be even mortal to me.


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; 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:

mother,' as they supposed it to be. The grammatical construction requires that the poet should have written' to thy grave;' but we have frequent instances of this change of persons not only in Shakspeare, but in all the writings of his age.

1 The true pronunciation of Greek and Latin names was not much regarded by the writers of Shakspeare's age. The poet has, however, differed from himself, and given the true pronunciation when the name first occurs, and in one other place :To his protection; call him Posthumus.'

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Struck the maintop! O, Posthumus! alas.'

I shall give thee opportunities at Milford Haven: she hath my letter for the purpose; Where, if thou fear to strike, and to make me certain it is done, thou art the pander to her dishonour, and equally to me disloyal.

Pis. What shall I need to draw my sword? the


Hath cut her throat already.-No, 'tis slander;
Whose edge is sharper than the sword; whose tongue
Outvenoms all the worms of Nile; whose breath
Rides on the posting winds, and doth belie

All corners of the world: kings, queens, and states 3,
Maids, matrons, nay, the secrets of the grave
This viperous slander enters.-What cheer, madam?
Imo. False to his bed! What is it, to be false?
To lie in watch there, and to think on him?

To weep 'twixt clock and clock? if sleep charge


To break it with a fearful dream of him,

And cry myself awake? that's false to his bed?
Is it?

Pis. Alas, good lady!

Imo. I false? Thy conscience witness :-Iachimo, Thou didst accuse him of incontinency;

Thou then look'dst like a villain; now, methinks, Thy favour's good enough.-Some jay of Italy, Whose mother was her painting*, hath betray'd him :

2 It has already been observed that worm was the general name for all the serpent kind. See Antony and Cleopatra, Act v. Sc. 2, note 31.

3 i. e. persons of the highest rank.

4 Putta, in Italian, signifies both a jay and a whore. We have the word again in The Merry Wives of Windsor:-' Teach him to know turtle from jays.' See vol. i. p. 239. 'Some jay of Italy, whose mother was her painting, i. e. made by art; the creature not of nature but of painting. In this sense painting may be said to be her mother. Steevens met with a similar phrase in some old play :- A parcel of conceited feather-caps, whose fathers were their garments.'

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