Open Source Shakespeare

The Winter's Tale

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Act IV, Scene 2

Bohemia. The palace of POLIXENES.



  • Polixenes. I pray thee, good Camillo, be no more importunate:
    'tis a sickness denying thee any thing; a death to
    grant this. 1670
  • Camillo. It is fifteen years since I saw my country: though
    I have for the most part been aired abroad, I
    desire to lay my bones there. Besides, the penitent
    king, my master, hath sent for me; to whose feeling
    sorrows I might be some allay, or I o'erween to 1675
    think so, which is another spur to my departure.
  • Polixenes. As thou lovest me, Camillo, wipe not out the rest of
    thy services by leaving me now: the need I have of
    thee thine own goodness hath made; better not to
    have had thee than thus to want thee: thou, having 1680
    made me businesses which none without thee can
    sufficiently manage, must either stay to execute
    them thyself or take away with thee the very
    services thou hast done; which if I have not enough
    considered, as too much I cannot, to be more 1685
    thankful to thee shall be my study, and my profit
    therein the heaping friendships. Of that fatal
    country, Sicilia, prithee speak no more; whose very
    naming punishes me with the remembrance of that
    penitent, as thou callest him, and reconciled king, 1690
    my brother; whose loss of his most precious queen
    and children are even now to be afresh lamented.
    Say to me, when sawest thou the Prince Florizel, my
    son? Kings are no less unhappy, their issue not
    being gracious, than they are in losing them when 1695
    they have approved their virtues.
  • Camillo. Sir, it is three days since I saw the prince. What
    his happier affairs may be, are to me unknown: but I
    have missingly noted, he is of late much retired
    from court and is less frequent to his princely 1700
    exercises than formerly he hath appeared.
  • Polixenes. I have considered so much, Camillo, and with some
    care; so far that I have eyes under my service which
    look upon his removedness; from whom I have this
    intelligence, that he is seldom from the house of a 1705
    most homely shepherd; a man, they say, that from
    very nothing, and beyond the imagination of his
    neighbours, is grown into an unspeakable estate.
  • Camillo. I have heard, sir, of such a man, who hath a
    daughter of most rare note: the report of her is 1710
    extended more than can be thought to begin from such a cottage.
  • Polixenes. That's likewise part of my intelligence; but, I
    fear, the angle that plucks our son thither. Thou
    shalt accompany us to the place; where we will, not
    appearing what we are, have some question with the 1715
    shepherd; from whose simplicity I think it not
    uneasy to get the cause of my son's resort thither.
    Prithee, be my present partner in this business, and
    lay aside the thoughts of Sicilia.
  • Camillo. I willingly obey your command. 1720
  • Polixenes. My best Camillo! We must disguise ourselves.