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ACT III.

SCENE I.

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, (Methinks, I so should term them,) and the reve

rence

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 surpriz'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.
Cleo.

Great Apollo,
Turn all to the best! These proclamations,
So forcing faults upon Hermione,
I little like.

Dion. The violent carriage of it Will clear, or end, the business: When the oracle, (Thus by Apollo's great divine seald up,)

Shall the contents discover, something rare,
Even then will rush to knowledge.

-Go,-fresh horses; And gracious be the issue !

[Ereunt.

SCENE II.

THE SAME.

A COURT OF JUSTICE.

Leontes, Lords, and Officers, appear properly seated. Leon. This sessions (to our great grief, we pro

nounce,) 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.

Offr. It is his highness' pleasure, that the queen Appear in person here in court. - Silence!

2

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 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 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 receiv'd. But thus,- If

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 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 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

powers

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!
Leon.

I ne'er heard yet,
That any of these bolder vices wanted
Less impudence to gainsay what they did,
Than to perform it first.
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,
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 iufant, 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 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.
Leon.

Your actions are my dreams;
You had a bastard by Polixenes,
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,
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 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 comfort,
Starr'd most unluckily, is from my breast
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
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,

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