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Praise her but for this her out-door form,
(Which, on my faith, deserves high speech-)

If one by one you wedded all the world,
Or from the all that are, took something good
To make a perfect woman; she you killed
Would be unparalleled.

I might have looked upon my queen's full eyes,
Have taken treasure from her lips-

-and left them

More rich for what they yielded.

The expressions “ most sacred lady,” “ dread mistress," "

sovereign,” with which she is addressed or alluded to, the boundless devotion and respect of those around her, and their confidence in her goodness and innocence, are so many additional strokes in the portrait.

For her, my lord,
I dare my life lay down, and will do 't, sir,
Please you t' accept it, that the queen is spotless
I' the eyes of heaven, and to you.

Every inch of woman in the world,
Ay, every dram of woman's flesh, is false

If she be so.

I would not be a stander-by to hear
My sovereign mistress clouded so, without
My present vengeance taken !

The mixture of playful courtesy, queenly dignity and lady-like sweetness, with which she prevails on Polixenes to prolong his visit, is charming


You'll stay?


No madam.


Nay, but you will.


I may not, verily.


You put me off with limber vows: but I
Tho' you would seek t unsphere the stars with oaths,
Should still say, “Sir, no going !" Verily,
You shall not go! A lady's verily is
As potent as a lord's. Will you go yet?
Force me to keep you as a prisoner,
Not like a guest ?

And though the situation of Hermione admits but of few general reflections, one little speech, inimitably beautiful and characteristic, has become almost proverbial from its truth. She says

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One good deed, dying tongueless
Slaughters a thousand, waiting upon that.
Our praises are our wages : you may ride us
With one soft kiss a thousand furlongs, ere
With spur we heat an acre.

She receives the first intimation of her husband's jealous suspicions with incredulous astonishment. It is not that, like Desdemona, she does not, or cannot understand ; but she will not. When he accuses her more plainly, she replies with a calm dignity

Should a villain say som
The most replenished villain in the world-
He were as much more villain : you, my lord,

Do but mistake.

This characteristic composure of temper never forsakes her; and yet it is so delineated that the impression is that of grandeur, and never borders

upon pride or coldness : it is the fortitude of a gentle but a strong mind, conscious of its own innocence. Nothing can be more affecting than her calm reply to Leontes, who, in his jealous rage, heaps insult upon insult, and accuses her before her own attendants, as no better “than one of those to whom the vulgar give bold titles.”

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How will this grieve you,


shall come to clearer knowledge

you have thus published me! Gentle, my lord,
You scarce can right me thoroughly then,
To say you did mistake.

Her mild dignity and saint-like patience, combined as they are with the strongest sense of the cruel injustice of her husband, thrill us with admiration as well as pity; and we cannot but see and feel that for Hermione to give way to tears and feminine complaints under such a blow, would be quite incompatible with the character. Thus she says of herself, as she is led to prison :

There's some ill planet reigns :
I must be patient till the heavens look
With an aspect more favourable. Good, my lords,

I am not prone to weeping, as our sex
Commonly are ; the want of which vain dew
Perchance shall dry your pities; but I have
That honourable grief lodged here, that burns
Worse than tears drown. Beseech you all, my lords,
With thoughts so qualified as your

Shall best instruct you, measure me; and so
The king's will be performed.

When she is brought to trial for supposed crimes, called on to defend herself, “ standing to prate and talk for life and honour, before who please to come and hear," the sense of her ignominious situation all its shame and all its horror press upon her, and would apparently crush even her magnanimous spirit, but for the consciousness of her own worth and innocence and the necessity that exists for asserting and defending both.

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.

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