Enter two Gentlemen
You do not meet a man but frowns: our bloods
No more obey the heavens than our courtiers
Still seem as does the king's.
But what's the matter?
His daughter, and the heir of's kingdom – whom
He purposed to his wife's sole son, a widow
That late he married – hath referred herself
Unto a poor but worthy gentleman. She's wedded,
Her husband banished; she imprisoned, all
Is outward sorrow, though I think the king
Be touched at very heart.
None but the king?
He that hath lost her too: so is the queen,
That most desired the match. But not a courtier,
Although they wear their faces to the bent
Of the king's looks, hath a heart that is not
Glad at the thing they scowl at.
And why so?
He that hath missed the princess is a thing
[contemptuous] being, creature, base thing
Too bad for bad report: and he that hath her –
I mean, that married her, alack good man,
And therefore banished – is a creature such
As, to seek through the regions of the earth
For one his like; there would be something failing
In him that should compare. I do not think
So fair an outward, and such stuff within
Endows a man, but he.
You speak him far.
I do extend him, sir, within himself,
Crush him together, rather than unfold
His measure duly.
What's his name and birth?
I cannot delve him to the root: his father
Was called Sicilius, who did join his honour
Against the Romans with Cassibelan,
But had his titles by Tenantius, whom
He served with glory and admired success:
So gained the sur-addition Leonatus:
And had – besides this gentleman in question –
Two other sons, who in the wars o'th' time
Died with their swords in hand. For which their father,
Then old, and fond of issue, took such sorrow
That he quit being; and his gentle lady,
Big of this gentleman – our theme – deceased
As he was born. The king he takes the babe
To his protection, calls him Posthumus Leonatus,
Breeds him, and makes him of his bed-chamber,
Puts to him all the learnings that his time
Could make him the receiver of, which he took,
As we do air, fast as 'twas ministered,
And in's spring became a harvest; lived in court –
Which rare it is to do – most praised, most loved;
A sample to the youngest, to th' more mature
A glass that feated them, and to the graver
A child that guided dotards. To his mistress –
For whom he now is banished – her own price
Proclaims how she esteemed him; and his virtue
By her election may be truly read
What kind of man he is.
I honour him
Even out of your report. But pray you tell me,
Is she sole child to th' king?
His only child.
He had two sons – if this be worth your hearing,
Mark it – the eldest of them at three years old,
I'th' swathing-clothes the other, from their nursery
Were stolen; and to this hour no guess in knowledge
Which way they went.
How long is this ago?
Some twenty years.
That a king's children should be so conveyed,
So slackly guarded, and the search so slow
That could not trace them!
Howsoe'er 'tis strange,
Or that the negligence may well be laughed at,
Yet is it true, sir.
I do well believe you.
We must forbear. Here comes the gentleman,
The queen, and princess.