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With what encounter so uncurrant I
Have strain'd t'appear thos; if one jot beyond
The bounds of honour, or in act, or will
That way inclining, hardned be the hearts
Of all that hear me, and my near'ft of kin
Cry, fie, upon my grave!
Leo. I ne'er heard yet,
That any of those bolder vices wanted
Less impudence 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 mistress of,
What 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 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
Even fance 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 1,) are ignorant.
Leo. You knew of his departure, as you know
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 were paft all shame,
(Those of your Fact are fo) so paft all truth;
Which to deny, concerns more than avails: for as
Thy brat hath been caft out, like to it felf,
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 bug, which you would fright me with, I feek:
To me can life be no commodity.
The crown and comfort of my life, your Favour,
I do give loft ; for I do feel it gone,
But know not how it went. My second joy,
The 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 ; my self on every post
Proclaim'd a ftrumpet; with immodest hatred
The child-bed privilege deny'd, 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; no life,
I prize it not a straw; but for mine honour,
Which I would free, if I shall be condemn'd
Upon furmises, 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:
Apollo be my judge.
Enter Dion and Cleomines.
Is altogether just; therefore bring forth,
And in Apollo's name, his Oracle.
Her. The Emperor of Ruffia was my father,
Oh, that he were alive, and here beholding
His daughter's tryal ; that he did but fee
The flatness of my misery ; yet with eyes
Of Pity, not Revenge!
Off. You here shall swear upon the Sword of Justice,
That you, Cleomines and Dion, have
Been both at Delphos, and from thence have brought
This feald up Oracle, by the hand deliver'd
Of great Apollo's Priet; 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.
Leo. Break up the Seals, and read.
Offi. Hermione is chaste, Polixenes blameless, Camillo a true Subject, Leontes a jealous Tyrant, his innocent babe truly begotten ; and the King Mall live without an heir, if That, which is loft, be not found.
Lords. Now blessed be the great Apollo !
Leo. Haft thou read truth?
Offi. Ay, my lord, even fo as it is here fet down.
Leo. There is no truth at all i'th' Oracle ;
The Session shall proceed; this is meer falihood.
Ser. My lord the King, the King,
Leo. What is the business?
Ser. O Sir, I shall be hated to report it.
The Prince your son, with meer conceit and fear
Of the Queen's Speed, is gone.
Leo. How gone?
Ser, Is dead.
Leo. Apollo's angry, and the heav'ns themselves
Do strike at my injustice. ----How now, there?
Her. faints. Pau. This news is mortal to the Queen : look down, And see what death is doing.
Leo. Take her hence ; Her heart is but o'er-charg'd; she will recover. [Exeunt Paulina and ladies with Hermione.
I have too much believ'd mine own fufpicion:
'Beseech you, tenderly apply to her
Some remedies for life. Apollo, pardon
My great Prophanenefs '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 jealoufies
To bloody thoughts and to revenge, I chose
Camillo for the Minister, to poison
My friend Polixenes; which had been done,
But that the good mind of Camillo tardied
My swift Command; tho' I with death, and with
Reward, did threaten, and encourage him,
Not doing it, and being done ; he most humane,
And fill'd with Honour) to my kingly Guest
Unclasp'd my practice, quit his fortunes here,
Which you knew great, and to the certain hazard
Of all incertainties himself commended,
No richer than his honour : how he glitters
- Through my dark Rust! and how his Piety
Does my deeds make the blacker!
Pau. Woe the while !
O, cut my lace, left my heart, cracking it,
Lord. What fit is this, good lady?
Pau. What studied torments, Tyrant, haft for me?
What wheels ? racks ? fires ? what Aaying ? 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 !) O, think, what they have done,
And then run mad, indeed ; ftark mad, for all
Thy by-gone fooleries were but spices of it.
That thou betray’dst Polixenes, 'twas nothing ; (8)
That did but shew thee of a Soul inconftant,
And damnable ingrateful: nor was't much,
Thou would it have poison'd good Camillo's honour,
To have him kill a King: poor trespasses,
More monitrous standing by ; whereof I reckon
The casting forth to crows thy baby-daughter,
To be, or none, or little; tho' a devil
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 fo tender) cleft the beast,
That could conceive a gross and foolish Sire
Blemish'd his gracious Dam: this is not, no,
Laid to thy answer; but the last, O lords,
When I have said, cry, woe! the Queen, the Queen,-
The sweetest, deareft, creature's dead ; and vengeance
Not dropt down yet.
Lord. The higher Powers forbid !
Pau. 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 ftir: therefore betake thee To nothing but Despair. A thousand knees, Ten thousand years together, naked, fasting, Upon a barren mountain, and still winter In storm perpetual, could not move the Gods (8) That thou betray'dff Polixenes,'twas Nothing ;
That did but shew thee, of a Fool, inconftant,
And damnable ingrateful.) I have ventur'd at a flight Alteration here, against the Authority of all the Copies. It is certainly too gross and blunt in Paulina, tho' She might im. peach the King of Fooleries in some of his paft Axions and Conduct, to call him downright a Fool. And it is much more pardonable in her to arraign his Morals, and the Qualities of his Mind, than judely to call him Idiot to his Face.