Page images
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

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.

Praised!
Leon. Hast thou read truth?
Offi.

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 falsehood.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

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,9 is gone.
Leon.

How ! gone?
Serv.

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

How now there?

[ocr errors]

9 Of the event of the Queen's trial.

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

down,
And see what death is doing.
Leon.

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

9 Committed,

Re-enter PAULINA.

Paul.

Woe the while ! O, 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!-O, 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, 'twas nothing; That did but show thee, of a fool, inconstant, And damnable ungrateful : nor was't much, Thou would'st 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 don'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,

1 i.e. A devil would have shed tears of pity, ere he would have perpetrated such an action.

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 ven

geance 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.
Leon.

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

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

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

[ocr errors]

At my petition, I beseech you; rather
Let me be punish'd, that have minded you
Of what you should forget. Now, good my liege,
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.
Leon.

Thou didst speak but well,
When most the truth; which I receive much better
Than to be pitied of thee. Pr’ythee, 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.

[Ereunt.

SCENE III.

Bohemia. A desert Country near the Sea.

Enter ANTIGONUS, with the Child; and a Mariner. Ant. Thou art perfecta then, our ship hath touch'd

upon The deserts of Bohemia? Mar.

Ay, my lord; and fear

2 Well.assured.

« PreviousContinue »