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Home > Winter's Tale > ACT II - SCENE III. A room in LEONTES' palace.

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ACT II - SCENE III. A room in LEONTES' palace.
Enter LEONTES, ANTIGONUS, Lords, and Servants

1    Nor night nor day no rest: it is but weakness
2    To bear the matter thus; mere weakness. If
3    The cause were not in being,--part o' the cause,
4    She the adulteress; for the harlot king
5    Is quite beyond mine arm, out of the blank
6    And level of my brain, plot-proof; but she
7    I can hook to me: say that she were gone,
8    Given to the fire, a moiety of my rest
9    Might come to me again. Who's there?
First Servant
10   My lord?
11   How does the boy?
First Servant
12   He took good rest to-night;
13   'Tis hoped his sickness is discharged.
14   To see his nobleness!
15   Conceiving the dishonour of his mother,
16   He straight declined, droop'd, took it deeply,
17   Fasten'd and fix'd the shame on't in himself,
18   Threw off his spirit, his appetite, his sleep,
19   And downright languish'd. Leave me solely: go,
20   See how he fares.
Exit Servant
21   Fie, fie! no thought of him:
22   The thought of my revenges that way
23   Recoil upon me: in himself too mighty,
24   And in his parties, his alliance; let him be
25   Until a time may serve: for present vengeance,
26   Take it on her. Camillo and Polixenes
27   Laugh at me, make their pastime at my sorrow:
28   They should not laugh if I could reach them, nor
29   Shall she within my power.
Enter PAULINA, with a child

First Lord
30   You must not enter.
31   Nay, rather, good my lords, be second to me:
32   Fear you his tyrannous passion more, alas,
33   Than the queen's life? a gracious innocent soul,
34   More free than he is jealous.
35   That's enough.
Second Servant
36   Madam, he hath not slept tonight; commanded
37   None should come at him.
38   Not so hot, good sir:
39   I come to bring him sleep. 'Tis such as you,
40   That creep like shadows by him and do sigh
41   At each his needless heavings, such as you
42   Nourish the cause of his awaking: I
43   Do come with words as medicinal as true,
44   Honest as either, to purge him of that humour
45   That presses him from sleep.
46   What noise there, ho?
47   No noise, my lord; but needful conference
48   About some gossips for your highness.
49   How!
50   Away with that audacious lady! Antigonus,
51   I charged thee that she should not come about me:
52   I knew she would.
53   I told her so, my lord,
54   On your displeasure's peril and on mine,
55   She should not visit you.
56   What, canst not rule her?
57   From all dishonesty he can: in this,
58   Unless he take the course that you have done,
59   Commit me for committing honour, trust it,
60   He shall not rule me.
61   La you now, you hear:
62   When she will take the rein I let her run;
63   But she'll not stumble.
64   Good my liege, I come;
65   And, I beseech you, hear me, who profess
66   Myself your loyal servant, your physician,
67   Your most obedient counsellor, yet that dare
68   Less appear so in comforting your evils,
69   Than such as most seem yours: I say, I come
70   From your good queen.
71   Good queen!
72   Good queen, my lord,
73   Good queen; I say good queen;
74   And would by combat make her good, so were I
75   A man, the worst about you.
76   Force her hence.
77   Let him that makes but trifles of his eyes
78   First hand me: on mine own accord I'll off;
79   But first I'll do my errand. The good queen,
80   For she is good, hath brought you forth a daughter;
81   Here 'tis; commends it to your blessing.
Laying down the child

82   Out!
83   A mankind witch! Hence with her, out o' door:
84   A most intelligencing bawd!
85   Not so:
86   I am as ignorant in that as you
87   In so entitling me, and no less honest
88   Than you are mad; which is enough, I'll warrant,
89   As this world goes, to pass for honest.
90   Traitors!
91   Will you not push her out? Give her the bastard.
92   Thou dotard! thou art woman-tired, unroosted
93   By thy dame Partlet here. Take up the bastard;
94   Take't up, I say; give't to thy crone.
95   For ever
96   Unvenerable be thy hands, if thou
97   Takest up the princess by that forced baseness
98   Which he has put upon't!
99   He dreads his wife.
100  So I would you did; then 'twere past all doubt
101  You'ld call your children yours.
102  A nest of traitors!
103  I am none, by this good light.
104  Nor I, nor any
105  But one that's here, and that's himself, for he
106  The sacred honour of himself, his queen's,
107  His hopeful son's, his babe's, betrays to slander,
108  Whose sting is sharper than the sword's;
109  and will not--
110  For, as the case now stands, it is a curse
111  He cannot be compell'd to't--once remove
112  The root of his opinion, which is rotten
113  As ever oak or stone was sound.
114  A callat
115  Of boundless tongue, who late hath beat her husband
116  And now baits me! This brat is none of mine;
117  It is the issue of Polixenes:
118  Hence with it, and together with the dam
119  Commit them to the fire!
120  It is yours;
121  And, might we lay the old proverb to your charge,
122  So like you, 'tis the worse. Behold, my lords,
123  Although the print be little, the whole matter
124  And copy of the father, eye, nose, lip,
125  The trick of's frown, his forehead, nay, the valley,
126  The pretty dimples of his chin and cheek,
127  His smiles,
128  The very mould and frame of hand, nail, finger:
129  And thou, good goddess Nature, which hast made it
130  So like to him that got it, if thou hast
131  The ordering of the mind too, 'mongst all colours
132  No yellow in't, lest she suspect, as he does,
133  Her children not her husband's!
134  A gross hag
135  And, lozel, thou art worthy to be hang'd,
136  That wilt not stay her tongue.
137  Hang all the husbands
138  That cannot do that feat, you'll leave yourself
139  Hardly one subject.
140  Once more, take her hence.
141  A most unworthy and unnatural lord
142  Can do no more.
143  I'll ha' thee burnt.
144  I care not:
145  It is an heretic that makes the fire,
146  Not she which burns in't. I'll not call you tyrant;
147  But this most cruel usage of your queen,
148  Not able to produce more accusation
149  Than your own weak-hinged fancy, something savours
150  Of tyranny and will ignoble make you,
151  Yea, scandalous to the world.
152  On your allegiance,
153  Out of the chamber with her! Were I a tyrant,
154  Where were her life? she durst not call me so,
155  If she did know me one. Away with her!
156  I pray you, do not push me; I'll be gone.
157  Look to your babe, my lord; 'tis yours:
158  Jove send her
159  A better guiding spirit! What needs these hands?
160  You, that are thus so tender o'er his follies,
161  Will never do him good, not one of you.
162  So, so: farewell; we are gone.

163  Thou, traitor, hast set on thy wife to this.
164  My child? away with't! Even thou, that hast
165  A heart so tender o'er it, take it hence
166  And see it instantly consumed with fire;
167  Even thou and none but thou. Take it up straight:
168  Within this hour bring me word 'tis done,
169  And by good testimony, or I'll seize thy life,
170  With what thou else call'st thine. If thou refuse
171  And wilt encounter with my wrath, say so;
172  The bastard brains with these my proper hands
173  Shall I dash out. Go, take it to the fire;
174  For thou set'st on thy wife.
175  I did not, sir:
176  These lords, my noble fellows, if they please,
177  Can clear me in't.
178  We can: my royal liege,
179  He is not guilty of her coming hither.
180  You're liars all.
First Lord
181  Beseech your highness, give us better credit:
182  We have always truly served you, and beseech you
183  So to esteem of us, and on our knees we beg,
184  As recompense of our dear services
185  Past and to come, that you do change this purpose,
186  Which being so horrible, so bloody, must
187  Lead on to some foul issue: we all kneel.
188  I am a feather for each wind that blows:
189  Shall I live on to see this bastard kneel
190  And call me father? better burn it now
191  Than curse it then. But be it; let it live.
192  It shall not neither. You, sir, come you hither;
193  You that have been so tenderly officious
194  With Lady Margery, your midwife there,
195  To save this bastard's life,--for 'tis a bastard,
196  So sure as this beard's grey,
197  --what will you adventure
198  To save this brat's life?
199  Any thing, my lord,
200  That my ability may undergo
201  And nobleness impose: at least thus much:
202  I'll pawn the little blood which I have left
203  To save the innocent: any thing possible.
204  It shall be possible. Swear by this sword
205  Thou wilt perform my bidding.
206  I will, my lord.
207  Mark and perform it, see'st thou! for the fail
208  Of any point in't shall not only be
209  Death to thyself but to thy lewd-tongued wife,
210  Whom for this time we pardon. We enjoin thee,
211  As thou art liege-man to us, that thou carry
212  This female bastard hence and that thou bear it
213  To some remote and desert place quite out
214  Of our dominions, and that there thou leave it,
215  Without more mercy, to its own protection
216  And favour of the climate. As by strange fortune
217  It came to us, I do in justice charge thee,
218  On thy soul's peril and thy body's torture,
219  That thou commend it strangely to some place
220  Where chance may nurse or end it. Take it up.
221  I swear to do this, though a present death
222  Had been more merciful. Come on, poor babe:
223  Some powerful spirit instruct the kites and ravens
224  To be thy nurses! Wolves and bears, they say
225  Casting their savageness aside have done
226  Like offices of pity. Sir, be prosperous
227  In more than this deed does require! And blessing
228  Against this cruelty fight on thy side,
229  Poor thing, condemn'd to loss!
Exit with the child

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

232  Please your highness, posts
233  From those you sent to the oracle are come
234  An hour since: Cleomenes and Dion,
235  Being well arrived from Delphos, are both landed,
236  Hasting to the court.
First Lord
237  So please you, sir, their speed
238  Hath been beyond account.
239  Twenty-three days
240  They have been absent: 'tis good speed; foretells
241  The great Apollo suddenly will have
242  The truth of this appear. Prepare you, lords;
243  Summon a session, that we may arraign
244  Our most disloyal lady, for, as she hath
245  Been publicly accused, so shall she have
246  A just and open trial. While she lives
247  My heart will be a burthen to me. Leave me,
248  And think upon my bidding.

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Scene Index

  • ACT II


  • ACT IV

  • ACT V

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