The Winter's Tale By William Shakespeare Act IV: Scene 4

POLIXENES.
By my white beard,
You offer him, if this be so, a wrong
Something unfilial: reason my son
Should choose himself a wife; but as good reason
The father, — all whose joy is nothing else
But fair posterity, — should hold some counsel
In such a business.

FLORIZEL.
I yield all this;
But, for some other reasons, my grave sir,
Which 'tis not fit you know, I not acquaint
My father of this business.

POLIXENES.
Let him know't.

FLORIZEL.
He shall not.

POLIXENES.
Pr'ythee let him.

FLORIZEL.
No, he must not.

SHEPHERD.
Let him, my son: he shall not need to grieve
At knowing of thy choice.

FLORIZEL.
Come, come, he must not. —
Mark our contract.

POLIXENES.
[Discovering himself.] Mark your divorce, young sir,
Whom son I dare not call; thou art too base
To be acknowledged: thou a sceptre's heir,
That thus affects a sheep-hook! — Thou, old traitor,
I am sorry that, by hanging thee, I can but
Shorten thy life one week. — And thou, fresh piece
Of excellent witchcraft, who of force must know
The royal fool thou cop'st with, —

SHEPHERD.
O, my heart!

POLIXENES.
I'll have thy beauty scratch'd with briers, and made
More homely than thy state. For thee, fond boy, —
If I may ever know thou dost but sigh
That thou no more shalt see this knack, — as never
I mean thou shalt, — we'll bar thee from succession;
Not hold thee of our blood, no, not our kin,
Far than Deucalion off: — mark thou my words:
Follow us to the court. — Thou churl, for this time,
Though full of our displeasure, yet we free thee
From the dead blow of it. — And you, enchantment, —
Worthy enough a herdsman; yea, him too
That makes himself, but for our honour therein,
Unworthy thee, — if ever henceforth thou
These rural latches to his entrance open,
Or hoop his body more with thy embraces,
I will devise a death as cruel for thee
As thou art tender to't.

[Exit.]

PERDITA.
Even here undone!
I was not much afeard: for once or twice
I was about to speak, and tell him plainly
The self-same sun that shines upon his court
Hides not his visage from our cottage, but
Looks on alike. — [To FLORIZEL.] Will't please you, sir, be gone?
I told you what would come of this! Beseech you,
Of your own state take care: this dream of mine,
Being now awake, I'll queen it no inch further,
But milk my ewes, and weep.

CAMILLO.
Why, how now, father!
Speak ere thou diest.

SHEPHERD.
I cannot speak, nor think,
Nor dare to know that which I know. — [To FLORIZEL.] O, sir,
You have undone a man of fourscore-three,
That thought to fill his grave in quiet; yea,
To die upon the bed my father died,
To lie close by his honest bones! but now
Some hangman must put on my shroud, and lay me
Where no priest shovels in dust. — [To PERDITA.] O cursed wretch,
That knew'st this was the prince, and wouldst adventure
To mingle faith with him! — Undone, undone!
If I might die within this hour, I have liv'd
To die when I desire.

[Exit.]

FLORIZEL.
Why look you so upon me?
I am but sorry, not afeard; delay'd,
But nothing alt'red: what I was, I am:
More straining on for plucking back; not following
My leash unwillingly.

CAMILLO.
Gracious, my lord,
You know your father's temper: at this time
He will allow no speech, — which I do guess
You do not purpose to him, — and as hardly
Will he endure your sight as yet, I fear:
Then, till the fury of his highness settle,
Come not before him.

FLORIZEL.
I not purpose it.
I think Camillo?

CAMILLO.
Even he, my lord.

PERDITA.
How often have I told you 'twould be thus!
How often said my dignity would last
But till 'twere known!

FLORIZEL.
It cannot fail but by
The violation of my faith; and then
Let nature crush the sides o' the earth together
And mar the seeds within! — Lift up thy looks. —
From my succession wipe me, father; I
Am heir to my affection.

CAMILLO.
Be advis'd.

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


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