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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:
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;

[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 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; (seest 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 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 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
Another's issue.

1 Atten. 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.

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Swear by this sword,] It was anciently the custom to swear by the cross on the handle of a sword.

commend it strangely to some place, Commit it to some place, as a stranger, without more provision.

1

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
Been publickly 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.

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 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 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 seal’d up)
Shall the contents discover, something rare,
Even then will rush to knowledge. Go, — fresh

horses ;And gracious be the issue !

[Exeunt.

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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.

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

? The time is worth the use on't.] The time is worth the use on't, means, the time which we have spent in visiting Delos, has recompensed us for the trouble of so spending it.

3 Even to the guilt, or the purgation.] The word even is not to be understood here as an adverb, but as an adjective, signifying equal or indifferent.

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 powers 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

5

pretence —] Is, in this place, taken for a scheme laid, a design formed.

mine integrity, &c.] That is, my virtue being accounted wickedness, my assertion of it will pass but for a lie. Falsehood means both treachery and lie. Johnson.

VOL. III.

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