[Enter Leontes, Lords, and Officers.]
This sessions, to our great grief we pronounce,
Even pushes ’gainst our heart: the party tried
The daughter of a king, our wife, and one
Of us too much beloved. Let us be cleared
 Of being tyrannous, since we so openly
Proceed in justice, which shall have due course
Even to the guilt or the purgation.
Produce the prisoner.
It is his Highness’ pleasure that the Queen
 Appear in person here in court.
[Enter Hermione, as to her trial, Paulina, and Ladies.]
LEONTES Read the indictment.
OFFICER [reads] Hermione, queen to the worthy Leontes,
King of Sicilia, thou art here accused and arraigned
 of high treason, in committing adultery with Polixenes,
King of Bohemia, and conspiring with Camillo
to take away the life of our sovereign lord the King, thy
royal husband; the pretense whereof being by circumstances
partly laid open, thou, Hermione, contrary to
 the faith and allegiance of a true subject, didst counsel
and aid them, for their better safety, to fly away by
Since what I am to say must be but that
Which contradicts my accusation, and
 The testimony on my part no other
But what comes from myself, it shall scarce boot me
To say “Not guilty.” Mine integrity,
Being counted falsehood, shall, as I express it,
Be so received. But thus: if powers divine
 Behold our human actions, as they do,
I doubt not then but innocence shall make
False accusation blush and tyranny
Tremble at patience. You, my lord, best know,
Whom least will seem to do so, my past life
 Hath been as continent, as chaste, as true,
As I am now unhappy; which is more
Than history can pattern, though devised
And played to take spectators. For behold me,
A fellow of the royal bed, which owe
 A moiety of the throne, a great king’s daughter,
The mother to a hopeful prince, here standing
To prate and talk for life and honor fore
Who please to come and hear. For life, I prize it
As I weigh grief, which I would spare. For honor,
 ’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 strained t’ appear thus; if one jot beyond
The bound of honor, or in act or will
That way inclining, hardened be the hearts
Of all that hear me, and my near’st of kin
 Cry fie upon my grave.
LEONTES ="line-3.2.56" title="3.2.56">I ne’er heard yet
That any of these bolder vices wanted
Less impudence to gainsay what they did
Than to perform it first.
HERMIONE That’s true enough,
Though ’tis a saying, sir, not due to me.
You will not own it.
HERMIONE More than mistress of
Which comes to me in name of fault, I must not
 At all acknowledge. For Polixenes,
With whom I am accused, I do confess
I loved him as in honor he required,
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,
Which not to have done, I think, had been in me
Both disobedience and ingratitude
To you and toward your friend, whose love had
 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 dished
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.
You knew of his departure, as you know
What you have underta’en to do in ’s absence.
 You speak a language that I understand not.
My life stands in the level of your dreams,
Which I’ll lay down.
LEONTES Your actions are my dreams.
You had a bastard by Polixenes,
 And I but dreamed 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
Thy brat hath been cast out, like to itself,
No father owning it—which is indeed
 More criminal in thee than it—so thou
Shalt feel our justice, in whose easiest passage
Look for no less than death.
HERMIONE 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 favor,
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 barred like one infectious. My third comfort,
Starred most unluckily, is from my breast,
The innocent milk in it most innocent mouth,
Haled out to murder; myself on every post
Proclaimed a strumpet; with immodest hatred
 The childbed privilege denied, which longs
To women of all fashion; lastly, hurried
Here to this place, i’ th’ 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 honor,
Which I would free), if I shall be condemned
Upon surmises, all proofs sleeping else
 But what your jealousies awake, I tell you
’Tis rigor, and not law. Your Honors all,
I do refer me to the oracle.
Apollo be my judge.
LORD This your request
 Is altogether just. Therefore bring forth,
And in Apollo’s name, his oracle. [Officers exit.]
The Emperor of Russia was my father.
O, that he were alive and here beholding
His daughter’s trial, that he did but see
 The flatness of my misery, yet with eyes
Of pity, not revenge.
[Enter Cleomenes, Dion, with Officers.]
OFFICER , [presenting a sword]
You here shall swear upon this sword of justice
That you, Cleomenes and Dion, have
Been both at Delphos, and from thence have
This sealed-up oracle, by the hand delivered
Of great Apollo’s priest, and that since then
You have not dared to break the holy seal
Nor read the secrets in ’t.
CLEOMENES, DION All this we swear.
LEONTES Break up the seals and read.
OFFICER [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
Now blessèd be the great Apollo!
LEONTES Hast thou read truth?
Ay, my lord, even so as it is here set down.
There is no truth at all i’ th’ oracle.
The sessions shall proceed. This is mere falsehood.
[Enter a Servant.]
My lord the King, the King!
LEONTES What is the business?
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.
LEONTES How? Gone?
SERVANT Is dead.
Apollo’s angry, and the heavens themselves
Do strike at my injustice.
How now there?
This news is mortal to the Queen. Look down
And see what death is doing.
LEONTES Take her hence.
Her heart is but o’ercharged. She will recover.
I have too much believed mine own suspicion.
Beseech you, tenderly apply to her
Some remedies for life.
[Paulina exits with Officers carrying Hermione.]
 Apollo, pardon
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 filled with honor, to my kingly guest
Unclasped my practice, quit his fortunes here,
 Which you knew great, and to the hazard
Of all incertainties himself commended,
No richer than his honor. How he glisters
Through my rust, and how his piety
Does my deeds make the blacker!
PAULINA Woe the while!
O, cut my lace, lest my heart, cracking it,
LORD What fit is this, good lady?
PAULINA , [to Leontes]
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 bygone fooleries were but spices of it.
That thou betrayedst Polixenes, ’twas nothing;
 That did but show thee of a fool, inconstant
And damnable ingrateful. Nor was ’t much
Thou wouldst have poisoned good Camillo’s honor,
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 honorable thoughts,
 Thoughts high for one so tender, cleft the heart
That could conceive a gross and foolish sire