The Winter’s Tale

The Winter’s Tale is one of Shakespeare’s last plays and distinguished as one of the most sharply divided ‘problem plays’, or tragicomedies, split between scenes of psychological tension and pastoral clowning, and concluding with an apparently happy ending. This division separates it from traditional ideas of dramatic unity and the 16-year gap between the third and fourth acts can make it seem stranger still. The play centres around two courts run by childhood friends, Leontes’ Sicilia and Polixenes’ Bohemia; the abandoning of Leontes’ daughter Perdita on the coast of Bohemia has been used as evidence of Shakespeare’s lack of education, as ‘Bohemia’ is roughly equivalent to the land-locked modern-day Czech Republic.

The Winter’s Tale deals with themes of sexual jealousy, patrilinearity and growth, joining pastoral fertility comedy with tragic culpability and deaths. It culminates with the most puzzling ending in Shakespeare, when Hermione – whether through magic or trickery, it is unclear – emerges from a statue, reborn. Study of The Winter’s Tale together with The Tempest is useful in looking at the fascination with artificiality and magic which enchants Shakespeare’s late work.

Contributed by Colette Sensier

The Winter’s Tale

ACT I

SCENE I. Antechamber in LEONTES’ palace.

Enter CAMILLO and ARCHIDAMUS

ARCHIDAMUS

If you shall chance, Camillo, to visit Bohemia, on
the like occasion whereon my services are now on
foot, you shall see, as I have said, great
difference betwixt our Bohemia and your Sicilia.

CAMILLO

I think, this coming summer, the King of Sicilia
means to pay Bohemia the visitation which he justly owes him.

ARCHIDAMUS

Wherein our entertainment shall shame us we will be
justified in our loves; for indeed–

CAMILLO

Beseech you,–

ARCHIDAMUS

Verily, I speak it in the freedom of my knowledge:
we cannot with such magnificence–in so rare–I know
not what to say. We will give you sleepy drinks,
that your senses, unintelligent of our insufficience,
may, though they cannot praise us, as little accuse
us.

CAMILLO

You pay a great deal too dear for what’s given freely.

ARCHIDAMUS

Believe me, I speak as my understanding instructs me
and as mine honesty puts it to utterance.

CAMILLO

Sicilia cannot show himself over-kind to Bohemia.
They were trained together in their childhoods; and
there rooted betwixt them then such an affection,
which cannot choose but branch now. Since their
more mature dignities and royal necessities made
separation of their society, their encounters,
though not personal, have been royally attorneyed
with interchange of gifts, letters, loving
embassies; that they have seemed to be together,
though absent, shook hands, as over a vast, and
embraced, as it were, from the ends of opposed
winds. The heavens continue their loves!

ARCHIDAMUS

I think there is not in the world either malice or
matter to alter it. You have an unspeakable
comfort of your young prince Mamillius: it is a
gentleman of the greatest promise that ever came
into my note.

CAMILLO

I very well agree with you in the hopes of him: it
is a gallant child; one that indeed physics the
subject, makes old hearts fresh: they that went on
crutches ere he was born desire yet their life to
see him a man.

ARCHIDAMUS

Would they else be content to die?

CAMILLO

Yes; if there were no other excuse why they should
desire to live.

ARCHIDAMUS

If the king had no son, they would desire to live
on crutches till he had one.

Exeunt

SCENE II. A room of state in the same.

Enter LEONTES, HERMIONE, MAMILLIUS, POLIXENES, CAMILLO, and Attendants

POLIXENES

Nine changes of the watery star hath been
The shepherd’s note since we have left our throne
Without a burthen: time as long again
Would be find up, my brother, with our thanks;
And yet we should, for perpetuity,
Go hence in debt: and therefore, like a cipher,
Yet standing in rich place, I multiply
With one ‘We thank you’ many thousands moe
That go before it.

LEONTES

Stay your thanks a while;
And pay them when you part.

POLIXENES

Sir, that’s to-morrow.
I am question’d by my fears, of what may chance
Or breed upon our absence; that may blow
No sneaping winds at home, to make us say
‘This is put forth too truly:’ besides, I have stay’d
To tire your royalty.

LEONTES

We are tougher, brother,
Than you can put us to’t.

POLIXENES

No longer stay.

LEONTES

One seven-night longer.

POLIXENES

Very sooth, to-morrow.

LEONTES

We’ll part the time between’s then; and in that
I’ll no gainsaying.

POLIXENES

Press me not, beseech you, so.
There is no tongue that moves, none, none i’ the world,
So soon as yours could win me: so it should now,
Were there necessity in your request, although
‘Twere needful I denied it. My affairs
Do even drag me homeward: which to hinder
Were in your love a whip to me; my stay
To you a charge and trouble: to save both,
Farewell, our brother.

LEONTES

Tongue-tied, our queen?
speak you.

HERMIONE

I had thought, sir, to have held my peace until
You have drawn oaths from him not to stay. You, sir,
Charge him too coldly. Tell him, you are sure
All in Bohemia’s well; this satisfaction
The by-gone day proclaim’d: say this to him,
He’s beat from his best ward.

LEONTES

Well said, Hermione.

HERMIONE

To tell, he longs to see his son, were strong:
But let him say so then, and let him go;
But let him swear so, and he shall not stay,
We’ll thwack him hence with distaffs.
Yet of your royal presence I’ll adventure
The borrow of a week. When at Bohemia
You take my lord, I’ll give him my commission
To let him there a month behind the gest
Prefix’d for’s parting: yet, good deed, Leontes,
I love thee not a jar o’ the clock behind
What lady-she her lord. You’ll stay?

POLIXENES

No, madam.

HERMIONE

Nay, but you will?

POLIXENES

I may not, verily.

HERMIONE

Verily!
You put me off with limber vows; but I,
Though you would seek to unsphere the
stars with oaths,
Should yet say ‘Sir, no going.’ Verily,
You shall not go: a lady’s ‘Verily’ ‘s
As potent as a lord’s. Will you go yet?
Force me to keep you as a prisoner,
Not like a guest; so you shall pay your fees
When you depart, and save your thanks. How say you?
My prisoner? or my guest? by your dread ‘Verily,’
One of them you shall be.

POLIXENES

Your guest, then, madam:
To be your prisoner should import offending;
Which is for me less easy to commit
Than you to punish.

HERMIONE

Not your gaoler, then,
But your kind hostess. Come, I’ll question you
Of my lord’s tricks and yours when you were boys:
You were pretty lordings then?

POLIXENES

We were, fair queen,
Two lads that thought there was no more behind
But such a day to-morrow as to-day,
And to be boy eternal.

HERMIONE

Was not my lord
The verier wag o’ the two?

POLIXENES

We were as twinn’d lambs that did frisk i’ the sun,
And bleat the one at the other: what we changed
Was innocence for innocence; we knew not
The doctrine of ill-doing, nor dream’d
That any did. Had we pursued that life,
And our weak spirits ne’er been higher rear’d
With stronger blood, we should have answer’d heaven
Boldly ‘not guilty;’ the imposition clear’d
Hereditary ours.

HERMIONE

By this we gather
You have tripp’d since.

POLIXENES

O my most sacred lady!
Temptations have since then been born to’s; for
In those unfledged days was my wife a girl;
Your precious self had then not cross’d the eyes
Of my young play-fellow.

HERMIONE

Grace to boot!
Of this make no conclusion, lest you say
Your queen and I are devils: yet go on;
The offences we have made you do we’ll answer,
If you first sinn’d with us and that with us
You did continue fault and that you slipp’d not
With any but with us.

LEONTES

Is he won yet?

HERMIONE

He’ll stay my lord.

LEONTES

At my request he would not.
Hermione, my dearest, thou never spokest
To better purpose.

HERMIONE

Never?

LEONTES

Never, but once.

HERMIONE

What! have I twice said well? when was’t before?
I prithee tell me; cram’s with praise, and make’s
As fat as tame things: one good deed dying tongueless
Slaughters a thousand waiting upon that.
Our praises are our wages: you may ride’s
With one soft kiss a thousand furlongs ere
With spur we beat an acre. But to the goal:
My last good deed was to entreat his stay:
What was my first? it has an elder sister,
Or I mistake you: O, would her name were Grace!
But once before I spoke to the purpose: when?
Nay, let me have’t; I long.

LEONTES

Why, that was when
Three crabbed months had sour’d themselves to death,
Ere I could make thee open thy white hand
And clap thyself my love: then didst thou utter
‘I am yours for ever.’

HERMIONE

‘Tis grace indeed.
Why, lo you now, I have spoke to the purpose twice:
The one for ever earn’d a royal husband;
The other for some while a friend.

LEONTES

[Aside] Too hot, too hot!
To mingle friendship far is mingling bloods.
I have tremor cordis on me: my heart dances;
But not for joy; not joy. This entertainment
May a free face put on, derive a liberty
From heartiness, from bounty, fertile bosom,
And well become the agent; ‘t may, I grant;
But to be paddling palms and pinching fingers,
As now they are, and making practised smiles,
As in a looking-glass, and then to sigh, as ’twere
The mort o’ the deer; O, that is entertainment
My bosom likes not, nor my brows! Mamillius,
Art thou my boy?

MAMILLIUS

Ay, my good lord.

LEONTES

I’ fecks!
Why, that’s my bawcock. What, hast
smutch’d thy nose?
They say it is a copy out of mine. Come, captain,
We must be neat; not neat, but cleanly, captain:
And yet the steer, the heifer and the calf
Are all call’d neat.–Still virginalling
Upon his palm!–How now, you wanton calf!
Art thou my calf?

MAMILLIUS

Yes, if you will, my lord.

LEONTES

Thou want’st a rough pash and the shoots that I have,
To be full like me: yet they say we are
Almost as like as eggs; women say so,
That will say anything but were they false
As o’er-dyed blacks, as wind, as waters, false
As dice are to be wish’d by one that fixes
No bourn ‘twixt his and mine, yet were it true
To say this boy were like me. Come, sir page,
Look on me with your welkin eye: sweet villain!
Most dear’st! my collop! Can thy dam?–may’t be?–
Affection! thy intention stabs the centre:
Thou dost make possible things not so held,
Communicatest with dreams;–how can this be?–
With what’s unreal thou coactive art,
And fellow’st nothing: then ’tis very credent
Thou mayst co-join with something; and thou dost,
And that beyond commission, and I find it,
And that to the infection of my brains
And hardening of my brows.

POLIXENES

What means Sicilia?

HERMIONE

He something seems unsettled.

POLIXENES

How, my lord!
What cheer? how is’t with you, best brother?

HERMIONE

You look as if you held a brow of much distraction
Are you moved, my lord?

LEONTES

No, in good earnest.
How sometimes nature will betray its folly,
Its tenderness, and make itself a pastime
To harder bosoms! Looking on the lines
Of my boy’s face, methoughts I did recoil
Twenty-three years, and saw myself unbreech’d,
In my green velvet coat, my dagger muzzled,
Lest it should bite its master, and so prove,
As ornaments oft do, too dangerous:
How like, methought, I then was to this kernel,
This squash, this gentleman. Mine honest friend,
Will you take eggs for money?

MAMILLIUS

No, my lord, I’ll fight.

LEONTES

You will! why, happy man be’s dole! My brother,
Are you so fond of your young prince as we
Do seem to be of ours?

POLIXENES

If at home, sir,
He’s all my exercise, my mirth, my matter,
Now my sworn friend and then mine enemy,
My parasite, my soldier, statesman, all:
He makes a July’s day short as December,
And with his varying childness cures in me
Thoughts that would thick my blood.

LEONTES

So stands this squire
Officed with me: we two will walk, my lord,
And leave you to your graver steps. Hermione,
How thou lovest us, show in our brother’s welcome;
Let what is dear in Sicily be cheap:
Next to thyself and my young rover, he’s
Apparent to my heart.

HERMIONE

If you would seek us,
We are yours i’ the garden: shall’s attend you there?

LEONTES

To your own bents dispose you: you’ll be found,
Be you beneath the sky.
I am angling now,
Though you perceive me not how I give line.
Go to, go to!
How she holds up the neb, the bill to him!
And arms her with the boldness of a wife
To her allowing husband!
Gone already!
Inch-thick, knee-deep, o’er head and
ears a fork’d one!
Go, play, boy, play: thy mother plays, and I
Play too, but so disgraced a part, whose issue
Will hiss me to my grave: contempt and clamour
Will be my knell. Go, play, boy, play.
There have been,
Or I am much deceived, cuckolds ere now;
And many a man there is, even at this present,
Now while I speak this, holds his wife by the arm,
That little thinks she has been sluiced in’s absence
And his pond fish’d by his next neighbour, by
Sir Smile, his neighbour: nay, there’s comfort in’t
Whiles other men have gates and those gates open’d,
As mine, against their will. Should all despair
That have revolted wives, the tenth of mankind
Would hang themselves. Physic for’t there is none;
It is a bawdy planet, that will strike
Where ’tis predominant; and ’tis powerful, think it,
From east, west, north and south: be it concluded,
No barricado for a belly; know’t;
It will let in and out the enemy
With bag and baggage: many thousand on’s
Have the disease, and feel’t not. How now, boy!

MAMILLIUS

I am like you, they say.

LEONTES

Why that’s some comfort. What, Camillo there?

CAMILLO

Ay, my good lord.

LEONTES

Go play, Mamillius; thou’rt an honest man.
Camillo, this great sir will yet stay longer.

CAMILLO

You had much ado to make his anchor hold:
When you cast out, it still came home.

LEONTES

Didst note it?

CAMILLO

He would not stay at your petitions: made
His business more material.

LEONTES

Didst perceive it?
They’re here with me already, whispering, rounding
‘Sicilia is a so-forth:’ ’tis far gone,
When I shall gust it last. How came’t, Camillo,
That he did stay?

CAMILLO

At the good queen’s entreaty.

LEONTES

At the queen’s be’t: ‘good’ should be pertinent
But, so it is, it is not. Was this taken
By any understanding pate but thine?
For thy conceit is soaking, will draw in
More than the common blocks: not noted, is’t,
But of the finer natures? by some severals
Of head-piece extraordinary? lower messes
Perchance are to this business purblind? say.

CAMILLO

Business, my lord! I think most understand
Bohemia stays here longer.

LEONTES

Ha!

CAMILLO

Stays here longer.

LEONTES

Ay, but why?

CAMILLO

To satisfy your highness and the entreaties
Of our most gracious mistress.

LEONTES

Satisfy!
The entreaties of your mistress! satisfy!
Let that suffice. I have trusted thee, Camillo,
With all the nearest things to my heart, as well
My chamber-councils, wherein, priest-like, thou
Hast cleansed my bosom, I from thee departed
Thy penitent reform’d: but we have been
Deceived in thy integrity, deceived
In that which seems so.

CAMILLO

Be it forbid, my lord!

LEONTES

To bide upon’t, thou art not honest, or,
If thou inclinest that way, thou art a coward,
Which hoxes honesty behind, restraining
From course required; or else thou must be counted
A servant grafted in my serious trust
And therein negligent; or else a fool
That seest a game play’d home, the rich stake drawn,
And takest it all for jest.

CAMILLO

My gracious lord,
I may be negligent, foolish and fearful;
In every one of these no man is free,
But that his negligence, his folly, fear,
Among the infinite doings of the world,
Sometime puts forth. In your affairs, my lord,
If ever I were wilful-negligent,
It was my folly; if industriously
I play’d the fool, it was my negligence,
Not weighing well the end; if ever fearful
To do a thing, where I the issue doubted,
Where of the execution did cry out
Against the non-performance, ’twas a fear
Which oft infects the wisest: these, my lord,
Are such allow’d infirmities that honesty
Is never free of. But, beseech your grace,
Be plainer with me; let me know my trespass
By its own visage: if I then deny it,
‘Tis none of mine.

LEONTES

Ha’ not you seen, Camillo,–
But that’s past doubt, you have, or your eye-glass
Is thicker than a cuckold’s horn,–or heard,–
For to a vision so apparent rumour
Cannot be mute,–or thought,–for cogitation
Resides not in that man that does not think,–
My wife is slippery? If thou wilt confess,
Or else be impudently negative,
To have nor eyes nor ears nor thought, then say
My wife’s a hobby-horse, deserves a name
As rank as any flax-wench that puts to
Before her troth-plight: say’t and justify’t.

CAMILLO

I would not be a stander-by to hear
My sovereign mistress clouded so, without
My present vengeance taken: ‘shrew my heart,
You never spoke what did become you less
Than this; which to reiterate were sin
As deep as that, though true.

LEONTES

Is whispering nothing?
Is leaning cheek to cheek? is meeting noses?
Kissing with inside lip? stopping the career
Of laughing with a sigh?–a note infallible
Of breaking honesty–horsing foot on foot?
Skulking in corners? wishing clocks more swift?
Hours, minutes? noon, midnight? and all eyes
Blind with the pin and web but theirs, theirs only,
That would unseen be wicked? is this nothing?
Why, then the world and all that’s in’t is nothing;
The covering sky is nothing; Bohemia nothing;
My wife is nothing; nor nothing have these nothings,
If this be nothing.

CAMILLO

Good my lord, be cured
Of this diseased opinion, and betimes;
For ’tis most dangerous.

LEONTES

Say it be, ’tis true.

CAMILLO

No, no, my lord.

LEONTES

It is; you lie, you lie:
I say thou liest, Camillo, and I hate thee,
Pronounce thee a gross lout, a mindless slave,
Or else a hovering temporizer, that
Canst with thine eyes at once see good and evil,
Inclining to them both: were my wife’s liver
Infected as her life, she would not live
The running of one glass.

CAMILLO

Who does infect her?

LEONTES

Why, he that wears her like a medal, hanging
About his neck, Bohemia: who, if I
Had servants true about me, that bare eyes
To see alike mine honour as their profits,
Their own particular thrifts, they would do that
Which should undo more doing: ay, and thou,
His cupbearer,–whom I from meaner form
Have benched and reared to worship, who mayst see
Plainly as heaven sees earth and earth sees heaven,
How I am galled,–mightst bespice a cup,
To give mine enemy a lasting wink;
Which draught to me were cordial.

CAMILLO

Sir, my lord,
I could do this, and that with no rash potion,
But with a lingering dram that should not work
Maliciously like poison: but I cannot
Believe this crack to be in my dread mistress,
So sovereignly being honourable.
I have loved thee,–

LEONTES

Make that thy question, and go rot!
Dost think I am so muddy, so unsettled,
To appoint myself in this vexation, sully
The purity and whiteness of my sheets,
Which to preserve is sleep, which being spotted
Is goads, thorns, nettles, tails of wasps,
Give scandal to the blood o’ the prince my son,
Who I do think is mine and love as mine,
Without ripe moving to’t? Would I do this?
Could man so blench?

CAMILLO

I must believe you, sir:
I do; and will fetch off Bohemia for’t;
Provided that, when he’s removed, your highness
Will take again your queen as yours at first,
Even for your son’s sake; and thereby for sealing
The injury of tongues in courts and kingdoms
Known and allied to yours.

LEONTES

Thou dost advise me
Even so as I mine own course have set down:
I’ll give no blemish to her honour, none.

CAMILLO

My lord,
Go then; and with a countenance as clear
As friendship wears at feasts, keep with Bohemia
And with your queen. I am his cupbearer:
If from me he have wholesome beverage,
Account me not your servant.

LEONTES

This is all:
Do’t and thou hast the one half of my heart;
Do’t not, thou split’st thine own.

CAMILLO

I’ll do’t, my lord.

LEONTES

I will seem friendly, as thou hast advised me.

Exit

CAMILLO

O miserable lady! But, for me,
What case stand I in? I must be the poisoner
Of good Polixenes; and my ground to do’t
Is the obedience to a master, one
Who in rebellion with himself will have
All that are his so too. To do this deed,
Promotion follows. If I could find example
Of thousands that had struck anointed kings
And flourish’d after, I’ld not do’t; but since
Nor brass nor stone nor parchment bears not one,
Let villany itself forswear’t. I must
Forsake the court: to do’t, or no, is certain
To me a break-neck. Happy star, reign now!
Here comes Bohemia.

Re-enter POLIXENES

POLIXENES

This is strange: methinks
My favour here begins to warp. Not speak?
Good day, Camillo.

CAMILLO

Hail, most royal sir!

POLIXENES

What is the news i’ the court?

CAMILLO

None rare, my lord.

POLIXENES

The king hath on him such a countenance
As he had lost some province and a region
Loved as he loves himself: even now I met him
With customary compliment; when he,
Wafting his eyes to the contrary and falling
A lip of much contempt, speeds from me and
So leaves me to consider what is breeding
That changeth thus his manners.

CAMILLO

I dare not know, my lord.

POLIXENES

How! dare not! do not. Do you know, and dare not?
Be intelligent to me: ’tis thereabouts;
For, to yourself, what you do know, you must.
And cannot say, you dare not. Good Camillo,
Your changed complexions are to me a mirror
Which shows me mine changed too; for I must be
A party in this alteration, finding
Myself thus alter’d with ‘t.

CAMILLO

There is a sickness
Which puts some of us in distemper, but
I cannot name the disease; and it is caught
Of you that yet are well.

POLIXENES

How! caught of me!
Make me not sighted like the basilisk:
I have look’d on thousands, who have sped the better
By my regard, but kill’d none so. Camillo,–
As you are certainly a gentleman, thereto
Clerk-like experienced, which no less adorns
Our gentry than our parents’ noble names,
In whose success we are gentle,–I beseech you,
If you know aught which does behove my knowledge
Thereof to be inform’d, imprison’t not
In ignorant concealment.

CAMILLO

I may not answer.

POLIXENES

A sickness caught of me, and yet I well!
I must be answer’d. Dost thou hear, Camillo,
I conjure thee, by all the parts of man
Which honour does acknowledge, whereof the least
Is not this suit of mine, that thou declare
What incidency thou dost guess of harm
Is creeping toward me; how far off, how near;
Which way to be prevented, if to be;
If not, how best to bear it.

CAMILLO

Sir, I will tell you;
Since I am charged in honour and by him
That I think honourable: therefore mark my counsel,
Which must be even as swiftly follow’d as
I mean to utter it, or both yourself and me
Cry lost, and so good night!

POLIXENES

On, good Camillo.

CAMILLO

I am appointed him to murder you.

POLIXENES

By whom, Camillo?

CAMILLO

By the king.

POLIXENES

For what?

CAMILLO

He thinks, nay, with all confidence he swears,
As he had seen’t or been an instrument
To vice you to’t, that you have touch’d his queen
Forbiddenly.

POLIXENES

O, then my best blood turn
To an infected jelly and my name
Be yoked with his that did betray the Best!
Turn then my freshest reputation to
A savour that may strike the dullest nostril
Where I arrive, and my approach be shunn’d,
Nay, hated too, worse than the great’st infection
That e’er was heard or read!

CAMILLO

Swear his thought over
By each particular star in heaven and
By all their influences, you may as well
Forbid the sea for to obey the moon
As or by oath remove or counsel shake
The fabric of his folly, whose foundation
Is piled upon his faith and will continue
The standing of his body.

POLIXENES

How should this grow?

CAMILLO

I know not: but I am sure ’tis safer to
Avoid what’s grown than question how ’tis born.
If therefore you dare trust my honesty,
That lies enclosed in this trunk which you
Shall bear along impawn’d, away to-night!
Your followers I will whisper to the business,
And will by twos and threes at several posterns
Clear them o’ the city. For myself, I’ll put
My fortunes to your service, which are here
By this discovery lost. Be not uncertain;
For, by the honour of my parents, I
Have utter’d truth: which if you seek to prove,
I dare not stand by; nor shall you be safer
Than one condemn’d by the king’s own mouth, thereon
His execution sworn.

POLIXENES

I do believe thee:
I saw his heart in ‘s face. Give me thy hand:
Be pilot to me and thy places shall
Still neighbour mine. My ships are ready and
My people did expect my hence departure
Two days ago. This jealousy
Is for a precious creature: as she’s rare,
Must it be great, and as his person’s mighty,
Must it be violent, and as he does conceive
He is dishonour’d by a man which ever
Profess’d to him, why, his revenges must
In that be made more bitter. Fear o’ershades me:
Good expedition be my friend, and comfort
The gracious queen, part of his theme, but nothing
Of his ill-ta’en suspicion! Come, Camillo;
I will respect thee as a father if
Thou bear’st my life off hence: let us avoid.

CAMILLO

It is in mine authority to command
The keys of all the posterns: please your highness
To take the urgent hour. Come, sir, away.

Exeunt

ACT II

SCENE I. A room in LEONTES’ palace.

Enter HERMIONE, MAMILLIUS, and Ladies

HERMIONE

Take the boy to you: he so troubles me,
‘Tis past enduring.

First Lady

Come, my gracious lord,
Shall I be your playfellow?

MAMILLIUS

No, I’ll none of you.

First Lady

Why, my sweet lord?

MAMILLIUS

You’ll kiss me hard and speak to me as if
I were a baby still. I love you better.

Second Lady

And why so, my lord?

MAMILLIUS

Not for because
Your brows are blacker; yet black brows, they say,
Become some women best, so that there be not
Too much hair there, but in a semicircle
Or a half-moon made with a pen.

Second Lady

Who taught you this?

MAMILLIUS

I learnt it out of women’s faces. Pray now
What colour are your eyebrows?

First Lady

Blue, my lord.

MAMILLIUS

Nay, that’s a mock: I have seen a lady’s nose
That has been blue, but not her eyebrows.

First Lady

Hark ye;
The queen your mother rounds apace: we shall
Present our services to a fine new prince
One of these days; and then you’ld wanton with us,
If we would have you.

Second Lady

She is spread of late
Into a goodly bulk: good time encounter her!

HERMIONE

What wisdom stirs amongst you? Come, sir, now
I am for you again: pray you, sit by us,
And tell ‘s a tale.

MAMILLIUS

Merry or sad shall’t be?

HERMIONE

As merry as you will.

MAMILLIUS

A sad tale’s best for winter: I have one
Of sprites and goblins.

HERMIONE

Let’s have that, good sir.
Come on, sit down: come on, and do your best
To fright me with your sprites; you’re powerful at it.

MAMILLIUS

There was a man–

HERMIONE

Nay, come, sit down; then on.

MAMILLIUS

Dwelt by a churchyard: I will tell it softly;
Yond crickets shall not hear it.

HERMIONE

Come on, then,
And give’t me in mine ear.

Enter LEONTES, with ANTIGONUS, Lords and others

LEONTES

Was he met there? his train? Camillo with him?

First Lord

Behind the tuft of pines I met them; never
Saw I men scour so on their way: I eyed them
Even to their ships.

LEONTES

How blest am I
In my just censure, in my true opinion!
Alack, for lesser knowledge! how accursed
In being so blest! There may be in the cup
A spider steep’d, and one may drink, depart,
And yet partake no venom, for his knowledge
Is not infected: but if one present
The abhorr’d ingredient to his eye, make known
How he hath drunk, he cracks his gorge, his sides,
With violent hefts. I have drunk,
and seen the spider.
Camillo was his help in this, his pander:
There is a plot against my life, my crown;
All’s true that is mistrusted: that false villain
Whom I employ’d was pre-employ’d by him:
He has discover’d my design, and I
Remain a pinch’d thing; yea, a very trick
For them to play at will. How came the posterns
So easily open?

First Lord

By his great authority;
Which often hath no less prevail’d than so
On your command.

LEONTES

I know’t too well.
Give me the boy: I am glad you did not nurse him:
Though he does bear some signs of me, yet you
Have too much blood in him.

HERMIONE

What is this? sport?

LEONTES

Bear the boy hence; he shall not come about her;
Away with him! and let her sport herself
With that she’s big with; for ’tis Polixenes
Has made thee swell thus.

HERMIONE

But I’ld say he had not,
And I’ll be sworn you would believe my saying,
Howe’er you lean to the nayward.

LEONTES

You, my lords,
Look on her, mark her well; be but about
To say ‘she is a goodly lady,’ and
The justice of your bearts will thereto add
‘Tis pity she’s not honest, honourable:’
Praise her but for this her without-door form,
Which on my faith deserves high speech, and straight
The shrug, the hum or ha, these petty brands
That calumny doth use–O, I am out–
That mercy does, for calumny will sear
Virtue itself: these shrugs, these hums and ha’s,
When you have said ‘she’s goodly,’ come between
Ere you can say ‘she’s honest:’ but be ‘t known,
From him that has most cause to grieve it should be,
She’s an adulteress.

HERMIONE

Should a villain say so,
The most replenish’d villain in the world,
He were as much more villain: you, my lord,
Do but mistake.

LEONTES

You have mistook, my lady,
Polixenes for Leontes: O thou thing!
Which I’ll not call a creature of thy place,
Lest barbarism, making me the precedent,
Should a like language use to all degrees
And mannerly distinguishment leave out
Betwixt the prince and beggar: I have said
She’s an adulteress; I have said with whom:
More, she’s a traitor and Camillo is
A federary with her, and one that knows
What she should shame to know herself
But with her most vile principal, that she’s
A bed-swerver, even as bad as those
That vulgars give bold’st titles, ay, and privy
To this their late escape.

HERMIONE

No, by my life.
Privy to none of this. How will this grieve you,
When you shall come to clearer knowledge, that
You thus have publish’d me! Gentle my lord,
You scarce can right me throughly then to say
You did mistake.

LEONTES

No; if I mistake
In those foundations which I build upon,
The centre is not big enough to bear
A school-boy’s top. Away with her! to prison!
He who shall speak for her is afar off guilty
But that he speaks.

HERMIONE

There’s some ill planet reigns:
I must be patient till the heavens look
With an aspect more favourable. Good my lords,
I am not prone to weeping, as our sex
Commonly are; the want of which vain dew
Perchance shall dry your pities: but I have
That honourable grief lodged here which burns
Worse than tears drown: beseech you all, my lords,
With thoughts so qualified as your charities
Shall best instruct you, measure me; and so
The king’s will be perform’d!

LEONTES

Shall I be heard?

HERMIONE

Who is’t that goes with me? Beseech your highness,
My women may be with me; for you see
My plight requires it. Do not weep, good fools;
There is no cause: when you shall know your mistress
Has deserved prison, then abound in tears
As I come out: this action I now go on
Is for my better grace. Adieu, my lord:
I never wish’d to see you sorry; now
I trust I shall. My women, come; you have leave.

LEONTES

Go, do our bidding; hence!

Exit HERMIONE, guarded; with Ladies

First Lord

Beseech your highness, call the queen again.

ANTIGONUS

Be certain what you do, sir, lest your justice
Prove violence; in the which three great ones suffer,
Yourself, your queen, your son.

First Lord

For her, my lord,
I dare my life lay down and will do’t, sir,
Please you to accept it, that the queen is spotless
I’ the eyes of heaven and to you; I mean,
In this which you accuse her.

ANTIGONUS

If it prove
She’s otherwise, I’ll keep my stables where
I lodge my wife; I’ll go in couples with her;
Than when I feel and see her no farther trust her;
For every inch of woman in the world,
Ay, every dram of woman’s flesh is false, If she be.

LEONTES

Hold your peaces.

First Lord

Good my lord,–

ANTIGONUS

It is for you we speak, not for ourselves:
You are abused and by some putter-on
That will be damn’d for’t; would I knew the villain,
I would land-damn him. Be she honour-flaw’d,
I have three daughters; the eldest is eleven
The second and the third, nine, and some five;
If this prove true, they’ll pay for’t:
by mine honour,
I’ll geld ‘em all; fourteen they shall not see,
To bring false generations: they are co-heirs;
And I had rather glib myself than they
Should not produce fair issue.

LEONTES

Cease; no more.
You smell this business with a sense as cold
As is a dead man’s nose: but I do see’t and feel’t
As you feel doing thus; and see withal
The instruments that feel.

ANTIGONUS

If it be so,
We need no grave to bury honesty:
There’s not a grain of it the face to sweeten
Of the whole dungy earth.

LEONTES

What! lack I credit?

First Lord

I had rather you did lack than I, my lord,
Upon this ground; and more it would content me
To have her honour true than your suspicion,
Be blamed for’t how you might.

LEONTES

Why, what need we
Commune with you of this, but rather follow
Our forceful instigation? Our prerogative
Calls not your counsels, but our natural goodness
Imparts this; which if you, or stupefied
Or seeming so in skill, cannot or will not
Relish a truth like us, inform yourselves
We need no more of your advice: the matter,
The loss, the gain, the ordering on’t, is all
Properly ours.

ANTIGONUS

And I wish, my liege,
You had only in your silent judgment tried it,
Without more overture.

LEONTES

How could that be?
Either thou art most ignorant by age,
Or thou wert born a fool. Camillo’s flight,
Added to their familiarity,
Which was as gross as ever touch’d conjecture,
That lack’d sight only, nought for approbation
But only seeing, all other circumstances
Made up to the deed, doth push on this proceeding:
Yet, for a greater confirmation,
For in an act of this importance ’twere
Most piteous to be wild, I have dispatch’d in post
To sacred Delphos, to Apollo’s temple,
Cleomenes and Dion, whom you know
Of stuff’d sufficiency: now from the oracle
They will bring all; whose spiritual counsel had,
Shall stop or spur me. Have I done well?

First Lord

Well done, my lord.

LEONTES

Though I am satisfied and need no more
Than what I know, yet shall the oracle
Give rest to the minds of others, such as he
Whose ignorant credulity will not
Come up to the truth. So have we thought it good
From our free person she should be confined,
Lest that the treachery of the two fled hence
Be left her to perform. Come, follow us;
We are to speak in public; for this business
Will raise us all.

ANTIGONUS

[Aside]
To laughter, as I take it,
If the good truth were known.

Exeunt

SCENE II. A prison.

Enter PAULINA, a Gentleman, and Attendants

PAULINA

The keeper of the prison, call to him;
let him have knowledge who I am.
Good lady,
No court in Europe is too good for thee;
What dost thou then in prison?
Now, good sir,
You know me, do you not?

Gaoler

For a worthy lady
And one whom much I honour.

PAULINA

Pray you then,
Conduct me to the queen.

Gaoler

I may not, madam:
To the contrary I have express commandment.

PAULINA

Here’s ado,
To lock up honesty and honour from
The access of gentle visitors!
Is’t lawful, pray you,
To see her women? any of them? Emilia?

Gaoler

So please you, madam,
To put apart these your attendants, I
Shall bring Emilia forth.

PAULINA

I pray now, call her.
Withdraw yourselves.

Exeunt Gentleman and Attendants

Gaoler

And, madam,
I must be present at your conference.

PAULINA

Well, be’t so, prithee.
Here’s such ado to make no stain a stain
As passes colouring.
Dear gentlewoman,
How fares our gracious lady?

EMILIA

As well as one so great and so forlorn
May hold together: on her frights and griefs,
Which never tender lady hath born greater,
She is something before her time deliver’d.

PAULINA

A boy?

EMILIA

A daughter, and a goodly babe,
Lusty and like to live: the queen receives
Much comfort in’t; says ‘My poor prisoner,
I am innocent as you.’

PAULINA

I dare be sworn
These dangerous unsafe lunes i’ the king,
beshrew them!
He must be told on’t, and he shall: the office
Becomes a woman best; I’ll take’t upon me:
If I prove honey-mouth’d let my tongue blister
And never to my red-look’d anger be
The trumpet any more. Pray you, Emilia,
Commend my best obedience to the queen:
If she dares trust me with her little babe,
I’ll show’t the king and undertake to be
Her advocate to the loud’st. We do not know
How he may soften at the sight o’ the child:
The silence often of pure innocence
Persuades when speaking fails.

EMILIA

Most worthy madam,
Your honour and your goodness is so evident
That your free undertaking cannot miss
A thriving issue: there is no lady living
So meet for this great errand. Please your ladyship
To visit the next room, I’ll presently
Acquaint the queen of your most noble offer;
Who but to-day hammer’d of this design,
But durst not tempt a minister of honour,
Lest she should be denied.

PAULINA

Tell her, Emilia.
I’ll use that tongue I have: if wit flow from’t
As boldness from my bosom, let ‘t not be doubted
I shall do good.

EMILIA

Now be you blest for it!
I’ll to the queen: please you,
come something nearer.

Gaoler

Madam, if’t please the queen to send the babe,
I know not what I shall incur to pass it,
Having no warrant.

PAULINA

You need not fear it, sir:
This child was prisoner to the womb and is
By law and process of great nature thence
Freed and enfranchised, not a party to
The anger of the king nor guilty of,
If any be, the trespass of the queen.

Gaoler

I do believe it.

PAULINA

Do not you fear: upon mine honour,
I will stand betwixt you and danger.

Exeunt

SCENE III. A room in LEONTES’ palace.

Enter LEONTES, ANTIGONUS, Lords, and Servants

LEONTES

Nor night nor day no rest: it is but weakness
To bear the matter thus; mere weakness. If
The cause were not in being,–part o’ the cause,
She the adulteress; for the harlot king
Is quite beyond mine arm, out of the blank
And level of my brain, plot-proof; but she
I can hook to me: say that she were gone,
Given to the fire, a moiety of my rest
Might come to me again. Who’s there?

First Servant

My lord?

LEONTES

How does the boy?

First Servant

He took good rest to-night;
‘Tis hoped his sickness is discharged.

LEONTES

To see his nobleness!
Conceiving the dishonour of his mother,
He straight declined, droop’d, took it deeply,
Fasten’d and fix’d the shame on’t in himself,
Threw off his spirit, his appetite, his sleep,
And downright languish’d. Leave me solely: go,
See how he fares.
Fie, fie! no thought of him:
The thought of my revenges that way
Recoil upon me: in himself too mighty,
And in his parties, his alliance; let him be
Until a time may serve: for present vengeance,
Take it on her. Camillo and Polixenes
Laugh at me, make their pastime at my sorrow:
They should not laugh if I could reach them, nor
Shall she within my power.

Enter PAULINA, with a child

First Lord

You must not enter.

PAULINA

Nay, rather, good my lords, be second to me:
Fear you his tyrannous passion more, alas,
Than the queen’s life? a gracious innocent soul,
More free than he is jealous.

ANTIGONUS

That’s enough.

Second Servant

Madam, he hath not slept tonight; commanded
None should come at him.

PAULINA

Not so hot, good sir:
I come to bring him sleep. ‘Tis such as you,
That creep like shadows by him and do sigh
At each his needless heavings, such as you
Nourish the cause of his awaking: I
Do come with words as medicinal as true,
Honest as either, to purge him of that humour
That presses him from sleep.

LEONTES

What noise there, ho?

PAULINA

No noise, my lord; but needful conference
About some gossips for your highness.

LEONTES

How!
Away with that audacious lady! Antigonus,
I charged thee that she should not come about me:
I knew she would.

ANTIGONUS

I told her so, my lord,
On your displeasure’s peril and on mine,
She should not visit you.

LEONTES

What, canst not rule her?

PAULINA

From all dishonesty he can: in this,
Unless he take the course that you have done,
Commit me for committing honour, trust it,
He shall not rule me.

ANTIGONUS

La you now, you hear:
When she will take the rein I let her run;
But she’ll not stumble.

PAULINA

Good my liege, I come;
And, I beseech you, hear me, who profess
Myself your loyal servant, your physician,
Your most obedient counsellor, yet that dare
Less appear so in comforting your evils,
Than such as most seem yours: I say, I come
From your good queen.

LEONTES

Good queen!

PAULINA

Good queen, my lord,
Good queen; I say good queen;
And would by combat make her good, so were I
A man, the worst about you.

LEONTES

Force her hence.

PAULINA

Let him that makes but trifles of his eyes
First hand me: on mine own accord I’ll off;
But first I’ll do my errand. The good queen,
For she is good, hath brought you forth a daughter;
Here ’tis; commends it to your blessing.

Laying down the child

LEONTES

Out!
A mankind witch! Hence with her, out o’ door:
A most intelligencing bawd!

PAULINA

Not so:
I am as ignorant in that as you
In so entitling me, and no less honest
Than you are mad; which is enough, I’ll warrant,
As this world goes, to pass for honest.

LEONTES

Traitors!
Will you not push her out? Give her the bastard.
Thou dotard! thou art woman-tired, unroosted
By thy dame Partlet here. Take up the bastard;
Take’t up, I say; give’t to thy crone.

PAULINA

For ever
Unvenerable be thy hands, if thou
Takest up the princess by that forced baseness
Which he has put upon’t!

LEONTES

He dreads his wife.

PAULINA

So I would you did; then ’twere past all doubt
You’ld call your children yours.

LEONTES

A nest of traitors!

ANTIGONUS

I am none, by this good light.

PAULINA

Nor I, nor any
But one that’s here, and that’s himself, for he
The sacred honour of himself, his queen’s,
His hopeful son’s, his babe’s, betrays to slander,
Whose sting is sharper than the sword’s;
and will not–
For, as the case now stands, it is a curse
He cannot be compell’d to’t–once remove
The root of his opinion, which is rotten
As ever oak or stone was sound.

LEONTES

A callat
Of boundless tongue, who late hath beat her husband
And now baits me! This brat is none of mine;
It is the issue of Polixenes:
Hence with it, and together with the dam
Commit them to the fire!

PAULINA

It is yours;
And, might we lay the old proverb to your charge,
So like you, ’tis the worse. Behold, my lords,
Although the print be little, the whole matter
And copy of the father, eye, nose, lip,
The trick of’s frown, his forehead, nay, the valley,
The pretty dimples of his chin and cheek,
His smiles,
The very mould and frame of hand, nail, finger:
And thou, good goddess Nature, which hast made it
So like to him that got it, if thou hast
The ordering of the mind too, ‘mongst all colours
No yellow in’t, lest she suspect, as he does,
Her children not her husband’s!

LEONTES

A gross hag
And, lozel, thou art worthy to be hang’d,
That wilt not stay her tongue.

ANTIGONUS

Hang all the husbands
That cannot do that feat, you’ll leave yourself
Hardly one subject.

LEONTES

Once more, take her hence.

PAULINA

A most unworthy and unnatural lord
Can do no more.

LEONTES

I’ll ha’ thee burnt.

PAULINA

I care not:
It is an heretic that makes the fire,
Not she which burns in’t. I’ll not call you tyrant;
But this most cruel usage of your queen,
Not able to produce more accusation
Than your own weak-hinged fancy, something savours
Of tyranny and will ignoble make you,
Yea, scandalous to the world.

LEONTES

On your allegiance,
Out of the chamber with her! Were I a tyrant,
Where were her life? she durst not call me so,
If she did know me one. Away with her!

PAULINA

I pray you, do not push me; I’ll be gone.
Look to your babe, my lord; ’tis yours:
Jove send her
A better guiding spirit! What needs these hands?
You, that are thus so tender o’er his follies,
Will never do him good, not one of you.
So, so: farewell; we are gone.

Exit

LEONTES

Thou, traitor, hast set on thy wife to this.
My child? away with’t! Even thou, that hast
A heart so tender o’er it, take it hence
And see it instantly consumed with fire;
Even thou and none but thou. Take it up straight:
Within this hour bring me word ’tis done,
And by good testimony, or I’ll seize thy life,
With what thou else call’st thine. If thou refuse
And wilt encounter with my wrath, say so;
The bastard brains with these my proper hands
Shall I dash out. Go, take it to the fire;
For thou set’st on thy wife.

ANTIGONUS

I did not, sir:
These lords, my noble fellows, if they please,
Can clear me in’t.

Lords

We can: my royal liege,
He is not guilty of her coming hither.

LEONTES

You’re liars all.

First Lord

Beseech your highness, give us better credit:
We have always truly served you, and beseech you
So to esteem of us, and on our knees we beg,
As recompense of our dear services
Past and to come, that you do change this purpose,
Which being so horrible, so bloody, must
Lead on to some foul issue: we all kneel.

LEONTES

I am a feather for each wind that blows:
Shall I live on to see this bastard kneel
And call me father? better burn it now
Than curse it then. But be it; let it live.
It shall not neither. You, sir, come you hither;
You that have been so tenderly officious
With Lady Margery, your midwife there,
To save this bastard’s life,–for ’tis a bastard,
So sure as this beard’s grey,
–what will you adventure
To save this brat’s life?

ANTIGONUS

Any thing, my lord,
That my ability may undergo
And nobleness impose: at least thus much:
I’ll pawn the little blood which I have left
To save the innocent: any thing possible.

LEONTES

It shall be possible. Swear by this sword
Thou wilt perform my bidding.

ANTIGONUS

I will, my lord.

LEONTES

Mark and perform it, see’st thou! for the fail
Of any point in’t shall not only be
Death to thyself but to thy lewd-tongued wife,
Whom for this time we pardon. We enjoin thee,
As thou art liege-man to us, that thou carry
This female bastard hence and that thou bear it
To some remote and desert place quite out
Of our dominions, and that there thou leave it,
Without more mercy, to its own protection
And favour of the climate. As by strange fortune
It came to us, I do in justice charge thee,
On thy soul’s peril and thy body’s torture,
That thou commend it strangely to some place
Where chance may nurse or end it. Take it up.

ANTIGONUS

I swear to do this, though a present death
Had been more merciful. Come on, poor babe:
Some powerful spirit instruct the kites and ravens
To be thy nurses! Wolves and bears, they say
Casting their savageness aside have done
Like offices of pity. Sir, be prosperous
In more than this deed does require! And blessing
Against this cruelty fight on thy side,
Poor thing, condemn’d to loss!

Exit with the child

LEONTES

No, I’ll not rear
Another’s issue.

Enter a Servant

Servant

Please your highness, posts
From those you sent to the oracle are come
An hour since: Cleomenes and Dion,
Being well arrived from Delphos, are both landed,
Hasting to the court.

First Lord

So please you, sir, their speed
Hath been beyond account.

LEONTES

Twenty-three days
They have been absent: ’tis good speed; foretells
The great Apollo suddenly will have
The truth of this appear. Prepare you, lords;
Summon a session, that we may arraign
Our most disloyal lady, for, as she hath
Been publicly accused, so shall she have
A just and open trial. While she lives
My heart will be a burthen to me. Leave me,
And think upon my bidding.

Exeunt

ACT III

SCENE I. A sea-port in Sicilia.

Enter CLEOMENES and DION

CLEOMENES

The climate’s delicate, the air most sweet,
Fertile the isle, the temple much surpassing
The common praise it bears.

DION

I shall report,
For most it caught me, the celestial habits,
Methinks I so should term them, and the reverence
Of the grave wearers. O, the sacrifice!
How ceremonious, solemn and unearthly
It was i’ the offering!

CLEOMENES

But of all, the burst
And the ear-deafening voice o’ the oracle,
Kin to Jove’s thunder, so surprised my sense.
That I was nothing.

DION

If the event o’ the journey
Prove as successful to the queen,–O be’t so!–
As it hath been to us rare, pleasant, speedy,
The time is worth the use on’t.

CLEOMENES

Great Apollo
Turn all to the best! These proclamations,
So forcing faults upon Hermione,
I little like.

DION

The violent carriage of it
Will clear or end the business: when the oracle,
Thus by Apollo’s great divine seal’d up,
Shall the contents discover, something rare
Even then will rush to knowledge. Go: fresh horses!
And gracious be the issue!

Exeunt

SCENE II. A court of Justice.

Enter LEONTES, Lords, and Officers

LEONTES

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 clear’d
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.

Officer

It is his highness’ pleasure that the queen
Appear in person here in court. Silence!

Enter HERMIONE guarded; PAULINA and Ladies attending

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 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.

HERMIONE

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,
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
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: for honour,
‘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 strain’d to appear thus: if one jot beyond
The bound of honour, or in act or will
That way inclining, harden’d be the hearts
Of all that hear me, and my near’st of kin
Cry fie upon my grave!

LEONTES

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;
Through ’tis a saying, sir, not due to me.

LEONTES

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 honour 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 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.

LEONTES

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

HERMIONE

Sir,
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 dream’d 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 favour,
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 barr’d, like one infectious. My third comfort
Starr’d most unluckily, is from my breast,
The innocent milk in its most innocent mouth,
Haled out to murder: myself on every post
Proclaimed a strumpet: with immodest hatred
The child-bed privilege denied, which ‘longs
To women of all fashion; lastly, hurried
Here to this place, i’ the 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 honour,
Which I would free, if I shall be condemn’d
Upon surmises, all proofs sleeping else
But what your jealousies awake, I tell you
‘Tis rigor and not law. Your honours all,
I do refer me to the oracle:
Apollo be my judge!

First Lord

This your request
Is altogether just: therefore bring forth,
And in Apollos name, his oracle.

Exeunt certain Officers

HERMIONE

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!

Re-enter Officers, with CLEOMENES and DION

Officer

You here shall swear upon this sword of justice,
That you, Cleomenes and Dion, have
Been both at Delphos, and from thence have brought
The seal’d-up oracle, by the hand deliver’d
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

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 found.

Lords

Now blessed be the great Apollo!

HERMIONE

Praised!

LEONTES

Hast thou read truth?

Officer

Ay, my lord; even so
As it is here set down.

LEONTES

There is no truth at all i’ the oracle:
The sessions shall proceed: this is mere falsehood.

Enter Servant

Servant

My lord the king, the king!

LEONTES

What is the business?

Servant

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.

LEONTES

Apollo’s angry; and the heavens themselves
Do strike at my injustice.
How now there!

PAULINA

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.
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 ‘t and being done: he, most humane
And fill’d with honour, to my kingly guest
Unclasp’d my practise, quit his fortunes here,
Which you knew great, and to the hazard
Of all encertainties himself commended,
No richer than his honour: how he glisters
Thorough my rust! and how his pity
Does my deeds make the blacker!

Re-enter PAULINA

PAULINA

Woe the while!
O, cut my lace, lest my heart, cracking it,
Break too.

First Lord

What fit is this, good lady?

PAULINA

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 by-gone fooleries were but spices of it.
That thou betray’dst Polixenes,’twas nothing;
That did but show thee, of a fool, inconstant
And damnable ingrateful: nor was’t much,
Thou wouldst have poison’d good Camillo’s honour,
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 honourable thoughts,
Thoughts high for one so tender, cleft the heart
That could conceive a gross and foolish sire
Blemish’d his gracious dam: this is not, no,
Laid to thy answer: but the last,–O lords,
When I have said, cry ‘woe!’ the queen, the queen,
The sweet’st, dear’st creature’s dead,
and vengeance for’t
Not dropp’d down yet.

First Lord

The higher powers forbid!

PAULINA

I say she’s dead; I’ll swear’t. If word nor oath
Prevail not, go and see: if you can bring
Tincture or lustre in her lip, her eye,
Heat outwardly or breath within, I’ll serve you
As I would do the gods. But, O thou tyrant!
Do not repent these things, for they are heavier
Than all thy woes can stir; therefore betake thee
To nothing but despair. A thousand knees
Ten thousand years together, naked, fasting,
Upon a barren mountain and still winter
In storm perpetual, could not move the gods
To look that way thou wert.

LEONTES

Go on, go on
Thou canst not speak too much; I have deserved
All tongues to talk their bitterest.

First Lord

Say no more:
Howe’er the business goes, you have made fault
I’ the boldness of your speech.

PAULINA

I am sorry for’t:
All faults I make, when I shall come to know them,
I do repent. Alas! I have show’d too much
The rashness of a woman: he is touch’d
To the noble heart. What’s gone and what’s past help
Should be past grief: do not receive affliction
At my petition; I beseech you, rather
Let me be punish’d, that have minded you
Of what you should forget. Now, good my liege
Sir, royal sir, forgive a foolish woman:
The love I bore your queen–lo, fool again!–
I’ll speak of her no more, nor of your children;
I’ll not remember you of my own lord,
Who is lost too: take your patience to you,
And I’ll say nothing.

LEONTES

Thou didst speak but well
When most the truth; which I receive much better
Than to be pitied of thee. Prithee, bring me
To the dead bodies of my queen and son:
One grave shall be for both: upon them shall
The causes of their death appear, unto
Our shame perpetual. Once a day I’ll visit
The chapel where they lie, and tears shed there
Shall be my recreation: so long as nature
Will bear up with this exercise, so long
I daily vow to use it. Come and lead me
Unto these sorrows.

Exeunt

SCENE III. Bohemia. A desert country near the sea.

Enter ANTIGONUS with a Child, and a Mariner

ANTIGONUS

Thou art perfect then, our ship hath touch’d upon
The deserts of Bohemia?

Mariner

Ay, my lord: and fear
We have landed in ill time: the skies look grimly
And threaten present blusters. In my conscience,
The heavens with that we have in hand are angry
And frown upon ‘s.

ANTIGONUS

Their sacred wills be done! Go, get aboard;
Look to thy bark: I’ll not be long before
I call upon thee.

Mariner

Make your best haste, and go not
Too far i’ the land: ’tis like to be loud weather;
Besides, this place is famous for the creatures
Of prey that keep upon’t.

ANTIGONUS

Go thou away:
I’ll follow instantly.

Mariner

I am glad at heart
To be so rid o’ the business.

Exit

ANTIGONUS

Come, poor babe:
I have heard, but not believed,
the spirits o’ the dead
May walk again: if such thing be, thy mother
Appear’d to me last night, for ne’er was dream
So like a waking. To me comes a creature,
Sometimes her head on one side, some another;
I never saw a vessel of like sorrow,
So fill’d and so becoming: in pure white robes,
Like very sanctity, she did approach
My cabin where I lay; thrice bow’d before me,
And gasping to begin some speech, her eyes
Became two spouts: the fury spent, anon
Did this break-from her: ‘Good Antigonus,
Since fate, against thy better disposition,
Hath made thy person for the thrower-out
Of my poor babe, according to thine oath,
Places remote enough are in Bohemia,
There weep and leave it crying; and, for the babe
Is counted lost for ever, Perdita,
I prithee, call’t. For this ungentle business
Put on thee by my lord, thou ne’er shalt see
Thy wife Paulina more.’ And so, with shrieks
She melted into air. Affrighted much,
I did in time collect myself and thought
This was so and no slumber. Dreams are toys:
Yet for this once, yea, superstitiously,
I will be squared by this. I do believe
Hermione hath suffer’d death, and that
Apollo would, this being indeed the issue
Of King Polixenes, it should here be laid,
Either for life or death, upon the earth
Of its right father. Blossom, speed thee well!
There lie, and there thy character: there these;
Which may, if fortune please, both breed thee, pretty,
And still rest thine. The storm begins; poor wretch,
That for thy mother’s fault art thus exposed
To loss and what may follow! Weep I cannot,
But my heart bleeds; and most accursed am I
To be by oath enjoin’d to this. Farewell!
The day frowns more and more: thou’rt like to have
A lullaby too rough: I never saw
The heavens so dim by day. A savage clamour!
Well may I get aboard! This is the chase:
I am gone for ever.

Exit, pursued by a bear

Enter a Shepherd

Shepherd

I would there were no age between sixteen and
three-and-twenty, or that youth would sleep out the
rest; for there is nothing in the between but
getting wenches with child, wronging the ancientry,
stealing, fighting–Hark you now! Would any but
these boiled brains of nineteen and two-and-twenty
hunt this weather? They have scared away two of my
best sheep, which I fear the wolf will sooner find
than the master: if any where I have them, ’tis by
the seaside, browsing of ivy. Good luck, an’t be thy
will what have we here! Mercy on ‘s, a barne a very
pretty barne! A boy or a child, I wonder? A
pretty one; a very pretty one: sure, some ‘scape:
though I am not bookish, yet I can read
waiting-gentlewoman in the ‘scape. This has been
some stair-work, some trunk-work, some
behind-door-work: they were warmer that got this
than the poor thing is here. I’ll take it up for
pity: yet I’ll tarry till my son come; he hallooed
but even now. Whoa, ho, hoa!

Enter Clown

Clown

Hilloa, loa!

Shepherd

What, art so near? If thou’lt see a thing to talk
on when thou art dead and rotten, come hither. What
ailest thou, man?

Clown

I have seen two such sights, by sea and by land!
but I am not to say it is a sea, for it is now the
sky: betwixt the firmament and it you cannot thrust
a bodkin’s point.

Shepherd

Why, boy, how is it?

Clown

I would you did but see how it chafes, how it rages,
how it takes up the shore! but that’s not the
point. O, the most piteous cry of the poor souls!
sometimes to see ‘em, and not to see ‘em; now the
ship boring the moon with her main-mast, and anon
swallowed with yest and froth, as you’ld thrust a
cork into a hogshead. And then for the
land-service, to see how the bear tore out his
shoulder-bone; how he cried to me for help and said
his name was Antigonus, a nobleman. But to make an
end of the ship, to see how the sea flap-dragoned
it: but, first, how the poor souls roared, and the
sea mocked them; and how the poor gentleman roared
and the bear mocked him, both roaring louder than
the sea or weather.

Shepherd

Name of mercy, when was this, boy?

Clown

Now, now: I have not winked since I saw these
sights: the men are not yet cold under water, nor
the bear half dined on the gentleman: he’s at it
now.

Shepherd

Would I had been by, to have helped the old man!

Clown

I would you had been by the ship side, to have
helped her: there your charity would have lacked footing.

Shepherd

Heavy matters! heavy matters! but look thee here,
boy. Now bless thyself: thou mettest with things
dying, I with things newborn. Here’s a sight for
thee; look thee, a bearing-cloth for a squire’s
child! look thee here; take up, take up, boy;
open’t. So, let’s see: it was told me I should be
rich by the fairies. This is some changeling:
open’t. What’s within, boy?

Clown

You’re a made old man: if the sins of your youth
are forgiven you, you’re well to live. Gold! all gold!

Shepherd

This is fairy gold, boy, and ’twill prove so: up
with’t, keep it close: home, home, the next way.
We are lucky, boy; and to be so still requires
nothing but secrecy. Let my sheep go: come, good
boy, the next way home.

Clown

Go you the next way with your findings. I’ll go see
if the bear be gone from the gentleman and how much
he hath eaten: they are never curst but when they
are hungry: if there be any of him left, I’ll bury
it.

Shepherd

That’s a good deed. If thou mayest discern by that
which is left of him what he is, fetch me to the
sight of him.

Clown

Marry, will I; and you shall help to put him i’ the ground.

Shepherd

‘Tis a lucky day, boy, and we’ll do good deeds on’t.

Exeunt

ACT IV

SCENE I

Enter Time, the Chorus

Time

I, that please some, try all, both joy and terror
Of good and bad, that makes and unfolds error,
Now take upon me, in the name of Time,
To use my wings. Impute it not a crime
To me or my swift passage, that I slide
O’er sixteen years and leave the growth untried
Of that wide gap, since it is in my power
To o’erthrow law and in one self-born hour
To plant and o’erwhelm custom. Let me pass
The same I am, ere ancient’st order was
Or what is now received: I witness to
The times that brought them in; so shall I do
To the freshest things now reigning and make stale
The glistering of this present, as my tale
Now seems to it. Your patience this allowing,
I turn my glass and give my scene such growing
As you had slept between: Leontes leaving,
The effects of his fond jealousies so grieving
That he shuts up himself, imagine me,
Gentle spectators, that I now may be
In fair Bohemia, and remember well,
I mentioned a son o’ the king’s, which Florizel
I now name to you; and with speed so pace
To speak of Perdita, now grown in grace
Equal with wondering: what of her ensues
I list not prophecy; but let Time’s news
Be known when ’tis brought forth.
A shepherd’s daughter,
And what to her adheres, which follows after,
Is the argument of Time. Of this allow,
If ever you have spent time worse ere now;
If never, yet that Time himself doth say
He wishes earnestly you never may.

Exit

SCENE II. Bohemia. The palace of POLIXENES.

Enter POLIXENES and CAMILLO

POLIXENES

I pray thee, good Camillo, be no more importunate:
’tis a sickness denying thee any thing; a death to
grant this.

CAMILLO

It is fifteen years since I saw my country: though
I have for the most part been aired abroad, I
desire to lay my bones there. Besides, the penitent
king, my master, hath sent for me; to whose feeling
sorrows I might be some allay, or I o’erween to
think so, which is another spur to my departure.

POLIXENES

As thou lovest me, Camillo, wipe not out the rest of
thy services by leaving me now: the need I have of
thee thine own goodness hath made; better not to
have had thee than thus to want thee: thou, having
made me businesses which none without thee can
sufficiently manage, must either stay to execute
them thyself or take away with thee the very
services thou hast done; which if I have not enough
considered, as too much I cannot, to be more
thankful to thee shall be my study, and my profit
therein the heaping friendships. Of that fatal
country, Sicilia, prithee speak no more; whose very
naming punishes me with the remembrance of that
penitent, as thou callest him, and reconciled king,
my brother; whose loss of his most precious queen
and children are even now to be afresh lamented.
Say to me, when sawest thou the Prince Florizel, my
son? Kings are no less unhappy, their issue not
being gracious, than they are in losing them when
they have approved their virtues.

CAMILLO

Sir, it is three days since I saw the prince. What
his happier affairs may be, are to me unknown: but I
have missingly noted, he is of late much retired
from court and is less frequent to his princely
exercises than formerly he hath appeared.

POLIXENES

I have considered so much, Camillo, and with some
care; so far that I have eyes under my service which
look upon his removedness; from whom I have this
intelligence, that he is seldom from the house of a
most homely shepherd; a man, they say, that from
very nothing, and beyond the imagination of his
neighbours, is grown into an unspeakable estate.

CAMILLO

I have heard, sir, of such a man, who hath a
daughter of most rare note: the report of her is
extended more than can be thought to begin from such a cottage.

POLIXENES

That’s likewise part of my intelligence; but, I
fear, the angle that plucks our son thither. Thou
shalt accompany us to the place; where we will, not
appearing what we are, have some question with the
shepherd; from whose simplicity I think it not
uneasy to get the cause of my son’s resort thither.
Prithee, be my present partner in this business, and
lay aside the thoughts of Sicilia.

CAMILLO

I willingly obey your command.

POLIXENES

My best Camillo! We must disguise ourselves.

Exeunt

SCENE III. A road near the Shepherd’s cottage.

Enter AUTOLYCUS, singing

AUTOLYCUS

When daffodils begin to peer,
With heigh! the doxy over the dale,
Why, then comes in the sweet o’ the year;
For the red blood reigns in the winter’s pale.
The white sheet bleaching on the hedge,
With heigh! the sweet birds, O, how they sing!
Doth set my pugging tooth on edge;
For a quart of ale is a dish for a king.
The lark, that tirra-lyra chants,
With heigh! with heigh! the thrush and the jay,
Are summer songs for me and my aunts,
While we lie tumbling in the hay.
I have served Prince Florizel and in my time
wore three-pile; but now I am out of service:
But shall I go mourn for that, my dear?
The pale moon shines by night:
And when I wander here and there,
I then do most go right.
If tinkers may have leave to live,
And bear the sow-skin budget,
Then my account I well may, give,
And in the stocks avouch it.
My traffic is sheets; when the kite builds, look to
lesser linen. My father named me Autolycus; who
being, as I am, littered under Mercury, was likewise
a snapper-up of unconsidered trifles. With die and
drab I purchased this caparison, and my revenue is
the silly cheat. Gallows and knock are too powerful
on the highway: beating and hanging are terrors to
me: for the life to come, I sleep out the thought
of it. A prize! a prize!

Enter Clown

Clown

Let me see: every ‘leven wether tods; every tod
yields pound and odd shilling; fifteen hundred
shorn. what comes the wool to?

AUTOLYCUS

[Aside]
If the springe hold, the cock’s mine.

Clown

I cannot do’t without counters. Let me see; what am
I to buy for our sheep-shearing feast? Three pound
of sugar, five pound of currants, rice,–what will
this sister of mine do with rice? But my father
hath made her mistress of the feast, and she lays it
on. She hath made me four and twenty nose-gays for
the shearers, three-man-song-men all, and very good
ones; but they are most of them means and bases; but
one puritan amongst them, and he sings psalms to
horn-pipes. I must have saffron to colour the warden
pies; mace; dates?–none, that’s out of my note;
nutmegs, seven; a race or two of ginger, but that I
may beg; four pound of prunes, and as many of
raisins o’ the sun.

AUTOLYCUS

O that ever I was born!

Grovelling on the ground

Clown

I’ the name of me–

AUTOLYCUS

O, help me, help me! pluck but off these rags; and
then, death, death!

Clown

Alack, poor soul! thou hast need of more rags to lay
on thee, rather than have these off.

AUTOLYCUS

O sir, the loathsomeness of them offends me more
than the stripes I have received, which are mighty
ones and millions.

Clown

Alas, poor man! a million of beating may come to a
great matter.

AUTOLYCUS

I am robbed, sir, and beaten; my money and apparel
ta’en from me, and these detestable things put upon
me.

Clown

What, by a horseman, or a footman?

AUTOLYCUS

A footman, sweet sir, a footman.

Clown

Indeed, he should be a footman by the garments he
has left with thee: if this be a horseman’s coat,
it hath seen very hot service. Lend me thy hand,
I’ll help thee: come, lend me thy hand.

AUTOLYCUS

O, good sir, tenderly, O!

Clown

Alas, poor soul!

AUTOLYCUS

O, good sir, softly, good sir! I fear, sir, my
shoulder-blade is out.

Clown

How now! canst stand?

AUTOLYCUS

[Picking his pocket]
Softly, dear sir; good sir, softly. You ha’ done me
a charitable office.

Clown

Dost lack any money? I have a little money for thee.

AUTOLYCUS

No, good sweet sir; no, I beseech you, sir: I have
a kinsman not past three quarters of a mile hence,
unto whom I was going; I shall there have money, or
any thing I want: offer me no money, I pray you;
that kills my heart.

Clown

What manner of fellow was he that robbed you?

AUTOLYCUS

A fellow, sir, that I have known to go about with
troll-my-dames; I knew him once a servant of the
prince: I cannot tell, good sir, for which of his
virtues it was, but he was certainly whipped out of the court.

Clown

His vices, you would say; there’s no virtue whipped
out of the court: they cherish it to make it stay
there; and yet it will no more but abide.

AUTOLYCUS

Vices, I would say, sir. I know this man well: he
hath been since an ape-bearer; then a
process-server, a bailiff; then he compassed a
motion of the Prodigal Son, and married a tinker’s
wife within a mile where my land and living lies;
and, having flown over many knavish professions, he
settled only in rogue: some call him Autolycus.

Clown

Out upon him! prig, for my life, prig: he haunts
wakes, fairs and bear-baitings.

AUTOLYCUS

Very true, sir; he, sir, he; that’s the rogue that
put me into this apparel.

Clown

Not a more cowardly rogue in all Bohemia: if you had
but looked big and spit at him, he’ld have run.

AUTOLYCUS

I must confess to you, sir, I am no fighter: I am
false of heart that way; and that he knew, I warrant
him.

Clown

How do you now?

AUTOLYCUS

Sweet sir, much better than I was; I can stand and
walk: I will even take my leave of you, and pace
softly towards my kinsman’s.

Clown

Shall I bring thee on the way?

AUTOLYCUS

No, good-faced sir; no, sweet sir.

Clown

Then fare thee well: I must go buy spices for our
sheep-shearing.

AUTOLYCUS

Prosper you, sweet sir!
Your purse is not hot enough to purchase your spice.
I’ll be with you at your sheep-shearing too: if I
make not this cheat bring out another and the
shearers prove sheep, let me be unrolled and my name
put in the book of virtue!
Jog on, jog on, the foot-path way,
And merrily hent the stile-a:
A merry heart goes all the day,
Your sad tires in a mile-a.

Exit

SCENE IV. The Shepherd’s cottage.

Enter FLORIZEL and PERDITA

FLORIZEL

These your unusual weeds to each part of you
Do give a life: no shepherdess, but Flora
Peering in April’s front. This your sheep-shearing
Is as a meeting of the petty gods,
And you the queen on’t.

PERDITA

Sir, my gracious lord,
To chide at your extremes it not becomes me:
O, pardon, that I name them! Your high self,
The gracious mark o’ the land, you have obscured
With a swain’s wearing, and me, poor lowly maid,
Most goddess-like prank’d up: but that our feasts
In every mess have folly and the feeders
Digest it with a custom, I should blush
To see you so attired, sworn, I think,
To show myself a glass.

FLORIZEL

I bless the time
When my good falcon made her flight across
Thy father’s ground.

PERDITA

Now Jove afford you cause!
To me the difference forges dread; your greatness
Hath not been used to fear. Even now I tremble
To think your father, by some accident,
Should pass this way as you did: O, the Fates!
How would he look, to see his work so noble
Vilely bound up? What would he say? Or how
Should I, in these my borrow’d flaunts, behold
The sternness of his presence?

FLORIZEL

Apprehend
Nothing but jollity. The gods themselves,
Humbling their deities to love, have taken
The shapes of beasts upon them: Jupiter
Became a bull, and bellow’d; the green Neptune
A ram, and bleated; and the fire-robed god,
Golden Apollo, a poor humble swain,
As I seem now. Their transformations
Were never for a piece of beauty rarer,
Nor in a way so chaste, since my desires
Run not before mine honour, nor my lusts
Burn hotter than my faith.

PERDITA

O, but, sir,
Your resolution cannot hold, when ’tis
Opposed, as it must be, by the power of the king:
One of these two must be necessities,
Which then will speak, that you must
change this purpose,
Or I my life.

FLORIZEL

Thou dearest Perdita,
With these forced thoughts, I prithee, darken not
The mirth o’ the feast. Or I’ll be thine, my fair,
Or not my father’s. For I cannot be
Mine own, nor any thing to any, if
I be not thine. To this I am most constant,
Though destiny say no. Be merry, gentle;
Strangle such thoughts as these with any thing
That you behold the while. Your guests are coming:
Lift up your countenance, as it were the day
Of celebration of that nuptial which
We two have sworn shall come.

PERDITA

O lady Fortune,
Stand you auspicious!

FLORIZEL

See, your guests approach:
Address yourself to entertain them sprightly,
And let’s be red with mirth.

Enter Shepherd, Clown, MOPSA, DORCAS, and others, with POLIXENES and CAMILLO disguised

Shepherd

Fie, daughter! when my old wife lived, upon
This day she was both pantler, butler, cook,
Both dame and servant; welcomed all, served all;
Would sing her song and dance her turn; now here,
At upper end o’ the table, now i’ the middle;
On his shoulder, and his; her face o’ fire
With labour and the thing she took to quench it,
She would to each one sip. You are retired,
As if you were a feasted one and not
The hostess of the meeting: pray you, bid
These unknown friends to’s welcome; for it is
A way to make us better friends, more known.
Come, quench your blushes and present yourself
That which you are, mistress o’ the feast: come on,
And bid us welcome to your sheep-shearing,
As your good flock shall prosper.

PERDITA

[To POLIXENES] Sir, welcome:
It is my father’s will I should take on me
The hostess-ship o’ the day.
You’re welcome, sir.
Give me those flowers there, Dorcas. Reverend sirs,
For you there’s rosemary and rue; these keep
Seeming and savour all the winter long:
Grace and remembrance be to you both,
And welcome to our shearing!

POLIXENES

Shepherdess,
A fair one are you–well you fit our ages
With flowers of winter.

PERDITA

Sir, the year growing ancient,
Not yet on summer’s death, nor on the birth
Of trembling winter, the fairest
flowers o’ the season
Are our carnations and streak’d gillyvors,
Which some call nature’s bastards: of that kind
Our rustic garden’s barren; and I care not
To get slips of them.

POLIXENES

Wherefore, gentle maiden,
Do you neglect them?

PERDITA

For I have heard it said
There is an art which in their piedness shares
With great creating nature.

POLIXENES

Say there be;
Yet nature is made better by no mean
But nature makes that mean: so, over that art
Which you say adds to nature, is an art
That nature makes. You see, sweet maid, we marry
A gentler scion to the wildest stock,
And make conceive a bark of baser kind
By bud of nobler race: this is an art
Which does mend nature, change it rather, but
The art itself is nature.

PERDITA

So it is.

POLIXENES

Then make your garden rich in gillyvors,
And do not call them bastards.

PERDITA

I’ll not put
The dibble in earth to set one slip of them;
No more than were I painted I would wish
This youth should say ’twere well and only therefore
Desire to breed by me. Here’s flowers for you;
Hot lavender, mints, savoury, marjoram;
The marigold, that goes to bed wi’ the sun
And with him rises weeping: these are flowers
Of middle summer, and I think they are given
To men of middle age. You’re very welcome.

CAMILLO

I should leave grazing, were I of your flock,
And only live by gazing.

PERDITA

Out, alas!
You’d be so lean, that blasts of January
Would blow you through and through.
Now, my fair’st friend,
I would I had some flowers o’ the spring that might
Become your time of day; and yours, and yours,
That wear upon your virgin branches yet
Your maidenheads growing: O Proserpina,
For the flowers now, that frighted thou let’st fall
From Dis’s waggon! daffodils,
That come before the swallow dares, and take
The winds of March with beauty; violets dim,
But sweeter than the lids of Juno’s eyes
Or Cytherea’s breath; pale primroses
That die unmarried, ere they can behold
Bight Phoebus in his strength–a malady
Most incident to maids; bold oxlips and
The crown imperial; lilies of all kinds,
The flower-de-luce being one! O, these I lack,
To make you garlands of, and my sweet friend,
To strew him o’er and o’er!

FLORIZEL

What, like a corse?

PERDITA

No, like a bank for love to lie and play on;
Not like a corse; or if, not to be buried,
But quick and in mine arms. Come, take your flowers:
Methinks I play as I have seen them do
In Whitsun pastorals: sure this robe of mine
Does change my disposition.

FLORIZEL

What you do
Still betters what is done. When you speak, sweet.
I’ld have you do it ever: when you sing,
I’ld have you buy and sell so, so give alms,
Pray so; and, for the ordering your affairs,
To sing them too: when you do dance, I wish you
A wave o’ the sea, that you might ever do
Nothing but that; move still, still so,
And own no other function: each your doing,
So singular in each particular,
Crowns what you are doing in the present deed,
That all your acts are queens.

PERDITA

O Doricles,
Your praises are too large: but that your youth,
And the true blood which peepeth fairly through’t,
Do plainly give you out an unstain’d shepherd,
With wisdom I might fear, my Doricles,
You woo’d me the false way.

FLORIZEL

I think you have
As little skill to fear as I have purpose
To put you to’t. But come; our dance, I pray:
Your hand, my Perdita: so turtles pair,
That never mean to part.

PERDITA

I’ll swear for ‘em.

POLIXENES

This is the prettiest low-born lass that ever
Ran on the green-sward: nothing she does or seems
But smacks of something greater than herself,
Too noble for this place.

CAMILLO

He tells her something
That makes her blood look out: good sooth, she is
The queen of curds and cream.

Clown

Come on, strike up!

DORCAS

Mopsa must be your mistress: marry, garlic,
To mend her kissing with!

MOPSA

Now, in good time!

Clown

Not a word, a word; we stand upon our manners.
Come, strike up!

Music. Here a dance of Shepherds and Shepherdesses

POLIXENES

Pray, good shepherd, what fair swain is this
Which dances with your daughter?

Shepherd

They call him Doricles; and boasts himself
To have a worthy feeding: but I have it
Upon his own report and I believe it;
He looks like sooth. He says he loves my daughter:
I think so too; for never gazed the moon
Upon the water as he’ll stand and read
As ’twere my daughter’s eyes: and, to be plain.
I think there is not half a kiss to choose
Who loves another best.

POLIXENES

She dances featly.

Shepherd

So she does any thing; though I report it,
That should be silent: if young Doricles
Do light upon her, she shall bring him that
Which he not dreams of.

Enter Servant

Servant

O master, if you did but hear the pedlar at the
door, you would never dance again after a tabour and
pipe; no, the bagpipe could not move you: he sings
several tunes faster than you’ll tell money; he
utters them as he had eaten ballads and all men’s
ears grew to his tunes.

Clown

He could never come better; he shall come in. I
love a ballad but even too well, if it be doleful
matter merrily set down, or a very pleasant thing
indeed and sung lamentably.

Servant

He hath songs for man or woman, of all sizes; no
milliner can so fit his customers with gloves: he
has the prettiest love-songs for maids; so without
bawdry, which is strange; with such delicate
burthens of dildos and fadings, ‘jump her and thump
her;’ and where some stretch-mouthed rascal would,
as it were, mean mischief and break a foul gap into
the matter, he makes the maid to answer ‘Whoop, do me
no harm, good man;’ puts him off, slights him, with
‘Whoop, do me no harm, good man.’

POLIXENES

This is a brave fellow.

Clown

Believe me, thou talkest of an admirable conceited
fellow. Has he any unbraided wares?

Servant

He hath ribbons of an the colours i’ the rainbow;
points more than all the lawyers in Bohemia can
learnedly handle, though they come to him by the
gross: inkles, caddisses, cambrics, lawns: why, he
sings ‘em over as they were gods or goddesses; you
would think a smock were a she-angel, he so chants
to the sleeve-hand and the work about the square on’t.

Clown

Prithee bring him in; and let him approach singing.

PERDITA

Forewarn him that he use no scurrilous words in ‘s tunes.

Exit Servant

Clown

You have of these pedlars, that have more in them
than you’ld think, sister.

PERDITA

Ay, good brother, or go about to think.

Enter AUTOLYCUS, singing

AUTOLYCUS

Lawn as white as driven snow;
Cyprus black as e’er was crow;
Gloves as sweet as damask roses;
Masks for faces and for noses;
Bugle bracelet, necklace amber,
Perfume for a lady’s chamber;
Golden quoifs and stomachers,
For my lads to give their dears:
Pins and poking-sticks of steel,
What maids lack from head to heel:
Come buy of me, come; come buy, come buy;
Buy lads, or else your lasses cry: Come buy.

Clown

If I were not in love with Mopsa, thou shouldst take
no money of me; but being enthralled as I am, it
will also be the bondage of certain ribbons and gloves.

MOPSA

I was promised them against the feast; but they come
not too late now.

DORCAS

He hath promised you more than that, or there be liars.

MOPSA

He hath paid you all he promised you; may be, he has
paid you more, which will shame you to give him again.

Clown

Is there no manners left among maids? will they
wear their plackets where they should bear their
faces? Is there not milking-time, when you are
going to bed, or kiln-hole, to whistle off these
secrets, but you must be tittle-tattling before all
our guests? ’tis well they are whispering: clamour
your tongues, and not a word more.

MOPSA

I have done. Come, you promised me a tawdry-lace
and a pair of sweet gloves.

Clown

Have I not told thee how I was cozened by the way
and lost all my money?

AUTOLYCUS

And indeed, sir, there are cozeners abroad;
therefore it behoves men to be wary.

Clown

Fear not thou, man, thou shalt lose nothing here.

AUTOLYCUS

I hope so, sir; for I have about me many parcels of charge.

Clown

What hast here? ballads?

MOPSA

Pray now, buy some: I love a ballad in print o’
life, for then we are sure they are true.

AUTOLYCUS

Here’s one to a very doleful tune, how a usurer’s
wife was brought to bed of twenty money-bags at a
burthen and how she longed to eat adders’ heads and
toads carbonadoed.

MOPSA

Is it true, think you?

AUTOLYCUS

Very true, and but a month old.

DORCAS

Bless me from marrying a usurer!

AUTOLYCUS

Here’s the midwife’s name to’t, one Mistress
Tale-porter, and five or six honest wives that were
present. Why should I carry lies abroad?

MOPSA

Pray you now, buy it.

Clown

Come on, lay it by: and let’s first see moe
ballads; we’ll buy the other things anon.

AUTOLYCUS

Here’s another ballad of a fish, that appeared upon
the coast on Wednesday the four-score of April,
forty thousand fathom above water, and sung this
ballad against the hard hearts of maids: it was
thought she was a woman and was turned into a cold
fish for she would not exchange flesh with one that
loved her: the ballad is very pitiful and as true.

DORCAS

Is it true too, think you?

AUTOLYCUS

Five justices’ hands at it, and witnesses more than
my pack will hold.

Clown

Lay it by too: another.

AUTOLYCUS

This is a merry ballad, but a very pretty one.

MOPSA

Let’s have some merry ones.

AUTOLYCUS

Why, this is a passing merry one and goes to
the tune of ‘Two maids wooing a man:’ there’s
scarce a maid westward but she sings it; ’tis in
request, I can tell you.

MOPSA

We can both sing it: if thou’lt bear a part, thou
shalt hear; ’tis in three parts.

DORCAS

We had the tune on’t a month ago.

AUTOLYCUS

I can bear my part; you must know ’tis my
occupation; have at it with you.

SONG

AUTOLYCUS

Get you hence, for I must go
Where it fits not you to know.

DORCAS

Whither?

MOPSA

O, whither?

DORCAS

Whither?

MOPSA

It becomes thy oath full well,
Thou to me thy secrets tell.

DORCAS

Me too, let me go thither.

MOPSA

Or thou goest to the orange or mill.

DORCAS

If to either, thou dost ill.

AUTOLYCUS

Neither.

DORCAS

What, neither?

AUTOLYCUS

Neither.

DORCAS

Thou hast sworn my love to be.

MOPSA

Thou hast sworn it more to me:
Then whither goest? say, whither?

Clown

We’ll have this song out anon by ourselves: my
father and the gentlemen are in sad talk, and we’ll
not trouble them. Come, bring away thy pack after
me. Wenches, I’ll buy for you both. Pedlar, let’s
have the first choice. Follow me, girls.

Exit with DORCAS and MOPSA

AUTOLYCUS

And you shall pay well for ‘em.
Will you buy any tape,
Or lace for your cape,
My dainty duck, my dear-a?
Any silk, any thread,
Any toys for your head,
Of the new’st and finest, finest wear-a?
Come to the pedlar;
Money’s a medler.
That doth utter all men’s ware-a.

Exit

Re-enter Servant

Servant

Master, there is three carters, three shepherds,
three neat-herds, three swine-herds, that have made
themselves all men of hair, they call themselves
Saltiers, and they have a dance which the wenches
say is a gallimaufry of gambols, because they are
not in’t; but they themselves are o’ the mind, if it
be not too rough for some that know little but
bowling, it will please plentifully.

Shepherd

Away! we’ll none on ‘t: here has been too much
homely foolery already. I know, sir, we weary you.

POLIXENES

You weary those that refresh us: pray, let’s see
these four threes of herdsmen.

Servant

One three of them, by their own report, sir, hath
danced before the king; and not the worst of the
three but jumps twelve foot and a half by the squier.

Shepherd

Leave your prating: since these good men are
pleased, let them come in; but quickly now.

Servant

Why, they stay at door, sir.

Exit

Here a dance of twelve Satyrs

POLIXENES

O, father, you’ll know more of that hereafter.
Is it not too far gone? ‘Tis time to part them.
He’s simple and tells much.
How now, fair shepherd!
Your heart is full of something that does take
Your mind from feasting. Sooth, when I was young
And handed love as you do, I was wont
To load my she with knacks: I would have ransack’d
The pedlar’s silken treasury and have pour’d it
To her acceptance; you have let him go
And nothing marted with him. If your lass
Interpretation should abuse and call this
Your lack of love or bounty, you were straited
For a reply, at least if you make a care
Of happy holding her.

FLORIZEL

Old sir, I know
She prizes not such trifles as these are:
The gifts she looks from me are pack’d and lock’d
Up in my heart; which I have given already,
But not deliver’d. O, hear me breathe my life
Before this ancient sir, who, it should seem,
Hath sometime loved! I take thy hand, this hand,
As soft as dove’s down and as white as it,
Or Ethiopian’s tooth, or the fann’d
snow that’s bolted
By the northern blasts twice o’er.

POLIXENES

What follows this?
How prettily the young swain seems to wash
The hand was fair before! I have put you out:
But to your protestation; let me hear
What you profess.

FLORIZEL

Do, and be witness to ‘t.

POLIXENES

And this my neighbour too?

FLORIZEL

And he, and more
Than he, and men, the earth, the heavens, and all:
That, were I crown’d the most imperial monarch,
Thereof most worthy, were I the fairest youth
That ever made eye swerve, had force and knowledge
More than was ever man’s, I would not prize them
Without her love; for her employ them all;
Commend them and condemn them to her service
Or to their own perdition.

POLIXENES

Fairly offer’d.

CAMILLO

This shows a sound affection.

Shepherd

But, my daughter,
Say you the like to him?

PERDITA

I cannot speak
So well, nothing so well; no, nor mean better:
By the pattern of mine own thoughts I cut out
The purity of his.

Shepherd

Take hands, a bargain!
And, friends unknown, you shall bear witness to ‘t:
I give my daughter to him, and will make
Her portion equal his.

FLORIZEL

O, that must be
I’ the virtue of your daughter: one being dead,
I shall have more than you can dream of yet;
Enough then for your wonder. But, come on,
Contract us ‘fore these witnesses.

Shepherd

Come, your hand;
And, daughter, yours.

POLIXENES

Soft, swain, awhile, beseech you;
Have you a father?

FLORIZEL

I have: but what of him?

POLIXENES

Knows he of this?

FLORIZEL

He neither does nor shall.

POLIXENES

Methinks a father
Is at the nuptial of his son a guest
That best becomes the table. Pray you once more,
Is not your father grown incapable
Of reasonable affairs? is he not stupid
With age and altering rheums? can he speak? hear?
Know man from man? dispute his own estate?
Lies he not bed-rid? and again does nothing
But what he did being childish?

FLORIZEL

No, good sir;
He has his health and ampler strength indeed
Than most have of his age.

POLIXENES

By my white beard,
You offer him, if this be so, a wrong
Something unfilial: reason my son
Should choose himself a wife, but as good reason
The father, all whose joy is nothing else
But fair posterity, should hold some counsel
In such a business.

FLORIZEL

I yield all this;
But for some other reasons, my grave sir,
Which ’tis not fit you know, I not acquaint
My father of this business.

POLIXENES

Let him know’t.

FLORIZEL

He shall not.

POLIXENES

Prithee, let him.

FLORIZEL

No, he must not.

Shepherd

Let him, my son: he shall not need to grieve
At knowing of thy choice.

FLORIZEL

Come, come, he must not.
Mark our contract.

POLIXENES

Mark your divorce, young sir,
Whom son I dare not call; thou art too base
To be acknowledged: thou a sceptre’s heir,
That thus affect’st a sheep-hook! Thou old traitor,
I am sorry that by hanging thee I can
But shorten thy life one week. And thou, fresh piece
Of excellent witchcraft, who of force must know
The royal fool thou copest with,–

Shepherd

O, my heart!

POLIXENES

I’ll have thy beauty scratch’d with briers, and made
More homely than thy state. For thee, fond boy,
If I may ever know thou dost but sigh
That thou no more shalt see this knack, as never
I mean thou shalt, we’ll bar thee from succession;
Not hold thee of our blood, no, not our kin,
Far than Deucalion off: mark thou my words:
Follow us to the court. Thou churl, for this time,
Though full of our displeasure, yet we free thee
From the dead blow of it. And you, enchantment.–
Worthy enough a herdsman: yea, him too,
That makes himself, but for our honour therein,
Unworthy thee,–if ever henceforth thou
These rural latches to his entrance open,
Or hoop his body more with thy embraces,
I will devise a death as cruel for thee
As thou art tender to’t.

Exit

PERDITA

Even here undone!
I was not much afeard; for once or twice
I was about to speak and tell him plainly,
The selfsame sun that shines upon his court
Hides not his visage from our cottage but
Looks on alike. Will’t please you, sir, be gone?
I told you what would come of this: beseech you,
Of your own state take care: this dream of mine,–
Being now awake, I’ll queen it no inch farther,
But milk my ewes and weep.

CAMILLO

Why, how now, father!
Speak ere thou diest.

Shepherd

I cannot speak, nor think
Nor dare to know that which I know. O sir!
You have undone a man of fourscore three,
That thought to fill his grave in quiet, yea,
To die upon the bed my father died,
To lie close by his honest bones: but now
Some hangman must put on my shroud and lay me
Where no priest shovels in dust. O cursed wretch,
That knew’st this was the prince,
and wouldst adventure
To mingle faith with him! Undone! undone!
If I might die within this hour, I have lived
To die when I desire.

Exit

FLORIZEL

Why look you so upon me?
I am but sorry, not afeard; delay’d,
But nothing alter’d: what I was, I am;
More straining on for plucking back, not following
My leash unwillingly.

CAMILLO

Gracious my lord,
You know your father’s temper: at this time
He will allow no speech, which I do guess
You do not purpose to him; and as hardly
Will he endure your sight as yet, I fear:
Then, till the fury of his highness settle,
Come not before him.

FLORIZEL

I not purpose it.
I think, Camillo?

CAMILLO

Even he, my lord.

PERDITA

How often have I told you ‘twould be thus!
How often said, my dignity would last
But till ’twere known!

FLORIZEL

It cannot fail but by
The violation of my faith; and then
Let nature crush the sides o’ the earth together
And mar the seeds within! Lift up thy looks:
From my succession wipe me, father; I
Am heir to my affection.

CAMILLO

Be advised.

FLORIZEL

I am, and by my fancy: if my reason
Will thereto be obedient, I have reason;
If not, my senses, better pleased with madness,
Do bid it welcome.

CAMILLO

This is desperate, sir.

FLORIZEL

So call it: but it does fulfil my vow;
I needs must think it honesty. Camillo,
Not for Bohemia, nor the pomp that may
Be thereat glean’d, for all the sun sees or
The close earth wombs or the profound sea hides
In unknown fathoms, will I break my oath
To this my fair beloved: therefore, I pray you,
As you have ever been my father’s honour’d friend,
When he shall miss me,–as, in faith, I mean not
To see him any more,–cast your good counsels
Upon his passion; let myself and fortune
Tug for the time to come. This you may know
And so deliver, I am put to sea
With her whom here I cannot hold on shore;
And most opportune to our need I have
A vessel rides fast by, but not prepared
For this design. What course I mean to hold
Shall nothing benefit your knowledge, nor
Concern me the reporting.

CAMILLO

O my lord!
I would your spirit were easier for advice,
Or stronger for your need.

FLORIZEL

Hark, Perdita
I’ll hear you by and by.

CAMILLO

He’s irremoveable,
Resolved for flight. Now were I happy, if
His going I could frame to serve my turn,
Save him from danger, do him love and honour,
Purchase the sight again of dear Sicilia
And that unhappy king, my master, whom
I so much thirst to see.

FLORIZEL

Now, good Camillo;
I am so fraught with curious business that
I leave out ceremony.

CAMILLO

Sir, I think
You have heard of my poor services, i’ the love
That I have borne your father?

FLORIZEL

Very nobly
Have you deserved: it is my father’s music
To speak your deeds, not little of his care
To have them recompensed as thought on.

CAMILLO

Well, my lord,
If you may please to think I love the king
And through him what is nearest to him, which is
Your gracious self, embrace but my direction:
If your more ponderous and settled project
May suffer alteration, on mine honour,
I’ll point you where you shall have such receiving
As shall become your highness; where you may
Enjoy your mistress, from the whom, I see,
There’s no disjunction to be made, but by–
As heavens forefend!–your ruin; marry her,
And, with my best endeavours in your absence,
Your discontenting father strive to qualify
And bring him up to liking.

FLORIZEL

How, Camillo,
May this, almost a miracle, be done?
That I may call thee something more than man
And after that trust to thee.

CAMILLO

Have you thought on
A place whereto you’ll go?

FLORIZEL

Not any yet:
But as the unthought-on accident is guilty
To what we wildly do, so we profess
Ourselves to be the slaves of chance and flies
Of every wind that blows.

CAMILLO

Then list to me:
This follows, if you will not change your purpose
But undergo this flight, make for Sicilia,
And there present yourself and your fair princess,
For so I see she must be, ‘fore Leontes:
She shall be habited as it becomes
The partner of your bed. Methinks I see
Leontes opening his free arms and weeping
His welcomes forth; asks thee the son forgiveness,
As ’twere i’ the father’s person; kisses the hands
Of your fresh princess; o’er and o’er divides him
‘Twixt his unkindness and his kindness; the one
He chides to hell and bids the other grow
Faster than thought or time.

FLORIZEL

Worthy Camillo,
What colour for my visitation shall I
Hold up before him?

CAMILLO

Sent by the king your father
To greet him and to give him comforts. Sir,
The manner of your bearing towards him, with
What you as from your father shall deliver,
Things known betwixt us three, I’ll write you down:
The which shall point you forth at every sitting
What you must say; that he shall not perceive
But that you have your father’s bosom there
And speak his very heart.

FLORIZEL

I am bound to you:
There is some sap in this.

CAMILLO

A cause more promising
Than a wild dedication of yourselves
To unpath’d waters, undream’d shores, most certain
To miseries enough; no hope to help you,
But as you shake off one to take another;
Nothing so certain as your anchors, who
Do their best office, if they can but stay you
Where you’ll be loath to be: besides you know
Prosperity’s the very bond of love,
Whose fresh complexion and whose heart together
Affliction alters.

PERDITA

One of these is true:
I think affliction may subdue the cheek,
But not take in the mind.

CAMILLO

Yea, say you so?
There shall not at your father’s house these
seven years
Be born another such.

FLORIZEL

My good Camillo,
She is as forward of her breeding as
She is i’ the rear our birth.

CAMILLO

I cannot say ’tis pity
She lacks instructions, for she seems a mistress
To most that teach.

PERDITA

Your pardon, sir; for this
I’ll blush you thanks.

FLORIZEL

My prettiest Perdita!
But O, the thorns we stand upon! Camillo,
Preserver of my father, now of me,
The medicine of our house, how shall we do?
We are not furnish’d like Bohemia’s son,
Nor shall appear in Sicilia.

CAMILLO

My lord,
Fear none of this: I think you know my fortunes
Do all lie there: it shall be so my care
To have you royally appointed as if
The scene you play were mine. For instance, sir,
That you may know you shall not want, one word.

They talk aside

Re-enter AUTOLYCUS

AUTOLYCUS

Ha, ha! what a fool Honesty is! and Trust, his
sworn brother, a very simple gentleman! I have sold
all my trumpery; not a counterfeit stone, not a
ribbon, glass, pomander, brooch, table-book, ballad,
knife, tape, glove, shoe-tie, bracelet, horn-ring,
to keep my pack from fasting: they throng who
should buy first, as if my trinkets had been
hallowed and brought a benediction to the buyer:
by which means I saw whose purse was best in
picture; and what I saw, to my good use I
remembered. My clown, who wants but something to
be a reasonable man, grew so in love with the
wenches’ song, that he would not stir his pettitoes
till he had both tune and words; which so drew the
rest of the herd to me that all their other senses
stuck in ears: you might have pinched a placket, it
was senseless; ’twas nothing to geld a codpiece of a
purse; I could have filed keys off that hung in
chains: no hearing, no feeling, but my sir’s song,
and admiring the nothing of it. So that in this
time of lethargy I picked and cut most of their
festival purses; and had not the old man come in
with a whoo-bub against his daughter and the king’s
son and scared my choughs from the chaff, I had not
left a purse alive in the whole army.

CAMILLO, FLORIZEL, and PERDITA come forward

CAMILLO

Nay, but my letters, by this means being there
So soon as you arrive, shall clear that doubt.

FLORIZEL

And those that you’ll procure from King Leontes–

CAMILLO

Shall satisfy your father.

PERDITA

Happy be you!
All that you speak shows fair.

CAMILLO

Who have we here?
We’ll make an instrument of this, omit
Nothing may give us aid.

AUTOLYCUS

If they have overheard me now, why, hanging.

CAMILLO

How now, good fellow! why shakest thou so? Fear
not, man; here’s no harm intended to thee.

AUTOLYCUS

I am a poor fellow, sir.

CAMILLO

Why, be so still; here’s nobody will steal that from
thee: yet for the outside of thy poverty we must
make an exchange; therefore discase thee instantly,
–thou must think there’s a necessity in’t,–and
change garments with this gentleman: though the
pennyworth on his side be the worst, yet hold thee,
there’s some boot.

AUTOLYCUS

I am a poor fellow, sir.
I know ye well enough.

CAMILLO

Nay, prithee, dispatch: the gentleman is half
flayed already.

AUTOLYCUS

Are you in earnest, sir?
I smell the trick on’t.

FLORIZEL

Dispatch, I prithee.

AUTOLYCUS

Indeed, I have had earnest: but I cannot with
conscience take it.

CAMILLO

Unbuckle, unbuckle.
Fortunate mistress,–let my prophecy
Come home to ye!–you must retire yourself
Into some covert: take your sweetheart’s hat
And pluck it o’er your brows, muffle your face,
Dismantle you, and, as you can, disliken
The truth of your own seeming; that you may–
For I do fear eyes over–to shipboard
Get undescried.

PERDITA

I see the play so lies
That I must bear a part.

CAMILLO

No remedy.
Have you done there?

FLORIZEL

Should I now meet my father,
He would not call me son.

CAMILLO

Nay, you shall have no hat.
Come, lady, come. Farewell, my friend.

AUTOLYCUS

Adieu, sir.

FLORIZEL

O Perdita, what have we twain forgot!
Pray you, a word.

CAMILLO

[Aside] What I do next, shall be to tell the king
Of this escape and whither they are bound;
Wherein my hope is I shall so prevail
To force him after: in whose company
I shall review Sicilia, for whose sight
I have a woman’s longing.

FLORIZEL

Fortune speed us!
Thus we set on, Camillo, to the sea-side.

CAMILLO

The swifter speed the better.

Exeunt FLORIZEL, PERDITA, and CAMILLO

AUTOLYCUS

I understand the business, I hear it: to have an
open ear, a quick eye, and a nimble hand, is
necessary for a cut-purse; a good nose is requisite
also, to smell out work for the other senses. I see
this is the time that the unjust man doth thrive.
What an exchange had this been without boot! What
a boot is here with this exchange! Sure the gods do
this year connive at us, and we may do any thing
extempore. The prince himself is about a piece of
iniquity, stealing away from his father with his
clog at his heels: if I thought it were a piece of
honesty to acquaint the king withal, I would not
do’t: I hold it the more knavery to conceal it;
and therein am I constant to my profession.
Aside, aside; here is more matter for a hot brain:
every lane’s end, every shop, church, session,
hanging, yields a careful man work.

Clown

See, see; what a man you are now!
There is no other way but to tell the king
she’s a changeling and none of your flesh and blood.

Shepherd

Nay, but hear me.

Clown

Nay, but hear me.

Shepherd

Go to, then.

Clown

She being none of your flesh and blood, your flesh
and blood has not offended the king; and so your
flesh and blood is not to be punished by him. Show
those things you found about her, those secret
things, all but what she has with her: this being
done, let the law go whistle: I warrant you.

Shepherd

I will tell the king all, every word, yea, and his
son’s pranks too; who, I may say, is no honest man,
neither to his father nor to me, to go about to make
me the king’s brother-in-law.

Clown

Indeed, brother-in-law was the farthest off you
could have been to him and then your blood had been
the dearer by I know how much an ounce.

AUTOLYCUS

[Aside] Very wisely, puppies!

Shepherd

Well, let us to the king: there is that in this
fardel will make him scratch his beard.

AUTOLYCUS

[Aside] I know not what impediment this complaint
may be to the flight of my master.

Clown

Pray heartily he be at palace.

AUTOLYCUS

[Aside] Though I am not naturally honest, I am so
sometimes by chance: let me pocket up my pedlar’s excrement.
How now, rustics! whither are you bound?

Shepherd

To the palace, an it like your worship.

AUTOLYCUS

Your affairs there, what, with whom, the condition
of that fardel, the place of your dwelling, your
names, your ages, of what having, breeding, and any
thing that is fitting to be known, discover.

Clown

We are but plain fellows, sir.

AUTOLYCUS

A lie; you are rough and hairy. Let me have no
lying: it becomes none but tradesmen, and they
often give us soldiers the lie: but we pay them for
it with stamped coin, not stabbing steel; therefore
they do not give us the lie.

Clown

Your worship had like to have given us one, if you
had not taken yourself with the manner.

Shepherd

Are you a courtier, an’t like you, sir?

AUTOLYCUS

Whether it like me or no, I am a courtier. Seest
thou not the air of the court in these enfoldings?
hath not my gait in it the measure of the court?
receives not thy nose court-odor from me? reflect I
not on thy baseness court-contempt? Thinkest thou,
for that I insinuate, or toaze from thee thy
business, I am therefore no courtier? I am courtier
cap-a-pe; and one that will either push on or pluck
back thy business there: whereupon I command thee to
open thy affair.

Shepherd

My business, sir, is to the king.

AUTOLYCUS

What advocate hast thou to him?

Shepherd

I know not, an’t like you.

Clown

Advocate’s the court-word for a pheasant: say you
have none.

Shepherd

None, sir; I have no pheasant, cock nor hen.

AUTOLYCUS

How blessed are we that are not simple men!
Yet nature might have made me as these are,
Therefore I will not disdain.

Clown

This cannot be but a great courtier.

Shepherd

His garments are rich, but he wears
them not handsomely.

Clown

He seems to be the more noble in being fantastical:
a great man, I’ll warrant; I know by the picking
on’s teeth.

AUTOLYCUS

The fardel there? what’s i’ the fardel?
Wherefore that box?

Shepherd

Sir, there lies such secrets in this fardel and box,
which none must know but the king; and which he
shall know within this hour, if I may come to the
speech of him.

AUTOLYCUS

Age, thou hast lost thy labour.

Shepherd

Why, sir?

AUTOLYCUS

The king is not at the palace; he is gone aboard a
new ship to purge melancholy and air himself: for,
if thou beest capable of things serious, thou must
know the king is full of grief.

Shepard

So ’tis said, sir; about his son, that should have
married a shepherd’s daughter.

AUTOLYCUS

If that shepherd be not in hand-fast, let him fly:
the curses he shall have, the tortures he shall
feel, will break the back of man, the heart of monster.

Clown

Think you so, sir?

AUTOLYCUS

Not he alone shall suffer what wit can make heavy
and vengeance bitter; but those that are germane to
him, though removed fifty times, shall all come
under the hangman: which though it be great pity,
yet it is necessary. An old sheep-whistling rogue a
ram-tender, to offer to have his daughter come into
grace! Some say he shall be stoned; but that death
is too soft for him, say I draw our throne into a
sheep-cote! all deaths are too few, the sharpest too easy.

Clown

Has the old man e’er a son, sir, do you hear. an’t
like you, sir?

AUTOLYCUS

He has a son, who shall be flayed alive; then
‘nointed over with honey, set on the head of a
wasp’s nest; then stand till he be three quarters
and a dram dead; then recovered again with
aqua-vitae or some other hot infusion; then, raw as
he is, and in the hottest day prognostication
proclaims, shall be be set against a brick-wall, the
sun looking with a southward eye upon him, where he
is to behold him with flies blown to death. But what
talk we of these traitorly rascals, whose miseries
are to be smiled at, their offences being so
capital? Tell me, for you seem to be honest plain
men, what you have to the king: being something
gently considered, I’ll bring you where he is
aboard, tender your persons to his presence,
whisper him in your behalfs; and if it be in man
besides the king to effect your suits, here is man
shall do it.

Clown

He seems to be of great authority: close with him,
give him gold; and though authority be a stubborn
bear, yet he is oft led by the nose with gold: show
the inside of your purse to the outside of his hand,
and no more ado. Remember ‘stoned,’ and ‘flayed alive.’

Shepherd

An’t please you, sir, to undertake the business for
us, here is that gold I have: I’ll make it as much
more and leave this young man in pawn till I bring it you.

AUTOLYCUS

After I have done what I promised?

Shepherd

Ay, sir.

AUTOLYCUS

Well, give me the moiety. Are you a party in this business?

Clown

In some sort, sir: but though my case be a pitiful
one, I hope I shall not be flayed out of it.

AUTOLYCUS

O, that’s the case of the shepherd’s son: hang him,
he’ll be made an example.

Clown

Comfort, good comfort! We must to the king and show
our strange sights: he must know ’tis none of your
daughter nor my sister; we are gone else. Sir, I
will give you as much as this old man does when the
business is performed, and remain, as he says, your
pawn till it be brought you.

AUTOLYCUS

I will trust you. Walk before toward the sea-side;
go on the right hand: I will but look upon the
hedge and follow you.

Clown

We are blest in this man, as I may say, even blest.

Shepherd

Let’s before as he bids us: he was provided to do us good.

Exeunt Shepherd and Clown

AUTOLYCUS

If I had a mind to be honest, I see Fortune would
not suffer me: she drops booties in my mouth. I am
courted now with a double occasion, gold and a means
to do the prince my master good; which who knows how
that may turn back to my advancement? I will bring
these two moles, these blind ones, aboard him: if he
think it fit to shore them again and that the
complaint they have to the king concerns him
nothing, let him call me rogue for being so far
officious; for I am proof against that title and
what shame else belongs to’t. To him will I present
them: there may be matter in it.

Exit

ACT V

SCENE I. A room in LEONTES’ palace.

Enter LEONTES, CLEOMENES, DION, PAULINA, and Servants

CLEOMENES

Sir, you have done enough, and have perform’d
A saint-like sorrow: no fault could you make,
Which you have not redeem’d; indeed, paid down
More penitence than done trespass: at the last,
Do as the heavens have done, forget your evil;
With them forgive yourself.

LEONTES

Whilst I remember
Her and her virtues, I cannot forget
My blemishes in them, and so still think of
The wrong I did myself; which was so much,
That heirless it hath made my kingdom and
Destroy’d the sweet’st companion that e’er man
Bred his hopes out of.

PAULINA

True, too true, my lord:
If, one by one, you wedded all the world,
Or from the all that are took something good,
To make a perfect woman, she you kill’d
Would be unparallel’d.

LEONTES

I think so. Kill’d!
She I kill’d! I did so: but thou strikest me
Sorely, to say I did; it is as bitter
Upon thy tongue as in my thought: now, good now,
Say so but seldom.

CLEOMENES

Not at all, good lady:
You might have spoken a thousand things that would
Have done the time more benefit and graced
Your kindness better.

PAULINA

You are one of those
Would have him wed again.

DION

If you would not so,
You pity not the state, nor the remembrance
Of his most sovereign name; consider little
What dangers, by his highness’ fail of issue,
May drop upon his kingdom and devour
Incertain lookers on. What were more holy
Than to rejoice the former queen is well?
What holier than, for royalty’s repair,
For present comfort and for future good,
To bless the bed of majesty again
With a sweet fellow to’t?

PAULINA

There is none worthy,
Respecting her that’s gone. Besides, the gods
Will have fulfill’d their secret purposes;
For has not the divine Apollo said,
Is’t not the tenor of his oracle,
That King Leontes shall not have an heir
Till his lost child be found? which that it shall,
Is all as monstrous to our human reason
As my Antigonus to break his grave
And come again to me; who, on my life,
Did perish with the infant. ‘Tis your counsel
My lord should to the heavens be contrary,
Oppose against their wills.
Care not for issue;
The crown will find an heir: great Alexander
Left his to the worthiest; so his successor
Was like to be the best.

LEONTES

Good Paulina,
Who hast the memory of Hermione,
I know, in honour, O, that ever I
Had squared me to thy counsel! then, even now,
I might have look’d upon my queen’s full eyes,
Have taken treasure from her lips–

PAULINA

And left them
More rich for what they yielded.

LEONTES

Thou speak’st truth.
No more such wives; therefore, no wife: one worse,
And better used, would make her sainted spirit
Again possess her corpse, and on this stage,
Where we’re offenders now, appear soul-vex’d,
And begin, ‘Why to me?’

PAULINA

Had she such power,
She had just cause.

LEONTES

She had; and would incense me
To murder her I married.

PAULINA

I should so.
Were I the ghost that walk’d, I’ld bid you mark
Her eye, and tell me for what dull part in’t
You chose her; then I’ld shriek, that even your ears
Should rift to hear me; and the words that follow’d
Should be ‘Remember mine.’

LEONTES

Stars, stars,
And all eyes else dead coals! Fear thou no wife;
I’ll have no wife, Paulina.

PAULINA

Will you swear
Never to marry but by my free leave?

LEONTES

Never, Paulina; so be blest my spirit!

PAULINA

Then, good my lords, bear witness to his oath.

CLEOMENES

You tempt him over-much.

PAULINA

Unless another,
As like Hermione as is her picture,
Affront his eye.

CLEOMENES

Good madam,–

PAULINA

I have done.
Yet, if my lord will marry,–if you will, sir,
No remedy, but you will,–give me the office
To choose you a queen: she shall not be so young
As was your former; but she shall be such
As, walk’d your first queen’s ghost,
it should take joy
To see her in your arms.

LEONTES

My true Paulina,
We shall not marry till thou bid’st us.

PAULINA

That
Shall be when your first queen’s again in breath;
Never till then.

Enter a Gentleman

Gentleman

One that gives out himself Prince Florizel,
Son of Polixenes, with his princess, she
The fairest I have yet beheld, desires access
To your high presence.

LEONTES

What with him? he comes not
Like to his father’s greatness: his approach,
So out of circumstance and sudden, tells us
‘Tis not a visitation framed, but forced
By need and accident. What train?

Gentleman

But few,
And those but mean.

LEONTES

His princess, say you, with him?

Gentleman

Ay, the most peerless piece of earth, I think,
That e’er the sun shone bright on.

PAULINA

O Hermione,
As every present time doth boast itself
Above a better gone, so must thy grave
Give way to what’s seen now! Sir, you yourself
Have said and writ so, but your writing now
Is colder than that theme, ‘She had not been,
Nor was not to be equall’d;’–thus your verse
Flow’d with her beauty once: ’tis shrewdly ebb’d,
To say you have seen a better.

Gentleman

Pardon, madam:
The one I have almost forgot,–your pardon,–
The other, when she has obtain’d your eye,
Will have your tongue too. This is a creature,
Would she begin a sect, might quench the zeal
Of all professors else, make proselytes
Of who she but bid follow.

PAULINA

How! not women?

Gentleman

Women will love her, that she is a woman
More worth than any man; men, that she is
The rarest of all women.

LEONTES

Go, Cleomenes;
Yourself, assisted with your honour’d friends,
Bring them to our embracement. Still, ’tis strange
He thus should steal upon us.

PAULINA

Had our prince,
Jewel of children, seen this hour, he had pair’d
Well with this lord: there was not full a month
Between their births.

LEONTES

Prithee, no more; cease; thou know’st
He dies to me again when talk’d of: sure,
When I shall see this gentleman, thy speeches
Will bring me to consider that which may
Unfurnish me of reason. They are come.
Your mother was most true to wedlock, prince;
For she did print your royal father off,
Conceiving you: were I but twenty-one,
Your father’s image is so hit in you,
His very air, that I should call you brother,
As I did him, and speak of something wildly
By us perform’d before. Most dearly welcome!
And your fair princess,–goddess!–O, alas!
I lost a couple, that ‘twixt heaven and earth
Might thus have stood begetting wonder as
You, gracious couple, do: and then I lost–
All mine own folly–the society,
Amity too, of your brave father, whom,
Though bearing misery, I desire my life
Once more to look on him.

FLORIZEL

By his command
Have I here touch’d Sicilia and from him
Give you all greetings that a king, at friend,
Can send his brother: and, but infirmity
Which waits upon worn times hath something seized
His wish’d ability, he had himself
The lands and waters ‘twixt your throne and his
Measured to look upon you; whom he loves–
He bade me say so–more than all the sceptres
And those that bear them living.

LEONTES

O my brother,
Good gentleman! the wrongs I have done thee stir
Afresh within me, and these thy offices,
So rarely kind, are as interpreters
Of my behind-hand slackness. Welcome hither,
As is the spring to the earth. And hath he too
Exposed this paragon to the fearful usage,
At least ungentle, of the dreadful Neptune,
To greet a man not worth her pains, much less
The adventure of her person?

FLORIZEL

Good my lord,
She came from Libya.

LEONTES

Where the warlike Smalus,
That noble honour’d lord, is fear’d and loved?

FLORIZEL

Most royal sir, from thence; from him, whose daughter
His tears proclaim’d his, parting with her: thence,
A prosperous south-wind friendly, we have cross’d,
To execute the charge my father gave me
For visiting your highness: my best train
I have from your Sicilian shores dismiss’d;
Who for Bohemia bend, to signify
Not only my success in Libya, sir,
But my arrival and my wife’s in safety
Here where we are.

LEONTES

The blessed gods
Purge all infection from our air whilst you
Do climate here! You have a holy father,
A graceful gentleman; against whose person,
So sacred as it is, I have done sin:
For which the heavens, taking angry note,
Have left me issueless; and your father’s blest,
As he from heaven merits it, with you
Worthy his goodness. What might I have been,
Might I a son and daughter now have look’d on,
Such goodly things as you!

Enter a Lord

Lord

Most noble sir,
That which I shall report will bear no credit,
Were not the proof so nigh. Please you, great sir,
Bohemia greets you from himself by me;
Desires you to attach his son, who has–
His dignity and duty both cast off–
Fled from his father, from his hopes, and with
A shepherd’s daughter.

LEONTES

Where’s Bohemia? speak.

Lord

Here in your city; I now came from him:
I speak amazedly; and it becomes
My marvel and my message. To your court
Whiles he was hastening, in the chase, it seems,
Of this fair couple, meets he on the way
The father of this seeming lady and
Her brother, having both their country quitted
With this young prince.

FLORIZEL

Camillo has betray’d me;
Whose honour and whose honesty till now
Endured all weathers.

Lord

Lay’t so to his charge:
He’s with the king your father.

LEONTES

Who? Camillo?

Lord

Camillo, sir; I spake with him; who now
Has these poor men in question. Never saw I
Wretches so quake: they kneel, they kiss the earth;
Forswear themselves as often as they speak:
Bohemia stops his ears, and threatens them
With divers deaths in death.

PERDITA

O my poor father!
The heaven sets spies upon us, will not have
Our contract celebrated.

LEONTES

You are married?

FLORIZEL

We are not, sir, nor are we like to be;
The stars, I see, will kiss the valleys first:
The odds for high and low’s alike.

LEONTES

My lord,
Is this the daughter of a king?

FLORIZEL

She is,
When once she is my wife.

LEONTES

That ‘once’ I see by your good father’s speed
Will come on very slowly. I am sorry,
Most sorry, you have broken from his liking
Where you were tied in duty, and as sorry
Your choice is not so rich in worth as beauty,
That you might well enjoy her.

FLORIZEL

Dear, look up:
Though Fortune, visible an enemy,
Should chase us with my father, power no jot
Hath she to change our loves. Beseech you, sir,
Remember since you owed no more to time
Than I do now: with thought of such affections,
Step forth mine advocate; at your request
My father will grant precious things as trifles.

LEONTES

Would he do so, I’ld beg your precious mistress,
Which he counts but a trifle.

PAULINA

Sir, my liege,
Your eye hath too much youth in’t: not a month
‘Fore your queen died, she was more worth such gazes
Than what you look on now.

LEONTES

I thought of her,
Even in these looks I made.
But your petition
Is yet unanswer’d. I will to your father:
Your honour not o’erthrown by your desires,
I am friend to them and you: upon which errand
I now go toward him; therefore follow me
And mark what way I make: come, good my lord.

Exeunt

SCENE II. Before LEONTES’ palace.

Enter AUTOLYCUS and a Gentleman

AUTOLYCUS

Beseech you, sir, were you present at this relation?

First Gentleman

I was by at the opening of the fardel, heard the old
shepherd deliver the manner how he found it:
whereupon, after a little amazedness, we were all
commanded out of the chamber; only this methought I
heard the shepherd say, he found the child.

AUTOLYCUS

I would most gladly know the issue of it.

First Gentleman

I make a broken delivery of the business; but the
changes I perceived in the king and Camillo were
very notes of admiration: they seemed almost, with
staring on one another, to tear the cases of their
eyes; there was speech in their dumbness, language
in their very gesture; they looked as they had heard
of a world ransomed, or one destroyed: a notable
passion of wonder appeared in them; but the wisest
beholder, that knew no more but seeing, could not
say if the importance were joy or sorrow; but in the
extremity of the one, it must needs be.
Here comes a gentleman that haply knows more.
The news, Rogero?

Second Gentleman

Nothing but bonfires: the oracle is fulfilled; the
king’s daughter is found: such a deal of wonder is
broken out within this hour that ballad-makers
cannot be able to express it.
Here comes the Lady Paulina’s steward: he can
deliver you more. How goes it now, sir? this news
which is called true is so like an old tale, that
the verity of it is in strong suspicion: has the king
found his heir?

Third Gentleman

Most true, if ever truth were pregnant by
circumstance: that which you hear you’ll swear you
see, there is such unity in the proofs. The mantle
of Queen Hermione’s, her jewel about the neck of it,
the letters of Antigonus found with it which they
know to be his character, the majesty of the
creature in resemblance of the mother, the affection
of nobleness which nature shows above her breeding,
and many other evidences proclaim her with all
certainty to be the king’s daughter. Did you see
the meeting of the two kings?

Second Gentleman

No.

Third Gentleman

Then have you lost a sight, which was to be seen,
cannot be spoken of. There might you have beheld one
joy crown another, so and in such manner that it
seemed sorrow wept to take leave of them, for their
joy waded in tears. There was casting up of eyes,
holding up of hands, with countenances of such
distraction that they were to be known by garment,
not by favour. Our king, being ready to leap out of
himself for joy of his found daughter, as if that
joy were now become a loss, cries ‘O, thy mother,
thy mother!’ then asks Bohemia forgiveness; then
embraces his son-in-law; then again worries he his
daughter with clipping her; now he thanks the old
shepherd, which stands by like a weather-bitten
conduit of many kings’ reigns. I never heard of such
another encounter, which lames report to follow it
and undoes description to do it.

Second Gentleman

What, pray you, became of Antigonus, that carried
hence the child?

Third Gentleman

Like an old tale still, which will have matter to
rehearse, though credit be asleep and not an ear
open. He was torn to pieces with a bear: this
avouches the shepherd’s son; who has not only his
innocence, which seems much, to justify him, but a
handkerchief and rings of his that Paulina knows.

First Gentleman

What became of his bark and his followers?

Third Gentleman

Wrecked the same instant of their master’s death and
in the view of the shepherd: so that all the
instruments which aided to expose the child were
even then lost when it was found. But O, the noble
combat that ‘twixt joy and sorrow was fought in
Paulina! She had one eye declined for the loss of
her husband, another elevated that the oracle was
fulfilled: she lifted the princess from the earth,
and so locks her in embracing, as if she would pin
her to her heart that she might no more be in danger
of losing.

First Gentleman

The dignity of this act was worth the audience of
kings and princes; for by such was it acted.

Third Gentleman

One of the prettiest touches of all and that which
angled for mine eyes, caught the water though not
the fish, was when, at the relation of the queen’s
death, with the manner how she came to’t bravely
confessed and lamented by the king, how
attentiveness wounded his daughter; till, from one
sign of dolour to another, she did, with an ‘Alas,’
I would fain say, bleed tears, for I am sure my
heart wept blood. Who was most marble there changed
colour; some swooned, all sorrowed: if all the world
could have seen ‘t, the woe had been universal.

First Gentleman

Are they returned to the court?

Third Gentleman

No: the princess hearing of her mother’s statue,
which is in the keeping of Paulina,–a piece many
years in doing and now newly performed by that rare
Italian master, Julio Romano, who, had he himself
eternity and could put breath into his work, would
beguile Nature of her custom, so perfectly he is her
ape: he so near to Hermione hath done Hermione that
they say one would speak to her and stand in hope of
answer: thither with all greediness of affection
are they gone, and there they intend to sup.

Second Gentleman

I thought she had some great matter there in hand;
for she hath privately twice or thrice a day, ever
since the death of Hermione, visited that removed
house. Shall we thither and with our company piece
the rejoicing?

First Gentleman

Who would be thence that has the benefit of access?
every wink of an eye some new grace will be born:
our absence makes us unthrifty to our knowledge.
Let’s along.

Exeunt Gentlemen

AUTOLYCUS

Now, had I not the dash of my former life in me,
would preferment drop on my head. I brought the old
man and his son aboard the prince: told him I heard
them talk of a fardel and I know not what: but he
at that time, overfond of the shepherd’s daughter,
so he then took her to be, who began to be much
sea-sick, and himself little better, extremity of
weather continuing, this mystery remained
undiscovered. But ’tis all one to me; for had I
been the finder out of this secret, it would not
have relished among my other discredits.
Here come those I have done good to against my will,
and already appearing in the blossoms of their fortune.

Shepherd

Come, boy; I am past moe children, but thy sons and
daughters will be all gentlemen born.

Clown

You are well met, sir. You denied to fight with me
this other day, because I was no gentleman born.
See you these clothes? say you see them not and
think me still no gentleman born: you were best say
these robes are not gentlemen born: give me the
lie, do, and try whether I am not now a gentleman born.

AUTOLYCUS

I know you are now, sir, a gentleman born.

Clown

Ay, and have been so any time these four hours.

Shepherd

And so have I, boy.

Clown

So you have: but I was a gentleman born before my
father; for the king’s son took me by the hand, and
called me brother; and then the two kings called my
father brother; and then the prince my brother and
the princess my sister called my father father; and
so we wept, and there was the first gentleman-like
tears that ever we shed.

Shepherd

We may live, son, to shed many more.

Clown

Ay; or else ’twere hard luck, being in so
preposterous estate as we are.

AUTOLYCUS

I humbly beseech you, sir, to pardon me all the
faults I have committed to your worship and to give
me your good report to the prince my master.

Shepherd

Prithee, son, do; for we must be gentle, now we are
gentlemen.

Clown

Thou wilt amend thy life?

AUTOLYCUS

Ay, an it like your good worship.

Clown

Give me thy hand: I will swear to the prince thou
art as honest a true fellow as any is in Bohemia.

Shepherd

You may say it, but not swear it.

Clown

Not swear it, now I am a gentleman? Let boors and
franklins say it, I’ll swear it.

Shepherd

How if it be false, son?

Clown

If it be ne’er so false, a true gentleman may swear
it in the behalf of his friend: and I’ll swear to
the prince thou art a tall fellow of thy hands and
that thou wilt not be drunk; but I know thou art no
tall fellow of thy hands and that thou wilt be
drunk: but I’ll swear it, and I would thou wouldst
be a tall fellow of thy hands.

AUTOLYCUS

I will prove so, sir, to my power.

Clown

Ay, by any means prove a tall fellow: if I do not
wonder how thou darest venture to be drunk, not
being a tall fellow, trust me not. Hark! the kings
and the princes, our kindred, are going to see the
queen’s picture. Come, follow us: we’ll be thy
good masters.

Exeunt

SCENE III. A chapel in PAULINA’S house.

Enter LEONTES, POLIXENES, FLORIZEL, PERDITA, CAMILLO, PAULINA, Lords, and Attendants

LEONTES

O grave and good Paulina, the great comfort
That I have had of thee!

PAULINA

What, sovereign sir,
I did not well I meant well. All my services
You have paid home: but that you have vouchsafed,
With your crown’d brother and these your contracted
Heirs of your kingdoms, my poor house to visit,
It is a surplus of your grace, which never
My life may last to answer.

LEONTES

O Paulina,
We honour you with trouble: but we came
To see the statue of our queen: your gallery
Have we pass’d through, not without much content
In many singularities; but we saw not
That which my daughter came to look upon,
The statue of her mother.

PAULINA

As she lived peerless,
So her dead likeness, I do well believe,
Excels whatever yet you look’d upon
Or hand of man hath done; therefore I keep it
Lonely, apart. But here it is: prepare
To see the life as lively mock’d as ever
Still sleep mock’d death: behold, and say ’tis well.
I like your silence, it the more shows off
Your wonder: but yet speak; first, you, my liege,
Comes it not something near?

LEONTES

Her natural posture!
Chide me, dear stone, that I may say indeed
Thou art Hermione; or rather, thou art she
In thy not chiding, for she was as tender
As infancy and grace. But yet, Paulina,
Hermione was not so much wrinkled, nothing
So aged as this seems.

POLIXENES

O, not by much.

PAULINA

So much the more our carver’s excellence;
Which lets go by some sixteen years and makes her
As she lived now.

LEONTES

As now she might have done,
So much to my good comfort, as it is
Now piercing to my soul. O, thus she stood,
Even with such life of majesty, warm life,
As now it coldly stands, when first I woo’d her!
I am ashamed: does not the stone rebuke me
For being more stone than it? O royal piece,
There’s magic in thy majesty, which has
My evils conjured to remembrance and
From thy admiring daughter took the spirits,
Standing like stone with thee.

PERDITA

And give me leave,
And do not say ’tis superstition, that
I kneel and then implore her blessing. Lady,
Dear queen, that ended when I but began,
Give me that hand of yours to kiss.

PAULINA

O, patience!
The statue is but newly fix’d, the colour’s Not dry.

CAMILLO

My lord, your sorrow was too sore laid on,
Which sixteen winters cannot blow away,
So many summers dry; scarce any joy
Did ever so long live; no sorrow
But kill’d itself much sooner.

POLIXENES

Dear my brother,
Let him that was the cause of this have power
To take off so much grief from you as he
Will piece up in himself.

PAULINA

Indeed, my lord,
If I had thought the sight of my poor image
Would thus have wrought you,–for the stone is mine–
I’ld not have show’d it.

LEONTES

Do not draw the curtain.

PAULINA

No longer shall you gaze on’t, lest your fancy
May think anon it moves.

LEONTES

Let be, let be.
Would I were dead, but that, methinks, already–
What was he that did make it? See, my lord,
Would you not deem it breathed? and that those veins
Did verily bear blood?

POLIXENES

Masterly done:
The very life seems warm upon her lip.

LEONTES

The fixture of her eye has motion in’t,
As we are mock’d with art.

PAULINA

I’ll draw the curtain:
My lord’s almost so far transported that
He’ll think anon it lives.

LEONTES

O sweet Paulina,
Make me to think so twenty years together!
No settled senses of the world can match
The pleasure of that madness. Let ‘t alone.

PAULINA

I am sorry, sir, I have thus far stirr’d you: but
I could afflict you farther.

LEONTES

Do, Paulina;
For this affliction has a taste as sweet
As any cordial comfort. Still, methinks,
There is an air comes from her: what fine chisel
Could ever yet cut breath? Let no man mock me,
For I will kiss her.

PAULINA

Good my lord, forbear:
The ruddiness upon her lip is wet;
You’ll mar it if you kiss it, stain your own
With oily painting. Shall I draw the curtain?

LEONTES

No, not these twenty years.

PERDITA

So long could I
Stand by, a looker on.

PAULINA

Either forbear,
Quit presently the chapel, or resolve you
For more amazement. If you can behold it,
I’ll make the statue move indeed, descend
And take you by the hand; but then you’ll think–
Which I protest against–I am assisted
By wicked powers.

LEONTES

What you can make her do,
I am content to look on: what to speak,
I am content to hear; for ’tis as easy
To make her speak as move.

PAULINA

It is required
You do awake your faith. Then all stand still;
On: those that think it is unlawful business
I am about, let them depart.

LEONTES

Proceed:
No foot shall stir.

PAULINA

Music, awake her; strike!
‘Tis time; descend; be stone no more; approach;
Strike all that look upon with marvel. Come,
I’ll fill your grave up: stir, nay, come away,
Bequeath to death your numbness, for from him
Dear life redeems you. You perceive she stirs:
Start not; her actions shall be holy as
You hear my spell is lawful: do not shun her
Until you see her die again; for then
You kill her double. Nay, present your hand:
When she was young you woo’d her; now in age
Is she become the suitor?

LEONTES

O, she’s warm!
If this be magic, let it be an art
Lawful as eating.

POLIXENES

She embraces him.

CAMILLO

She hangs about his neck:
If she pertain to life let her speak too.

POLIXENES

Ay, and make’t manifest where she has lived,
Or how stolen from the dead.

PAULINA

That she is living,
Were it but told you, should be hooted at
Like an old tale: but it appears she lives,
Though yet she speak not. Mark a little while.
Please you to interpose, fair madam: kneel
And pray your mother’s blessing. Turn, good lady;
Our Perdita is found.

HERMIONE

You gods, look down
And from your sacred vials pour your graces
Upon my daughter’s head! Tell me, mine own.
Where hast thou been preserved? where lived? how found
Thy father’s court? for thou shalt hear that I,
Knowing by Paulina that the oracle
Gave hope thou wast in being, have preserved
Myself to see the issue.

PAULINA

There’s time enough for that;
Lest they desire upon this push to trouble
Your joys with like relation. Go together,
You precious winners all; your exultation
Partake to every one. I, an old turtle,
Will wing me to some wither’d bough and there
My mate, that’s never to be found again,
Lament till I am lost.

LEONTES

O, peace, Paulina!
Thou shouldst a husband take by my consent,
As I by thine a wife: this is a match,
And made between’s by vows. Thou hast found mine;
But how, is to be question’d; for I saw her,
As I thought, dead, and have in vain said many
A prayer upon her grave. I’ll not seek far–
For him, I partly know his mind–to find thee
An honourable husband. Come, Camillo,
And take her by the hand, whose worth and honesty
Is richly noted and here justified
By us, a pair of kings. Let’s from this place.
What! look upon my brother: both your pardons,
That e’er I put between your holy looks
My ill suspicion. This is your son-in-law,
And son unto the king, who, heavens directing,
Is troth-plight to your daughter. Good Paulina,
Lead us from hence, where we may leisurely
Each one demand an answer to his part
Perform’d in this wide gap of time since first
We were dissever’d: hastily lead away.

Exeunt