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The bastard brains with these my proper hands
Ant. I did not, sir:
These lords, my noble fellows, if they please,
1 & 2 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. \_To Ant.] 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 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, see'st 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 it 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 bale.
Leon. No, I'll not rear
1 Attend. Please your Highness, posts, From those you sent to th' Oracle, are come An hour since. Cleomenes and Dion, Being well arriv'd from Delphos, are both landed, Hasting to th' Court.
1 Lord. So please you, sir, their speed
Hath been beyond accompt.
Leon. Twenty-three days
They have been absent: 'tis good speed; foretells
Scene I. — Sicilia. A Street.
YY\KE climate's delicate, the air most sweet,
L 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' th' offering!
Cleo. But, of all, the burst
And the ear-deaf'ning voice o' th' Oracle,
Kin to Jove's thunder, so surpris'd my sense,
Dion. If th' event o' the journey
Prove as successful to the Queen, — 0, be 't so! —
Cleo. Great Apollo,
Turn all to th' best! These proclamations,
Dion. The violent carriage of it
Will clear, or end, the business. When the oracle
Leontes, Lords, and Officers, appear properly seated. Leon. This sessions (to our great grief we pro-
Officer. 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 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 Who please to come and hear. For life, I prize it As I weigh grief, which I would spare: for honour,