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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)

    Actus Quintus. Scena Prima.
    Enter Leontes, Cleomines, Dion, Paulina, Seruants:
    Florizel, Perdita.
    Cleo. Sir, you haue done enough, and haue perform'd
    A Saint-like Sorrow: No fault could you make,
    Which you haue not redeem'd; indeed pay'd downe
    2730More penitence, then done trespas: At the last
    Doe, as the Heauens haue done; forget your euill,
    With them, forgiue your selfe.
    Leo. Whilest I remember
    Her, and her Vertues, I cannot forget
    2735My blemishes in them, and so still thinke of
    The wrong I did my selfe: which was so much,
    That Heire-lesse it hath made my Kingdome, and
    Destroy'd the sweet'st Companion, that ere man
    Bred his hopes out of, true.
    2740Paul. Too true (my Lord:)
    If one by one, you wedded all the World,
    Or from the All that are, tooke something good,
    To make a perfect Woman; she you kill'd,
    Would be vnparallell'd.
    2745Leo. I thinke so. Kill'd?
    She I kill'd? I did so: but thou strik'st me
    Sorely, to say I did: it is as bitter
    Vpon thy Tongue, as in my Thought. Now, good now,
    Say so but seldome.
    2750Cleo. Not at all, good Lady:
    You might haue spoken a thousand things, that would
    Haue done the time more benefit, and grac'd
    Your kindnesse better.
    Paul. You are one of those
    2755Would haue him wed againe.
    Dio. If you would not so,
    You pitty not the State, nor the Remembrance
    Of his most Soueraigne Name: Consider little,
    What Dangers, by his Highnesse faile of Issue,
    2760May drop vpon his Kingdome, and deuoure
    Incertaine lookers on. What were more holy,
    Then to reioyce the former Queene is well?
    What holyer, then for Royalties repayre,
    For present comfort, and for future good,
    2765To blesse the Bed of Maiestie againe
    With a sweet Fellow to't?
    Paul. There is none worthy,
    (Respecting her that's gone:) besides the Gods
    Will haue fulfill'd their secret purposes:
    2770For ha's not the Diuine Apollo said?
    Is't not the tenor of his Oracle,
    That King Leontes shall not haue an Heire,
    Till his lost Child be found? Which, that it shall,
    Is all as monstrous to our humane reason,
    2775As my Antigonus to breake his Graue,
    And come againe to me: who, on my life,
    Did perish with the Infant. 'Tis your councell,
    My Lord should to the Heauens be contrary,
    Oppose against their wills. Care not for Issue,
    2780The Crowne will find an Heire. Great Alexander
    Left his to th' Worthiest: so his Successor
    Was like to be the best.
    Leo. Good Paulina,
    Who hast the memorie of Hermione
    2785I know in honor: O, that euer I
    Had squar'd me to thy councell: then, euen now,
    I might haue look'd vpon my Queenes full eyes,
    Haue taken Treasure from her Lippes.
    Paul. And left them
    2790More rich, for what they yeelded.
    Leo. Thou speak'st truth:
    No more such Wiues, therefore no Wife: one worse,
    And better vs'd, would make her Sainted Spirit
    Againe possesse her Corps, and on this Stage
    2795(Where we Offendors now appeare) Soule-vext,
    And begin, why to me?
    Paul. Had she such power,
    She had iust such cause.
    Leo. She had, and would incense me
    2800To murther her I marryed.
    Paul. I should so:
    Were I the Ghost that walk'd, Il'd bid you marke
    Her eye, and tell me for what dull part in't
    You chose her: then Il'd shrieke, that euen your eares
    2805Should rift to heare me, and the words that follow'd,
    Should be, Remember mine.
    Leo. Starres, Starres,
    And all eyes else, dead coales: feare thou no Wife;
    Ile haue no Wife, Paulina.
    2810Paul. Will you sweare
    Neuer to marry, but by my free leaue?
    Leo. Neuer (Paulina) so be bless'd my Spirit.
    Paul. Then good my Lords, beare witnesse to his Oath.
    Cleo. You tempt him ouer-much.
    2815Paul. Vnlesse another,
    As like Hermione, as is her Picture,
    Affront his eye.
    Cleo. Good Madame, I haue done.
    Paul. Yet if my Lord will marry: if you will, Sir;
    2820No remedie but you will: Giue me the Office
    To chuse you a Queene: she shall not be so young
    As was your former, but she shall be such
    As (walk'd your first Queenes Ghost) it should take ioy
    To see her in your armes.
    2825Leo. My true Paulina,
    We shall not marry, till thou bidst vs.
    Paul. That
    Shall be when your first Queene's againe in breath:
    Neuer till then.
    Enter a Seruant.
    Ser. One that giues out himselfe Prince Florizell,
    Sonne of Polixenes, with his Princesse (she
    The fairest I haue yet beheld) desires accesse
    To your high presence.
    2835Leo. What with him? he comes not
    Like to his Fathers Greatnesse: his approach
    (So out of circumstance, and suddaine) tells vs,
    'Tis not a Visitation fram'd, but forc'd
    By need, and accident. What Trayne?
    2840Ser. But few,
    And those but meane.
    Leo. His Princesse (say you) with him?
    Ser. I: the most peerelesse peece of Earth, I thinke,
    That ere the Sunne shone bright on.
    2845Paul. Oh Hermione,
    As euery present Time doth boast it selfe
    Aboue a better, gone; so must thy Graue
    Giue way to what's seene now. Sir, you your selfe
    Haue said, and writ so; but your writing now
    2850Is colder then that Theame: she had not beene,
    Nor was not to be equall'd, thus your Verse
    Flow'd with her Beautie once; 'tis shrewdly ebb'd,
    To say you haue seene a better.
    Ser. Pardon, Madame:
    2855The one, I haue almost forgot (your pardon:)
    The other, when she ha's obtayn'd your Eye,
    Will haue your Tongue too. This is a Creature,
    Would she begin a Sect, might quench the zeale
    Of all Professors else; make Proselytes
    2860Of who she but bid follow.
    Paul. How? not women?
    Ser. Women will loue her, that she is a Woman
    More worth then any Man: Men, that she is
    The rarest of all Women.
    2865Leo. Goe Cleomines,
    Your selfe (assisted with your honor'd Friends)
    Bring them to our embracement. Still 'tis strange,
    He thus should steale vpon vs.
    Paul. Had our Prince
    2870(Iewell of Children) seene this houre, he had payr'd
    Well with this Lord; there was not full a moneth
    Betweene their births.
    Leo. 'Prethee no more; cease: thou know'st
    He dyes to me againe, when talk'd-of: sure
    2875When I shall see this Gentleman, thy speeches
    Will bring me to consider that, which may
    Vnfurnish me of Reason. They are come.
    Enter Florizell, Perdita, Cleomines, and others.
    Your Mother was most true to Wedlock, Prince,
    2880For she did print your Royall Father off,
    Conceiuing you. Were I but twentie one,
    Your Fathers Image is so hit in you,
    (His very ayre) that I should call you Brother,
    As I did him, and speake of something wildly
    2885By vs perform'd before. Most dearely welcome,
    And your faire Princesse (Goddesse) oh: alas,
    I lost a couple, that 'twixt Heauen and Earth
    Might thus haue stood, begetting wonder, as
    You (gracious Couple) doe: and then I lost
    2890(All mine owne Folly) the Societie,
    Amitie too of your braue Father, whom
    (Though bearing Miserie) I desire my life
    Once more to looke on him.
    Flo. By his command
    2895Haue I here touch'd Sicilia, and from him
    Giue you all greetings, that a King (at friend)
    Can send his Brother: and but Infirmitie
    (Which waits vpon worne times) hath something seiz'd
    His wish'd Abilitie, he had himselfe
    2900The Lands and Waters, 'twixt your Throne and his,
    Measur'd, to looke vpon you; whom he loues
    (He bad me say so) more then all the Scepters,
    And those that beare them, liuing.
    Leo. Oh my Brother,
    2905(Good Gentleman) the wrongs I haue done thee, stirre
    Afresh within me: and these thy offices
    (So rarely kind) are as Interpreters
    Of my behind-hand slacknesse. Welcome hither,
    As is the Spring to th' Earth. And hath he too
    2910Expos'd this Paragon to th' fearefull vsage
    (At least vngentle) of the dreadfull Neptune,
    To greet a man, not worth her paines; much lesse,
    Th' aduenture of her person?
    Flo. Good my Lord,
    2915She came from Libia.
    Leo. Where the Warlike Smalus,
    That Noble honor'd Lord, is fear'd, and lou'd?
    Flo. Most Royall Sir,
    From thence: from him, whose Daughter
    2920His Teares proclaym'd his parting with her: thence
    (A prosperous South-wind friendly) we haue cross'd,
    To execute the Charge my Father gaue me,
    For visiting your Highnesse: My best Traine
    I haue from your Sicilian Shores dismiss'd;
    2925Who for Bohemia bend, to signifie
    Not onely my successe in Libia (Sir)
    But my arriuall, and my Wifes, in safetie
    Here, where we are.
    Leo. The blessed Gods
    2930Purge all Infection from our Ayre, whilest you
    Doe Clymate here: you haue a holy Father,
    A graceful Gentleman, against whose person
    (So sacred as it is) I haue done sinne,
    For which, the Heauens (taking angry note)
    2935Haue left me Issue-lesse: and your Father's bless'd
    (As he from Heauen merits it) with you,
    Worthy his goodnesse. What might I haue been,
    Might I a Sonne and Daughter now haue look'd on,
    Such goodly things as you?
    Enter a Lord.
    Lord. Most Noble Sir,
    That which I shall report, will beare no credit,
    Were not the proofe so nigh. Please you (great Sir)
    Bohemia greets you from himselfe, by me:
    2945Desires you to attach his Sonne, who ha's
    (His Dignitie, and Dutie both cast off)
    Fled from his Father, from his Hopes, and with
    A Shepheards Daughter.
    Leo. Where's Bohemia? speake:
    2950Lord. Here, in your Citie: I now came from him.
    I speake amazedly, and it becomes
    My meruaile, and my Message. To your Court
    Whiles he was hastning (in the Chase, it seemes,
    Of this faire Couple) meetes he on the way
    2955The Father of this seeming Lady, and
    Her Brother, hauing both their Countrey quitted,
    With this young Prince.
    Flo. Camillo ha's betray'd me;
    Whose honor, and whose honestie till now,
    2960Endur'd all Weathers.
    Lord. Lay't so to his charge:
    He's with the King your Father.
    Leo. Who? Camillo?
    Lord. Camillo (Sir:) I spake with him: who now
    2965Ha's these poore men in question. Neuer saw I
    Wretches so quake: they kneele, they kisse the Earth;
    Forsweare themselues as often as they speake:
    Bohemia stops his eares, and threatens them
    With diuers deaths, in death.
    2970Perd. Oh my poore Father:
    The Heauen sets Spyes vpon vs, will not haue
    Our Contract celebrated.
    Leo. You are marryed?
    Flo. We are not (Sir) nor are we like to be:
    2975The Starres (I see) will kisse the Valleyes first:
    The oddes for high and low's alike.
    Leo. My Lord,
    Is this the Daughter of a King?
    Flo. She is,
    2980When once she is my Wife.
    Leo. That once (I see) by your good Fathers speed,
    Will come-on very slowly. I am sorry
    (Most sorry) you haue broken from his liking,
    Where you were ty'd in dutie: and as sorry,
    2985Your Choice is not so rich in Worth, as Beautie,
    That you might well enioy her.
    Flo. Deare, looke vp:
    Though Fortune, visible an Enemie,
    Should chase vs, with my Father; powre no iot
    2990Hath she to change our Loues. Beseech you (Sir)
    Remember, since you ow'd no more to Time
    Then I doe now: with thought of such Affections,
    Step forth mine Aduocate: at your request,
    My Father will graunt precious things, as Trifles.
    2995Leo. Would he doe so, I'ld beg your precious Mistris,
    Which he counts but a Trifle.
    Paul. Sir (my Liege)
    Your eye hath too much youth in't: not a moneth
    'Fore your Queene dy'd, she was more worth such gazes,
    3000Then what you looke on now.
    Leo. I thought of her,
    Euen in these Lookes I made. But your Petition
    Is yet vn-answer'd: I will to your Father:
    Your Honor not o're-throwne by your desires,
    3005I am friend to them, and you: Vpon which Errand
    I now goe toward him: therefore follow me,
    And marke what way I make: Come good my Lord.