Act 1 Scene 1 running scene 1
Enter Camillo and Archidamus
ARCHIDAMUS 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.
CAMILLO I think this coming summer the King of Sicilia means to pay Bohemia the visitation which he justly owes him.
ARCHIDAMUS Wherein our entertainment shall shame us, we will be justified in our loves, for indeed-
CAMILLO Beseech you-
ARCHIDAMUS 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.
CAMILLO You pay a great deal too dear for what's given freely.
ARCHIDAMUS Believe me, I speak as my understanding instructs me and as mine honesty puts it to utterance.
CAMILLO Sicilia cannot show himself over-kind to Bohemia. They were trained 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, have been royally attorneyed with interchange of gifts, letters, loving embassies, that they have seemed to be together, though absent, shook hands, as over a vast, and embraced, as it were, from the
ends of opposed winds. The heavens continue their loves.
ARCHIDAMUS 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.
CAMILLO 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.
ARCHIDAMUS Would they else be content to die?
CAMILLO Yes; if there were no other excuse why they should desire to live.
ARCHIDAMUS If the king had no son, they would desire to live on crutches till he had one. Exeunt
Act 1 Scene 2 running scene 1 continues
Enter Leontes, Hermione, Mamillius, Polixenes, Camillo [and
POLIXENES Nine changes of the wat'ry star hath been
The shepherd's note since we have left our throne
Without a burden. Time as long again
Would be filled 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 tomorrow.
I am questioned 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 stayed
To tire your royalty.
LEONTES We are tougher, brother,
Than you can put us to't.
POLIXENES No longer stay.
LEONTES One sev'nnight longer.
POLIXENES Very sooth, tomorrow.
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'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 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 had 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 bygone day proclaimed. 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 To Polixenes
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
Prefixed for's parting.- Yet, good deed, Leontes,
I love thee not a jar o'th'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 t'unsphere the stars with oaths,
Should yet say 'Sir, no going.' Verily,
You shall not go; a lady's 'Verily' is
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 jailer, 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 tomorrow as today,
And to be boy eternal.
HERMIONE Was not my lord
The verier wag o'th'two?
POLIXENES We were as twinned lambs that did frisk i'th'sun,
And bleat the one at th'other. What we changed
Was innocence for innocence. We knew not
The doctrine of ill-doing, nor dreamed
That any did. Had we pursued that life,
And our weak spirits ne'er been higher reared
With stronger blood, we should have answered heaven
Boldly 'Not guilty', the imposition cleared
HERMIONE By this we gather
You have tripped 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 crossed 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.
Th'offences we have made you do we'll answer,
If you first sinned with us, and that with us
You did continue fault, and that you slipped not
With any but with us.
LEONTES Is he won yet?
HERMIONE He'll stay, my lord.
LEONTES At my request he would not.- Aside?
Hermione, my dearest, thou never spok'st
To better purpose.
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 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.
LEONTES Why, that was when
Three crabbèd months had soured 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 th'purpose twice: To Polixenes?
The one forever earned a royal husband;
Th'other for some while a friend. Takes Polixenes' hand
LEONTES Too hot, too hot! 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'th'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 smutched thy nose?-
They say it is a copy out of mine.- Come, captain, Aside?
We must be neat; not neat, but cleanly, captain.
And yet the steer, the heifer and the calf
Are all called neat.- Still virginalling Aside
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 Aside?
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 wished by one that fixes
No bourn 'twixt his and mine, yet were it true
To say this boy were like me.- Come, sir page, To Mamillius
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. Aside?
Thou dost make possible things not so held,
Communicat'st 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 hard'ning of my brows.
POLIXENES What means Sicilia?
HERMIONE He something seems unsettled.
POLIXENES How, my lord?
LEONTES 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, Aside?
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 unbreeched,
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, To Mamillius
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'th'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, Aside
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]
Inch-thick, knee-deep, o'er head and ears a forked 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 th'arm,
That little thinks she has been sluiced in's absence
And his pond fished by his next neighbour, by
Sir Smile, his neighbour. Nay, there's comfort in't
Whiles other men have gates and those gates opened,
As mine, against their will. Should all despair
That have revolted wives, the tenth of mankind
Would hang themselves. Physic for't there's 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. Comes forward
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, whisp'ring, rounding Aside
'Sicilia is a so-forth.' 'Tis far gone
When I shall gust it last.- How came't, Camillo, To 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.
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 cleansed my bosom, I from thee departed
Thy penitent reformed. 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 inclin'st 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 see'st a game played home, the rich stake drawn,
And tak'st it all for jest.
Excerpted from The Winter's Tale by William Shakespeare. Copyright © 2009 by William Shakespeare. Excerpted by permission of Modern Library, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.