Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Hardin Aasand
Not Peer Reviewed

The Winter's Tale (Modern)


[2.3]
[Enter Leontes]
900Leontes Nor night nor day no rest. It is but weakness
To bear the matter thus, mere weakness. If
The cause were not in being -- part o'th cause,
She, th' adulteress; for the harlot-king
Is quite beyond mine arm, out of the blank
905And level of my brain, plot-proof -- but she,
I can hook to me. Say that she were gone,
Given to the fire, a moiety of my rest
Might come to me again. Who's there?
[Enter Servant]
Servant
My lord?
910Leontes How does the boy?
Servant He took good rest tonight. 'Tis hoped
His sickness is discharged.
Leontes
To see his nobleness
Conceiving the dishonor of his mother!
915He straight declined, drooped, took it deeply,
Fastened, and fixed the shame on't in himself;
Threw off his spirit, his appetite, his sleep,
And downright languished. Leave me solely. Go,
See how he fares.
[Exit Servant.]
Fie, fie, no thought of him.
920The very thought of my revenges that way
Recoil upon me: in himself too mighty,
And in his parties, his alliance. Let him be
Until a time may serve. For present vengeance
Take it on her. Camillo and Polixenes
925Laugh at me, make their pastime at my sorrow.
They should not laugh if I could reach them, nor
Shall she within my power.
Enter Paulina [with baby], Antigonus, Lords and Servants.
Lord
You must not enter.
930Paulina Nay, rather, good my lords, be second to me.
Fear you his tyrannous passion more, alas,
Than the Queen's life? A gracious innocent soul,
More free than he is jealous.
Antigonus
That's enough.
935Servant Madam, he hath not slept tonight, commanded
None should come at him.
Paulina
Not so hot, good sir.
I come to bring him sleep. 'Tis such as you
That creep like shadows by him and do sigh
940At each his needless heavings, such as you
Nourish the cause of his awaking. I
Do come with words as medicinal as true --
Honest as either -- to purge him of that humor
That presses him from sleep.
945Leontes
[To Paulina, taking notice of voice] What noise there, ho?
Paulina No noise, my Lord, but needful conference
About some gossips for your Highness.
Leontes
How?
Away with that audacious lady! Antigonus,
950I charged thee that she should not come about me.
I knew she would.
Antigonus
I told her so, my lord,
On your displeasure's peril and on mine
She should not visit you.
955Leontes
What? Canst not rule her?
Paulina From all dishonesty he can; in this --
Unless he take the course that you have done,
Commit me for committing honor -- trust it,
He shall not rule me.
960Antigonus
La you now, you hear.
When she will take the rein I let her run,
But she'll not stumble.
Paulina
Good, my liege, I come,
And I beseech you hear me, who professes
965Myself your loyal servant, your physician,
Your most obedient counselor yet that dares
Less appear so in comforting your evils,
Than such as most seem yours. I say, I come
From your good queen.
970Leontes
"Good" queen?
Paulina Good queen, my Lord, good queen,
I say "good queen",
And would by combat make her good, so were I
A man, the worst about you.
975Leontes
Force her hence.
Paulina Let him that makes but trifles of his eyes
First hand me; on mine own accord, I'll off,
But first I'll do my errand. The good queen --
For she is good -- hath brought you forth a daughter.
980Here 'tis. Commends it to your blessing.
[Laying down the baby]
Leontes
Out!
A mankind witch? Hence with her, out o'door!
A most intelligencing bawd.
Paulina
Not so!
985I am as ignorant in that as you
In so entitling me and no less honest
Than you are mad, which is enough I'll warrant
As this world goes to pass for honest.
Leontes
Traitors!
990Will you not push her out? [To Antigonus] Give her the bastard,
Thou dotard! Thou art woman-tired, unroosted
By thy dame Partlet here. Take up the bastard,
Take't up, I say! Give't to thy crone.
Paulina
[To Antigonus] Forever
995Unvenerable be thy hands, if thou
Tak'st up the princess by that forced baseness
Which he has put upon't.
Leontes
He dreads his wife.
Paulina So I would you did; then 'twere past all doubt
1000You'd call your children yours.
Leontes
A nest of traitors!
Antigonus
I am none, by this good light.
Paulina
Nor I, nor any
But one that's here, and that's himself. For he
1005The sacred honor of himself, his queen's,
His hopeful son's, his babe's, betrays to slander,
Whose sting is sharper than the sword's and will not --
For as the case now stands, it is a curse
He cannot be compelled to't -- once remove
1010The root of his opinion, which is rotten,
As ever oak or stone was sound.
Leontes
A callet
Of boundless tongue, who late hath beat her husband
And now baits me. This brat is none of mine.
1015It is the issue of Polixenes.
Hence with it, and together with the dam
Commit them to the fire!
Paulina
It is yours,
And might we lay th'old proverb to your charge,
1020So like you 'tis the worse. Behold, my lords,
Although the print be little, the whole matter
And copy of the father -- eye, nose, lip,
The trick of's frown, his forehead, nay, the valley,
The pretty dimples of his chin, and cheek, his smiles
1025The very mold and frame of hand, nail, finger.
And thou, good goddess Nature, which hast made it
So like to him that got it, if thou hast
The ordering of the mind too, 'mongst all colors
No yellow in't, lest she suspect, as he does,
1030Her children not her husband's.
Leontes
A gross hag!
[To Antigonus] And, lozel, thou art worthy to be hanged
That wilt not stay her tongue.
Antigonus
Hang all the husbands
1035That cannot do that feat, you'll leave yourself
Hardly one subject.
Leontes
Once more, take her hence!
Paulina A most unworthy and unnatural lord
Can do no more.
1040Leontes
I'll ha' thee burnt.
Paulina
I care not.
It is an heretic that makes the fire,
Not she which burns in't. I'll not call you tyrant.
But this most cruel usage of your queen,
1045Not able to produce more accusation
Than your own weak-hinged fancy, something savors
Of tyranny and will ignoble make you,
Yea, scandalous to the world.
Leontes
[To Antigonus] On your allegiance,
1050Out of the chamber with her. Were I a tyrant,
Where were her life? She durst not call me so
If she did know me one. Away with her!
Paulina [To Lords] I pray you do not push me; I'll be gone.
Look to your babe, my Lord, 'tis yours. Jove send her
1055A better guiding spirit. What needs these hands?
You that are thus so tender o'er his follies
Will never do him good, not one of you.
So, so. Farewell, we are gone.
Exit.
Leontes
Thou, traitor, hast set on thy wife to this.
1060My child? Away with't! Even thou that hast
A heart so tender o'er it, take it hence,
And see it instantly consumed with fire.
Even thou, and none but thou. Take it up straight;
Within this hour bring me word 'tis done,
1065And by good testimony, or I'll seize thy life
With what thou else call'st thine. If thou refuse,
And wilt encounter with my wrath, say so.
The bastard-brains with these my proper hands
Shall I dash out. Go, take it to the fire,
1070For thou set'st on thy wife.
Antigonus
I did not, sir.
These lords, my noble fellows, if they please,
Can clear me in't.
Lords
We can, my royal liege.
1075He is not guilty of her coming hither.
Leontes You're liars all!
Lords Beseech your Highness, give us better credit.
We have always truly served you and beseech
So to esteem of us, and on our knees we beg
1080As recompense of our dear services
Past and to come that you do change this purpose,
Which being so horrible, so bloody, must
Lead on to some foul issue. We all kneel.
Leontes I am a feather for each wind that blows.
1085Shall I live on to see this bastard kneel
And call me father? Better burn it now
Then curse it then. But be it; let it live.
It shall not neither. You sir, come you hither,
You that have been so tenderly officious
1090With Lady Margerie, your midwife there,
To save this bastard's life, for 'tis a bastard,
So sure as this beard's gray. What will you adventure
To save this brat's life?
Antigonus
Anything, my lord,
1095That my ability may undergo
And nobleness impose, at least thus much:
I'll pawn the little blood which I have left
To save the innocent. Anything possible.
Leontes It shall be possible. Swear by this sword
1100Thou wilt perform my bidding.
Antigonus
[Places hand on hilt of sword] I will, my lord.
Leontes Mark, and perform it, seest thou? For the fail
Of any point in't shall not only be
Death to thyself, but to thy lewd-tongued wife,
1105Whom for this time we pardon. We enjoin thee,
As thou art liegeman to us, that thou carry
This female bastard hence, and that thou bear it
To some remote and desert place, quite out
Of our dominions; and that there thou leave it
1110Without more mercy, to it own protection
And favor of the climate. As by strange fortune
It came to us, I do in justice charge thee
On thy soul's peril and thy body's torture
That thou commend it strangely to some place
1115Where chance may nurse or end it. Take it up.
Antigonus I swear to do this, though a present death
Had been more merciful. Come on, poor babe,
[Takes up baby]
Some powerful spirit instruct the kites and ravens
To be thy nurses. Wolves and bears, they say,
1120Casting their savageness aside have done
Like offices of pity-- [To Leontes] Sir, be prosperous
In more than this deed does require -- [To baby] and blessing
Against this cruelty fight on thy side,
Poor thing, condemned to loss.
Exit [with child]
1125Leontes
No, I'll not rear
Another's issue.
Enter a Servant.
Servant
Please your Highness, posts
From those you sent to th'oracle are come
An hour since. Cleomines and Dion,
1130Being well arrived from Delphos, are both landed,
Hasting to th'court.
Servant
So please you, sir, their speed
Hath been beyond account.
Leontes
Twenty-three days
1135They have been absent. 'Tis good speed, foretells
The great Apollo suddenly will have
The truth of this appear. Prepare you, lords,
Summon a session that we may arraign
Our most disloyal lady, for as she hath
1140Been publicly accused, so shall she have
A just and open trial. While she lives,
My heart will be a burden to me. Leave me,
And think upon my bidding.
Exeunt.