She I kill’d! I did so: but thou strikest me
Sorely, to say I did; it is as bitter
Upon thy tongue as in my thought: now, good now,
You pity not the state, nor the remembrance
Of his most sovereign name; consider little
What dangers, by his highness’ fail of issue,
May drop upon his kingdom and devour
Incertain lookers on. What were more holy
Than to rejoice the former queen is well?
What holier than, for royalty’s repair,
For present comfort and for future good,
To bless the bed of majesty again
With a sweet fellow to’t?
Respecting her that’s gone. Besides, the gods
Will have fulfill’d their secret purposes;
For has not the divine Apollo said,
Is’t not the tenor of his oracle,
That King Leontes shall not have an heir
Till his lost child be found? which that it shall,
Is all as monstrous to our human reason
As my Antigonus to break his grave
And come again to me; who, on my life,
Did perish with the infant. ‘Tis your counsel
My lord should to the heavens be contrary,
The crown will find an heir: great Alexander
Left his to the worthiest; so his successor
Was like to be the best.
As every present time doth boast itself
Above a better gone, so must thy grave
Give way to what’s seen now! Sir, you yourself
Have said and writ so, but your writing now
Is colder than that theme, “She had not been,
Nor was not to be equall’d;”—thus your verse
Flow’d with her beauty once: ‘tis shrewdly ebb’d,
To say you have seen a better.
For she did print your royal father off,
Conceiving you: were I but twenty-one,
Your father’s image is so hit in you,
His very air, that I should call you brother,
As I did him, and speak of something wildly
By us perform’d before. Most dearly welcome!
And your fair princess,—goddess!—O, alas!
I lost a couple, that ‘twixt heaven and earth
Might thus have stood begetting wonder as
You, gracious couple, do: and then I lost—
All mine own folly—the society,
Amity too, of your brave father, whom,
Though bearing misery, I desire my life
Once more to look on him.
Have I here touch’d Sicilia and from him
Give you all greetings that a king, at friend,
Can send his brother: and, but infirmity
Which waits upon worn times hath something seized
His wish’d ability, he had himself
The lands and waters ‘twixt your throne and his
Measured to look upon you; whom he loves—
He bade me say so—more than all the sceptres
And those that bear them living.
Good gentleman! the wrongs I have done thee stir
Afresh within me, and these thy offices,
So rarely kind, are as interpreters
Of my behind-hand slackness. Welcome hither,
As is the spring to the earth. And hath he too
Exposed this paragon to the fearful usage,
At least ungentle, of the dreadful Neptune,
To greet a man not worth her pains, much less
The adventure of her person?
His tears proclaim’d his, parting with her: thence,
A prosperous south-wind friendly, we have cross’d,
To execute the charge my father gave me
For visiting your highness: my best train
I have from your Sicilian shores dismiss’d;
Who for Bohemia bend, to signify
Not only my success in Libya, sir,
But my arrival and my wife’s in safety
Do climate here! You have a holy father,
A graceful gentleman; against whose person,
So sacred as it is, I have done sin:
For which the heavens, taking angry note,
Have left me issueless; and your father’s blest,
As he from heaven merits it, with you
Worthy his goodness. What might I have been,
Might I a son and daughter now have look’d on,
Such goodly things as you!
I speak amazedly; and it becomes
My marvel and my message. To your court
Whiles he was hastening, in the chase, it seems,
Of this fair couple, meets he on the way
The father of this seeming lady and
Her brother, having both their country quitted
With this young prince.
Though Fortune, visible an enemy,
Should chase us with my father, power no jot
Hath she to change our loves. Beseech you, sir,
Remember since you owed no more to time
Than I do now: with thought of such affections,
Step forth mine advocate; at your request
My father will grant precious things as trifles.
Is yet unanswer’d. I will to your father:
Your honour not o’erthrown by your desires,
I am friend to them and you: upon which errand
I now go toward him; therefore follow me
And mark what way I make: come, good my lord.