Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Hardin Aasand
Not Peer Reviewed

The Winter's Tale (Modern)


[1.2]
Enter Leontes, Hermione, Mamillius, Polixenes, Camillo.
50Polixenes Nine changes of the watery star hath been
The shepherds' note since we have left our throne
Without a burden. Time as long again
Would be filled up, my brother, with our thanks,
And yet we should for perpetuity
55Go hence in debt. And therefore, like a cipher,
Yet standing in rich place I multiply
With one "we thank you" many thousands more
That go before it.
Leontes
Stay your thanks a while
60And pay them when you part.
Polixenes
Sir, that's tomorrow.
I am questioned by my fear of what may chance
Or breed upon our absence that may blow
No sneaping winds at home to make us say,
65"This is put forth too truly." Besides, I have stayed
To tire your royalty.
Leontes
We are tougher, brother,
Than you can put us to it.
Polixenes
No longer stay.
70Leontes
One seven night longer.
Polixenes
Very sooth, tomorrow.
Leontes We'll part the time between's then, and in that
I'll no gainsaying.
Polixenes
Press me not, beseech you, so.
75There is no tongue that moves, none, none i'th' world
So soon as yours could win me. So it should now
Were there necessity in your request, although
'Twere needful I denied it. My affairs
Do even drag me homeward, which to hinder
80Were in your love a whip to me; my stay,
To you a charge and trouble. To save both,
Farewell, our brother.
Leontes
Tongue-tied, our Queen? Speak you.
Hermione I had thought, sir, to have held my peace until
85You had drawn oaths from him not to stay. You, sir,
Charge him too coldly. Tell him you are sure
All in Bohemia's well. This satisfaction,
The bygone-day proclaimed, say this to him,
He's beat from his best ward.
Hermione To tell he longs to see his son were strong.
But let him say so then and let him go,
But let him swear so and he shall not stay.
We'll thwack him hence with distaffs.
95Yet of your royal presence I'll adventure
The borrow of a week. When at Bohemia
You take my lord, I'll give him my commission
To let him there a month behind the gest
Prefixed for's parting. Yet, good deed, Leontes,
100I love thee not a jar o'th' clock behind
What lady she her lord. You'll stay?
Polixenes
No, madam.
Hermione
Nay, but you will?
Polixenes
I may not, verily.
105Hermione
Verily?
You put me off with limber vows. But I,
Though you would seek t'unsphere the stars with oaths,
Should yet say "Sir, no going." Verily
You shall not go; a lady's "Verily" is
110As potent as a lord's. Will you go yet?
Force me to keep you as a prisoner,
Not like a guest. So, you shall pay your fees
When you depart and save your thanks. How say you?
My prisoner? Or my guest? By your dread "Verily",
115One of them you shall be.
Polixenes
Your guest then, madam:
To be your prisoner should import offending,
Which is for me less easy to commit
Than you to punish.
120Hermione
Not your jailer then,
But your kind hostess. Come, I'll question you
Of my lord's tricks and yours when you were boys.
You were pretty lordings then?
125Two lads that thought there was no more behind
But such a day tomorrow as today,
And to be boy eternal.
Hermione
Was not my Lord
The verier wag o'th' two?
130Polixenes We were as twinned lambs that did frisk i'th' sun
And bleat the one at th' other. What we changed
Was innocence for innocence. We knew not
The doctrine of ill-doing nor dreamed
That any did. Had we pursued that life
135And our weak spirits ne'er been higher reared
With stronger blood, we should have answered heaven
Boldly, "Not guilty"; the imposition cleared,
Hereditary ours.
Hermione
By this we gather
140You have tripped since.
Polixenes
O my most sacred Lady,
Temptations have since then been born to's, for
In those unfledged days was my wife a girl.
Your precious self had then not crossed the eyes
145Of my young playfellow.
Hermione
Grace to boot!
Of this make no conclusion, lest you say
Your queen and I are devils. Yet go on.
Th'offences we have made you do we'll answer,
150If you first sinned with us and that with us
You did continue fault, and that you slipped not
With any but with us.
Leontes
Is he won yet?
Hermione
He'll stay, my Lord.
155Leontes
At my request, he would not.
Hermione, my dearest, thou never spok'st
To better purpose.
Hermione
Never?
Leontes
Never, but once.
160Hermione What? Have I twice said well? When was't before?
I prithee tell me; cram's with praise and make's
As fat as tame things. One good deed dying tongueless
Slaughters a thousand waiting upon that.
Our praises are our wages. You may ride's
165With one soft kiss a thousand furlongs ere
With spur we heat an acre. But to th' goal:
My last good deed was to entreat his stay.
What was my first? It has an elder sister,
Or I mistake you. Oh, would her name were Grace!
170But once before I spoke to th' purpose? When?
Nay, let me have't! I long.
Leontes
Why, that was when
Three crabbèd months had soured themselves to death
Ere I could make thee open thy white hand:
175And clap thyself, my love; then didst thou utter,
"I am yours for ever."
Hermione
'Tis Grace indeed.
Why, lo you now, I have spoke to th' purpose twice:
The one forever earned a royal husband,
180Th' other for some while a friend.
[Takes Polixenes by the hand]
Leontes
[Aside] Too hot, too hot!
To mingle friendship far is mingling bloods.
I have tremor cordis on me. My heart dances,
But not for joy, not joy. This entertainment
185May a free face put on; derive a liberty
From heartiness, from bounty, fertile bosom,
And well become the agent. It may, I grant.
But to be paddling palms and pinching fingers,
As now they are, and making practised smiles
190As in a looking-glass, and then to sigh, as 'twere --,
The mort o'th' deer -- Oh, that is entertainment
My bosom likes not, nor my brows. Mamillius,
Art thou my boy?
Mamillius
Ay, my good Lord.
195Leontes
I'fecks!
Why, that's my bawcock. What? Has't smutched thy nose?
They say it is a copy out of mine. Come, captain,
We must be neat, not neat but cleanly, captain.
And yet the steer, the heifer, and the calf
200Are all called neat -- still virginalling
Upon his palm? -- [To Mamillius] How now, you wanton calf,
Art thou my calf?
Mamillius
Yes, if you will, my Lord.
Leontes Thou want'st a rough pash and the shoots that I have
205To be full like me, yet they say we are
Almost as like as egg -- women say so
That will say anything. But were they false
As o're-dyed blacks, as wind, as waters? False
As dice are to be wished by one that fixes
210No bourne 'twixt his and mine, yet were it true
To say this boy were like me? Come, Sir Page,
Look on me with your welkin eye, sweet villain,
Most dearest, my collop. Can thy dam? May't be? --
Affection, thy intention stabs the center.
215Thou dost make possible things not so held,
Communicat'st with dreams (how can this be?)
With what's unreal thou coactive art
And fellowst nothing. Then 'tis very credent,
Thou mayst co-join with something and thou dost --
220And that beyond commission -- and I find it --
And that to the infection of my brains
And hardening of my brows.
Polixenes
What means Sicilia?
Hermione
He something seems unsettled.
225Polixenes
How, my Lord?
Leontes What cheer? How is't with you, best brother?
Hermione You look as if you held a brow of much distraction.
Are you moved, my Lord?
Leontes
No, in good earnest.
230How sometimes nature will betray its folly,
Its tenderness and make itself a pastime
To harder bosoms? Looking on the lines
Of my boy's face methoughts I did recoil
Twenty-three years and saw myself unbreeched
235In my green velvet coat, my dagger muzzled
Lest it should bite its master and so prove,
As ornaments oft do, too dangerous.
How like, methought, I then was to this kernel,
This squash, this gentleman -- [To Mamillius] Mine honest friend,
240Will you take eggs for money?
Mamillius
No, my Lord, I'll fight.
Leontes You will? Why, happy man be's dole! [To Polixenes] My brother,
Are you so fond of your young prince as we
Do seem to be of ours?
245Polixenes
If at home, sir,
He's all my exercise, my mirth, my matter;
Now my sworn friend and then mine enemy;
My parasite, my soldier, statesman, all.
He makes a July's day short as December,
250And with his varying childness cures in me
Thoughts that would thick my blood.
Leontes
So stands this squire
Officed with me. We two will walk, my Lord,
And leave you to your graver steps. Hermione,
255How thou lov'st us show in our brother's welcome.
Let what is dear in Sicily be cheap.
Next to thyself and my young rover, he's
Apparent to my heart.
Hermione
If you would seek us,
260We are yours i'th'garden. Shall's attend you there?
Leontes To your own bents dispose you. You'll be found,
Be you beneath the sky. [Aside] I am angling now,
Though you perceive me not how I give line.
Go to, go to!
265How she holds up the neb, the bill to him,
And arms her with the boldness of a wife
To her allowing husband.
[Exeunt Hermione and Polixenes.]
Gone already!
Inch-thick, knee-deep, o'er head and ears a forked one --
[To Mamillius] Go play, boy, play. Thy mother plays, and I
270Play too, but so disgraced a part, whose issue
Will hiss me to my grave. Contempt and clamor
Will be my knell -- [To Mamillius] Go play, boy, play -- [Aside] There have been,
Or I am much deceived, cuckolds ere now,
And many a man there is, even at this present,
275Now, while I speak this, holds his wife by th' arm,
That little thinks she has been sluiced in's absence,
And his pond fished by his next neighbor, by
Sir Smile, his neighbor. Nay, there's comfort in't
Whiles other men have gates, and those gates opened
280As mine against their will. Should all despair
That have revolted wives, the tenth of mankind
Would hang themselves. Physic for't there's none!
It is a bawdy planet that will strike
Where 'tis predominant. And 'tis powerful, think it
285From east, west, north, and south. Be it concluded,
No barricado for a belly. Know't,
It will let in and out the enemy,
With bag and baggage. Many thousand on's
Have the disease and feel it not. [To Mamillius] How now, boy?
290Mamillius
I am like you, they say.
Leontes
Why, that's some comfort.
What? Camillo, there?
Camillo
[Coming forward] Ay, my good Lord.
Leontes Go play, Mamillius, thou'rt an honest man.
[Exit Mamillius]
295Camillo, this great sir will yet stay longer.
Camillo You had much ado to make his anchor hold.
When you cast out, it still came home.
Leontes
Didst note it?
Camillo He would not stay at your petitions, made
300His business more material.
Leontes
Didst perceive it?
They're here with me already, whispering, rounding,
"Sicilia is a so-forth." 'Tis far gone,
When I shall gust it last. How cam't, Camillo,
305That he did stay?
Camillo
At the good queen's entreaty.
Leontes "At the queen's" be't. "Good" should be pertinent,
But so it is, it is not. Was this taken
By any understanding pate but thine?
310For thy conceit is soaking, will draw in
More than the common blocks. Not noted, is't,
But of the finer natures, by some severals
Of headpiece extraordinary? Lower messes
Perchance are to this business purblind? Say.
315Camillo Business, my lord? I think most understand
Bohemia stays here longer.
Leontes
Ha?
Camillo
Stays here longer.
Leontes Ay, but why?
320Camillo To satisfy your Highness and the entreaties
Of our most gracious mistress.
Leontes
"Satisfy"?
"Th' entreaties of your mistress"? "Satisfy"?
Let that suffice. I have trusted thee, Camillo,
325With all the nearest things to my heart, as well
My chamber-counsels, wherein, priest-like, thou START Hast cleansed my bosom. I from thee departed
Thy penitent reformed, but we have been
Deceived in thy integrity, deceived
330In that which seems so.
Camillo
Be it forbid, my lord!
Leontes To bide upon't: thou art not honest, or
If thou inclin'st that way, thou art a coward,
Which hoxes honesty behind, restraining
335From course required, or else thou must be counted
A servant grafted in my serious trust
And therein negligent; or else a fool
That see'st a game played home, the rich stake drawn,
And tak'st it all for jest.
340Camillo
My gracious lord,
I may be negligent, foolish, and fearful.
In every one of these, no man is free,
But that his negligence, his folly, fear,
Among the infinite doings of the world,
345Sometime puts forth. In your affairs, my Lord,
If ever I were wilful-negligent,
It was my folly; if industriously
I played the fool, it was my negligence,
Not weighing well the end; if ever fearful
350To do a thing where I the issue doubted,
Whereof the execution did cry out
Against the non-performance, 'twas a fear
Which oft infects the wisest. These, my lord,
Are such allowed infirmities that honesty
355Is never free of. But beseech your grace
Be plainer with me; let me know my trespass
By its own visage. If I then deny it,
'Tis none of mine.
Leontes
Have not you seen, Camillo --
360But that's past doubt; you have or your eye-glass
Is thicker than a cuckold's horn -- or heard --
For to a vision so apparent, rumor
Cannot be mute -- or thought -- for cogitation
Resides not in that man that does not think
365My wife is slippery? If thou wilt confess,
Or else be impudently negative
To have nor eyes, nor ears, nor thought, then say
My wife's a hobby-horse, deserves a name
As rank as any flax-wench that puts to
370Before her troth-plight. Say't, and justify't.
Camillo I would not be a stander-by to hear
My sovereign mistress clouded so without
My present vengeance taken. 'Shrew my heart,
You never spoke what did become you less
375Than this, which to reiterate were sin
As deep as that, though true.
Leontes
Is whispering nothing?
Is leaning cheek to cheek? Is meeting noses?
Kissing with inside lip? Stopping the career
380Of laughter with a sigh? A note infallible
Of breaking honesty, horsing foot on foot?
Skulking in corners? Wishing clocks more swift?
Hours, minutes? Noon, midnight? And all eyes
Blind with the pin and web but theirs, theirs only,
385That would unseen be wicked? Is this nothing?
Why, then the world and all that's in't is nothing,
The covering sky is nothing, Bohemia nothing,
My wife is nothing, nor nothing have these nothings,
If this be nothing.
390Camillo
Good my Lord, be cured
Of this diseased opinion, and betimes,
For 'tis most dangerous.
Leontes
Say it be, 'tis true.
Camillo
No, no, my Lord.
395Leontes
It is! You lie, you lie!
I say thou liest, Camillo, and I hate thee,
Pronounce thee a gross lout, a mindless slave,
Or else a hovering temporizer that
Canst with thine eyes at once see good and evil,
400Inclining to them both; were my wife's liver
Infected as her life, she would not live
The running of one glass.
Camillo
Who does infect her?
Leontes Why he that wears her like her medal, hanging
405About his neck -- Bohemia who, if I
Had servants true about me that bare eyes
To see alike mine honor as their profits,
Their own particular thrifts, they would do that
Which should undo more doing. Ay, and thou
410His cupbearer, whom I from meaner form
Have benched and reared to worship, who mayst see
Plainly as heaven sees earth and earth sees heaven,
How I am galled, mightst bespice a cup
To give mine enemy a lasting wink,
415Which draught to me were cordial.
Camillo
Sir, my lord,
I could do this, and that with no rash potion,
But with a lingering dram that should not work
Maliciously like poison, but I cannot
420Believe this crack to be in my dread mistress,
So sovereignly being honorable.
I have loved thee--
Leontes
Make that thy question and go rot!
Dost think I am so muddy, so unsettled,
425To appoint myself in this vexation?
Sully the purity and whitenesse of my sheets --
Which to preserve is sleep; which being spotted
Is goads, thorns, nettles; tails of wasps --
Give scandal to the blood o'th' prince, my son,
430Who I do think is mine and love as mine,
Without ripe moving to't? Would I do this?
Could man so blench?
Camillo
I must believe you, sir,
I do and will fetch off Bohemia for't,
435Provided that when he's removed your Highness
Will take again your Queen as yours at first,
Even for your son's sake, and thereby for sealing
The injury of tongues in courts and kingdoms
Known and allied to yours.
440Leontes
Thou dost advise me,
Even so as I mine own course have set down;
I'll give no blemish to her honor, none.
Camillo
My Lord,
Go then, and with a countenance as clear
445As friendship wears at feasts, keep with Bohemia
And with your Queen. I am his cupbearer
If from me he have wholesome beverage.
Account me not your servant.
Leontes
This is all.
450Do't, and thou hast the one half of my heart;
Do't not, thou splitt'st thine own.
Camillo
I'll do't, my Lord.
Leontes I will seem friendly, as thou hast advised me.
Exit
Camillo O miserable lady! But for me,
455What case stand I in? I must be the poisoner
Of good Polixenes, and my ground to do't
Is the obedience to a master, one,
Who in rebellion with himself, will have
All that are his so too. To do this deed,
460Promotion follows. If I could find example
Of thousands that had struck anointed kings
And flourished after, I'd not do't. But since
Nor brass, nor stone, nor parchment bears not one,
Let villany itself forswear't. I must
465Forsake the court: to do't or no is certain
To me a breakneck. Happy star reign now!
Here comes Bohemia.
Enter Polixenes.
Polixenes
[Aside] This is strange. Methinks
My favor here begins to warp. Not speak?
470[To Camillo] Good day, Camillo.
Camillo
Hail, most royal sir.
Polixenes
What is the news i'th'court?
Camillo
None rare, my Lord.
Polixenes The King hath on him such a countenance,
475As he had lost some province, and a region
Loved as he loves himself; even now I met him
With customary compliment, when he,
Wafting his eyes to th'contrary and falling
A lip of much contempt, speeds from me and
480So leaves me to consider what is breeding
That changes thus his manners.
Camillo I dare not know, my Lord.
Polixenes How, dare not? Do not? Do you know, and dare not?
Be intelligent to me, 'tis thereabouts;
485For to yourself what you do know you must
And cannot say you dare not. Good Camillo,
Your changed complexions are to me a mirror
Which shows me mine changed too, for I must be
A party in this alteration, finding
490Myself thus altered with't.
Camillo
There is a sickness
Which puts some of us in distemper, but
I cannot name the disease, and it is caught
Of you that yet are well.
495Polixenes
How caught of me?
Make me not sighted like the basilisk.
I have looked on thousands who have sped the better
By my regard, but killed none so. Camillo --
As you are certainly a gentleman, thereto
500Clerk-like experienced, which no less adorns
Our gentry than our parents' noble names,
In whose success we are gentle -- I beseech you,
If you know ought which does behoove my knowledge
Thereof to be informed, imprisoned not
505In ignorant concealment.
Camillo
I may not answer.
Polixenes A sickness caught of me, and yet I well?
I must be answered. Dost thou hear, Camillo?
I conjure thee, by all the parts of man
510Which honor does acknowledge, whereof the least
Is not this suit of mine, that thou declare
What incidency thou dost guess of harm
Is creeping toward me; how far off, how near,
Which way to be prevented, if to be.
515If not, how best to bear it.
Camillo
Sir, I will tell you,
Since I am charged in honor, and by him
That I think honorable; therefore mark my counsel,
Which must be even as swiftly followed as
520I mean to utter it, or both yourself and me,
Cry lost, and so good night!
Polixenes
On, good Camillo.
Camillo I am appointed him to murder you.
Polixenes
By whom, Camillo?
525Camillo
By the King!
Polixenes
For what?
Camillo
He thinks, nay with all confidence he swears
As he had seen't, or been an instrument
To vice you to't, that you have touched his Queen
530Forbiddenly.
Polixenes
Oh then, my best blood turn
To an infected jelly and my name
Be yoked with his that did betray the best!
Turn then my freshest reputation to
535A savor that may strike the dullest nostril
Where I arrive and my approach be shunned,
Nay, hated too, worse then the greatest infection
That ere was heard or read.
Camillo
Swear his thought over
540By each particular star in heaven and
By all their influences; you may as well
Forbid the sea for to obey the moon
As or by oath remove or counsel shake
The fabric of his folly, whose foundation
545Is piled upon his faith and will continue
The standing of his body.
Polixenes
How should this grow?
Camillo I know not, but I am sure 'tis safer to
Avoid what's grown than question how 'tis born.
550If therefore you dare trust my honesty
That lies enclosèd in this trunk, which you
Shall bear along impawned, away tonight!
Your followers I will whisper to the business,
And will by twos and threes at several posterns
555Clear them o'th'city. For myself, I'll put
My fortunes to your service, which are here
By this discovery lost. Be not uncertain,
For, by the honor of my parents, I
Have uttered truth, which, if you seek to prove,
560I dare not stand by; nor shall you be safer,
Than one condemned by the king's own mouth
Thereon his execution sworn.
Polixenes
I do believe thee;
I saw his heart in's face. Give me thy hand,
565Be pilot to me, and thy places shall
Still neighbor mine. My ships are ready, and
My people did expect my hence departure
Two days ago. This jealousy
Is for a precious creature; as she's rare,
570Must it be great; and, as his person's mighty,
Must it be violent; and, as he does conceive
He is dishonored by a man which ever
Professed to him, why, his revenges must
In that be made more bitter. Fear o'ershades me!
575Good expedition be my friend, and comfort
The gracious queen, part of his theme, but nothing
Of his ill-ta'en suspicion. Come, Camillo,
I will respect thee as a father if
Thou bear'st my life off, hence. Let us avoid.
580Camillo It is in mine authority to command
The keys of all the posterns; please your highness
To take the urgent hour. Come, sir, away.
Exeunt.