Royal Shakespeare Company – The Winter’s Tale, Act 2 Scene 1 – stage scene – NY


Give me the boy: I am glad you did not nurse him: Though he does bear some signs of me, yet you Have too much blood in him.
-What is this? Sport? Bear the boy hence; he shall not come about her; Away with him! And let her sport herself
With that she’s big with; for ’tis Polixenes Has made thee swell thus.
-But I’d say he had not, And I’ll be sworn you would believe my saying,
Howe’er you lean to the nayward. You, my lords,
Look on her, mark her well; be but about To say ‘she is a goodly lady,’ and
The justice of your hearts will thereto add ‘Tis pity she’s not honest, honourable:’
Praise her but for this her without-door form, Which on my faith deserves high speech, and straight The shrug, the hum or ha, these petty brands
That calumny doth use these hums and ha’s,
When you have said ‘she’s goodly,’ come between Ere you can say ‘she’s honest:’ but be ‘t known, From him that has most cause to grieve it should be, She’s an adulteress.
-Should a villain say so, The most replenish’d villain in the world,
He were as much more villain: you, my lord, Do but mistake.
-You have mistook, my lady, Polixenes for Leontes:
I have said She’s an adulteress; I have said with whom:
More, she’s a traitor and Camillo is A federary with her, and one that knows
What she should shame to know herself But with her most vile principal, that she’s
A bed-swerver, even as bad as those That vulgars give bold’st titles, ay, and privy To this their late escape.
-No, by my life. Privy to none of this. How will this grieve you, When you shall come to clearer knowledge, that You thus have publish’d me!
-If I mistake In those foundations which I build upon,
The centre is not big enough to bear A school-boy’s top. Away with her! to prison!
He who shall speak for her is afar off guilty But that he speaks.
-There’s some ill planet reigns: I must be patient till the heavens look
With an aspect more favourable. Good my lords, I am not prone to weeping, as our sex
Commonly are; the want of which vain dew Perchance may dry your pities: but I have
That honourable grief lodged here which burns Worse than tears drown: beseech you all, my lords, With thoughts so qualified as your charities
Shall best instruct you, measure me; and so The king’s will be perform’d!
-Shall I be heard? -Who is’t that goes with me? Beseech your highness,
My women may be with me; for you see My plight requires it. Do not weep, good fools;
There is no cause: when you shall know your mistress
Has deserved prison, then abound in tears As I come out: this action I now go on
Is for my better grace. Adieu, my lord: I never wish’d to see you sorry; now
I trust I shall. My women, come; you have leave.

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