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The Lords, my noble fellows, if they please,
Can clear me in't.
Lord. We can, my royal Liege,
He is not guilty of her coming hither.
Leo. You're liars all.
Lord. 'Beseech your Highness, give us better credit. We've always truly serv'd you, and beseech you So to esteem of us : and on our knees We beg (as recompence of our dear service Paft, 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
Leo. 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 neither. You, Sir, come you hither; [To Ant.
You that have been so tenderly officious
With Lady Margery, your midwife there,
To save this bastard's life ; (for 'tis a baftard,
So sure as this beard's grey) what will you adventure
To save this brat's life?
Ant, 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; what's possible.
Leo. It shall be poftible; swear by this sword
Thou wilt perform my bidding.
Ant. I will, my Lord. Leo. Mark and perform it; see'st thou ; for the fail Of any point in't shall not only be Death to thy self, but to thy lewd-tongu'd wife, Whom for this time we pardon. We enjoyn thee, As thou art liege-man to us, that thou carry This female bastard hence, and that thou bear it To some remote and desart piace, quite out Of our dominions; and that there thou leave it, Without more mercy, to its own protection And favour of the climate. As by Irange fortune
It came to us, I do in just ce charge thee,
On thy soul's peril and thy body's torture,
That thou commend it to some Atranger place,
Where chance may nurse or end it. Take it up.
Ant. I swear to do this, tho' a present death
Had been more merciful. Come on, poor babe,
Some powerful spirit inftruét the kites and ravens
To be thy nurses ! Wolves and bears, they fay,
(Cafting their favageness aside) have done
Like offices of pity. Sir, be prosperous
In more than this deed does require ! and blessing
Against this cruelty fight on thy side,
Poor thing condemn'd to loss ! (Exit with the Child,
Leo. No; I'll not rear
Enter a Messenger.
Mes. Please your Highness, posts
From those you sent to th' Oracle, are come
An hour since. Cleomines and Dion,
Being well arriv'd from Delphos, are both landed,
Hasting to th’ Court.
Lord. So please you, Sir, their speed
Hath been beyond account.
Leo. Twenty three days
They have been absent : this good speed foretels
The great Apollo suddenly will have
The truth of this appear. Prepare you, Lords,
Summon a session, that we may arraign
Our moft disloyal Lady ; for as the hath
Been publickly accus'd, fo fhall the have
A just and open tryal. While she lives,
My heart will be a burden to me. Leave me,
And think upon my bidding. [Exeunt severally,
ACT III. SCENE I.
A Part of Sicily.
Enter Cleomines and Dion,
Clze. HE climate's delicate, the air most sweet,
Fertile the soil, the temple much furpaffing
The common praise it bears,
Dion. I shall report,
For moft they caught me, the celestial habits,
Methinks I so should term them, and the reverence
Of the grave wearers. O, the sacrifice;
How ceremonious, folemn, and unearthly
It was i'th' offering!
Cleo. But of all, the burst
And the ear-deafning voice o'th' Oracle,
Kin to Jove's thunder, so surpriz'd my sense
That I was nothing.
Dion. If th’ event o'th' journey
Prove as successful to the Queen ( be't so!)
As it hath been to us rare, pleasant, speedy ;
The use is worth the time on't.
Cleo. Great Apollo,
Turn all to th'best! these proclamations,
So forcing faults upon Hermione,
I little like.
Dion. The violent carriage of it
Will clear or end the bufiness, when the Oracle
Thus by Apollo's great Divine seal'd up,
Shall the contents discover: something rare
Even then will rush to knowledge. Go; fresh horses.
And gracious be the issue !
[Exeunt. SCENE II. A Court of Justice. Leontes, Lords, and Officers, appear
properly feated. Leo. This session, to our great grief, we pronounce, Even pushes 'gainst our heart. The party try'd, The daughter of a King, our wife, and one Of us too much belov’d; let us be clear’d Of being tyrannous, fince we fo openly Proceed in justice, which shall have que 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. Leo. Read the indictment.
Ofi. Hermione, Queen to the wortby Leontes, King of Sicilia, thou art bere accused and arraigned of bigb treason,
in committing adultery with Polixenes King of Bithynia,and conspiring with Camillo to take away tbe life of our foveo reign Lord the King aby royal bufand ; tbe pretence whereof being by circumstances partly laid open, tbou, Hermione, contrary to the faith and allegiance of a true subject, didA counSel and aid ibem, for their better safety, to fly away by nigbé.
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 my self, it shall scarce boot me
To say, not guilty: mine integrity
Being counted falshood, shall, as I express it,
Be so receiv'di Butethus : if powers divine
Behold our human actions, as they do,
I doubt not then, but innocence shall make
False accusations 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 chast, as true,
As I am now unhappy; which is more
Than history can pattern, tho' devis'd
And play'd 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 honour, 'fore
Who please to come and hear. For life, I prize it.
As I weigh grief which I would spare : for honour,
'Tis a derivative from me to mine,
And only that I ftand 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 : fince he came,
With what encounter so uncurrant have
I ftrain'd.t'appear thus? if one jot beyond
The bounds of honour, or in act or will
That way enclining, hardned be the hearts
Of all that hear me, and my near'ft of kin
Cry fie upon my grave!
Leo. I ae'er heard yet
That any of those bolder vices wanted
Lels impodence to gain-say what they did
Than to perform it first.
Her. That's true enough,
Tho''tis a saying, Sir, not due to me.
Leo. You will not own it.
Her. More than I'm mistress of, Which comes to me in name of fault, I muf not At all acknowledge. For Polixenes, With whom I am accus'd, I do confess I lov'd him, as in honour he requir’d; With such a kind of love, as might become A Lady like me; with a love, even such, So and no other, as your self commanded : Which not to have done, I think had been in me Both disobedience and ingratitude To you, and towards your friend; whose love had spoke, Even fince it could speak, from an infant, freely, That it was yours. Now for conspiracy,,. I know not how it tastes, tho' it be dish'd 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,
Leo. You knew of his departure, as you know
What you have underta'en to do in's absence,
You speak a language that I understand not ;
My life stands in the level of your dreams,
Which I'll lay down.
Leo. Your actions are my dreams.
You had a' bastard by Polixenes,
And I but dream'd it : as you are paft all shame,
(Those of your fact are) so you're past all truth;
Which to deny concerns more than avails ;
For as thy brat's caft out, like to itself,
No father owning it, (which is indeed
More criminal in thee than it) so thou
Shalt feel our justice, in whole easiest passage
Look for no less than death,