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A British prison.
Enter POSTHUMUS and two Gaolers.

First Gaol.
You shall not now be stol'n, you have locks upon you;

So graze as you find pasture.

Sec. Gaol.
Ay, or a stomach. [Exeunt Gaolers.

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 cured

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 (10)

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,

Desired 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, (20)

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

No more, thou thunder-master, show (31)

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 (40)

Thou orphans' father art,

Thou shouldst have been, and shielded him

From this earth-vexing smart.

Lucina lent not me her aid,

But took me in my throes:

That from me was Posthumus ript,

Came crying 'mongst his foes,

A thing of pity!

Great nature, like his ancestry,

Moulded the stuff so fair,

That he deserved the praise o' the world, (51)

As great Sicilius' heir.

First Bro.
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?

With marriage wherefore was he mock'd, (60)

To be exiled, and thrown

From Leonati seat, and cast

From her his dearest one,

Sweet Imogen?

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 villany?

Sec. Bro.
For this from stiller seats we came, (70)

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.

First Bro.
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, (80)

Being all to dolours turn'd?

Thy crystal window ope; look out;

No longer exercise

Upon a valiant race thy harsh

And potent injuries.

Since, Jupiter, our son is good,

Take off his miseries.

Peep through thy marble mansion; help;

Or we poor ghosts will cry

To the shining synod of the rest (90)

Against thy deity.

Both Bro.
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.

No more, you petty spirits of region low,

Offend our hearing; hush! How dare you ghosts

Accuse the thunder, whose bolt, you know,

Sky-planted batters all rebelling coasts?

Poor shadows of Elysium, hence, and rest

Upon your never-withering banks of flowers: (99)

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: (111)

And so, away: no further with your din

Express impatience, lest you stir up mine.

Mount, eagle, to my palace crystalline. [Ascends.

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 blest fields: his royal bird

Prunes the immortal wing and cloys his beak,

As when his god is pleased.

Thanks, Jupiter! (120)

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.

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: (130)

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 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, (150)

The action of my life is like it, which

I'll keep, if but for sympathy. Re-enter Gaolers.

First Gaol.
Come, sir, are you ready for death?

Over-roasted rather; ready long ago.

First Gaol.
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.

First Gaol.
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 debtor 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

First Gaol.
Indeed, sir, he that sleeps feels
not the tooth-ache: 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 Gaol.
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 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.

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 Gaol.
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.

First Gaol.
I'll be hang'd then.

Thou shalt be then freer than a
gaoler; no bolts for the dead. [Exeunt all but the First Gaoler.

First Gaol.
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.

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