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The Winter's Tale

William Shakespeare
No Fear Act 2 Scene 1
No Fear Act 2 Scene 1 Page 7

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LEONTES

Go, do our bidding; hence!
150Exit HERMIONE, guarded; with Ladies

LEONTES

Go on, do as I say!

FIRST LORD

Beseech your highness, call the queen again.

FIRST LORD

Your highness, I beg you, call the queen back.

ANTIGONUS

Be certain what you do, sir, lest your justice
Prove violence; in the which three great ones suffer,
Yourself, your queen, your son.

ANTIGONUS

Be sure of what you are doing, sir, or what you think is justice might prove to be injustice, and three great people might suffer—you, your queen, and your son.

FIRST LORD

155For her, my lord,
I dare my life lay down and will do’t, sir,
Please you to accept it, that the queen is spotless
I’ the eyes of heaven and to you; I mean,
In this which you accuse her.

FIRST LORD

My lord, I would lay down my life for the queen in belief that she is virtuous in both the eyes of heaven and to you. She is innocent of what you accuse her of.

ANTIGONUS

160If it prove
She’s otherwise, I’ll keep my stables where
I lodge my wife; I’ll go in couples with her;
Than when I feel and see her no farther trust her;
For every inch of woman in the world,
165Ay, every dram of woman’s flesh is false, If she be.

ANTIGONUS

LEONTES

Hold your peaces.

LEONTES

Be quiet.

FIRST LORD

Good my lord,—

FIRST LORD

My good lord—

ANTIGONUS

It is for you we speak, not for ourselves:
You are abused and by some putter-on
170That will be damn’d for’t; would I knew the villain,
I would land-damn him. Be she honour-flaw’d,
I have three daughters; the eldest is eleven
The second and the third, nine, and some five;
If this prove true, they’ll pay for’t:
175by mine honour,
I’ll geld ’em all; fourteen they shall not see,
To bring false generations: they are co-heirs;
And I had rather glib myself than they
Should not produce fair issue.

ANTIGONUS

We’re speaking for your sake, not our own. Some liar has abused your confidence, and he’ll be damned for it. If I knew who it was, I would thrash him without pity. If the queen isn’t honorable, my three daughters will pay for it, by my honor. The oldest is eleven, the next is nine and the third is about five, and I’ll make them all incapable of bearing children. They’ll be unable to have illegitimate children by the time they’re fourteen. They are all my heirs, and I’d rather castrate myself than have them bear anything other than legitimate children.