Cymbeline - Act 5, scene 4
Last updated: Fri, Jul 31, 2015
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Act 5, scene 4
Posthumus, in chains, falls asleep and is visited by the ghosts of his dead family and by the god Jupiter, who assures the ghosts that Posthumus will eventually be fine. Jupiter also leaves a written message for Posthumus predicting the future—a message that Posthumus, on waking, cannot interpret. A messenger brings word that Posthumus is to be brought to the victorious Cymbeline.Enter Posthumus ⌜in chains,⌝ and ⌜two Jailers.⌝
2996 You shall not now be stol’n; you have locks upon you.
2997 So graze as you find pasture.
SECOND JAILER 2998 Ay, or a stomach.
2999 Most welcome, bondage, for thou art a way,
3000 5 I think, to liberty. Yet am I better
3001 Than one that’s sick o’ th’ gout, since he had rather
3002 Groan so in perpetuity than be cured
3003 By th’ sure physician, Death, who is the key
3004 T’ unbar these locks. My conscience, thou art fettered
3005 10 More than my shanks and wrists. You good gods,
3006 give me
3007 The penitent instrument to pick that bolt,
3008 Then free forever. Is ’t enough I am sorry?
3009 So children temporal fathers do appease;
3010 15 Gods are more full of mercy. Must I repent,
3011 I cannot do it better than in gyves,
3012 Desired more than constrained. To satisfy,
3013 If of my freedom ’tis the main part, take
3014 No stricter render of me than my all.
3015 20 I know you are more clement than vile men,
3016 Who of their broken debtors take a third,
3017 A sixth, a tenth, letting them thrive again
3019 For Imogen’s dear life take mine; and though
3020 25 ’Tis not so dear, yet ’tis a life; you coined it.
3021 ’Tween man and man they weigh not every stamp;
3022 Though light, take pieces for the figure’s sake;
3023 You rather mine, being yours. And so, great powers,
3024 If you will take this audit, take this life
3025 30 And cancel these cold bonds. O Imogen,
3026 I’ll speak to thee in silence.⌜He lies down and 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
3027 No more, thou Thunder-master, show
3028 Thy spite on mortal flies.
3029 With Mars fall out, with Juno chide,
3030 35 That thy adulteries
3031 Rates and revenges.
3032 Hath my poor boy done aught but well,
3033 Whose face I never saw?
3034 I died whilst in the womb he stayed,
3035 40 Attending nature’s law;
3036 Whose father then—as men report
3037 Thou orphans’ father art—
3038 Thou shouldst have been, and shielded him
3039 From this earth-vexing smart.
3040 45 Lucina lent not me her aid,
3041 But took me in my throes,
3043 Came crying ’mongst his foes,
3044 A thing of pity.
3045 50 Great Nature, like his ancestry,
3046 Molded the stuff so fair
3047 That he deserved the praise o’ th’ world
3048 As great Sicilius’ heir.
3049 When once he was mature for man,
3050 55 In Britain where was he
3051 That could stand up his parallel
3052 Or fruitful object be
3053 In eye of Imogen, that best
3054 Could deem his dignity?
3055 60 With marriage wherefore was he mocked,
3056 To be exiled and thrown
3057 From Leonati seat, and cast
3058 From her, his dearest one,
3059 Sweet Imogen?
3060 65 Why did you suffer Iachimo,
3061 Slight thing of Italy,
3062 To taint his nobler heart and brain
3063 With needless jealousy,
3064 And to become the geck and scorn
3065 70 O’ th’ other’s villainy?
3066 For this, from stiller seats we came,
3067 Our parents and us twain,
3068 That striking in our country’s cause
3069 Fell bravely and were slain,
3070 75 Our fealty and Tenantius’ right
3071 With honor to maintain.
3072 Like hardiment Posthumus hath
3073 To Cymbeline performed.
3074 Then, Jupiter, thou king of gods,
3075 80 Why hast thou thus adjourned
3076 The graces for his merits due,
3077 Being all to dolors turned?
3078 Thy crystal window ope; look out.
3079 No longer exercise
3080 85 Upon a valiant race thy harsh
3081 And potent injuries.
3082 Since, Jupiter, our son is good,
3083 Take off his miseries.
3084 Peep through thy marble mansion. Help,
3085 90 Or we poor ghosts will cry
3086 To th’ shining synod of the rest
3087 Against thy deity.
3088 Help, Jupiter, or we appeal
3089 And from thy justice fly.
Jupiter descends in thunder and lightning, sitting upon
an eagle. He throws a thunderbolt. The Ghosts fall on
3090 95 No more, you petty spirits of region low,
3091 Offend our hearing! Hush. How dare you ghosts
3092 Accuse the Thunderer, whose bolt, you know,
3093 Sky-planted, batters all rebelling coasts.
3094 Poor shadows of Elysium, hence, and rest
3095 100 Upon your never-withering banks of flowers.
3096 Be not with mortal accidents oppressed.
3097 No care of yours it is; you know ’tis ours.
3099 The more delayed, delighted. Be content.
3100 105 Your low-laid son our godhead will uplift.
3101 His comforts thrive, his trials well are spent.
3102 Our Jovial star reigned at his birth, and in
3103 Our temple was he married. Rise, and fade.
3104 He shall be lord of Lady Imogen,
3105 110 And happier much by his affliction made.
⌜He hands Sicilius a tablet.⌝
3106 This tablet lay upon his breast, wherein
3107 Our pleasure his full fortune doth confine.
3108 And so away. No farther with your din
3109 Express impatience, lest you stir up mine.—
3110 115 Mount, eagle, to my palace crystalline.Ascends.
3111 He came in thunder. His celestial breath
3112 Was sulphurous to smell. The holy eagle
3113 Stooped as to foot us. His ascension is
3114 More sweet than our blest fields; his royal bird
3115 120 Preens the immortal wing and cloys his beak,
3116 As when his god is pleased.
ALL 3117 Thanks, Jupiter.
3118 The marble pavement closes; he is entered
3119 His radiant roof. Away, and, to be blest,
3120 125 Let us with care perform his great behest.
⌜He places the tablet on Posthumus’ breast. They⌝ vanish.
3121 Sleep, thou hast been a grandsire and begot
3122 A father to me, and thou hast created
3123 A mother and two brothers. But, O scorn,
3124 Gone! They went hence so soon as they were born.
3125 130 And so I am awake. Poor wretches that depend
3126 On greatness’ favor dream as I have done,
3127 Wake, and find nothing. But, alas, I swerve.
3128 Many dream not to find, neither deserve,
3130 135 That have this golden chance and know not why.
⌜Finding the tablet.⌝
3131 What fairies haunt this ground? A book? O rare one,
3132 Be not, as is our fangled world, a garment
3133 Nobler than that it covers. Let thy effects
3134 So follow, to be, most unlike our courtiers,
3135 140 As good as promise.
3136 Whenas a lion’s whelp shall, to himself unknown,
3137 without seeking find, and be embraced by a piece of
3138 tender air; and when from a stately cedar shall be
3139 lopped branches which, being dead many years, shall
3140 145 after revive, be jointed to the old stock, and freshly
3141 grow, then shall Posthumus end his miseries, Britain
3142 be fortunate and flourish in peace and plenty.
3143 ’Tis still a dream, or else such stuff as madmen
3144 Tongue and brain not; either both or nothing,
3145 150 Or senseless speaking, or a speaking such
3146 As sense cannot untie. Be what it is,
3147 The action of my life is like it, which
3148 I’ll keep, if but for sympathy.
JAILER 3149 Come, sir, are you ready for death?
POSTHUMUS 3150 155Over-roasted rather; ready long ago.
JAILER 3151 Hanging is the word, sir. If you be ready for
3152 that, you are well cooked.
POSTHUMUS 3153 So, if I prove a good repast to the spectators,
3154 the dish pays the shot.
JAILER 3155 160A heavy reckoning for you, sir. But the comfort
3156 is, you shall be called to no more payments, fear
3157 no more tavern bills, which are often the sadness
3158 of parting as the procuring of mirth. You come in
3159 faint for want of meat, depart reeling with too
3160 165 much drink; sorry that you have paid too much,
3162 brain both empty; the brain the heavier for being
3163 too light; the purse too light, being drawn of heaviness.
3164 O, of this contradiction you shall now be
3165 170 quit. O, the charity of a penny cord! It sums up
3166 thousands in a trice. You have no true debitor and
3167 creditor but it; of what’s past, is, and to come, the
3168 discharge. Your neck, sir, is pen, book, and counters;
3169 so the acquittance follows.
POSTHUMUS 3170 175I am merrier to die than thou art to live.
JAILER 3171 Indeed, sir, he that sleeps feels not the
3172 toothache. But a man that were to sleep your
3173 sleep, and a hangman to help him to bed, I think
3174 he would change places with his officer; for, look
3175 180 you, sir, you know not which way you shall go.
POSTHUMUS 3176 Yes, indeed do I, fellow.
JAILER 3177 Your Death has eyes in ’s head, then. I have not
3178 seen him so pictured. You must either be directed
3179 by some that take upon them to know, or to take
3180 185 upon yourself that which I am sure you do not
3181 know, or jump the after-inquiry on your own peril.
3182 And how you shall speed in your journey’s end, I
3183 think you’ll never return to tell one.
POSTHUMUS 3184 I tell thee, fellow, there are none want
3185 190 eyes to direct them the way I am going but such as
3186 wink and will not use them.
JAILER 3187 What an infinite mock is this, that a man
3188 should have the best use of eyes to see the way of
3189 blindness! I am sure hanging’s the way of winking.
Enter a Messenger.
MESSENGER 3190 195Knock off his manacles; bring your prisoner
3191 to the King.
POSTHUMUS 3192 Thou bring’st good news. I am called to be
3193 made free.
⌜He removes Posthumus’s chains.⌝
POSTHUMUS 3195 200Thou shalt be then freer than a jailer. No
3196 bolts for the dead.⌜All but the Jailer⌝ exit.
JAILER 3197 Unless a man would marry a gallows and beget
3198 young gibbets, I never saw one so prone. Yet, on my
3199 conscience, there are verier knaves desire to live,
3200 205 for all he be a Roman; and there be some of them
3201 too that die against their wills. So should I, if I
3202 were one. I would we were all of one mind, and
3203 one mind good. O, there were desolation of jailers
3204 and gallowses! I speak against my present profit,
3205 210 but my wish hath a preferment in ’t.