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Scene Study (Male-Male)


Camillo, this great sir will yet stay longer.


You had much ado to make his anchor hold,

When you cast out, it still came home.


Didst note it?


He would not stay at your petitions, made

His business more material.


Didst perceive it?


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?


At the good Queen’s entreaty.


At the Queen’s be’t; “good” should be pertinent,

But so it is, it is not. Was this taken

By any understanding pate but thine?

For thy conceit is soaking, will draw in

More than the common blocks. Not noted, is’t,

But of the finer natures? By some severals

Of head-piece extraordinary? Lower messes

Perchance are to this business purblind? Say.


Business, my lord? I think most understand

Bohemia stays here longer.




Stays here longer.


Ay, but why?


To satisfy your Highness and the entreaties

Of our most gracious mistress.



Th’ entreaties of your mistress? Satisfy?

Let that suffice. I have trusted thee, Camillo,

With all the nearest things to my heart, as well

My chamber-councils, wherein, priest-like, thou

Hast cleans’d my bosom: I from thee departed

Thy penitent reform’d. But we have been

Deceiv’d in thy integrity, deceiv’d

In that which seems so.


Be it forbid, my lord!


To bide upon’t: thou art not honest; or

If thou inclin’st that way, thou art a coward,

Which hoxes honesty behind, restraining

From course requir’d; or else thou must be counted

A servant grafted in my serious trust

And therein negligent; or else a fool,

That seest a game play’d home, the rich stake drawn,

And tak’st it all for jest.


My gracious lord,

I may be negligent, foolish, and fearful:

In every one of these no man is free

But 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 industriously

I play’d the fool, it was my negligence,

Not weighing well the end; if ever fearful

To do a thing, where I the issue doubted,

Whereof the execution did cry out

Against the non-performance, ’twas a fear

Which oft infects the wisest: these, my lord,

Are such allow’d infirmities that honesty

Is never free of. But beseech your Grace

Be plainer with me, let me know my trespass

By its own visage. If I then deny it,

’Tis none of mine.


Ha’ not you seen, Camillo

(But that’s past doubt; you have, or your eye-glass

Is thicker than a cuckold’s horn), or heard

(For to a vision so apparent rumor

Cannot be mute), or thought (for cogitation

Resides 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 say

My wife’s a hobby-horse, deserves a name

As rank as any flax-wench that puts to

Before her troth-plight: say’t and justify’t.


I would not be a stander-by to hear

My sovereign mistress clouded so, without

My present vengeance taken. ’shrew my heart,

You never spoke what did become you less

Than this; which to reiterate were sin

As deep as that, though true.


Is whispering nothing?

Is leaning cheek to cheek? is meeting noses?

Kissing with inside lip? stopping the career

Of laughter with a sigh (a note infallible

Of breaking honesty)? horsing foot on foot?

Skulking in corners? wishing clocks more swift?

Hours, minutes? noon, midnight? and all eyes

Blind 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.


Good my lord, be cur’d

Of this diseas’d opinion, and betimes,

For ’tis most dangerous.


Say it be, ’tis true.


No, no, my lord.


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, that

Canst with thine eyes at once see good and evil,

Inclining to them both. Were my wive’s liver

Infected as her life, she would not live

The running of one glass.


Who does infect her?


Why, he that wears her like her medal hanging

About his neck, Bohemia—who, if I

Had servants true about me, that bare eyes

To see alike mine honor as their profits

(Their own particular thrifts), they would do that

Which should undo more doing; ay, and thou,

His cupbearer—whom I from meaner form

Have bench’d and rear’d to worship, who mayst see

Plainly 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.


Sir, my lord,

I could do this, and that with no rash potion,

But with a ling’ring dram that should not work

Maliciously, like poison; but I cannot

Believe this crack to be in my dread mistress

(So sovereignly being honorable).

I have lov’d thee—


Make that thy question, and go rot!

Dost think I am so muddy, so unsettled,

To appoint myself in this vexation, sully

The purity and whiteness of my sheets

(Which to preserve is sleep, which being spotted

Is 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?


I must believe you, sir.

I do, and will fetch off Bohemia for’t;

Provided that, when he’s remov’d, your Highness

Will take again your queen as yours at first,

Even for your son’s sake, and thereby for sealing

The injury of tongues in courts and kingdoms

Known and allied to yours.


Thou dost advise me

Even so as I mine own course have set down.

I’ll give no blemish to her honor, none.


My lord,

Go then; and with a countenance as clear

As friendship wears at feasts, keep with Bohemia

And with your queen. I am his cupbearer:

If from me he have wholesome beverage,

Account me not your servant.


This is all:

Do’t, and thou hast the one half of my heart;

Do’t not, thou split’st thine own.


I’ll do’t, my lord.


I will seem friendly, as thou hast advis’d me.



O miserable lady! But for me,

What case stand I in? I must be the poisoner

Of good Polixenes, and my ground to do’t

Is the obedience to a master; one

Who, in rebellion with himself, will have

All that are his so too. To do this deed,

Promotion follows. If I could find example

Of thousands that had struck anointed kings

And flourish’d after, I’ld not do’t; but since

Nor brass nor stone nor parchment bears not one,

Let villainy itself forswear’t. I must

Forsake the court. To do’t, or no, is certain

To me a break-neck. Happy star reign now!

Here comes Bohemia.


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