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Dion. The violent carriage of it
horses:And gracious be the issue !
A Court of Justice. LEONTES, Lords, and Officers, appear properly seated.
Leon. This sessions (to our great grief, we pronounce) Even pushes 'gainst our heart:4 The party tried, The daughter of a king; our wife; and one Of us too much belov’d. Let us be clear'd Of being tyrannous, since we so openly Proceed in justice; which shall have due course, Even to the guilt, or the purgation.5. Produce the prisoner.
Ofi. It is his highness' pleasure, that the queen Appear in person here in court.-Silence! HERMIONE is brought in, guarded; PAULINA and Ladies,
If the event prove fortunate to the Queen, the time which we have spent in our journey is worth the trouble it hath cost us. In other words, the happy issue of our journey will compensate for the time expended in it, and the fatigue we have undergone. We meet with nearly the same expression in Florio's translation of Montaigne's Essaies, 1603: “ The common saying is, the time we live, is worth the money we pay for it.” Malone.
pushes 'gainst our heart :) So, in Macbeth:
every minute of his being thrusts Against my near’st of life.” Steevens. 5 Even to the guilt, or the purgation.] Mr. Roderick observes, that the word even is not to be understood here as an adverb, but as an adjective, signifying equal or indifferent. Steevens.
The epithet even-handed, as applied in Macbeth to Justice, seems to unite both senses. Henley.
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, Being counted falsehood, shall, as I express it, Be so receiv'd. 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. Fohnson.
- 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,
If powers divine
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,
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.
4 'Tis a derivative from me to mine,] This sentiment, which is probably borrowed from Ecclesiasticus, iii, 11, cannot be too oftenimpressed on the female mind: “The glory of a man is 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 I have led my life before Egisthus' coming, I appeal, Pan. dosto, to the Gods, and to thy conscience:" Malone.
since he came,
Have strain'd, to appear thus :] These lines I do not'under. stand; 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,
Been stain'd to appear thus ?
With what encounter so uncurrent have I
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 Beaumont and Fletcher's Custom of the Country, the same expression
strain your loves “ With any base, or bird persuasions.". To strain, I believe, means to go awry. So, in the 6th Song of Drayton's Polyolbion :
“ As wantonly she 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-
" A thousand times in secret.” Much Ado about Nothing. Hero and Borachio are the persons spoken of. Again, in Measure for Measure: “We shall advise this wronged maid to stead
p 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
That way inclining; harden'd be the hearts.
I ne'er heard yet,
That 's-true enough;
Leon. You will not own it.
More than mistress of,
As, to pass or utter money that is not current, is contrary to law, I believe our author in the present passage, with his accustömed 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 dices wanted
Than to perform it first.] It is apparent that according to the proper, at least according to the present, use of words, les& 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.
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