Internet Shakespeare Editions

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.
    755I would Land-damne him: be she honor-flaw'd,
    I haue three daughters: the eldest is eleuen;
    The second, and the third, nine: and some fiue:
    If this proue true, they'l pay for't. By mine Honor
    Ile gell'd em all: fourteene they shall not see
    760To bring false generations: they are co-heyres,
    And I had rather glib my selfe, then they
    Should not produce faire issue.
    Leo. Cease, no more:
    You smell this businesse with a sence as cold
    765As is a dead-mans nose: but I do see't, and feel't,
    As you feele doing thus: and see withall
    The Instruments that feele.
    Antig. If it be so,
    We neede no graue to burie honesty,
    770There's not a graine of it, the face to sweeten
    Of the whole dungy-earth.
    Leo. What? lacke I credit?
    Lord. I had rather you did lacke then I (my Lord)
    Vpon this ground: and more it would content me
    775To haue her Honor true, then your suspition
    Be blam'd for't how you might.
    Leo. Why what neede we
    Commune with you of this? but rather follow
    Our forcefull instigation? Our prerogatiue
    780Cals not your Counsailes, but our naturall goodnesse
    Imparts this: which, if you, or stupified,
    Or seeming so, in skill, cannot, or will not
    Rellish a truth, like vs: informe your selues,
    We neede no more of your aduice: the matter,
    785The losse, the gaine, the ord'ring on't,
    Is all properly ours.
    Antig. And I wish (my Liege)
    You had onely in your silent iudgement tride it,
    Without more ouerture.
    790Leo. How could that be?
    Either thou art most ignorant by age,
    Or thou wer't borne a foole: Camillo's flight
    Added to their Familiarity
    (Which was as grosse, as euer touch'd coniecture,
    795That lack'd sight onely, nought for approbation
    But onely seeing, all other circumstances
    Made vp to'th deed) doth push-on this proceeding.
    Yet, for a greater confirmation
    (For in an Acte of this importance, 'twere
    800Most pitteous to be wilde) I haue dispatch'd in post,
    To sacred Delphos, to Appollo's Temple,
    Cleomines and Dion, whom you know
    Of stuff'd-sufficiency: Now, from the Oracle
    They will bring all, whose spirituall counsaile had
    805Shall stop, or spurre me. Haue I done well?
    Lord. Well done (my Lord.)
    Leo. Though I am satisfide, and neede no more
    Then what I know, yet shall the Oracle
    Giue rest to th' mindes of others; such as he
    810Whose ignorant credulitie, will not
    Come vp to th' truth. So haue we thought it good
    From our free person, she should be confinde,
    Least that the treachery of the two, fled hence,
    Be left her to performe. Come follow vs,
    815We are to speake in publique: for this businesse
    Will raise vs all.
    Antig. To laughter, as I take it,
    If the good truth, were knowne.

    Scena Secunda.

    Enter Paulina, a Gentleman, Gaoler, Emilia.
    Paul. The Keeper of the prison, call to him:
    Let him haue knowledge who I am. Good Lady,
    No Court in Europe is too good for thee,
    What dost thou then in prison? Now good Sir,
    825You know me, do you not?
    Gao. For a worthy Lady,
    And one, who much I honour.
    Pau. Pray you then,
    Conduct me to the Queene.
    830Gao. I may not (Madam)
    To the contrary I haue expresse commandment.
    Pau. Here's a-do, to locke vp honesty & honour from
    Th' accesse of gentle visitors. Is't lawfull pray you
    To see her Women? Any of them? Emilia?
    835Gao. So please you (Madam)
    To put a-part these your attendants, I
    Shall bring Emilia forth.
    Pau. I pray now call her:
    With-draw your selues.
    840Gao. And Madam,
    I must be present at your Conference.
    Pau. Well: be't so: prethee.
    Heere's such a-doe, to make no staine, a staine,
    As passes colouring. Deare Gentlewoman,
    845How fares our gracious Lady?
    Emil. As well as one so great, and so forlorne
    May hold together: On her frights, and greefes
    (Which neuer tender Lady hath borne greater)
    She is, something before her time, deliuer'd.
    850Pau. A boy?
    Emil. A daughter, and a goodly babe,
    Lusty, and like to liue: the Queene receiues
    Much comfort in't: Sayes, my poore prisoner,
    I am innocent as you,
    855Pau. I dare be sworne:
    These dangerous, vnsafe Lunes i'th' King, beshrew them:
    He must be told on't, and he shall: the office
    Becomes a woman best. Ile take't vpon me,
    If I proue hony-mouth'd, let my tongue blister.
    860And neuer to my red-look'd Anger bee
    The Trumpet any more: pray you (Emilia)
    Commend my best obedience to the Queene,
    If she dares trust me with her little babe,
    I'le shew't the King, and vndertake to bee
    865Her Aduocate to th' lowd'st. We do not know
    How he may soften at the sight o'th' Childe:
    The silence often of pure innocence
    Perswades, when speaking failes.
    Emil. Most worthy Madam,
    870Your honor, and your goodnesse is so euident,
    That your free vndertaking cannot misse
    A thriuing yssue: there is no Lady liuing
    So meete for this great errand; please your Ladiship
    To visit the next roome, Ile presently
    875Acquaint the Queene of your most noble offer,
    Who, but to day hammered of this designe,
    But durst not tempt a minister of honour
    Least she should be deny'd.