The Winter's Tale By William Shakespeare Act I: Scene 2

CAMILLO.
Be it forbid, my lord!

LEONTES.
To bide upon't, — thou art not honest; or,
If thou inclin'st that way, thou art a coward,
Which hoxes honesty behind, restraining
From course requir'd; or else thou must be counted
A servant grafted in my serious trust,
And therein negligent; or else a fool
That seest a game play'd home, the rich stake drawn,
And tak'st it all for jest.

CAMILLO.
My gracious lord,
I may be negligent, foolish, and fearful;
In every one of these no man is free,
But that his negligence, his folly, fear,
Among the infinite doings of the world,
Sometime puts forth: in your affairs, my lord,
If ever I were wilful-negligent,
It was my folly; if industriously
I play'd the fool, it was my negligence,
Not weighing well the end; if ever fearful
To do a thing, where I the issue doubted,
Whereof the execution did cry out
Against the non-performance, 'twas a fear
Which oft affects the wisest: these, my lord,
Are such allow'd infirmities that honesty
Is never free of. But, beseech your grace,
Be plainer with me; let me know my trespass
By its own visage: if I then deny it,
'Tis none of mine.

LEONTES.
Have not you seen, Camillo, —
But that's past doubt: you have, or your eye-glass
Is thicker than a cuckold's horn, — or heard, —
For, to a vision so apparent, rumour
Cannot be mute, — or thought, — for cogitation
Resides not in that man that does not think it, —
My wife is slippery? If thou wilt confess, —
Or else be impudently negative,
To have nor eyes nor ears nor thought, — then say
My wife's a hobby-horse; deserves a name
As rank as any flax-wench that puts to
Before her troth-plight: say't and justify't.

CAMILLO.
I would not be a stander-by to hear
My sovereign mistress clouded so, without
My present vengeance taken: 'shrew my heart,
You never spoke what did become you less
Than this; which to reiterate were sin
As deep as that, though true.

LEONTES.
Is whispering nothing?
Is leaning cheek to cheek? is meeting noses?
Kissing with inside lip? Stopping the career
Of laughter with a sigh? — a note infallible
Of breaking honesty; — horsing foot on foot?
Skulking in corners? wishing clocks more swift;
Hours, minutes; noon, midnight? and all eyes
Blind with the pin and web but theirs, theirs only,
That would unseen be wicked? — is this nothing?
Why, then the world and all that's in't is nothing;
The covering sky is nothing; Bohemia nothing;
My is nothing; nor nothing have these nothings,
If this be nothing.

CAMILLO.
Good my lord, be cur'd
Of this diseas'd opinion, and betimes;
For 'tis most dangerous.

LEONTES.
Say it be, 'tis true.

CAMILLO.
No, no, my lord.

LEONTES.
It is; you lie, you lie:
I say thou liest, Camillo, and I hate thee;
Pronounce thee a gross lout, a mindless slave;
Or else a hovering temporizer, that
Canst with thine eyes at once see good and evil,
Inclining to them both. — Were my wife's liver
Infected as her life, she would not live
The running of one glass.

CAMILLO.
Who does infect her?

LEONTES.
Why, he that wears her like her medal, hanging
About his neck, Bohemia: who — if I
Had servants true about me, that bare eyes
To see alike mine honour as their profits,
Their own particular thrifts, — they would do that
Which should undo more doing: ay, and thou,
His cupbearer, — whom I from meaner form
Have bench'd and rear'd to worship; who mayst see,
Plainly as heaven sees earth and earth sees heaven,
How I am galled, — mightst bespice a cup,
To give mine enemy a lasting wink;
Which draught to me were cordial.

CAMILLO.
Sir, my lord,
I could do this; and that with no rash potion,
But with a ling'ring dram, that should not work
Maliciously like poison: but I cannot
Believe this crack to be in my dread mistress,
So sovereignly being honourable.
I have lov'd thee, —

LEONTES.
Make that thy question, and go rot!
Dost think I am so muddy, so unsettled,
To appoint myself in this vexation; sully
The purity and whiteness of my sheets, —
Which to preserve is sleep; which being spotted
Is goads, thorns, nettles, tails of wasps;
Give scandal to the blood o' the prince, my son, —
Who I do think is mine, and love as mine, —
Without ripe moving to't? — Would I do this?
Could man so blench?

CAMILLO.
I must believe you, sir:
I do; and will fetch off Bohemia for't;
Provided that, when he's remov'd, your highness
Will take again your queen as yours at first,
Even for your son's sake; and thereby for sealing
The injury of tongues in courts and kingdoms
Known and allied to yours.

LEONTES.
Thou dost advise me
Even so as I mine own course have set down:
I'll give no blemish to her honour, none.

CAMILLO.
My lord,
Go then; and with a countenance as clear
As friendship wears at feasts, keep with Bohemia
And with your queen: I am his cupbearer.
If from me he have wholesome beverage,
Account me not your servant.

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After Camillo reveals Leontes' plan to kill Polixenes, Camillo is sentenced to die for treason.


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