Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Hardin Aasand
Peer Reviewed

The Winter's Tale (Folio 1, 1623)


Actus Secundus. Scena Prima.
Enter Hermione, Mamillius, Ladies: Leontes,
585Antigonus, 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?
590Mam. 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?)
595Mam. 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.)
6002. 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
605That 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,
610If 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,
615And 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.
620Her. 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.
625Mam. 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?
630Lord. 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?
635Alack, 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
640Th' 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;
645All'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
650So 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.
655Giue 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,
660Away 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,
665How 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
670'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,
675That 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)
680Shee'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.
685Leo. 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,
690And 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
695What 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.
700Her. 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
705You 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:
710He 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,
715I 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)
720With 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
725My 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,
730Is 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.
735Antig. 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)
740Please 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
745I 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.
750Leo. 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,
755I 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
760To 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
765As 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,
770There'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
775To 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
780Cals 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,
785The 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.
790Leo. 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,
795That 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
800Most 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
805Shall 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
810Whose 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,
815We 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