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Sicilia. An Antichamber in Leontes' Palace.
Enter CAMILLO and ARCHIDAMUS.
If you shall chance, Camillo, to visit Bohemia, on the like occasion whereon my services are now on foot, you shall see, as I have said, great difference betwixt our Bohemia, and your Sicilia. Cam. I think, this coming summer, the King of Sicilia means to pay Bohemia the visitation which he justly owes him.
Arch. Wherein our entertainment shall shame us, we will be justified in our loves: for, indeed,Cam. Beseech you,
Arch. Verily, I speak it in the freedom of my knowledge: we cannot with such magnificence-in so rare-I know not what to say.- -We will give you sleepy drinks; that your senses, unintelligent of our insufficience, may, though they cannot praise us, as little accuse us.
Cam. You pay a great deal too dear for what's given freely.
Arch. Believe me, I speak as my understanding instructs me, and as mine honesty puts it to utter
Cam. Sicilia cannot show himself over-kind to Bohemia. They were trained together in their childhoods; and there rooted betwixt them then such an affection, which cannot choose but branch now. Since their more mature dignities, and royal necessities, made separation of their society, their encounters, though not personal, have been royally attornied1, with interchange of gifts, letters, loving embassies; that they have seemed to be together, though absent; shook hands, as over a vast2; and embraced, as it were, from the ends of opposed winds. The heavens continue their loves!
Arch. I think, there is not in the world either malice, or matter, to alter it. You have an unspeakable comfort of your young prince Mamillius; it is a gentleman of the greatest promise, that ever came into my note.
Cam. I very well agree with you in the hopes of him: it is a gallant child; one that, indeed, physics the subjects, makes old hearts fresh: they, that went on crutches ere he was born, desire yet their life, to see him a man.
Arch. Would they else be content to die?
Cam. Yes; if there were no other excuse why they should desire to live.
Arch. If the king had no son, they would desire to live on crutches till he had one.
The same. A Room of State in the Palace. Enter LEONTES, POLIXENES, HERMIONE, MAMILLIUS. CAMILLO, and Attendants.
Pol. Nine changes of the wat'ry star have been The shepherd's note, since we have left our throne
1 Royally attornied.' Nobly supplied by substitution of embassies.
2 i. e. over a wide intervening space.
3 Physics the subject. Affords a cordial to the state; has the power of assuaging the sense of misery.
Without a burden: time as long again
Go hence in debt: And therefore, like a cipher,
With one we-thank-you, many thousands more
Stay your thanks awhile;
And pay them when you part.
Sir, that's to-morrow. I am question'd by my fears, of what may chance, Or breed upon our absence: That may blow No sneaping winds at home, to make us say, This is put forth too truly! Besides, I have stay'd To tire your royalty.
We are tougher, brother, Than you can put us to't. Pol.
No longer stay.
Leon. One seven-night longer.
Very sooth, to-morrow.
Leon. We'll part the time between's then: and in that I'll no gain-saying.
Press me not, 'beseech you, so;
Do even drag me homeward: which to hinder
Leon. Tongue-tied, our queen? speak you. Her. I had thought, sir, to have held my peace, until
4 That for Oh that! is not uncommon in old writers. So in Romeo and Juliet :
"That runaway's eyes may wink."
3 Sneaping, nipping.
i. e. to make me stay. I had too good reason for my fears concerning what may happen in my absence from home.
You had drawn oaths from him, not to stay. You, sir,
The by-gone day proclaim'd; say this to him,
Well said, Hermione. Her. To tell, he longs to see his son, were strong: But let him say so then, and let him go; But let him swear so, and he shall not stay, We'll thwack him hence with distaffs.
Yet of your royal presence [To POLIXENES] I'll adventure
The borrow of a week. When at Bohemia
I may not, verily.
You put me off with limber vows: But I,
Though you would seek to unsphere the stars with
Should yet say, Sir, no going. Verily,
You shall not go: a lady's verily is
As potent as a lord's. Will you go yet?
To let had for its synonymes to stay or stop; to let him there is to stay him there. Gests were scrolls in which were marked the stages or places of rest in a progress or journey, especially a royal one. Strype says that Cranmer entreated Cecil To let him have the new resolved upon gests, from that time to the end, that he might from time to time know where the king was.' is supposed to be derived from the old French word giste.
8 i. e. indeed, in very deed, in troth. Good deed is used in the same sense by the Earl of Surrey, Sir John Hayward and Gascoigne.
My prisoner? or my guest? by your dread verily, One of them you shall be.
Your guest then, madam: To be your prisoner, should import offending; Which is for me less easy to commit,
Than you to punish.
Her. Not your gaoler then, But your kind hostess. Come, I'll question you Of my lord's tricks, and yours, when you were boys; You were pretty lordings9 then.
We were, fair queen, Two lads that thought there was no more behind, But such a day to-morrow as to-day,
And to be boy eternal.
Her. Was not my lord the verier wag o' the two? Pol. We were as twinn'd lambs, that did frisk
i' the sun,
And bleat the one at the other: what we chang'd,
By this we gather,
O my most sacred lady,
Grace to bootll!
9 Lordings, a diminutive of lords, often used by Chaucer. 10 i. e. setting aside original sin, bating the imposition from the offence of our first parents, we might have boldly protested our innocence.
11 Grace to boot. An exclamation equivalent to give us grace. In King Richard III. we have :
'Saint George to boot."
The phrase has been well explained by the author of the Diversions of Purlev.