The Winter's Tale :: Scenes :: The Winter's Tale: Act I, Scene 2
Scene 2Sicilia. A room of state in Leontes’ palace.LeontesHermioneMamilliusPolixenesCamilloAttendantsLeontes urges his friend Polixenes of Bohemia to stay longer, but Polixenes insists that he must return the next day, having already been absent from his kingdom for nine months. Leontes urges his pregnant wife Hermione to help convince Polixenes to stay, and she finally bullies him into extending his visit by a week. They engage in light-hearted conversation, Polixenes talking about his childhood with Leontes. Seeing them so friendly, Leontes becomes suspicious, thinking they are far too close. He tries to distract himself by talking to Mamillius, but his fears are too strong and he becomes convinced that he is being cuckolded. He covers up his fears when Polixenes and Hermione notice his discomfort, and he and his best friend discuss their children. Polixenes and Hermione go for a walk in the garden, and Leontes is even more convinced by how quickly they leave him. As he tells Mamillius to go play, his diseased imaginings grow strongly and strongly until he is fully convinced that his wife is cheating on him with his best friend. He begins to sound out Camillo’s opinion in the matter, twisting things to find his evidence, to Camillo’s distress and horror. Camillo defends the Queen’s honor, but Leontes is too far gone in his conviction, and demands that Camillo poison Polixenes. Camillo agrees on condition that Leontes swear to be kind to Hermione afterwards. The King insists he will not cast any slurs on her reputation. Camillo is torn between duty to his King and duty to himself. When Polixenes enters, sensing a coldness in his treatment, Camillo is soon brought to admit what has happened. He urges the Bohemian King to flee, and asks to come along. Polixenes agrees, and they leave.Enter Leontes, Hermione, Mamillius, Polixenes, Camillo, and Attendants.POL.Nine changes of the wat’ry star hath beenThe shepherd’s note since we have left our throneWithout a burden. Time as long againWould be fill’d up, my brother, with our thanks,And yet we should, for perpetuity,Go hence in debt. And therefore, like a cipher(Yet standing in rich place), I multiplyWith one “We thank you” many thousands moreThat go before it.LEON.Stay your thanks a while,And pay them when you part.POL.Sir, that’s tomorrow.I am question’d by my fears of what may chanceOr breed upon our absence, that may blowNo sneaping winds at home, to make us say,“This is put forth too truly.” Besides, I have stay’dTo tire your royalty.LEON.We are tougher, brother,Than you can put us to’t.POL.No longer stay.LEON.One sev’nnight longer.POL.Very sooth, tomorrow.LEON.We’ll part the time between ’s then; and in thatI’ll no gainsaying.POL.Press me not, beseech you, so.There is no tongue that moves, none, none i’ th’ world,So soon as yours could win me. So it should now,Were there necessity in your request, although’Twere needful I denied it. My affairsDo even drag me homeward; which to hinderWere (in your love) a whip to me; my stay,To you a charge and trouble. To save both,Farewell, our brother.LEON.Tongue-tied our queen? Speak you.HER.I had thought, sir, to have held my peace untilYou had drawn oaths from him not to stay. You, sir,Charge him too coldly. Tell him you are sureAll in Bohemia’s well; this satisfactionThe by-gone day proclaim’d. Say this to him,He’s beat from his best ward.LEON.Well said, Hermione.HER.To tell he longs to see his son were strong;But let him say so then, and let him go;But let him swear so, and he shall not stay,We’ll thwack him hence with distaffs.Yet of your royal presence I’ll adventureThe borrow of a week. When at BohemiaYou take my lord, I’ll give him my commissionTo let him there a month behind the gestPrefix’d for ’s parting; yet, good deed, Leontes,I love thee not a jar o’ th’ clock behindWhat lady she her lord. You’ll stay?POL.No, madam.HER.Nay, but you will?POL.I may not, verily.HER.Verily?You put me off with limber vows; but I,Though you would seek t’ unsphere the stars with oaths,Should yet say, “Sir, no going.” Verily,You shall not go; a lady’s “verily” isAs potent as a lord’s. Will you go yet?Force me to keep you as a prisoner,Not like a guest: so you shall pay your feesWhen you depart, and save your thanks. How say you?My prisoner? Or my guest? By your dread “verily,”One of them you shall be.POL.Your guest then, madam.To be your prisoner should import offending,Which is for me less easy to commitThan you to punish.HER.Not your jailer then,But your kind hostess. Come, I’ll question youOf my lord’s tricks and yours when you were boys.You were pretty lordings then?POL.We were, fair queen,Two lads that thought there was no more behindBut such a day tomorrow as today,And to be boy eternal.HER.Was not my lordThe verier wag o’ th’ two?POL.We were as twinn’d lambs that did frisk i’ th’ sun,And bleat the one at th’ other. What we chang’dWas innocence for innocence; we knew notThe doctrine of ill-doing, nor dream’dThat any did. Had we pursu’d that life,And our weak spirits ne’er been higher rear’dWith stronger blood, we should have answer’d heavenBoldly, “Not guilty”; the imposition clear’d,Hereditary ours.HER.By this we gatherYou have tripp’d since.POL.O my most sacred lady,Temptations have since then been born to ’s: forIn those unfledg’d days was my wife a girl;Your precious self had then not cross’d the eyesOf my young playfellow.HER.Grace to boot!Of this make no conclusion, lest you sayYour queen and I are devils. Yet go on,Th’ offenses we have made you do we’ll answer,If you first sinn’d with us, and that with usYou did continue fault, and that you slipp’d notWith any but with us.LEON.Is he won yet?HER.He’ll stay, my lord.LEON.At my request he would not.Hermione, my dearest, thou never spok’stTo better purpose.HER.Never?LEON.Never, but once.HER.What? Have I twice said well? When was’t before?I prithee tell me; cram ’s with praise, and make ’sAs fat as tame things. One good deed dying tonguelessSlaughters a thousand waiting upon that.Our praises are our wages. You may ride ’sWith one soft kiss a thousand furlongs ereWith spur we heat an acre. But to th’ goal:My last good deed was to entreat his stay;What was my first? It has an elder sister,Or I mistake you. O, would her name were Grace!But once before I spoke to th’ purpose? When?Nay, let me have’t; I long.LEON.Why, that was whenThree crabbed months had sour’d themselves to death,Ere I could make thee open thy white hand,And clap thyself my love; then didst thou utter,“I am yours forever.”HER.’Tis Grace indeed.Why, lo you now! I have spoke to th’ purpose twice:The one forever earn’d a royal husband;Th’ other for some while a friend.Gives her hand to Polixenes.LEON.Aside.LEON.Too hot, too hot!To mingle friendship far is mingling bloods.I have tremor cordis on me; my heart dances,But not for joy; not joy. This entertainmentMay a free face put on, derive a libertyFrom heartiness, from bounty, fertile bosom,And well become the agent; ’t may—I grant.But to be paddling palms and pinching fingers,As now they are, and making practic’d smiles,As in a looking-glass; and then to sigh, as ’twereThe mort o’ th’ deer—O, that is entertainmentMy bosom likes not, nor my brows! Mamillius,Art thou my boy?MAM.Ay, my good lord.LEON.I’ fecks!Why, that’s my bawcock. What? Hast smutch’d thy nose?They say it is a copy out of mine. Come, captain,We must be neat; not neat, but cleanly, captain:And yet the steer, the heckfer, and the calfAre all call’d neat.—Still virginallingUpon his palm?—How now, you wanton calf,Art thou my calf?MAM.Yes, if you will, my lord.LEON.Thou want’st a rough pash and the shoots that I have,To be full like me; yet they say we areAlmost as like as eggs; women say so—That will say any thing. But were they falseAs o’er-dy’d blacks, as wind, as waters, falseAs dice are to be wish’d by one that fixesNo bourn ’twixt his and mine, yet were it trueTo say this boy were like me. Come, sir page,Look on me with your welkin eye. Sweet villain!Most dear’st! My collop! Can thy dam?—may’t be?—Affection! Thy intention stabs the centre.Thou dost make possible things not so held,Communicat’st with dreams (how can this be?),With what’s unreal thou co-active art,And fellow’st nothing. Then ’tis very credentThou mayst co-join with something, and thou dost(And that beyond commission), and I find it(And that to the infection of my brainsAnd hard’ning of my brows).POL.What means Sicilia?HER.He something seems unsettled.POL.How? My lord?LEON.What cheer? How is’t with you, best brother?HER.You lookAs if you held a brow of much distraction.Are you mov’d, my lord?LEON.No, in good earnest.How sometimes nature will betray its folly!Its tenderness! And make itself a pastimeTo harder bosoms! Looking on the linesOf my boy’s face, methoughts I did recoilTwenty-three years, and saw myself unbreech’dIn my green velvet coat, my dagger muzzled,Lest it should bite its master, and so prove(As ornament oft does) too dangerous.How like (methought) I then was to this kernel,This squash, this gentleman. Mine honest friend,Will you take eggs for money?MAM.No, my lord, I’ll fight.LEON.You will? Why, happy man be ’s dole! My brother,Are you so fond of your young prince as weDo seem to be of ours?POL.If at home, sir,He’s all my exercise, my mirth, my matter;Now my sworn friend, and then mine enemy;My parasite, my soldier, statesman, all.He makes a July’s day short as December,And with his varying childness cures in meThoughts that would thick my blood.LEON.So stands this squireOffic’d with me. We two will walk, my lord,And leave you to your graver steps. Hermione,How thou lov’st us, show in our brother’s welcome;Let what is dear in Sicily be cheap.Next to thyself and my young rover, he’sApparent to my heart.HER.If you would seek us,We are yours i’ th’ garden. Shall ’s attend you there?LEON.To your own bents dispose you; you’ll be found,Be you beneath the sky.Aside.I am angling now,Though you perceive me not how I give line.Go to, go to!How she holds up the neb! The bill to him!And arms her with the boldness of a wifeTo her allowing husband!Exeunt Polixenes, Hermione, and Attendants.Gone already!Inch-thick, knee-deep, o’er head and ears a fork’d one!Go play, boy, play. Thy mother plays, and IPlay too, but so disgrac’d a part, whose issueWill hiss me to my grave: contempt and clamorWill be my knell. Go play, boy, play. There have been(Or I am much deceiv’d) cuckolds ere now,And many a man there is (even at this present,Now, while I speak this) holds his wife by th’ arm,That little thinks she has been sluic’d in ’s absence,And his pond fish’d by his next neighbor—bySir Smile, his neighbor. Nay, there’s comfort in’t,Whiles other men have gates, and those gates open’d,As mine, against their will. Should all despairThat have revolted wives, the tenth of mankindWould hang themselves. Physic for’t there’s none.It is a bawdy planet, that will strikeWhere ’tis predominant; and ’tis pow’rful—think it—From east, west, north, and south. Be it concluded,No barricado for a belly. Know’t,It will let in and out the enemy,With bag and baggage. Many thousand on ’sHave the disease, and feel’t not. How now, boy?MAM.I am like you, they say.LEON.Why, that’s some comfort.What? Camillo there?CAM.Ay, my good lord.LEON.Go play, Mamillius, thou’rt an honest man.Exit Mamillius.Camillo, this great sir will yet stay longer.CAM.You had much ado to make his anchor hold,When you cast out, it still came home.LEON.Didst note it?CAM.He would not stay at your petitions, madeHis business more material.LEON.Didst perceive it?Aside.They’re here with me already, whisp’ring, rounding:“Sicilia is a so-forth.” ’Tis far gone,When I shall gust it last.—How came’t, Camillo,That he did stay?CAM.At the good Queen’s entreaty.LEON.At the Queen’s be’t; “good” should be pertinent,But so it is, it is not. Was this takenBy any understanding pate but thine?For thy conceit is soaking, will draw inMore than the common blocks. Not noted, is’t,But of the finer natures? By some severalsOf head-piece extraordinary? Lower messesPerchance are to this business purblind? Say.CAM.Business, my lord? I think most understandBohemia stays here longer.LEON.Ha?CAM.Stays here longer.LEON.Ay, but why?CAM.To satisfy your Highness and the entreatiesOf our most gracious mistress.LEON.Satisfy?Th’ entreaties of your mistress? Satisfy?Let that suffice. I have trusted thee, Camillo,With all the nearest things to my heart, as wellMy chamber-councils, wherein, priest-like, thouHast cleans’d my bosom: I from thee departedThy penitent reform’d. But we have beenDeceiv’d in thy integrity, deceiv’dIn that which seems so.CAM.Be it forbid, my lord!LEON.To bide upon’t: thou art not honest; orIf thou inclin’st that way, thou art a coward,Which hoxes honesty behind, restrainingFrom course requir’d; or else thou must be countedA servant grafted in my serious trustAnd therein negligent; or else a fool,That seest a game play’d home, the rich stake drawn,And tak’st it all for jest.CAM.My gracious lord,I may be negligent, foolish, and fearful:In every one of these no man is freeBut that his negligence, his folly, fear,Among the infinite doings of the world,Sometime puts forth. In your affairs, my lord,If ever I were willful-negligent,It was my folly; if industriouslyI play’d the fool, it was my negligence,Not weighing well the end; if ever fearfulTo do a thing, where I the issue doubted,Whereof the execution did cry outAgainst the non-performance, ’twas a fearWhich oft infects the wisest: these, my lord,Are such allow’d infirmities that honestyIs never free of. But beseech your GraceBe plainer with me, let me know my trespassBy its own visage. If I then deny it,’Tis none of mine.LEON.Ha’ not you seen, Camillo(But that’s past doubt; you have, or your eye-glassIs thicker than a cuckold’s horn), or heard(For to a vision so apparent rumorCannot be mute), or thought (for cogitationResides not in that man that does not think)My wife is slippery? If thou wilt confess,Or else be impudently negative,To have nor eyes nor ears nor thought, then sayMy wife’s a hobby-horse, deserves a nameAs rank as any flax-wench that puts toBefore her troth-plight: say’t and justify’t.CAM.I would not be a stander-by to hearMy sovereign mistress clouded so, withoutMy present vengeance taken. ’Shrew my heart,You never spoke what did become you lessThan this; which to reiterate were sinAs deep as that, though true.LEON.Is whispering nothing?Is leaning cheek to cheek? Is meeting noses?Kissing with inside lip? Stopping the careerOf laughter with a sigh (a note infallibleOf breaking honesty)? Horsing foot on foot?Skulking in corners? Wishing clocks more swift?Hours, minutes? Noon, midnight? And all eyesBlind with the pin and web but theirs, theirs only,That would unseen be wicked? Is this nothing?Why then the world and all that’s in’t is nothing,The covering sky is nothing, Bohemia nothing,My wife is nothing, nor nothing have these nothings,If this be nothing.CAM.Good my lord, be cur’dOf this diseas’d opinion, and betimes,For ’tis most dangerous.LEON.Say it be, ’tis true.CAM.No, no, my lord.LEON.It is: you lie, you lie!I say thou liest, Camillo, and I hate thee,Pronounce thee a gross lout, a mindless slave,Or else a hovering temporizer, thatCanst with thine eyes at once see good and evil,Inclining to them both. Were my wive’s liverInfected as her life, she would not liveThe running of one glass.CAM.Who does infect her?LEON.Why, he that wears her like her medal hangingAbout his neck, Bohemia—who, if IHad servants true about me, that bare eyesTo see alike mine honor as their profits(Their own particular thrifts), they would do thatWhich should undo more doing; ay, and thou,His cupbearer—whom I from meaner formHave bench’d and rear’d to worship, who mayst seePlainly as heaven sees earth and earth sees heaven,How I am gall’d—mightst bespice a cup,To give mine enemy a lasting wink;Which draught to me were cordial.CAM.Sir, my lord,I could do this, and that with no rash potion,But with a ling’ring dram that should not workMaliciously, like poison; but I cannotBelieve this crack to be in my dread mistress(So sovereignly being honorable).I have lov’d thee—LEON.Make that thy question, and go rot!Dost think I am so muddy, so unsettled,To appoint myself in this vexation, sullyThe purity and whiteness of my sheets(Which to preserve is sleep, which being spottedIs goads, thorns, nettles, tails of wasps),Give scandal to the blood o’ th’ Prince my son(Who I do think is mine and love as mine),Without ripe moving to’t? Would I do this?Could man so blench?CAM.I must believe you, sir.I do, and will fetch off Bohemia for’t;Provided that, when he’s remov’d, your HighnessWill take again your queen as yours at first,Even for your son’s sake, and thereby for sealingThe injury of tongues in courts and kingdomsKnown and allied to yours.LEON.Thou dost advise meEven so as I mine own course have set down.I’ll give no blemish to her honor, none.CAM.My lord,Go then; and with a countenance as clearAs friendship wears at feasts, keep with BohemiaAnd with your queen. I am his cupbearer:If from me he have wholesome beverage,Account me not your servant.LEON.This is all:Do’t, and thou hast the one half of my heart;Do’t not, thou split’st thine own.CAM.I’ll do’t, my lord.LEON.I will seem friendly, as thou hast advis’d me.Exit.CAM.O miserable lady! But for me,What case stand I in? I must be the poisonerOf good Polixenes, and my ground to do’tIs the obedience to a master; oneWho, in rebellion with himself, will haveAll that are his so too. To do this deed,Promotion follows. If I could find exampleOf thousands that had struck anointed kingsAnd flourish’d after, I’ld not do’t; but sinceNor brass nor stone nor parchment bears not one,Let villainy itself forswear’t. I mustForsake the court. To do’t, or no, is certainTo me a break-neck. Happy star reign now!Here comes Bohemia.Enter Polixenes.POL.This is strange; methinksMy favor here begins to warp. Not speak?Good day, Camillo.CAM.Hail, most royal sir!POL.What is the news i’ th’ court?CAM.None rare, my lord.POL.The King hath on him such a countenanceAs he had lost some province and a regionLov’d as he loves himself. Even now I met himWith customary compliment, when he,Wafting his eyes to th’ contrary and fallingA lip of much contempt, speeds from me, andSo leaves me to consider what is breedingThat changes thus his manners.CAM.I dare not know, my lord.POL.How, dare not? Do not? Do you know, and dare not?Be intelligent to me, ’tis thereabouts:For to yourself, what you do know, you must,And cannot say you dare not. Good Camillo,Your chang’d complexions are to me a mirrorWhich shows me mine chang’d too; for I must beA party in this alteration, findingMyself thus alter’d with’t.CAM.There is a sicknessWhich puts some of us in distemper, butI cannot name the disease, and it is caughtOf you that yet are well.POL.How caught of me?Make me not sighted like the basilisk.I have look’d on thousands, who have sped the betterBy my regard, but kill’d none so. Camillo,As you are certainly a gentleman, theretoClerk-like experienc’d, which no less adornsOur gentry than our parents’ noble names,In whose success we are gentle, I beseech you,If you know aught which does behove my knowledgeThereof to be inform’d, imprison’t notIn ignorant concealment.CAM.I may not answer.POL.A sickness caught of me, and yet I well?I must be answer’d. Dost thou hear, Camillo,I conjure thee, by all the parts of manWhich honor does acknowledge, whereof the leastIs not this suit of mine, that thou declareWhat incidency thou dost guess of harmIs creeping toward me; how far off, how near,Which way to be prevented, if to be;If not, how best to bear it.CAM.Sir, I will tell you,Since I am charg’d in honor and by himThat I think honorable. Therefore mark my counsel,Which must be ev’n as swiftly followed asI mean to utter it; or both yourself and meCry lost, and so good night!POL.On, good Camillo.CAM.I am appointed him to murder you.POL.By whom, Camillo?CAM.By the King.POL.For what?CAM.He thinks, nay, with all confidence he swears,As he had seen’t or been an instrumentTo vice you to’t, that you have touch’d his queenForbiddenly.POL.O then, my best blood turnTo an infected jelly, and my nameBe yok’d with his that did betray the Best!Turn then my freshest reputation toA savor that may strike the dullest nostrilWhere I arrive, and my approach be shunn’d,Nay, hated too, worse than the great’st infectionThat e’er was heard or read!CAM.Swear his thought overBy each particular star in heaven, andBy all their influences, you may as wellForbid the sea for to obey the moonAs or by oath remove or counsel shakeThe fabric of his folly, whose foundationIs pil’d upon his faith, and will continueThe standing of his body.POL.How should this grow?CAM.I know not; but I am sure ’tis safer toAvoid what’s grown than question how ’tis born.If therefore you dare trust my honesty,That lies enclosed in this trunk which youShall bear along impawn’d, away tonight!Your followers I will whisper to the business,And will by twos and threes at several posternsClear them o’ th’ city. For myself, I’ll putMy fortunes to your service, which are hereBy this discovery lost. Be not uncertain,For by the honor of my parents, IHave utt’red truth; which if you seek to prove,I dare not stand by; nor shall you be saferThan one condemn’d by the King’s own mouth—thereonHis execution sworn.POL.I do believe thee:I saw his heart in ’s face. Give me thy hand,Be pilot to me, and thy places shallStill neighbor mine. My ships are ready, andMy people did expect my hence departureTwo days ago. This jealousyIs for a precious creature: as she’s rare,Must it be great; and as his person’s mighty,Must it be violent; and as he does conceiveHe is dishonor’d by a man which everProfess’d to him, why, his revenges mustIn that be made more bitter. Fear o’ershades me.Good expedition be my friend, and comfortThe gracious queen, part of his theme, but nothingOf his ill-ta’en suspicion! Come, Camillo,I will respect thee as a father, ifThou bear’st my life off. Hence! Let us avoid.CAM.It is in mine authority to commandThe keys of all the posterns. Please your HighnessTo take the urgent hour. Come, sir, away.Exeunt.


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