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Leon. Hold your peaces.
1 Lord. Good my lord,
Ant. It is for you we speak, not for ourselves :
You are abused, and by some putter-on,*
That will be damn'd fort; would I knew the villain,
I would land-damn himt: Be she honour-flaw'd, -
I have three daughters; the eldest is eleven;
The second, and the third, nine, and some five:
If this prove true, they'll pay fort: by mine honour,
I'll geld them all; fourteen they shall not see,
To bring false generations: they are co-heirs;
And I had rather glib myself, than they
Should not produce fair issue.
Leon. Cease; no more.
You smell this business with a sense as cold
As is a dead man's nose: I see't and feel't,
As you feel doing thus; and see withal
The instruments that feel.
Ant. If it be so,
We need no grave to bury honesty;
There's not a grain of it, the face to sweeten
Of the whole dungy earth.
Leon. What! lack I credit ?
1 Lord. I had rather you did lack, than I, my lord, Upon this ground: and more it would content me
To have her honour true, than your suspicion; * Be blamed for't how you might.
Leon. Why, what need we
Commune with you of this ? but rather follow
Our forceful instigation ? Our prerogative
Calls not your counsels : but our natural goodness
Imparts this:-which,-if you (or stupified,
Or seeming so in skill) cannot, or will not,
Relish as truth, like us; inform yourselves,
We need no more of your advice: the matter,
The loss, the gain, the ordering on't, is all
Ant. And I wish, my liege,
You had only in your silent judgment tried it,
Without more overture.
Leon. How could that be?
Either thou art most ignorant by age,
Or thou wert born a fool. Camillo's 'flight,
Added to their familiarity
(Which was as gross as ever touch'd conjecture,
That lack'd sight only, nought for approbation,
But only seeing, all other circumstances
Made up to the deed), doth push on this proceeding:
Yet for a greater confirmation
(For, in an act of this importance, 'twere
Most piteous to be wild), I have despatch'd in post,
To sacred Delphos, to Apollo's temple,
Cleomenes and Dion, whom you know
Of stuff'd sufficiency * Now, from the oracle
They will bring all, whose spiritual counsel had,
Shall stop, or spur me. Have I done well?
1 Lord. Well done, my lord.
Leon. Though I am satisfied, and need no more
Than what I know, yet shall the oracle
Give rest to the minds of others; such as he,
Whose ignorant credulity will not
Come up to the truth: So have we thought it good,
From our free person she should be confined;
Lest that the treachery of the two, fled hence,
Be left her to perform. Come, follow us;
We are to speak in public: for this business
Will raise us all.
Ant. [ Aside.] To laughter, as I take it,
If the good truth were known.
[Exeunt. SCENE II.—The same. The outer Room of a Prison.
Enter PAULINA and Attendants Paul. The keeper of the prison,-call to him;
[Exit an Attendant. Let him have knowledge who I am.-Good lady! No court in Europe is too good for thee, What dost thou then in prison ?-Now, good Sir,
Re-enter Attendant with the KEEPER.
You know me, do you not ?
Keep. For a worthy lady,
And one whom much I honour.
Paul. Pray you, then,
Conduct me to the queen.
Keep. I may not, Madam; to the contrary
I have express commandment.
Paul. Here's ado,
To lock up honesty and honour from
The access of gentle visitors !- Is it lawful,
Pray you, to see her women ? any of them ?
Keep. So please you, Madam, to put
Apart these your attendants, I shall bring
Paul. I pray now, call her. Withdraw yourselves.
[Exeunt Attend. Keep. And, Madam, I must be present at your conference.
* Of abilities more than sufficient.
Paul. Well, be it so, pr’ythee.
[Exit KEEPER. Here's such ado to make no stain a stain, As passes colouring.
Re-enter KEEPER, with EMILIA.
Dear gentlewoman, how fares our gracious lady ?
Emil. As well as one so great, and so forlorn,
Vay hold together : On her frights, and griefs
(Which never tender lady hath borne greater),
She is, something before her time, deliver'd.
Paul. A boy?
Emil. A daughter; and a goodly babe,
Lusty, and like to live: the queen receives
Much comfort in't: says, My poor prisoner,
I am innocent as you.
Paul. I dare be sworn.--.
These dangerous unsafe lunes* o'the king! beshrew them!
He must be told on't, and he shall: the office
Becomes a woman best; I'll take't upon me:
If I prove honey-mouth'd, let my tongue blister;
And never to my red-look'd anger be
The trumpet any more :-Pray you, Emilia,
Commend my best obedience to the queen;
If she dares trust me with her little babe,
I'll show't the king, and undertake to be
Her advocate to th' loudest: We do not know
How he may soften at the sight o'the child;
The silence often of pure innocence
Persuades, when speaking fails.
Emil. Most worthy Madam,
Your honour, and your goodness, is so evident,
That your free undertaking cannot miss
A thriving issue; there is no lady living,
So meet for this great errand: Please your ladyship
To visit the next room, I'll presently
Acquaint the queen of your most noble offer;
Who, but to-day, hammer'd of this design:
But durst not tempt a minister of honour,
Lest she should be denied.
Paul. Tell her, Emilia,
I'll use that tongue I have: if wit flow from it,
As boldness from my bosom, let it not be doubted
I shall do good.
Emil. Now be you bless'd for it!
I'll to the queen : Please you, come something nearer.
Keep. Madam, if't please the queen to send the babe,!
I know not what I shall incur to pass it,
Having no warrant.
Paul. You need not fear it, Sir:
The child was prisoner to the womb; and is,
By law and process of great nature, thence
Freed and enfranchised: not a party to
The anger of the king; nor guilty of,
If any be, the trespass of the queen.
Keep. I do believe it.
Paul. Do not you fear: upon
Mine honour, I will stand 'twixt you and danger.
SCENE III.—The same. A Room in the Palace.
Enter LEONTES, ANTIGONUS, LORDS, and other Attendants,
Leon. Nor night, nor day, no rest: It is but weakness
To bear the matter thus; mere weakness, if
The cause were not in being ;-part o` the cause,
She, the adultress ;-for the harlot king
Is quite beyond mine arm, out of the blank
And level* of my brain, plot-proof: but she
I can hook to me : Say, that she were gone,
Given to the fire, a moiety of my rest
Might come to me again. - Who's there?
1 Atten. My lord ?
[Advancing. Leon. How does the boy ?
1 Atten. He took good rest to-night; "Tis hoped, his sickness is discharged.
Leon. To see his nobleness ! Conceiving the dishonour of his mother, He straight declined, droop’d, took it deeply; Fasten’d and fix'd the shame on't in himself; Threw off his spirit, his appetite, his sleep, And downright languish’d.- Leave me solely :4-go, See how he fares. [Exit Attend.]-Fie, fie ! no thought of him; The very thought of my revenges that way Recoil upon me: in himself too mighty; And in his parties, his alliance,-Let him be, Until a time may serve: for present vengeance, Take it on her. Camillo and Polixenes Laugh at me; make their pastime at my sorrow: They should not laugh, if I could reach them; nor Shall she, within my power.
Enter PAULINA, with a Child. 1 Lord. You must not enter.
Paul. Nay, rather, good my lords, be second to me:
Fear you his tyrannous passion more, alas,
Than the queen's life? a gracious innocent soul :
More free than he is jealous.
Ant. That's enough.
1 Atten. Madam, he hath not slept to-night; commanded None should come at him.
Paul. Not so hot, good Sir;.
I come to bring him sleep. 'Tis such as you,
That creep like shadows by him, and do sigh'
At each his needless heavings, such as you
Nourish the cause of his awaking: I
Do come with words as med'cinal as true;
Honest, as either; to purge him of that humour,
That presses him from sleep.
Leon. What noise there, ho ?
Paul. No noise, my lord; but needful conference,
About some gossips for your highness.
Leon. How ?-
Away with that audacious lady: Antigonus,
I charged thee, that she should not come about me;
I knew, she would.
Ant. I told her so, my lord,
On your displeasure's peril, and on mine,
She should not visit you.
Leon. What, canst not rule her?
Paul. From all dishonesty, he can : in this
(Unless he take the course that you have done,
Commit me, for committing honour), trust it,
He shall not rule me.
Ant. Lo you now: you hear !
When she will take the rein, I let her run;
But she'll not stumble.
Paul. Good my liege, I come,
And, I beseech you, hear me, who profess
Myself your loyal servant, your physician,
Your most obedient counsellor; yet that dare
Less appear so, in comforting* your evils,
Than such as most seems yours :- I say, I come
From your good queen.
Leon. Good queen!
Paul. Good queen, my lord, good queen: I say, good queen; And would by combat make her good, so were I A man, the worstt about you.
Leon, Force her hence.
Paul. Let him, that makes but trifles of his eyes,
First hand me: on mine own accord, I'll off;
But, first, I'll do my errand.-The good queen,
For she is good, hath brought you forth a daughter;
Here 'tis; commends it to your blessing. [Laying down the Child.
A mankind I witch! Hence with her, out o’ door:
A most intelligencing bawd!
Paul. Not so: .
I am as ignorant in that, as you
In so entitling me: and no less honest
Than you are mad; which is enough, I'll warrant,
As this world goes, to pass for honest.