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My heart will be a burden to me.
Leave me; And think upon my bidding.
SCENE I. Sicilia. A street in some town.
Enter CLEOMENES, Dion, and an Attendant.
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' th' offering !
But, of all, the burst
And the ear-deafening voice o' th' oracle,
Kin to Jove's thunder, so surpris'd my sense,
That I was nothing.
If th' 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 seal'd up-
Shall the contents discover, something rare
Even then will rush to knowledge.-[ To Attendant] Go,
fresh horses : And gracious be the issue !
(Exeuni. SCENE II. The same. A court of justice,
LEONTES, Lords, and Officers discovered. Leon. This session to our great grief, we pronounce Even pushes 'gainst our heart ; thy party tried, The daughter of a king, our wife, and one Of us too much belov'd. 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.
First Offi. It is his highness' pleasure that the queen Appear in person here in court.
Crier. Silence ! HERMIONE is brought in guarded; PAULINA and Ladies
attending Leon. Read the indictment.
First Offi. [reads] “ 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 pretense 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 receiv'd. 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 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 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 strain’d, t' appear thus: if one jot beyond
The bound of honor, 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!
I ne'er heard yet
That any of these holder 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 accus'd, — I do confess
I lov'd him, as in honor 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 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 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.
Leon. You knew of his departure, as you know what You've underta'en to do in 's absence. Her.
Sir, You speak a language that I understand not: My life stands in the level of your dreams, Which I'll lay down.
Your actions are my
You had a bastard by Polixenes,
And I but dream'd it; as you were past all shame,
Those of your fact are so,-
,— so past all truth :
Which to deny concerns more than avails,
Thy brat hath been cast out, like to itself,
No father owning it - which is, indeed,
More criminal in thee than it, so thou
Shalt feel our justice; in whose easiest passage
Look for no less than death.
Sir, spare your threats.
The bug which you would fright me with I seek.
To me can life be no commodity:
The crown and comfort of my life, your favor,
I do give lost; for I do feel it gone,
But know not how it went: my second joy
And first-fruits of my body, from his presence
I'm barr’d, like one infectious: my third comfort,
Starr'd most unluckily, is from my breast,
The innocent milk in its most innocent mouth,
Hal'd out to murder: myself on every post
Proclaim'd a strumpet; with immodest hatred
The child-bed privilege denied, which 'longs
To women of all fashion ; lastly, hurried
Here to this place, i'th' open air before
I have got strength of limit. Now, my liege,
Tell me what blessings I have here alive,
That I should fear to die? Therefore, proceed.
But yet hear this; mistake me not :- for life,
I prize it not a straw ; but for mine honor,
Which I would free, if I shall be condemn'd
Upon surmises, all proofs sleeping else,
But what your jealousies awake, - I tell you,
'Tis rigor, and not law.— Your honors all,
I do refer me to the oracle :
Apollo be my judge!
First Lord. This your request
Is altogether just:- therefore, bring forth,
And in Apollo's name, his oracle.
[Ereunt certain Officers Her. The Emperor of Russia was my father :
O that he were alive, and here beholding
His daughter's trial ! that he did but see
The flatness of my misery,— yet with eyes
Of pity, not revenge!
Re-enter Officers, with CLEOMENES and Dion. First Offi. You here shall swear upon this sword of
you, Cleomenes and Dion, have
Been both at Delphos; and from thence have brought
This seal’d-up oracle, by the hand deliver'd
Of great Apollo's priest; and that, since then,
You have not dar'd to break the holy seal,
Nor read the secrets in't.
Cleo, and Dion. All this we swear.
Leon, Break up the seals, and read.
First Offi. [reads] “Hermione is chaste; Polixenes blameless; Camillo a true subject; Leontes a jealous tyrant; his innocent babe truly begotten; and the king shall live without an heir, if that which is lost be not found.”
Lords. Now blessed be the great Apollo !
Leon, Hast thou read truth?
Ay, my lord; even so ;
As it is here set down.
Leon. There is no truth at all i'th' oracle :
The session shall proceed: this is mere falsehood.
Enter an Attendant hastily.
Atten. My lord the king, the king !
What is the business?
Atten. O sir, I shall be hated to report it !
The prince your son, with mere conceit and fear
Of the queen's speed, is gone.
How ! gone! Atten,
Is dead. Leon. Apollo's angry; and the heavens themselves Do strike at my injustice. [Hermione faints.] How now
there! Paul. This news is mortal to the queen :- look down, And see what death is doing. Leon.
Take her hence :