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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. 285
    1005The sacred Honor of himselfe, his Queenes,
    His hopefull Sonnes, his Babes, betrayes to Slander,
    Whose sting is sharper then the Swords; and will not
    (For as the case now stands, it is a Curse
    He cannot be compell'd too't) once remoue
    1010The Root of his Opinion, which is rotten,
    As euer Oake, or Stone was sound.
    Leo. A Callat
    Of boundlesse tongue, who late hath beat her Husband,
    And now bayts me: This Brat is none of mine,
    1015It is the Issue of Polixenes.
    Hence with it, and together with the Dam,
    Commit them to the fire.
    Paul. It is yours:
    And might we lay th' old Prouerb to your charge,
    1020So like you, 'tis the worse. Behold (my Lords)
    Although the Print be little, the whole Matter
    And Coppy of the Father: (Eye, Nose, Lippe,
    The trick of's Frowne, his Fore-head, nay, the Valley,
    The pretty dimples of his Chin, and Cheeke; his Smiles:
    1025The very Mold, and frame of Hand, Nayle, Finger.)
    And thou good Goddesse Nature, which hast made it
    So like to him that got it, if thou hast
    The ordering of the Mind too, 'mongst all Colours
    No Yellow in't, least she suspect, as he do's,
    1030Her Children, not her Husbands.
    Leo. A grosse Hagge:
    And Lozell, thou art worthy to be hang'd,
    That wilt not stay her Tongue.
    Antig. Hang all the Husbands
    1035That cannot doe that Feat, you'le leaue your selfe
    Hardly one Subiect.
    Leo. Once more take her hence.
    Paul. A most vnworthy, and vnnaturall Lord
    Can doe no more.
    1040Leo. Ile ha' thee burnt.
    Paul. I care not:
    It is an Heretique that makes the fire,
    Not she which burnes in't. Ile not call you Tyrant:
    But this most cruell vsage of your Queene
    1045(Not able to produce more accusation
    Then your owne weake-hindg'd Fancy) something sauors
    Of Tyrannie, and will ignoble make you,
    Yea, scandalous to the World.
    Leo. On your Allegeance,
    1050Out of the Chamber with her. Were I a Tyrant,
    Where were her life? she durst not call me so,
    If she did know me one. Away with her.
    Paul. I pray you doe not push me, Ile be gone.
    Looke to your Babe (my Lord) 'tis yours: Ioue send her
    1055A better guiding Spirit. What needs these hands?
    You that are thus so tender o're his Follyes,
    Will neuer doe him good, not one of you.
    So, so: Farewell, we are gone. Exit.
    Leo. Thou (Traytor) hast set on thy Wife to this.
    1060My Child? away with't? euen thou, that hast
    A heart so tender o're it, take it hence,
    And see it instantly consum'd with fire.
    Euen thou, and none but thou. Take it vp straight:
    Within this houre bring me word 'tis done,
    1065(And by good testimonie) or Ile seize thy life,
    With what thou else call'st thine: if thou refuse,
    And wilt encounter with my Wrath, say so;
    The Bastard-braynes with these my proper hands
    Shall I dash out. Goe, take it to the fire,
    1070For thou sett'st on thy Wife.
    Antig. I did not, Sir:
    These Lords, my Noble Fellowes, if they please,
    Can cleare me in't.
    Lords. We can: my Royall Liege,
    1075He is not guiltie of her comming hither.
    Leo. You're lyers all.
    Lord. Beseech your Highnesse, giue vs better credit:
    We haue alwayes truly seru'd you, and beseech'
    So to esteeme of vs: and on our knees we begge,
    1080(As recompence of our deare seruices
    Past, and to come) that you doe change this purpose,
    Which being so horrible, so bloody, must
    Lead on to some foule Issue. We all kneele.
    Leo. I am a Feather for each Wind that blows:
    1085Shall I liue on, to see this Bastard kneele,
    And call me Father? better burne it now,
    Then curse it then. But be it: let it liue.
    It shall not neyther. You Sir, come you hither:
    You that haue beene so tenderly officious
    1090With Lady Margerie, your Mid-wife there,
    To saue this Bastards life; for 'tis a Bastard,
    So sure as this Beard's gray. What will you aduenture,
    To saue this Brats life?
    Antig. Any thing (my Lord)
    1095That my abilitie may vndergoe,
    And Noblenesse impose: at least thus much;
    Ile pawne the little blood which I haue left,
    To saue the Innocent: any thing possible.
    Leo. It shall be possible: Sweare by this Sword
    1100Thou wilt performe my bidding.
    Antig. I will (my Lord.)
    Leo. Marke, and performe it: seest thou? for the faile
    Of any point in't, shall not onely be
    Death to thy selfe, but to thy lewd-tongu'd Wife,
    1105(Whom for this time we pardon) We enioyne thee,
    As thou art Liege-man to vs, that thou carry
    This female Bastard hence, and that thou beare it
    To some remote and desart place, quite out
    Of our Dominions; and that there thou leaue it
    1110(Without more mercy) to it owne protection,
    And fauour of the Climate: as by strange fortune
    It came to vs, I doe in Iustice charge thee,
    On thy Soules perill, and thy Bodyes torture,
    That thou commend it strangely to some place,
    1115Where Chance may nurse, or end it: take it vp.
    Antig. I sweare to doe this: though a present death
    Had beene more mercifull. Come on (poore Babe)
    Some powerfull Spirit instruct the Kytes and Rauens
    To be thy Nurses. Wolues and Beares, they say,
    1120(Casting their sauagenesse aside) haue done
    Like offices of Pitty. Sir, be prosperous
    In more then this deed do's require; and Blessing
    Against this Crueltie, fight on thy side
    (Poore Thing, condemn'd to losse.) Exit.
    1125Leo. No: Ile not reare
    Anothers Issue. Enter a Seruant.
    Seru. Please' your Highnesse, Posts
    From those you sent to th' Oracle, are come
    An houre since: Cleomines and Dion,
    1130Being well arriu'd from Delphos, are both landed,
    Hasting to th' Court.
    Lord. So please you (Sir) their speed
    Hath beene beyond accompt.
    Leo. Twentie three dayes
    1135They haue beene absent: 'tis good speed: fore-tells
    The great Apollo suddenly will haue