The Winter's Tale

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Original text
Act II, Scene I
Enter Hermione, Mamillius, Ladies: Leontes, Antigonus, Lords.

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

Lady.
Come (my gracious Lord)
Shall I be your play-fellow?

Mam.
No, Ile none of you.

Lady.
Why (my sweet Lord?)

Mam.
You'le kisse me hard, and speake to me, as if
I were a Baby still. I loue you better.

2. Lady.
And why so (my Lord?)

Mam.
Not for because
Your Browes are blacker (yet black-browes they say
Become some Women best, so that there be not
Too much haire there, but in a Cemicircle,
Or a halfe-Moone, made with a Pen.)

2. Lady.
Who taught 'this?

Mam.
I learn'd it out of Womens faces: pray now,
What colour are your eye-browes?

Lady.
Blew (my Lord.)

Mam.
Nay, that's a mock: I haue seene a Ladies Nose
That ha's beene blew, but not her eye-browes.

Lady.
Harke ye,
The Queene (your Mother) rounds apace: we shall
Present our seruices to a fine new Prince
One of these dayes, and then youl'd wanton with vs,
If we would haue you.

2. Lady.
She is spread of late
Into a goodly Bulke (good time encounter her.)

Her.
What wisdome stirs amongst you? Come Sir, now
I am for you againe: 'Pray you sit by vs,
And tell's a Tale.

Mam.
Merry, or sad, shal't be?

Her.
As merry as you will.

Mam.
A sad Tale's best for Winter: / I haue one
of Sprights, and Goblins.

Her.
Let's haue that (good Sir.)
Come-on, sit downe, come-on, and doe your best,
To fright me with your Sprights: you're powrefull at it.

Mam.
There was a man.

Her.
Nay, come sit downe: then on.

Mam.
Dwelt by a Church-yard: I will tell it softly,
Yond Crickets shall not heare it.

Her.
Come on then,
and giu't me in mine eare.

Leon.
Was hee met there? his Traine? Camillo with him?

Lord.
Behind the tuft of Pines I met them, neuer
Saw I men scowre so on their way: I eyed them
Euen to their Ships.

Leo.
How blest am I
In my iust 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 drinke; depart,
And yet partake no venome: (for his knowledge
Is not infected) but if one present
Th' abhor'd Ingredient to his eye, make knowne
How he hath drunke, he cracks his gorge, his sides
With violent Hefts: I haue drunke, and seene the Spider.
Camillo was his helpe in this, his Pandar:
There is a Plot against my Life, my Crowne;
All's true that is mistrusted: that false Villaine,
Whom I employ'd, was pre-employ'd by him:
He ha's discouer'd my Designe, and I
Remaine a pinch'd Thing; yea, a very Trick
For them to play at will: how came the Posternes
So easily open?

Lord.
By his great authority,
Which often hath no lesse preuail'd, then so,
On your command.

Leo.
I know't too well.
Giue me the Boy, I am glad you did not nurse him:
Though he do's beare some signes of me, yet you
Haue too much blood in him.

Her.
What is this? Sport?

Leo.
Beare the Boy hence, he shall not come about her,
Away with him, and let her sport her selfe
With that shee's big-with, for 'tis Polixenes
Ha's made thee swell thus.

Her.
But Il'd say he had not;
And Ile be sworne you would beleeue my saying,
How e're you leane to th' Nay-ward.

Leo.
You (my Lords)
Looke on her, marke her well: be but about
To say she is a goodly Lady, and
The iustice of your hearts will thereto adde
'Tis pitty shee's not honest: Honorable;
Prayse her but for this her without-dore-Forme,
(Which on my faith deserues high speech) and straight
The Shrug, the Hum, or Ha, (these Petty-brands
That Calumnie doth vse; Oh, I am out,
That Mercy do's, for Calumnie will seare
Vertue it selfe) these Shrugs, these Hum's, and Ha's,
When you haue said shee's goodly, come betweene,
Ere you can say shee's honest: But be't knowne
(From him that ha's most cause to grieue it should be)
Shee's an Adultresse.

Her.
Should a Villaine say so,
(The most replenish'd Villaine in the World)
He were as much more Villaine: you (my Lord)
Doe but mistake.

Leo.
You haue mistooke (my Lady)
Polixenes for Leontes: O thou Thing,
(Which Ile not call a Creature of thy place,
Least Barbarisme (making me the precedent)
Should a like Language vse to all degrees,
And mannerly distinguishment leaue out,
Betwixt the Prince and Begger:) I haue said
Shee's an Adultresse, I haue said with whom:
More; shee's a Traytor, and Camillo is
A Federarie with her, and one that knowes
What she should shame to know her selfe,
But with her most vild Principall: that shee's
A Bed-swaruer, euen as bad as those
That Vulgars giue bold'st Titles; I, and priuy
To this their late escape.

Her.
No (by my life)
Priuy to none of this: how will this grieue you,
When you shall come to clearer knowledge, that
You thus haue publish'd me? Gentle my Lord,
You scarce can right me throughly, then, to say
You did mistake.

Leo.
No: if I mistake
In those Foundations which I build vpon,
The Centre is not bigge enough to beare
A Schoole-Boyes Top. Away with her, to Prison:
He who shall speake for her, is a farre-off guiltie,
But that he speakes.

Her.
There's some ill Planet raignes:
I must be patient, till the Heauens looke
With an aspect more fauorable. Good my Lords,
I am not prone to weeping (as our Sex
Commonly are) the want of which vaine dew
Perchance shall dry your pitties: but I haue
That honorable Griefe lodg'd here, which burnes
Worse then Teares drowne: 'beseech you all (my Lords)
With thoughts so qualified, as your Charities
Shall best instruct you, measure me; and so
The Kings will be perform'd.

Leo.
Shall I be heard?

Her.
Who is't that goes with me? 'beseech your Highnes
My Women may be with me, for you see
My plight requires it. Doe not weepe (good Fooles)
There is no cause: When you shall know your Mistris
Ha's deseru'd Prison, then abound in Teares,
As I come out; this Action I now goe on,
Is for my better grace. Adieu (my Lord)
I neuer wish'd to see you sorry, now
I trust I shall: my Women come, you haue leaue.

Leo.
Goe, doe our bidding: hence.

Lord.
Beseech your Highnesse call the Queene againe.

Antig.
Be certaine what you do (Sir) least your Iustice
Proue violence, in the which three great ones suffer,
Your Selfe, your Queene, your Sonne.

Lord.
For her (my Lord)
I dare my life lay downe, and will do't (Sir)
Please you t' accept it, that the Queene is spotlesse
I'th' eyes of Heauen, and to you (I meane
In this, which you accuse her.)

Antig.
If it proue
Shee's otherwise, Ile keepe my Stables where
I lodge my Wife, Ile goe in couples with her:
Then when I feele, and see her, no farther trust her:
For euery ynch of Woman in the World,
I, euery dram of Womans flesh is false,
If she be.

Leo.
Hold your peaces.

Lord.
Good my Lord.

Antig.
It is for you we speake, not for our selues:
You are abus'd, and by some putter on,
That will be damn'd for't: would I knew the Villaine,
I would Land-damne him: be she honor-flaw'd,
I haue three daughters: the eldest is eleuen;
The second, and the third, nine: and some fiue:
If this proue true, they'l pay for't. By mine Honor
Ile gell'd em all: fourteene they shall not see
To bring false generations: they are co-heyres,
And I had rather glib my selfe, then they
Should not produce faire issue.

Leo.
Cease, no more:
You smell this businesse with a sence as cold
As is a dead-mans nose: but I do see't, and feel't,
As you feele doing thus: and see withall
The Instruments that feele.

Antig.
If it be so,
We neede no graue to burie honesty,
There's not a graine of it, the face to sweeten
Of the whole dungy-earth.

Leo.
What? lacke I credit?

Lord.
I had rather you did lacke then I (my Lord)
Vpon this ground: and more it would content me
To haue her Honor true, then your suspition
Be blam'd for't how you might.

Leo.
Why what neede we
Commune with you of this? but rather follow
Our forcefull instigation? Our prerogatiue
Cals not your Counsailes, but our naturall goodnesse
Imparts this: which, if you, or stupified,
Or seeming so, in skill, cannot, or will not
Rellish a truth, like vs: informe your selues,
We neede no more of your aduice: the matter,
The losse, the gaine, the ord'ring on't, / Is all
properly ours.

Antig.
And I wish (my Liege)
You had onely in your silent iudgement tride it,
Without more ouerture.

Leo.
How could that be?
Either thou art most ignorant by age,
Or thou wer't borne a foole: Camillo's flight
Added to their Familiarity
(Which was as grosse, as euer touch'd coniecture,
That lack'd sight onely, nought for approbation
But onely seeing, all other circumstances
Made vp to'th deed) doth push-on this proceeding.
Yet, for a greater confirmation
(For in an Acte of this importance, 'twere
Most pitteous to be wilde) I haue dispatch'd in post,
To sacred Delphos, to Appollo's Temple,
Cleomines and Dion, whom you know
Of stuff'd-sufficiency: Now, from the Oracle
They will bring all, whose spirituall counsaile had
Shall stop, or spurre me. Haue I done well?

Lord.
Well done (my Lord.)

Leo.
Though I am satisfide, and neede no more
Then what I know, yet shall the Oracle
Giue rest to th' mindes of others; such as he
Whose ignorant credulitie, will not
Come vp to th' truth. So haue we thought it good
From our free person, she should be confinde,
Least that the treachery of the two, fled hence,
Be left her to performe. Come follow vs,
We are to speake in publique: for this businesse
Will raise vs all.

Antig.
To laughter, as I take it,
If the good truth, were knowne.
Exeunt
Original text
Act II, Scene II
Enter Paulina, a Gentleman, Gaoler, Emilia.

Paul.
The Keeper of the prison, call to him:
Let him haue knowledge who I am.
Good Lady,
No Court in Europe is too good for thee,
What dost thou then in prison?
Now good Sir,
You know me, do you not?

Gao.
For a worthy Lady,
And one, who much I honour.

Pau.
Pray you then,
Conduct me to the Queene.

Gao.
I may not (Madam)
To the contrary I haue expresse commandment.

Pau.
Here's a-do,
to locke vp honesty & honour from
Th' accesse of gentle visitors. Is't lawfull pray you
To see her Women? Any of them? Emilia?

Gao.
So please you (Madam)
To put a-part these your attendants, I
Shall bring Emilia forth.

Pau.
I pray now call her:
With-draw your selues.

Gao.
And Madam,
I must be present at your Conference.

Pau.
Well: be't so: prethee.
Heere's such a-doe, to make no staine, a staine,
As passes colouring.
Deare Gentlewoman,
How fares our gracious Lady?

Emil.
As well as one so great, and so forlorne
May hold together: On her frights, and greefes
(Which neuer tender Lady hath borne greater)
She is, something before her time, deliuer'd.

Pau.
A boy?

Emil.
A daughter, and a goodly babe,
Lusty, and like to liue: the Queene receiues
Much comfort in't: Sayes, my poore prisoner,
I am innocent as you,

Pau.
I dare be sworne:
These dangerous, vnsafe Lunes i'th' King, beshrew them:
He must be told on't, and he shall: the office
Becomes a woman best. Ile take't vpon me,
If I proue hony-mouth'd, let my tongue blister.
And neuer to my red-look'd Anger bee
The Trumpet any more: pray you (Emilia)
Commend my best obedience to the Queene,
If she dares trust me with her little babe,
I'le shew't the King, and vndertake to bee
Her Aduocate to th' lowd'st. We do not know
How he may soften at the sight o'th' Childe:
The silence often of pure innocence
Perswades, when speaking failes.

Emil.
Most worthy Madam,
Your honor, and your goodnesse is so euident,
That your free vndertaking cannot misse
A thriuing yssue: there is no Lady liuing
So meete for this great errand; please your Ladiship
To visit the next roome, Ile presently
Acquaint the Queene of your most noble offer,
Who, but to day hammered of this designe,
But durst not tempt a minister of honour
Least she should be deny'd.

Paul.
Tell her (Emilia)
Ile vse that tongue I haue: If wit flow from't
As boldnesse from my bosome, le't not be doubted
I shall do good,

Emil.
Now be you blest for it.
Ile to the Queene: please you come something neerer.

Gao.
Madam, if't please the Queene to send the babe,
I know not what I shall incurre, to passe it,
Hauing no warrant.

Pau.
You neede not feare it (sir)
This Childe was prisoner to the wombe, and is
By Law and processe of great Nature, thence
Free'd, and enfranchis'd, not a partie to
The anger of the King, nor guilty of
(If any be) the trespasse of the Queene.

Gao.
I do beleeue it.

Paul.
Do not you feare: vpon mine honor, I
Will stand betwixt you, and danger.
Exeunt
Original text
Act II, Scene III
Enter Leontes, Seruants, Paulina, Antigonus, and Lords.

Leo.
Nor night, nor day, no rest: It is but weaknesse
To beare the matter thus: meere weaknesse, if
The cause were not in being: part o'th cause,
She, th' Adultresse: for the harlot-King
Is quite beyond mine Arme, out of the blanke
And leuell of my braine: plot-proofe: but shee,
I can hooke to me: say that she were gone,
Giuen to the fire, a moity of my rest
Might come to me againe. Whose there?

Ser.
My Lord.

Leo.
How do's the boy?

Ser.
He tooke good rest to night:
'tis hop'd / His sicknesse is discharg'd.

Leo.
To see his Noblenesse,
Conceyuing the dishonour of his Mother.
He straight declin'd, droop'd, tooke it deeply,
Fasten'd, and fix'd the shame on't in himselfe:
Threw-off his Spirit, his Appetite, his Sleepe,
And down-right languish'd. Leaue me solely: goe,
See how he fares:
Fie, fie, no thought of him,
The very thought of my Reuenges that way
Recoyle vpon me: in himselfe too mightie,
And in his parties, his Alliance; Let him be,
Vntill a time may serue. 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 powre.
Enter Paulina.

Lord.
You must not enter.

Paul.
Nay rather (good my Lords) be second to me:
Feare you his tyrannous passion more (alas)
Then the Queenes life? A gracious innocent soule,
More free, then he is iealous.

Antig.
That's enough.

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

Pau.
Not so hot (good Sir)
I come to bring him sleepe. 'Tis such as you
That creepe like shadowes by him, and do sighe
At each his needlesse heauings: such as you
Nourish the cause of his awaking. I
Do come with words, as medicinall, as true;
(Honest, as either;) to purge him of that humor,
That presses him from sleepe.

Leo.
Who noyse there, hoe?

Pau.
No noyse (my Lord) but needfull conference,
About some Gossips for your Highnesse.

Leo.
How?
Away with that audacious Lady. Antigonus,
I charg'd thee that she should not come about me,
I knew she would.

Ant.
I told her so (my Lord)
On your displeasures perill, and on mine,
She should not visit you.

Leo.
What? canst not rule her?

Paul.
From all dishonestie he can: in this
(Vnlesse he take the course that you haue done)
Commit me, for committing honor, trust it,
He shall not rule me:

Ant.
La-you now, you heare,
When she will take the raine, I let her run,
But shee'l not stumble.

Paul.
Good my Liege, I come:
And I beseech you heare me, who professes
My selfe your loyall Seruant, your Physitian,
Your most obedient Counsailor: yet that dares
Lesse appeare so, in comforting your Euilles,
Then such as most seeme yours. I say, I come
From your good Queene.

Leo.
Good Queene?

Paul.
Good Queene (my Lord) good Queene, / I say good Queene,
And would by combate, make her good so, were I
A man, the worst about you.

Leo.
Force her hence.

Pau.
Let him that makes but trifles of his eyes
First hand me: on mine owne accord, Ile off,
But first, Ile do my errand. The good Queene
(For she is good) hath brought you forth a daughter,
Heere 'tis. Commends it to your blessing.

Leo.
Out:
A mankinde Witch? Hence with her, out o' dore:
A most intelligencing bawd.

Paul.
Not so:
I am as ignorant in that, as you,
In so entit'ling me: and no lesse honest
Then you are mad: which is enough, Ile warrant
(As this world goes) to passe for honest:

Leo.
Traitors;
Will you not push her out? Giue her the Bastard,
Thou dotard, thou art woman-tyr'd: vnroosted
By thy dame Partlet heere. Take vp the Bastard,
Take't vp, I say: giue't to thy Croane.

Paul.
For euer
Vnvenerable be thy hands, if thou
Tak'st vp the Princesse, by that forced basenesse
Which he ha's put vpon't.

Leo.
He dreads his Wife.

Paul.
So I would you did: then 'twere past all dout
Youl'd call your children, yours.

Leo.
A nest of Traitors.

Ant.
I am none, by this good light.

Pau.
Nor I: nor any
But one that's heere: and that's himselfe: for he,
The sacred Honor of himselfe, his Queenes,
His hopefull Sonnes, his Babes, betrayes to Slander,
Whose sting is sharper then the Swords; and will not
(For as the case now stands, it is a Curse
He cannot be compell'd too't) once remoue
The Root of his Opinion, which is rotten,
As euer Oake, or Stone was sound.

Leo.
A Callat
Of boundlesse tongue, who late hath beat her Husband,
And now bayts 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.

Paul.
It is yours:
And might we lay th' old Prouerb to your charge,
So like you, 'tis the worse. Behold (my Lords)
Although the Print be little, the whole Matter
And Coppy of the Father: (Eye, Nose, Lippe,
The trick of's Frowne, his Fore-head, nay, the Valley,
The pretty dimples of his Chin, and Cheeke; his Smiles:
The very Mold, and frame of Hand, Nayle, Finger.)
And thou good Goddesse 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, least she suspect, as he do's,
Her Children, not her Husbands.

Leo.
A grosse Hagge:
And Lozell, thou art worthy to be hang'd,
That wilt not stay her Tongue.

Antig.
Hang all the Husbands
That cannot doe that Feat, you'le leaue your selfe
Hardly one Subiect.

Leo.
Once more take her hence.

Paul.
A most vnworthy, and vnnaturall Lord
Can doe no more.

Leo.
Ile ha' thee burnt.

Paul.
I care not:
It is an Heretique that makes the fire,
Not she which burnes in't. Ile not call you Tyrant:
But this most cruell vsage of your Queene
(Not able to produce more accusation
Then your owne weake-hindg'd Fancy) something sauors
Of Tyrannie, and will ignoble make you,
Yea, scandalous to the World.

Leo.
On your Allegeance,
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.

Paul.
I pray you doe not push me, Ile be gone.
Looke to your Babe (my Lord) 'tis yours: Ioue send her
A better guiding Spirit. What needs these hands?
You that are thus so tender o're his Follyes,
Will neuer doe him good, not one of you.
So, so: Farewell, we are gone.
Exit.

Leo.
Thou (Traytor) hast set on thy Wife to this.
My Child? away with't? euen thou, that hast
A heart so tender o're it, take it hence,
And see it instantly consum'd with fire.
Euen thou, and none but thou. Take it vp straight:
Within this houre bring me word 'tis done,
(And by good testimonie) or Ile seize thy life,
With what thou else call'st thine: if thou refuse,
And wilt encounter with my Wrath, say so;
The Bastard-braynes with these my proper hands
Shall I dash out. Goe, take it to the fire,
For thou sett'st on thy Wife.

Antig.
I did not, Sir:
These Lords, my Noble Fellowes, if they please,
Can cleare me in't.

Lords.
We can: my Royall Liege,
He is not guiltie of her comming hither.

Leo.
You're lyers all.

Lord.
Beseech your Highnesse, giue vs better credit:
We haue alwayes truly seru'd you, and beseech'
So to esteeme of vs: and on our knees we begge,
(As recompence of our deare seruices
Past, and to come) that you doe change this purpose,
Which being so horrible, so bloody, must
Lead on to some foule Issue. We all kneele.

Leo.
I am a Feather for each Wind that blows:
Shall I liue on, to see this Bastard kneele,
And call me Father? better burne it now,
Then curse it then. But be it: let it liue.
It shall not neyther. You Sir, come you hither:
You that haue beene so tenderly officious
With Lady Margerie, your Mid-wife there,
To saue this Bastards life; for 'tis a Bastard,
So sure as this Beard's gray. What will you aduenture,
To saue this Brats life?

Antig.
Any thing (my Lord)
That my abilitie may vndergoe,
And Noblenesse impose: at least thus much;
Ile pawne the little blood which I haue left,
To saue the Innocent: any thing possible.

Leo.
It shall be possible: Sweare by this Sword
Thou wilt performe my bidding.

Antig.
I will (my Lord.)

Leo.
Marke, and performe it: seest thou? for the faile
Of any point in't, shall not onely be
Death to thy selfe, but to thy lewd-tongu'd Wife,
(Whom for this time we pardon) We enioyne thee,
As thou art Liege-man to vs, that thou carry
This female Bastard hence, and that thou beare it
To some remote and desart place, quite out
Of our Dominions; and that there thou leaue it
(Without more mercy) to it owne protection,
And fauour of the Climate: as by strange fortune
It came to vs, I doe in Iustice charge thee,
On thy Soules perill, and thy Bodyes torture,
That thou commend it strangely to some place,
Where Chance may nurse, or end it: take it vp.

Antig.
I sweare to doe this: though a present death
Had beene more mercifull. Come on (poore Babe)
Some powerfull Spirit instruct the Kytes and Rauens
To be thy Nurses. Wolues and Beares, they say,
(Casting their sauagenesse aside) haue done
Like offices of Pitty. Sir, be prosperous
In more then this deed do's require; and Blessing
Against this Crueltie, fight on thy side
(Poore Thing, condemn'd to losse.)
Exit.

Leo.
No: Ile not reare
Anothers Issue.
Enter a Seruant.

Seru.
Please' your Highnesse, Posts
From those you sent to th' Oracle, are come
An houre since: Cleomines and Dion,
Being well arriu'd from Delphos, are both landed,
Hasting to th' Court.

Lord.
So please you (Sir) their speed
Hath beene beyond accompt.

Leo.
Twentie three dayes
They haue beene absent: 'tis good speed: fore-tells
The great Apollo suddenly will haue
The truth of this appeare: Prepare you Lords,
Summon a Session, that we may arraigne
Our most disloyall Lady: for as she hath
Been publikely accus'd, so shall she haue
A iust and open Triall. While she liues,
My heart will be a burthen to me. Leaue me,
And thinke vpon my bidding.
Exeunt.
Modern text
Act II, Scene I
Enter Hermione, Mamillius, and Ladies

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

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

MAMILLIUS
No, I'll none of you.

FIRST LADY
Why, my sweet lord?

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

SECOND LADY
And why so, my lord?

MAMILLIUS
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.

SECOND LADY
Who taught this?

MAMILLIUS
I learned it out of women's faces. Pray now,
What colour are your eyebrows?

FIRST LADY
Blue, my lord.

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

FIRST LADY
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.

SECOND LADY
She is spread of late
Into a goodly bulk. Good time encounter her!

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

MAMILLIUS
Merry or sad shall't be?

HERMIONE
As merry as you will.

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

HERMIONE
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.

MAMILLIUS
There was a man –

HERMIONE
Nay, come sit down; then on.

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

HERMIONE
Come on, then,
And give't me in mine ear.
Enter Leontes, Antigonus, and Lords

LEONTES
Was he met there? His train? Camillo with him?

LORD
Behind the tuft of pines I met them. Never
Saw I men scour so on their way. I eyed them
Even to their ships.

LEONTES
How blest am I
In my just censure, in my true opinion!
Alack, for lesser knowledge! How accursed
In being so blest! There may be in the cup
A spider steeped, and one may drink, depart,
And yet partake no venom, for his knowledge
Is not infected: but if one present
Th' abhorred 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 employed was pre-employed by him.
He has discovered my design, and I
Remain a pinched thing; yea, a very trick
For them to play at will. How came the posterns
So easily open?

LORD
By his great authority;
Which often hath no less prevailed than so
On your command.

LEONTES
I know't too well.
(To Hermione) 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.

HERMIONE
What is this? Sport?

LEONTES
Bear the boy hence; he shall not come about her.
Away with him, and let her sport herself
With that she's big with: for 'tis Polixenes
Has made thee swell thus.
Mamillius is led out

HERMIONE
But I'd say he had not,
And I'll be sworn you would believe my saying,
Howe'er you lean to th' nayward.

LEONTES
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't known,
From him that has most cause to grieve it should be,
She's an adult'ress.

HERMIONE
Should a villain say so,
The most replenished villain in the world,
He were as much more villain. You, my lord,
Do but mistake.

LEONTES
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 adult'ress; 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 bold'st titles; ay, and privy
To this their late escape.

HERMIONE
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 published me! Gentle my lord,
You scarce can right me throughly then to say
You did mistake.

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

HERMIONE
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 lodged 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 performed!

LEONTES
Shall I be heard?

HERMIONE
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 deserved 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 wished to see you sorry: now
I trust I shall. My women, come, you have leave.

LEONTES
Go, do our bidding: hence!
Exeunt Hermione, guarded, and Ladies

LORD
Beseech your highness, call the Queen again.

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

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

ANTIGONUS
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 farther trust her:
For every inch of woman in the world,
Ay, every dram of woman's flesh is false,
If she be.

LEONTES
Hold your peaces.

LORD
Good my lord –

ANTIGONUS
It is for you we speak, not for ourselves.
You are abused, and by some putter-on
That will be damned for't. Would I knew the villain!
I would lam-damn him. Be she honour-flawed,
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.

LEONTES
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.

ANTIGONUS
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.

LEONTES
What? Lack I credit?

LORD
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 blamed for't how you might.

LEONTES
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 stupefied
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 ordering on't, is all
Properly ours.

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

LEONTES
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 touched conjecture
That lacked sight only, naught 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 dispatched in post
To sacred Delphos, to Apollo's temple,
Cleomenes and Dion, whom you know
Of stuffed sufficiency. Now from the oracle
They will bring all; whose spiritual counsel, had,
Shall stop or spur me. Have I done well?

LORD
Well done, my lord.

LEONTES
Though I am satisfied, and need no more
Than what I know, yet shall the oracle
Give rest to th' 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 confined,
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.

ANTIGONUS
(aside)
To laughter, as I take it,
If the good truth were known.
Exeunt
Modern text
Act II, Scene II
Enter Paulina, a Gentleman, and Attendants

PAULINA
The keeper of the prison, call to him.
Let him have knowledge who I am.
Exit Gentleman
Good lady,
No court in Europe is too good for thee:
What dost thou then in prison?
Enter Gentleman with the Gaoler
Now, good sir,
You know me, do you not?

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

PAULINA
Pray you, then,
Conduct me to the Queen.

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

PAULINA
Here's ado
To lock up honesty and honour from
Th' access of gentle visitors! Is't lawful, pray you,
To see her women? Any of them? Emilia?

GAOLER
So please you, madam,
To put apart these your attendants, I
Shall bring Emilia forth.

PAULINA
I pray now, call her.
Withdraw yourselves.
Exeunt Gentleman and Attendants

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

PAULINA
Well, be't so, prithee.
Exit Gaoler
Here's such ado to make no stain a stain
As passes colouring.
Enter Gaoler with Emilia
Dear gentlewoman,
How fares our gracious lady?

EMILIA
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 delivered.

PAULINA
A boy?

EMILIA
A daughter, and a goodly babe,
Lusty, and like to live. The Queen receives
Much comfort in't; says, ‘ My poor prisoner,
I am innocent as you.’

PAULINA
I dare be sworn.
These dangerous, unsafe lunes i'th' 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-mouthed, let my tongue blister,
And never to my red-looked 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'th' child:
The silence often of pure innocence
Persuades when speaking fails.

EMILIA
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 today hammered of this design,
But durst not tempt a minister of honour
Lest she should be denied.

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

EMILIA
Now be you blest for it!
I'll to the Queen. Please you come something nearer.

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

PAULINA
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 enfranchised; not a party to
The anger of the King, nor guilty of,
If any be, the trespass of the Queen.

GAOLER
I do believe it.

PAULINA
Do not you fear. Upon mine honour, I
Will stand betwixt you and danger.
Exeunt
Modern text
Act II, Scene III
Enter Leontes

LEONTES
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'th' cause,
She, th' adult'ress: 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?
Enter Servant

SERVANT
My lord?

LEONTES
How does the boy?

SERVANT
He took good rest tonight.
'Tis hoped his sickness is discharged.

LEONTES
To see his nobleness!
Conceiving the dishonour of his mother,
He straight declined, drooped, took it deeply,
Fastened and fixed the shame on't in himself;
Threw off his spirit, his appetite, his sleep,
And downright languished. Leave me solely. Go,
See how he fares.
Exit Servant
Fie, fie, no thought of him!
The 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, carrying a baby, followed by Antigonus,
Lords, and the Servant, who try to prevent her

LORD
You must not enter.

PAULINA
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.

ANTIGONUS
That's enough.

SERVANT
Madam, he hath not slept tonight, commanded
None should come at him.

PAULINA
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.

LEONTES
What noise there, ho?

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

LEONTES
How?
Away with that audacious lady! Antigonus,
I charged thee that she should not come about me.
I knew she would.

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

LEONTES
What? Canst not rule her?

PAULINA
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.

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

PAULINA
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.

LEONTES
Good queen?

PAULINA
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.

LEONTES
Force her hence.

PAULINA
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.
She lays down the child

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

PAULINA
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.

LEONTES
Traitors!
Will you not push her out? Give her the bastard.
(To Antigonus) Thou dotard, thou art woman-tired, unroosted
By thy Dame Partlet here. Take up the bastard!
Take't up, I say! Give't to thy crone.

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

LEONTES
He dreads his wife.

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

LEONTES
A nest of traitors!

ANTIGONUS
I am none, by this good light!

PAULINA
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 compelled to't – once remove
The root of his opinion, which is rotten
As ever oak or stone was sound.

LEONTES
A callet
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!

PAULINA
It is yours;
And, might we lay th' 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's 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!

LEONTES
A gross hag!
And, losel, thou art worthy to be hanged,
That wilt not stay her tongue.

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

LEONTES
Once more, take her hence.

PAULINA
A most unworthy and unnatural lord
Can do no more.

LEONTES
I'll ha' thee burned.

PAULINA
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-hinged fancy – something savours
Of tyranny, and will ignoble make you,
Yea, scandalous to the world.

LEONTES
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!
They slowly push her towards the door

PAULINA
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.
Exit

LEONTES
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 consumed 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 what 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.

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

LORDS
We can. My royal liege,
He is not guilty of her coming hither.

LEONTES
You're liars all.

LORD
Beseech your highness, give us better credit.
We have always truly served 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.

LEONTES
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?

ANTIGONUS
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.

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

ANTIGONUS
(his hand upon the hilt)
I will, my lord.

LEONTES
Mark and perform it, see'st thou? For the fail
Of any point in't shall not only be
Death to thyself, but to thy lewd-tongued 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 its 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.

ANTIGONUS
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, condemned to loss!
Exit with the child

LEONTES
No, I'll not rear
Another's issue.
Enter a Servant

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

LORD
So please you, sir, their speed
Hath been beyond accompt.

LEONTES
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 accused, 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.
Exeunt
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