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My gracious lord,
I may be negligent, foolish, and fearful;
In every one of these no man is free,
But that his negligence, his folly, fear,
Amongst the infinite doings of the world,
Sometime puts forth. In your affairs, my lord,
If ever I were wilful-negligent,
It was my folly; if industriously
I played the fool, it was my negligence,
Not weighing well the end ; if ever fearful
To do a thing, where I the issue doubted,
Whereof the execution did cry out
Against the non-performance, 'twas a fear
Which oft affects the wisest. These, my lord,
Are such allowed infirmities, that honesty
Is never free of. But, 'beseech your grace,
Be plainer with me; let me know my trespass
By its own visage. If I then deny it,
'Tis none of mine.
Have not you seen, Camillo,
(But that's past doubt : you have ; or your eye-glass
Is thicker than a cuckold's horn ;) or heard,
(For, to a vision so apparent, rumor
Cannot be mute,) or thought,—(for cogitation
Resides not in that man, that does not think,) 2-
My wife is slippery? If thou wilt confess,
(Or else be impudently negative,
To have nor eyes, nor ears, nor thought,) then say,
My wife's a hobby-horse ; deserves a name
As rank as any flax-wench, that puts to
Before a troth-plight: say it, and justify it.
Cam. I would not be a stander-by to hear My sovereign mistress clouded so, without My present vengeance taken. 'Shrew
You never spoke what did become you less
Than this, which to reiterate, were sin
As deep as that, though true.
Is whispering nothing ?
Is leaning cheek to cheek? Is meeting noses?
Kissing with inside lip? Stopping the career
Of laughter with a sigh ? (a note infallible
Of breaking honesty :) Horsing foot on foot ?
Skulking in corners ? Wishing clocks more swift ?
Hours, minutes ? Noon, midnight?
With the pin and web, but theirs, theirs only,
That would unseen be wicked? Is this nothing ?
Why, then, the world, and all that's in't, is nothing;
The covering sky is nothing; Bohemia nothing;
My wife is nothing; nor nothing have these nothings,
If this be nothing.
Good my lord, be cured
Of this diseased opinion, and betimes;
For 'tis most dangerous.
Say, it be ; 'tis true.
Cam. No, no, my lord.
It is; you lie, you lie:
thou liest, Camillo, and I hate thee;
Pronounce thee a gross lout, a mindless slave
Or else a hovering temporizer, that
Canst with thine eyes at once see good and evil,
Inclining to them both. Were my wife's liver
Infected as her life, she would not live
The running of one glass.
Who does infect her?
Leon. Why, he that wears her like his medal,"
Which should undo more doing. Ay, and thou,
His cupbearer,—whom I from meaner form
Have benched, and reared to worship; who mayst see
Plainly, as heaven sees earth, and earth sees heaven,
How I am galled,-mightst bespice a cup,
To give mine enemy a lasting wink;
Which draught to me were cordial.
Sir, my lord,
I could do this ; and that with no rash” potion,
But with a lingering dram,
that should not work
Maliciously? like poison. But I cannot
Believe this crack to be in my dread mistress,
So sovereignly being honorable.
I have loved thee,
Make't thy question, and go rot!3
Dost think I am so muddy, so unsettled,
To appoint myself in this vexation? sully
The purity and whiteness of my sheets,
Which to preserve, is sleep; which being spotted,
Is goads, thorns, nettles, tails of wasps ? 4
Give scandal to the blood o’the prince, my son,
Who, I do think, is mine, and love as mine;
Without ripe moving to't? Would I do this?
Could man so blench? 5
I must believe
I do; and will fetch off Bohemia for’t ;
Provided, that when he's removed, your highness
Will take again your queen, as yours at first ;
1 “ Bespice a cup.” So in Chapman's Translation of the tenth book of the Odyssey :
with a festival
She'll first receive thee; but will spice thy bread
With flowery poisons."
2 Rash is hasty; as in King Henry IV. Part II. “rash gunpowder.”
Maliciously is malignantly, with effects openly hurtful.
Make that, i. e. Hermione's disloyalty, which is a clear point, a subject of doubt, and go rot! Dost think I am such a fool as to torment myself, and bring disgrace on me and my child, without sufficient grounds ? 4 Something is necessary to complete the verse. Hanmer reads :
“ Is goads and thorns, nettles and tails of wasps.”. 5 To blench is to start off, to shrink.
Even for your son's sake; and thereby, for sealing
The injury of tongues in courts and kingdoms
Known and allied to yours.
Thou dost advise me,
Even so as I mine own course have set down.
I'll give no blemish to her honor, none.
Go then; and with a countenance as clear
As friendship wears at feasts, keep with Bohemia,
And with your queen. I am his cupbearer;
If from me he have wholesome beverage,
Account me not your servant.
This is all ;
Do't, and thou hast the one half of my heart;
Do't not, thou splittest thine own.
I'll do't, my lord. Leon. I will seem friendly, as thou hast advised
[Exit. Cam. O miserable lady—But, for me, What case stand I in? I must be the poisoner Of good Polixenes : and my ground to do't Is the obedience to a master; one, Who, in rebellion with himself, will have All that are his, so too.—To do this deed, Promotion follows. If I could find example Of thousands, that had struck anointed kings, And flourished after, I'd not do't ; but since Nor brass, nor stone, nor parchment, bears not one, Let villany itself forswear't. I must Forsake the court: to do't, or no, is certain To me a break-neck. Happy star, reign now! Here comes Bohemia.
Enter POLIXENES. Pol.
This is strange! Methinks
My favor here begins to warp. Not speak ?-
Hail, most royal sir !
Pol. What is the news i'the court ?
None rare, my lord.
Pol. The king hath on him such a countenance,
As he had lost some province, and a region
Loved as he loves himself. Even now I met him
With customary compliment; when he,
Wafting his eyes to the contrary, and falling
A lip of much contempt, speeds from me; and
So leaves me to consider what is breeding,
That changes thus his manners.
Cam. I dare not know, my lord.
Pol. How! Dare not ? Do not.
Do you know,
and dare not
Be intelligent to me? 'Tis thereabouts;
For, to yourself, what you do know, you must;
And cannot say you dare not.
Your changed complexions are to me a mirror,
Which shows me mine changed too; for I must be
A party in this alteration, finding
Myself thus altered with it.
There is a sickness
Which puts some of us in distemper ; but
I cannot name the disease; and it is caught
Of you that yet are well.
How! caught of me?
Make me not sighted like the basilisk.
I have looked on thousands, who have sped the better
By my regard, but killed none so. Camillo,-
As you are certainly a gentleman ; there
Clerk-like, experienced, which no less adorns
Our gentry, than our parents' noble names,
In whose success we are gentle, — I beseech you,
If you know aught which does behove my knowledge
Thereof to be informed, imprison it not
In ignorant concealment.
may not answer. Pol. A sickness caught of me, and yet I well! I must be answered.—Dost thou hear, Camillo, I conjure thee, by all the parts of man, Which honor does acknowledge,—whereof the least