Page images


Leon. Hast thou read truth?

Ay, my lord; even so
As it is here set down.

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

Enter a Servant, hastily.
Serv. My lord the king, the king !

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,a is gone.

How! gone? Serv.

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

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,

a Of how the queen may speed of the issue of this charge.

And fill'd with honour, to my kingly guest
Unclasp'd my practice ; quit his fortunes here,

you knew great; and to the 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!

Re-enter PAULINA.


Woe the while! 0, cut my lace; lest my heart, cracking it, Break too!

1 Lord. What fit is this, good lady?

Paul. What studied torments, tyrant, hast for me? What wheels? racks? fires? What flaying? boiling, In leads, or oils? what old or newer torture Must I receive; whose every word deserves To taste of thy most worst? Thy tyranny Together working with thy jealousies,Fancies too weak for boys, too green and idle For girls of nine !—0, think what they have done, And then run mad, indeed ; stark mad! for all Thy by-gone fooleries were but spices of it. That thou betray’dst Polixenes, ’t was nothing ; That did but show thee, of a fool, inconstant, And damnable ingrateful: nor was 't much, Thou wouldst have poison'd good Camillo's honour, To have him kill a king; poor trespasses, More monstrous standing by: whereof I reckon The casting forth to crows thy baby daughter, To be or none, or little ; though a devil Would have shed water out of fire, ere done 't: Nor is 't directly laid to thee, the death Of the young prince; whose honourable thoughts (Thoughts high for one so tender) cleft the heart That could conceive a gross and foolish sire Blemish'd his gracious dam: this is not, no, Laid to thy answer: But the last,—0, lords, When I have said, cry Woe!--the queen, the queen,

The sweetest, dearest creature's dead; and vengeance for 't Not dropp'd down yet. 1 Lord.

The higher powers forbid !
Paul. I say, she 's dead: I 'll swear ’t: if word, nor oath,
Prevail not, go and see: if you can bring
Tincture, or lustre, in her lip, her eye,
Heat outwardly, or breath within, I 'll serve you
As I would do the gods.—But, O thou tyrant!
Do not repent these things; for they are heavier
Than all thy woes can stir: therefore betake thee
To nothing but despair. A thousand knees,
Ten thousand years together, naked, fasting,
Upon a barren mountain, and still winter
In storm perpetual, could not move the gods
To look that way thou wert.

Go on, go on :
Thou canst not speak too much ; I have deserv'd
All tongues to talk their bitterest.
1 Lord.

Say no more;
Howe'er the business goes, you have made fault
l'the boldness of your speech.

I am sorry for 't;
All faults I make, when I shall come to know them,
I do repent: Alas, I have show'd too much
The rashness of a woman : he is touch'd
To the noble heart.—What's gone, and what 's past help,
Should be past grief: Do not receive affliction
At my petition, I beseech you; rather
Let me be punish'd, that have minded

Of what you should forget. Now, good my licge,
Sir, royal sir, forgive a foolish woman:
The love I bore your queen,—lo, fool, again!
I 'll speak of her no more, nor of your children ;
I 'll not remember you of my own lord,
Who is lost too: Take your patience to you,
And I 'll say nothing.

Thou didst speak but well,
When most the truth; which I receive much better
Than to be pitied of thec. Prithee, bring me

To the dead bodies of my queen, and son :
One grave shall be for both; upon them shall
The causes of their death appear, unto
Our shame perpetual: Once a day I 'll visit
The chapel where they lie; and tears, shed there,
Shall be my recreation : So long as Nature
Will bear up with this exercise, so long
I daily vow to use it. Come, and lead me
To these sorrows.



SCENE III.-Bohemia. A desert Country near the Sea.

Enter ANTIGONUS, with the Child; and a Mariner.
Ant. Thou art perfect b then, our ship hath touch'd upon
The deserts of Bohemia ?

Ay, my lord ; and fear
We have landed in ill time: the skies look grimly,
And threaten present blusters. In my conscience,
The heavens with that we have in hand are angry,
And frown upon us.

Ant. Their sacred wills be done !--Go, get aboard;
Look to thy bark; I 'll not be long before
I call

Mar. Make your best haste; and go not
Too far i' the land : 't is like to be loud weather;

a We follow the metrical arrangement of the origival. In all the modern editions the lines are distorted as follows:

“ Shall be my recreation : so long as

Nature will bear up with this exercise,
So long I daily vow to use it. Come,

And lead me to these sorrows." We claim no merit for having first pointed out these abominable corruptions of the text; but we do most earnestly exhort those who reprint Shakspere—and the very act of reprinting is in some sort a tribute to him-not to contine to present him in this mangled shape. If the freedom and variety of his versification were offensive to those who had been trained in the school of Pope, let it be remembered that we have now come back to the proper estimation of a nobler rlıytlım; and that Shakspere, of all the great dramatists, appears to have held the true mean, between a syllabic monotony on the one hand, and a licence ruming into prose on the other.

b Perfect--assured.

Besides, this place is famous for the creatures
Of prey, that keep upon 't.

Go thou away:
I 'll follow instantly.

I am glad at heart
To be so rid o’ the business.

[Exit. Ant.

Come, poor babe :-
I have heard, (but not believ’d,) the spirits of the dead
May walk again: if such thing be, thy mother
Appear’d to me last night; for ne'er was dream
So like a waking. To me comes a crcature,
Sometimes her head on one side, some another ;
I never saw a vessel of like sorrow,
So fill’d, and so becoming: in pure white robes,
Like very sanctity, she did approach
My cabin where I lay : thrice bow'd before me;
And, gasping to begin some speech, her

Became two spouts: the fury spent, anon
Did this break from her: “ Good Antigonus,
Since fate, against thy better disposition,
Hath made thy person for the thrower-out
Of my poor babe, according to thine oath,
Places remote enough are in Bohemia,
There wecp, and leave it crying; and, for the babe
Is counted lost for ever, Perdita,
I prithee, call ’t: for this ungentle business,
Put on thee by my lord, thou ne'er shalt sce
Thy wife Paulina more:”—and so, with shrieks,
She melted into air. Affrighted much,
I did in time collect myself; and thought
This was so, and no slumber. Dreams are toys;
Yet, for this once, yea, superstitiously,
I will be squar'd by this. I do believe
Hermione hath suffer'd death; and that
Apollo would, this being indeed the issue
Of king Polixenes, it should here be laid,
Either for life, or death, upon the earth
Of its right father. Blossom, speed thee well!

[Laying down the Child.

« PreviousContinue »