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About this text

  • Title: The Winter's Tale (Folio 1, 1623)
  • Editor: Hardin Aasand
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-367-0

    Copyright Hardin Aasand. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Hardin Aasand
    Peer Reviewed

    The Winter's Tale (Folio 1, 1623)

    The Winters Tale.
    The truth of this appeare: Prepare you Lords,
    Summon a Session, that we may arraigne
    Our most disloyall Lady: for as she hath
    1140Been publikely accus'd, so shall she haue
    A iust and open Triall. While she liues,
    My heart will be a burthen to me. Leaue me,
    And thinke vpon my bidding.

    Actus Tertius. Scœna Prima.

    Enter Cleomines and Dion.

    Cleo. The Clymat's delicate, the Ayre most sweet,
    Fertile the Isle, the Temple much surpassing
    The common prayse it beares.
    Dion. I shall report,
    1150For most it caught me, the Celestiall Habits,
    (Me thinkes I so should terme them) and the reuerence
    Of the graue Wearers. O, the Sacrifice,
    How ceremonious, solemne, and vn-earthly
    It was i'th' Offring?
    1155Cleo. But of all, the burst
    And the eare-deaff'ning Voyce o'th' Oracle,
    Kin to Ioues Thunder, so surpriz'd my Sence,
    That I was nothing.
    Dio. If th' euent o'th' Iourney
    1160Proue as successefull to the Queene (O be't so)
    As it hath beene to vs, rare, pleasant, speedie,
    The time is worth the vse on't.
    Cleo. Great Apollo
    Turne all to th' best: these Proclamations,
    1165So forcing faults vpon Hermione,
    I little like.
    Dio. The violent carriage of it
    Will cleare, or end the Businesse, when the Oracle
    (Thus by Apollo's great Diuine seal'd vp)
    1170Shall the Contents discouer: something rare
    Euen then will rush to knowledge. Goe: fresh Horses,
    And gracious be the issue.

    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.
    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
    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