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The Winter’s Tale - Act 3, scene 2
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Navigate this workThe Winter’s Tale - Act 3, scene 2
Act 3, scene 2
As Hermione tries to defend herself in open court, the oracle is read and she is declared chaste and Polixenes innocent. Leontes pronounces the oracle false, and a messenger rushes in with news that Mamillius has died. Hermione swoons and is carried off by Paulina and others, while, at the same time, Leontes repents. Paulina enters with news that Hermione is dead. Leontes vows to spend the rest of his life grieving for the deaths of his wife and son.Enter Leontes, Lords, ⌜and⌝ Officers.
1202 This sessions, to our great grief we pronounce,
1203 Even pushes ’gainst our heart: the party tried
1204 The daughter of a king, our wife, and one
1205 Of us too much beloved. Let us be cleared
1206 5 Of being tyrannous, since we so openly
1207 Proceed in justice, which shall have due course
1208 Even to the guilt or the purgation.
1209 Produce the prisoner.
1210 It is his Highness’ pleasure that the Queen
1211 10 Appear in person here in court.
⌜Enter⌝ Hermione, as to her trial, ⌜Paulina, and⌝ Ladies.
LEONTES 1213 Read the indictment.
OFFICER ⌜reads⌝ 1214 Hermione, queen to the worthy Leontes,
1215 King of Sicilia, thou art here accused and arraigned
1216 15 of high treason, in committing adultery with Polixenes,
1217 King of Bohemia, and conspiring with Camillo
1218 to take away the life of our sovereign lord the King, thy
1219 royal husband; the pretense whereof being by circumstances
1220 partly laid open, thou, Hermione, contrary to
1221 20 the faith and allegiance of a true subject, didst counsel
1222 and aid them, for their better safety, to fly away by
1224 Since what I am to say must be but that
1225 Which contradicts my accusation, and
1226 25 The testimony on my part no other
1227 But what comes from myself, it shall scarce boot me
1228 To say “Not guilty.” Mine integrity,
1229 Being counted falsehood, shall, as I express it,
1230 Be so received. But thus: if powers divine
1231 30 Behold our human actions, as they do,
1232 I doubt not then but innocence shall make
1233 False accusation blush and tyranny
1234 Tremble at patience. You, my lord, best know,
1235 Whom least will seem to do so, my past life
1236 35 Hath been as continent, as chaste, as true,
1237 As I am now unhappy; which is more
1238 Than history can pattern, though devised
1239 And played to take spectators. For behold me,
1240 A fellow of the royal bed, which owe
1241 40 A moiety of the throne, a great king’s daughter,
1242 The mother to a hopeful prince, here standing
1243 To prate and talk for life and honor fore
1244 Who please to come and hear. For life, I prize it
1245 As I weigh grief, which I would spare. For honor,
1246 45 ’Tis a derivative from me to mine,
1247 And only that I stand for. I appeal
1248 To your own conscience, sir, before Polixenes
1249 Came to your court, how I was in your grace,
1250 How merited to be so; since he came,
1251 50 With what encounter so uncurrent I
1252 Have strained t’ appear thus; if one jot beyond
1253 The bound of honor, or in act or will
1254 That way inclining, hardened be the hearts
1255 Of all that hear me, and my near’st of kin
1256 55 Cry fie upon my grave.
p. 93LEONTES 1257 I ne’er heard yet
1258 That any of these bolder vices wanted
1259 Less impudence to gainsay what they did
1260 Than to perform it first.
HERMIONE 1261 60 That’s true enough,
1262 Though ’tis a saying, sir, not due to me.
1263 You will not own it.
HERMIONE 1264 More than mistress of
1265 Which comes to me in name of fault, I must not
1266 65 At all acknowledge. For Polixenes,
1267 With whom I am accused, I do confess
1268 I loved him as in honor he required,
1269 With such a kind of love as might become
1270 A lady like me, with a love even such,
1271 70 So and no other, as yourself commanded,
1272 Which not to have done, I think, had been in me
1273 Both disobedience and ingratitude
1274 To you and toward your friend, whose love had
1276 75 Even since it could speak, from an infant, freely
1277 That it was yours. Now, for conspiracy,
1278 I know not how it tastes, though it be dished
1279 For me to try how. All I know of it
1280 Is that Camillo was an honest man;
1281 80 And why he left your court, the gods themselves,
1282 Wotting no more than I, are ignorant.
1283 You knew of his departure, as you know
1284 What you have underta’en to do in ’s absence.
HERMIONE 1285 Sir,
1286 85 You speak a language that I understand not.
1287 My life stands in the level of your dreams,
1288 Which I’ll lay down.
LEONTES 1289 Your actions are my dreams.
p. 951290 You had a bastard by Polixenes,
1291 90 And I but dreamed it. As you were past all shame—
1292 Those of your fact are so—so past all truth,
1293 Which to deny concerns more than avails; for as
1294 Thy brat hath been cast out, like to itself,
1295 No father owning it—which is indeed
1296 95 More criminal in thee than it—so thou
1297 Shalt feel our justice, in whose easiest passage
1298 Look for no less than death.
HERMIONE 1299 Sir, spare your threats.
1300 The bug which you would fright me with I seek.
1301 100 To me can life be no commodity.
1302 The crown and comfort of my life, your favor,
1303 I do give lost, for I do feel it gone,
1304 But know not how it went. My second joy
1305 And first fruits of my body, from his presence
1306 105 I am barred like one infectious. My third comfort,
1307 Starred most unluckily, is from my breast,
1308 The innocent milk in it most innocent mouth,
1309 Haled out to murder; myself on every post
1310 Proclaimed a strumpet; with immodest hatred
1311 110 The childbed privilege denied, which longs
1312 To women of all fashion; lastly, hurried
1313 Here to this place, i’ th’ open air, before
1314 I have got strength of limit. Now, my liege,
1315 Tell me what blessings I have here alive,
1316 115 That I should fear to die? Therefore proceed.
1317 But yet hear this (mistake me not: no life,
1318 I prize it not a straw, but for mine honor,
1319 Which I would free), if I shall be condemned
1320 Upon surmises, all proofs sleeping else
1321 120 But what your jealousies awake, I tell you
1322 ’Tis rigor, and not law. Your Honors all,
1323 I do refer me to the oracle.
1324 Apollo be my judge.
LORD 1325 This your request
p. 971326 125 Is altogether just. Therefore bring forth,
1327 And in Apollo’s name, his oracle.⌜Officers exit.⌝
1328 The Emperor of Russia was my father.
1329 O, that he were alive and here beholding
1330 His daughter’s trial, that he did but see
1331 130 The flatness of my misery, yet with eyes
1332 Of pity, not revenge.
⌜Enter⌝ Cleomenes, Dion, ⌜with Officers.⌝
OFFICER, ⌜presenting a sword⌝
1333 You here shall swear upon this sword of justice
1334 That you, Cleomenes and Dion, have
1335 Been both at Delphos, and from thence have
1336 135 brought
1337 This sealed-up oracle, by the hand delivered
1338 Of great Apollo’s priest, and that since then
1339 You have not dared to break the holy seal
1340 Nor read the secrets in ’t.
CLEOMENES, DION 1341 140All this we swear.
LEONTES 1342 Break up the seals and read.
OFFICER ⌜reads⌝ 1343 Hermione is chaste, Polixenes blameless,
1344 Camillo a true subject, Leontes a jealous tyrant,
1345 his innocent babe truly begotten; and the King shall
1346 145 live without an heir if that which is lost be not
1348 Now blessèd be the great Apollo!
HERMIONE 1349 Praised!
LEONTES 1350 Hast thou read truth?
1351 150 Ay, my lord, even so as it is here set down.
1352 There is no truth at all i’ th’ oracle.
1353 The sessions shall proceed. This is mere falsehood.
p. 99⌜Enter a Servant.⌝
1354 My lord the King, the King!
LEONTES 1355 What is the business?
1356 155 O sir, I shall be hated to report it.
1357 The Prince your son, with mere conceit and fear
1358 Of the Queen’s speed, is gone.
LEONTES 1359 How? Gone?
SERVANT 1360 Is dead.
1361 160 Apollo’s angry, and the heavens themselves
1362 Do strike at my injustice.
1363 How now there?
1364 This news is mortal to the Queen. Look down
1365 And see what death is doing.
LEONTES 1366 165 Take her hence.
1367 Her heart is but o’ercharged. She will recover.
1368 I have too much believed mine own suspicion.
1369 Beseech you, tenderly apply to her
1370 Some remedies for life.
⌜Paulina exits with Officers carrying Hermione.⌝
1371 170 Apollo, pardon
1372 My great profaneness ’gainst thine oracle.
1373 I’ll reconcile me to Polixenes,
1374 New woo my queen, recall the good Camillo,
1375 Whom I proclaim a man of truth, of mercy;
1376 175 For, being transported by my jealousies
1377 To bloody thoughts and to revenge, I chose
1378 Camillo for the minister to poison
p. 1011379 My friend Polixenes, which had been done
1380 But that the good mind of Camillo tardied
1381 180 My swift command, though I with death and with
1382 Reward did threaten and encourage him,
1383 Not doing it and being done. He, most humane
1384 And filled with honor, to my kingly guest
1385 Unclasped my practice, quit his fortunes here,
1386 185 Which you knew great, and to the hazard
1387 Of all incertainties himself commended,
1388 No richer than his honor. How he glisters
1389 Through my rust, and how his piety
1390 Does my deeds make the blacker!
PAULINA 1391 190 Woe the while!
1392 O, cut my lace, lest my heart, cracking it,
1393 Break too!
LORD 1394 What fit is this, good lady?
PAULINA, ⌜to Leontes⌝
1395 What studied torments, tyrant, hast for me?
1396 195 What wheels, racks, fires? What flaying? Boiling
1397 In leads or oils? What old or newer torture
1398 Must I receive, whose every word deserves
1399 To taste of thy most worst? Thy tyranny,
1400 Together working with thy jealousies,
1401 200 Fancies too weak for boys, too green and idle
1402 For girls of nine, O, think what they have done,
1403 And then run mad indeed, stark mad, for all
1404 Thy bygone fooleries were but spices of it.
1405 That thou betrayedst Polixenes, ’twas nothing;
1406 205 That did but show thee of a fool, inconstant
1407 And damnable ingrateful. Nor was ’t much
1408 Thou wouldst have poisoned good Camillo’s honor,
1409 To have him kill a king: poor trespasses,
1410 More monstrous standing by, whereof I reckon
p. 1031411 210 The casting forth to crows thy baby daughter
1412 To be or none or little, though a devil
1413 Would have shed water out of fire ere done ’t.
1414 Nor is ’t directly laid to thee the death
1415 Of the young prince, whose honorable thoughts,
1416 215 Thoughts high for one so tender, cleft the heart
1417 That could conceive a gross and foolish sire
1418 Blemished his gracious dam. This is not, no,
1419 Laid to thy answer. But the last—O lords,
1420 When I have said, cry woe!—the Queen, the Queen,
1421 220 The sweet’st, dear’st creature’s dead, and vengeance
1422 for ’t
1423 Not dropped down yet.
LORD 1424 The higher powers forbid!
1425 I say she’s dead. I’ll swear ’t. If word nor oath
1426 225 Prevail not, go and see. If you can bring
1427 Tincture or luster in her lip, her eye,
1428 Heat outwardly or breath within, I’ll serve you
1429 As I would do the gods.—But, O thou tyrant,
1430 Do not repent these things, for they are heavier
1431 230 Than all thy woes can stir. Therefore betake thee
1432 To nothing but despair. A thousand knees
1433 Ten thousand years together, naked, fasting,
1434 Upon a barren mountain, and still winter
1435 In storm perpetual, could not move the gods
1436 235 To look that way thou wert.
LEONTES 1437 Go on, go on.
1438 Thou canst not speak too much. I have deserved
1439 All tongues to talk their bitt’rest.
LORD, ⌜to Paulina⌝ 1440 Say no more.
1441 240 Howe’er the business goes, you have made fault
1442 I’ th’ boldness of your speech.
PAULINA 1443 I am sorry for ’t.
1444 All faults I make, when I shall come to know them,
p. 1051445 I do repent. Alas, I have showed too much
1446 245 The rashness of a woman. He is touched
1447 To th’ noble heart.—What’s gone and what’s past
1449 Should be past grief. Do not receive affliction
1450 At my petition. I beseech you, rather
1451 250 Let me be punished, that have minded you
1452 Of what you should forget. Now, good my liege,
1453 Sir, royal sir, forgive a foolish woman.
1454 The love I bore your queen—lo, fool again!—
1455 I’ll speak of her no more, nor of your children.
1456 255 I’ll not remember you of my own lord,
1457 Who is lost too. Take your patience to you,
1458 And I’ll say nothing.
LEONTES 1459 Thou didst speak but well
1460 When most the truth, which I receive much better
1461 260 Than to be pitied of thee. Prithee, bring me
1462 To the dead bodies of my queen and son.
1463 One grave shall be for both. Upon them shall
1464 The causes of their death appear, unto
1465 Our shame perpetual. Once a day I’ll visit
1466 265 The chapel where they lie, and tears shed there
1467 Shall be my recreation. So long as nature
1468 Will bear up with this exercise, so long
1469 I daily vow to use it. Come, and lead me
1470 To these sorrows.