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Leon. Traitors! Will you not push her out? Give her the bastard : Thou, dotard [TO ANTIGONUS), thou art woman-tired*
roosted By thy dame Partlet here,
take up the bastard ; Take't up, I say; give't to thy crone.
Paul. For ever
Unvenerable be thy hands, if thou
Tak’st up the princess, by that forcedt baseness
Which he has put upon't!
Leon. He dreads his wife.
Paul. So, I would, you did; then, 'twere past all doubt,
You'd call your children yours.
Leon. A nest of traitors!
Ant. I am none, by this good light.
Paul. Nor I; nor any,
But one, that's here; and that's himself: for he
The sacred honour of himself, his queen's,
His hopeful son’s, his babe's, betrays to slander,
Whose sting is sharper than the sword's; and will not
(For, as the case now stands, it is a curse
He cannot be compelld to’t) once remove
The root of his opinion, which is rotten,
As ever oak, or stone, was sound.
Leon. A callet, I
Of boundless tongue; who late hath beat her husband,
And now baits me!- This brat is none of mine;
It is the issue of Polixenes:
Hence with it; and, together with the dam,
Commit them to the fire.
Paul. It is yours;
And, might we lay the old proverb to your charge,
So like you, 'tis the worse. -Behold, my lords,
Although the print be little, the whole matter
And copy of the father : eye, nose, lip,
The trick of his frown, his forehead; nay, the valley,
The pretty dimples of his chin, and cheek; his smiles;
The very mould and frame of hand, nail, finger :
And, thou, good goddess nature, which hast made it
So like to him that got it, if thou hast
The ordering of the mind too, 'mongst all colours
No yellow& in't; lest she suspect, as he does,
Her children not her husband's !
Leon. A gross hag !-
And, lozel,|| thou art worthy to be hang'd,
That wilt not stay her tongue.
Ant. Hang all the husbands,
That cannot do that feat, you'll leave yourself
Hardly one subject.
Leon. Once more, take her hence.
Paul. A most unworthy and unnatural lord Can do no more.
Leon, I'll have thee burn'd.
Paul. I care not:
It is a heretic, that makes the fire,
Not she, which burns in't. I'll not call you tyrant;
But this most cruel usage of your queen
(Not able to produce more accusation
Than your own weak-hinged fancy), something savours
Of tyranny, and will ignoble make you,
Yea, scandalous to the world.
Leon. On your allegiance,
Out of the chamber with her. Were I a tyrant,
'Where were her life ? she durst pot 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 hands
Shall I dash out. Go, take it to the fire;
For thou sett'st on thy wife.
Ant. I did not, Sir:
These lords, my noble fellows, if they please,
Can clear me in't.
1 Lord. 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;
Whích, 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 neither.-You, Sir, come you hither;
[TO ANTIGONUS. 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 grey,—what will you adventure
To save this brat's life?
Ant. Anything, 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: anything possible.
Leon. It shall be possible: Swear by this sword
Thou wilt perform my bidding.
Ant. I will, my lord.
Leon. Mark, and perform it (seest 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 favour 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, condemn'd to loss!
[Exit, with the child. Leon. No, I'll not rear Another's issue.
1 Atten. 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.
1 Lord. So please you, Sir, their speed Hath been beyond account.
Leon. Twenty-three days
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. Leave me;
And think upon my bidding.
SCENE I.-The same. A Street in some Town.
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.
Dion. 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!
Cleo. But, of all, the burst
And the ear-deafening voice oʻthe oracle,
Kin to Jove's thunder, so surprised my sense,
That I was nothing.
Dion. 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.
Cleo. Great Apollo,
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 seald up)
Shall the contents discover, something rare,
Even then will rush to knowledge. -Go,-fresh horses ;-
And gracious be the issue !
[Exeunt. SCENE II.-The same. A Court of Justice. 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 clear'd
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 the king, thy royal husband ; the pretence* whereof being by cir. cumstances 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
Be so received. But thús,-If powers divine
Behold our human actions (as they do),
I doubt not then, but innocence shall make
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 play'd, to take spectators: For behold me,-
A fellow of the royal bed, which owet
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 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 strain'd to appear thus: if one jot beyond
The bound of honour; or, in act or will,
That way inclining, harden'd be the hearts
Of all that hear me, and my near'st of kin
Cry, Fie upon my grave !
Leon. I ne'er heard yet,
That any of these bolder vices wanted
Less impudence to gainsay what they did,
Than to perform it first.
* Scheme laid.
† Own, possess.