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Home > Cymbeline > ACT V - SCENE IV. A British prison.

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ACT V - SCENE IV. A British prison.
Enter POSTHUMUS LEONATUS and two Gaolers

First Gaoler
1    You shall not now be stol'n, you have locks upon you;
2    So graze as you find pasture.
Second Gaoler
3    Ay, or a stomach.
Exeunt Gaolers

4    Most welcome, bondage! for thou art away,
5    think, to liberty: yet am I better
6    Than one that's sick o' the gout; since he had rather
7    Groan so in perpetuity than be cured
8    By the sure physician, death, who is the key
9    To unbar these locks. My conscience, thou art fetter'd
10   More than my shanks and wrists: you good gods, give me
11   The penitent instrument to pick that bolt,
12   Then, free for ever! Is't enough I am sorry?
13   So children temporal fathers do appease;
14   Gods are more full of mercy. Must I repent?
15   I cannot do it better than in gyves,
16   Desired more than constrain'd: to satisfy,
17   If of my freedom 'tis the main part, take
18   No stricter render of me than my all.
19   I know you are more clement than vile men,
20   Who of their broken debtors take a third,
21   A sixth, a tenth, letting them thrive again
22   On their abatement: that's not my desire:
23   For Imogen's dear life take mine; and though
24   'Tis not so dear, yet 'tis a life; you coin'd it:
25   'Tween man and man they weigh not every stamp;
26   Though light, take pieces for the figure's sake:
27   You rather mine, being yours: and so, great powers,
28   If you will take this audit, take this life,
29   And cancel these cold bonds. O Imogen!
30   I'll speak to thee in silence.

Sicilius Leonatus
31   No more, thou thunder-master, show
32   Thy spite on mortal flies:
33   With Mars fall out, with Juno chide,
34   That thy adulteries
35   Rates and revenges.
36   Hath my poor boy done aught but well,
37   Whose face I never saw?
38   I died whilst in the womb he stay'd
39   Attending nature's law:
40   Whose father then, as men report
41   Thou orphans' father art,
42   Thou shouldst have been, and shielded him
43   From this earth-vexing smart.
44   Lucina lent not me her aid,
45   But took me in my throes;
46   That from me was Posthumus ript,
47   Came crying 'mongst his foes,
48   A thing of pity!
Sicilius Leonatus
49   Great nature, like his ancestry,
50   Moulded the stuff so fair,
51   That he deserved the praise o' the world,
52   As great Sicilius' heir.
First Brother
53   When once he was mature for man,
54   In Britain where was he
55   That could stand up his parallel;
56   Or fruitful object be
57   In eye of Imogen, that best
58   Could deem his dignity?
59   With marriage wherefore was he mock'd,
60   To be exiled, and thrown
61   From Leonati seat, and cast
62   From her his dearest one,
63   Sweet Imogen?
Sicilius Leonatus
64   Why did you suffer Iachimo,
65   Slight thing of Italy,
66   To taint his nobler heart and brain
67   With needless jealosy;
68   And to become the geck and scorn
69   O' th' other's villany?
Second Brother
70   For this from stiller seats we came,
71   Our parents and us twain,
72   That striking in our country's cause
73   Fell bravely and were slain,
74   Our fealty and Tenantius' right
75   With honour to maintain.
First Brother
76   Like hardiment Posthumus hath
77   To Cymbeline perform'd:
78   Then, Jupiter, thou king of gods,
79   Why hast thou thus adjourn'd
80   The graces for his merits due,
81   Being all to dolours turn'd?
Sicilius Leonatus
82   Thy crystal window ope; look out;
83   No longer exercise
84   Upon a valiant race thy harsh
85   And potent injuries.
86   Since, Jupiter, our son is good,
87   Take off his miseries.
Sicilius Leonatus
88   Peep through thy marble mansion; help;
89   Or we poor ghosts will cry
90   To the shining synod of the rest
91   Against thy deity.
First Brother
92   Help, Jupiter; or we appeal,
93   And from thy justice fly.
94   No more, you petty spirits of region low,
95   Offend our hearing; hush! How dare you ghosts
96   Accuse the thunderer, whose bolt, you know,
97   Sky-planted batters all rebelling coasts?
98   Poor shadows of Elysium, hence, and rest
99   Upon your never-withering banks of flowers:
100  Be not with mortal accidents opprest;
101  No care of yours it is; you know 'tis ours.
102  Whom best I love I cross; to make my gift,
103  The more delay'd, delighted. Be content;
104  Your low-laid son our godhead will uplift:
105  His comforts thrive, his trials well are spent.
106  Our Jovial star reign'd at his birth, and in
107  Our temple was he married. Rise, and fade.
108  He shall be lord of lady Imogen,
109  And happier much by his affliction made.
110  This tablet lay upon his breast, wherein
111  Our pleasure his full fortune doth confine:
112  and so, away: no further with your din
113  Express impatience, lest you stir up mine.
114  Mount, eagle, to my palace crystalline.

Sicilius Leonatus
115  He came in thunder; his celestial breath
116  Was sulphurous to smell: the holy eagle
117  Stoop'd as to foot us: his ascension is
118  More sweet than our blest fields: his royal bird
119  Prunes the immortal wing and cloys his beak,
120  As when his god is pleased.
121  Thanks, Jupiter!
Sicilius Leonatus
122  The marble pavement closes, he is enter'd
123  His radiant root. Away! and, to be blest,
124  Let us with care perform his great behest.
The Apparitions vanish

Posthumus Leonatus
125   Sleep, thou hast been a grandsire, and begot
126  A father to me; and thou hast created
127  A mother and two brothers: but, O scorn!
128  Gone! they went hence so soon as they were born:
129  And so I am awake. Poor wretches that depend
130  On greatness' favour dream as I have done,
131  Wake and find nothing. But, alas, I swerve:
132  Many dream not to find, neither deserve,
133  And yet are steep'd in favours: so am I,
134  That have this golden chance and know not why.
135  What fairies haunt this ground? A book? O rare one!
136  Be not, as is our fangled world, a garment
137  Nobler than that it covers: let thy effects
138  So follow, to be most unlike our courtiers,
139  As good as promise.
140  'When as a lion's whelp shall, to himself unknown,
141  without seeking find, and be embraced by a piece of
142  tender air; and when from a stately cedar shall be
143  lopped branches, which, being dead many years,
144  shall after revive, be jointed to the old stock and
145  freshly grow; then shall Posthumus end his miseries,
146  Britain be fortunate and flourish in peace and plenty.'
147  'Tis still a dream, or else such stuff as madmen
148  Tongue and brain not; either both or nothing;
149  Or senseless speaking or a speaking such
150  As sense cannot untie. Be what it is,
151  The action of my life is like it, which
152  I'll keep, if but for sympathy.
Re-enter First Gaoler

First Gaoler
153  Come, sir, are you ready for death?
154  Over-roasted rather; ready long ago.
First Gaoler
155  Hanging is the word, sir: if
156  you be ready for that, you are well cooked.
157  So, if I prove a good repast to the
158  spectators, the dish pays the shot.
First Gaoler
159  A heavy reckoning for you, sir. But the comfort is,
160  you shall be called to no more payments, fear no
161  more tavern-bills; which are often the sadness of
162  parting, as the procuring of mirth: you come in
163  flint for want of meat, depart reeling with too
164  much drink; sorry that you have paid too much, and
165  sorry that you are paid too much; purse and brain
166  both empty; the brain the heavier for being too
167  light, the purse too light, being drawn of
168  heaviness: of this contradiction you shall now be
169  quit. O, the charity of a penny cord! It sums up
170  thousands in a trice: you have no true debitor and
171  creditor but it; of what's past, is, and to come,
172  the discharge: your neck, sir, is pen, book and
173  counters; so the acquittance follows.
174  I am merrier to die than thou art to live.
First Gaoler
175  Indeed, sir, he that sleeps feels not the
176  tooth-ache: but a man that were to sleep your
177  sleep, and a hangman to help him to bed, I think he
178  would change places with his officer; for, look you,
179  sir, you know not which way you shall go.
180  Yes, indeed do I, fellow.
First Gaoler
181  Your death has eyes in 's head then; I have not seen
182  him so pictured: you must either be directed by
183  some that take upon them to know, or do take upon
184  yourself that which I am sure you do not know, or
185  jump the after inquiry on your own peril: and how
186  you shall speed in your journey's end, I think you'll
187  never return to tell one.
188  I tell thee, fellow, there are none want eyes to
189  direct them the way I am going, but such as wink and
190  will not use them.
First Gaoler
191  What an infinite mock is this, that a man should
192  have the best use of eyes to see the way of
193  blindness! I am sure hanging's the way of winking.
Enter a Messenger

194  Knock off his manacles; bring your prisoner to the king.
195  Thou bring'st good news; I am called to be made free.
First Gaoler
196  I'll be hang'd then.
197  Thou shalt be then freer than a gaoler; no bolts for the dead.
Exeunt POSTHUMUS LEONATUS and Messenger

First Gaoler
198  Unless a man would marry a gallows and beget young
199  gibbets, I never saw one so prone. Yet, on my
200  conscience, there are verier knaves desire to live,
201  for all he be a Roman: and there be some of them
202  too that die against their wills; so should I, if I
203  were one. I would we were all of one mind, and one
204  mind good; O, there were desolation of gaolers and
205  gallowses! I speak against my present profit, but
206  my wish hath a preferment in 't.

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Scene Index

  • ACT II


  • ACT IV

  • ACT V

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