Officer. Hermione is chast, Polixenes blamelesse, Camillo a true Subiect, Leontes a iealous Tyrant, his innocent Babe truly begotten, and the King shall liue without an Heire, if that which is lost, be not found

Lords. Now blessed be the great Apollo

Her. Praysed

Leo. Hast thou read truth? Offic. I (my Lord) euen so as it is here set downe

Leo. There is no truth at all i'th' Oracle: The Sessions shall proceed: this is meere falsehood

Ser. My Lord the King: the King? Leo. What is the businesse? Ser. O Sir, I shall be hated to report it. The Prince your Sonne, with meere conceit, and feare Of the Queenes speed, is gone

Leo. How? gone? Ser. Is dead

Leo. Apollo's angry, and the Heauens themselues Doe strike at my Iniustice. How now there? Paul. This newes is mortall to the Queene: Look downe And see what Death is doing

Leo. Take her hence: Her heart is but o're-charg'd: she will recouer. I haue too much beleeu'd mine owne suspition: 'Beseech you tenderly apply to her Some remedies for life. Apollo pardon My great prophanenesse 'gainst thine Oracle. Ile reconcile me to Polixenes, New woe my Queene, recall the good Camillo (Whom I proclaime a man of Truth, of Mercy:) For being transported by my Iealousies To bloody thoughts, and to reuenge, I chose Camillo for the minister, to poyson 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 Honor) to my Kingly Guest Vnclasp'd my practise, quit his fortunes here (Which you knew great) and to the hazard Of all Incertainties, himselfe commended, No richer then his Honor: How he glisters Through my Rust? and how his Pietie Do's my deeds make the blacker? Paul. Woe the while: O cut my Lace, least my heart (cracking it) Breake too

Lord. What fit is this? good Lady? Paul. What studied torments (Tyrant) hast for me? What Wheeles? Racks? Fires? What flaying? boyling? In Leads, or Oyles? What old, or newer Torture Must I receiue? whose euery word deserues To taste of thy most worst. Thy Tyranny (Together working with thy Iealousies, Fancies too weake for Boyes, too greene and idle For Girles of Nine) O thinke what they haue done, And then run mad indeed: starke-mad: for all Thy by-gone fooleries were but spices of it. That thou betrayed'st Polixenes, 'twas nothing, (That did but shew thee, of a Foole, inconstant, And damnable ingratefull:) Nor was't much. Thou would'st haue poyson'd good Camillo's Honor, To haue him kill a King: poore Trespasses, More monstrous standing by: whereof I reckon The casting forth to Crowes, thy Baby-daughter, To be or none, or little; though a Deuill Would haue shed water out of fire, ere don't; Nor is't directly layd to thee, the death Of the young Prince, whose honorable thoughts (Thoughts high for one so tender) cleft the heart That could conceiue a grosse and foolish Sire Blemish'd his gracious Dam: this is not, no, Layd to thy answere: but the last: O Lords, When I haue said, cry woe: the Queene, the Queene, The sweet'st, deer'st creature's dead: & vengeance for't Not drop'd downe yet

Lord. The higher powres forbid

Pau. I say she's dead: Ile swear't. If word, nor oath Preuaile not, go and see: if you can bring Tincture, or lustre in her lip, her eye Heate outwardly, or breath within, Ile serue you As I would do the Gods. But, O thou Tyrant, Do not repent these things, for they are heauier Then all thy woes can stirre: therefore betake thee To nothing but dispaire. A thousand knees, Ten thousand yeares together, naked, fasting, Vpon a barren Mountaine, and still Winter In storme perpetuall, could not moue the Gods To looke that way thou wer't

William Shakespeare
Classic Literature Library

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