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Home > Winter's Tale > ACT I - SCENE II. A room of state in the same.

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ACT I - SCENE II. A room of state in the same.
POLIXENES
1    Nine changes of the watery star hath been
2    The shepherd's note since we have left our throne
3    Without a burthen: time as long again
4    Would be find up, my brother, with our thanks;
5    And yet we should, for perpetuity,
6    Go hence in debt: and therefore, like a cipher,
7    Yet standing in rich place, I multiply
8    With one 'We thank you' many thousands moe
9    That go before it.
LEONTES
10   Stay your thanks a while;
11   And pay them when you part.
POLIXENES
12   Sir, that's to-morrow.
13   I am question'd by my fears, of what may chance
14   Or breed upon our absence; that may blow
15   No sneaping winds at home, to make us say
16   'This is put forth too truly:' besides, I have stay'd
17   To tire your royalty.
LEONTES
18   We are tougher, brother,
19   Than you can put us to't.
POLIXENES
20   No longer stay.
LEONTES
21   One seven-night longer.
POLIXENES
22   Very sooth, to-morrow.
LEONTES
23   We'll part the time between's then; and in that
24   I'll no gainsaying.
POLIXENES
25   Press me not, beseech you, so.
26   There is no tongue that moves, none, none i' the world,
27   So soon as yours could win me: so it should now,
28   Were there necessity in your request, although
29   'Twere needful I denied it. My affairs
30   Do even drag me homeward: which to hinder
31   Were in your love a whip to me; my stay
32   To you a charge and trouble: to save both,
33   Farewell, our brother.
LEONTES
34   Tongue-tied, our queen?
35   speak you.
HERMIONE
36   I had thought, sir, to have held my peace until
37   You have drawn oaths from him not to stay. You, sir,
38   Charge him too coldly. Tell him, you are sure
39   All in Bohemia's well; this satisfaction
40   The by-gone day proclaim'd: say this to him,
41   He's beat from his best ward.
LEONTES
42   Well said, Hermione.
HERMIONE
43   To tell, he longs to see his son, were strong:
44   But let him say so then, and let him go;
45   But let him swear so, and he shall not stay,
46   We'll thwack him hence with distaffs.
47   Yet of your royal presence I'll adventure
48   The borrow of a week. When at Bohemia
49   You take my lord, I'll give him my commission
50   To let him there a month behind the gest
51   Prefix'd for's parting: yet, good deed, Leontes,
52   I love thee not a jar o' the clock behind
53   What lady-she her lord. You'll stay?
POLIXENES
54   No, madam.
HERMIONE
55   Nay, but you will?
POLIXENES
56   I may not, verily.
HERMIONE
57   Verily!
58   You put me off with limber vows; but I,
59   Though you would seek to unsphere the
60   stars with oaths,
61   Should yet say 'Sir, no going.' Verily,
62   You shall not go: a lady's 'Verily' 's
63   As potent as a lord's. Will you go yet?
64   Force me to keep you as a prisoner,
65   Not like a guest; so you shall pay your fees
66   When you depart, and save your thanks. How say you?
67   My prisoner? or my guest? by your dread 'Verily,'
68   One of them you shall be.
POLIXENES
69   Your guest, then, madam:
70   To be your prisoner should import offending;
71   Which is for me less easy to commit
72   Than you to punish.
HERMIONE
73   Not your gaoler, then,
74   But your kind hostess. Come, I'll question you
75   Of my lord's tricks and yours when you were boys:
76   You were pretty lordings then?
POLIXENES
77   We were, fair queen,
78   Two lads that thought there was no more behind
79   But such a day to-morrow as to-day,
80   And to be boy eternal.
HERMIONE
81   Was not my lord
82   The verier wag o' the two?
POLIXENES
83   We were as twinn'd lambs that did frisk i' the sun,
84   And bleat the one at the other: what we changed
85   Was innocence for innocence; we knew not
86   The doctrine of ill-doing, nor dream'd
87   That any did. Had we pursued that life,
88   And our weak spirits ne'er been higher rear'd
89   With stronger blood, we should have answer'd heaven
90   Boldly 'not guilty;' the imposition clear'd
91   Hereditary ours.
HERMIONE
92   By this we gather
93   You have tripp'd since.
POLIXENES
94   O my most sacred lady!
95   Temptations have since then been born to's; for
96   In those unfledged days was my wife a girl;
97   Your precious self had then not cross'd the eyes
98   Of my young play-fellow.
HERMIONE
99   Grace to boot!
100  Of this make no conclusion, lest you say
101  Your queen and I are devils: yet go on;
102  The offences we have made you do we'll answer,
103  If you first sinn'd with us and that with us
104  You did continue fault and that you slipp'd not
105  With any but with us.
LEONTES
106  Is he won yet?
HERMIONE
107  He'll stay my lord.
LEONTES
108  At my request he would not.
109  Hermione, my dearest, thou never spokest
110  To better purpose.
HERMIONE
111  Never?
LEONTES
112  Never, but once.
HERMIONE
113  What! have I twice said well? when was't before?
114  I prithee tell me; cram's with praise, and make's
115  As fat as tame things: one good deed dying tongueless
116  Slaughters a thousand waiting upon that.
117  Our praises are our wages: you may ride's
118  With one soft kiss a thousand furlongs ere
119  With spur we beat an acre. But to the goal:
120  My last good deed was to entreat his stay:
121  What was my first? it has an elder sister,
122  Or I mistake you: O, would her name were Grace!
123  But once before I spoke to the purpose: when?
124  Nay, let me have't; I long.
LEONTES
125  Why, that was when
126  Three crabbed months had sour'd themselves to death,
127  Ere I could make thee open thy white hand
128  And clap thyself my love: then didst thou utter
129  'I am yours for ever.'
HERMIONE
130  'Tis grace indeed.
131  Why, lo you now, I have spoke to the purpose twice:
132  The one for ever earn'd a royal husband;
133  The other for some while a friend.
LEONTES
Aside
134   Too hot, too hot!
135  To mingle friendship far is mingling bloods.
136  I have tremor cordis on me: my heart dances;
137  But not for joy; not joy. This entertainment
138  May a free face put on, derive a liberty
139  From heartiness, from bounty, fertile bosom,
140  And well become the agent; 't may, I grant;
141  But to be paddling palms and pinching fingers,
142  As now they are, and making practised smiles,
143  As in a looking-glass, and then to sigh, as 'twere
144  The mort o' the deer; O, that is entertainment
145  My bosom likes not, nor my brows! Mamillius,
146  Art thou my boy?
MAMILLIUS
147  Ay, my good lord.
LEONTES
148  I' fecks!
149  Why, that's my bawcock. What, hast
150  smutch'd thy nose?
151  They say it is a copy out of mine. Come, captain,
152  We must be neat; not neat, but cleanly, captain:
153  And yet the steer, the heifer and the calf
154  Are all call'd neat.--Still virginalling
155  Upon his palm!--How now, you wanton calf!
156  Art thou my calf?
MAMILLIUS
157  Yes, if you will, my lord.
LEONTES
158  Thou want'st a rough pash and the shoots that I have,
159  To be full like me: yet they say we are
160  Almost as like as eggs; women say so,
161  That will say anything but were they false
162  As o'er-dyed blacks, as wind, as waters, false
163  As dice are to be wish'd by one that fixes
164  No bourn 'twixt his and mine, yet were it true
165  To say this boy were like me. Come, sir page,
166  Look on me with your welkin eye: sweet villain!
167  Most dear'st! my collop! Can thy dam?--may't be?--
168  Affection! thy intention stabs the centre:
169  Thou dost make possible things not so held,
170  Communicatest with dreams;--how can this be?--
171  With what's unreal thou coactive art,
172  And fellow'st nothing: then 'tis very credent
173  Thou mayst co-join with something; and thou dost,
174  And that beyond commission, and I find it,
175  And that to the infection of my brains
176  And hardening of my brows.
POLIXENES
177  What means Sicilia?
HERMIONE
178  He something seems unsettled.
POLIXENES
179  How, my lord!
180  What cheer? how is't with you, best brother?
HERMIONE
181  You look as if you held a brow of much distraction
182  Are you moved, my lord?
LEONTES
183  No, in good earnest.
184  How sometimes nature will betray its folly,
185  Its tenderness, and make itself a pastime
186  To harder bosoms! Looking on the lines
187  Of my boy's face, methoughts I did recoil
188  Twenty-three years, and saw myself unbreech'd,
189  In my green velvet coat, my dagger muzzled,
190  Lest it should bite its master, and so prove,
191  As ornaments oft do, too dangerous:
192  How like, methought, I then was to this kernel,
193  This squash, this gentleman. Mine honest friend,
194  Will you take eggs for money?
MAMILLIUS
195  No, my lord, I'll fight.
LEONTES
196  You will! why, happy man be's dole! My brother,
197  Are you so fond of your young prince as we
198  Do seem to be of ours?
POLIXENES
199  If at home, sir,
200  He's all my exercise, my mirth, my matter,
201  Now my sworn friend and then mine enemy,
202  My parasite, my soldier, statesman, all:
203  He makes a July's day short as December,
204  And with his varying childness cures in me
205  Thoughts that would thick my blood.
LEONTES
206  So stands this squire
207  Officed with me: we two will walk, my lord,
208  And leave you to your graver steps. Hermione,
209  How thou lovest us, show in our brother's welcome;
210  Let what is dear in Sicily be cheap:
211  Next to thyself and my young rover, he's
212  Apparent to my heart.
HERMIONE
213  If you would seek us,
214  We are yours i' the garden: shall's attend you there?
LEONTES
215  To your own bents dispose you: you'll be found,
216  Be you beneath the sky.
Aside
217  I am angling now,
218  Though you perceive me not how I give line.
219  Go to, go to!
220  How she holds up the neb, the bill to him!
221  And arms her with the boldness of a wife
222  To her allowing husband!
Exeunt POLIXENES, HERMIONE, and Attendants
223  Gone already!
224  Inch-thick, knee-deep, o'er head and
225  ears a fork'd one!
226  Go, play, boy, play: thy mother plays, and I
227  Play too, but so disgraced a part, whose issue
228  Will hiss me to my grave: contempt and clamour
229  Will be my knell. Go, play, boy, play.
230  There have been,
231  Or I am much deceived, cuckolds ere now;
232  And many a man there is, even at this present,
233  Now while I speak this, holds his wife by the arm,
234  That little thinks she has been sluiced in's absence
235  And his pond fish'd by his next neighbour, by
236  Sir Smile, his neighbour: nay, there's comfort in't
237  Whiles other men have gates and those gates open'd,
238  As mine, against their will. Should all despair
239  That have revolted wives, the tenth of mankind
240  Would hang themselves. Physic for't there is none;
241  It is a bawdy planet, that will strike
242  Where 'tis predominant; and 'tis powerful, think it,
243  From east, west, north and south: be it concluded,
244  No barricado for a belly; know't;
245  It will let in and out the enemy
246  With bag and baggage: many thousand on's
247  Have the disease, and feel't not. How now, boy!
MAMILLIUS
248  I am like you, they say.
LEONTES
249  Why that's some comfort. What, Camillo there?
CAMILLO
250  Ay, my good lord.
LEONTES
251  Go play, Mamillius; thou'rt an honest man.
Exit MAMILLIUS
252  Camillo, this great sir will yet stay longer.
CAMILLO
253  You had much ado to make his anchor hold:
254  When you cast out, it still came home.
LEONTES
255  Didst note it?
CAMILLO
256  He would not stay at your petitions: made
257  His business more material.
LEONTES
258  Didst perceive it?
Aside
259  They're here with me already, whispering, rounding
260  'Sicilia is a so-forth:' 'tis far gone,
261  When I shall gust it last. How came't, Camillo,
262  That he did stay?
CAMILLO
263  At the good queen's entreaty.
LEONTES
264  At the queen's be't: 'good' should be pertinent
265  But, so it is, it is not. Was this taken
266  By any understanding pate but thine?
267  For thy conceit is soaking, will draw in
268  More than the common blocks: not noted, is't,
269  But of the finer natures? by some severals
270  Of head-piece extraordinary? lower messes
271  Perchance are to this business purblind? say.
CAMILLO
272  Business, my lord! I think most understand
273  Bohemia stays here longer.
LEONTES
274  Ha!
CAMILLO
275  Stays here longer.
LEONTES
276  Ay, but why?
CAMILLO
277  To satisfy your highness and the entreaties
278  Of our most gracious mistress.
LEONTES
279  Satisfy!
280  The entreaties of your mistress! satisfy!
281  Let that suffice. I have trusted thee, Camillo,
282  With all the nearest things to my heart, as well
283  My chamber-councils, wherein, priest-like, thou
284  Hast cleansed my bosom, I from thee departed
285  Thy penitent reform'd: but we have been
286  Deceived in thy integrity, deceived
287  In that which seems so.
CAMILLO
288  Be it forbid, my lord!
LEONTES
289  To bide upon't, thou art not honest, or,
290  If thou inclinest that way, thou art a coward,
291  Which hoxes honesty behind, restraining
292  From course required; or else thou must be counted
293  A servant grafted in my serious trust
294  And therein negligent; or else a fool
295  That seest a game play'd home, the rich stake drawn,
296  And takest it all for jest.
CAMILLO
297  My gracious lord,
298  I may be negligent, foolish and fearful;
299  In every one of these no man is free,
300  But that his negligence, his folly, fear,
301  Among the infinite doings of the world,
302  Sometime puts forth. In your affairs, my lord,
303  If ever I were wilful-negligent,
304  It was my folly; if industriously
305  I play'd the fool, it was my negligence,
306  Not weighing well the end; if ever fearful
307  To do a thing, where I the issue doubted,
308  Where of the execution did cry out
309  Against the non-performance, 'twas a fear
310  Which oft infects the wisest: these, my lord,
311  Are such allow'd infirmities that honesty
312  Is never free of. But, beseech your grace,
313  Be plainer with me; let me know my trespass
314  By its own visage: if I then deny it,
315  'Tis none of mine.
LEONTES
316  Ha' not you seen, Camillo,--
317  But that's past doubt, you have, or your eye-glass
318  Is thicker than a cuckold's horn,--or heard,--
319  For to a vision so apparent rumour
320  Cannot be mute,--or thought,--for cogitation
321  Resides not in that man that does not think,--
322  My wife is slippery? If thou wilt confess,
323  Or else be impudently negative,
324  To have nor eyes nor ears nor thought, then say
325  My wife's a hobby-horse, deserves a name
326  As rank as any flax-wench that puts to
327  Before her troth-plight: say't and justify't.
CAMILLO
328  I would not be a stander-by to hear
329  My sovereign mistress clouded so, without
330  My present vengeance taken: 'shrew my heart,
331  You never spoke what did become you less
332  Than this; which to reiterate were sin
333  As deep as that, though true.
LEONTES
334  Is whispering nothing?
335  Is leaning cheek to cheek? is meeting noses?
336  Kissing with inside lip? stopping the career
337  Of laughing with a sigh?--a note infallible
338  Of breaking honesty--horsing foot on foot?
339  Skulking in corners? wishing clocks more swift?
340  Hours, minutes? noon, midnight? and all eyes
341  Blind with the pin and web but theirs, theirs only,
342  That would unseen be wicked? is this nothing?
343  Why, then the world and all that's in't is nothing;
344  The covering sky is nothing; Bohemia nothing;
345  My wife is nothing; nor nothing have these nothings,
346  If this be nothing.
CAMILLO
347  Good my lord, be cured
348  Of this diseased opinion, and betimes;
349  For 'tis most dangerous.
LEONTES
350  Say it be, 'tis true.
CAMILLO
351  No, no, my lord.
LEONTES
352  It is; you lie, you lie:
353  I say thou liest, Camillo, and I hate thee,
354  Pronounce thee a gross lout, a mindless slave,
355  Or else a hovering temporizer, that
356  Canst with thine eyes at once see good and evil,
357  Inclining to them both: were my wife's liver
358  Infected as her life, she would not live
359  The running of one glass.
CAMILLO
360  Who does infect her?
LEONTES
361  Why, he that wears her like a medal, hanging
362  About his neck, Bohemia: who, if I
363  Had servants true about me, that bare eyes
364  To see alike mine honour as their profits,
365  Their own particular thrifts, they would do that
366  Which should undo more doing: ay, and thou,
367  His cupbearer,--whom I from meaner form
368  Have benched and reared to worship, who mayst see
369  Plainly as heaven sees earth and earth sees heaven,
370  How I am galled,--mightst bespice a cup,
371  To give mine enemy a lasting wink;
372  Which draught to me were cordial.
CAMILLO
373  Sir, my lord,
374  I could do this, and that with no rash potion,
375  But with a lingering dram that should not work
376  Maliciously like poison: but I cannot
377  Believe this crack to be in my dread mistress,
378  So sovereignly being honourable.
379  I have loved thee,--
LEONTES
380  Make that thy question, and go rot!
381  Dost think I am so muddy, so unsettled,
382  To appoint myself in this vexation, sully
383  The purity and whiteness of my sheets,
384  Which to preserve is sleep, which being spotted
385  Is goads, thorns, nettles, tails of wasps,
386  Give scandal to the blood o' the prince my son,
387  Who I do think is mine and love as mine,
388  Without ripe moving to't? Would I do this?
389  Could man so blench?
CAMILLO
390  I must believe you, sir:
391  I do; and will fetch off Bohemia for't;
392  Provided that, when he's removed, your highness
393  Will take again your queen as yours at first,
394  Even for your son's sake; and thereby for sealing
395  The injury of tongues in courts and kingdoms
396  Known and allied to yours.
LEONTES
397  Thou dost advise me
398  Even so as I mine own course have set down:
399  I'll give no blemish to her honour, none.
CAMILLO
400  My lord,
401  Go then; and with a countenance as clear
402  As friendship wears at feasts, keep with Bohemia
403  And with your queen. I am his cupbearer:
404  If from me he have wholesome beverage,
405  Account me not your servant.
LEONTES
406  This is all:
407  Do't and thou hast the one half of my heart;
408  Do't not, thou split'st thine own.
CAMILLO
409  I'll do't, my lord.
LEONTES
410  I will seem friendly, as thou hast advised me.
Exit

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

POLIXENES
425  This is strange: methinks
426  My favour here begins to warp. Not speak?
427  Good day, Camillo.
CAMILLO
428  Hail, most royal sir!
POLIXENES
429  What is the news i' the court?
CAMILLO
430  None rare, my lord.
POLIXENES
431  The king hath on him such a countenance
432  As he had lost some province and a region
433  Loved as he loves himself: even now I met him
434  With customary compliment; when he,
435  Wafting his eyes to the contrary and falling
436  A lip of much contempt, speeds from me and
437  So leaves me to consider what is breeding
438  That changeth thus his manners.
CAMILLO
439  I dare not know, my lord.
POLIXENES
440  How! dare not! do not. Do you know, and dare not?
441  Be intelligent to me: 'tis thereabouts;
442  For, to yourself, what you do know, you must.
443  And cannot say, you dare not. Good Camillo,
444  Your changed complexions are to me a mirror
445  Which shows me mine changed too; for I must be
446  A party in this alteration, finding
447  Myself thus alter'd with 't.
CAMILLO
448  There is a sickness
449  Which puts some of us in distemper, but
450  I cannot name the disease; and it is caught
451  Of you that yet are well.
POLIXENES
452  How! caught of me!
453  Make me not sighted like the basilisk:
454  I have look'd on thousands, who have sped the better
455  By my regard, but kill'd none so. Camillo,--
456  As you are certainly a gentleman, thereto
457  Clerk-like experienced, which no less adorns
458  Our gentry than our parents' noble names,
459  In whose success we are gentle,--I beseech you,
460  If you know aught which does behove my knowledge
461  Thereof to be inform'd, imprison't not
462  In ignorant concealment.
CAMILLO
463  I may not answer.
POLIXENES
464  A sickness caught of me, and yet I well!
465  I must be answer'd. Dost thou hear, Camillo,
466  I conjure thee, by all the parts of man
467  Which honour does acknowledge, whereof the least
468  Is not this suit of mine, that thou declare
469  What incidency thou dost guess of harm
470  Is creeping toward me; how far off, how near;
471  Which way to be prevented, if to be;
472  If not, how best to bear it.
CAMILLO
473  Sir, I will tell you;
474  Since I am charged in honour and by him
475  That I think honourable: therefore mark my counsel,
476  Which must be even as swiftly follow'd as
477  I mean to utter it, or both yourself and me
478  Cry lost, and so good night!
POLIXENES
479  On, good Camillo.
CAMILLO
480  I am appointed him to murder you.
POLIXENES
481  By whom, Camillo?
CAMILLO
482  By the king.
POLIXENES
483  For what?
CAMILLO
484  He thinks, nay, with all confidence he swears,
485  As he had seen't or been an instrument
486  To vice you to't, that you have touch'd his queen
487  Forbiddenly.
POLIXENES
488  O, then my best blood turn
489  To an infected jelly and my name
490  Be yoked with his that did betray the Best!
491  Turn then my freshest reputation to
492  A savour that may strike the dullest nostril
493  Where I arrive, and my approach be shunn'd,
494  Nay, hated too, worse than the great'st infection
495  That e'er was heard or read!
CAMILLO
496  Swear his thought over
497  By each particular star in heaven and
498  By all their influences, you may as well
499  Forbid the sea for to obey the moon
500  As or by oath remove or counsel shake
501  The fabric of his folly, whose foundation
502  Is piled upon his faith and will continue
503  The standing of his body.
POLIXENES
504  How should this grow?
CAMILLO
505  I know not: but I am sure 'tis safer to
506  Avoid what's grown than question how 'tis born.
507  If therefore you dare trust my honesty,
508  That lies enclosed in this trunk which you
509  Shall bear along impawn'd, away to-night!
510  Your followers I will whisper to the business,
511  And will by twos and threes at several posterns
512  Clear them o' the city. For myself, I'll put
513  My fortunes to your service, which are here
514  By this discovery lost. Be not uncertain;
515  For, by the honour of my parents, I
516  Have utter'd truth: which if you seek to prove,
517  I dare not stand by; nor shall you be safer
518  Than one condemn'd by the king's own mouth, thereon
519  His execution sworn.
POLIXENES
520  I do believe thee:
521  I saw his heart in 's face. Give me thy hand:
522  Be pilot to me and thy places shall
523  Still neighbour mine. My ships are ready and
524  My people did expect my hence departure
525  Two days ago. This jealousy
526  Is for a precious creature: as she's rare,
527  Must it be great, and as his person's mighty,
528  Must it be violent, and as he does conceive
529  He is dishonour'd by a man which ever
530  Profess'd to him, why, his revenges must
531  In that be made more bitter. Fear o'ershades me:
532  Good expedition be my friend, and comfort
533  The gracious queen, part of his theme, but nothing
534  Of his ill-ta'en suspicion! Come, Camillo;
535  I will respect thee as a father if
536  Thou bear'st my life off hence: let us avoid.
CAMILLO
537  It is in mine authority to command
538  The keys of all the posterns: please your highness
539  To take the urgent hour. Come, sir, away.
Exeunt

< (Previous) ACT I, SCENE IACT II, SCENE I (Next) >
Scene Index
ACT I
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II


  • ACT II
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III


  • ACT III
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III


  • ACT IV
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • SCENE IV


  • ACT V
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III

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