Pisanio, man, Where is Posthumus?
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 havior of less fear, ere wildness
Vanquish my staider senses. What’s the matter?
Men’s vows are women’s traitors!
Pisanio hands her a paper.
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 lies
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
pander to her dishonor 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,
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 looked’st like a villain. Now methinks
Thy favor’s good enough. Some jay of Italy,
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 Aeneas,
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;
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 seest him,
A little witness my obedience. Look,
I draw the sword myself.
She draws Pisanio’s sword from its
scabbard and hands it to him.
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.
Pisanio, throwing down the sword
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 defense—
Obedient as the scabbard. What is here?
She takes papers from her bodice.
The scriptures of the loyal Leonatus,
All turned to heresy? Away, away!
She throws away the letters.
Corrupters of my faith, you shall no more
Be stomachers to my heart. Thus may poor fools
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,
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.
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 eyeballs out first.
Didst undertake it? Why hast thou abused
So many miles with a pretense? This place?
Mine action and thine own? Our horses’ labor?
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.
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 cursèd injury.