« PreviousContinue »
He must be told on't, and he shall: the office
Becomes a woman best; I'll take't upon me.
If I prove honey-mouth'd, let my tongue blister,
And never to my red-look'd anger be
The trumpet any more!-Pray you, Emilia,
Commend my best obedience to the queen!
If she dares trust me with her little babe,
I'll show't the king, and undertake to be
Her advocate to th' loudest: we do not know,
How he may soften at the sight o'the child;
The silence often of pure innocence
Persuades, when speaking fails.
Emil. Most worthy madam,
Your honour, and your goodness, is so evident,
That your free undertaking cannot miss
A thriving issue; there is no lady living,
So meet for this great errand. Please your ladyship
To visit the next room, I'll presently
Acquaint the queen of your most noble offer;
Who, but to-day, hammer'd of this design,
But durst not tempt a minister of honour,
Lest she should be denied.
I'll use that tongue, I have: if wit flow from it,
As boldness from my bosom, let it not be doubted,
I shall do good.
Emil. Now be you blest for it!
I'll to the queen. Please you, come something nearer.
Keep. Madam, if't please the queen to send the babe,
I know not, what I shall incur,to pass it,
Having no warrant.
Paul. You need not fear it, sir:
The child was prisoner to the womb, and is,
By law and process of great nature, thence
Free'd and enfranchis'd: not a party to
The of the king, nor guilty of,
If any be, the trespass of the queen.
Paul. Do not you fear: upon
Mine honour, I will stand 'twixt you and danger.
SCENE III.-The same. A room in the palace.
They should not laugh, if I could reach them; nor
Shall she, within my power.
Enter PAULINA, with a Child.
1 Lord. You must not enter.
Paul. Nay, rather, good my lords, be second to me!
Fear you his tyrannous passion more, alas,
Than the queen's life? a gracious innocent soul,
More free, than he is jealous!
1 Atten. Madam, he hath not slept to-night, commanded,
None should come at him.
Paul. Not so hot, good sir!
I come to bring him sleep. 'Tis such as you,-
That creep like shadows by him, and do sigh
At each his needless heavings,- such as you,
Nourish the cause of his awaking: I
Do come with words as med'cinal, as true,
Honest, as either, to purge him of that humour,
That presses him from sleep.
Leon. What noise there, ho?
Paul. No noise, my lord; but needful conference,
About some gossips for your highness.
Away with that audacious lady! Antigonus,
I charg'd thee, that she should not come about me; I knew, she would.
Ant. I told her so, my lord,
On your displeasure's peril, and on mine,
She should not visit you.
Leon. What, canst not rule her?
Paul. From all dishonesty, he can: in this,
(Unless he take the course, that you have done,
Commit me, for committing honour,) trust it,
He shall not rule me.
Ant. Lo you now! you hear.
When she will take the rein, I let her run;
But she'll not stumble.
Paul. Good my liege, I come,
And I beseech you, hear me, who profess
Myself your loyal servant, your physician,
Your most obedient counsellor; yet that dares
Less appear so, in comforting your evils,
Enter LEONTES, Antigonus, Lords, and other Atten-Than such, as most seem yours:—I say, 1 come
Leon. Nor night, nor day, no rest! It is but weakness,
To bear the matter thus; mere weakness, if
The cause were not in being ;-part o'the cause,
She, the adultress ;-for the harlot king
Is quite beyond mine arm, out of the blank
And level of my brain, plot-proof: but she
I can hook to me. Say, that she were gone,
Given to the fire, a moiety of my rest
Might come to me again.-Who's there?
1 Atten. My lord?
Leon. How does the boy?
1 Atten. He took good rest to-night; 'Tis hop'd, his sickness is discharg'd. Leon. To see
Conceiving the dishonour of his mother,
He straight declin'd, droop'd, took it deeply;
Fasten'd and fix'd the shame on't in himself;
Threw off his spirit, his appetite, his sleep,
And downright languish'd.—Leave me solely:-go
See, how he fares! [Exit Attend.] - Fye, fye! no
thought of him;-
The very thought of my revenges that way
Recoil upon me: in himself too mighty;
And in his parties, his alliance.-Let him be,
Until a time may serve: for present vengeance,
Take it on her. Camillo and Polixenes
Laugh at me, make their pastime at my sorrow:
Tak'st up the princess, by that forced baseness,
Which he has put upon't!
Leon. He dreads his wife.
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.
Paul.So, I would, you did; then 'twere past all doubt, Ant. I did not, sir:
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 compell'd to't,) once remove
The root of his opinion, which is rotten,
As ever oak, or stone, was sound,
Leon. A callat,
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!
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;
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 an heretic that makes the fire,
Not she, which burns in't. I'll not call thee tyrant ;
But this most cruel usage of your queen
(Not able to produce more accusation,
Than your own weak-hing'd fancy,) something
Of tyranny, and will ignoble make you,
Yea, scandalous to the world.
Leon. On your allegiance,
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 serv'd 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,
Which, 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!
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. 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: any thing 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 ;(see'st thou ?) for the fail
Of any point in't shall not only be
Death to thyself, but to thy lewd-tongu'd 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
sa- 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
Out of the chamber with her! Were I a tyrant,
Where were her life? she durst not 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 consum'd 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;
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
1 Atten. Please your highnese, posts
From those you sent to the oracle, are come
An hour since: Cleomenes and Dion,
Being well arriv'd 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; foretels,
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
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 o'the oracle,
Kin to Jove's thunder, so surpris'd 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.
Turn all to the best! These proclamations,
So forcing faults upon Hermione,
Dion. The violent carriage of it
(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 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
Will clear, or end, the business. When the oracle,
(Thus by Apollo's great divine seal'd up,)
Shall the contents discover, some-thing rare
Even then will rush to knowledge. -Go,-fresh horses!-
And gracious be the issue!
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 Fye upon my grave!
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 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!
Leon. Ine'er heard yet,
That any of these bolder vices wanted
Less impudence, to gainsay what they did,
Than to perform it first.
Offi. It is his highness' pleasure, that the queen
Appear in person here in court. - Silence!
HERMIONE is brought in, guarded; PAULINA and La-
Her. That's true enough;
Though 'tis a saying, sir, not due to me.
Leon. 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,
Ilov'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 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 have unterta'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.
Leon. Your actions are my dreams;
You had a bastard by Polixenes,
Leon. Read the indictment!
Off. 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 And I but dream'd it. - As you were past all shame,
take away the life of our sovereign lord the king, thy (Those of your fact are so,) so past all truth:
royal husband: the pretence whereof being by circum-Which to deny, concerns more, than avails:
stances partly laid open, thou, Hermione, contrary For as
to the faith and allegiance of a true subject, didst Thy brat hath been, cast out, like to itself, counsel and aid them, for their better safety, to fly
Her. Since what I am to say, must be but that,
Which contradicts my accusation, and
The testimony on my part, no other
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!
But what comes from myself, it shall scarce boot me The bug, which you would fright me with, I seek.
The innocent milk in its most innocent mouth,
Haled 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
Hereto this place, i'the 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! - No! life,
I prize it not a straw: - but for mine honour,
(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 rigour, and not law. Your honours all,
I do refer me to the oracle;
i Lord. This your request
Is altogether just: therefore, bring forth
And in Apollo's name, his oracle!
[Exeunt 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.
Offi. You here shall swear upon this sword of justice,
That 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. Dion. All this we swear.
Leon. Break up the seals, and read!
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?
Offi. Ay, my lord; even so,
As it is here set down.
Leon. There is no truth at all i'the oracle:
The sessions shall proceed; this is mere falsehood.
Enter a Servant, hastily.
Serv. My lord the king, the king!
Leon. What is the business?
Serv. 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.
Leon. How! gone?
Serv. 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;
Her heart is but o'ercharg'd; she will recover,
I have too much believ'd mine own suspicion:-
'Beseech you, tenderly apply to her
Some remedies for life!- Apollo, pardon
[Exeunt Paulina and Ladies, with Herm.
My great profaneness 'gainst thine oracle!
I'll reconcile me to Polixenes,
New woo my queen, recal the good Camillo,
Whom I proclaim a man of truth, of mercy:
For, being transported by my jealousies
Paul. Woe the while!
O, cut my lace, lest my heart, cracking it,
1 Lord. What fit is this, good lady?
Paul. What studied torments, tyrant, hast for me?
What wheels? racks? fires? What flaying? boiling,
In leads, or oils? what old, or newer torture
Must I receive; whose every word deserves
To taste of thy most worst? Thy tyranny
Together working with thy jealousies,
Fancies too weak for boys, too green and idle
For girls of nine!-0, think, what they have done,
And then run mad, indeed; stark mad! for all
Thy by-gone fooleries were but spices of it.
That thou betray'dst Polixenes, 'twas nothing;
That did but show thee, of a fool, inconstant,
And damnable ungrateful: nor was't much,
Thou would'st have poison'd good Camillo's honour,
To have him kill a king; poor trespasses,
More monstrous standing by! whereof I reckon
To be or none, or little; though a devil
The casting forth to crows thy baby daughter,
Would have shed water out of fire, ere don't:
Nor is't directly laid to thee, the death
Of the young prince; whose honourable thoughts
(Thoughts high for one so tender) cleft the heart
That could conceive, a cross and foolish sire
Blemish'd his gracious dam: this is not, no,
Laid to thy answer: but the last, — 0, lords,
When I have said, cry, woe! - the
queen, the queen,
The sweetest, dearest, creature's dead; and vengeance
Not dropp'd down yet.
1 Lord. The higher powers forbid!
Paul. I say, she's dead; I'll swear't: if word, nor oath
Prevail not, go and see! If you can bring
Tincture, or lustre, in her lip, her eye,
Heat outwardly, or breath within, I'll serve you,
As I would do the gods. But, O thou tyrant!
Do not repent these things! for they are heavier,
Than all thy woes can stir. Therefore betake thee
To nothing but despair! A thousand knees,
Ten thousand years together, naked, fasting,
In storm perpetual, could not move the gods
Upon a barren mountain, and still winter
way thou wert.
Leon. Go on, go on!
Thou canst not speak too much; I have descrv'd
All tongues to talk their bitterest.
When most the truth; which I receive much better,
Than to be pitied of thee. Pr'ythee, bring me
To the dead bodies of my queen, and son:
One grave shall be for both: upon them shall
The causes of their death appear, unto
Our shame perpetual. Once a day I'll visit
The chapel, where they lie; and tears, shed there,
Shall be my recreation. So long as
Nature will bear up with this exercise,
So long I daily vow to use it. Come,
And lead me to these sorrows!
SCENE III.-Bohemia. A desert country near the sea.
Enter ANTIGONUS, with the child; and a Mariner.
Ant. Thou art perfect then, our ship hath touch'd
The deserts of Bohemia?
Mar. Ay, my lord; and fear,
We have landed in ill time; the skies look grimly,
And threaten present blusters. In my conscience,
The heavens with that, we have in hand, are angry,
And frown upon us.
That, for thy mother's fault, art thus expos'd
To loss, and what may follow! - Weep I cannot,
But my heart bleeds: and most accurs'd am I,
To be by oath enjoin'd to this.- Farewell!
Ant. Their sacred wills be done! - Go, get aboard;
Look to thy bark! I'll not be long, before
I call upon thee.
Mar. Make your best haste, and go not
Too far i'the land; 'tis like to be loud weather;
Besides, this place is famous for the creatures
Of prey, that keep upon't.
To be so rid o'the business.
Ant. Come, poor babe!·
Shep. I would, there were no age between ten and three-and-twenty; or that youth would sleep out the rest: for there is nothing in the between but getting wenches with child, wronging the ancientry, stealing, fighting. Hark you now! Would any but these boiled brains of nineteen, and two-and-twenty, hunt this weather? They have scared away two of my best sheep; which, I fear, the wolf will sooner find, than the master: if any where I have them, 'tis by the seaside, browzing on ivy. Good luck, an't be thy will! what have we here? [Taking up the child.] Mercy on's, a barne; a very pretty barne! A boy, or a child, I wonder? A pretty one; a very pretty one! Sure, some scape: though I am not bookish, yet I can read waiting-gentlewoman in the scape. This has been some stair-work, some trunk-work, some behind-doorwork: they were warmer, that got this, than the poor thing is here. I'll take it up for pity: yet I'll tarry, till my son come; he hollaed but even now. Whoa,ho hoa! Enter Clown.
I have heard, (but not believ'd) the spirits of the dead
May walk again: if such thing be, thy mother
Appear'd to me last night; for ne'er was dream
So like a waking. To me comes a creature,
Sometimes her head on one side, some another;
I never saw a vessel of like sorrow,
So fill'd, and so becoming: in pure white robes,
Like very sanctity, she did approach
My cabin, where I lay: thrice bow'd before me,
And, gasping to begin some speech, her eyes
Became two spouts: the fury spent, anon
Did this break from her: Good Antigonus,
Since fate, against thy better disposition,
Hath made thy person for the thrower-out
Of my poor babe, according to thine oath,
Places remote enough are in Bohemia,
There weep, and leave it crying; and, for the babe
Is countedlost for ever, Perdita,
I pr'ythee, call't: for this ungentle business,
Put on thee by my lord, thou ne'er shalt see
Thy wife Paulina more:- and so, with shrieks,
She melted into air. Affrighted much,
I did in time collect myself, and thought
This was so, and no slumber. Dreams are toys:
Yet, for this once, yea, superstitiously,
I will be squar'd by this. I do believe,
Hermione hath suffer'd death; and that
Apollo would, this being indeed the issue
Shep. What, art so near? If thou'lt see a thing to talk on, when thou art dead and rotten, come hither! What ailest thou, man?
Clo. I have seen two such sights, by sea, and by land; but I am not to say, it is a sea, for it is now the sky; betwixt the firmament and it, you cannot thrust a bodkin's point.
Shep. Why, boy, how is it?
Clo. I would, you did but see, how it chafes, how it rages, how it takes up the shore! but that's not to the point. O,the most piteous cry of the poor souls! sometimes to see'em, and not to see'em: now the ship boring the moon with her main-mast; and anon swallowed with yest and froth, as you'd trust a cork into a hogs-head. And then for the land service, to see how the bear tore out his shoulder-bone; how he cried to me for help, and said, his name was Antigonus, a nobleman!-But to make an end of the ship :-to see how the sea flap-dragoned it:-but, first, how the poor souls roared, and the sea mocked them; - and how the poor gentleman roared, and the bear mocked him, both roaring louder, than the sea, or weather. Shep. 'Name of mercy, when was this, boy?
Clo. Now, now; I have not winked since I saw these sights: the men are not yet cold under water, nor the bear half dined on the gentleman; he's at it now. Shep. Would I had been by, to have helped the old
Clo. I would, you had been by the ship side, to have helped her; there your charity would have lacked footing. [Aside. Shep. Heavy matters! heavy matters! but look thee here, boy! Now bless thyself; thou met'st with things