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SCENE I. Sicilia. A Room in the Palace of Leontes. Enter LEONTES, CLEOMENES, Dion, PAULINA, and others.
Cleo. Sir, you have done enough, and have performed
A saintlike sorrow; no fault could you make,
Which you have not redeemed; indeed, paid down
More penitence, than done trespass. At the last,
Do, as the Heavens have done; forget your evil :
With them, forgive yourself.
Whilst I remember
Her and her virtues, I cannot forget
My blemishes in them; and so still think of
The wrong I did myself; which was so much,
That heirless it hath made my kingdom ; and
Destroyed the sweet'st companion that e’er man
Bred his hopes out of.
True, too true, my lord.
If, one by one, you wedded all the world,
Or, from the all that are, took something good,
To make a perfect woman, she, you killed,
Would be unparalleled.
I think so. Killed !
She I killed! I did so; but thou strik'st me
Sorely, to say I did; it is as bitter
Upon thy tongue, as in my thought. Now, good now,
Say so but seldom.
Not at all, good lady.
You might have spoken a thousand things that would
Have done the time more benefit, and graced
Your kindness better.
You are one of those,
Would have him wed again.
If you would not so,
You pity not the state, nor the remembrance
Of his most sovereign dame; consider little,
What dangers, by his highness' fail of issue,
May drop upon his kingdom, and devour
Incertain lookers-on. What were more holy,
Than to rejoice, the former queen is well ?
What holier, than,- for royalty's repair,
For present comfort and for future good, -
Opposord should the infant.
To bless the bed of majesty ogaia
With a sweet fellow to't ?
There is none worthy
Respecting her that's gone. Besides, the gods
Will have fulfilled their secret purposes;
For has not the divine Apollo said,
Is't not the tenor of his oracle,
That king Leontes shall not have an heir
Till his lost child be found ? which, that it shall,
Is all as monstrous to our human reason,
As my Antigonus to break his grave,
And come again to me; who, on my life,
Did perish with the infant. 'Tis your counsel,
My lord should to the Heavens be contrary,
Oppose against their wills.— Care not for issue;
The crown will find an heir. Great Alexander
Left his to the worthiest; so his successor
Was like to be the best.
Who hast the memory of Hermione,
I know, in honor,-0, that ever I
Had squared me to thy counsel ! — Then, even now,
I might have looked upon my queen's full eyes;
Have taken treasure from her lips, -
And left them
More rich for what they yielded.
Thou speak’st truth.
No more such wives ; therefore no wife. One worse,
And better used, would make her sainted spirit
Again possess her corpse; and on this stage,
(Where we offenders now appear,) soul-vexed,
Begin, And why to me ?
Had she such power,
She had just cause.
She had; and would incense me
To murder her I married.
I should so.
Were I the ghost that walked, I'd bid you mark
Her eye; and tell me, for what dull part in't
You chose her: then I'd shriek, that even your ears
Should rift to hear me; and the words that followed
Should be, Remember mine.
And all eyes else dead coals! - Fear thou no wife;
I'll have no wife, Paulina.
Will you swear
Never to marry but by my free leave ?
Leon. Never, Paulina; so be blessed my spirit !
Paul. Then, good my lords, bear witness to his oath.
Cleo. You tempt him overmuch.
As like Hermione as is her picture,
Affront his eye.
Cleo. : Good madam,-
I have done.
Yet, if my lord will marry,— if you will, sir,
No remedy, but you will, — give me the office
To choose you a queen. She shall not be so young
As was your former; but she shall be such,
As, walked your first queen’s ghost, it should take joy
To see her in your arms.
My true Paulina,
We shall not marry, till thou bidd'st us.
Shall be, when your first queen's again in breath;
Never till then.
Enter a Gentleman.
Gent. One that gives out himself prince Florizel,
Son of Polixenes, with his princess, (she
The fairest I have yet beheld,) desires access
To your high presence.
What with him ? He comes not
Like to his father's greatness. His approach,
So out of circumstance, and sudden, tells us,
'Tis not a visitation framed, but forced
By need and accident. What train ?
And those but mean.
His princess, say you, with him ?
Gent. Ay; the most peerless piece of earth, I think,
That e'er the sun shone bright on.
As every present time doth boast itself
Above a better, gone; so must thy grave
Give way to what's seen now. Sir, you yourself
Have said, and writ so, (but your writing now
Is colder than that theme,) She had not been
Nor was not to be equalled ; — thus your verse
Flowed with her beauty once; 'tis shrewdly ebbed,
To say, you have seen a better.
The one I have almost forgot, (your pardon ;)
The other, when she has obtained your eye,
Will have your tongue too. This is a creature,
Would she begin a sect, might quench the zeal
Of all professors else; make proselytes
Of who she but bid follow.
How? not women ?
Gent. Women will love her, that she is a woman
More worth than any man; men, that she is
The rarest of all women.
Yourself, assisted with your honored friends,
Bring them to our embracement.— Still 'tis strange
[Exeunt CLEOMENES, Lords, and Gentlemen. He thus should steal upon us. Paul.
Had our prince
(Jewel of children) seen this hour, he had paired
Well with this lord; there was not full a month
Between their births. .
Pr’ythee, no more; thou know'st
He dies to me again, when talked of. Sure,
When I shall see this gentleman, thy speeches
Will bring me to consider that which may
Unfurnished me of reason.—They are come. -
Re-enter CLEOMENES, with FLORIZEL, PERDITA, and
Your mother was most true to wedlock, prince;
For she did print your royal father off,
Conceiving you. Were I but twenty-one,
Your father's image is so hit in you,
His very air, that I should call you brother,
As I did him; and speak of something, wildly
By us performed before. Most dearly welcome!
And your fair princess, goddess !-0, alas !
I lost a couple, that 'twixt heaven and earth
Might thus have stood, begetting wonder, as
You, gracious couple, do! And then I lost
(All mine own folly) the society,
Amity too, of your brave father; whom,
Though bearing misery, I desire my life
Once more to look on him.
By his command
Have I here touched Sicilia ; and from him
Give you all greetings, that a king, at friend,
Can send his brother: and, but infirmity
(Which waits upon worn times) hath something seized
His wished ability, he had himself
The lands and waters 'twixt your throne and his
Measured, to look upon you; whom he loves
(He bade me say so) more than all the sceptres,
And those that bear them, living.
0, my brother, (Good gentleman !) the wrongs I have done thee, stir Afresh within me; and these thy offices, So rarely kind, are as interpreters Of my behind-hand slackness!— Welcome hither, As is the spring to the earth. And hath he too Exposed this paragon to the fearful usage (At least, ungentle) of the dreadful Neptune, To greet a man not worth her pains; much less The adventure of her person? Flo.
Good my lord,
She came from Libya.
Where the warlike Smalus,
That noble, honored lord, is feared and loved ?
Flo. Most royal sir, from thence; from him, whose daughter
His tears proclaimed his, parting with her; thence
(A prosperous south wind friendly) we have crossed,
To execute the charge my father gave me,
For visiting your highness. My best train
I have from your Sicilian shores dismissed;
Who for Bohemia bend, to signify
Not only my success in Libya, sir,
But my arrival, and my wife's, in safety,
Here, where we are.
The blessed gods
Purge all infection from our air, whilst you
Do climate here! You have a holy father,
A graceful gentleman; against whose person,
So sacred as it is, I have done sin;
For which the Heavens, taking angry note,
Have left me issueless; and your father's blessed
(As he from Heaven merits it) with you,
Worthy his goodness. What might I have been,
Might I a son and daughter now have looked on,
Such goodly things as you ?
Enter a Lord.
Most noble sir, That which I shall report, will bear no credit,