Enter Pisanio and Innogen
Thou told'st me, when we came from horse, the place
Was near at hand: ne'er longed my mother so
To see me first, as I have now – Pisanio! Man!
Where is Posthumus? What is in thy mind
That makes thee stare thus? Wherefore breaks that sigh
From th' inward of thee? One but painted thus
Would be interpreted a thing perplexed
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't be summer news,
Smile to't before: if winterly, thou need'st
But keep that count'nance still. My husband's hand?
That drug-damned Italy hath out-craftied him,
And he's at some hard point. Speak, man, thy tongue
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 disdained of fortune.
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 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 pandar to her dishonour, and
equally to me disloyal.
What shall I need to draw my sword? The paper
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,
state (n.) 3
persons of rank, nobility, court, council of state
Maids, matrons, nay, the secrets of the grave
This viperous slander enters. What cheer, madam?
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 Nature,
To break it with a fearful dream of him,
And cry myself awake? That's false to's bed, is it?
Alas, good lady!
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 –
[bird of bright plumage] showy woman, whore
Whose mother was her painting – hath betrayed him:
Poor I am stale, a garment out of fashion,
And, for I am richer than to hang by th' walls,
I must be ripped – to pieces with me! – O,
Men's vows are women's traitors! All good seeming,
By thy revolt, O husband, shall be thought
Put on for villainy; not born where't grows,
But worn a bait for ladies.
Good madam, hear me.
True honest men, being heard like false Æneas,
Were in his time thought false: and Sinon's weeping
Did scandal many a holy tear, took pity
From most true wretchedness: so thou, Posthumus,
Wilt lay the leaven on all proper men;
[baking] fermenting element, infusing mixture, adulteration
Goodly and gallant shall be false and perjured
From thy great fail. Come, fellow, be thou honest:
Do thou thy master's bidding. When thou see'st him,
A little witness my obedience. Look,
I draw the sword myself, take it, and hit
The innocent mansion of my love, my heart:
Fear not, 'tis empty of all things, but grief:
Thy master is not there, who was indeed
The riches of it. Do his bidding, strike.
Thou mayst be valiant in a better cause;
But now thou seem'st a coward.
Hence, vile instrument!
Thou shalt not damn my hand.
Why, I must die:
And if I do not by thy hand, thou art
No servant of thy master's. Against self-slaughter
There is a prohibition so divine
That cravens my weak hand. Come, here's my heart –
Something's afore't – soft, soft! we'll no defence –
Obedient as the scabbard. What is here?
The scriptures of the loyal Leonatus,
All turned to heresy? Away, away,
Corrupters of my faith! You shall no more
Be stomachers to my heart: thus may poor fools
piece of clothing used by women under their bodice to help cover the chest
See Topics: Clothing
Believe false teachers: though those that are betrayed
Do feel the treason sharply, yet the traitor
Stands in worse case of woe.
And thou, Posthumus, thou that didst set up
My disobedience 'gainst the king my father,
And make me put into contempt the suits
Of princely fellows, shalt hereafter find
It is no act of common passage, but
A strain of rareness: and I grieve myself
To think, when thou shalt be disedged by her
That now thou tirest on, how thy memory
Will then be panged by me. Prithee, dispatch:
afflict with pangs, torture, torment
The lamb entreats the butcher. Where's thy knife?
Thou art too slow to do thy master's bidding
When I desire it too.
O gracious lady:
Since I received command to do this business
I have not slept one wink.
Do't, and to bed then.
I'll wake mine eye-balls out first.
Didst undertake it? Why hast thou abused
So many miles, with a pretence? This place?
Mine action, and thine own? Our horses' labour?
The time inviting thee? The perturbed court
For my being absent? Whereunto I never
Purpose return. Why hast thou gone so far,
To be unbent when thou hast ta'en thy stand,
Th' elected deer before thee?
But to win time
To lose so bad employment, in the which
I have considered of a course: good lady,
Hear me with patience.
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.
I thought you would not back again.
Bringing me here to kill me.
Not so, neither:
But if I were as wise as honest, then
My purpose would prove well: it cannot be
But that my master is abused: some villain,
Ay, and singular in his art, hath done you both
This cursed injury.
Some Roman courtezan?
No, on my life:
I'll give but notice you are dead, and send him
Some bloody sign of it. For 'tis commanded
I should do so: you shall be missed at court,
And that will well confirm it.
Why, good fellow,
What shall I do the while? Where bide? How live?
Or in my life what comfort, when I am
Dead to my husband?
If you'll back to th' court –
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.
If not at court,
Then not in Britain must you bide.
Hath Britain all the sun that shines? Day? Night?
Are they not but in Britain? I'th' world's volume
Our Britain seems as of it, but not in't:
In a great pool, a swan's nest: prithee think
There's livers out of Britain.
I am most glad
You think of other place: th' ambassador,
Lucius the Roman, comes to Milford-Haven
Tomorrow. Now, if you could wear a mind
Dark, as your fortune is, and but disguise
That which, t' 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.
O, for such means,
Though peril to my modesty, not death on't,
I would adventure!
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 it pretty self – into a waggish courage,
Ready in gibes, quick-answered, saucy, and
As quarrelous as the weasel: nay, you must
Forget that rarest treasure of your cheek,
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.
Nay, be brief:
I see into thy end, and am almost
A man already.
First, make yourself but like one.
Fore-thinking this, I have already fit –
'Tis in my cloak-bag – doublet, hat, hose, all
bag for carrying clothes [such as a cloak], portmanteau
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're happy; which will make him know,
If that his head have ear in music, doubtless
With joy he will embrace you: for he's honourable,
And, doubling that, most holy. Your means abroad:
abroad (adv.) 1
in the outside world, freely at large, elsewhere, everywhere
You have me, rich, and I will never fail
Beginning, nor supplyment.
Thou art all the comfort
The gods will diet me with. Prithee away,
There's more to be considered: but we'll even
even (v.) 2
[unclear meaning] keep pace with; or: sort out, reach agreement over
All that good time will give us. This attempt
I am soldier to, and will abide it with
A prince's courage. Away, I prithee.
Well, madam, we must take a short farewell,
Lest being missed, I be suspected of
Your carriage from the court. My noble mistress,
Here is a box, I had it from the queen,
What's in't is precious: if you are sick at sea,
Or stomach-qualmed at land, a dram of this
Will drive away distemper. To some shade,
And fit you to your manhood: may the gods
Direct you to the best!
Amen: I thank thee.