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  • 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.
    Mam. There was a man.
    Her. Nay, come sit downe: then on.
    625Mam. Dwelt by a Church-yard: I will tell it softly,
    Yond Crickets shall not heare it.
    Her. Come on then, and giu't me in mine eare.
    Leon. Was hee met there? his Traine? Camillo with
    630Lord. Behind the tuft of Pines I met them, neuer
    Saw I men scowre so on their way: I eyed them
    Euen to their Ships.
    Leo. How blest am I
    In my iust Censure? in my true Opinion?
    635Alack, for lesser knowledge, how accurs'd,
    In being so blest? There may be in the Cup
    A Spider steep'd, and one may drinke; depart,
    And yet partake no venome: (for his knowledge
    Is not infected) but if one present
    640Th' abhor'd Ingredient to his eye, make knowne
    How he hath drunke, he cracks his gorge, his sides
    With violent Hefts: I haue drunke, and seene the Spider.
    Camillo was his helpe in this, his Pandar:
    There is a Plot against my Life, my Crowne;
    645All's true that is mistrusted: that false Villaine,
    Whom I employ'd, was pre-employ'd by him:
    He ha's discouer'd my Designe, and I
    Remaine a pinch'd Thing; yea, a very Trick
    For them to play at will: how came the Posternes
    650So easily open?
    Lord. By his great authority,
    Which often hath no lesse preuail'd, then so,
    On your command.
    Leo. I know't too well.
    655Giue me the Boy, I am glad you did not nurse him:
    Though he do's beare some signes of me, yet you
    Haue too much blood in him.
    Her. What is this? Sport?
    Leo. Beare the Boy hence, he shall not come about her,
    660Away with him, and let her sport her selfe
    With that shee's big-with, for 'tis Polixenes
    Ha's made thee swell thus.
    Her. But Il'd say he had not;
    And Ile be sworne you would beleeue my saying,
    665How e're you leane to th' Nay-ward.
    Leo. You (my Lords)
    Looke on her, marke her well: be but about
    To say she is a goodly Lady, and
    The iustice of your hearts will thereto adde
    670'Tis pitty shee's not honest: Honorable;
    Prayse her but for this her without-dore-Forme,
    (Which on my faith deserues high speech) and straight
    The Shrug, the Hum, or Ha, (these Petty-brands
    That Calumnie doth vse; Oh, I am out,
    675That Mercy do's, for Calumnie will seare
    Vertue it selfe) these Shrugs, these Hum's, and Ha's,
    When you haue said shee's goodly, come betweene,
    Ere you can say shee's honest: But be't knowne
    (From him that ha's most cause to grieue it should be)
    680Shee's an Adultresse.
    Her. Should a Villaine say so,
    (The most replenish'd Villaine in the World)
    He were as much more Villaine: you (my Lord)
    Doe but mistake.
    685Leo. You haue mistooke (my Lady)
    Polixenes for Leontes: O thou Thing,
    (Which Ile not call a Creature of thy place,
    Least Barbarisme (making me the precedent)
    Should a like Language vse to all degrees,
    690And mannerly distinguishment leaue out,
    Betwixt the Prince and Begger:) I haue said
    Shee's an Adultresse, I haue said with whom:
    More; shee's a Traytor, and Camillo is
    A Federarie with her, and one that knowes
    695What she should shame to know her selfe,
    But with her most vild Principall: that shee's
    A Bed-swaruer, euen as bad as those
    That Vulgars giue bold'st Titles; I, and priuy
    To this their late escape.
    700Her. No (by my life)
    Priuy to none of this: how will this grieue you,
    When you shall come to clearer knowledge, that
    You thus haue publish'd me? Gentle my Lord,
    You scarce can right me throughly, then, to say
    705You did mistake.
    Leo. No: if I mistake
    In those Foundations which I build vpon,
    The Centre is not bigge enough to beare
    A Schoole-Boyes Top. Away with her, to Prison:
    710He who shall speake for her, is a farre-off guiltie,
    But that he speakes.
    Her. There's some ill Planet raignes:
    I must be patient, till the Heauens looke
    With an aspect more fauorable. Good my Lords,
    715I am not prone to weeping (as our Sex
    Commonly are) the want of which vaine dew
    Perchance shall dry your pitties: but I haue
    That honorable Griefe lodg'd here, which burnes
    Worse then Teares drowne: 'beseech you all (my Lords)
    720With thoughts so qualified, as your Charities
    Shall best instruct you, measure me; and so
    The Kings will be perform'd.
    Leo. Shall I be heard?
    Her. Who is't that goes with me? 'beseech your Highnes
    725My Women may be with me, for you see
    My plight requires it. Doe not weepe (good Fooles)
    There is no cause: When you shall know your Mistris
    Ha's deseru'd Prison, then abound in Teares,
    As I come out; this Action I now goe on,
    730Is for my better grace. Adieu (my Lord)
    I neuer wish'd to see you sorry, now
    I trust I shall: my Women come, you haue leaue.
    Leo. Goe, doe our bidding: hence.
    Lord. Beseech your Highnesse call the Queene againe.
    735Antig. Be certaine what you do (Sir) least your Iustice
    Proue violence, in the which three great ones suffer,
    Your Selfe, your Queene, your Sonne.
    Lord. For her (my Lord)
    I dare my life lay downe, and will do't (Sir)
    740Please you t' accept it, that the Queene is spotlesse
    I'th' eyes of Heauen, and to you (I meane
    In this, which you accuse her.)
    Antig. If it proue
    Shee's otherwise, Ile keepe my Stables where
    745I lodge my Wife, Ile goe in couples with her:
    Then when I feele, and see her, no farther trust her:
    For euery ynch of Woman in the World,
    I, euery dram of Womans flesh is false,
    If she be.
    750Leo. Hold your peaces.
    Lord. Good my Lord.
    Antig. It is for you we speake, not for our selues:
    You are abus'd, and by some putter on,
    That will be damn'd for't: would I knew the Villaine,
    I would