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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.
    365My Wife is slipperie? If thou wilt confesse,
    Or else be impudently negatiue,
    To haue nor Eyes, nor Eares, nor Thought, then say
    My Wife's a Holy-Horse, deserues a Name
    As ranke as any Flax-Wench, that puts to
    370Before her troth-plight: say't, and iustify't.
    Cam. I would not be a stander-by, to heare
    My Soueraigne Mistresse clouded so, without
    My present vengeance taken: 'shrew my heart,
    You neuer spoke what did become you lesse
    375Then this; which to reiterate, were sin
    As deepe as that, though true.
    Leo. Is whispering nothing?
    Is leaning Cheeke to Cheeke? is meating Noses?
    Kissing with in-side Lip? stopping the Cariere
    380Of Laughter, with a sigh? (a Note infallible
    Of breaking Honestie) horsing foot on foot?
    Skulking in corners? wishing Clocks more swift?
    Houres, Minutes? Noone, Mid-night? and all Eyes
    Blind with the Pin and Web, but theirs; theirs onely,
    385That would vnseene be wicked? Is this nothing?
    Why then the World, and all that's in't, is nothing,
    The couering Skie is nothing, Bohemia nothing,
    My Wife is nothing, nor Nothing haue these Nothings,
    If this be nothing.
    390Cam. Good my Lord, be cur'd
    Of this diseas'd Opinion, and betimes,
    For 'tis most dangerous.
    Leo. Say it be, 'tis true.
    Cam. No, no, my Lord.
    395Leo. It is: you lye, you lye:
    I say thou lyest Camillo, and I hate thee,
    Pronounce thee a grosse Lowt, a mindlesse Slaue,
    Or else a houering Temporizer, that
    Canst with thine eyes at once see good and euill,
    400Inclining to them both: were my Wiues Liuer
    Infected (as her life) she would not liue
    The running of one Glasse.
    Cam. Who do's infect her?
    Leo. Why he that weares her like her Medull, hanging
    405About his neck (Bohemia) who, if I
    Had Seruants true about me, that bare eyes
    To see alike mine Honor, as their Profits,
    (Their owne particular Thrifts) they would doe that
    Which should vndoe more doing: I, and thou
    410His Cup-bearer, whom I from meaner forme
    Haue Bench'd, and rear'd to Worship, who may'st see
    Plainely, as Heauen sees Earth, and Earth sees Heauen,
    How I am gall'd, might'st be-spice a Cup,
    To giue mine Enemy a lasting Winke:
    415Which Draught to me, were cordiall.
    Cam. Sir (my Lord)
    I could doe this, and that with no rash Potion,
    But with a lingring Dram, that should not worke
    Maliciously, like Poyson: But I cannot
    420Beleeue this Crack to be in my dread Mistresse
    (So soueraignely being Honorable.)
    I haue lou'd thee,
    Leo. Make that thy question, and goe rot:
    Do'st thinke I am so muddy, so vnsetled,
    425To appoint my selfe in this vexation?
    Sully the puritie and whitenesse of my Sheetes
    (Which to preserue, is Sleepe; which being spotted,
    Is Goades, Thornes, Nettles, Tayles of Waspes)
    Giue scandall to the blood o'th' Prince, my Sonne,
    430(Who I doe thinke is mine, and loue as mine)
    Without ripe mouing to't? Would I doe this?
    Could man so blench?
    Cam. I must beleeue you (Sir)
    I doe, and will fetch off Bohemia for't:
    435Prouided, that when hee's remou'd, your Highnesse
    Will take againe your Queene, as yours at first,
    Euen for your Sonnes sake, and thereby for sealing
    The Iniurie of Tongues, in Courts and Kingdomes
    Knowne, and ally'd to yours.
    440Leo. Thou do'st aduise me,
    Euen so as I mine owne course haue set downe:
    Ile giue no blemish to her Honor, none.
    Cam. My Lord,
    Goe then; and with a countenance as cleare
    445As Friendship weares at Feasts, keepe with Bohemia,
    And with your Queene: I am his Cup-bearer,
    If from me he haue wholesome Beueridge,
    Account me not your Seruant.
    Leo. This is all:
    450Do't, and thou hast the one halfe of my heart;
    Do't not, thou splitt'st thine owne.
    Cam. Ile do't, my Lord.
    Leo. I wil seeme friendly, as thou hast aduis'd me.
    Cam. O miserable Lady. But for me,
    455What case stand I in? I must be the poysoner
    Of good Polixenes, and my ground to do't,
    Is the obedience to a Master; one,
    Who in Rebellion with himselfe, will haue
    All that are his, so too. To doe this deed,
    460Promotion followes: If I could find example
    Of thousand's that had struck anoynted Kings,
    And flourish'd after, Il'd not do't: But since
    Nor Brasse, nor Stone, nor Parchment beares not one,
    Let Villanie it selfe forswear't. I must
    465Forsake the Court: to do't, or no, is certaine
    To me a breake-neck. Happy Starre raigne now,
    Here comes Bohemia.
    Enter Polixenes.
    Pol. This is strange: Me thinkes
    My fauor here begins to warpe. Not speake?
    470Good day Camillo.
    Cam. Hayle most Royall Sir.
    Pol. What is the Newes i'th' Court?
    Cam. None rare (my Lord.)
    Pol. The King hath on him such a countenance,
    475As he had lost some Prouince, and a Region
    Lou'd, as he loues himselfe: euen now I met him
    With customarie complement, when hee
    Wafting his eyes to th' contrary, and falling
    A Lippe of much contempt, speedes from me, and
    480So leaues me, to consider what is breeding,
    That changes thus his Manners.
    Cam. I dare not know (my Lord.)
    Pol. How, dare not? doe not? doe you know, and dare not?
    Be intelligent to me, 'tis thereabouts:
    485For to your selfe, what you doe know, you must,
    And cannot say, you dare not. Good Camillo,
    Your chang'd complexions are to me a Mirror,
    Which shewes me mine chang'd too: for I must be
    A partie in this alteration, finding
    490My selfe thus alter'd with't.
    Cam. There is a sicknesse
    Which puts some of vs in distemper, but
    I cannot name the Disease, and it is caught
    Of you, that yet are well.
    495Pol. How caught of me?
    Make me not sighted like the Basilisque.
    I haue