The Winter’s Tale
Act III, Scene 2
Sicilia. A court of justice.
- Enter Leontes, Lords, Officers.
Leontes1 - 8
- This sessions (to our great grief we pronounce)
- Even pushes ’gainst our heart—the party tried,
- The daughter of a king, our wife, and one
- Of us too much belov’d. Let us be clear’d
- Of being tyrannous, since we so openly
- Proceed in justice, which shall have due course,
- Even to the guilt or the purgation.
- Produce the prisoner.
Officer9 - 11
- It is his Highness’ pleasure that the Queen
- Appear in person here in court.
- Enter Hermione (as to her trial), Paulina, and Ladies
- Read the indictment.
Officer13 - 21
- “Hermione, queen to the worthy Leontes, King of Sicilia,
- thou art here accused and arraigned of high treason, in
- committing adultery with Polixenes, King of Bohemia, and
- conspiring with Camillo to take away the life of our
- sovereign lord the King, thy royal husband: the pretense
- whereof being by circumstances partly laid open, thou,
- Hermione, contrary to the faith and allegiance of a true
- subject, didst counsel and aid them, for their better
- safety, to fly away by night.”
Hermione22 - 54
- Since what I am to say must be but that
- Which contradicts my accusation, and
- The testimony on my part no other
- But what comes from myself, it shall scarce boot me
- To say “Not guilty.” Mine integrity,
- Being counted falsehood, shall (as I express it)
- Be so receiv’d. But thus, if pow’rs divine
- Behold our human actions (as they do),
- I doubt not then but innocence shall make
- False accusation blush, and tyranny
- Tremble at patience. You, my lord, best know
- (Who least will seem to do so) my past life
- Hath been as continent, as chaste, as true,
- As I am now unhappy; which is more
- Than history can pattern, though devis’d
- And play’d to take spectators. For behold me,
- A fellow of the royal bed, which owe
- A moi’ty of the throne, a great king’s daughter,
- The mother to a hopeful prince, here standing
- To prate and talk for life and honor ’fore
- Who please to come and hear. For life, I prize it
- As I weigh grief, which I would spare; for honor,
- ’Tis a derivative from me to mine,
- And only that I stand for. I appeal
- To your own conscience, sir, before Polixenes
- Came to your court, how I was in your grace,
- How merited to be so; since he came,
- With what encounter so uncurrent I
- Have strain’d t’ appear thus; if one jot beyond
- The bound of honor, or in act or will
- That way inclining, hard’ned be the hearts
- Of all that hear me, and my near’st of kin
- Cry fie upon my grave!
Leontes55 - 58
- I ne’er heard yet
- That any of these bolder vices wanted
- Less impudence to gainsay what they did
- Than to perform it first.
Hermione59 - 60
- That’s true enough,
- Though ’tis a saying, sir, not due to me.
- You will not own it.
Hermione62 - 79
- More than mistress of
- Which comes to me in name of fault, I must not
- At all acknowledge. For Polixenes
- (With whom I am accus’d), I do confess
- I lov’d him as in honor he requir’d;
- With such a kind of love as might become
- A lady like me; with a love even such,
- So, and no other, as yourself commanded;
- Which not to have done I think had been in me
- Both disobedience and ingratitude
- To you and toward your friend, whose love had spoke,
- Even since it could speak, from an infant, freely,
- That it was yours. Now for conspiracy,
- I know not how it tastes, though it be dish’d
- For me to try how. All I know of it
- Is that Camillo was an honest man;
- And why he left your court, the gods themselves
- (Wotting no more than I) are ignorant.
Leontes80 - 81
- You knew of his departure, as you know
- What you have underta’en to do in ’s absence.
Hermione82 - 85
- You speak a language that I understand not.
- My life stands in the level of your dreams,
- Which I’ll lay down.
Leontes86 - 95
- Your actions are my dreams.
- You had a bastard by Polixenes,
- And I but dream’d it. As you were past all shame
- (Those of your fact are so), so past all truth;
- Which to deny concerns more than avails; for as
- Thy brat hath been cast out, like to itself,
- No father owning it (which is indeed
- More criminal in thee than it), so thou
- Shall feel our justice; in whose easiest passage
- Look for no less than death.
Hermione96 - 121
- Sir, spare your threats.
- The bug which you would fright me with, I seek.
- To me can life be no commodity;
- The crown and comfort of my life, your favor,
- I do give lost, for I do feel it gone,
- But know not how it went. My second joy
- And first-fruits of my body, from his presence
- I am barr’d, like one infectious. My third comfort
- (Starr’d most unluckily) is from my breast
- (The innocent milk in it most innocent mouth)
- Hal’d out to murder; myself on every post
- Proclaim’d a strumpet; with immodest hatred
- The child-bed privilege denied, which ’longs
- To women of all fashion; lastly, hurried
- Here to this place, i’ th’ open air, before
- I have got strength of limit. Now, my liege,
- Tell me what blessings I have here alive,
- That I should fear to die? Therefore proceed.
- But yet hear this—mistake me not; no life
- (I prize it not a straw), but for mine honor,
- Which I would free—if I shall be condemn’d
- Upon surmises (all proofs sleeping else
- But what your jealousies awake), I tell you
- ’Tis rigor and not law. Your honors all,
- I do refer me to the oracle:
- Apollo be my judge!
First Lord122 - 124
- This your request
- Is altogether just; therefore bring forth,
- And in Apollo’s name, his oracle.
- Exeunt certain Officers.
Hermione125 - 129
- The Emperor of Russia was my father.
- O that he were alive, and here beholding
- His daughter’s trial! That he did but see
- The flatness of my misery, yet with eyes
- Of pity, not revenge!
- Enter Officers with Cleomines, Dion.
Officer130 - 136
- You here shall swear upon this sword of justice,
- That you, Cleomines and Dion, have
- Been both at Delphos, and from thence have brought
- This seal’d-up oracle, by the hand deliver’d
- Of great Apollo’s priest; and that since then
- You have not dar’d to break the holy seal
- Nor read the secrets in’t.
Both Cleomines and Dion137
- All this we swear.
- Break up the seals, and read.
Officer139 - 142
- “Hermione is chaste, Polixenes blameless, Camillo a true
- subject, Leontes a jealous tyrant, his innocent babe truly
- begotten, and the King shall live without an heir, if that
- which is lost be not found.”
- Now blessed be the great Apollo!
- Hast thou read truth?
Officer146 - 147
- Ay, my lord, even so
- As it is here set down.
Leontes148 - 149
- There is no truth at all i’ th’ oracle.
- The sessions shall proceed; this is mere falsehood.
- Enter First Servant.
- My lord the King! The King!
- What is the business?
First Servant152 - 154
- O sir, I shall be hated to report it!
- The Prince your son, with mere conceit and fear
- Of the Queen’s speed, is gone.
- How? Gone?
- Is dead.
Leontes157 - 159
- Apollo’s angry, and the heavens themselves
- Do strike at my injustice.
- Hermione swoons.
- How now there?
Paulina160 - 161
- This news is mortal to the Queen. Look down
- And see what death is doing.
Leontes162 - 186
- Take her hence;
- Her heart is but o’ercharg’d; she will recover.
- I have too much believ’d mine own suspicion.
- Beseech you tenderly apply to her
- Some remedies for life.
- Exeunt Paulina and Ladies with Hermione.
- Apollo, pardon
- My great profaneness ’gainst thine oracle!
- I’ll reconcile me to Polixenes,
- New woo my queen, recall the good Camillo,
- Whom I proclaim a man of truth, of mercy;
- For being transported by my jealousies
- To bloody thoughts, and to revenge, I chose
- Camillo for the minister to poison
- My friend Polixenes; which had been done,
- But that the good mind of Camillo tardied
- My swift command, though I with death and with
- Reward did threaten and encourage him,
- Not doing it and being done. He (most humane
- And fill’d with honor) to my kingly guest
- Unclasp’d my practice, quit his fortunes here
- (Which you knew great), and to the hazard of
- All incertainties himself commended,
- No richer than his honor. How he glisters
- Through my rust! And how his piety
- Does my deeds make the blacker!
- Enter Paulina.
Paulina187 - 189
- Woe the while!
- O, cut my lace, lest my heart, cracking it,
- Break too!
- What fit is this, good lady?
Paulina191 - 218
- What studied torments, tyrant, hast for me?
- What wheels? Racks? Fires? What flaying? Boiling
- In leads or oils? What old or newer torture
- Must I receive, whose every word deserves
- To taste of thy most worst? Thy tyranny,
- Together working with thy jealousies
- (Fancies too weak for boys, too green and idle
- For girls of nine), O, think what they have done,
- And then run mad indeed—stark mad! For all
- Thy by-gone fooleries were but spices of it.
- That thou betrayedst Polixenes, ’twas nothing—
- That did but show thee, of a fool, inconstant,
- And damnable ingrateful; nor was’t much
- Thou wouldst have poison’d good Camillo’s honor,
- To have him kill a king—poor trespasses,
- More monstrous standing by; whereof I reckon
- The casting forth to crows thy baby-daughter
- To be or none or little—though a devil
- Would have shed water out of fire ere done’t;
- Nor is’t directly laid to thee, the death
- Of the young Prince, whose honorable thoughts
- (Thoughts high for one so tender) cleft the heart
- That could conceive a gross and foolish sire
- Blemish’d his gracious dam; this is not, no,
- Laid to thy answer: but the last—O lords,
- When I have said, cry “Woe!”—the Queen, the Queen,
- The sweet’st, dear’st creature’s dead, and vengeance for’t
- Not dropp’d down yet.
- The higher pow’rs forbid!
Paulina220 - 231
- I say she’s dead; I’ll swear’t. If word nor oath
- Prevail not, go and see. If you can bring
- Tincture or lustre in her lip, her eye,
- Heat outwardly or breath within, I’ll serve you
- As I would do the gods. But, O thou tyrant!
- Do not repent these things, for they are heavier
- Than all thy woes can stir; therefore betake thee
- To nothing but despair. A thousand knees,
- Ten thousand years together, naked, fasting,
- Upon a barren mountain, and still winter
- In storm perpetual, could not move the gods
- To look that way thou wert.
Leontes232 - 234
- Go on, go on;
- Thou canst not speak too much, I have deserv’d
- All tongues to talk their bitt’rest.
First Lord235 - 237
- Say no more.
- Howe’er the business goes, you have made fault
- I’ th’ boldness of your speech.
Paulina238 - 252
- I am sorry for’t.
- All faults I make, when I shall come to know them,
- I do repent. Alas, I have show’d too much
- The rashness of a woman; he is touch’d
- To th’ noble heart. What’s gone and what’s past help
- Should be past grief. Do not receive affliction
- At my petition; I beseech you, rather
- Let me be punish’d, that have minded you
- Of what you should forget. Now, good my liege,
- Sir, royal sir, forgive a foolish woman.
- The love I bore your queen—lo, fool again!—
- I’ll speak of her no more, nor of your children;
- I’ll not remember you of my own lord,
- Who is lost too. Take your patience to you,
- And I’ll say nothing.
Leontes253 - 264
- Thou didst speak but well
- When most the truth; which I receive much better
- Than to be pitied of thee. Prithee bring me
- To the dead bodies of my queen and son.
- One grave shall be for both; upon them shall
- The causes of their death appear (unto
- Our shame perpetual). Once a day I’ll visit
- The chapel where they lie, and tears shed there
- Shall be my recreation. So long as nature
- Will bear up with this exercise, so long
- I daily vow to use it. Come, and lead me
- To these sorrows.