[Enter Leontes, Cleomenes, Dion, Paulina, and
Sir, you have done enough, and have performed
A saintlike sorrow. No fault could you make
Which you have not redeemed—indeed, paid down
More penitence than done trespass. At the last,
 Do as the heavens have done: forget your evil;
With them forgive yourself.
LEONTES Whilst I remember
Her and her virtues, I cannot forget
My blemishes in them, and so still think of
 The wrong I did myself, which was so much
That heirless it hath made my kingdom and
Destroyed the sweet’st companion that e’er man
Bred his hopes out of.
PAULINA True, too true, my lord.
 If one by one you wedded all the world,
Or from the all that are took something good
To make a perfect woman, she you killed
Would be unparalleled.
LEONTES I think so. Killed?
 She I killed? I did so, but thou strik’st me
Sorely to say I did. It is as bitter
Upon thy tongue as in my thought. Now, good now,
Say so but seldom.
CLEOMENES Not at all, good lady.
 You might have spoken a thousand things that
Have done the time more benefit and graced
Your kindness better.
PAULINA You are one of those
 Would have him wed again.
DION If you would not so,
You pity not the state nor the remembrance
Of his most sovereign name, consider little
What dangers by his Highness’ fail of issue
 May drop upon his kingdom and devour
Incertain lookers-on. What were more holy
Than to rejoice the former queen is well?
What holier than, for royalty’s repair,
For present comfort, and for future good,
 To bless the bed of majesty again
With a sweet fellow to ’t?
PAULINA There is none worthy,
Respecting her that’s gone. Besides, the gods
Will have fulfilled their secret purposes.
 For has not the divine Apollo said,
Is ’t not the tenor of his oracle,
That King Leontes shall not have an heir
Till his lost child be found? Which that it shall
Is all as monstrous to our human reason
 As my Antigonus to break his grave
And come again to me—who, on my life,
Did perish with the infant. ’Tis your counsel
My lord should to the heavens be contrary,
Oppose against their wills. Care not for issue.
 The crown will find an heir. Great Alexander
Left his to th’ worthiest; so his successor
Was like to be the best.
LEONTES Good Paulina,
Who hast the memory of Hermione,
 I know, in honor, O, that ever I
Had squared me to thy counsel! Then even now
I might have looked upon my queen’s full eyes,
Have taken treasure from her lips—
PAULINA And left them
 More rich for what they yielded.
LEONTES Thou speak’st truth.
No more such wives, therefore no wife. One worse,
And better used, would make her sainted spirit
Again possess her corpse, and on this stage,
 Where we offenders now appear, soul-vexed,
And begin “Why to me?”
PAULINA Had she such power,
She had just cause.
LEONTES She had, and would incense me
 To murder her I married.
PAULINA I should so.
Were I the ghost that walked, I’d bid you mark
Her eye, and tell me for what dull part in ’t
You chose her. Then I’d shriek, that even your ears
 Should rift to hear me, and the words that followed
Should be “Remember mine.”
LEONTES Stars, stars,
And all eyes else dead coals! Fear thou no wife;
I’ll have no wife, Paulina.
PAULINA Will you swear
Never to marry but by my free leave?
Never, Paulina, so be blest my spirit.
Then, good my lords, bear witness to his oath.
You tempt him over-much.
PAULINA Unless another
As like Hermione as is her picture
Affront his eye.
CLEOMENES Good madam—
PAULINA I have done.
 Yet if my lord will marry—if you will, sir,
No remedy but you will—give me the office
To choose you a queen. She shall not be so young
As was your former, but she shall be such
As, walked your first queen’s ghost, it should take
To see her in your arms.
LEONTES My true Paulina,
We shall not marry till thou bid’st us.
 Shall be when your first queen’s again in breath,
Never till then.
[Enter a Servant.]
One that gives out himself Prince Florizell,
Son of Polixenes, with his princess—she
The fairest I have yet beheld—desires access
 To your high presence.
LEONTES What with him? He comes not
Like to his father’s greatness. His approach,
So out of circumstance and sudden, tells us
’Tis not a visitation framed, but forced
 By need and accident. What train?
SERVANT But few,
And those but mean.
LEONTES His princess, say you, with him?
 That e’er the sun shone bright on.
PAULINA O Hermione,
As every present time doth boast itself
Above a better gone, so must thy grave
Give way to what’s seen now. [To Servant.] Sir, you
Have said and writ so—but your writing now
Is colder than that theme—she had not been
Nor was not to be equalled. Thus your verse
Flowed with her beauty once. ’Tis shrewdly ebbed
 To say you have seen a better.
SERVANT Pardon, madam.
The one I have almost forgot—your pardon;
The other, when she has obtained your eye,
Will have your tongue too. This is a creature,
 Would she begin a sect, might quench the zeal
Of all professors else, make proselytes
Of who she but bid follow.
PAULINA How, not women?
Women will love her that she is a woman
 More worth than any man; men, that she is
The rarest of all women.
LEONTES Go, Cleomenes.
Yourself, assisted with your honored friends,
Bring them to our embracement.
[Cleomenes and others exit.]
 Still, ’tis strange
He thus should steal upon us.
PAULINA Had our prince,
Jewel of children, seen this hour, he had paired
Well with this lord. There was not full a month
 Between their births.
LEONTES Prithee, no more; cease. Thou
He dies to me again when talked of. Sure,
When I shall see this gentleman, thy speeches
 Will bring me to consider that which may
Unfurnish me of reason. They are come.
[Enter Florizell, Perdita, Cleomenes, and others.]
Your mother was most true to wedlock, prince,
For she did print your royal father off,
Conceiving you. Were I but twenty-one,
 Your father’s image is so hit in you,
His very air, that I should call you brother,
As I did him, and speak of something wildly
By us performed before. Most dearly welcome,
And your fair princess—goddess! O, alas,
 I lost a couple that ’twixt heaven and Earth
Might thus have stood, begetting wonder, as
You, gracious couple, do. And then I lost—
All mine own folly—the society,
Amity too, of your brave father, whom,
 Though bearing misery, I desire my life
Once more to look on him.
FLORIZELL By his command
Have I here touched Sicilia, and from him
Give you all greetings that a king, at friend,
 Can send his brother. And but infirmity,
Which waits upon worn times, hath something
His wished ability, he had himself
The lands and waters ’twixt your throne and his
 Measured to look upon you, whom he loves—
He bade me say so—more than all the scepters
And those that bear them living.
LEONTES O my brother,
Good gentleman, the wrongs I have done thee stir
 Afresh within me, and these thy offices,
So rarely kind, are as interpreters
Of my behindhand slackness. Welcome hither,
As is the spring to th’ earth. And hath he too
Exposed this paragon to th’ fearful usage,
 At least ungentle, of the dreadful Neptune,
To greet a man not worth her pains, much less
Th’ adventure of her person?
FLORIZELL Good my lord,
She came from Libya.
LEONTES Where the warlike Smalus,
That noble honored lord, is feared and loved?
Most royal sir, from thence, from him, whose
His tears proclaimed his, parting with her. Thence,
 A prosperous south wind friendly, we have crossed
To execute the charge my father gave me
For visiting your Highness. My best train
I have from your Sicilian shores dismissed,
Who for Bohemia bend, to signify
 Not only my success in Libya, sir,
But my arrival and my wife’s in safety
Here where we are.
LEONTES The blessèd gods
Purge all infection from our air whilst you
 Do climate here! You have a holy father,
A graceful gentleman, against whose person,
So sacred as it is, I have done sin,
For which the heavens, taking angry note,
Have left me issueless. And your father’s blest,
 As he from heaven merits it, with you,
Worthy his goodness. What might I have been
Might I a son and daughter now have looked on,
Such goodly things as you?
[Enter a Lord.]
LORD Most noble sir,
 That which I shall report will bear no credit,
Were not the proof so nigh. Please you, great sir,
Bohemia greets you from himself by me,
Desires you to attach his son, who has—
His dignity and duty both cast off—