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SCENEI. The fame. A Street in fome Town.
Enter CLEOMENES, and Dion.
Cle. The climate's delicate ; the air most sweet ; Fertile the soil; the temple much furpaffing The common praise it bears.
Dio. 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, folemn, and unearthly,
It was i'the offering!
CLE. But, of all, the burst
And the ear-deaf'ning voice o'the oracle,
Kin to Jove's thunder, fo surpriz'd my sense,
That I was nothing.
Dio. If the event o'the journey
Prove as successful to the queen, -0, be't so!-
As it hath been to us, rare, pleasant, fpeedy,
The use is worth the time on't.
CLE. Great Apollo
Turn all to the best! These proclamations,
So forcing faults upon Hermione,
I little like.
Dio. The violent carriage of it
Will clear, or end, the businefs : When the oracle
(Thus T 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 !
SCENE II. Tbe fame. A Court of Justice :
At the upper End, a Throne; Lords, on either
Hand, Judges, and other Officers, seated;
People attending. Enter Leontes,
and Train of Lords, to his Throne.
Leo. This feflion (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, since we so openly
Proceed in justice; which shall have due course,
Even to the guilt, or the purgation.
Produce the prisoner.
Off. It is his highness' pleasure, that the queen Appear in person here in court.
Enter HERMIONE, to the Bar: PAULINA,
and Ladies, with her; Oficers preceding. LEO. Read the indictment. Eri, Silence ! Off. [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 fovereign lord the king, thy royal husband: the pretence whereof being by circumstances partly lay'd open, thou, Hermione, contrary to ibe faith and allegiance of a true subject, didi counsel and aid them, for ibeir 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 falfhood, 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 fo) my past life
Hath been as continent, as chast, 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 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, fir, 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 have
I ftrain’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't of kin
Cry, fie, upon my grave!
Leo. I ne'er heard yet,
That any of these bolder vices wanted
Less impudence to gain-fay what they did,
Than to perform it first.
Her. 'That's true enough ;
Though 'tis a saying, fir, not due to me.
LEO. You will not own it.
HER. 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 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 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 tasts ; though it be dish'd For me to try how : all I know of it, Is, that Camilla 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 his 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.
Leo. Your actions are my dreams;
You had a bastard by Polixenes,
And I but dream'd it: As you were paft all shame,
(Those of your fact are so) so paft all truth:
To deny, concerns, more than avails : for as
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.
HER. Sir, spare your threats ;
The hug, which you would fright we with, I feek.
To me can life be no commodity:
The crown and comfort of my life, your favour,
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 am bar'd, like one infectious : My third comfort,
Star'd most unluckily, is from my breaft,
The innocent milk in it's most innocent mouth,
Hald out to murther: Myself on every post
Proclaim'd a strumpet, with immodest hatred ;
The child-bed priviledge deny'd, which ’longs
To women of all fashion ; lastly, hurry'd
Here to this place, i'the open air, before
I have got strength of limit. Now, my liege,
Tell me what bleflings I have here alive,
That I should fear to dye. Therefore, proceed.
But yet hear this; mistake me not ;-No life;
I prize it not a straw: but for mine honour,
(Which I would free) if I shall be condemn'd
Upon surmizes; all proofs sleeping else,
But what your jealoufies awake; I tell you,
'Tis rigour, and not law._ Your honours allo
I do refer me to the oracle;
Apollo be my judge.