Act V, Scene 4
Britain. A prison.
- Enter Posthumus and two Jailers.
First Jailer1 - 2
- You shall not now be stol’n, you have locks upon you;
- So graze, as you find pasture.
- Ay, or a stomach.
- Exeunt Jailers.
Posthumus4 - 30
- Most welcome, bondage! For thou art a way,
- I think, to liberty; yet am I better
- Than one that’s sick o’ th’ gout, since he had rather
- Groan so in perpetuity than be cur’d
- By th’ sure physician, death, who is the key
- T’ 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 forever! Is’t enough I am sorry?
- So children temporal fathers do appease;
- 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.
- I know you are more clement than vild men,
- Who of their broken debtors take a third,
- A sixt, a tenth, letting them thrive again
- On their abatement. That’s not my desire.
- For Imogen’s dear life take mine, and though
- ’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 pow’rs,
- If you will take this audit, take this life,
- And cancel these cold bonds. O Imogen,
- I’ll speak to thee in silence.
- 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, follows the two young Leonati,
- brothers to Posthumus, with wounds as they died in the wars.
- They circle Posthumus round as he lies sleeping.
Sicilius31 - 43
- No more, thou Thunder-master, show
- Thy spite on mortal flies:
- 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?
- 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
- From this earth-vexing smart.
Matron44 - 48
- Lucina lent not me her aid,
- But took me in my throes,
- That from me was Posthumus ripp’d,
- Came crying ’mongst his foes,
- A thing of pity!
Sicilius49 - 52
- Great nature, like his ancestry,
- Moulded the stuff so fair,
- That he deserv’d the praise o’ th’ world,
- As great Sicilius’ heir.
Apparition of First Brother53 - 58
- 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
- Could deem his dignity?
Matron59 - 63
- With marriage wherefore was he mock’d,
- To be exil’d, and thrown
- From Leonati seat, and cast
- From her his dearest one,
- Sweet Imogen?
Sicilius64 - 69
- Why did you suffer Jachimo,
- Slight thing of Italy,
- To taint his nobler heart and brain
- With needless jealousy,
- And to become the geck and scorn
- O’ th’ other’s villainy?
Apparition of Second Brother70 - 75
- For this from stiller seats we came,
- Our parents and us twain,
- That striking in our country’s cause
- Fell bravely and were slain,
- Our fealty and Tenantius’ right
- With honor to maintain.
Apparition of First Brother76 - 81
- Like hardiment Posthumus hath
- To Cymbeline perform’d.
- Then, Jupiter, thou king of gods,
- Why hast thou thus adjourn’d
- The graces for his merits due,
- Being all to dolors turn’d?
Sicilius82 - 85
- Thy crystal window ope; look out;
- No longer exercise
- Upon a valiant race thy harsh
- And potent injuries.
Matron86 - 87
- Since, Jupiter, our son is good,
- Take off his miseries.
Sicilius88 - 91
- Peep through thy marble mansion, help,
- Or we poor ghosts will cry
- To th’ shining synod of the rest
- Against thy deity.
Brothers92 - 93
- Help, Jupiter, or we appeal,
- And from thy justice fly.
- Jupiter descends in thunder and lightning, sitting upon an
- eagle: he throws a thunderbolt. The Ghosts fall on their
Jupiter94 - 114
- No more, you petty spirits of region low,
- Offend our hearing; hush! How dare you ghosts
- Accuse the Thunderer, whose bolt, you know,
- Sky-planted, batters all rebelling coasts?
- Poor shadows of Elysium, hence, and rest
- Upon your never-withering banks of flow’rs.
- Be not with mortal accidents oppress’d,
- No care of yours it is, you know ’tis ours.
- 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
- 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,
- Jupiter drops a tablet.
- And so away! No farther with your din
- Express impatience, lest you stir up mine.
- Mount, eagle, to my palace crystalline.
Sicilius115 - 120
- He came in thunder, his celestial breath
- Was sulfurous to smell; the holy eagle
- Stoop’d, as to foot us. His ascension is
- More sweet than our blest fields. His royal bird
- Prunes the immortal wing, and cloys his beak,
- As when his god is pleas’d.
- Thanks, Jupiter!
Sicilius122 - 124
- 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 after placing the tablet on Posthumus’
Posthumus125 - 152
- Sleep, thou hast been a grandsire and begot
- A father to me; and thou hast created
- 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’ favor dream as I have done,
- Wake, and find nothing. But, alas, I swerve.
- Many dream not to find, neither deserve,
- And yet are steep’d in favors; 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
- Nobler than that it covers! Let thy effects
- So follow, to be most unlike our courtiers,
- As good as promise!
- “When as a lion’s whelp shall, to himself unknown, without
- seeking find, and be embrac’d by a piece of tender air; and
- when from a stately cedar shall be lopp’d 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 nourish in peace and
- ’Tis still a dream, or else such stuff as madmen
- 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.
- Enter First Jailer.
- Come, sir, are you ready for death?
- Overroasted rather; ready long ago.
First Jailer155 - 156
- Hanging is the word, sir. If you be ready for that, you are
- well cook’d.
Posthumus157 - 158
- So if I prove a good repast to the spectators, the dish pays
- the shot.
First Jailer159 - 171
- A heavy reckoning for you, sir. But the comfort is, you
- shall be call’d 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. O, 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.
- I am merrier to die than thou art to live.
First Jailer173 - 176
- 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.
- Yes indeed do I, fellow.
First Jailer178 - 183
- Your death has eyes in’ s head then; I have not seen him so
- pictur’d. You must either be directed by some that take upon
- them to know, or to 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.
Posthumus184 - 185
- 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 Jailer186 - 188
- 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.
- Knock off his manacles, bring your prisoner to the King.
- Thou bring’st good news, I am call’d to be made free.
- I’ll be hang’d then.
Posthumus192 - 193
- Thou shalt be then freer than a jailer; no bolts for the
- Exeunt Posthumus and Messenger.
First Jailer194 - 201
- 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 jailers and
- gallowses! I speak against my present profit, but my wish
- hath a preferment in’t.