The Winter's Tale By William Shakespeare Act II: Scene 3

ACT II. SCENE 3. The same. A Room in the Palace.

[Enter LEONTES, ANTIGONUS, Lords, and other Attendants.]

LEONTES.
Nor night nor day no rest: it is but weakness
To bear the matter thus, — mere weakness. If
The cause were not in being, — part o' the cause,
She the adultress; for the harlot king
Is quite beyond mine arm, out of the blank
And level of my brain, plot-proof; but she
I can hook to me: — say that she were gone,
Given to the fire, a moiety of my rest
Might come to me again. — Who's there?

FIRST ATTENDANT.
My lord?

LEONTES.
How does the boy?

FIRST ATTENDANT.
He took good rest to-night;
'Tis hop'd his sickness is discharg'd.

LEONTES.
To see his nobleness!
Conceiving the dishonour of his mother,
He straight declin'd, droop'd, took it deeply,
Fasten'd and fix'd the shame on't in himself,
Threw off his spirit, his appetite, his sleep,
And downright languish'd. — Leave me solely: — go,
See how he fares. —

[Exit FIRST ATTENDANT.]

Fie, fie! no thought of him;
The very thought of my revenges that way
Recoil upon me: in himself too mighty,
And in his parties, his alliance, — let him be,
Until a time may serve: for present vengeance,
Take it on her. Camillo and Polixenes
Laugh at me; make their pastime at my sorrow:
They should not laugh if I could reach them; nor
Shall she within my power.

[Enter PAULINA, with a Child.]

FIRST LORD.
You must not enter.

PAULINA.
Nay, rather, good my lords, be second to me:
Fear you his tyrannous passion more, alas,
Than the queen's life? a gracious innocent soul,
More free than he is jealous.

ANTIGONUS.
That's enough.

SECOND ATTENDANT.
Madam, he hath not slept to-night; commanded
None should come at him.

PAULINA.
Not so hot, good sir;
I come to bring him sleep. 'Tis such as you, —
That creep like shadows by him, and do sigh
At each his needless heavings, — such as you
Nourish the cause of his awaking: I
Do come, with words as med'cinal as true,
Honest as either, to purge him of that humour
That presses him from sleep.

LEONTES.
What noise there, ho?

PAULINA.
No noise, my lord; but needful conference
About some gossips for your highness.

LEONTES.
How! —
Away with that audacious lady! — Antigonus,
I charg'd thee that she should not come about me:
I knew she would.

ANTIGONUS.
I told her so, my lord,
On your displeasure's peril, and on mine,
She should not visit you.

LEONTES.
What, canst not rule her?

PAULINA.
From all dishonesty he can: in this, —
Unless he take the course that you have done,
Commit me for committing honour, — trust it,
He shall not rule me.

ANTIGONUS.
La you now, you hear
When she will take the rein, I let her run;
But she'll not stumble.

PAULINA.
Good my liege, I come, —
And, I beseech you, hear me, who professes
Myself your loyal servant, your physician,
Your most obedient counsellor: yet that dares
Less appear so, in comforting your evils,
Than such as most seem yours: — I say I come
From your good queen.

LEONTES.
Good queen!

PAULINA.
Good queen, my lord,
Good queen: I say, good queen;
And would by combat make her good, so were I
A man, the worst about you.

LEONTES.
Force her hence!

PAULINA.
Let him that makes but trifles of his eyes
First hand me: on mine own accord I'll off;
But first I'll do my errand — The good queen,
For she is good, hath brought you forth a daughter;
Here 'tis; commends it to your blessing.

[Laying down the child.]

LEONTES.
Out!
A mankind witch! Hence with her, out o' door:
A most intelligencing bawd!

PAULINA.
Not so:
I am as ignorant in that as you
In so entitling me; and no less honest
Than you are mad; which is enough, I'll warrant,
As this world goes, to pass for honest.

LEONTES.
Traitors!
Will you not push her out? Give her the bastard: —
Thou dotard! [To ANTIGONUS] Thou art woman-tir'd, unroosted
By thy Dame Partlet here: — take up the bastard;
Take't up, I say; give't to thy crone.

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