« PreviousContinue »
Paul. Do not you fear: upon mine honour, I Will stand betwixt you and danger. Exeunt.
SCENE III.-The Same. A Room in the Palace. Enter LEONTES, ANTIGONUS, Lords, and other Attendants.
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 adulteress; 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?
He took good rest to-night; 10
'Tis hop'd his sickness is discharg'd.
To see his nobleness!
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.
Leon. How does the boy?
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.
What noise there, ho?
Paul. No noise, my lord; but needful con-
About some gossips for your highness.
Good my liege, I come;
And I beseech you, hear me, who professes
Myself your loyal servant, your physician,
Your most obedient counsellor, yet that dares
Less appear so in comforting your evils
Than such as most seem yours: I say I come
From your good queen.
Paul. Good queen, my lord, good queen; I say, good queen;
And would by combat make her good, so were I
A man, the worst about you.
Force her hence. 60
Paul. Let him that makes but trifles of his eyes
First hand me: on mine own accord I'll off;
But first I'll do my errand. The good queen,
For she is good, hath brought you forth a
Here 'tis; commends it to your blessing.
Laying down the Child.
A mankind witch! Hence with her, out o' door:
A most intelligencing bawd!
Unvenerable be thy hands, if thou
Tak'st up the princess by that forced baseness
Which he has put upon 't!
He dreads his wife.
Paul. So I would you did; then 'twere past
You'd call your children yours.
A nest of traitors! so
Ant. I am none, by this good light.
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
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.
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!
A better guiding spirit! What needs 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; 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: 140
These lords, my noble fellows, if they please,
Can clear me in 't.
We can, my royal liege:
He is not guilty of her coming hither.
Leon. You are liars all.
First Lord. Beseech your highness, give us better credit:
We have always truly serv'd you, and beseech you 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?
Than curse it then.
It shall not neither.
Better burn it now
But be it; let it live;
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
To save this brat's life?
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.
Exit with the Child. No; I'll not rear 190
Please your highness, 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.
First 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 accus'd, 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. Exeunt.
SCENE II.-Sicilia. A Court of Justice.
Enter LEONTES, Lords, and Officers.
Leon. This sessions, to our great grief we
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.
Of. It is his highness' pleasure that the queen Appear in person here in court. Silence! Enter HERMIONE, guarded; PAULINA and Ladies attending.
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 take away the life of our sovereign lord the king, thy royal husband: the pretence 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
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
Who least will seem to do so, my past life
Tremble at patience. You, my lord, best know,
Hath been as continent, as chaste, as true,
As I am now unhappy; which is more
Than history can pattern, though devis'd
A fellow of the royal bed, which owe
And play'd to take spectators. For behold me,
A moiety of the throne, a great king's daughter
The mother to a hopeful prince, here standing 40
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
Came to your court, how I was in your grace,
To your own conscience, sir, before Polixenes
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!
That any of these bolder vices wanted
I ne'er heard yet
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 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
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.
What you have underta'en to do in 's absence.
Leon. You knew of his departure, as you know
You speak a language that I understand not: 80
My life stands in the level of your dreams,
Which I'll lay down.
You had a bastard by Polixenes,
Your actions are my dreams:
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; for as
Thy brat hath been cast out, like to itself,
No father owning it, which is, indeed,
But what comes from myself, it shall scarce boot More criminal in thee than it, so thou
To say 'Not guilty': mine integrity
Shalt feel our justice, in whose easiest passage 90
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 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 barr'd, like one infectious. My third com-
Starr'd most unluckily, is from my breast,
The innocent milk in its most innocent mouth,
Haled out to murder: myself on every post 101
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' 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 :
Exeunt several Officers. Iler. 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. Off. 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.
All this we swear. 130
Leon, Break up the seals and read.
Off. 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?
As it is here set down.
Exeunt PAULINA and Ladies, with HERMIONE.
My great profaneness 'gainst thine oracle!
I'll reconcile me to Polixenes,
New woo my queen, recall the good Camillo,
Whom I proclaim a man of truth, of mercy;
For, being transported by my jealousies
To bloody thoughts and to revenge, I chose
Camillo for the minister to poison
My friend Polixenes: which had been done, 180
But that the good mind of Camillo tardied
My swift command; though I with death and
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 glisters
Thorough my rust and how his piety
Does my deeds make the blacker!
O! cut my lace, lest my heart, cracking it,
First Lord. What fit is this, good lady?
Paul. What studied torments, tyrant, hast
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, O! think, what they have
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 ingrateful: nor was 't much
Thou would'st have poison'd good Camillo's
To have him kill a king; poor trespasses,
More monstrous standing by: whereof I reckon
The casting forth to crows thy baby daughter 190
To be or none or little; though a devil
Would have shed water out of fire ere done '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 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
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, 210
Upon a barren mountain, and still winter
In storm perpetual, could not move the gods
To look that way thou wert.
Go on, go on ;
Thou canst not speak too much : I have deserv'd
All tongues to talk their bitterest.
Say no more:
Howe'er the business goes, you have made fault
I' the boldness of your speech.
I am sorry for 't: All faults I make, when I shall come to know them,
I do repent. Alas! I have show'd too much
The rashness of a woman: he is touch'd
To the noble heart. What's gone and what 's past help
Should be past grief: do not receive affliction
At my petition; I beseech you rather
Let me be punish'd, that have minded you
Of what you should forget. Now, good my liege,
Sir, royal sir, forgive a foolish woman:
The love I bore your queen,-lo, fool again!-
I'll speak of her no more, nor of your children;
I'll not remember you of my own lord,
Who is lost too: take your patience to you, 230
And I'll say nothing.
Thou didst speak but well,
When most the truth, which I receive much
Than to be pitied of thee. Prithee, 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
Unto these sorrows.
SCENE III.-Bohemia. A desert Country near the Sea.
Enter ANTIGONUS, with the Child; and a
Ant. Thou art perfect then, our ship hath
The deserts of Bohemia ?
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 's.
Ant. Their sacred wills be done! Go, get
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 counted lost for ever, Perdita,
I prithee, 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
Of King Polixenes, it should here be laid,
Either for life or death, upon the earth
Of its right father. Blossom, speed thee well!
Laying down the child.
There lie; and there thy character: there these;
Laying down a bundle,
Which may, if fortune please, both breed thee,
And still rest thine. The storm begins: poor wretch !
That for thy mother's fault art thus expos'd 50
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!
The day frowns more and more: thou 'rt like to
A lullaby too rough. I never saw
The heavens so dim by day. A savage clamour!
Well may I get aboard! This is the chase:
I am gone for ever. Exit, pursued by a bear.
Enter an old Shepherd.
Shep. I would there were no age between sixteen 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;