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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
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, Fye upon my grave!

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

That's true enough;
Though 'tis a saying, sir, not due to me.
Leon. You will not own it.

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.


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.


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.


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 :

More than mistress of,

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 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.
Her. Sir,

You speak a language that I understand not:
My life stands in the level of your dreams,
Which I'll lay down.

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 +

Your actions are my dreams;

Thy brat hath been cast out, like to itself,
No father owning it, (which is, indeed,
More criminal in thee, than it,) so thou


My life stands in the level] To be in the level is, to be within the reach.

1 (Those of your fact are so,)] i. e. guilt.

+ "For as"-Mr. Malone adds these words to the preceding line.

Shalt feel our justice; in whose easiest passage

Look for no less than death.

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,
That I should fear to die? Therefore proceed.
But yet hear this; mistake me not ;-No! life,
I prize it not a straw:-but for mine honour,
(Which I would free,) if I shall be condemn'd
Upon surmises; all proofs sleeping else,
But what your jealousies awake; I tell you
'Tis rigour, and not law.-Your honours all,
I do refer me to the oracle;

Apollo be my judge.

1 Lord.
This your request
Is altogether just therefore, bring forth,
And in Apollo's name, his oracle.

[Exeunt certain Officers.

Her. The emperor of Russia was my father:

O, that he were alive, and here beholding

2 Starr'd most unluckily,] i. e. born under an inauspicious planet.

3 strength of limit.]

Strength to pass the limits of the

child-bed chamber.

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His daughter's trial! that he did but see
The flatness of my misery; yet with eyes
Of pity, not revenge!

Re-enter Officers, with CLEOMENES and DION.

Off. You here shall swear upon this sword of justice, That you, Cleomenes and Dion, have

Been both at Delphos; and from thence have brought
This seal'd-up oracle, by the hand deliver'd

Of great Apollo's priest; and that, since then,
You have not dar'd to break the holy seal,
Nor read the secrets in't.

Cleo. Dion.

All this we swear.

Leon. Break up the seals, and read. Offi. [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 ! Her.

Leon. Hast thou read truth?



As it is here set down.

Leon. There is no truth at all i'the oracle:
The sessions shall proceed; this is mere falsehood.

Ay, my lord; even so

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 Of the queen's speed', is gone.


How! gone?

The flatness of my misery;] That is, how low, how flat I am laid by my calamity. JOHNSON.


Of the queen's speed,] Of the event of the queen's trial: so we still say, he sped well or ill. JOHNSON.


Is dead.

Leon. Apollo's angry; and the heavens themselves Do strike at my injustice. [HERMIONE faints.] How now there?

Paul. This news is mortal to the queen :-Look down,

And see what death is doing.

Take her hence:
Her heart is but o'ercharg'd; she will recover.-
I have too much believ'd mine own suspicion :-
'Beseech you, tenderly apply to her
Some remedies for life.-Apollo, pardon

[Exeunt PAULINA and Ladies, with HERM. My great profaneness 'gainst thine oracle!I'll reconcile me to Polixenes;

New woo my queen; recall the good Camillo ;
Whom I proclaim a man of truth, of mercy:
For, being transported by my jealousies
To bloody thoughts and to revenge, I chose
Camillo for the minister, to poison

My friend Polixenes: which had been done,
But that the good mind of Camillo tardied
My swift command, though I with death, and with
Reward did threaten and encourage him,
Not doing it, and being done: he, most humane,
And fill'd with honour, to my kingly guest
Unclasp'd my practice; quit his fortunes here,
Which you knew great; and to the certain hazard +
Of all incertainties himself commended,

No richer than his honour:-How he glisters
Thorough my rust! and how his piety
Does my deeds make the blacker'!



"to the hazard”—MALONE.

commended,] i. e. committed.

7 Does my deeds make the blacker!] This vehement retraction of Leontes, accompanied with the confession of more crimes than he was suspected of, is agreeable to our daily experience of the

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