The Winter’s Tale
Act II, Scene 1
Sicilia. A room in Leontes’ palace.
- Enter Hermione, Mamillius, Ladies.
Hermione1 - 2
- Take the boy to you; he so troubles me,
- ’Tis past enduring.
First Lady3 - 4
- Come, my gracious lord,
- Shall I be your playfellow?
- No, I’ll none of you.
- Why, my sweet lord?
Mamillius7 - 8
- You’ll kiss me hard and speak to me as if
- I were a baby still.—I love you better.
- And why so, my lord?
Mamillius10 - 14
- Not for because
- Your brows are blacker, yet black brows they say
- Become some women best, so that there be not
- Too much hair there, but in a semicircle,
- Or a half-moon made with a pen.
- Who taught’ this?
Mamillius16 - 17
- I learn’d it out of women’s faces. Pray now
- What color are your eyebrows?
- Blue, my lord.
Mamillius19 - 20
- Nay, that’s a mock. I have seen a lady’s nose
- That has been blue, but not her eyebrows.
First Lady21 - 25
- Hark ye,
- The Queen your mother rounds apace: we shall
- Present our services to a fine new prince
- One of these days, and then you’ld wanton with us,
- If we would have you.
Second Lady26 - 27
- She is spread of late
- Into a goodly bulk. Good time encounter her!
Hermione28 - 30
- What wisdom stirs amongst you? Come, sir, now
- I am for you again. Pray you sit by us,
- And tell ’s a tale.
- Merry, or sad, shall’t be?
- As merry as you will.
Mamillius33 - 34
- A sad tale’s best for winter. I have one
- Of sprites and goblins.
Hermione35 - 37
- Let’s have that, good sir.
- Come on, sit down, come on, and do your best
- To fright me with your sprites; you’re pow’rful at it.
- There was a man—
- Nay, come sit down; then on.
Mamillius40 - 41
- Dwelt by a churchyard. I will tell it softly,
- Yond crickets shall not hear it.
Hermione42 - 43
- Come on then,
- And give’t me in mine ear.
- Enter Leontes, Antigonus, Lords, and others.
- Was he met there? His train? Camillo with him?
First Lord45 - 47
- Behind the tuft of pines I met them; never
- Saw I men scour so on their way. I ey’d them
- Even to their ships.
Leontes48 - 65
- How blest am I
- In my just censure! In my true opinion!
- Alack, for lesser knowledge! How accurs’d
- In being so blest! There may be in the cup
- A spider steep’d, and one may drink; depart,
- And yet partake no venom (for his knowledge
- Is not infected), but if one present
- Th’ abhorr’d ingredient to his eye, make known
- How he hath drunk, he cracks his gorge, his sides,
- With violent hefts. I have drunk, and seen the spider.
- Camillo was his help in this, his pandar.
- There is a plot against my life, my crown;
- All’s true that is mistrusted. That false villain
- Whom I employ’d was pre-employ’d by him:
- He has discover’d my design, and I
- Remain a pinch’d thing; yea, a very trick
- For them to play at will. How came the posterns
- So easily open?
First Lord66 - 68
- By his great authority,
- Which often hath no less prevail’d than so
- On your command.
Leontes69 - 72
- I know’t too well.
- Give me the boy. I am glad you did not nurse him.
- Though he does bear some signs of me, yet you
- Have too much blood in him.
- What is this? Sport?
Leontes74 - 77
- Bear the boy hence, he shall not come about her.
- Away with him! And let her sport herself
- With that she’s big with, for ’tis Polixenes
- Has made thee swell thus.
Hermione78 - 80
- But I’d say he had not;
- And I’ll be sworn you would believe my saying,
- Howe’er you lean to th’ nayward.
Leontes81 - 95
- You, my lords,
- Look on her, mark her well; be but about
- To say she is a goodly lady, and
- The justice of your hearts will thereto add
- ’Tis pity she’s not honest—honorable.
- Praise her but for this her without-door form
- (Which on my faith deserves high speech) and straight
- The shrug, the hum or ha (these petty brands
- That calumny doth use—O, I am out—
- That mercy does, for calumny will sear
- Virtue itself), these shrugs, these hums and ha’s,
- When you have said she’s goodly, come between
- Ere you can say she’s honest: but be’t known
- (From him that has most cause to grieve it should be)
- She’s an adult’ress.
Hermione96 - 99
- Should a villain say so,
- The most replenish’d villain in the world,
- He were as much more villain: you, my lord,
- Do but mistake.
Leontes100 - 114
- You have mistook, my lady,
- Polixenes for Leontes. O thou thing!
- Which I’ll not call a creature of thy place,
- Lest barbarism (making me the precedent)
- Should a like language use to all degrees,
- And mannerly distinguishment leave out
- Betwixt the prince and beggar. I have said
- She’s an adult’ress, I have said with whom:
- More—she’s a traitor, and Camillo is
- A federary with her, and one that knows
- What she should shame to know herself,
- But with her most vild principal—that she’s
- A bed-swerver, even as bad as those
- That vulgars give bold’st titles; ay, and privy
- To this their late escape.
Hermione115 - 120
- No, by my life,
- Privy to none of this. How will this grieve you,
- When you shall come to clearer knowledge, that
- You thus have publish’d me! Gentle my lord,
- You scarce can right me throughly, then, to say
- You did mistake.
Leontes121 - 126
- No; if I mistake
- In those foundations which I build upon,
- The center is not big enough to bear
- A schoolboy’s top. Away with her, to prison!
- He who shall speak for her is afar off guilty
- But that he speaks.
Hermione127 - 137
- There’s some ill planet reigns;
- I must be patient, till the heavens look
- With an aspect more favorable. Good my lords,
- I am not prone to weeping, as our sex
- Commonly are, the want of which vain dew
- Perchance shall dry your pities; but I have
- That honorable grief lodg’d here which burns
- Worse than tears drown. Beseech you all, my lords,
- With thoughts so qualified as your charities
- Shall best instruct you, measure me; and so
- The King’s will be perform’d!
- Shall I be heard?
Hermione139 - 147
- Who is’t that goes with me? Beseech your Highness
- My women may be with me, for you see
- My plight requires it. Do not weep, good fools,
- There is no cause. When you shall know your mistress
- Has deserv’d prison, then abound in tears
- As I come out; this action I now go on
- Is for my better grace. Adieu, my lord,
- I never wish’d to see you sorry, now
- I trust I shall. My women, come, you have leave.
- Go, do our bidding; hence!
- Exit Queen guarded, with Ladies.
- Beseech your Highness call the Queen again.
Antigonus150 - 152
- Be certain what you do, sir, lest your justice
- Prove violence, in the which three great ones suffer,
- Yourself, your queen, your son.
First Lord153 - 157
- For her, my lord,
- I dare my life lay down—and will do’t, sir,
- Please you t’ accept it—that the Queen is spotless
- I’ th’eyes of heaven and to you—I mean,
- In this which you accuse her.
Antigonus158 - 164
- If it prove
- She’s otherwise, I’ll keep my stables where
- I lodge my wife; I’ll go in couples with her;
- Than when I feel and see her no farther trust her;
- For every inch of woman in the world,
- Ay, every dram of woman’s flesh is false,
- If she be.
- Hold your peaces.
- Good my lord—
Antigonus167 - 177
- It is for you we speak, not for ourselves.
- You are abus’d, and by some putter-on
- That will be damn’d for’t. Would I knew the villain,
- I would land-damn him. Be she honor-flaw’d,
- I have three daughters: the eldest is eleven;
- The second and the third, nine, and some five;
- If this prove true, they’ll pay for’t. By mine honor,
- I’ll geld ’em all; fourteen they shall not see
- To bring false generations. They are co-heirs,
- And I had rather glib myself than they
- Should not produce fair issue.
Leontes178 - 183
- Cease, no more.
- You smell this business with a sense as cold
- As is a dead man’s nose; but I do see’t, and feel’t,
- As you feel doing thus
- Grasps his arm.
- —and see withal
- The instruments that feel.
Antigonus184 - 187
- If it be so,
- We need no grave to bury honesty,
- There’s not a grain of it the face to sweeten
- Of the whole dungy earth.
- What? Lack I credit?
First Lord189 - 192
- I had rather you did lack than I, my lord,
- Upon this ground; and more it would content me
- To have her honor true than your suspicion,
- Be blam’d for’t how you might.
Leontes193 - 202
- Why, what need we
- Commune with you of this, but rather follow
- Our forceful instigation? Our prerogative
- Calls not your counsels, but our natural goodness
- Imparts this; which if you—or stupefied
- Or seeming so in skill—cannot, or will not,
- Relish a truth like us, inform yourselves
- We need no more of your advice. The matter,
- The loss, the gain, the ord’ring on’t, is all
- Properly ours.
Antigonus203 - 205
- And I wish, my liege,
- You had only in your silent judgment tried it,
- Without more overture.
Leontes206 - 221
- How could that be?
- Either thou art most ignorant by age,
- Or thou wert born a fool. Camillo’s flight,
- Added to their familiarity
- (Which was as gross as ever touch’d conjecture,
- That lack’d sight only, nought for approbation
- But only seeing, all other circumstances
- Made up to th’ deed), doth push on this proceeding.
- Yet, for a greater confirmation
- (For in an act of this importance ’twere
- Most piteous to be wild), I have dispatch’d in post
- To sacred Delphos, to Apollo’s temple,
- Cleomines and Dion, whom you know
- Of stuff’d sufficiency. Now, from the oracle
- They will bring all, whose spiritual counsel had,
- Shall stop or spur me. Have I done well?
- Well done, my lord.
Leontes223 - 232
- Though I am satisfied, and need no more
- Than what I know, yet shall the oracle
- Give rest to th’ minds of others—such as he,
- Points at Antigonus.
- Whose ignorant credulity will not
- Come up to th’ truth. So have we thought it good
- From our free person she should be confin’d,
- Lest that the treachery of the two fled hence
- Be left her to perform. Come follow us,
- We are to speak in public; for this business
- Will raise us all.
Antigonus233 - 234
- To laughter, as I take it,
- If the good truth were known.