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

I am a feather for each wind that blows: —
Shall I live on, to see this bastard kneel
And call me father? better burn it now,
Than curse it then. But, be it; let it live: —
It shall not neither. — [To ANTIGONUS.] You, sir, come you hither:
You that have been so tenderly officious
With Lady Margery, your midwife, there,
To save this bastard's life, — for 'tis a bastard,
So sure as this beard's grey, — what will you adventure
To save this brat's life?

Anything, my lord,
That my ability may undergo,
And nobleness impose: at least, thus much;
I'll pawn the little blood which I have left
To save the innocent: — anything possible.

It shall be possible. Swear by this sword
Thou wilt perform my bidding.

I will, my lord.

Mark, and perform it, — seest thou? for the fail
Of any point in't shall not only be
Death to thyself, but to thy lewd-tongu'd wife,
Whom for this time we pardon. We enjoin thee,
As thou art liegeman to us, that thou carry
This female bastard hence; and that thou bear it
To some remote and desert place, quite out
Of our dominions; and that there thou leave it,
Without more mercy, to it own protection
And favour of the climate. As by strange fortune
It came to us, I do in justice charge thee,
On thy soul's peril and thy body's torture,
That thou commend it strangely to some place
Where chance may nurse or end it. Take it up.

I swear to do this, though a present death
Had been more merciful. — Come on, poor babe:
Some powerful spirit instruct the kites and ravens
To be thy nurses! Wolves and bears, they say,
Casting their savageness aside, have done
Like offices of pity. — Sir, be prosperous
In more than this deed does require! — and blessing,
Against this cruelty, fight on thy side,
Poor thing, condemn'd to loss!

[Exit with the child.]

No, I'll not rear
Another's issue.

Please your highness, posts
From those you sent to the oracle are come
An hour since: Cleomenes and Dion,
Being well arriv'd from Delphos, are both landed,
Hasting to the court.

So please you, sir, their speed
Hath been beyond account.

Twenty-three days
They have been absent: 'tis good speed; foretells
The great Apollo suddenly will have
The truth of this appear. Prepare you, lords;
Summon a session, that we may arraign
Our most disloyal lady; for, as she hath
Been publicly accus'd, so shall she have
A just and open trial. While she lives,
My heart will be a burden to me. Leave me;
And think upon my bidding.


Back to Top

Take the Quiz

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