Act 3 - Scene 2
A court of Justice.
Enter LEONTES, Lords, and Officers
This sessions, to our great grief we pronounce,
Even pushes 'gainst our heart: the party tried
of a king, our wife, and one
Of us too much beloved. Let us be clear'd
Of being tyrannous, since we so
Proceed in justice, which shall have due course,
Even to the guilt or the purgation.
It is his highness' pleasure that the queen
Appear in person here in court. Silence!
Enter HERMIONE guarded; PAULINA and Ladies attending
Read the indictment.
[Reads] Hermione, queen to the worthy
Leontes, king of Sicilia, thou art here accused and
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.
Since what I am to say must be but that
Which contradicts my accusation and
The testimony on my part
But what comes from myself, it shall scarce boot me
To say 'not guilty:' mine integrity
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
patience. You, my lord, best know,
Who 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
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
Who please to come and hear. For life, I prize it
As I weigh grief, which I would spare: for honour,
a derivative from me to mine,
And only that I stand for. I appeal
To your own conscience, sir, before Polixenes
to your court, how I was in your grace,
How merited to be so; since he came,
With what encounter so
Have strain'd to appear thus: if one jot beyond
The bound of honour, or in act or will
inclining, harden'd be the hearts
Of all that hear me, and my near'st of kin
Cry fie upon my grave!
I ne'er heard yet
That any of these bolder vices wanted
Less impudence to gainsay what they did
perform it first.
That's true enough;
Through 'tis a saying, sir, not due to me.
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