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SCENE, fometimes in Sicilia, fometimes in Bithynia.

A C T I.


An antichamber in Leontes's palace.

Enter Camillo and Archidamus.

Arch. F you fhall chance, Camillo, to vifit Bithy


nia on the like occafion whereon my fervices

are now on foot; you fhall fee, as I have faid, great difference betwixt our Bithynia and your Șicilia.


* The plot taken from the old story-book of Doraftus and Fauria. The country here called Bithynia, hath in former editions been printed Bohemia, an inland kingdom fituated nearly in the centre of Europe; whereas many of the great incidents of the play turn wpon its being a maritime country, of which Polixenes was the King.

Cam. I think this coming fummer the King of Sicilia means to pay Bithynia the visitation which he juftly owes him.

Arch. Wherein our entertainment fhall fhame us, will be juftified in our loves; for, indeed,

Cam. 'Befeech you



Arch. Verily, I fpeak it in the freedom of my knowledge; we cannot with fuch magnificence in fo -I know not what to fay--we will give you fleepy drinks, that your fenfes (unintelligent of our infufficience) may, though they cannot praife us, as little accufe us.

Cam. You pay a great deal too dear for what's given freely.

Arch. Believe me, I fpeak as my underftanding inAtructs me, and as mine honefty puts it to utterance.

Cam. Sicilia cannot fhew himself over-kind to Bithynia; they were train'd together in their childhoods ; and there rooted betwixt them then fuch an affection, which cannot chufe but branch now. Since their more mature dignities and royal neceffities made feparation of their fociety, their encounters, though not perfonal, have been royally attornied with interchange of gifts, letters, loving embaffies, that they have feem'd to be together, though abfent; fhook hands, as over a vaft; and embrac'd, as it were, from the ends of oppofed winds. The heav'ns continue their loves!

Arch. I think there is not in the world either malice or matter to alter it. You have an unfpeakable comfort of your young Prince Mamillius: it is a gentleman of the greatest promife that ever came into my note.

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Cam. I very well agree with you in the hopes of him it is a gallant child; one that indeed physics the subject,

This is a blunder and an abfurdity of which Shakespear in justice ought not to be thought capable and as he hath turn'd quite anew the ftory contain'd in the old paltry book of Doraftus and Faunia, changing most of the main circumftances, and all the names of the perfons; it is probable he removed this impropriety, and placed the fcene in Bithynia. which the ignorance and negligence of the first tranfcribers or printers might corrupt, and bring back again to Bokemia, by a lefs variation in the letters than they have been guilty of in numberlefs other places of this work,

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makes old hearts fresh: they that went on crutches ere he was born, defire yet their life to fee him a man. Arch. Would they elfe be content to die?

Cam. Yes, if there were no other excufe why they fhould defire to live.

Arch. If the King had no son, they would defire to live on crutches till he had one.


Opens to the prefence.

Enter Leontes, Hermione, Mamillius, Polixenes, and attendants.

Pol. Nine changes of the watry star hath been (The fhepherd's note *) fince we have left our throne Without a burthen: time as long again

Would be fill'd up, my brother, with our thanks;
And yet we should, for perpetuity,

Go hence in debt and therefore, like a cypher,
Yet ftanding in rich place, I multiply

With one We thank you, many thousands more
That go before it.

Leo. Stay your thanks a while,
And pay them when you part.

Pol. Sir, that's to-morrow:

I'm queftion'd by my fears, of what may chance
Or breed upon our abfence; may there blow
No fneaping winds at home, to make us fay,
"This is put forth too truly." Besides, I have stay'd
To tire your royalty.

Leo. We are tougher, brother,

Than you can put us to 't.

Pol. No longer stay.

Leo. One fev'n-night longer.

Pol. Very footh, to-morrow.

Leo. We'll part the time between's then: and in that

I'll no gainfaying.

Pol. Prefs me not, 'befeech you, fo;

There is no tongue that moves, none, none i' th' world,
So foon as your's, could win me fo it fhould now,
Were there neceffity in your request, altho'
'Twere needful I deny'd it. My affairs

i. c. I ufe the fhepherd's reckoning.

Do even drag me homeward; which to hinder,
Were, in your love, a whip to me; my stay,
To you a charge and trouble: to fave both,
Farewel, our brother.

Leo. Tongue-ty'd our Queen? fpeak you.

Her. I had thought, Sir, to 've held my peace, until
You'ad drawn oaths from him not to ftay: you, Sir,
Charge him too coldly. Tell him, you are fure,
All in Bithynia's well: this fatisfaction

The bygone day proclaim'd; fay this to him,
He's beat from his beft ward.

Leo. Well faid, Hermione.

Her. To tell, he longs to fee his fon, were ftrong; But let him fay fo then, and let him go;

[To Pol,

But let him fwear fo, and he fhall not ftay;
We'll thwack him hence with diftaffs.
Yet of your royal prefence I'll adventure
The borrow of a week. When at Bithynia
You take my Lord, I'll give you my commiffion,
To let him there a month, behind the gest
Prefix'd for's parting: yet, good heed, Leontes,
I love thee not a jar o' th' clock behind
What lady fhe her lord. You'll stay?

Pol. No, Madam.

Her. Nay, but you will?

Pol. I may not, verily.

Her. Verily?

You put me off with limber vows; but I,

Tho' you would feek t'unfphere the ftars with oaths,
Should yet fay, "Sir, no going: verily,
"You shall not go;" a Lady's verily is
As potent as a Lord's. Will you go yet?
Force me to keep you as a prifoner,

Not like a gueft? fo you fhall pay your fees,

When you depart, and fave your thanks. How fay you?

My prifoner? or my gueft? by your dread verily,
One of them you shall be.

Pol. Your gueft then, Madam:

To be your prifoner, fhould import offending;
Which is for me lefs easy to commit,
Than you to punish.

Her. Not your goaler then,

But your

kind hoftefs; come, I'll queftion you Lord's tricks, and your's, when you were boys: You were pretty lordings then?

Of my

Pol. We were, fair Queen,

Two lads, that thought there was no more behind,

But fuch a day to-morrow as to-day,

And to be boy eternal.

Her. Was not my Lord

The verier wag o' th' two?

Pol. We were as twinn'd lambs, that did frisk i' th fun,

And bleat the one at th' other: what we chang'd,
Was innocence for innocence; we knew not
The doctrine of ill-doing; no, nor dream'd
That any did: had we purfu'd that life,
And our weak fpirits ne'er been higher rear'd

With ftronger blood, we fhould have answer'd heaven
Boldly, Not guilty; th' impofition clear'd,

Hereditary ours*..

Her. By this we gather

You have tript fince.

Pol. O my moft facred Lady,

Temptations have fince then been born to's: for
In thofe unfledg'd days was my wife a girl;
Your precious felf had not then crofs'd the eyes
Of my young play-fellow.

Her. Grace to boot!

Of this make no conclufion, left you fay,
Your Queen and I are devils. Yet go on;
Th' offences we have made you do, we'll answer;
If you firft finn'd with us, and that with us
You did continue fault; and that you flipt not,
With any but with us.

Leo. Is he won yet?

Her. He'll ftay, my Lord.

Leo. At my requeft he would not: Hermione, my deareft, thou ne'er spok'st To better purpose.

i. e. fetting afide original fin; bating the impofition from the offence of our first parents, we might have boldly protested our innocence to heaven.

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