Front Page Titles (by Subject) Scene IV.—: Britain. A Prison. - Cymbeline
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Scene IV.—: Britain. A Prison. - William Shakespeare, Cymbeline 
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (The Oxford Shakespeare), ed. with a glossary by W.J. Craig M.A. (Oxford University Press, 1916).
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Britain. A Prison.
EnterPosthumusand two Gaolers.
You shall not now be stol’n, you have locks upon you:
So graze as you find pasture.
Ay, or a stomach.
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
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;
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 powers,
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 apparitionSicilius Leonatus,father toPosthumus,an old man, attired like a warrior; leading in his hand an ancient matron, his wife, and mother toPosthumus,with music before them. Then, after other music, follow the two youngLeonati,brothers toPosthumus,with wounds, as they died in the wars. They circlePosthumusround, as he lies sleeping.
Jupiter descends in thunder and lightning, sitting upon an eagle: he throws a thunderbolt. The Ghosts fall on their knees.
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 flowers:
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 further with your din
Express impatience, lest you stir up mine.
Mount, eagle, to my palace crystalline.
He came in thunder; his celestial breath
Was sulphurous to smell; the holy eagle
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.
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.
[Awaking.] 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’ 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.
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
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.
Come, sir, are you ready for death?
Over-roasted rather; ready long ago.
Hanging is the word, sir: if you be ready for that, you are well cooked.
So, if I prove a good repast to the spectators, the dish pays the shot.
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.
I am merrier to die than thou art to live.
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.
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.
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.
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 called to be made free.
I’ll be hang’d, then.
Thou shalt be then freer than a gaoler; no bolts for the dead.
[Exeunt all but first 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.