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Post. A Roman;
Lay hands on him; a dog!
vice As if he were of note: bring him to the king. Enter CYMBELINE, * attended ; BELARIUS, GUIDERIUS, ARVIRAGUS, PISANIO,
and Roman Captives. The Captains present PostHUMUS to CYMBELINE, who delivers him over to a Gaoler: after which, all go out.
Enter Pos'rĦUMUS, and Two Gaolers. 1 Gaol. You shall not now be stolen,5 you have locks
upon you; So graze, as you find pasture. 2 Gaol.
Ay, or a stomach.
[Exeunt Gaolers. Post. 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,
Stand!] I would willingly, for the sake of metre, omit this useless word, and read the whole passage thus:
But none of them can be found.-Who's there?
A Roman; Steedens. 4 Enter Cymbeline, &Sc.] This is the only instance in these plays of the business of the scene being entirely performed in dumb show. The direction must have proceeded from the players, as it is perfectly unnecessary, and our author has elsewhere [in Hamlet] expressed his contempt of such mummery. Ritson.
5 You shall not now be stolen,] The wit of the Gaolor alludes to the custom of putting a lock on a horse's leg, when he is turned to pasture. Johnson. VOL. XVI.
Then, free for ever! Is 't enough, I am sorry?
No stricter render of me, than my all.] Posthumus questions whether contrition be sufficient atonement for guilt. Then, to sa. tisfy the offended gods, he desires them to take no more than his present all, that is, his life, if it is the main part, the chief point, or principal condition of his freedom, i. e. of his freedom from future punishment. This interpretation appears to be warranted by the former part of the speech. Sir T. Hanmer reads:
I doff my freedom, Steevens. I believe Posthumus means to say, “Since for my crimes I have been deprived of my freedom, and since life itself is more valuable than freedom, let the gods take my life, and by this let bea. ven be appeased, how small soever the atonement may be.” I sus. pect, however, that a line has been lost, after the word satisfy. If the text be right, to satisfy means, by way of satisfaction. Malone.
- cold bonds.) This equivocal use of bonds is another in. stance of our author's infelicity in pathetick speeches. Johnson.
An allusion to the same legal instrument has more than once debased the imagery of Shakspeare. So, in Macbeth:
“ Cancel and tear to pieces that great bond
Solemn musick.8 Enter, as in an apparition, Sicilius Leo
natus, father to Posthumus, an old man, attired like a warrior; leading in his hand an ancient matron, his wife, and mother to Posthumus, with musick before them. Then, after other musick, follow the two young Leonati, brothers to Posthumus, with wounds as they died in the wars. They circle Posthumus round, as he lies sleeping.
Sici. No more, thou thunder-master, show
Thy spite on mortal flies:
Rates, and revenges.
Whose face I never saw ?
Attending Nature's law.
8 Solemn musick. &c.] Here follow a vision, a masque, and a prophesy, which interrupt the fable without the least necessity, and unmeasurably lengthen this Act. I think it plainly foisted in afterwards for mere show, and apparently not of Shakspeare.
Pope. Every reader must be of the same opinion. The subsequent narratives of Posthumus, which render this masque, &c. unnecessary, (or perhaps the scenical directions supplied by the poet himself) seem to have excited some manager of a theatre to disgrace the play by the present metrical interpolation. Shakspeare, who has conducted his fifth Act with such matchless skill, could never have designed the vision to be twice described by Posthu. mus, had this contemptible nonsense been previously delivered on the stage. The following passage from Dr. Farmer's Essay will show that it was no unusual thing for the players to indulge themselves in making additions equally unjustifiable:-“We have a sufficient instance of the liberties taken by the actors, in an old pamphlet by Nash, called Lenten Stuffe, with the Prayse of the Red Herring, 410. 1599, where he assures us, that in a play of his call. ed The Isle of Dogs, foure Acts, without his consent, or the least guess of his drift or scope, were supplied by the players."
Steevens. One would think that, Shakspeare's style being too refined for his audiences, the managers had employed some playwright of the old school to regale them with a touch of “ King Cambyses’ vein." The margin would be too honourable a place for so impertinent an interpolation. Ritson.
Whose father then (as men report,
Thou orphans' father art,)
From this earth-vexing smart.
But took me in my throes;
A thing of pity!
Moulded the stuff so fair,
As great Sicilius' heir.
In Britain where was he
Or fruitful object be
Could deem his dignity?
To be exil'd, and thrown
Slight thing of Italy,
With needless jealousy;
O'the other's villainy?
9 That from me was Posthumus ript,) Perhaps we should read:
That froin my womb Posthumus ript,
Came crying 'mongst his foes. Fohnson.
“ What would'st thou run again into my womb?
“ And ript out of my sides,” &c. Steevens. 1 With marriage wherefore was he mock’d,] The same phrase occurs in Measure for Measure:
“ I hope you will not mock me with a husband.” Steevens. 2 And to become the geck-] And permit Posthumus to become the geck, &c. Malone.
2 Bro. For this, from stiller seats we came,
Our parents, and us twain,
Fell bravely, and were slain ;
With honour to maintain.
To Cymbeline perform’d:
Why hast thou thus adjourn'd
Being all to dolours turn’d?
No longer exercise,
And potent injuries:
Take off his miseries.
Or we poor ghosts will cry
Against thy deity.
And from thy justice fly.
on an Eagle: he throws a Thunder-bolt. The Ghosts, fall on their Knees.
A geck is a fool. Steevens.
Tenantius' -] See p. 8, n. 7. Steevens. 4 Jupiter descends -] It appears from Acolastus, a comedy by: T. Palsgrave, chaplain to King Henry VIII, bl. 1. 1540, that the descent of deities was common to our stage in its earliest state: “Of whyche the lyke thyng is used to be shewed now a days in stage-plaies, when some God or some Saynt is made to apper forth of a cloude, and succoureth the parties which seemed to be towardes some great danger, through the Soudan's crueltie.” The author, for fear this description should not be supposed to extend: itself to our theatres, adds in a marginal note, “the lyke maner. used. nowe at our days in stage playes.” Steevens