Page images
PDF
EPUB

For every inch of woman in the world,
Ay, every dram of woman's flesh, is false,
If she be.

Leon. Hold your peaces.
1 Lord.

Good my lord,
Ant. It is for you we speak, not for ourselves :
You are abus'd, and by some putter-on,4
That will be damn'd for't; 'would I knew the villain,
I would land-damn him: Be she honour-flaw'd,-
I have three daughters; the eldest is eleven;
The second, and the third, nine, and some five;
If this prove true, they'll pay for't: by mine honour,
I'll geld them all; fourteen they shall not see,
To bring false generations: they are co-heirs ;
And I had rather glib myself, than they
Should not produce fair issue.
Leon.

Cease ; no more.
You smell this business with a serise as cold
As is a dead man's nose: I see't, and feel't,
As

you feel doing thus; and see withal
The instruments that feel.
Ant.

If it be so,
We need no grave to bury honesty;
There's not a grain of it, the face to sweeten
Of the whole dungy earth.
Leon.

What! lack I credit?
i Lord. I had rather you did lack, than I, my lord,
Upon this ground : and more it would content me
To have her honour true, than your suspicion ;
Be blam'd for’t how you might.
Leon.

Why, what need we

4 Instigator.

Commune with you of this ? but rather follow
Our forceful instigation? Our prerogative
Calls not your counsels ; but our natural goodness
Imparts this : which,-if you (or stupified,
Or seeming so in skill,) cannot, or will not,
Relish as truth, like us; inform yourselves,
We need no more of your advice : the matter,
The loss, the gain, the ordering on't, is all
Properly ours.
Ant.

And I wish, my liege,
You had only in your silent judgment tried it,
Without more overture.
Leon.

How could that be?
Either thou art most ignorant by age,
Or thou wert born a fool. Camillo's flight,
Added to their familiarity,
(Which was as gross as ever touch'd conjecture,
That lack'd sight only, nought for approbation,
But only seeing, all other circumstances
Made up to the deed,) doth push on this proceeding :
Yet, for a greater confirmation,
(For, in an act of this importance, 'twere
Most piteous to be wild,) I have despatch'd in post,
To sacred Delphos, to Apollo's temple,
Cleomenes and. Dion, whom you

know
Of stuff d sufficiency: Now, from the oracle
They will bring all; whose spiritual counsel had,
Shall stop, or spur me. Have I done well ?

1 Lord. Well done, my lord.

Leon. Though I am satisfied, and need no more Than what I know, yet shall the oracle

s Proof.

6 Of abilities more than sufficient.

Give rest to the minds of others ; such as he,
Whose ignorant credulity will not
Come up to the truth: So have we thought it good,
From our free person she should be confin'd;
Lest that the treachery of the two, fled hence,
Be left her to perform. Come, follow us ;
We are to speak in publick: for this business
Will raise us all.

Ant. [Aside.] To laughter, as I take it,
If the good truth were known.

(Exeunt.

SCENE II.

The same.

The outer Room of a Prison.

Enter PAULINA and Attendants.

1

Paul, The keeper of the prison,-call to him;

[Exit an Attendant. Let him have knowledge who I am.-Good lady! No court in Europe is too good for thee, What dost thou then in prison ?--Now, good sir,

Re-enter Attendant, with the Keeper. You know me, do you

not? Keep.

For a worthy lady,
And one whom much I honour,
Paul.

Pray you, then,
Conduct me to the queen.

Keep. I may not, madam; to the contrary
I have express commandment.
Paul.

Here's ado,
To lock up honesty and honour from

The access of gentle visitors ! Is it lawful,
Pray you, to see her women? any of them?
Emilia?

Keep. So please you, madam, to put
Apart these your attendants, I shall bring
Emilia forth.
Paul.

I pray now, call her.
Withdraw yourselves.

[Exeunt Attend. Keep. .

And, madam, I must be present at your conference.

Paul. Well, be it so, pr'ythee. [Exit Keeper. Here's such ado to make no stain a stain, As passes colouring.

Re-enter Keeper, with EMILIA.
Dear gentlewoman, how fares our gracious lady?

Emil. As well as one so great, and so forlorn,
May hold together: On her frights, and griefs,
(Which never tender lady hath borne greater,)
She is, something before her time, deliver'd.

Paul. A boy?
Emil.

A daughter; and a goodly babe,
. Lusty, and like to live : the queen receives
Much comfort in't: says, My poor prisoner,
I am innocent as you.
Paul.

I dare be sworn :-
These dangerous unsafe lunes? o' the king! beshrew

them!
He must be told on't, and he shall: the office
Becomes a woman best; I'll take't upon me:
If I prove honey-mouth'd, let my tongue blister;

[blocks in formation]

And never to my red-look'd

anger

be
The trumpet any more :-Pray you, Emilia,
Commend

my
best obedience to the

queen ;
If she dares trust me with her little babe,
I'll show't the king, and undertake to be
Her advocate to th' loudest: We do not know
How he may soften at the sight o' the child;
The silence often of pure innocence
Persuades, when speaking fails.
Emil.

Most worthy madam,
Your honour, and your goodness, is so evident,
That

your free undertaking cannot miss A thriving issue; there is no lady living, So meet for this great errand : Please your ladyship To visit the next room, I'll presently Acquaint the queen of your most noble offer ; Who, but to-day, hammer'd of this design; But durst not tempt a minister of honour, Lest she should be denied. Paul.

Tell her, Emilia, I'll use that tongue I have: if wit flow from it, As boldness from my bosom, let it not be doubted I shall do good. Emil.

Now be you blest for it!
I'll to the queen: Please you, come something nearer.
Keep. Madam, if't please the queen to send the

babe,
I know not what I shall incur, to pass it,
Having no warrant.
Paul.

You need not fear it, sir:
The child was prisoner to the womb; and is,
By law and process of great nature, thence

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »