Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > Cymbeline
William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
Act V. Scene IV.
Britain.  A Prison.
Enter POSTHUMUS and two Gaolers.
  First Gaol.  You shall not now be stol’n, you have locks upon you;
So graze as you find pasture.
  Sec. Gaol.        Ay, or a stomach.  [Exeunt Gaolers.        5
  Post.  Most welcome, bondage! for thou art a way,
I think, to liberty. Yet am I better
Than one that’s sick o’ the gout, since he had rather
Groan so in perpetuity than be cur’d
By the sure physician death; who is the key        10
To unbar these locks. My conscience, thou art fetter’d
More than my shanks and wrists: you good gods, give me
The penitent instrument to pick that bolt;
Then, free for ever! Is ’t enough I am sorry?
So children temporal fathers do appease;        15
Gods are more full of mercy. Must I repent?
I cannot do it better than in gyves,
Desir’d more than constrain’d; to satisfy,
If of my freedom ’tis the main part, take
No stricter render of me than my all.        20
I know you are more clement than vile men,
Who of their broken debtors take a third,
A sixth, a tenth, letting them thrive again
On their abatement: that’s not my desire;
For Imogen’s dear life take mine; and though        25
’Tis not so dear, yet ’tis a life; you coin’d it;
’Tween man and man they weigh not every stamp;
Though light, take pieces for the figure’s sake:
You rather mine, being yours; and so great powers,
If you will take this audit, take this life,        30
And cancel these cold bonds. O Imogen!
I’ll speak to thee in silence.  [Sleeps.
Solemn music.  Enter as in an apparition SICILIUS LEONATUS, father to POSTHUMUS, an old man, attired like a warrior; leading in his hand an ancient matron, his wife, and mother to POSTHUMUS, with music before them.  Then, after other music, follow the two young LEONATI, brothers to POSTHUMUS, with wounds, as they died in the wars.  They circle POSTHUMUS round, as he lies sleeping.
  Sici.  No more, thou thunder-master, show
          Thy spite on mortal flies:        35
        With Mars fall out, with Juno chide,
          That thy adulteries
            Rates and revenges.
        Hath my poor boy done aught but well,
          Whose face I never saw?        40
        I died whilst in the womb he stay’d
          Attending nature’s law:
        Whose father then—as men report,
          Thou orphans’ father art—
        Thou shouldst have been, and shielded him        45
          From this earth-vexing smart.
  Moth.  Lucina lent not me her aid,
          But took me in my throes;
        That from me was Posthumus ript,
          Came crying ’mongst his foes,        50
              A thing of pity!
  Sici.  Great nature, like his ancestry,
          Moulded the stuff so fair,
        That he deserv’d the praise o’ the world,
          As great Sicilius’ heir.        55
  First Bro. When once he was mature for man,
          In Britain where was he
        That could stand up his parallel,
          Or fruitful object be
        In eye of Imogen, that best        60
          Could deem his dignity?
  Moth.  With marriage wherefore was he mock’d,
          To be exil’d, and thrown
        From Leonati’s seat, and cast
          From her his dearest one,        65
            Sweet Imogen?
  Sici.  Why did you suffer Iachimo,
          Slight thing of Italy,
        To taint his nobler heart and brain
          With needless jealousy;        70
        And to become the geck and scorn
          O’ the other’s villany?
  Sec. Bro.  For this from stiller seats we came,
          Our parents and us twain,
        That striking in our country’s cause        75
          Fell bravely and were slain;
        Our fealty and Tenantius’ right
          With honour to maintain.
  First Bro.  Like hardiment Posthumus hath
          To Cymbeline perform’d:        80
        Then Jupiter, thou king of gods,
          Why hast thou thus adjourn’d
        The graces for his merits due,
          Being all to dolours turn’d?
  Sici.  Thy crystal window ope; look out;        85
          No longer exercise
        Upon a valiant race thy harsh
          And potent injuries.
  Moth.  Since, Jupiter, our son is good,
          Take off his miseries.        90
  Sici.  Peep through thy marble mansion; help!
          Or we poor ghosts will cry
        To the shining synod of the rest
          Against thy deity.
  Both Bro.  Help, Jupiter! or we appeal,        95
          And from thy justice fly.
Jupiter descends in thunder and lightning, sitting upon an eagle: he throws a thunderbolt.  The Ghosts fall on their knees.
  Jup.  No more, you petty spirits of region low,
  Offend our hearing; hush! How dare you ghosts
Accuse the thunderer, whose bolt, you know,        100
  Sky-planted, batters all rebelling coasts?
Poor shadows of Elysium, hence; and rest
  Upon your never-withering banks of flowers:
Be not with mortal accidents opprest;
  No care of yours it is; you know ’tis ours.        105
Whom best I love I cross; to make my gift,
  The more delay’d, delighted. Be content;
Your low-laid son our godhead will uplift:
  His comforts thrive, his trials well are spent.
Our Jovial star reign’d at his birth, and in        110
  Our temple was he married. Rise, and fade!
He shall be lord of Lady Imogen,
  And happier much by his affliction made.
This tablet lay upon his breast, wherein
  Our pleasure his full fortune doth confine;        115
And so, away: no further with your din
  Express impatience, lest you stir up mine.
  Mount, eagle, to my palace crystalline.  [Ascends.
  Sici.  He came in thunder; his celestial breath
Was sulphurous to smell; the holy eagle        120
Stoop’d, as to foot us; his ascension is
More sweet than our bless’d fields; his royal bird
Prunes the immortal wing and cloys his beak,
As when his god is pleas’d.
  All.        Thanks, Jupiter!        125
  Sici.  The marble pavement closes; he is enter’d
His radiant roof. Away! and, to be blest,
Let us with care perform his great behest.  [The Ghosts vanish.
  Post.  [Awaking.]  Sleep, thou hast been a grandsire, and begot
A father to me; and thou hast created        130
A mother and two brothers. But—O scorn!—
Gone! they went hence so soon as they were born:
And so I am awake. Poor wretches, that depend
On greatness’ favour dream as I have done;
Wake, and find nothing. But, alas! I swerve:        135
Many dream not to find, neither deserve,
And yet are steep’d in favours; so am I,
That have this golden chance and know not why.
What fairies haunt this ground? A book? O rare one!
Be not, as is our fangled world, a garment        140
Nobler than that it covers: let thy effects
So follow, to be most unlike our courtiers,
As good as promise.
  Whenas a lion’s whelp shall, to himself unknown, without seeking find, and be embraced by a piece of tender air; and when from a stately cedar shall be lopped branches, which, being dead many years, shall after revive, be jointed to the old stock, and freshly grow, then shall Posthumus end his miseries, Britain be fortunate, and flourish in peace and plenty.
’Tis still a dream, or else such stuff as madmen        145
Tongue and brain not; either both or nothing;
Or senseless speaking, or a speaking such
As sense cannot untie. Be what it is,
The action of my life is like it, which
I’ll keep, if but for sympathy.        150
Re-enter Gaolers.
  First Gaol.  Come, sir, are you ready for death?
  Post.  Over-roasted rather; ready long ago.
  First Gaol.  Hanging is the word, sir: if you be ready for that, you are well cooked.
  Post.  So, if I prove a good repast to the spectators, the dish pays the shot.        155
  First Gaol.  A heavy reckoning for you, sir; but the comfort is, you shall be called to no more payments, fear no more tavern-bills, which are often the sadness of parting, as the procuring of mirth. You come in faint for want of meat, depart reeling with too much drink, sorry that you have paid too much; and sorry that you are paid too much; purse and brain both empty; the brain the heavier for being too light, the purse too light, being drawn of heaviness: of this contradiction you shall now be quit. O! the charity of a penny cord; it sums up thousands in a trice: you have no true debitor and creditor but it; of what’s past, is, and to come, the discharge. Your neck, sir, is pen, book and counters; so the acquittance follows.
  Post.  I am merrier to die than thou art to live.
  First Gaol.  Indeed, sir, he that sleeps feels not the toothache; but a man that were to sleep your sleep, and a hangman to help him to bed, I think he would change places with his officer; for look you, sir, you know not which way you shall go.
  Post.  Yes, indeed do I, fellow.
  First Gaol.  Your death has eyes in ’s head, then; I have not seen him so pictured: you must either be directed by some that take upon them to know, or take upon yourself that which I am sure you do not know, or jump the after inquiry on your own peril: and how you shall speed in your journey’s end, I think you’ll never return to tell one.        160
  Post.  I tell thee, fellow, there are none want eyes to direct them the way I am going but such as wink and will not use them.
  First Gaol.  What an infinite mock is this, that a man should have the best use of eyes to see the way of blindness! I am sure hanging’s the way of winking.
Enter a Messenger.
  Mess.  Knock off his manacles; bring your prisoner to the king.
  Post.  Thou bring’st good news; I am called to be made free.        165
  First Gaol.  I’ll be hang’d, then.
  Post.  Thou shalt be then freer than a gaoler; no bolts for the dead.  [Exeunt all but first Gaoler.
  First Gaol.  Unless a man would marry a gallows and beget young gibbets, I never saw one so prone. Yet, on my conscience, there are verier knaves desire to live, for all he be a Roman; and there be some of them too, that die against their wills; so should I, if I were one. I would we were all of one mind, and one mind good; O! there were desolation of gaolers and gallowses. I speak against my present profit, but my wish hath a preferment in ’t.  [Exit.

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.