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The Winter’s Tale - Act 2, scene 3
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Navigate this workThe Winter’s Tale - Act 2, scene 3
Act 2, scene 3
Paulina brings the baby to the tormented Leontes, who first orders the baby burned, then orders Antigonus to take the baby to a deserted place and abandon it. News comes that the couriers have returned with the oracle from Apollo.Enter Leontes.
0923 Nor night nor day no rest. It is but weakness
0924 To bear the matter thus, mere weakness. If
0925 The cause were not in being—part o’ th’ cause,
0926 She th’ adult’ress, for the harlot king
0927 5 Is quite beyond mine arm, out of the blank
0928 And level of my brain, plot-proof. But she
0929 I can hook to me. Say that she were gone,
0930 Given to the fire, a moiety of my rest
0931 Might come to me again.—Who’s there?
⌜Enter a⌝ Servant.
SERVANT 0932 10 My lord.
p. 69LEONTES 0933 How does the boy?
SERVANT 0934 He took good rest tonight. ’Tis hoped
0935 His sickness is discharged.
LEONTES 0936 To see his nobleness,
0937 15 Conceiving the dishonor of his mother.
0938 He straight declined, drooped, took it deeply,
0939 Fastened and fixed the shame on ’t in himself,
0940 Threw off his spirit, his appetite, his sleep,
0941 And downright languished. Leave me solely. Go,
0942 20 See how he fares.⌜Servant exits.⌝
0943 Fie, fie, no thought of him.
0944 The very thought of my revenges that way
0945 Recoil upon me—in himself too mighty,
0946 And in his parties, his alliance. Let him be
0947 25 Until a time may serve. For present vengeance,
0948 Take it on her. Camillo and Polixenes
0949 Laugh at me, make their pastime at my sorrow.
0950 They should not laugh if I could reach them, nor
0951 Shall she within my power.
Enter Paulina, ⌜carrying the baby, with⌝ Servants,
Antigonus, and Lords.
LORD 0952 30 You must not enter.
0953 Nay, rather, good my lords, be second to me.
0954 Fear you his tyrannous passion more, alas,
0955 Than the Queen’s life? A gracious innocent soul,
0956 More free than he is jealous.
ANTIGONUS 0957 35 That’s enough.
0958 Madam, he hath not slept tonight, commanded
0959 None should come at him.
PAULINA 0960 Not so hot, good sir.
0961 I come to bring him sleep. ’Tis such as you
0962 40 That creep like shadows by him and do sigh
p. 710963 At each his needless heavings, such as you
0964 Nourish the cause of his awaking. I
0965 Do come with words as medicinal as true,
0966 Honest as either, to purge him of that humor
0967 45 That presses him from sleep.
LEONTES 0968 ⌜What⌝ noise there, ho?
0969 No noise, my lord, but needful conference
0970 About some gossips for your Highness.
LEONTES 0971 How?—
0972 50 Away with that audacious lady. Antigonus,
0973 I charged thee that she should not come about me.
0974 I knew she would.
ANTIGONUS 0975 I told her so, my lord,
0976 On your displeasure’s peril and on mine,
0977 55 She should not visit you.
LEONTES 0978 What, canst not rule her?
0979 From all dishonesty he can. In this,
0980 Unless he take the course that you have done—
0981 Commit me for committing honor—trust it,
0982 60 He shall not rule me.
ANTIGONUS 0983 La you now, you hear.
0984 When she will take the rein I let her run,
0985 But she’ll not stumble.
PAULINA 0986 Good my liege, I come—
0987 65 And I beseech you hear me, who professes
0988 Myself your loyal servant, your physician,
0989 Your most obedient counselor, yet that dares
0990 Less appear so in comforting your evils
0991 Than such as most seem yours—I say I come
0992 70 From your good queen.
LEONTES 0993 Good queen?
0994 Good queen, my lord, good queen, I say “good
p. 730996 And would by combat make her good, so were I
0997 75 A man, the worst about you.
LEONTES 0998 Force her hence.
0999 Let him that makes but trifles of his eyes
1000 First hand me. On mine own accord I’ll off,
1001 But first I’ll do my errand.—The good queen,
1002 80 For she is good, hath brought you forth a
1004 Here ’tis—commends it to your blessing.
⌜She lays down the baby.⌝
LEONTES 1005 Out!
1006 A mankind witch! Hence with her, out o’ door.
1007 85 A most intelligencing bawd.
PAULINA 1008 Not so.
1009 I am as ignorant in that as you
1010 In so entitling me, and no less honest
1011 Than you are mad—which is enough, I’ll warrant,
1012 90 As this world goes, to pass for honest.
LEONTES 1013 Traitors,
1014 Will you not push her out? ⌜To Antigonus.⌝ Give her
1015 the bastard,
1016 Thou dotard; thou art woman-tired, unroosted
1017 95 By thy Dame Partlet here. Take up the bastard,
1018 Take ’t up, I say. Give ’t to thy crone.
PAULINA, ⌜to Antigonus⌝ 1019 Forever
1020 Unvenerable be thy hands if thou
1021 Tak’st up the Princess by that forced baseness
1022 100 Which he has put upon ’t.
LEONTES 1023 He dreads his wife.
1024 So I would you did. Then ’twere past all doubt
1025 You’d call your children yours.
LEONTES 1026 A nest of traitors!
1027 105 I am none, by this good light.
p. 75PAULINA 1028 Nor I, nor any
1029 But one that’s here, and that’s himself. For he
1030 The sacred honor of himself, his queen’s,
1031 His hopeful son’s, his babe’s, betrays to slander,
1032 110 Whose sting is sharper than the sword’s; and will
1034 For, as the case now stands, it is a curse
1035 He cannot be compelled to ’t—once remove
1036 The root of his opinion, which is rotten
1037 115 As ever oak or stone was sound.
LEONTES 1038 A callet
1039 Of boundless tongue, who late hath beat her
1041 And now baits me! This brat is none of mine.
1042 120 It is the issue of Polixenes.
1043 Hence with it, and together with the dam
1044 Commit them to the fire.
PAULINA 1045 It is yours,
1046 And, might we lay th’ old proverb to your charge,
1047 125 So like you ’tis the worse.—Behold, my lords,
1048 Although the print be little, the whole matter
1049 And copy of the father—eye, nose, lip,
1050 The trick of ’s frown, his forehead, nay, the valley,
1051 The pretty dimples of his chin and cheek, his
1052 130 smiles,
1053 The very mold and frame of hand, nail, finger.
1054 And thou, good goddess Nature, which hast made it
1055 So like to him that got it, if thou hast
1056 The ordering of the mind too, ’mongst all colors
1057 135 No yellow in ’t, lest she suspect, as he does,
1058 Her children not her husband’s.
LEONTES 1059 A gross hag!—
1060 And, losel, thou art worthy to be hanged
1061 That wilt not stay her tongue.
ANTIGONUS 1062 140 Hang all the husbands
1063 That cannot do that feat, you’ll leave yourself
1064 Hardly one subject.
p. 77LEONTES 1065 Once more, take her hence.
1066 A most unworthy and unnatural lord
1067 145 Can do no more.
LEONTES 1068 I’ll ha’ thee burnt.
PAULINA 1069 I care not.
1070 It is an heretic that makes the fire,
1071 Not she which burns in ’t. I’ll not call you tyrant;
1072 150 But this most cruel usage of your queen,
1073 Not able to produce more accusation
1074 Than your own weak-hinged fancy, something
1076 Of tyranny, and will ignoble make you,
1077 155 Yea, scandalous to the world.
LEONTES, ⌜to Antigonus⌝ 1078 On your allegiance,
1079 Out of the chamber with her! Were I a tyrant,
1080 Where were her life? She durst not call me so
1081 If she did know me one. Away with her!
PAULINA, ⌜to Lords⌝
1082 160 I pray you do not push me; I’ll be gone.—
1083 Look to your babe, my lord; ’tis yours. Jove send her
1084 A better guiding spirit.—What needs these hands?
1085 You that are thus so tender o’er his follies
1086 Will never do him good, not one of you.
1087 165 So, so. Farewell, we are gone.She exits.
LEONTES, ⌜to Antigonus⌝
1088 Thou, traitor, hast set on thy wife to this.
1089 My child? Away with ’t! Even thou, that hast
1090 A heart so tender o’er it, take it hence,
1091 And see it instantly consumed with fire.
1092 170 Even thou, and none but thou. Take it up straight.
1093 Within this hour bring me word ’tis done,
1094 And by good testimony, or I’ll seize thy life,
1095 With what thou else call’st thine. If thou refuse
1096 And wilt encounter with my wrath, say so.
p. 791097 175 The bastard brains with these my proper hands
1098 Shall I dash out. Go, take it to the fire,
1099 For thou sett’st on thy wife.
ANTIGONUS 1100 I did not, sir.
1101 These lords, my noble fellows, if they please,
1102 180 Can clear me in ’t.
LORDS 1103 We can, my royal liege.
1104 He is not guilty of her coming hither.
LEONTES 1105 You’re liars all.
1106 Beseech your Highness, give us better credit.
1107 185 We have always truly served you, and beseech
1108 So to esteem of us. And on our knees we beg,
1109 As recompense of our dear services
1110 Past and to come, that you do change this purpose,
1111 Which being so horrible, so bloody, must
1112 190 Lead on to some foul issue. We all kneel.
1113 I am a feather for each wind that blows.
1114 Shall I live on to see this bastard kneel
1115 And call me father? Better burn it now
1116 Than curse it then. But be it; let it live.
1117 195 It shall not neither. ⌜To Antigonus.⌝ You, sir, come
1118 you hither,
1119 You that have been so tenderly officious
1120 With Lady Margery, your midwife there,
1121 To save this bastard’s life—for ’tis a bastard,
1122 200 So sure as this beard’s gray. What will you
1124 To save this brat’s life?
ANTIGONUS 1125 Anything, my lord,
1126 That my ability may undergo
1127 205 And nobleness impose. At least thus much:
1128 I’ll pawn the little blood which I have left
1129 To save the innocent. Anything possible.
1130 It shall be possible. Swear by this sword
1131 Thou wilt perform my bidding.
ANTIGONUS, ⌜his hand on the hilt⌝ 1132 210 I will, my lord.
1133 Mark, and perform it, seest thou; for the fail
1134 Of any point in ’t shall not only be
1135 Death to thyself but to thy lewd-tongued wife,
1136 Whom for this time we pardon. We enjoin thee,
1137 215 As thou art liegeman to us, that thou carry
1138 This female bastard hence, and that thou bear it
1139 To some remote and desert place quite out
1140 Of our dominions, and that there thou leave it,
1141 Without more mercy, to it own protection
1142 220 And favor of the climate. As by strange fortune
1143 It came to us, I do in justice charge thee,
1144 On thy soul’s peril and thy body’s torture,
1145 That thou commend it strangely to some place
1146 Where chance may nurse or end it. Take it up.
1147 225 I swear to do this, though a present death
1148 Had been more merciful.—Come on, poor babe.
⌜He picks up the baby.⌝
1149 Some powerful spirit instruct the kites and ravens
1150 To be thy nurses! Wolves and bears, they say,
1151 Casting their savageness aside, have done
1152 230 Like offices of pity. ⌜To Leontes.⌝ Sir, be prosperous
1153 In more than this deed does require.—And blessing
1154 Against this cruelty fight on thy side,
1155 Poor thing, condemned to loss.
He exits, ⌜carrying the baby.⌝
LEONTES 1156 No, I’ll not rear
1157 235 Another’s issue.
Enter a Servant.
SERVANT 1158 Please your Highness, posts
p. 831159 From those you sent to th’ oracle are come
1160 An hour since. Cleomenes and Dion,
1161 Being well arrived from Delphos, are both landed,
1162 240 Hasting to th’ court.
LORD, ⌜to Leontes⌝ 1163 So please you, sir, their speed
1164 Hath been beyond account.
LEONTES 1165 Twenty-three days
1166 They have been absent. ’Tis good speed, foretells
1167 245 The great Apollo suddenly will have
1168 The truth of this appear. Prepare you, lords.
1169 Summon a session, that we may arraign
1170 Our most disloyal lady; for, as she hath
1171 Been publicly accused, so shall she have
1172 250 A just and open trial. While she lives,
1173 My heart will be a burden to me. Leave me,
1174 And think upon my bidding.