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The Winter's Tale by William Shakespeare [Collins edition]

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by William Shakespeare

Dramatis Personae.

LEONTES, King of Sicilia.
MAMILLIUS, his son.
CAMILLO, Sicilian Lord.
ANTIGONUS, Sicilian Lord.
CLEOMENES, Sicilian Lord.
DION, Sicilian Lord.
Other Sicilian Lords.
Sicilian Gentlemen.
Officers of a Court of Judicature.
POLIXENES, King of Bohemia.
FLORIZEL, his son.
ARCHIDAMUS, a Bohemian Lord.
A Mariner.
An Old Shepherd, reputed father of Perdita.
CLOWN, his son.
Servant to the Old Shepherd.
AUTOLYCUS, a rogue.
TIME, as Chorus.

HERMIONE, Queen to Leontes.
PERDITA, daughter to Leontes and Hermione.
PAULINA, wife to Antigonus.
EMILIA, a lady attending on the Queen.
Other Ladies, attending on the Queen.
MOPSA, shepherdess.
DORCAS, shepherdess.

Lords, Ladies, and Attendants; Satyrs for a Dance; Shepherds,
Shepherdesses, Guards, &c.

SCENE: Sometimes in Sicilia; sometimes in Bohemia.


SCENE I. Sicilia. An Antechamber in LEONTES' Palace.


If you shall chance, Camillo, to visit Bohemia, on the
like occasion whereon my services are now on foot, you shall see,
as I have said, great difference betwixt our Bohemia and your

I think this coming summer the King of Sicilia means to
pay Bohemia the visitation which he justly owes him.

Wherein our entertainment shall shame us we will be
justified in our loves; for indeed,--

Beseech you,--

Verily, I speak it in the freedom of my knowledge: we
cannot with such magnificence--in so rare--I know not what to
say.--We will give you sleepy drinks, that your senses,
unintelligent of our insufficience, may, though they cannot
praise us, as little accuse us.

You pay a great deal too dear for what's given freely.

Believe me, I speak as my understanding instructs me
and as mine honesty puts it to utterance.

Sicilia cannot show himself overkind to Bohemia. They were
trained together in their childhoods; and there rooted betwixt
them then such an affection which cannot choose but branch now.
Since their more mature dignities and royal necessities made
separation of their society, their encounters, though not
personal, have been royally attorneyed with interchange of gifts,
letters, loving embassies; that they have seemed to be together,
though absent; shook hands, as over a vast; and embraced as it
were from the ends of opposed winds. The heavens continue their

I think there is not in the world either malice or matter to
alter it. You have an unspeakable comfort of your young Prince
Mamillius: it is a gentleman of the greatest promise that ever
came into my note.

I very well agree with you in the hopes of him. It is a
gallant child; one that indeed physics the subject, makes old
hearts fresh: they that went on crutches ere he was born desire
yet their life to see him a man.

Would they else be content to die?

Yes; if there were no other excuse why they should desire to

If the king had no son, they would desire to live on crutches
till he had one.


SCENE II. The same. A Room of State in the Palace.


Nine changes of the watery star hath been
The shepherd's note since we have left our throne
Without a burden: time as long again
Would be fill'd up, my brother, with our thanks;
And yet we should, for perpetuity,
Go hence in debt: and therefore, like a cipher,
Yet standing in rich place, I multiply
With one we-thank-you many thousands more
That go before it.

Stay your thanks a while,
And pay them when you part.

Sir, that's to-morrow.
I am question'd by my fears, of what may chance
Or breed upon our absence; that may blow
No sneaping winds at home, to make us say,
'This is put forth too truly.' Besides, I have stay'd
To tire your royalty.

We are tougher, brother,
Than you can put us to't.

No longer stay.

One seven-night longer.

Very sooth, to-morrow.

We'll part the time between's then: and in that
I'll no gainsaying.

Press me not, beseech you, so,
There is no tongue that moves, none, none i' the world,
So soon as yours, could win me: so it should now,
Were there necessity in your request, although
'Twere needful I denied it. My affairs
Do even drag me homeward: which to hinder,
Were, in your love a whip to me; my stay
To you a charge and trouble: to save both,
Farewell, our brother.

Tongue-tied, our queen? Speak you.

I had thought, sir, to have held my peace until
You had drawn oaths from him not to stay. You, sir,
Charge him too coldly. Tell him, you are sure
All in Bohemia's well: this satisfaction
The by-gone day proclaimed: say this to him,
He's beat from his best ward.

Well said, Hermione.

To tell he longs to see his son, were strong:
But let him say so then, and let him go;
But let him swear so, and he shall not stay,
We'll thwack him hence with distaffs.--
Yet of your royal presence[To POLIXENES.] I'll adventure
The borrow of a week. When at Bohemia
You take my lord, I'll give him my commission
To let him there a month behind the gest
Prefix'd for's parting:--yet, good deed, Leontes,
I love thee not a jar of the clock behind
What lady she her lord.--You'll stay?

No, madam.

Nay, but you will?

I may not, verily.

You put me off with limber vows; but I,
Though you would seek to unsphere the stars with oaths,
Should yet say 'Sir, no going.' Verily,
You shall not go; a lady's verily is
As potent as a lord's. Will go yet?
Force me to keep you as a prisoner,
Not like a guest: so you shall pay your fees
When you depart, and save your thanks. How say you?
My prisoner or my guest? by your dread verily,
One of them you shall be.

Your guest, then, madam:
To be your prisoner should import offending;
Which is for me less easy to commit
Than you to punish.

Not your gaoler then,
But your kind hostess. Come, I'll question you
Of my lord's tricks and yours when you were boys.
You were pretty lordings then.

We were, fair queen,
Two lads that thought there was no more behind
But such a day to-morrow as to-day,
And to be boy eternal.

Was not my lord the verier wag o' the two?

We were as twinn'd lambs that did frisk i' the sun
And bleat the one at th' other. What we chang'd
Was innocence for innocence; we knew not
The doctrine of ill-doing, nor dream'd
That any did. Had we pursu'd that life,
And our weak spirits ne'er been higher rear'd
With stronger blood, we should have answer'd heaven
Boldly 'Not guilty,' the imposition clear'd
Hereditary ours.

By this we gather
You have tripp'd since.

O my most sacred lady,
Temptations have since then been born to 's! for
In those unfledg'd days was my wife a girl;
Your precious self had then not cross'd the eyes
Of my young play-fellow.

Grace to boot!
Of this make no conclusion, lest you say
Your queen and I are devils: yet, go on;
The offences we have made you do we'll answer;
If you first sinn'd with us, and that with us
You did continue fault, and that you slipp'd not
With any but with us.

Is he won yet?

He'll stay, my lord.

At my request he would not.
Hermione, my dearest, thou never spok'st
To better purpose.


Never but once.

What! have I twice said well? when was't before?
I pr'ythee tell me; cram 's with praise, and make 's
As fat as tame things: one good deed dying tongueless
Slaughters a thousand waiting upon that.
Our praises are our wages; you may ride 's
With one soft kiss a thousand furlongs ere
With spur we heat an acre. But to the goal:--
My last good deed was to entreat his stay;
What was my first? it has an elder sister,
Or I mistake you: O, would her name were Grace!
But once before I spoke to the purpose--when?
Nay, let me have't; I long.

Why, that was when
Three crabbed months had sour'd themselves to death,
Ere I could make thee open thy white hand
And clap thyself my love; then didst thou utter
'I am yours for ever.'

It is Grace indeed.
Why, lo you now, I have spoke to the purpose twice;
The one for ever earn'd a royal husband;
Th' other for some while a friend.

[Giving her hand to POLIXENES.]

Too hot, too hot! [Aside.]
To mingle friendship far is mingling bloods.
I have tremor cordis on me;--my heart dances;
But not for joy,--not joy.--This entertainment
May a free face put on; derive a liberty
From heartiness, from bounty, fertile bosom,
And well become the agent: 't may, I grant:
But to be paddling palms and pinching fingers,
As now they are; and making practis'd smiles
As in a looking-glass; and then to sigh, as 'twere
The mort o' the deer: O, that is entertainment
My bosom likes not, nor my brows,--Mamillius,
Art thou my boy?

Ay, my good lord.

I' fecks!
Why, that's my bawcock. What! hast smutch'd thy nose?--
They say it is a copy out of mine. Come, captain,
We must be neat;--not neat, but cleanly, captain:
And yet the steer, the heifer, and the calf,
Are all call'd neat.--Still virginalling
[Observing POL. and HER.]
Upon his palm?--How now, you wanton calf!
Art thou my calf?

Yes, if you will, my lord.

Thou want'st a rough pash, and the shoots that I have,
To be full like me:--yet they say we are
Almost as like as eggs; women say so,
That will say anything: but were they false
As o'er-dy'd blacks, as wind, as waters,--false
As dice are to be wish'd by one that fixes
No bourn 'twixt his and mine; yet were it true
To say this boy were like me.--Come, sir page,
Look on me with your welkin eye: sweet villain!
Most dear'st! my collop!--Can thy dam?--may't be?
Affection! thy intention stabs the centre:
Thou dost make possible things not so held,
Communicat'st with dreams;--how can this be?--
With what's unreal thou co-active art,
And fellow'st nothing: then 'tis very credent
Thou mayst co-join with something; and thou dost,--
And that beyond commission; and I find it,--
And that to the infection of my brains
And hardening of my brows.

What means Sicilia?

He something seems unsettled.

How! my lord!
What cheer? How is't with you, best brother?

You look
As if you held a brow of much distraction:
Are you mov'd, my lord?

No, in good earnest.--
How sometimes nature will betray its folly,
Its tenderness, and make itself a pastime
To harder bosoms! Looking on the lines
Of my boy's face, methoughts I did recoil
Twenty-three years; and saw myself unbreech'd,
In my green velvet coat; my dagger muzzled,
Lest it should bite its master, and so prove,
As ornaments oft do, too dangerous.
How like, methought, I then was to this kernel,
This squash, this gentleman.--Mine honest friend,
Will you take eggs for money?

No, my lord, I'll fight.

You will? Why, happy man be 's dole!--My brother,
Are you so fond of your young prince as we
Do seem to be of ours?

If at home, sir,
He's all my exercise, my mirth, my matter:
Now my sworn friend, and then mine enemy;
My parasite, my soldier, statesman, all:
He makes a July's day short as December;
And with his varying childness cures in me
Thoughts that would thick my blood.

So stands this squire
Offic'd with me. We two will walk, my lord,
And leave you to your graver steps.--Hermione,
How thou lov'st us show in our brother's welcome;
Let what is dear in Sicily be cheap:
Next to thyself and my young rover, he's
Apparent to my heart.

If you would seek us,
We are yours i' the garden. Shall's attend you there?

To your own bents dispose you: you'll be found,
Be you beneath the sky. [Aside.] I am angling now.
Though you perceive me not how I give line.
Go to, go to!
[Observing POL. and HER.]
How she holds up the neb, the bill to him!
And arms her with the boldness of a wife
To her allowing husband!
Gone already!

[Exeunt POLIXENES, HERMIONE, and Attendants.]

Inch-thick, knee-deep, o'er head and ears a fork'd one!--
Go, play, boy, play:-- thy mother plays, and I
Play too; but so disgrac'd a part, whose issue
Will hiss me to my grave: contempt and clamour
Will be my knell.--Go, play, boy, play.--There have been,
Or I am much deceiv'd, cuckolds ere now;
And many a man there is, even at this present,
Now while I speak this, holds his wife by the arm
That little thinks she has been sluic'd in his absence,
And his pond fish'd by his next neighbour, by
Sir Smile, his neighbour; nay, there's comfort in't,
Whiles other men have gates, and those gates open'd,
As mine, against their will: should all despair
That hath revolted wives, the tenth of mankind
Would hang themselves. Physic for't there's none;
It is a bawdy planet, that will strike
Where 'tis predominant; and 'tis powerful, think it,
From east, west, north, and south: be it concluded,
No barricado for a belly: know't;
It will let in and out the enemy
With bag and baggage. Many thousand of us
Have the disease, and feel't not.--How now, boy!

I am like you, they say.

Why, that's some comfort.--
What! Camillo there?

Ay, my good lord.

Go play, Mamillius; thou'rt an honest man.--


Camillo, this great sir will yet stay longer.

You had much ado to make his anchor hold:
When you cast out, it still came home.

Didst note it?

He would not stay at your petitions; made
His business more material.

Didst perceive it?--
They're here with me already; whispering, rounding,
'Sicilia is a so-forth.' 'Tis far gone
When I shall gust it last.--How came't, Camillo,
That he did stay?

At the good queen's entreaty.

At the queen's be't: good should be pertinent;
But so it is, it is not. Was this taken
By any understanding pate but thine?
For thy conceit is soaking, will draw in
More than the common blocks:--not noted, is't,
But of the finer natures? by some severals
Of head-piece extraordinary? lower messes
Perchance are to this business purblind? say.

Business, my lord! I think most understand
Bohemia stays here longer.


Stays here longer.

Ay, but why?

To satisfy your highness, and the entreaties
Of our most gracious mistress.

Th' entreaties of your mistress!--satisfy!--
Let that suffice. I have trusted thee, Camillo,
With all the nearest things to my heart, as well
My chamber-councils, wherein, priest-like, thou
Hast cleans'd my bosom; I from thee departed
Thy penitent reform'd: but we have been
Deceiv'd in thy integrity, deceiv'd
In that which seems so.

Be it forbid, my lord!

To bide upon't,--thou art not honest; or,
If thou inclin'st that way, thou art a coward,
Which hoxes honesty behind, restraining
From course requir'd; or else thou must be counted
A servant grafted in my serious trust,
And therein negligent; or else a fool
That seest a game play'd home, the rich stake drawn,
And tak'st it all for jest.

My gracious lord,
I may be negligent, foolish, and fearful;
In every one of these no man is free,
But that his negligence, his folly, fear,
Among the infinite doings of the world,
Sometime puts forth: in your affairs, my lord,
If ever I were wilful-negligent,
It was my folly; if industriously
I play'd the fool, it was my negligence,
Not weighing well the end; if ever fearful
To do a thing, where I the issue doubted,
Whereof the execution did cry out
Against the non-performance, 'twas a fear
Which oft affects the wisest: these, my lord,
Are such allow'd infirmities that honesty
Is never free of. But, beseech your grace,
Be plainer with me; let me know my trespass
By its own visage: if I then deny it,
'Tis none of mine.

Have not you seen, Camillo,--
But that's past doubt: you have, or your eye-glass
Is thicker than a cuckold's horn,--or heard,--
For, to a vision so apparent, rumour
Cannot be mute,--or thought,--for cogitation
Resides not in that man that does not think it,--
My wife is slippery? If thou wilt confess,--
Or else be impudently negative,
To have nor eyes nor ears nor thought,--then say
My wife's a hobby-horse; deserves a name
As rank as any flax-wench that puts to
Before her troth-plight: say't and justify't.

I would not be a stander-by to hear
My sovereign mistress clouded so, without
My present vengeance taken: 'shrew my heart,
You never spoke what did become you less
Than this; which to reiterate were sin
As deep as that, though true.

Is whispering nothing?
Is leaning cheek to cheek? is meeting noses?
Kissing with inside lip? Stopping the career
Of laughter with a sigh?--a note infallible
Of breaking honesty;--horsing foot on foot?
Skulking in corners? wishing clocks more swift;
Hours, minutes; noon, midnight? and all eyes
Blind with the pin and web but theirs, theirs only,
That would unseen be wicked?--is this nothing?
Why, then the world and all that's in't is nothing;
The covering sky is nothing; Bohemia nothing;
My is nothing; nor nothing have these nothings,
If this be nothing.

Good my lord, be cur'd
Of this diseas'd opinion, and betimes;
For 'tis most dangerous.

Say it be, 'tis true.

No, no, my lord.

It is; you lie, you lie:
I say thou liest, Camillo, and I hate thee;
Pronounce thee a gross lout, a mindless slave;
Or else a hovering temporizer, that
Canst with thine eyes at once see good and evil,
Inclining to them both.--Were my wife's liver
Infected as her life, she would not live
The running of one glass.

Who does infect her?

Why, he that wears her like her medal, hanging
About his neck, Bohemia: who--if I
Had servants true about me, that bare eyes
To see alike mine honour as their profits,
Their own particular thrifts,--they would do that
Which should undo more doing: ay, and thou,
His cupbearer,--whom I from meaner form
Have bench'd and rear'd to worship; who mayst see,
Plainly as heaven sees earth and earth sees heaven,
How I am galled,--mightst bespice a cup,
To give mine enemy a lasting wink;
Which draught to me were cordial.

Sir, my lord,
I could do this; and that with no rash potion,
But with a ling'ring dram, that should not work
Maliciously like poison: but I cannot
Believe this crack to be in my dread mistress,
So sovereignly being honourable.
I have lov'd thee,--

Make that thy question, and go rot!
Dost think I am so muddy, so unsettled,
To appoint myself in this vexation; sully
The purity and whiteness of my sheets,--
Which to preserve is sleep; which being spotted
Is goads, thorns, nettles, tails of wasps;
Give scandal to the blood o' the prince, my son,--
Who I do think is mine, and love as mine,--
Without ripe moving to 't?--Would I do this?
Could man so blench?

I must believe you, sir:
I do; and will fetch off Bohemia for't;
Provided that, when he's remov'd, your highness
Will take again your queen as yours at first,
Even for your son's sake; and thereby for sealing
The injury of tongues in courts and kingdoms
Known and allied to yours.

Thou dost advise me
Even so as I mine own course have set down:
I'll give no blemish to her honour, none.

My lord,
Go then; and with a countenance as clear
As friendship wears at feasts, keep with Bohemia
And with your queen: I am his cupbearer.
If from me he have wholesome beverage,
Account me not your servant.

This is all:
Do't, and thou hast the one-half of my heart;
Do't not, thou splitt'st thine own.

I'll do't, my lord.

I will seem friendly, as thou hast advis'd me.


O miserable lady!--But, for me,
What case stand I in? I must be the poisoner
Of good Polixenes: and my ground to do't
Is the obedience to a master; one
Who, in rebellion with himself, will have
All that are his so too.--To do this deed,
Promotion follows: if I could find example
Of thousands that had struck anointed kings
And flourish'd after, I'd not do't; but since
Nor brass, nor stone, nor parchment, bears not one,
Let villainy itself forswear't. I must
Forsake the court: to do't, or no, is certain
To me a break-neck. Happy star reign now!
Here comes Bohemia.


This is strange! methinks
My favour here begins to warp. Not speak?--
Good-day, Camillo.

Hail, most royal sir!

What is the news i' the court?

None rare, my lord.

The king hath on him such a countenance
As he had lost some province, and a region
Lov'd as he loves himself; even now I met him
With customary compliment; when he,
Wafting his eyes to the contrary, and falling
A lip of much contempt, speeds from me;
So leaves me to consider what is breeding
That changes thus his manners.

I dare not know, my lord.

How! dare not! do not. Do you know, and dare not
Be intelligent to me? 'Tis thereabouts;
For, to yourself, what you do know, you must,
And cannot say, you dare not. Good Camillo,
Your chang'd complexions are to me a mirror
Which shows me mine chang'd too; for I must be
A party in this alteration, finding
Myself thus alter'd with't.

There is a sickness
Which puts some of us in distemper; but
I cannot name the disease; and it is caught
Of you that yet are well.

How! caught of me!
Make me not sighted like the basilisk:
I have look'd on thousands who have sped the better
By my regard, but kill'd none so. Camillo,--
As you are certainly a gentleman; thereto
Clerk-like, experienc'd, which no less adorns
Our gentry than our parents' noble names,
In whose success we are gentle,--I beseech you,
If you know aught which does behove my knowledge
Thereof to be inform'd, imprison't not
In ignorant concealment.

I may not answer.

A sickness caught of me, and yet I well!
I must be answer'd.--Dost thou hear, Camillo,
I conjure thee, by all the parts of man
Which honour does acknowledge,--whereof the least
Is not this suit of mine,--that thou declare
What incidency thou dost guess of harm
Is creeping toward me; how far off, how near;
Which way to be prevented, if to be;
If not, how best to bear it.

Sir, I will tell you;
Since I am charg'd in honour, and by him
That I think honourable: therefore mark my counsel,
Which must be ev'n as swiftly follow'd as
I mean to utter it, or both yourself and me
Cry lost, and so goodnight!

On, good Camillo.

I am appointed him to murder you.

By whom, Camillo?

By the king.

For what?

He thinks, nay, with all confidence he swears,
As he had seen 't or been an instrument
To vice you to't, that you have touch'd his queen

O, then my best blood turn
To an infected jelly, and my name
Be yok'd with his that did betray the best!
Turn then my freshest reputation to
A savour that may strike the dullest nostril
Where I arrive, and my approach be shunn'd,
Nay, hated too, worse than the great'st infection
That e'er was heard or read!

Swear his thought over
By each particular star in heaven and
By all their influences, you may as well
Forbid the sea for to obey the moon
As, or by oath remove, or counsel shake
The fabric of his folly, whose foundation
Is pil'd upon his faith, and will continue
The standing of his body.

How should this grow?

I know not: but I am sure 'tis safer to
Avoid what's grown than question how 'tis born.
If, therefore you dare trust my honesty,--
That lies enclosed in this trunk, which you
Shall bear along impawn'd,--away to-night.
Your followers I will whisper to the business;
And will, by twos and threes, at several posterns,
Clear them o' the city: for myself, I'll put
My fortunes to your service, which are here
By this discovery lost. Be not uncertain;
For, by the honour of my parents, I
Have utter'd truth: which if you seek to prove,
I dare not stand by; nor shall you be safer
Than one condemn'd by the king's own mouth, thereon
His execution sworn.

I do believe thee;
I saw his heart in his face. Give me thy hand;
Be pilot to me, and thy places shall
Still neighbour mine. My ships are ready, and
My people did expect my hence departure
Two days ago.--This jealousy
Is for a precious creature: as she's rare,
Must it be great; and, as his person's mighty,
Must it be violent; and as he does conceive
He is dishonour'd by a man which ever
Profess'd to him, why, his revenges must
In that be made more bitter. Fear o'ershades me;
Good expedition be my friend, and comfort
The gracious queen, part of this theme, but nothing
Of his ill-ta'en suspicion! Come, Camillo;
I will respect thee as a father, if
Thou bear'st my life off hence: let us avoid.

It is in mine authority to command
The keys of all the posterns: please your highness
To take the urgent hour: come, sir, away.



SCENE I. Sicilia. A Room in the Palace.

[Enter HERMIONE, MAMILLIUS, and Ladies.]

Take the boy to you: he so troubles me,
'Tis past enduring.

Come, my gracious lord,
Shall I be your playfellow?

No, I'll none of you.

Why, my sweet lord?

You'll kiss me hard, and speak to me as if
I were a baby still.--I love you better.

And why so, my lord?

Not for because
Your brows are blacker; yet black brows, they say,
Become some women best; so that there be not
Too much hair there, but in a semicircle
Or a half-moon made with a pen.

Who taught you this?

I learn'd it out of women's faces.--Pray now,
What colour are your eyebrows?

Blue, my lord.

Nay, that's a mock: I have seen a lady's nose
That has been blue, but not her eyebrows.

Hark ye:
The queen your mother rounds apace. We shall
Present our services to a fine new prince
One of these days; and then you'd wanton with us,
If we would have you.

She is spread of late
Into a goodly bulk: good time encounter her!

What wisdom stirs amongst you? Come, sir, now
I am for you again: pray you sit by us,
And tell's a tale.

Merry or sad shall't be?

As merry as you will.

A sad tale's best for winter. I have one
Of sprites and goblins.

Let's have that, good sir.
Come on, sit down;--come on, and do your best
To fright me with your sprites: you're powerful at it.

There was a man,--

Nay, come, sit down: then on.

Dwelt by a churchyard:--I will tell it softly;
Yond crickets shall not hear it.

Come on then,
And give't me in mine ear.

[Enter LEONTES, ANTIGONUS, Lords, and Guards.]

Was he met there? his train? Camillo with him?

Behind the tuft of pines I met them; never
Saw I men scour so on their way: I ey'd them
Even to their ships.

How bles'd am I
In my just censure, in my true opinion!--
Alack, for lesser knowledge!--How accurs'd
In being so blest!--There may be in the cup
A spider steep'd, and one may drink, depart,
And yet partake no venom; for his knowledge
Is not infected; but if one present
The abhorr'd ingredient to his eye, make known
How he hath drunk, he cracks his gorge, his sides,
With violent hefts;--I have drunk, and seen the spider.
Camillo was his help in this, his pander:--
There is a plot against my life, my crown;
All's true that is mistrusted:--that false villain
Whom I employ'd, was pre-employ'd by him:
He has discover'd my design, and I
Remain a pinch'd thing; yea, a very trick
For them to play at will.--How came the posterns
So easily open?

By his great authority;
Which often hath no less prevail'd than so,
On your command.

I know't too well.--
Give me the boy:--I am glad you did not nurse him:
Though he does bear some signs of me, yet you
Have too much blood in him.

What is this? sport?

Bear the boy hence; he shall not come about her;
Away with him!--and let her sport herself
[Exit MAMILLIUS, with some of the Guards.]
With that she's big with;--for 'tis Polixenes
Has made thee swell thus.

But I'd say he had not,
And I'll be sworn you would believe my saying,
Howe'er you learn the nayward.

You, my lords,
Look on her, mark her well; be but about
To say, 'she is a goodly lady' and
The justice of your hearts will thereto add,
''Tis pity she's not honest, honourable':
Praise her but for this her without-door form,--
Which, on my faith, deserves high speech,--and straight
The shrug, the hum or ha,--these petty brands
That calumny doth use:--O, I am out,
That mercy does; for calumny will sear
Virtue itself:--these shrugs, these hum's, and ha's,
When you have said 'she's goodly,' come between,
Ere you can say' she's honest': but be it known,
From him that has most cause to grieve it should be,
She's an adultress!

Should a villain say so,
The most replenish'd villain in the world,
He were as much more villain: you, my lord,
Do but mistake.

You have mistook, my lady,
Polixenes for Leontes: O thou thing,
Which I'll not call a creature of thy place,
Lest barbarism, making me the precedent,
Should a like language use to all degrees,
And mannerly distinguishment leave out
Betwixt the prince and beggar!--I have said,
She's an adultress; I have said with whom:
More, she's a traitor; and Camillo is
A federary with her; and one that knows
What she should shame to know herself
But with her most vile principal, that she's
A bed-swerver, even as bad as those
That vulgars give boldest titles; ay, and privy
To this their late escape.

No, by my life,
Privy to none of this. How will this grieve you,
When you shall come to clearer knowledge, that
You thus have publish'd me! Gentle my lord,
You scarce can right me throughly then, to say
You did mistake.

No; if I mistake
In those foundations which I build upon,
The centre is not big enough to bear
A school-boy's top.--Away with her to prison!
He who shall speak for her is afar off guilty
But that he speaks.

There's some ill planet reigns:
I must be patient till the heavens look
With an aspect more favourable.--Good my lords,
I am not prone to weeping, as our sex
Commonly are; the want of which vain dew
Perchance shall dry your pities; but I have
That honourable grief lodg'd here, which burns
Worse than tears drown: beseech you all, my lords,
With thoughts so qualified as your charities
Shall best instruct you, measure me;--and so
The king's will be perform'd!

[To the GUARD.] Shall I be heard?

Who is't that goes with me?--Beseech your highness
My women may be with me; for, you see,
My plight requires it.--Do not weep, good fools;
There is no cause: when you shall know your mistress
Has deserv'd prison, then abound in tears
As I come out: this action I now go on
Is for my better grace.--Adieu, my lord:
I never wish'd to see you sorry; now
I trust I shall.--My women, come; you have leave.

Go, do our bidding; hence!

[Exeunt QUEEN and Ladies, with Guards.]

Beseech your highness, call the queen again.

Be certain what you do, sir, lest your justice
Prove violence, in the which three great ones suffer,
Yourself, your queen, your son.

For her, my lord,--
I dare my life lay down,--and will do't, sir,
Please you to accept it,--that the queen is spotless
I' the eyes of heaven and to you; I mean
In this which you accuse her.

If it prove
She's otherwise, I'll keep my stables where
I lodge my wife; I'll go in couples with her;
Than when I feel and see her no further trust her;
For every inch of woman in the world,
Ay, every dram of woman's flesh is false,
If she be.

Hold your peaces.

Good my lord,--

It is for you we speak, not for ourselves:
You are abus'd, and by some putter-on
That will be damn'd for't: would I knew the villain,
I would land-damn him. Be she honour-flaw'd,--
I have three daughters; the eldest is eleven;
The second and the third, nine and some five;
If this prove true, they'll pay for 't. By mine honour,
I'll geld 'em all: fourteen they shall not see,
To bring false generations: they are co-heirs;
And I had rather glib myself than they
Should not produce fair issue.

Cease; no more.
You smell this business with a sense as cold
As is a dead man's nose: but I do see't and feel't
As you feel doing thus; and see withal
The instruments that feel.

If it be so,
We need no grave to bury honesty;
There's not a grain of it the face to sweeten
Of the whole dungy earth.

What! Lack I credit?

I had rather you did lack than I, my lord,
Upon this ground: and more it would content me
To have her honour true than your suspicion;
Be blam'd for't how you might.

Why, what need we
Commune with you of this, but rather follow
Our forceful instigation? Our prerogative
Calls not your counsels; but our natural goodness
Imparts this; which, if you,--or stupified
Or seeming so in skill,--cannot or will not
Relish a truth, like us, inform yourselves
We need no more of your advice: the matter,
The loss, the gain, the ord'ring on't, is all
Properly ours.

And I wish, my liege,
You had only in your silent judgment tried it,
Without more overture.

How could that be?
Either thou art most ignorant by age,
Or thou wert born a fool. Camillo's flight,
Added to their familiarity,--
Which was as gross as ever touch'd conjecture,
That lack'd sight only, nought for approbation,
But only seeing, all other circumstances
Made up to th' deed,--doth push on this proceeding.
Yet, for a greater confirmation,--
For, in an act of this importance, 'twere
Most piteous to be wild,--I have despatch'd in post
To sacred Delphos, to Apollo's temple,
Cleomenes and Dion, whom you know
Of stuff'd sufficiency: now, from the oracle
They will bring all, whose spiritual counsel had,
Shall stop or spur me. Have I done well?

Well done, my lord,--

Though I am satisfied, and need no more
Than what I know, yet shall the oracle
Give rest to the minds of others such as he
Whose ignorant credulity will not
Come up to th' truth: so have we thought it good
From our free person she should be confin'd;
Lest that the treachery of the two fled hence
Be left her to perform. Come, follow us;
We are to speak in public; for this business
Will raise us all.

[Aside.] To laughter, as I take it,
If the good truth were known.


SCENE II. The same. The outer Room of a Prison.

[Enter PAULINA and Attendants.]

The keeper of the prison,--call to him;
Let him have knowledge who I am.

[Exit an Attendant.]

Good lady!
No court in Europe is too good for thee;
What dost thou then in prison?

[Re-enter Attendant, with the Keeper.]

Now, good sir,
You know me, do you not?

For a worthy lady,
And one who much I honour.

Pray you, then,
Conduct me to the queen.

I may not, madam;
To the contrary I have express commandment.

Here's ado, to lock up honesty and honour from
The access of gentle visitors!--Is't lawful,
Pray you, to see her women? any of them?

So please you, madam, to put
Apart these your attendants,
Shall bring Emilia forth.

I pray now, call her.
Withdraw yourselves.


And, madam,
I must be present at your conference.

Well, be't so, pr'ythee.

[Exit KEEPER.]

Here's such ado to make no stain a stain
As passes colouring.

[Re-enter KEEPER, with EMILIA.]

Dear gentlewoman, how fares our gracious lady?

As well as one so great and so forlorn
May hold together: on her frights and griefs,--
Which never tender lady hath borne greater,--
She is, something before her time, deliver'd.

A boy?

A daughter; and a goodly babe,
Lusty, and like to live: the queen receives
Much comfort in't; says 'My poor prisoner,
I am as innocent as you.'

I dare be sworn;--
These dangerous unsafe lunes i' the king, beshrew them!
He must be told on't, and he shall: the office
Becomes a woman best; I'll take't upon me;
If I prove honey-mouth'd, let my tongue blister;
And never to my red-look'd anger be
The trumpet any more.--Pray you, Emilia,
Commend my best obedience to the queen;
If she dares trust me with her little babe,
I'll show't the king, and undertake to be
Her advocate to th' loud'st. We do not know
How he may soften at the sight o' the child:
The silence often of pure innocence
Persuades, when speaking fails.

Most worthy madam,
Your honour and your goodness is so evident,
That your free undertaking cannot miss
A thriving issue: there is no lady living
So meet for this great errand. Please your ladyship
To visit the next room, I'll presently
Acquaint the queen of your most noble offer;
Who but to-day hammer'd of this design,
But durst not tempt a minister of honour,
Lest she should be denied.

Tell her, Emilia,
I'll use that tongue I have: if wit flow from it
As boldness from my bosom, let't not be doubted
I shall do good.

Now be you bless'd for it!
I'll to the queen: please you come something nearer.

Madam, if't please the queen to send the babe,
I know not what I shall incur to pass it,
Having no warrant.

You need not fear it, sir:
This child was prisoner to the womb, and is,
By law and process of great nature thence
Freed and enfranchis'd: not a party to
The anger of the king, nor guilty of,
If any be, the trespass of the queen.

I do believe it.

Do not you fear: upon mine honour, I
Will stand betwixt you and danger.


SCENE III. The same. A Room in the Palace.

[Enter LEONTES, ANTIGONUS, Lords, and other Attendants.]

Nor night nor day no rest: it is but weakness
To bear the matter thus,--mere weakness. If
The cause were not in being,--part o' the cause,
She the adultress; for the harlot king
Is quite beyond mine arm, out of the blank
And level of my brain, plot-proof; but she
I can hook to me:--say that she were gone,
Given to the fire, a moiety of my rest
Might come to me again.--Who's there?

My lord?

How does the boy?

He took good rest to-night;
'Tis hop'd his sickness is discharg'd.

To see his nobleness!
Conceiving the dishonour of his mother,
He straight declin'd, droop'd, took it deeply,
Fasten'd and fix'd the shame on't in himself,
Threw off his spirit, his appetite, his sleep,
And downright languish'd.--Leave me solely:--go,
See how he fares.


--Fie, fie! no thought of him;
The very thought of my revenges that way
Recoil upon me: in himself too mighty,
And in his parties, his alliance,--let him be,
Until a time may serve: for present vengeance,
Take it on her. Camillo and Polixenes
Laugh at me; make their pastime at my sorrow:
They should not laugh if I could reach them; nor
Shall she, within my power.

[Enter PAULINA, with a Child.]

You must not enter.

Nay, rather, good my lords, be second to me:
Fear you his tyrannous passion more, alas,
Than the queen's life? a gracious innocent soul,
More free than he is jealous.

That's enough.

Madam, he hath not slept to-night; commanded
None should come at him.

Not so hot, good sir;
I come to bring him sleep. 'Tis such as you,--
That creep like shadows by him, and do sigh
At each his needless heavings,--such as you
Nourish the cause of his awaking: I
Do come, with words as med'cinal as true,
Honest as either, to purge him of that humour
That presses him from sleep.

What noise there, ho?

No noise, my lord; but needful conference
About some gossips for your highness.

Away with that audacious lady!--Antigonus,
I charg'd thee that she should not come about me:
I knew she would.

I told her so, my lord,
On your displeasure's peril, and on mine,
She should not visit you.

What, canst not rule her?

From all dishonesty he can: in this,--
Unless he take the course that you have done,
Commit me for committing honour,--trust it,
He shall not rule me.

La you now, you hear
When she will take the rein, I let her run;
But she'll not stumble.

Good my liege, I come,--
And, I beseech you, hear me, who professes
Myself your loyal servant, your physician,
Your most obedient counsellor: yet that dares
Less appear so, in comforting your evils,
Than such as most seem yours:--I say I come
From your good queen.

Good queen!

Good queen, my lord, good queen: I say, good queen;
And would by combat make her good, so were I
A man, the worst about you.

Force her hence!

Let him that makes but trifles of his eyes
First hand me: on mine own accord I'll off;
But first I'll do my errand--The good queen,
For she is good, hath brought you forth a daughter;
Here 'tis; commends it to your blessing.

[Laying down the child.]

A mankind witch! Hence with her, out o' door:
A most intelligencing bawd!

Not so:
I am as ignorant in that as you
In so entitling me; and no less honest
Than you are mad; which is enough, I'll warrant,
As this world goes, to pass for honest.

Will you not push her out? Give her the bastard:--
Thou dotar, [To ANTIGONUS], thou art woman-tir'd, unroosted
By thy Dame Partlet here:--take up the bastard;
Take't up, I say; give't to thy crone.

For ever
Unvenerable be thy hands, if thou
Tak'st up the princess by that forced baseness
Which he has put upon't!

He dreads his wife.

So I would you did; then 'twere past all doubt
You'd call your children yours.

A nest of traitors?

I am none, by this good light.

Nor I; nor any,
But one that's here; and that's himself: for he
The sacred honour of himself, his queen's,
His hopeful son's, his babe's, betrays to slander,
Whose sting is sharper than the sword's; and will not,--
For, as the case now stands, it is a curse
He cannot be compell'd to 't,--once remove
The root of his opinion, which is rotten
As ever oak or stone was sound.

A callat
Of boundless tongue, who late hath beat her husband,
And now baits me!--This brat is none of mine;
It is the issue of Polixenes:
Hence with it! and together with the dam,
Commit them to the fire.

It is yours!
And, might we lay the old proverb to your charge,
So like you 'tis the worse.--Behold, my lords,
Although the print be little, the whole matter
And copy of the father,--eye, nose, lip,
The trick of his frown, his forehead; nay, the valley,
The pretty dimples of his chin and cheek; his smiles;
The very mould and frame of hand, nail, finger:--
And thou, good goddess Nature, which hast made it
So like to him that got it, if thou hast
The ordering of the mind too, 'mongst all colours
No yellow in't, lest she suspect, as he does,
Her children not her husband's!

A gross hag!
And, losel, thou art worthy to be hang'd
That wilt not stay her tongue.

Hang all the husbands
That cannot do that feat, you'll leave yourself
Hardly one subject.

Once more, take her hence.

A most unworthy and unnatural lord
Can do no more.

I'll have thee burn'd.

I care not.
It is an heretic that makes the fire,
Not she which burns in't. I'll not call you tyrant
But this most cruel usage of your queen,--
Not able to produce more accusation
Than your own weak-hing'd fancy,--something savours
Of tyranny, and will ignoble make you,
Yea, scandalous to the world.

On your allegiance,
Out of the chamber with her! Were I a tyrant,
Where were her life? She durst not call me so,
If she did know me one. Away with her!

I pray you, do not push me; I'll be gone.--
Look to your babe, my lord; 'tis yours: Jove send her
A better guiding spirit!--What needs these hands?
You that are thus so tender o'er his follies,
Will never do him good, not one of you.
So, so:--farewell; we are gone.


Thou, traitor, hast set on thy wife to this.-
My child?--away with't.--even thou, that hast
A heart so tender o'er it, take it hence,
And see it instantly consum'd with fire;
Even thou, and none but thou. Take it up straight:
Within this hour bring me word 'tis done,--
And by good testimony,--or I'll seize thy life,
With that thou else call'st thine. If thou refuse,
And wilt encounter with my wrath, say so;
The bastard-brains with these my proper hands
Shall I dash out. Go, take it to the fire;
For thou set'st on thy wife.

I did not, sir:
These lords, my noble fellows, if they please,
Can clear me in't.

We can:--my royal liege,
He is not guilty of her coming hither.

You're liars all.

Beseech your highness, give us better credit:
We have always truly serv'd you; and beseech
So to esteem of us: and on our knees we beg,--
As recompense of our dear services,
Past and to come,--that you do change this purpose,
Which, being so horrible, so bloody, must
Lead on to some foul issue: we all kneel.

I am a feather for each wind that blows:--
Shall I live on, to see this bastard kneel
And call me father? better burn it now,
Than curse it then. But, be it; let it live:--
It shall not neither.--[To ANTIGONUS.] You, sir, come you hither:
You that have been so tenderly officious
With Lady Margery, your midwife, there,
To save this bastard's life,--for 'tis a bastard,
So sure as this beard's grey,--what will you adventure
To save this brat's life?

Anything, my lord,
That my ability may undergo,
And nobleness impose: at least, thus much;
I'll pawn the little blood which I have left
To save the innocent:--anything possible.

It shall be possible. Swear by this sword
Thou wilt perform my bidding.

I will, my lord.

Mark, and perform it,--seest thou? for the fail
Of any point in't shall not only be
Death to thyself, but to thy lewd-tongu'd wife,
Whom for this time we pardon. We enjoin thee,
As thou art liegeman to us, that thou carry
This female bastard hence; and that thou bear it
To some remote and desert place, quite out
Of our dominions; and that there thou leave it,
Without more mercy, to it own protection
And favour of the climate. As by strange fortune
It came to us, I do in justice charge thee,
On thy soul's peril and thy body's torture,
That thou commend it strangely to some place
Where chance may nurse or end it. Take it up.

I swear to do this, though a present death
Had been more merciful.--Come on, poor babe:
Some powerful spirit instruct the kites and ravens
To be thy nurses! Wolves and bears, they say,
Casting their savageness aside, have done
Like offices of pity.--Sir, be prosperous
In more than this deed does require!--and blessing,
Against this cruelty, fight on thy side,
Poor thing, condemn'd to loss!

[Exit with the child.]

No, I'll not rear
Another's issue.

Please your highness, posts
From those you sent to the oracle are come
An hour since: Cleomenes and Dion,
Being well arriv'd from Delphos, are both landed,
Hasting to the court.

So please you, sir, their speed
Hath been beyond account.

Twenty-three days
They have been absent: 'tis good speed; foretells
The great Apollo suddenly will have
The truth of this appear. Prepare you, lords;
Summon a session, that we may arraign
Our most disloyal lady; for, as she hath
Been publicly accus'd, so shall she have
A just and open trial. While she lives,
My heart will be a burden to me. Leave me;
And think upon my bidding.



SCENE I. Sicilia. A Street in some Town.


The climate's delicate; the air most sweet;
Fertile the isle; the temple much surpassing
The common praise it bears.

I shall report,
For most it caught me, the celestial habits,--
Methinks I so should term them,--and the reverence
Of the grave wearers. O, the sacrifice!
How ceremonious, solemn, and unearthly,
It was i' the offering!

But of all, the burst
And the ear-deaf'ning voice o' the oracle,
Kin to Jove's thunder, so surprised my sense
That I was nothing.

If the event o' the journey
Prove as successful to the queen,--O, be't so!--
As it hath been to us rare, pleasant, speedy,
The time is worth the use on't.

Great Apollo
Turn all to th' best! These proclamations,
So forcing faults upon Hermione,
I little like.

The violent carriage of it
Will clear or end the business: when the oracle,--
Thus by Apollo's great divine seal'd up,--
Shall the contents discover, something rare
Even then will rush to knowledge.--Go,--fresh horses;--
And gracious be the issue!


SCENE II. The same. A Court of Justice

[Enter LEONTES, Lords, and Officers appear, properly seated.]

This sessions,--to our great grief we pronounce,--
Even pushes 'gainst our heart;--the party tried,
The daughter of a king, our wife; and one
Of us too much belov'd. Let us be clear'd
Of being tyrannous, since we so openly
Proceed in justice; which shall have due course,
Even to the guilt or the purgation.--
Produce the prisoner.

It is his highness' pleasure that the queen
Appear in person here in court.--


[HERMIONE, is brought in guarded; PAULINA, and Ladies attending.]

Read the indictment.

[Reads.] 'Hermione, queen to the worthy Leontes, king of
Sicilia, thou art here accused and arraigned of high treason, in
committing adultery with Polixenes, king of Bohemia; and
conspiring with Camillo to take away the life of our sovereign
lord the king, thy royal husband: the pretence whereof being by
circumstances partly laid open, thou, Hermione, contrary to the
faith and allegiance of true subject, didst counsel and aid them,
for their better safety, to fly away by night.'

Since what I am to say must be but that
Which contradicts my accusation, and
The testimony on my part no other
But what comes from myself, it shall scarce boot me
To say 'Not guilty': mine integrity
Being counted falsehood, shall, as I express it,
Be so receiv'd. But thus,--if powers divine
Behold our human actions,--as they do,--
I doubt not, then, but innocence shall make
False accusation blush, and tyranny
Tremble at patience.--You, my lord, best know--
Who least will seem to do so,--my past life
Hath been as continent, as chaste, as true,
As I am now unhappy: which is more
Than history can pattern, though devis'd
And play'd to take spectators; for behold me,--
A fellow of the royal bed, which owe
A moiety of the throne, a great king's daughter,
The mother to a hopeful prince,--here standing
To prate and talk for life and honour 'fore
Who please to come and hear. For life, I prize it
As I weigh grief, which I would spare: for honour,
'Tis a derivative from me to mine,
And only that I stand for. I appeal
To your own conscience, sir, before Polixenes
Came to your court, how I was in your grace,
How merited to be so; since he came,
With what encounter so uncurrent I
Have strain'd t' appear thus: if one jot beyond
The bound of honour, or in act or will
That way inclining, harden'd be the hearts
Of all that hear me, and my near'st of kin
Cry, Fie upon my grave!

I ne'er heard yet
That any of these bolder vices wanted
Less impudence to gainsay what they did
Than to perform it first.

That's true enough;
Though 'tis a saying, sir, not due to me.

You will not own it.

More than mistress of
Which comes to me in name of fault, I must not
At all acknowledge. For Polixenes,--
With whom I am accus'd,--I do confess
I lov'd him, as in honour he requir'd;
With such a kind of love as might become
A lady like me; with a love even such,
So and no other, as yourself commanded:
Which not to have done, I think had been in me
Both disobedience and ingratitude
To you and toward your friend; whose love had spoke,
Ever since it could speak, from an infant, freely,
That it was yours. Now for conspiracy,
I know not how it tastes; though it be dish'd
For me to try how: all I know of it
Is that Camillo was an honest man;
And why he left your court, the gods themselves,
Wotting no more than I, are ignorant.

You knew of his departure, as you know
What you have underta'en to do in's absence.

You speak a language that I understand not:
My life stands in the level of your dreams,
Which I'll lay down.

Your actions are my dreams;
You had a bastard by Polixenes,
And I but dream'd it:--as you were past all shame,--
Those of your fact are so,--so past all truth:
Which to deny concerns more than avails; for as
Thy brat hath been cast out, like to itself,
No father owning it,--which is, indeed,
More criminal in thee than it,--so thou
Shalt feel our justice; in whose easiest passage
Look for no less than death.

Sir, spare your threats:
The bug which you would fright me with, I seek.
To me can life be no commodity:
The crown and comfort of my life, your favour,
I do give lost; for I do feel it gone,
But know not how it went: my second joy,
And first-fruits of my body, from his presence
I am barr'd, like one infectious: my third comfort,
Starr'd most unluckily, is from my breast,--
The innocent milk in it most innocent mouth,--
Hal'd out to murder: myself on every post
Proclaim'd a strumpet; with immodest hatred
The child-bed privilege denied, which 'longs
To women of all fashion; lastly, hurried
Here to this place, i' the open air, before
I have got strength of limit. Now, my liege,
Tell me what blessings I have here alive,
That I should fear to die. Therefore proceed.
But yet hear this; mistake me not;--no life,--
I prize it not a straw,--but for mine honour
(Which I would free), if I shall be condemn'd
Upon surmises--all proofs sleeping else,
But what your jealousies awake--I tell you
'Tis rigour, and not law.--Your honours all,
I do refer me to the oracle:
Apollo be my judge!

This your request
Is altogether just: therefore, bring forth,
And in Apollo's name, his oracle:

[Exeunt certain Officers.]

The Emperor of Russia was my father;
O that he were alive, and here beholding
His daughter's trial! that he did but see
The flatness of my misery; yet with eyes
Of pity, not revenge!

[Re-enter OFFICERS, with CLEOMENES and DION.]

You here shall swear upon this sword of justice,
That you, Cleomenes and Dion, have

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