William Shakespeare: Winter's Tale, Act II, Scene II
Enter Paulina, a Gentleman, and Attendants
The keeper of the prison, call to him; let him have knowledge who I am.
Good lady, No court in Europe is too good for thee; What dost thou then in prison?
Re-enter Gentleman, with the Gaoler
Now, good sir, You know me, do you not?
Here's ado, To lock up honesty and honour from The access of gentle visitors! Is't lawful, pray you, To see her women? any of them? Emilia?
Exeunt Gentleman and Attendants
Well, be't so, prithee.
Here's such ado to make no stain a stain As passes colouring.
Re-enter Gaoler, with Emilia
Dear gentlewoman, How fares our gracious lady?
As well as one so great and so forlorn May hold together: on her frights and griefs, Which never tender lady hath born greater, She is something before her time deliver'd.
A daughter, and a goodly babe, Lusty and like to live: the queen receives Much comfort in't; says 'My poor prisoner, I am innocent as you.'
I dare be sworn These dangerous unsafe lunes i' the king, beshrew them! He must be told on't, and he shall: the office Becomes a woman best; I'll take't upon me: If I prove honey-mouth'd let my tongue blister And never to my red-look'd anger be The trumpet any more. Pray you, Emilia, Commend my best obedience to the queen: If she dares trust me with her little babe, I'll show't the king and undertake to be Her advocate to the loud'st. We do not know How he may soften at the sight o' the child: The silence often of pure innocence Persuades when speaking fails.
Most worthy madam, Your honour and your goodness is so evident That your free undertaking cannot miss A thriving issue: there is no lady living So meet for this great errand. Please your ladyship To visit the next room, I'll presently Acquaint the queen of your most noble offer; Who but to-day hammer'd of this design, But durst not tempt a minister of honour, Lest she should be denied.
Tell her, Emilia. I'll use that tongue I have: if wit flow from't As boldness from my bosom, let 't not be doubted I shall do good.
Madam, if't please the queen to send the babe, I know not what I shall incur to pass it, Having no warrant.
You need not fear it, sir: This child was prisoner to the womb and is By law and process of great nature thence Freed and enfranchised, not a party to The anger of the king nor guilty of, If any be, the trespass of the queen.