Act 2 Scene 1


Scene 1

[Enter Hermione, Mamillius, and  Ladies.]

 Take the boy to you. He so troubles me
 ’Tis past enduring.

FIRST LADY   Come, my gracious lord,
 Shall I be your playfellow?

 No, I’ll none of you.

FIRST LADY   Why, my sweet lord?

 You’ll kiss me hard and speak to me as if
 I were a baby still.—I love you better.

 And why so, my lord?

[10]MAMILLIUS   Not for because
 Your brows are blacker—yet black brows, they say,
 Become some women best, so that there be not
 Too much hair there, but in a semicircle,
 Or a half-moon made with a pen.

[15]SECOND LADY   Who taught this?

 I learned it out of women’s faces.—Pray now,
 What color are your eyebrows?

FIRST LADY   Blue, my lord.

 Nay, that’s a mock. I have seen a lady’s nose
[20]  That has been blue, but not her eyebrows.

FIRST LADY   Hark ye,
 The Queen your mother rounds apace. We shall
 Present our services to a fine new prince
 One of these days, and then you’d wanton with us
[25]  If we would have you.

SECOND LADY   She is spread of late
 Into a goodly bulk. Good time encounter her!

 What wisdom stirs amongst you?—Come, sir, now
 I am for you again. Pray you sit by us,
[30]  And tell ’s a tale.

MAMILLIUS   Merry or sad shall ’t be?

HERMIONE  As merry as you will.

 A sad tale’s best for winter. I have one
 Of sprites and goblins.

[35]HERMIONE   Let’s have that, good sir.
 Come on, sit down. Come on, and do your best
 To fright me with your sprites. You’re powerful at it.

 There was a man—

HERMIONE   Nay, come sit down, then on.

 Dwelt by a churchyard. I will tell it softly,
 Yond crickets shall not hear it.

 Come on then, and give ’t me in mine ear.

[They talk privately.]

[Enter Leontes, Antigonus, and  Lords.]

 Was he met there? His train? Camillo with him?

 Behind the tuft of pines I met them. Never
[45]  Saw I men scour so on their way. I eyed them
 Even to their ships.

LEONTES   How blest am I
 In my just censure, in my true opinion!
 Alack, for lesser knowledge! How accursed
[50]  In being so blest! There may be in the cup
 A spider steeped, and one may drink, depart,
 And yet partake no venom, for his knowledge
 Is not infected; but if one present
 Th’ abhorred ingredient to his eye, make known
[55]  How he hath drunk, he cracks his gorge, his sides,
 With violent hefts. I have drunk, and seen the spider.
 Camillo was his help in this, his pander.
 There is a plot against my life, my crown.
 All’s true that is mistrusted. That false villain
[60]  Whom I employed was pre-employed by him.
 He has discovered my design, and I
 Remain a pinched thing, yea, a very trick
 For them to play at will. How came the posterns
 So easily open?

[65]LORD   By his great authority,
 Which often hath no less prevailed than so
 On your command.

LEONTES  I know ’t too well.
  [To Hermione.] Give me the boy. I am glad you did
[70]  not nurse him.
 Though he does bear some signs of me, yet you
 Have too much blood in him.

HERMIONE   What is this? Sport?

LEONTES , [to the Ladies]  
 Bear the boy hence. He shall not come about her.
[75]  Away with him, and let her sport herself

 With that she’s big with,  ( [to Hermione]) for ’tis
 Has made thee swell thus.
[A Lady exits with Mamillius.]

HERMIONE   But I’d say he had not,
[80]  And I’ll be sworn you would believe my saying,
 Howe’er you lean to th’ nayward.

LEONTES   You, my lords,
 Look on her, mark her well. Be but about
 To say “She is a goodly lady,” and
[85]  The justice of your hearts will thereto add
 “’Tis pity she’s not honest, honorable.”
 Praise her but for this her without-door form,
 Which on my faith deserves high speech, and
[90]  The shrug, the “hum,” or “ha,” these petty brands
 That calumny doth use—O, I am out,
 That mercy does, for calumny will sear
 Virtue itself—these shrugs, these “hum”s and “ha”s,
 When you have said she’s goodly, come between
[95]  Ere you can say she’s honest. But be ’t known,
 From him that has most cause to grieve it should be,
 She’s an adult’ress.

HERMIONE   Should a villain say so,
 The most replenished villain in the world,
[100]  He were as much more villain. You, my lord,
 Do but mistake.

LEONTES   You have mistook, my lady,
 Polixenes for Leontes. O thou thing,
 Which I’ll not call a creature of thy place
[105]  Lest barbarism, making me the precedent,
 Should a like language use to all degrees,
 And mannerly distinguishment leave out
 Betwixt the prince and beggar.—I have said
 She’s an adult’ress; I have said with whom.
[110]  More, she’s a traitor, and Camillo is
 A federary with her, and one that knows

 What she should shame to know herself
 But with her most vile principal: that she’s
 A bed-swerver, even as bad as those
[115]  That vulgars give bold’st titles; ay, and privy
 To this their late escape.

HERMIONE   No, by my life,
 Privy to none of this. How will this grieve you,
 When you shall come to clearer knowledge, that
[120]  You thus have published me! Gentle my lord,
 You scarce can right me throughly then to say
 You did mistake.

LEONTES   No. If I mistake
 In those foundations which I build upon,
[125]  The center is not big enough to bear
 A schoolboy’s top.—Away with her to prison.
 He who shall speak for her is afar off guilty
 But that he speaks.

HERMIONE   There’s some ill planet reigns.
[130]  I must be patient till the heavens look
 With an aspect more favorable. Good my lords,
 I am not prone to weeping, as our sex
 Commonly are, the want of which vain dew
 Perchance shall dry your pities. But I have
[135]  That honorable grief lodged here which burns
 Worse than tears drown. Beseech you all, my lords,
 With thoughts so qualified as your charities
 Shall best instruct you, measure me; and so
 The King’s will be performed.

[140]LEONTES   Shall I be heard?

 Who is ’t that goes with me? Beseech your Highness
 My women may be with me, for you see
 My plight requires it.—Do not weep, good fools;
 There is no cause. When you shall know your
[145]  mistress
 Has deserved prison, then abound in tears
 As I come out. This action I now go on

 Is for my better grace.—Adieu, my lord.
 I never wished to see you sorry; now
[150]  I trust I shall.—My women, come; you have leave.

LEONTES  Go, do our bidding. Hence!
[Hermione exits, under guard, with her Ladies.]

 Beseech your Highness, call the Queen again.

 Be certain what you do, sir, lest your justice
 Prove violence, in the which three great ones suffer:
[155]  Yourself, your queen, your son.

LORD   For her, my lord,
 I dare my life lay down—and will do ’t, sir,
 Please you t’ accept it—that the Queen is spotless
 I’ th’ eyes of heaven, and to you—I mean
[160]  In this which you accuse her.

ANTIGONUS   If it prove
 She’s otherwise, I’ll keep my stables where
 I lodge my wife. I’ll go in couples with her;
 Than when I feel and see her, no farther trust her.
[165]  For every inch of woman in the world,
 Ay, every dram of woman’s flesh, is false,
 If she be.

LEONTES   Hold your peaces.

LORD   Good my lord—

[170]  It is for you we speak, not for ourselves.
 You are abused, and by some putter-on
 That will be damned for ’t. Would I knew the
 I would land-damn him. Be she honor-flawed,
[175]  I have three daughters—the eldest is eleven;
 The second and the third, nine and some five;
 If this prove true, they’ll pay for ’t. By mine honor,
 I’ll geld ’em all; fourteen they shall not see
 To bring false generations. They are co-heirs,

[180]  And I had rather glib myself than they
 Should not produce fair issue.

LEONTES   Cease. No more.
 You smell this business with a sense as cold
 As is a dead man’s nose. But I do see ’t and feel ’t,
[185]  As you feel doing thus, and see withal
 The instruments that feel.

ANTIGONUS   If it be so,
 We need no grave to bury honesty.
 There’s not a grain of it the face to sweeten
[190]  Of the whole dungy Earth.

LEONTES   What? Lack I credit?

 I had rather you did lack than I, my lord,
 Upon this ground. And more it would content me
 To have her honor true than your suspicion,
[195]  Be blamed for ’t how you might.

LEONTES   Why, what need we
 Commune with you of this, but rather follow
 Our forceful instigation? Our prerogative
 Calls not your counsels, but our natural goodness
[200]  Imparts this, which if you—or stupefied
 Or seeming so in skill—cannot or will not
 Relish a truth like us, inform yourselves
 We need no more of your advice. The matter,
 The loss, the gain, the ord’ring on ’t is all
[205]  Properly ours.

ANTIGONUS   And I wish, my liege,
 You had only in your silent judgment tried it,
 Without more overture.

LEONTES   How could that be?
[210] Either thou art most ignorant by age,
 Or thou wert born a fool. Camillo’s flight,
 Added to their familiarity—
 Which was as gross as ever touched conjecture,
 That lacked sight only, naught for approbation

[215]  But only seeing, all other circumstances
 Made up to th’ deed—doth push on this
 Yet, for a greater confirmation—
 For in an act of this importance ’twere
[220]  Most piteous to be wild—I have dispatched in post
 To sacred Delphos, to Apollo’s temple,
 Cleomenes and Dion, whom you know
 Of stuffed sufficiency. Now from the oracle
 They will bring all, whose spiritual counsel had
[225]  Shall stop or spur me. Have I done well?

LORD   Well done,
 my lord.


 Though I am satisfied and need no more
 Than what I know, yet shall the oracle
[230]  Give rest to th’ minds of others, such as he
 Whose ignorant credulity will not
 Come up to th’ truth. So have we thought it good
 From our free person she should be confined,
 Lest that the treachery of the two fled hence
[235]  Be left her to perform. Come, follow us.
 We are to speak in public, for this business
 Will raise us all.

ANTIGONUS , [aside]   To laughter, as I take it,
 If the good truth were known.
[They exit.]

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