Leon. Read the indictment.

Offi. 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 pretence 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 night.

Her. 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, 7 Being counted falsehood, shall, as I express it, Be so receivid. 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. 8 - You, my lord, best know, (Who least' will seem to do so) my past life




pretence -] Is, in this place, taken for a scheme laid, a design formed; to pretend means to design, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Johnson.

mine integrity, &c.] That is, my virtue being accounted wickedness, my assertion of it will pass but for a lie. Falsehood means both treachery and lie. Johnson. It is frequently used in the former sense in Othello, Act V:

“ He says, thou told'st him that his wife was false." Again :

Thou art rash as fire,
“ To say that she was false.Malone.

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.) Our author has here closely followed the novel of Dorastus and Faunia, 1588: “If the divine powers be privie to human actions, (as no doubt they are) I hope my patience shall make fortune blush, and my unspotted life shall stayne spiteful discredit." Malone.

9 Who least - ] Old copy-Whom least. Corrected by Mr. Rowe. Malone.

Hath been as continent, as chaste, as true,
As I am now unhappy; which is more
Than history can pattern, though devis’d,
And play'd, 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 honour, 'fore
Who please to come and hear. For life, I prize it?
As I weigh grief, which I would spare:3 for honour,
'Tis a derivative from me to mine,
And only that I stand for. I appeal
To your own conscience,5 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 strain'd, to appear thus:6 if one jot beyond




· which -] That is, which unhappiness. Malone.

For life, I prize it –] Life is to me now only grief, and as such only is considered by me; I would therefore willingly dismiss it. Fohnson.

I would spare;] To spare any thing is to let it go, to quit the possession of it. Johnson.

*'Tis a derivative from me to mine,] This sentiment, which is probably borrowed from Ecclesiasticus, iii, 11, cannot be too often impressed on the female mind: “The glory of a man from the honour of his father; and a mother in dishonour, is a reproach unto her children. Steevens.

I appeal To your own conscience, &c.] So, in Dorastus and Faunia, “ How have led my life before Égisthus' coming, I appeal, Pandosto, to the Gods, and to thy conscience.Malone.

since he came,
With what encounter so uncurrent I

Have strain'd, to appear thus:] These lines I do not understand; with the licence of all editors, what I cannot understand I suppose unintelligible, and therefore propose that they may be altered thus:

Since he came,
With what encounter so uncurrent have I

Been stain'd to appear thus?
At least I think it might be read:

With what encounter so uncurrent have I
Strain'd to appear thus? If one jot beyond Fohnson.


The bound of honour; or, in act, or will,


The sense seems to be this:-what sudden slip have I made, that I should catch a wrench in my character. So, in Timon of Athens :

a noble nature May catch a wrench." An uncurrent encounter seems to mean an irregular, unjustifiable congress. Perhaps it may be a metaphor from tilting, in which the shock of meeting adversaries was so called. Thus, in Drayton's Legend of T. Cromwell E. of Essex :

“Yet these encounters thrust me not awry.” The sense would then be:- In what base reciprocation of love have I caught this strain ? Uncurrent is what will not pass, and is, at present, only applied to money.

Mrs. Ford talks of --some strain in her character, and in Beau. mont and Fletcher's Custom of the Country, the same expression

strain your loves “With any base, or hird persuasions.". To strain, I believe, means to go awry. So, in the 6th Song of Drayton's Polyolbion :

“ As wantonly sbe strains in her lascivious course.” Drayton is speaking of the irregular course of the river Wye.

Steevens. The bounds of honour, which are mentioned immediately after, justify Mr. Steevens in supposing the imagery to have been taken from tilting. Henley.

Johnson thinks it necessary for the sense, to transpose these words and read : “ With what encounter so uncurrent have I strained to appear thus ? But he could not have proposed that alteration, had he considered, with attention, the construction of the passage, which runs thus: “I appeal to your own conscience, with what encounter,” &c. That is, “ I appeal to your own conscience to declare with what encounter so uncurrent I have strained to appear thus." He was probably misled by the point of interrogation at the end of the sentence, which ought not to have been there. M. Mason.

The precise meaning of the word encounter in this passage may be gathered from our author's use of it elsewhere:

“ Who hath
“ Confess'd the vile encounters they have had

“ A thousand times in secret.” Much Ado about Nothing. Hero and Borachio are the persons spoken of. Again, in Mea. sure for Measure: “We shall advise this wronged maid to stead up your appointment, go in your place: if the encounter acknowledge itself hereafter, it may compel him to her recompense." Again, in Cymbeline:

- found no opposition
“But what he look'd for should oppose, and she
“Should from encounter guard."

That way inclining; harden'd be the hearts
Of all that hear me, and my near'st of kin
Cry, Fy upon my grave!

I ne'er heard yet,

of these bolder vices wanted
Less impudence to gainsay what they did,
Than to perform it first.?

That's true enough;
Though 'tis a saying, sir, not due to me.

Leon. You will not own it.

More than mistress of,
Which comes to me in name 'of fault, I must not
At ull acknowledge. For Polixenes,
(With whom I am accus'd) I do confess,
I lov'd him, as in honour he requir'd ; 8

As, to pass or utter money that is not current, is contrary to law, I believe our author in the present passage, with his accus. tomed license, uses the word uncurrent as synonymous to unlawful.

I have strain'd, may perhaps mean I have swerved or deflected from the strict line of duty. So, in Romeo and Juliet:

“Nor aught so good, but strain'd from that fair use,

“Revolts.” Again, in our author's 140th Sonnet:

“ Bear thine eyes straight, though thy proud heart go wide." A bed-swerver has already occurred in this play.

To appear thus," is, to appear in such an assembly as this; to be put on my trial. Malone. 7 I ne'er heard yet,

That any of these bolder vices wanted
Less impudence to gainsay what they did,

Than to perform it first.) It is apparent that according to the proper, at least according to the present, use of words, less should be more, or wanted should be had. But Shakspeare is very uncertain in his use of negatives. It may be necessary once to observe, that in our language, two negatives did not originally affirm, but strengthen the negation. This mode of speech was in time changed, but, as the change was made in opposition to long custom, it proceeded gradually, and uniformity was not obtained but through an intermediate confusion. Fohnson.

Examples of the same phraseology (as Mr. Malone observes) occur in this play, p. 183; in Antony and Cleopatra, Act IV, sc. xii, and in King Lear, Act II, sc. iv; and (as Mr. Ritson adds) in Macbeth, Act III, sc. vi. Steevens.

For Polixenes,
(With whom I am accus®d) I do confess

I lov'd him, as in honour he requir'd; &c.] So, in Dorastus and Faunia: “What hath passed between him and me, the Gods


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 spoke,
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 dish'd
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.

Leon. You knew of his departure, as you know
What you have underta'en to do in his absence.

Her. Sir,
You speak a language that I understand not:
My life stands in the level of your dreams,
Which I 'll lay down.

Your actions are my dreams;
You had a bastard by Polixenes,
And I but dream'd it:-As you were past all shame,
(Those of your fact are so) so past all truth:1


only know, and I hope will presently reveale. That I lood Egisthus, I cannot denie; that I honour'd bim, I shame not to confess. But as touching lascivious lust, I say Egisthus is honest, and hope myself to be found without spot. For Franion, (Camillo) I can neither accuse him nor excuse him. I was not privie to his departure. And that this is true which I have here rehearsed, I refer myselfe to the divine oracle.” Malone.

My life stands in the level of your dreams,] To be in the level is, by a metaphor from archery, to be within the reach. Johnson.

This metaphor, (as both Mr. Douce and Mr. Ritson have al. ready observed) is from gunnery. See p. 210, n. 5. So, in King Henry VIII:

I stood i th' level
“Of a full charg'd confederacy.” Steedens.

As you were past all shame, (Those of your fact are so) so past all truth:) I do not remember that fact is used any where absolutely for guilt, which must be its sense in this place. Perhaps we should read:

Those of your pack are 80. Pack is a low coarse word well suited to the rest of this royal invective. Fohnson.


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