Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

The princess of this country, and the air on’t
Revengingly enfeebles me; or could this carl,
A very drudge of nature's, have subdued me,
In my profession ? Knighthoods and honors, borne
As I wear mine, are titles but of scorn.
If that thy gentry, Britain, go before
This lout, as he exceeds our lords, the odds
Is, that we scarce are men, and you are gods. [Exit.

The battle continues; the Britons fly; CYMBELINE is

taken: then enter, to his rescue, BELARIUS, GUIDERIUS,
and ARVIRAGUS.
Bel. Stand, stand! We have the advantage of the

ground;
The lane is guarded; nothing routs us but
The villany of our fears.
Gui. Arv.

Stand, stand, and fight!

Enter Posthumus, and seconds the Britons: They

rescue CYMBELINE, and exeunt. Then enter Lucius, Iachimo, and IMOGEN.

Luc. Away, boy, from the troops, and save thyself; For friends kill friends, and the disorder's such As war were hoodwinked. lach.

'Tis their fresh supplies Luc. It is a day turned strangely; or betimes Let's reinforce, or fly.

[Exeunt.

SCENE III. Another Part of the Field.

Enter POSTHUMUS and a British Lord. Lord. Cam'st thou from where they made the stand ? Post.

I did; Though you, it seems, come from the fliers.

1 Carl, or churl, is a clown or countryman, and is used by our old writers in opposition to a gentleman.

[ocr errors]

Lord.

I did.
Post. No blame be to you, sir; for all was lost,
But that the Heavens fought. The king himself
Of his wings destitute,' the army broken,
And but the backs of Britons seen, all flying
Through a strait lane ; the enemy full-hearted,
Lolling the tongue with slaughtering, having work
More plentiful than tools to do’t, struck down
Some mortally, some slightly touched, some falling
Merely through fear; that the strait pass was dammed
With dead men, hurt behind, and cowards living
To die with lengthened shame.
Lord.

Where was this lane ?
Post. Close by the battle, ditched, and walled with

turf;
Which gave advantage to an ancient soldier,-
An honest one, I warrant; who deserved
So long a breeding, as his white beard came to,
In doing this for his country Sathwart the lane,
He, with two striplings, (lads more like to run
The country base, than to commit such slaughter;
With faces fit for masks, or rather fairer
Than those for preservation cased, or shame,)
Made good the passage; cried to those that fled,
Our Britain's hearts die flying, not our men;
To darkness fleet, souls that fly backwards! Stand!
Or we are Romans, and will give you that
Like beasts, which you shun beastly; and may save,
But to look back in frown; stand, stand.These three,
Three thousand confident, in act as many,
(For three performers are the file, when all
The rest do nothing,) with this word, stand, stand,
Accommodated by the place, more charming,
With their own nobleness, (which would have turned

[ocr errors]

1 The stopping of the Roman army by three persons is an allusion to the story of the Hays, as related by Holinshed in his History of Scotland, p. 155; upon which Milton once intended to have formed a drama. Shakspeare was evidently acquainted with it:-"Haie beholding the king, with the most part of the nobles fighting with great valiancie in the middleward, now destitute of the wings," &c.

2 A country game called prison-bars ; vulgarly, prison-base.

Upon

A distaff to a lance,) gilded pale looks,
Part shame, part spirit renewed ; that some, turned

coward
But by example, (0, a sin in war,
Damned in the first beginners !) 'gan to look
The way that they did, and to grin like lions

the pikes o’the hunters. Then began
A stop i’the chaser, a retire; anon,
A rout, confusion thick. Forthwith they fly
Chickens, the way which they stooped eagles ; slaves,
The strides they victors made: and now our cowards
(Like fragments in hard voyages) became
The life o'the need; having found the back-door open
Of the unguarded hearts, Heavens, how they wound!
Some, slain before; some, dying ; some, their friends
O’erborne i’ the former wave: ten, chased by one,
Are now each one the slaughter-man of twenty;
Those that would die or ere resist, are grown
The mortal bugs' o’the field.
Lord.

This was strange chance. A narrow lane! an old man, and two boys !

Post. Nay, do not wonder at it. You are made
Rather to wonder at the things you hear,
Than to work any.
Will you rhyme upon't

,
And vent it for a mockery? Here is one:
Two boys, an old man twice a boy, a lane,
Preserved the Britons, was the Romans' bane.

Lord. Nay, be not angry, sir.
Post.

'Lack, to what end?
Who dares not stand his foe, I'll be his friend;
For if he'll do, as he is made to do,
I know he'll quickly fly my friendship too.
You have put me into rhyme.
Lord.

Farewell, you are angry. [Exit. Post. Still going ?- This is a lord ! O noble misery! To be i'the field, and ask, what news, of me! To-day, how many would have given their honors To have saved their carcasses ? took heel to do't,

1 i. e. terrors, bugbears.

[ocr errors]

And yet died too? I, in mine own woe charmed,
Could not find death, where I did hear him groan;
Nor feel him, where he struck. Being an ugly mon-

ster,
'Tis strange, he hides him in fresh cups, soft beds,
Sweet words; or hath more ministers than we
That draw his knives i'the war. Well, I will find

him ;

The part

For being now a favorer to the Roman,
No more a Briton, I have resumed again

I came in. Fight I will no more,
But yield me to the veriest hind, that shall
Once touch my shoulder. Great the slaughter is
Here made by the Roman ; great the answer ? be
Britons must take. For me, my ransom's death;
On either side I come to spend my breath ;
Which neither here I'll keep, nor bear again,
But end it by some means for Imogen.

Enter two British Captains and Soldiers. 1 Cap. Great Jupiter be praised! Lucius is taken. 'Tis thought the old man and his sons were angels.

2 Cap. There was a fourth man, in a silly habit, That gave the affront“ with them. 1 Сар.

So 'tis reported; But none of them can be found.—Stand! who is

there?
Post. A Roman;
Who had not now been drooping here, if seconds
Had answered him.
2 Сар.

Lay hands on him; a dog !
A leg of Rome shall not return to tell
What crows have pecked them here. He brags his

service
As if he were of note; bring him to the king.

1 Alluding to the common superstition of charms being powerful enough to keep men unhurt in battle. 2 i. e. retaliation.

Silly is simple or rustic. 4 i. e. the encounter.

Enter CYMBELINE, attended : BELARIUS, GUIDERIUS,

ARVIRAGUS, Pisanio, and Roman Captives. The Captains present Posthumus to CYMBELINE, who delivers him over to a Jailer : after which, all go

out.1

SCENE IV. A Prison.

2

Enter PostHUMUS and two Jailers. 1 Jail. You shall not now be stolen, you have locks

upon you; So graze, as you find pasture. 2 Jail.

Ay, or a stomach. [Exeunt Jailers. 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 cured By the sure physician, death ; who is the key To unbar these locks. My conscience ! thou art

fettered More than my shanks and wrists. You good gods,

give me
The penitent instrument, to pick that bolt,
Then, free forever! 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 constrained ; to satisfy,
If of my freedom 'tis the main part, take
No stricter render of me, than my

all.3

1 This stage direction for “ inexplicable dumb show” is probably an interpolation by the players. Shakspeare has expressed his contempt for such mummery in Hamlet.

2 The jailer alludes to the custom of putting a lock on a horse's leg when he is turned out to pasture.

3 This passage is very obscure, and is so rendered either by the omission of a line, or some other corruption of the text. The explanation which Steevens offers is not very satisfactory. Posthumus questions whether contrition be sufficient atonement for guilt. Then, to satisfy the offended gods, he desires them to take no more than his present all, that is, his life,

« VorigeDoorgaan »