ACT V
Scene IV.
 

Britain. A prison

Enter POSTHUMUS and two GAOLERS

FIRST GAOLER
You shall not now be stol'n, you have locks upon you;
So graze as you find pasture.

SECOND GAOLER
Ay, or a stomach.

Exeunt GAOLERS

POSTHUMUS
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 for ever! 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 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
'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.

[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, follows
the two young LEONATI, brothers to POSTHUMUS,
with wounds, as they died in the wars.
They circle POSTHUMUS round as he lies sleeping

SICILIUS
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.

MOTHER
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.

SICILIUS
Great Nature like his ancestry
    Moulded the stuff so fair
That he deserv'd the praise o' th' world
    As great Sicilius' heir.

FIRST BROTHER
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?

MOTHER
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?

SICILIUS
Why did you suffer Iachimo,
    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?

SECOND BROTHER
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 honour to maintain.

FIRST BROTHER
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 dolours turn'd?

SICILIUS
Thy crystal window ope; look out;
    No longer exercise
Upon a valiant race thy harsh
    And potent injuries.

MOTHER
Since, Jupiter, our son is good,
    Take off his miseries.

SICILIUS
Peep through thy marble mansion. Help!
    Or we poor ghosts will cry
To th' shining synod of the rest
    Against thy deity.

BROTHERS
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 knees

JUPITER
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 opprest:
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;
And so, away; no farther with your din
Express impatience, lest you stir up mine.
Mount, eagle, to my palace crystalline.

[Ascends]

SICILIUS
He came in thunder; his celestial breath
Was sulpherous 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.

ALL
Thanks, Jupiter!

SICILIUS
The marble pavement closes, he is enter'd
His radiant roof. Away! and, to be blest,
Let us with care perform his great behest.

[GHOSTS vanish]

POSTHUMUS
[Waking] Sleep, thou has 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' favour, 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 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
Nobler than that it covers. Let thy effects
So follow to be most unlike our courtiers,
As good as promise.

[Reads] '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 flourish in peace and plenty.'

'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.

Re-enter GAOLER

GAOLER
Come, sir, are you ready for death?

POSTHUMUS
Over-roasted rather; ready long ago.

GAOLER
Hanging is the word, sir; if you be ready for that, you are
well cook'd.

POSTHUMUS
So, if I prove a good repast to the spectators, the dish
pays the shot.

GAOLER
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. 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.

POSTHUMUS
I am merrier to die than thou art to live.

GAOLER
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.

POSTHUMUS
Yes indeed do I, fellow.

GAOLER
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.

POSTHUMUS
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.

GAOLER
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

MESSENGER
Knock off his manacles; bring your prisoner to the King.

POSTHUMUS
Thou bring'st good news: I am call'd to be made free.

GAOLER
I'll be hang'd then.

POSTHUMUS
Thou shalt be then freer than a gaoler; no bolts for the
dead.

Exeunt POSTHUMUS and MESSENGER

GAOLER
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