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Home » Quotes » Winter's Tale » My gracious lord, I may be negligent, foolish, and fearful.

My gracious lord, I may be negligent, foolish, and fearful.

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,
Among the infinite doings of the world,
Sometime puts forth. In your affairs, my lord,
If ever I were willful-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 infects 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.
Ha' not you seen, Camillo—
But that's past doubt; you have, or your eyeglass
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—
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 her troth-plight. Say ‘t, and justify ‘t.
I would not be a stander-by to hear
My sovereign mistress clouded so without
My present vengeance taken. ‘Shrew my heart,
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? And all eyes
Blind 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.

Act 1
Scene 2
Line 310

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