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Title: Cymbeline Refinished: A Variation on Shakespear's Ending (1936) Author: George Bernard Shaw * A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook * eBook No.: 0301031h.html Edition: 1 Language: English Character set encoding: HTML (Latin-1(ISO-8859-1)--8 bit) Date first posted: July 2003 Date most recently updated: July 2003 This eBook was produced by: Don Lainson email@example.com Project Gutenberg of Australia eBooks are created from printed editions which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular paper edition. Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this file. This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg of Australia License which may be viewed online at http://gutenberg.net.au/licence.html To contact Project Gutenberg of Australia go to http://gutenberg.net.au -----------------------------------------------------------------
The practice of improving Shakespear's plays, more especially in the matter of supplying them with what are called happy endings, is an old established one which has always been accepted without protest by British audiences. When Mr Harley Granville-Barker, following up some desperate experiments by the late William Poel, introduced the startling innovation of performing the plays in the West End of London exactly as Shakespear wrote them, there was indeed some demur; but it was expressed outside the theatre and led to no rioting. And it set on foot a new theory of Shakespearean representation. Up to that time it had been assumed as a matter of course that everyone behind the scenes in a theatre must know much better than Shakespear how plays should be written, exactly as it is believed in the Hollywood studios today that everyone in a film studio knows better than any professional playwright how a play should be filmed. But the pleasure given by Mr Granville-Barker's productions shook that conviction in the theatre; and the superstition that Shakespear's plays as written by him are impossible on the stage, which had produced a happy ending to King Lear, Gibber's Richard III, a love scene in the tomb of the Capulets between Romeo and Juliet before the poison takes effect, and had culminated in the crude literary butcheries successfully imposed on the public and the critics as Shakespear's plays by Henry Irving and Augustin Daly at the end of the last century, is for the moment heavily discredited. It may be asked then why I, who always fought fiercely against that superstition in the days when I was a journalist-critic, should perpetrate a spurious fifth act to Cymbeline, and do it too, not wholly as a literary jeu d'esprit, but in response to an actual emergency in the theatre when it was proposed to revive Cymbeline at no less sacred a place than the Shakespear Memorial Theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon.
Cymbeline, though one of the finest of Shakespear's later plays now on the stage, goes to pieces in the last act. In fact I mooted the point myself by thoughtlessly saying that the revival would be all right if I wrote a last act for it. To my surprise this blasphemy was received with acclamation; and as the applause, like the proposal, was not wholly jocular, the fancy began to haunt me, and persisted until I exorcised it by writing the pages which ensue.
I had a second surprise when I began by reading the authentic last act carefully through. I had not done so for many years, and had the common impression about it that it was a cobbled-up affair by several hands, including a vision in prison accompanied by scraps of quite ridiculous doggerel.
For this estimate I found absolutely no justification nor excuse. I must have got it from the last revival of the play at the old Lyceum theatre, when Irving, as Iachimo, a statue of romantic melancholy, stood dumb on the stage for hours (as it seemed) whilst the others toiled through a series of dénouements of crushing tedium, in which the characters lost all their vitality and individuality, and had nothing to do but identify themselves by moles on their necks, or explain why they were not dead. The vision and the verses were cut out as a matter of course; and I ignorantly thanked Heaven for it.
When I read the act as aforesaid I found that my notion that it is a cobbled-up pasticcio by other hands was an unpardonable stupidity. The act is genuine Shakespear to the last full stop, and late phase Shakespear in point of verbal workmanship.
The doggerel is not doggerel: it is a versified masque, in Shakespear's careless woodnotes wild, complete with Jupiter as deus ex machina, eagle and all, introduced, like the Ceres scene in The Tempest, to please King Jamie, or else because an irresistible fashion had set in, just as at all the great continental opera houses a ballet used to be de rigueur. Gounod had to introduce one into his Faust, and Wagner into his Tannhäuser, before they could be staged at the Grand Opera in Paris. So, I take it, had Shakespear to stick a masque into Cymbeline. Performed as such, with suitable music and enough pictorial splendor, it is not only entertaining on the stage, but, with the very Shakespearean feature of a comic jailor which precedes it, just the thing to save the last act.
Without it the act is a tedious string of unsurprising dénouements sugared with insincere sentimentality after a ludicrous stage battle. With one exception the characters have vanished and left nothing but dolls being moved about like the glass balls in the game of solitaire until they are all got rid of but one. The exception is the hero, or rather the husband of the heroine, Leonatus Posthumus. The late Charles Charrington, who with his wife Janet Achurch broke the ice for Ibsen in England, used to cite Posthumus as Shakespear's anticipation of his Norwegian rival. Certainly, after being theatrically conventional to the extent of ordering his wife to be murdered, he begins to criticize, quite on the lines of Mrs Alving in Ghosts, the slavery to an inhuman ideal of marital fidelity which led him to this villainous extremity. One may say that he is the only character left really alive in the last act; and as I cannot change him for the better I have left most of his part untouched. I make no apology for my attempt to bring the others back to dramatic activity and individuality.
I should like to have retained Cornelius as the exponent of Shakespear's sensible and scientific detestation of vivisection. But as he has nothing to say except that the Queen is dead, and nobody can possibly care a rap whether she is alive or dead, I have left him with her in the box of puppets that are done with.
I have ruthlessly cut out the surprises that no longer surprise anybody. I really could not keep my countenance over the identification of Guiderius by the mole on his neck. That device was killed by Maddison Morton, once a famous farce writer, now forgotten by everyone save Mr Gordon Craig and myself. In Morton's masterpiece, Box and Cox, Box asks Cox whether he has a strawberry mark on his left arm. "No" says Cox. "Then you are my long lost brother" says Box as they fall into one another's arms and end the farce happily. One could wish that Guiderius had anticipated Cox.
Plot has always been the curse of serious drama, and indeed of serious literature of any kind. It is so out-of-place there that Shakespear never could invent one. Unfortunately, instead of taking Nature's hint and discarding plots, he borrowed them all over the place and got into trouble through having to unravel them in the last act, especially in The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Cymbeline. The more childish spectators may find some delight in the revelation that Polydore and Cadwal are Imogen's long lost brothers and Cymbeline's long lost sons; that Iachimo is now an occupant of the penitent form and very unlike his old self; and that Imogen is so dutiful that she accepts her husband's attempt to have her murdered with affectionate docility. I cannot share these infantile joys. Having become interested in Iachimo, in Imogen, and even in the two long lost princes, I wanted to know how their characters would react to the éclaircissement which follows the battle. The only way to satisfy this curiosity was to rewrite the act as Shakespear might have written it if he had been post-Ibsen and post-Shaw instead of post-Marlowe.
In doing so I had to follow the Shakespearean verse pattern to match the 89 lines of Shakespear's text which I retained. This came very easily to me. It happened when I was a child that one of the books I delighted in was an illustrated Shakespear, with a picture and two or three lines of text underneath it on every third or fourth page. Ever since, Shakespearean blank verse has been to me as natural a form of literary expression as the Augustan English to which I was brought up in Dublin, or the latest London fashion in dialogue. It is so easy that if it were possible to kill it it would have been burlesqued to death by Tom Thumb, Chrononhotonthologos, and Bombastes Furioso. But Shakespear will survive any possible extremity of caricature.
I shall not deprecate the most violent discussion as to the propriety of meddling with masterpieces. All I can say is that the temptation to do it, and sometimes the circumstances which demand it, are irresistible. The results are very various. When a mediocre artist tries to improve on a great artist's work the effect is ridiculous or merely contemptible. When the alteration damages the original, as when a bad painter repaints a Velasquez or a Rembrandt, he commits a crime. When the changed work is sold or exhibited as the original, the fraud is indictable. But when it comes to complete forgery, as in the case of Ireland's Vortigern, which was much admired and at last actually performed as a play by Shakespear, the affair passes beyond the sphere of crime and becomes an instructive joke.
But what of the many successful and avowed variations? What about the additions made by Mozart to the score of Handel's Messiah? Elgar, who adored Handel, and had an unbounded contempt for all the lesser meddlers, loved Mozart's variations, and dismissed all purist criticism of them by maintaining that Handel must have extemporized equivalents to them on the organ at his concerts. When Spontini found on his visit to Dresden that Wagner had added trombone parts to his choruses, he appropriated them very gratefully. Volumes of variations on the tunes of other composers were published as such by Mozart and Beethoven, to say nothing of Bach and Handel, who played Old Harry with any air that amused them. Would anyone now remember Diabelli's vulgar waltz but for Beethoven's amazing variations, one of which is also a variation on an air from Don Giovanni?
And now consider the practice of Shakespear himself. Tolstoy declared that the original Lear is superior to Shakespear's rehandling, which he abhorred as immoral. Nobody has ever agreed with him. Will it be contended that Shakespear had no right to refashion Hamlet? If he had spoiled both plays, that would be a reason for reviving them without Shakespear's transfigurations, but not for challenging Shakespear's right to remake them.
Accordingly, I feel no qualm of conscience and have no apology to make for indulging in a variation on the last act of Cymbeline. I stand in the same time relation to Shakespear as Mozart to Handel, or Wagner to Beethoven. Like Mozart, I have not confined myself to the journeyman's job of writing "additional accompaniments": I have luxuriated in variations. Like Wagner dealing with Gluck's overture to Iphigenia in Aulis I have made a new ending for its own sake. Beethoven's Ninth Symphony towers among the classic masterpieces; but if Wagner had been old enough in his Dresden days not only to rescore the first and greatest movement as he did, but to supply the whole work with a more singable ending I should not have discouraged him; for I must agree with Verdi that the present ending, from the change to six-four onward, though intensely Beethovenish, is in performance usually a screaming voice destroying orgy.
I may be asked why all my instances are musical instead of literary. Is it a plot to take the literary critics out of their depth? Well, it may have that good effect; but I am not aiming at it. It is, I suppose, because music has succeeded to the heroic rank taken by literature in the sixteenth century. I cannot pretend to care much about what Nat Lee did in his attempts to impart Restoration gentility to Shakespear, or about Thomas Corneille's bowdlerization of Molière's Festin de Pierre, or any of the other literary precedents, though I am a little ashamed of being found in the company of their perpetrators. But I do care a good deal about what Mozart did to Handel, and Wagner to Gluck; and it seems to me that to discuss the artistic morality of my alternative ending without reference to them would be waste of time. Anyhow, what I have done I have done; and at that I must leave it.
I shall not press my version on managers producing Cymbeline if they have the courage and good sense to present the original word-for-word as Shakespear left it, and the means to do justice to the masque. But if they are halfhearted about it, and inclined to compromise by leaving out the masque and the comic jailor and mutilating the rest, as their manner is, I unhesitatingly recommend my version. The audience will not know the difference; and the few critics who have read Cymbeline will be too grateful for my shortening of the last act to complain.
G. B. S.
AYOT SAINT LAWRENCE, December 1945
A rocky defile. A wild evening. Philario, in armor, stands on a tall rock, straining his eyes to see into the distance. In the foreground a Roman captain, sword in hand, his helmet badly battered, rushes in panting. Looking round before he sits down on a rock to recover his breath, he catches sight of Philario.
CAPTAIN. Ho there, signor! You are in danger there.
You can be seen a mile off.
PHILARIO [hastening down] Whats your news?
I am sent by Lucius to find out how fares
Our right wing led by General Iachimo.
CAPTAIN. He is outgeneralled. There's no right wing now.
Broken and routed, utterly defeated,
Our eagles taken and the few survivors
In full flight like myself. And you?
PHILARIO. My news
Is even worse. Lucius, I fear, is taken.
Our centre could not stand the rain of arrows.
CAPTAIN. Someone has disciplined these savage archers.
They shoot together and advance in step:
Their horsemen trot in order to the charge
And then let loose th' entire mass full speed.
No single cavaliers but thirty score
As from a catapult four hundred tons
Of horse and man in one enormous shock
Hurled on our shaken legions. Then their chariots
With every axle furnished with a scythe
Do bloody work. They made us skip, I promise you. Their slingers!
[He points to his helmet]
--Well: see their work! Two inches further down
I had been blind or dead. The crackbrained Welshmen
Raged like incarnate devils.
PHILARIO. Yes: they thought
We were the Britons. So our prisoners tell us.
CAPTAIN. Where did these bumpkins get their discipline?
PHILARIO. Ay: thats the marvel. Where?
CAPTAIN. Our victors say
Cassivelaunus is alive again.
But thats impossible.
PHILARIO. Not so impossible
As that this witless savage Cymbeline,
Whose brains were ever in his consort's head,
Could thus defeat Roman-trained infantry.
CAPTAIN. 'Tis my belief that old Belarius,
Banned as a traitor, must have been recalled.
That fellow knew his job. These fat civilians
When we're at peace, rob us of our rewards
By falsely charging us with this or that;
But when the trumpet sounds theyre on their knees to us.
PHILARIO. Well, Captain, I must hasten back to Lucius
To blast his hopes of any help from you.
Where, think you, is Iachimo?
CAPTAIN. I know not.
And yet I think he cannot be far off.
PHILARIO. He lives then?
CAPTAIN. Perhaps. When all was lost he fought
Like any legionary, sword in hand.
His last reported word was "Save yourselves:
Bid all make for the rocks; for there
Their horsemen cannot come". I took his counsel;
And here I am.
PHILARIO. You were best come with me.
Failing Iachimo, Lucius will require
Your tale at first hand.
CAPTAIN. Good. But we shall get
No laurel crowns for what we've done today.
Exeunt together. Enter Posthumus dressed like a peasant, but wearing a Roman sword and a soldier's iron cap. He has in his hand a bloodstained handkerchief.
POSTHUMUS. Yea, bloody cloth, I'll keep thee; for I wish'd
Thou shouldst be colour'd thus. You married ones,
If each of you should take this course, how many
Must murder wives much better than themselves
For wrying but a little? O Pisanio!
Every good servant does not all commands:
No bond, but to do just ones. Gods, if you
Should have ta'en vengeance on my faults, I ne'er
Had liv'd to put on this: so had you sav'd
The noble Imogen to repent, and struck
Me (wretch) more worth your vengeance. But, alack,
You snatch some hence for little faults: that's love,
To have them fall no more. You some permit
To second ills with ills, each elder worse,
And make them dread it, to the doers' thrift;
But Imogen is your own: do your best wills,
And make me blest to obey! I am brought hither
Among the Italian gentry, and to fight
Against my lady's kingdom: 'tis enough
That, Britain, I have kill'd thy mistress. Peace!
I'll give no wound to thee. I have disrobed me
Of my Italian weeds, and drest myself
As does a Briton peasant; so I've fought
Against the part I came with; so I'll die
For thee, O Imogen, even for whom my life
Is every breath a death; and thus unknown,
Pitied nor hated, to the face of peril
Myself I'll dedicate. Let me make men know
More valour in me than my habits shew.
Gods, put the strength o' the Leonati in me!
To shame the guise o' the world, I'll begin
The fashion, less without and more within.
He is hurrying off when he is confronted with Iachimo, battle stained, hurrying in the opposite direction. Seeing a British enemy he draws his sword.
POSTHUMUS. Iachimo! Peace, man: 'tis I, Posthumus.
IACHIMO. Peace if you will. The battle's lost and won.
POSTHUMUS. Do you not know me?
POSTHUMUS. Look closer.
You have some reason to remember me
And I to hate you. Yet we're sworn friends.
IACHIMO. By all the gods, Leonatus!
POSTHUMUS. At your service,
Seducer of my wife.
IACHIMO. No more of that.
Your wife, Posthumus, is a noble creature.
I'll set your mind at rest upon that score.
POSTHUMUS. At rest! Can you then raise her from the grave?
Where she lies dead to expiate our crime?
IACHIMO. Dead! How? Why? When? And expiate! What mean you?
POSTHUMUS. This only: I have had her murdered, I.
And at my best am worser than her worst.
IACHIMO. We are damned for this. [On guard] Let's cut each other's throats.
POSTHUMUS [drawing] Ay, let us.
They fight furiously. Enter Cymbeline, Belarius, Guiderius, Arviragus, Pisiano, with Lucius and Imogen as Fidele: both of them prisoners guarded by British soldiers.
BELARIUS [taking command instinctively] Part them there. Make fast the Roman.
Guiderius pounces on Iachimo and disarms him. Arviragus pulls Posthumus back.
ARVIRAGUS. In the King's presence sheath your sword, you lout.
IACHIMO. In the King's presence I must yield perforce;
But as a person of some quality
By rank a gentleman, I claim to be
Your royal highness's prisoner, not this lad's.
LUCIUS. His claim is valid, sir. His blood is princely.
POSTHUMUS. 'Tis so: he's noble.
CYMBELINE. What art thou?
POSTHUMUS. A murderer.
IMOGEN. His voice! His voice! Oh, let me see his face.
[She rushes to Posthumus and puts her hand on his face].
POSTHUMUS. Shall's have a play with this? There lies thy part [he knocks her down with a blow of his fist].
GUIDERIUS. Accursed churl: take that. [He strikes Posthumus and brings him down on one knee].
ARVIRAGUS. You dog, how dare you [threatening him].
POSTHUMUS. Soft, soft, young sirs. One at a time, an't please you. [He springs up and stands on the defensive].
PISANIO [interposing] Hands off my master! He is kin to the king.
POSTHUMUS [to Cymbeline] Call off your bulldogs, sir. Why all
About a serving boy?
CYMBELINE. My son-in-law!
PISANIO. Oh, gentlemen, your help. My Lord Posthumus:
You ne'er killed Imogen till now. Help! help!
IMOGEN. Oh, let me die. I heard my husband's voice
Whom I thought dead; and in my ecstasy,
The wildest I shall ever feel again,
He met me with a blow.
POSTHUMUS. Her voice. 'Tis Imogen.
Oh, dearest heart, thou livest. Oh, you gods,
What sacrifice can pay you for this joy?
IMOGEN. You dare pretend you love me.
POSTHUMUS. Sweet, I dare
Anything, everything. Mountains of mortal guilt
That crushed me are now lifted from my breast.
I am in heaven that was but now in hell.
You may betray me twenty times again.
IMOGEN. Again! And pray, when have I e'er betrayed you?
POSTHUMUS. I had the proofs. There stands your paramour.
Shall's have him home? I care not, since thou liv'st.
IMOGEN. My paramour! [To Iachimo] Oh, as you are a
Give him the lie.
IACHIMO. He knows no better, madam.
We made a wager, he and I, in Italy
That I should spend a night in your bedchamber.
IMOGEN [to Posthumus] You made this wager! And I'm married to you!
POSTHUMUS. I did. He won it.
IMOGEN. How? He never came
Within my bedchamber.
IACHIMO. I spent a night there.
It was the most uncomfortable night
I ever passed.
IMOGEN. You must be mad, signor.
Or else the most audacious of all liars
That ever swore away a woman's honor.
IACHIMO. I think, madam, you do forget that chest.
IMOGEN. I forget nothing. At your earnest suit
Your chest was safely housed in my chamber;
But where were you?
IACHIMO. I? I was in the chest [Hilarious sensation].
And on one point I do confess a fault.
I stole your bracelet while you were asleep.
POSTHUMUS. And cheated me out of my diamond ring!
IACHIMO. Both ring and bracelet had some magic in them
That would not let me rest until I laid them
On Mercury's altar. He's the god of thieves.
But I can make amends. I'll pay for both
At your own price, and add one bracelet more
For the other arm.
POSTHUMUS. With ten thousand ducats
Due to me for the wager you have lost.
IMOGEN. And this, you think, signors, makes good to me
All you have done, you and my husband there!
IACHIMO. It remedies what can be remedied.
As for the rest, it cannot be undone.
We are a pitiable pair. For all that
You may go further and fare worse; for men
Will do such things to women.
IMOGEN. You at least
Have grace to know yourself for what you are.
My husband thinks that all is settled now
And this a happy ending!
POSTHUMUS. Well, my dearest,
What could I think? The fellow did describe
The mole upon your breast.
IMOGEN. And thereupon
You bade your servant kill me.
POSTHUMUS. It seemed natural.
IMOGEN. Strike me again; but do not say such things.
GUIDERIUS. An if you do, by Thor's great hammer stroke
I'll kill you, were you fifty sons-in-law.
BELARIUS. Peace, boy: we're in the presence of the king.
IMOGEN. Oh, Cadwal, Cadwal, you and Polydore,
My newfound brothers, are my truest friends.
Would either of you, were I ten times faithless,
Have sent a slave to kill me?
GUIDERIUS [shuddering] All the world
Should die first.
ARVIRAGUS. Whiles we live, Fidele,
Nothing shall harm you.
POSTHUMUS. Child: hear me out.
Have I not told you that my guilty conscience
Had almost driven me mad when heaven opened
And you appeared? But prithee, dearest wife,
How did you come to think that I was dead?
IMOGEN. I cannot speak of it: it is too dreadful.
I saw a headless man drest in your clothes.
GUIDERIUS. Pshaw! That was Cloten: son, he said, to the king.
I cut his head off.
CYMBELINE. Marry, the gods forefend!
I would not thy good deeds should from my lips
Pluck a hard sentence: prithee, valiant youth,
Deny 't again.
GUIDERIUS. I have spoke it, and I did it.
CYMBELINE. He was a prince.
GUIDERIUS. A most incivil one: the wrongs he did me
Were nothing prince-like; for he did provoke me
With language that would make me spurn the sea
If it could so roar to me. I cut off 's head;
And am right glad he is not standing here
To tell this tale of mine.
CYMBELINE. I am sorry for thee:
By thine own tongue thou art condemn'd, and must
Endure our law: thou 'rt dead. Bind the offender,
And take him from our presence.
BELARIUS. Stay, sir king:
This man is better than the man he slew,
As well descended as thyself, and hath
More of thee merited than a band of Clotens
Had ever scar for. [To the Guard] Let his arms alone,
They were not born for bondage.
CYMBELINE. Why, old soldier,
Wilt thou undo the worth thou art unpaid for,
By tasting of our wrath? How of descent
As good as we?
GUIDERIUS. In that he spake too far.
CYMBELINE. And thou shalt die for 't.
BELARIUS. We will die all three:
But I will prove that two on 's are as good
As I have given out him.
CYMBELINE. Take him away.
The whole world shall not save him.
BELARIUS. Not so hot.
First pay me for the nursing of thy sons;
And let it be confiscate all so soon
As I've received it.
CYMBELINE. Nursing of my sons!
BELARIUS. I am too blunt and saucy: here's my knee.
Ere I arise I will prefer my sons.
Then spare not the old father. Mighty sir:
These two young gentlemen that call me father,
And think they are my sons, are none of mine.
They are the issue of your loins, my liege,
And blood of your begetting.
CYMBELINE. How? my issue?
BELARIUS. So sure as you your father's. These your princes
(For such and so they are) these twenty years
Have I train'd up: those arts they have as I
Could put into them; my breeding was, sir, as
Your highness knows. Come hither, boys, and pay
Your loves and duties to your royal sire.
GUIDERIUS. We three are fullgrown men and perfect strangers.
Can I change fathers as I'd change my shirt?
CYMBELINE. Unnatural whelp! What doth thy brother say?
ARVIRAGUS. I, royal sir? Well, we have reached an age
When fathers' helps are felt as hindrances.
I am tired of being preached at.
CYMBELINE [to Belarius] So, sir, this
Is how you have bred my puppies.
GUIDERIUS. He has bred us
To tell the truth and face it.
BELARIUS. Royal sir:
I know not what to say: not you nor I
Can tell our children's minds. But pardon him.
If he be overbold the fault is mine.
GUIDERIUS. The fault, if fault there be, is in my Maker.
I am of no man's making. I am I:
Take me or leave me.
IACHIMO [to Lucius] Mark well, Lucius, mark.
There spake the future king of this rude island.
GUIDERIUS. With you, Sir Thief, to tutor me? No, no:
This kingly business has no charm for me.
When I lived in a cave methought a palace
Must be a glorious place, peopled with men
Renowned as councillors, mighty as soldiers,
As saints a pattern of holy living,
And all at my command were I a prince.
This was my dream. I am awake today.
I am to be, forsooth, another Cloten,
Plagued by the chatter of his train of flatterers,
Compelled to worship priest invented gods,
Not free to wed the woman of my choice,
Being stopped at every turn by some old fool
Crying "You must not", or, still worse, "You must".
Oh no, sir: give me back the dear old cave
And my unflattering four footed friends.
I abdicate, and pass the throne to Polydore.
ARVIRAGUS. Do you, by heavens? Thank you for nothing, brother.
CYMBELINE. I'm glad you're not ambitious. Seated monarchs
Do rarely love their heirs. Wisely, it seems.
ARVIRAGUS. Fear not, great sir: we two have never learnt
To wait for dead men's shoes, much less their crowns.
GUIDERIUS. Enough of this. Fidele: is it true
Thou art a woman, and this man thy husband?
IMOGEN. I am a woman, and this man my husband.
He would have slain me.
POSTHUMUS. Do not harp on that.
CYMBELINE. God's patience, man, take your wife home to bed.
You're man and wife: nothing can alter that.
Are there more plots to unravel? Each one here,
It seems, is someone else. [To Imogen] Go change your dress
For one becoming to your sex and rank. Have you no shame?
CYMBELINE. How? None!
IMOGEN. All is lost.
Shame, husband, happiness, and faith in Man.
He is not even sorry.
POSTHUMUS. I'm too happy.
IACHIMO. Lady: a word. When you arrived just now
I, as you saw, was hot on killing him.
Let him bear witness that I drew on him
To avenge your death.
IMOGEN. Oh, do not make me laugh.
Laughter dissolves too many just resentments,
Pardons too many sins.
IACHIMO. And saves the world
A many thousand murders. Let me plead for him.
He has his faults; but he must suffer yours.
You are, I swear, a very worthy lady;
But still, not quite an angel.
IMOGEN. No, not quite,
Nor yet a worm. Subtle Italian villain!
I would that chest had smothered you.
IACHIMO. Dear lady
It very nearly did.
IMOGEN. I will not laugh.
I must go home and make the best of it
As other women must.
POSTHUMUS. Thats all I ask. [He clasps her].
BELARIUS. The fingers of the powers above do tune
The harmony of this peace.
LUCIUS. Peace be it then.
For by this gentleman's report and mine
I hope imperial Cæsar will reknit
His favour with the radiant Cymbeline,
Which shines here in the west.
CYMBELINE. Laud we the gods.
And let our crooked smokes climb to their nostrils
From our blest altars. Publish we this peace
To all our subjects. Set we forward: let
A Roman and a British ensign wave
Friendly together: so through Lud's town march,
And in the temple of great Jupiter
Our peace we'll ratify; seal it with feasts.
Set on there! Never was a war did cease,
Ere bloody hands were wash'd, with such a peace.
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