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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
To say, Not guilty: mine integrity,
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.
· For life, I prize it-] Life is now to me only grief, and as such only is considered by me: I would therefore willingly dismiss it. Johnson.
As I weigh grief, which I would spare: for honour,
I ne'er heard yet,
of these bolder vices wanted
That's true enough;
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,
7 'Tis a derivative from me to mine,] This sentiment, which is probably borrowed from Ecclesiasticus, iii. 11, cannot be too often impressed on the female mind: “The glory of a man is from the honour of his father; and a mother in dishonour, is a reproach unto her children." STEEVENS. 8 I ne'er heard yet, That any of these bolder vices wanted Less impudence to gainsay what they did,
Than to perform it first.] It is apparent that according to the proper, or at least, according to the present, use of words, less should be more, or wanted should be had. But Shakspeare is very uncertain in his use of negatives. It may be necessary once to observe, that in our language, two negatives did not originally affirm, but strengthen the negation. This mode of speech was in time changed, but, as the change was made in opposition to long custom, it proceeded gradually, and uniformity was not obtained but through an intermediate confusion. Johnson.
(With whom I am accus’d,) I do confess,
friend; whose love had spoke, 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.
Leon. You knew of his departure, as you know What you have underta'en to do in his absence.
Your actions are my dreams;
your fact are so,') so past all truth: Which to deny, concerns more than avails:
Thy brat hath been cast out, like to itself,
Sir, spare your threats;
My life stands in the level -] To be in the level is, to be within the reach.
(Those of your fact are so,)] i.e. guilt.
The bug, which you would fright me with, I seek.
This your request
[Exeunt certain Officers.
* Starr'd most unluckily,] i. e. born under an inauspicious planet.
strength of limit.] Strength to pass the limits of the child-bed chamber.
The flatness of my misery;" yet with eyes
Re-enter Officers, with CLEOMENES and Dion. Offi. You here shall swear upon this sword of
justice, That you,
Cleomenes and Dion, have
All this we swear.
Off. [Reads.] 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!
Ay, my lord; even só As it is here set down.
Leon. There is no truth at all i'the oracle: The sessions shall proceed; this is mere falsehood.
Enter a Servant, hastily. Serv. My lord the king, the king! Leon.
What is the business? Serv. O sir, I shall be hated to report it: The prince your son, with mere conceit and fear
* The flatness of my misery;] That is, how low, how flat I am laid by my calamity. Johnson.