Cymbeline "Every Good Servant Does Not All Commands"
by William Shakespeare

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"Every Good Servant Does Not All Commands"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Posthumus orders his servant, Pisanio, in a letter, to slay Imogen, the wife from whom he has been forcibly separated and whom he believes to be untrue to him because of the lies of an Italian, Iachimo. Pisanio, who could not bring himself to kill the lovely and virtuous Imogen, has actually sent her, disguised as a man, to do service as a page to the Roman ambassador. In order to convince Posthumus that he has killed her, however, he sends Posthumus her bloody handkerchief. Posthumus has repented and wishes Pisanio had not followed his orders, for even good servants do not always do as told.

Yea, bloody cloth, I'll keep thee, for I wished
Thou shouldst be colored 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 never
Had lived to put on this; so had you saved
The noble Imogen to repent, and struck
Me, wretch, more worth your vengeance. . . .
. . .