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Of tyranny, and will ignoble make you,
Yea, scandalous to the world.
On your allegiance,
Out of the chamber with her.
Were I a tyrant, Where were her life? She durst not call me so, If she did know me one. Away with her.
Paul. I pray you, do not push me; I'll be gone. Look to your babe, my lord; 'tis yours; Jove send her A better guiding spirit !—What need these hands ?You, that are thus so tender o'er his follies, Will never do him good, not one of you. So, so.-Farewell; we are gone.
Leon. Thou, traitor, hast set on thy wife to this.-
My child ? Away with't!-Even thou, that hast
A heart so tender o'er it, take it hence,
And see it instantly consumed with fire;
Even thou, and none but thou. Take it up straight.
Within this hour bring me word, 'tis done,
(And by good testimony,) or I'll seize thy life,
With what thou else call'st thine. If thou refuse,
And wilt encounter with my wrath, say so;
The bastard brains with these my proper
Shall I dash out. Go, take it to the fire;
For thou sett’st on thy wife.
I did not, sir.
These lords, my noble fellows, if they please,
Can clear me in't.
We can; my royal liege,
He is not guilty of her coming hither.
Leon. You are liars all.
1 Lord. 'Beseech your highness, give us better credit. We have always truly served you; and beseech So to esteem of us; and on our knees we beg (As recompense of our dear services, Past, and to come) that you do change this purpose; Which, being so horrible, so bloody, must Lead on to some foul issue. We all kneel.
Leon. I am a feather for each wind that blows;-
Shall I live on, to see this bastard kneel
And call me father? Better burn it now,
Than curse it then. But, be it; let it live.
It shall not neithel.--You, sir, come you hither;
You, that have been so tenderly officious
With lady Margery, your midwife, there,
To save this bastard's life,- for 'tis a bastard,
So sure as this beard's gray,—what will you adventure
To save this brat's life?
Any thing, my lord,
That my ability may undergo,
And nobleness impose. At least, thus much;
I'll pawn the little blood which I have left,
To save the innocent: any thing possible.
Leon. It shall be possible. Swear by this sword,
Thou wilt perform my bidding.
I will, my lord.
Leon. Mark, and perform it; (see'st thou ?) for the fail
Of any point in't shall not only be
Death to thyself, but to thy lewd-tongued wife;
Whom, for this time, we pardon. We enjoin thee,
As thou art liegeman to us, that thou carry
This female bastard hence; and that thou bear it
To some remote and desert place quite out
Of our dominions; and that there thou leave it,
Without more mercy, to its own protection,
And favor of the climate. As by strange fortune
It came to us, I do in justice charge thee,-
On thy soul's peril, and thy body's torture,-
That thou commend it strangely to some place,
Where chance may nurse, or end it. Take it up.
Ant. I swear to do this, though a present death Had been more merciful. - Come on, poor babe. Some powerful spirit instruct the kites and ravens To be thy nurses! Wolves, and bears, they say, Casting their savageness aside, have done Like offices of pity.— Sir, be prosperous In more than this deed doth require! and blessing, Against this cruelty, fight on thy side, Poor thing, condemned to loss! [Erit, with the Child. Leon.
No, I'll not rear Another's issue.
1 Attend. Please your highness, posts,
From those you sent to the oracle, are come
An hour since. Cleomenes and Dion,
Being well arrived from Delphos, are both landed,
Hasting to the court.
So please you, sir, their speed
Hath been beyond account.
They have been absent. 'Tis good speed; foretells,
The great Apollo suddenly will have
The truth of this appear. Prepare you, lords:
Summon a session, that we may arraign
Our most disloyal lady; for, as she hath
Been publicly accused, so shall she have
A just and open trial. While she lives,
My heart will be a burden to me.
And think upon my bidding.
Enter CLEOMENES and Dion.
Cleo. The climate's delicate; the air most sweet;
Fertile the isle; the temple much surpassing
The common praise it bears.
I shall report-
For most it caught me- - the celestial habits
(Methinks I so should term them) and the reverence
Of the grave wearers. O, the sacrifice !
How ceremonious, solemn, and unearthly
It was i' the offering !
But of all, the burst
And ear-deafening voice o' the oracle,
Kin to Jove's thunder, so surprised my sense,
That I was nothing.
If the event o' the journey
Prove as successful to the queen,-0, be't so!
As it hath been to us, rare, pleasant, speedy,
The time is worth the use on't.
Turn all to the best! These proclamations,
So forcing faults upon Hermione,
I little like.
Dion. The violent carriage of it
Will clear, or end, the business. When the oracle
(Thus by Apollo's great divine sealed up)
Shall the contents discover something rare
Even then will rush to knowledge.- Go, fresh horses !-
And gracious be the issue !
SCENE II. The same.
LEONTES, Lords, and Officers, appear properly seated.
Leon. This sessions (to our great grief, we pronounce) Even pushes 'gainst our heart. The party tried, The daughter of a king; our wife; and one Of us too much beloved.— Let us be cleared Of being tyrannous, since we so openly Proceed in justice; which shall have due course, Even to the guilt, or the purgation. Produce the prisoner.
Offi. It is his highness' pleasure, that the queen Appear in person here in court.- Silence ! HERMIONE is brought in, guarded ; PAULINA and Ladies,
attending. Leon. Read the indictment.
Offi. Hermione, queen to the worthy Leontes, king of Sicilia, thou art here accused and arraigned of high treason, in committing adultery with Polixenes, king of Bohemia; and conspiring with Camillo to take away the life of our sovereign lord and king, thy royal husband; the pretence whereof being by circumstances partly laid open, thou, Hermione, contrary to the faith and allegiance of a true subject, didst counsel and aid them, for their better safety, to fly away by night.
Her. Since what I am to say, must be but that
Which contradicts my accusation; and
The testimony on my part, no other
But what comes from myself; it shall scarce boot me
To say, Not guilty: mine integrity,
Being counted falsehood, shall, as I express it,
Be so received. But thus,- If powers divine
Behold our human actions, (as they do,)
I doubt not, then, but innocence shall make
False accusation blush, and tyranny
Tremble at patience.—You, my lord, best know
(Who least will seem to do so) my past life
Hath been as continent, as chaste, as true,
As I am now unhappy; which is more
Than history can pattern, though devised,
And played to take spectators. For behold me,
A fellow of the royal bed, which owe
A moiety of the throne, a great king's daughter,
The mother to a hopeful prince — here standing
To prate and talk for life, and honor, 'fore
Who please to come and hear. For life, I prize it
As I weigh grief, which I would spare; for honor,
'Tis a derivative from me to mine,
And only that I stand for. I appeal
To your own conscience, sir, before Polixenes
Came to your court, how I was in your grace,
How merited to be so; since he came,
With what encounter so uncurrent I
Have strained, to appear thus : if one jot beyond
The bound of honor; or, in act, or will,
That way inclining; hardened be the hearts
Of all that hear me, and my near'st of kin
Cry, Fie upon my grave !
I ne'er heard yet,
That any of these bolder vices wanted
Less impudence to gainsay what they did,
Than to perform it first.
That's true enough;
Though 'tis a saying, sir, not due to me.
Leon. You will not own it.
More than mistress of,
Which comes to me in name of fault, I must not
At all acknowledge. For Polixenes,
(With whom I am accused,) I do confess
I loved him, as in honor he required;
With such a kind of love, as might become
A lady like me; with a love, even such,
So, and no other, as yourself commanded;
Which not to have done, I think, had been in me
Both disobedience and ingratitude
To you and toward your friend; whose love had spoke,
Even since it could speak, from an infant freely,
That it was yours. Now, for conspiracy,
I know not how it tastes; though it be dished
For me to try how. All I know of it,
Is, that Camillo was an honest man;
And why he left your court, the gods themselves,
Wotting no more than I, are ignorant.
Leon. You knew of his departure, as you know
What you have underta'en to do in his absence.
You speak a language that I understand not.
My life stands in the level of your dreams,
Which I'll lay down.