Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Hardin Aasand
Peer Reviewed

The Winter's Tale (Folio 1, 1623)

The Winters Tale. 283
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. Exeunt

Scena Secunda.

820Enter 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.