Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Hardin Aasand
Not Peer Reviewed

The Winter's Tale (Modern)


[5.1]
2725
Enter Leontes, Cleomines, Dion, Paulina, and Servants.
Cleomines Sir, you have done enough and have performed
A saint-like sorrow. No fault could you make
Which you have not redeemed, indeed, paid down
2730More penitence then done trespass. At the last,
Do as the heavens have done, forget your evil;
With them, forgive yourself.
Leontes
Whilst I remember
Her and her virtues, I cannot forget
2735My blemishes in them, and so still think of
The wrong I did myself, which was so much
That heirless it hath made my kingdom, and
Destroyed the sweet'st companion that e'er man
Bred his hopes out of. True?
2740Paulina
Too true, my lord.
If one by one, you wedded all the world,
Or from the all that are took something good
To make a perfect woman, she you killed
Would be unparalleled.
2745Leontes
I think so. Killed?
She I killed? I did so, but thou strik'st me
Sorely to say I did; it is as bitter
Upon thy tongue as in my thought. Now, good now,
Say so but seldom.
2750Cleomines
Not at all, good lady.
You might have spoken a thousand things that would
Have done the time more benefit and graced
Your kindness better.
Paulina
You are one of those
2755Would have him wed again.
Dion
If you would not so,
You pity not the state nor the remembrance
Of his most sovereign name, consider little
What dangers by his highness fail of issue
2760May drop upon his kingdom and devour
Incertain lookers-on. What were more holy
Than to rejoice the former queen is well?
What holier than, for royalty's repair
For present comfort and for future good,
2765To bless the bed of majesty again
With a sweet fellow to't?
Paulina
There is none worthy,
Respecting her that's gone. Besides, the gods
Will have fulfilled their secret purposes.
2770For has not the divine Apollo said?
Is't not the tenor of his oracle
That King Leontes shall not have an heir
Till his lost child be found? Which that it shall
Is all as monstrous to our humane reason
2775As my Antigonus to break his grave
And come again to me, who, on my life,
Did perish with the infant. 'Tis your counsel
My lord should to the heavens be contrary,
Oppose against their wills. [To the king] Care not for issue.
2780The crown will find an heir. Great Alexander
Left his to th' worthiest, so his successor
Was like to be the best.
Leontes
Good Paulina,
Who hast the memory of Hermione,
2785I know, in honor. Oh, that ever I
Had squared me to thy counsel! Then, even now,
I might have looked upon my queen's full eyes,
Have taken treasure from her lips --
Paulina
And left them
2790More rich for what they yielded.
Leontes
Thou speak'st truth!
No more such wives, therefore no wife. One worse
And better used would make her sainted spirit
Again possess her corpse, and on this stage,
2795Where we offenders now appear, soul-vexed,
And begin, "Why to me?"
Paulina
Had she such power,
She had just cause.
Leontes
She had, and would incense me
2800To murder her I married.
Paulina I should so.
Were I the ghost that walked, I'd bid you mark
Her eye and tell me for what dull part in't
You chose her. Then I'd shriek that even your ears
2805Should rift to hear me, and the words that followed
Should be, "Remember mine."
Leontes
Stars, stars,
And all eyes else, dead coals! Fear thou no wife;
I'll have no wife, Paulina.
2810Paulina
Will you swear
Never to marry but by my free leave?
Leontes
Never, Paulina, so be blessed my spirit.
Paulina Then, good my lords, bear witness to his oath.
Cleomines
You tempt him over-much.
2815Paulina
Unless another
As like Hermione as is her picture,
Affront his eye --
Cleomines
Good madam, I have done.
Paulina Yet if my lord will marry -- if you will, sir,
2820No remedy but you will -- give me the office
To choose you a queen. She shall not be so young
As was your former, but she shall be such
As, walked your first queen's ghost, it should take joy
To see her in your arms.
2825Leontes
My true Paulina,
We shall not marry till thou bidd'st us.
Paulina
That
Shall be when your first queen's again in breath.
Never till then.
2830
Enter a [Gentleman].
1 Gentleman One that gives out himself Prince Florizel,
Son of Polixenes, with his princess -- she
The fairest I have yet beheld -- desires access
To your high presence.
2835Leontes
What with him? He comes not
Like to his father's greatness. His approach,
So out of circumstance and sudden, tells us
'Tis not a visitation framed, but forced
By need and accident. What train?
28401 Gentleman
But few,
And those but mean.
Leontes
His princess, say you, with him?
1 Gentleman Ay, the most peerless piece of earth, I think,
That ere the sun shone bright on.
2845Paulina
O Hermione,
As every present time doth boast itself
Above a better, gone, so must thy grave
Give way to what's seen now. [To the Servant] Sir, you yourself
Have said and writ so, but your writing now
2850Is colder than that theme: she had not been,
Nor was not to be equaled; thus your verse
Flowed with her beauty once. 'Tis shrewdly ebbed
To say you have seen a better.
1 Gentleman
Pardon, madam,
2855The one I have almost forgot -- your pardon;
The other, when she has obtained your eye,
Will have your tongue too. This is a creature,
Would she begin a sect, might quench the zeal
Of all professors else, make proselytes
2860Of who she but bid follow.
Paulina
How? Not women!
1 Gentleman Women will love her that she is a woman
More worth than any man; men, that she is
The rarest of all women.
2865Leontes
Go, Cleomines,
Yourself, assisted with your honored friends,
Bring them to our embracement. Still 'tis strange
He thus should steal upon us.
[Exeunt Cleomines with others]
Paulina
Had our prince,
2870Jewel of children, seen this hour, he had paired
Well with this lord. There was not full a month
Between their births.
Leontes
Prithee no more; cease! thou know'st
He dies to me again when talked of. Sure
2875When I shall see this gentleman, thy speeches
Will bring me to consider that which may
Unfurnish me of reason. They are come.
Enter Florizel, Perdita, Cleomines, and others.
Your mother was most true to wedlock, prince,
2880For she did print your royal father off,
Conceiving you. Were I but twenty-one,
Your father's image is so hit in you,
His very air, that I should call you brother,
As I did him, and speak of something wildly
2885By us performed before. Most dearly welcome,
And your fair princess -- goddess! Oh, alas!
I lost a couple that 'twixt heaven and earth
Might thus have stood, begetting wonder, as
You, gracious couple, do; and then I lost --
2890All mine own folly -- the society,
Amity too of your brave father, whom,
Though bearing misery, I desire my life
Once more to look on him.
Florizel
By his command
2895Have I here touched Sicilia, and from him
Give you all greetings that a king at friend
Can send his brother; and but infirmity,
Which waits upon worn times hath something seized
His wished ability, he had himself
2900The lands and waters 'twixt your throne and his
Measured to look upon you, whom he loves --
He bade me say so -- more than all the scepters,
And those that bear them, living.
Leontes
O my brother!
2905Good gentleman, the wrongs I have done thee stir
Afresh within me, and these thy offices,
So rarely kind, are as interpreters
Of my behind-hand slackness. Welcome hither,
As is the spring to th' earth. And hath he too
2910Exposed this paragon to th' fearful usage
At least ungentle, of the dreadful Neptune,
To greet a man not worth her pains, much less
Th' adventure of her person?
Florizel
Good my Lord,
2915She came from Libya.
Leontes
Where the warlike Smalus,
That noble honored lord, is feared and loved?
Florizel Most royal sir, from thence; from him whose daughter
2920His tears proclaimed his, parting with her. Thence,
A prosperous south-wind friendly, we have crossed
To execute the charge my father gave me
For visiting your Highness. My best train
I have from your Sicilian shores dismissed,
2925Who for Bohemia bend to signify
Not only my success in Libya, sir,
But my arrival and my wife's in safety
Here where we are.
Leontes
The blessèd gods
2930Purge all infection from our air whilst you
Do climate here! You have a holy father,
A graceful gentleman, against whose person,
So sacred as it is, I have done sin,
For which the heavens, taking angry note,
2935Have left me issueless. And your father's blessed,
As he from heaven merits it, with you,
Worthy his goodness. What might I have been
Might I a son and daughter now have looked on,
Such goodly things as you?
2940
Enter a Lord
Lord
Most noble sir,
That which I shall report will bear no credit
Were not the proof so nigh. Please you, great sir,
Bohemia greets you from himself by me,
2945Desires you to attach his son, who has
His dignity and duty both cast off,
Fled from his father, from his hopes, and with
A shepherd's daughter.
Leontes
Where's Bohemia? Speak!
2950Lord Here, in your city I now came from him.
I speak amazedly, and it becomes
My marvel and my message. To your court
Whiles he was hastening -- in the chase, it seems,
Of this fair couple -- meets he on the way
2955The father of this seeming lady and
Her brother, having both their country quitted
With this young prince.
Florizel
Camillo has betrayed me,
Whose honor and whose honesty till now
2960Endured all weathers.
Lord
Lay't so to his charge.
He's with the king your father.
Leontes
Who? Camillo?
Lord Camillo, sir. I spake with him, who now
2965Has these poor men in question. Never saw I
Wretches so quake. They kneel, they kiss the earth,
Forswear themselves as often as they speak.
Bohemia stops his ears and threatens them
With diverse deaths in death.
2970Perdita
O my poor father!
The heaven sets spies upon us, will not have
Our contract celebrated.
Leontes
You are married?
Florizel We are not, sir, nor are we like to be.
2975The stars, I see, will kiss the valleys first;
The odds for high and low's alike.
Leontes
My lord,
Is this the daughter of a king?
Florizel
She is,
2980When once she is my wife.
Leontes That "once", I see, by your good father's speed
Will come-on very slowly. I am sorry,
Most sorry, you have broken from his liking,
Where you were tied in duty, and as sorry
2985Your choice is not so rich in worth as beauty,
That you might well enjoy her.
Florizel
Dear, look up,
Though Fortune, visible an enemy,
Should chase us with my father, power no jot
2990Hath she to change our loves. Beseech you, sir,
Remember since you owed no more to time
Than I do now. With thought of such affections,
Step forth mine advocate. At your request,
My father will grant precious things as trifles.
2995Leontes Would he do so, I'd beg your precious mistress,
Which he counts but a trifle.
Paulina
Sir, my liege,
Your eye hath too much youth in't. Not a month
'Fore your queen died, she was more worth such gazes
3000Than what you look on now.
Leontes
I thought of her,
Even in these looks I made. [To Florizel] But your petition
Is yet unanswered. I will to your father.
Your honor not o'erthrown by your desires,
3005I am friend to them and you; upon which errand
I now go toward him. Therefore follow me,
And mark what way I make. Come, good my lord.
Exeunt.