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Ant. Hang all the husbands
That cannot do that feat, you'll leave yourself
Leon. Once more, take her hence.
Paul. A most unworthy and unnatural lord Can do no more.
Leon. I'll have thee burned.
Paul. I care not*
It is a heretic that makes the fire,
?tfot able to produce more accusation
Leon. On your allegiance,
Out of the chamber with her. Were I a tyrant,
Paul. I pray you, do not push me; I'll be 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 consumed 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.
These lords, my noble fellows, if they please,
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 served 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;
[To Antigonus. 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 gray,1—what will you adventure To save this brat's life?
Ant. Any thing, my lord,
That my ability may undergo,
Leon. It shall be possible. Swear by this sword, Thou wilt perform my bidding.
Ant. I will, my lord.
Leon. Mark, and perform it; (seest thou ?) for the fail Of any point in't shall not only be Death to thyself, but to thy lewd-tongued 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
1 Leontes must mean the beard of Antigonus, which he may be supposed to touch. He himself tells us that twenty-three years ago he was unbreeched; of course his age must be under thirty, and his own beard would hardly be gray.
To some remote and desert place quite out
Ant. I swear to do this, though a present death
Leon. No, I'll not rear
1 Attend. Please your highness, posts,
From those you sent to the oracle, are come
1 Lord. So please you, sir, their speed
Hath been beyond account.
Leon. Twenty-three days
They have been absent. 'Tis good speed; foretells,
i Le. commit it to some place as a stranger. To commend is to commit according to the old dictionaries.
2 i. e. the favor of Heaven.
3 i. e. to exposure, or to be lost or dropped.
VOL. III. 6
SCENE 1. The same. A Street in some Town.
Enter Cleomenes and Dion.
Cleo. The climate's delicate; the air most sweet; Fertile the isle ;* the temple much surpassing The common praise it bears.
Dion. I shall report—
For most it caught me—the celestial habits
Cleo. But of all, the burst
And ear-deafening voice o' the oracle,
Dion. If the event o' the journey
Prove as successful to the queen,—O, be't so!—
Cleo. Great Apollo,
Turn all to the best! These proclamations,
Dion. The violent carriage of it Will clear, or end, the business. When the oracle
Even then will rush to knowledge. Go,—fresh
horses!— And gracious be the issue! [Exeunt.
i Warburton has remarked that the temple of Apollo was at Delphi, which was not an island. But Shakspeare little regarded geographical accuracy. He followed Green's Dorastus and Fawnia, in which it is called the isle of Delphos. There was a temple of Apollo in the isle of Delos
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 beloved.—Let us be cleared 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.
Offi. It is his highness' pleasure, that the queen Appear in person here in court.—Silence!
Hermione is brought in, guarded; Paulina and Ladies, attending.
Leon. Read the indictment.
Offi. Hermione, queen to the worthy Leontes, king of Sicilia, thou art here accused and arraigned of high treason, in committing adultery ivith Polixenes, king of Bohemia; and conspiring with Camillo to take away the life of our sovereign lord and 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 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 received. But thus,—If powers divine Behold our human actions, (as they do,) I doubt not, then, but innocence shall make
1 i. e. the design. Shakspeare often uses the word for design or intention.