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Praise her but for this her out-door form,
If one by one you wedded all the world,
I might have looked upon my queen's full eyes,
-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,
Every inch of woman in the world,
If she be so.
I would not be a stander-by to hear
The mixture of playful courtesy, queenly dignity and lady-like sweetness, with which she prevails on Polixenes to prolong his visit, is charming
Nay, but you will.
I may not, verily.
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
One good deed, dying tongueless
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
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.”
How will this grieve you,
shall come to clearer knowledge
you have thus published me! Gentle, my lord,
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 am not prone to weeping, as our sex
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