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The Winter's Tale :: Scenes :: The Winter's Tale: Act I, Scene 1

Scene 1

Sicilia. An antechamber in Leontes’ palace.

(Camillo; Archidamus)

Camillo, lord of Sicily, and Archidamus, lord of Bohemia, exchange compliments on the royal treatment accorded the Bohemian visit. Archidamus claims that Bohemia will be unable to match such treatment when the King of Sicily, Leontes, returns the visit. Camillo remarks on the strong, long-lasting friendship between the two kings, who were brought up together, and on the promising prince of Sicily, Mamillius. ( line)

Enter Camillo and Archidamus.

ARCH.

If you shall chance, Camillo, to visit Bohemia on the like occasion whereon my services are now on foot, you shall see (as I have said) great difference betwixt our Bohemia and your Sicilia.

CAM.

I think, this coming summer, the King of Sicilia means to pay Bohemia the visitation which he justly owes him.

ARCH.

Wherein our entertainment shall shame us: we will be justified in our loves; for indeed—

CAM.

Beseech you—

ARCH.

Verily, I speak it in the freedom of my knowledge: we cannot with such magnificence—in so rare—I know not what to say—We will give you sleepy drinks, that your senses (unintelligent of our insufficience) may, though they cannot praise us, as little accuse us.

CAM.

You pay a great deal too dear for what’s given freely.

ARCH.

Believe me, I speak as my understanding instructs me, and as mine honesty puts it to utterance.

CAM.

Sicilia cannot show himself overkind to Bohemia. They were train’d together in their childhoods; and there rooted betwixt them then such an affection, which cannot choose but branch now. Since their more mature dignities and royal necessities made separation of their society, their encounters (though not personal) hath been royally attorney’d with interchange of gifts, letters, loving embassies, that they have seem’d to be together, though absent; shook hands, as over a vast; and embrac’d as it were from the ends of oppos’d winds. The heavens continue their loves!

ARCH.

I think there is not in the world either malice or matter to alter it. You have an unspeakable comfort of your young prince Mamillius: it is a gentleman of the greatest promise that ever came into my note.

CAM.

I very well agree with you in the hopes of him; it is a gallant child; one that, indeed, physics the subject, makes old hearts fresh. They that went on crutches ere he was born desire yet their life to see him a man.

ARCH.

Would they else be content to die?

CAM.

Yes; if there were no other excuse why they should desire to live.

ARCH.

If the King had no son, they would desire to live on crutches till he had one.

Exeunt.

 
 
 
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