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

PAULINA.
For ever
Unvenerable be thy hands, if thou
Tak'st up the princess by that forced baseness
Which he has put upon't!

LEONTES.
He dreads his wife.

PAULINA.
So I would you did; then 'twere past all doubt
You'd call your children yours.

LEONTES.
A nest of traitors?

ANTIGONUS.
I am none, by this good light.

PAULINA.
Nor I; nor any,
But one that's here; and that's himself: for he
The sacred honour of himself, his queen's,
His hopeful son's, his babe's, betrays to slander,
Whose sting is sharper than the sword's; and will not, —
For, as the case now stands, it is a curse
He cannot be compell'd to't, — once remove
The root of his opinion, which is rotten
As ever oak or stone was sound.

LEONTES.
A callat
Of boundless tongue, who late hath beat her husband,
And now baits me! — This brat is none of mine;
It is the issue of Polixenes:
Hence with it! and together with the dam,
Commit them to the fire.

PAULINA.
It is yours!
And, might we lay the old proverb to your charge,
So like you 'tis the worse. — Behold, my lords,
Although the print be little, the whole matter
And copy of the father, — eye, nose, lip,
The trick of his frown, his forehead; nay, the valley,
The pretty dimples of his chin and cheek; his smiles;
The very mould and frame of hand, nail, finger: —
And thou, good goddess Nature, which hast made it
So like to him that got it, if thou hast
The ordering of the mind too, 'mongst all colours
No yellow in't, lest she suspect, as he does,
Her children not her husband's!

LEONTES.
A gross hag!
And, losel, thou art worthy to be hang'd
That wilt not stay her tongue.

ANTIGONUS.
Hang all the husbands
That cannot do that feat, you'll leave yourself
Hardly one subject.

LEONTES.
Once more, take her hence.

PAULINA.
A most unworthy and unnatural lord
Can do no more.

LEONTES.
I'll have thee burn'd.

PAULINA.
I care not.
It is an heretic that makes the fire,
Not she which burns in't. I'll not call you tyrant
But this most cruel usage of your queen, —
Not able to produce more accusation
Than your own weak-hing'd fancy, — something savours
Of tyranny, and will ignoble make you,
Yea, scandalous to the world.

LEONTES.
On your allegiance,
Out of the chamber with her! Were I a tyrant,
Where were her life? She durst not call me so,
If she did know me one. Away with her!

PAULINA.
I pray you, do not push me; I'll be gone. —
Look to your babe, my lord; 'tis yours: Jove send her
A better guiding spirit! — What needs these hands?
You that are thus so tender o'er his follies,
Will never do him good, not one of you.
So, so: — farewell; we are gone.

[Exit.]

LEONTES.
Thou, traitor, hast set on thy wife to this.
My child? — away with't. — even thou, that hast
A heart so tender o'er it, take it hence,
And see it instantly consum'd with fire;
Even thou, and none but thou. Take it up straight:
Within this hour bring me word 'tis done, —
And by good testimony, — or I'll seize thy life,
With that thou else call'st thine. If thou refuse,
And wilt encounter with my wrath, say so;
The bastard-brains with these my proper hands
Shall I dash out. Go, take it to the fire;
For thou set'st on thy wife.

ANTIGONUS.
I did not, sir:
These lords, my noble fellows, if they please,
Can clear me in't.

LORDS.
We can: — my royal liege,
He is not guilty of her coming hither.

LEONTES.
You're liars all.

FIRST LORD.
Beseech your highness, give us better credit:
We have always truly serv'd you; and beseech
So to esteem of us: and on our knees we beg, —
As recompense of our dear services,
Past and to come, — that you do change this purpose,
Which, being so horrible, so bloody, must
Lead on to some foul issue: we all kneel.

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


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