Document:  All > Shakespeare > Comedies > The Winter's Tale > Act I, scene II

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	POLIXENES, CAMILLO, and Attendants]

POLIXENES: Nine changes of the watery star hath been
	The shepherd's note since we have left our throne
	Without a burthen: time as long again
	Would be find 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 multiply
	With one 'We thank you' many thousands moe
	That go before it.

LEONTES:                   Stay your thanks a while;
	And pay them when you part.

POLIXENES: Sir, that's to-morrow.
	I am question'd by my fears, of what may chance
	Or breed upon our absence; that may blow
	No sneaping winds at home, to make us say
	'This is put forth too truly:' besides, I have stay'd
	To tire your royalty.

LEONTES: We are tougher, brother,
	Than you can put us to't.

POLIXENES: No longer stay.

LEONTES: One seven-night longer.

POLIXENES: Very sooth, to-morrow.

LEONTES: We'll part the time between's then; and in that
	I'll no gainsaying.

POLIXENES: Press me not, beseech you, so.
	There is no tongue that moves, none, none i' the 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 affairs
	Do even drag me homeward: which to hinder
	Were in your love a whip to me; my stay
	To you a charge and trouble: to save both,
	Farewell, our brother.

LEONTES: Tongue-tied, our queen?
	speak you.

HERMIONE: I had thought, sir, to have held my peace until
	You have drawn oaths from him not to stay. You, sir,
	Charge him too coldly. Tell him, you are sure
	All in Bohemia's well; this satisfaction
	The by-gone day proclaim'd: say this to him,
	He's beat from his best ward.

LEONTES: Well said, Hermione.

HERMIONE: 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 adventure
	The borrow of a week. When at Bohemia
	You take my lord, I'll give him my commission
	To let him there a month behind the gest
	Prefix'd for's parting: yet, good deed, Leontes,
	I love thee not a jar o' the clock behind
	What lady-she her lord. You'll stay?

POLIXENES: No, madam.

HERMIONE: Nay, but you will?

POLIXENES:                   I may not, verily.

	You put me off with limber vows; but I,
	Though you would seek to unsphere the
	stars with oaths,
	Should yet say 'Sir, no going.' Verily,
	You shall not go: a lady's 'Verily' 's
	As 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 fees
	When you depart, and save your thanks. How say you?
	My prisoner? or my guest? by your dread 'Verily,'
	One of them you shall be.

POLIXENES: Your guest, then, madam:
	To be your prisoner should import offending;
	Which is for me less easy to commit
	Than you to punish.

HERMIONE: Not your gaoler, then,
	But your kind hostess. Come, I'll question you
	Of my lord's tricks and yours when you were boys:
	You were pretty lordings then?

POLIXENES: We were, fair queen,
	Two lads that thought there was no more behind
	But such a day to-morrow as to-day,
	And to be boy eternal.

HERMIONE: Was not my lord
	The verier wag o' the two?

POLIXENES: We were as twinn'd lambs that did frisk i' the sun,
	And bleat the one at the other: what we changed
	Was innocence for innocence; we knew not
	The doctrine of ill-doing, nor dream'd
	That any did. Had we pursued that life,
	And our weak spirits ne'er been higher rear'd
	With stronger blood, we should have answer'd heaven
	Boldly 'not guilty;' the imposition clear'd
	Hereditary ours.

HERMIONE:                   By this we gather
	You have tripp'd since.

POLIXENES: O my most sacred lady!
	Temptations have since then been born to's; for
	In those unfledged days was my wife a girl;
	Your precious self had then not cross'd the eyes
	Of my young play-fellow.

HERMIONE: Grace to boot!
	Of this make no conclusion, lest you say
	Your queen and I are devils: yet go on;
	The offences we have made you do we'll answer,
	If you first sinn'd with us and that with us
	You did continue fault and that you slipp'd not
	With any but with us.

LEONTES: Is he won yet?

HERMIONE: He'll stay my lord.

LEONTES: At my request he would not.
	Hermione, my dearest, thou never spokest
	To better purpose.

HERMIONE:                                  Never?

LEONTES: Never, but once.

HERMIONE: What! have I twice said well? when was't before?
	I prithee tell me; cram's with praise, and make's
	As fat as tame things: one good deed dying tongueless
	Slaughters a thousand waiting upon that.
	Our praises are our wages: you may ride's
	With one soft kiss a thousand furlongs ere
	With spur we beat an acre. But to the 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 the purpose: when?
	Nay, let me have't; I long.

LEONTES: Why, that was when
	Three 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 for ever.'

HERMIONE: 'Tis grace indeed.
	Why, lo you now, I have spoke to the purpose twice:
	The one for ever earn'd a royal husband;
	The other for some while a friend.

LEONTES: [Aside]
	To mingle friendship far is mingling bloods.
	I have tremor cordis on me: my heart dances;
	But not for joy; not joy. This entertainment
	May a free face put on, derive a liberty
	From 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 practised smiles,
	As in a looking-glass, and then to sigh, as 'twere
	The mort o' the deer; O, that is entertainment
	My bosom likes not, nor my brows! Mamillius,
	Art thou my boy?

MAMILLIUS:                            Ay, my good lord.

LEONTES: 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 heifer and the calf
	Are all call'd neat.--Still virginalling
	Upon his palm!--How now, you wanton calf!
	Art thou my calf?

MAMILLIUS:                   Yes, if you will, my lord.

LEONTES: Thou want'st a rough pash and the shoots that I have,
	To be full like me: yet they say we are
	Almost as like as eggs; women say so,
	That will say anything but were they false
	As o'er-dyed blacks, as wind, as waters, false
	As dice are to be wish'd by one that fixes
	No bourn 'twixt his and mine, yet were it true
	To 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,
	Communicatest with dreams;--how can this be?--
	With what's unreal thou coactive art,
	And fellow'st nothing: then 'tis very credent
	Thou mayst co-join with something; and thou dost,
	And that beyond commission, and I find it,
	And that to the infection of my brains
	And hardening of my brows.

POLIXENES: What means Sicilia?

HERMIONE: He something seems unsettled.

POLIXENES: How, my lord!
	What cheer? how is't with you, best brother?

HERMIONE: You look as if you held a brow of much distraction
	Are you moved, my lord?

LEONTES: No, in good earnest.
	How sometimes nature will betray its folly,
	Its tenderness, and make itself a pastime
	To harder bosoms! Looking on the lines
	Of my boy's face, methoughts I did recoil
	Twenty-three years, and saw myself unbreech'd,
	In my green velvet coat, my dagger muzzled,
	Lest it should bite its master, and so prove,
	As ornaments oft do, too dangerous:
	How like, methought, I then was to this kernel,
	This squash, this gentleman. Mine honest friend,
	Will you take eggs for money?

MAMILLIUS: No, my lord, I'll fight.

LEONTES: You will! why, happy man be's dole! My brother,
	Are you so fond of your young prince as we
	Do seem to be of ours?

POLIXENES: 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 me
	Thoughts that would thick my blood.

LEONTES: So stands this squire
	Officed with me: we two will walk, my lord,
	And leave you to your graver steps. Hermione,
	How thou lovest us, show in our brother's welcome;
	Let what is dear in Sicily be cheap:
	Next to thyself and my young rover, he's
	Apparent to my heart.

HERMIONE: If you would seek us,
	We are yours i' the garden: shall's attend you there?

LEONTES: To your own bents dispose you: you'll be found,
	Be you beneath the sky.


		  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 wife
	To 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 I
	Play too, but so disgraced a part, whose issue
	Will hiss me to my grave: contempt and clamour
	Will be my knell. Go, play, boy, play.
	There have been,
	Or I am much deceived, cuckolds ere now;
	And many a man there is, even at this present,
	Now while I speak this, holds his wife by the arm,
	That little thinks she has been sluiced in's absence
	And his pond fish'd by his next neighbour, by
	Sir Smile, his neighbour: nay, there's comfort in't
	Whiles other men have gates and those gates open'd,
	As mine, against their will. Should all despair
	That have revolted wives, the tenth of mankind
	Would hang themselves. Physic for't there is none;
	It is a bawdy planet, that will strike
	Where 'tis predominant; and 'tis powerful, 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's
	Have the disease, and feel't not. How now, boy!

MAMILLIUS: I am like you, they say.

LEONTES: Why that's some comfort. What, Camillo there?

CAMILLO: Ay, my good lord.

LEONTES: Go play, Mamillius; thou'rt an honest man.


	Camillo, this great sir will yet stay longer.

CAMILLO: You had much ado to make his anchor hold:
	When you cast out, it still came home.

LEONTES: Didst note it?

CAMILLO: He would not stay at your petitions: made
	His business more material.

LEONTES: Didst perceive it?


	They're here with me already, whispering, rounding
	'Sicilia is a so-forth:' 'tis far gone,
	When I shall gust it last. How came't, Camillo,
	That he did stay?

CAMILLO:                   At the good queen's entreaty.

LEONTES: 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.

CAMILLO: Business, my lord! I think most understand
	Bohemia stays here longer.


CAMILLO: Stays here longer.

LEONTES: Ay, but why?

CAMILLO: To satisfy your highness and the entreaties
	Of our most gracious mistress.

LEONTES: Satisfy!
	The 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 cleansed my bosom, I from thee departed
	Thy penitent reform'd: but we have been
	Deceived in thy integrity, deceived
	In that which seems so.

CAMILLO: Be it forbid, my lord!

LEONTES: To bide upon't, thou art not honest, or,
	If thou inclinest that way, thou art a coward,
	Which hoxes honesty behind, restraining
	From course required; 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 takest it all for jest.

CAMILLO: 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 wilful-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,
	Where of 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.

LEONTES:                   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 rumour
	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.

CAMILLO: 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.

LEONTES: Is whispering nothing?
	Is leaning cheek to cheek? is meeting noses?
	Kissing with inside lip? stopping the career
	Of laughing 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.

CAMILLO: Good my lord, be cured
	Of this diseased opinion, and betimes;
	For 'tis most dangerous.

LEONTES: Say it be, 'tis true.

CAMILLO: No, no, my lord.

LEONTES:                   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 wife's liver
	Infected as her life, she would not live
	The running of one glass.

CAMILLO: Who does infect her?

LEONTES: Why, he that wears her like a medal, hanging
	About his neck, Bohemia: who, if I
	Had servants true about me, that bare eyes
	To see alike mine honour 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 benched and reared to worship, who mayst see
	Plainly as heaven sees earth and earth sees heaven,
	How I am galled,--mightst bespice a cup,
	To give mine enemy a lasting wink;
	Which draught to me were cordial.

CAMILLO: Sir, my lord,
	I could do this, and that with no rash potion,
	But with a lingering dram that should not work
	Maliciously like poison: but I cannot
	Believe this crack to be in my dread mistress,
	So sovereignly being honourable.
	I have loved thee,--

LEONTES: 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' the 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?

CAMILLO: I must believe you, sir:
	I do; and will fetch off Bohemia for't;
	Provided that, when he's removed, 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.

LEONTES: Thou dost advise me
	Even so as I mine own course have set down:
	I'll give no blemish to her honour, none.

CAMILLO: 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.

LEONTES: This is all:
	Do't and thou hast the one half of my heart;
	Do't not, thou split'st thine own.

CAMILLO: I'll do't, my lord.

LEONTES: I will seem friendly, as thou hast advised me.


CAMILLO: 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 villany 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.

	[Re-enter POLIXENES]

POLIXENES: This is strange: methinks
	My favour here begins to warp. Not speak?
	Good day, Camillo.

CAMILLO:                   Hail, most royal sir!

POLIXENES: What is the news i' the court?

CAMILLO: None rare, my lord.

POLIXENES: The king hath on him such a countenance
	As he had lost some province and a region
	Loved as he loves himself: even now I met him
	With customary compliment; when he,
	Wafting his eyes to the contrary and falling
	A lip of much contempt, speeds from me and
	So leaves me to consider what is breeding
	That changeth thus his manners.

CAMILLO: I dare not know, my lord.

POLIXENES: 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 changed complexions are to me a mirror
	Which shows me mine changed too; for I must be
	A party in this alteration, finding
	Myself thus alter'd with 't.

CAMILLO: There is a sickness
	Which puts some of us in distemper, but
	I cannot name the disease; and it is caught
	Of you that yet are well.

POLIXENES: How! caught of me!
	Make me not sighted like the basilisk:
	I have look'd on thousands, who have sped the better
	By my regard, but kill'd none so. Camillo,--
	As you are certainly a gentleman, thereto
	Clerk-like experienced, which no less adorns
	Our gentry than our parents' noble names,
	In whose success we are gentle,--I beseech you,
	If you know aught which does behove my knowledge
	Thereof to be inform'd, imprison't not
	In ignorant concealment.

CAMILLO: I may not answer.

POLIXENES: 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 man
	Which honour does acknowledge, whereof the least
	Is not this suit of mine, that thou declare
	What incidency thou dost guess of harm
	Is creeping toward me; how far off, how near;
	Which way to be prevented, if to be;
	If not, how best to bear it.

CAMILLO: Sir, I will tell you;
	Since I am charged in honour and by him
	That I think honourable: therefore mark my counsel,
	Which must be even as swiftly follow'd as
	I mean to utter it, or both yourself and me
	Cry lost, and so good night!

POLIXENES: On, good Camillo.

CAMILLO: I am appointed him to murder you.

POLIXENES: By whom, Camillo?

CAMILLO:                         By the king.

POLIXENES: For what?

CAMILLO: He thinks, nay, with all confidence he swears,
	As he had seen't or been an instrument
	To vice you to't, that you have touch'd his queen

POLIXENES:                   O, then my best blood turn
	To an infected jelly and my name
	Be yoked with his that did betray the Best!
	Turn then my freshest reputation to
	A savour that may strike the dullest nostril
	Where I arrive, and my approach be shunn'd,
	Nay, hated too, worse than the great'st infection
	That e'er was heard or read!

CAMILLO: Swear his thought over
	By each particular star in heaven and
	By all their influences, you may as well
	Forbid the sea for to obey the moon
	As or by oath remove or counsel shake
	The fabric of his folly, whose foundation
	Is piled upon his faith and will continue
	The standing of his body.

POLIXENES: How should this grow?

CAMILLO: I know not: but I am sure 'tis safer to
	Avoid what's grown than question how 'tis born.
	If therefore you dare trust my honesty,
	That lies enclosed in this trunk which you
	Shall bear along impawn'd, away to-night!
	Your followers I will whisper to the business,
	And will by twos and threes at several posterns
	Clear them o' the city. For myself, I'll put
	My fortunes to your service, which are here
	By this discovery lost. Be not uncertain;
	For, by the honour of my parents, I
	Have utter'd truth: which if you seek to prove,
	I dare not stand by; nor shall you be safer
	Than one condemn'd by the king's own mouth, thereon
	His execution sworn.

POLIXENES: I do believe thee:
	I saw his heart in 's face. Give me thy hand:
	Be pilot to me and thy places shall
	Still neighbour mine. My ships are ready and
	My people did expect my hence departure
	Two days ago. This jealousy
	Is 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 conceive
	He is dishonour'd by a man which ever
	Profess'd to him, why, his revenges must
	In that be made more bitter. Fear o'ershades me:
	Good expedition be my friend, and comfort
	The gracious queen, part of his theme, but nothing
	Of his ill-ta'en suspicion! Come, Camillo;
	I will respect thee as a father if
	Thou bear'st my life off hence: let us avoid.

CAMILLO: It is in mine authority to command
	The keys of all the posterns: please your highness
	To take the urgent hour. Come, sir, away.



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