Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Hardin Aasand
Peer Reviewed

The Winter's Tale (Folio 1, 1623)


Scœna Secunda.
Enter Leontes, Lords, Officers: Hermione (as to her
1175Triall) Ladies: Cleomines, Dion.
Leo. This Sessions (to our great griefe we pronounce)
Euen pushes 'gainst our heart. The partie try'd,
The Daughter of a King, our Wife, and one
Of vs too much belou'd. Let vs be clear'd
1180Of being tyrannous, since we so openly
Proceed in Iustice, which shall haue due course,
Euen to the Guilt, or the Purgation:
Produce the Prisoner.
Officer. It is his Highnesse pleasure, that the Queene
1185Appeare in person, here in Court.
Silence.
Leo. Reade the Indictment.
Officer. Hermione, Queene to the worthy Leontes, King
of Sicilia, thou art here accused and arraigned of High Trea-
son, in committing Adultery with Polixenes King of Bohemia,
1190and conspiring with Camillo to take away the Life of our Soue-
raigne Lord the King, thy Royall Husband: the pretence whereof
being by circumstances partly layd open, thou (Hermione) con-
trary to the Faith and Allegeance of a true Subiect, didst coun-
saile and ayde them, for their better safetie, to flye away by
1195Night.
Her. Since what I am to say, must be but that
Which contradicts my Accusation, and
The testimonie on my part, no other
But what comes from my selfe, it shall scarce boot me
1200To say, Not guiltie: mine Integritie
Being counted Falsehood, shall (as I expresse it)
Be so receiu'd. But thus, if Powres Diuine
Behold our humane Actions (as they doe)
I doubt not then, but Innocence shall make
1205False Accusation blush, and Tyrannie
Tremble at Patience. You (my Lord) best know
(Whom least will seeme to doe so) my past life
Hath beene as continent, as chaste, as true,
As I am now vnhappy; which is more
1210Then Historie can patterne, though deuis'd,
And play'd, to take Spectators. For behold me,
A Fellow of the Royall Bed, which owe
A Moitie of the Throne: a great Kings Daughter,
The Mother to a hopefull Prince, here standing
1215To prate and talke for Life, and Honor, fore
Who please to come, and heare. For Life, I prize it
As I weigh Griefe (which I would spare:) For Honor,
'Tis a deriuatiue from me to mine,
And onely that I stand for. I appeale
1220To your owne Conscience (Sir) before Polixenes
Came to your Court, how I was in your grace,
How merited to be so: Since he came,
With what encounter so vncurrant, I
Haue strayn'd t' appeare thus; if one iot beyond
1225The bound of Honor, or in act, or will
That way enclining, hardned be the hearts
Of all that heare me, and my neer'st of Kin
Cry fie vpon my Graue.
Leo. I ne're heard yet,
1230That any of these bolder Vices wanted
Lesse Impudence to gaine-say what they did,
Then to performe it first.
Her. That's true enough,
Though 'tis a saying (Sir) not due to me.
1235Leo. You will not owne it.
Her. More then Mistresse of,
Which comes to me in name of Fault, I must not
At all acknowledge. For Polixenes
(With whom I am accus'd) I doe confesse
1240I lou'd him, as in Honor he requir'd:
With such a kind of Loue, as might become
A Lady like me; with a Loue, euen such,
So, and no other, as your selfe commanded:
Which, not to haue done, I thinke had been in me
1245Both Disobedience, and Ingratitude
To you, and toward your Friend, whose Loue had spoke,
Euen since it could speake, from an Infant, freely,
That it was yours. Now for Conspiracie,
I know not how it tastes, though it be dish'd
1250For me to try how: All I know of it,
Is, that Camillo was an honest man;
And why he left your Court, the Gods themselues
(Wotting no more then I) are ignorant.
Leo. You knew of his departure, as you know
1255What you haue vnderta'ne to doe in's absence.
Her. Sir,
You speake a Language that I vnderstand not:
My Life stands in the leuell of your Dreames,
Which Ile lay downe.
1260Leo. Your Actions are my Dreames.
You had a Bastard by Polixenes,
And I but dream'd it: As you were past all shame,
(Those of your Fact are so) so past all truth;
Which to deny, concernes more then auailes: for as
1265Thy Brat hath been cast out, like to it selfe,
No Father owning it (which is indeed
More criminall in thee, then it) so thou
Shalt feele our Iustice; in whose easiest passage,
Looke for no lesse then death.
1270Her. Sir, spare your Threats:
The Bugge which you would fright me with, I seeke:
To me can Life be no commoditie;
The crowne and comfort of my Life (your Fauor)
I doe giue lost, for I doe feele it gone,
1275But know not how it went. My second Ioy,
And first Fruits of my body, from his presence
I am bar'd, like one infectious. My third comfort
(Star'd most vnluckily) is from my breast
(The innocent milke in it most innocent mouth)
1280Hal'd out to murther. My selfe on euery Post
Proclaym'd a Strumpet: With immodest hatred
The Child-bed priuiledge deny'd, which longs
To Women of all fashion. Lastly, hurried
Here, to this place, i'th' open ayre, before
1285I haue got strength of limit. Now (my Liege)
Tell me what blessings I haue here aliue,
That I should feare to die? Therefore proceed:
But yet heare this: mistake me not: no Life,
(I prize it not a straw) but for mine Honor,
1290Which I would free: if I shall be condemn'd
Vpon surmizes (all proofes sleeping else,
But what your Iealousies awake) I tell you
'Tis Rigor, and not Law. Your Honors all,
I doe referre me to the Oracle:
1295Apollo be my Iudge.
Lord. This your request
Is altogether iust: therefore bring forth
(And in Apollo's Name) his Oracle.
Her. The Emperor of Russia was my Father.
1300Oh that he were aliue, and here beholding
His Daughters Tryall: that he did but see
The flatnesse of my miserie; yet with eyes
Of Pitty, not Reuenge.
Officer. You here shal sweare vpon this Sword of Iustice,
1305That you (Cleomines and Dion) haue
Been both at Delphos, and from thence haue brought
This seal'd-vp Oracle, by the Hand deliuer'd
Of great Apollo's Priest; and that since then,
You haue not dar'd to breake the holy Seale,
1310Nor read the Secrets in't.
Cleo. Dio. All this we sweare.
Leo. Breake vp the Seales, and read.
Officer. Hermione is chast, Polixenes blamelesse, Camillo
a true Subiect, Leontes a iealous Tyrant, his innocent Babe
1315truly begotten, and the King shall liue without an Heire, if that
which is lost, be not found.
Lords. Now blessed be the great Apollo.
Her. Praysed.
Leo. Hast thou read truth?
1320Offic. I (my Lord) euen so as it is here set downe.
Leo. There is no truth at all i'th' Oracle:
The Sessions shall proceed: this is meere falsehood.
Ser. My Lord the King: the King?
Leo. What is the businesse?
1325Ser. O Sir, I shall be hated to report it.
The Prince your Sonne, with meere conceit, and feare
Of the Queenes speed, is gone.
Leo. How? gone?
Ser. Is dead.
1330Leo. Apollo's angry, and the Heauens themselues
Doe strike at my Iniustice. How now there?
Paul. This newes is mortall to the Queene: Look downe
And see what Death is doing.
Leo. Take her hence:
1335Her heart is but o're-charg'd: she will recouer.
I haue too much beleeu'd mine owne suspition:
'Beseech you tenderly apply to her
Some remedies for life. Apollo pardon
My great prophanenesse 'gainst thine Oracle.
1340Ile reconcile me to Polixenes,
New woe my Queene, recall the good Camillo
(Whom I proclaime a man of Truth, of Mercy:)
For being transported by my Iealousies
To bloody thoughts, and to reuenge, I chose
1345Camillo for the minister, to poyson
My friend Polixenes: which had been done,
But that the good mind of Camillo tardied
My swift command: though I with Death, and with
Reward, did threaten and encourage him,
1350Not doing it, and being done: he (most humane,
And fill'd with Honor) to my Kingly Guest
Vnclasp'd my practise, quit his fortunes here
(Which you knew great) and to the hazard
Of all Incertainties, himselfe commended,
1355No richer then his Honor: How he glisters
Through my Rust? and how his Pietie
Do's my deeds make the blacker?
Paul. Woe the while:
O cut my Lace, least my heart (cracking it)
1360Breake too.
Lord. What fit is this? good Lady?
Paul. What studied torments (Tyrant) hast for me?
What Wheeles? Racks? Fires? What flaying? boyling?
In Leads, or Oyles? What old, or newer Torture
1365Must I receiue? whose euery word deserues
To taste of thy most worst. Thy Tyranny
(Together working with thy Iealousies,
Fancies too weake for Boyes, too greene and idle
For Girles of Nine) O thinke what they haue done,
1370And then run mad indeed: starke-mad: for all
Thy by-gone fooleries were but spices of it.
That thou betrayed'st Polixenes, 'twas nothing,
(That did but shew thee, of a Foole, inconstant,
And damnable ingratefull:) Nor was't much.
1375Thou would'st haue poyson'd good Camillo's Honor,
To haue him kill a King: poore Trespasses,
More monstrous standing by: whereof I reckon
The casting forth to Crowes, thy Baby-daughter,
To be or none, or little; though a Deuill
1380Would haue shed water out of fire, ere don't;
Nor is't directly layd to thee, the death
Of the young Prince, whose honorable thoughts
(Thoughts high for one so tender) cleft the heart
That could conceiue a grosse and foolish Sire
1385Blemish'd his gracious Dam: this is not, no,
Layd to thy answere: but the last: O Lords,
When I haue said, cry woe: the Queene, the Queene,
The sweet'st, deer'st creature's dead: & vengeance for't
Not drop'd downe yet.
1390Lord. The higher powres forbid.
Pau. I say she's dead: Ile swear't. If word, nor oath
Preuaile not, go and see: if you can bring
Tincture, or lustre in her lip, her eye
Heate outwardly, or breath within, Ile serue you
1395As I would do the Gods. But, O thou Tyrant,
Do not repent these things, for they are heauier
Then all thy woes can stirre: therefore betake thee
To nothing but dispaire. A thousand knees,
Ten thousand yeares together, naked, fasting,
1400Vpon a barren Mountaine, and still Winter
In storme perpetuall, could not moue the Gods
To looke that way thou wer't.
Leo. Go on, go on:
Thou canst not speake too much, I haue deseru'd
1405All tongues to talke their bittrest.
Lord. Say no more;
How ere the businesse goes, you haue made fault
I'th boldnesse of your speech.
Pau. I am sorry for't;
1410All faults I make, when I shall come to know them,
I do repent: Alas, I haue shew'd too much
The rashnesse of a woman: he is toucht
To th' Noble heart. What's gone, and what's past helpe
Should be past greefe: Do not receiue affliction
1415At my petition; I beseech you, rather
Let me be punish'd, that haue minded you
Of what you should forget. Now (good my Liege)
Sir, Royall Sir, forgiue a foolish woman:
The loue I bore your Queene (Lo, foole againe)
1420Ile speake of her no more, nor of your Children:
Ile not remember you of my owne Lord,
(Who is lost too:) take your patience to you,
And Ile say nothing.
Leo. Thou didst speake but well,
1425When most the truth: which I receyue much better,
Then to be pittied of thee. Prethee bring me
To the dead bodies of my Queene, and Sonne,
One graue shall be for both: Vpon them shall
The causes of their death appeare (vnto
1430Our shame perpetuall) once a day, Ile visit
The Chappell where they lye, and teares shed there
Shall be my recreation. So long as Nature
Will beare vp with this exercise, so long
I dayly vow to vse it. Come, and leade me
1435To these sorrowes.
Exeunt