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The Winter's Tale Scenes

Scene 4

Bohemia. A shepherd’s cottage.

(Florizel; Perdita; Clown; Polixenes; Camillo; Mopsa; Dorcas; Servants; Old Shepherd; Servant of the Old Shepherd; Shepherds and Shepherdesses; Autolycus; Satyrs)

Florizel, dressed in rustic clothing, and Perdita, who is dressed up as Queen of the Feast, meet and talk of their love. The modest girl is worried that Polixenes will find out about them, but Florizel reassures her that even if that happened, he would stay with her. The Old Shepherd comes in with Polixenes and Camillo in disguise a old bearded men, and bids Perdita to stop mooning about with her swain and go about her duties as mistress of the feast. She greets the guests, offering them flowers, and argues with Polixenes over cross-breeding flowers: he approves of the practice, while she thinks that diluting the family line is wrong. As he witnesses his son and Perdita coo over one another, Polixenes is forced to admit that the girl seems much more noble than she ought to be. As the shepherds all dance, Polixenes asks the Old Shepherd about his daughter’s suitor; the Shepherd tells him that he is named Doricles and that he is hopeful the two shall marry. A servant announces a peddler, who is finally brought in, and turns out to be Autolycus in disguise. The Clown, who is beset by two women who both claim he promised to take them to the feast, is in trouble with both because he had all his money stolen and cannot keep his promise to purchase them trinkets. As the shepherds go off to see Autolycus’s wares, some others come in to dance a masque of savages, though the Shepherd fears he may be boring Polixenes and Camillo. After the dance, Polixenes decides that it’s time to find out what Florizel’s intentions are, and begins to interrogate him. Florizel swears his true affection, and officially asks Perdita to marry him. She agrees, to the Old Shepherd’s delight. Polixenes, however, asks Florizel whether he doesn’t think that his father ought to know about this. Florizel denies it, and Polixenes reveals himself, to the shock of the guests and of the Old Shepherd. Threatening Florizel with disinheritance if he ever goes near Perdita again, the King swears to Perdita that he will have her tortured to death if she tries to get the Prince back. After he leaves, Perdita reflects that she almost told the King that they are both human beings, but held back. She urges Florizel to go, reminding him that she predicted this would happen for a long time. The Shepherd, realizing that Perdita knew very well who “Doricles” was, castigates them both for having brought such shame on him. Florizel resolves to flee with Perdita. Camillo, seeing an opportunity, suggests that they go to Sicilia and appear before Leontes as ambassadors from Polixenes. He promises to give them all the help they need. Autolycus enters, chuckling over how while selling his trinkets he could see who had the most money and proceeded to pick their pockets. Camillo bribes him to exchange clothes with Florizel, and he is more than willing. The lovers leave for their ship, while Camillo goes off to tell Polixenes, knowing that the King will chase after his son and bring Camillo along, and that therefore Camillo will at last be able to see Sicilia again. Autolycus sees what is going on. The Old Shepherd and his son come in, on their way to tell the King how they found Perdita on the seashore, and that she is not therefore really a member of their family. They are carrying all the things they found with her. Autolycus, now dressed up as a rich man, pretends to be a nobleman and offers to be their advocate at the court, spinning tales of how Polixenes has threatened to have them tortured. They offer a good deal of money for his service, and he accepts it, and his actual intention is to get in well with his former master Florizel by bringing the Shepherd and the Clown to him. (708 lines)

Enter Florizel, Perdita.


These your unusual weeds to each part of you

Does 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.


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’ th’ land, you have obscur’d

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 ’t with a custom, I should blush

To see you so attir’d—swoon, I think,

To show myself a glass.


I bless the time

When my good falcon made her flight across

Thy father’s ground.


Now Jove afford you cause!

To me the difference forges dread; your greatness

Hath not been us’d 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,

Vildly bound up? What would he say? Or how

Should I, in these my borrowed flaunts, behold

The sternness of his presence?



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-rob’d 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 honor, nor my lusts

Burn hotter than my faith.


O but, sir,

Your resolution cannot hold when ’tis

Oppos’d (as it must be) by th’ pow’r of the King.

One of these two must be necessities,

Which then will speak, that you must change this purpose,

Or I my life.


Thou dear’st Perdita,

With these forc’d thoughts I prithee darken not

The mirth o’ th’ 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.


O Lady Fortune,

Stand you auspicious!


See, your guests approach,

Address yourself to entertain them sprightly,

And let’s be red with mirth.

Enter Shepherd, Clown, Polixenes and Camillo disguised, Mopsa, Dorcas, Servants.


Fie, daughter, when my old wife liv’d, upon

This day she was both pantler, butler, cook,

Both dame and servant; welcom’d all, serv’d all;

Would sing her song, and dance her turn; now here,

At upper end o’ th’ table, now i’ th’ middle;

On his shoulder, and his; her face o’ fire

With labor, 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’ th’ feast. Come on,

And bid us welcome to your sheep-shearing,

As your good flock shall prosper.


To Polixenes.

Sir, welcome.

It is my father’s will I should take on me

The hostess-ship o’ th’ day.

To Camillo.

You’re welcome, sir.

Give me those flow’rs there, Dorcas. Reverend sirs,

For you there’s rosemary and rue; these keep

Seeming and savor all the winter long.

Grace and remembrance be to you both,

And welcome to our shearing!



(A fair one are you!), well you fit our ages

With flow’rs of winter.


Sir, the year growing ancient,

Not yet on summer’s death, nor on the birth

Of trembling winter, the fairest flow’rs o’ th’ 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.


Wherefore, gentle maiden,

Do you neglect them?


For I have heard it said,

There is an art which in their piedness shares

With great creating Nature.


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.


So it is.


Then make your garden rich in gillyvors,

And do not call them bastards.


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 flow’rs for you:

Hot lavender, mints, savory, marjorum,

The marigold, that goes to bed wi’ th’ sun,

And with him rises weeping. These are flow’rs

Of middle summer, and I think they are given

To men of middle age. Y’ are very welcome.


I should leave grazing, were I of your flock,

And only live by gazing.


Out, alas!

You’ld be so lean, that blasts of January

Would blow you through and through. Now, my fair’st friend,

I would I had some flow’rs o’ th’ 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 flow’rs now, that, frighted, thou let’st fall

From Dis’s wagon! 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 primeroses,

That die unmarried, ere they can behold

Bright Phoebus in his strength (a malady

Most incident to maids); bold oxlips, and

The crown imperial; lilies of all kinds

(The flow’r-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!


What? Like a corse?


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 flow’rs.

Methinks I play as I have seen them do

In Whitsun pastorals. Sure this robe of mine

Does change my disposition.


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 ord’ring your affairs,

To sing them too. When you do dance, I wish you

A wave o’ th’ 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 deeds,

That all your acts are queens.


O Doricles,

Your praises are too large. But that your youth,

And the true blood which peeps 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.


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.


I’ll swear for ’em.


This is the prettiest low-born lass that ever

Ran on the green-sord. Nothing she does, or seems,

But smacks of something greater than herself,

Too noble for this place.


He tells her something

That makes her blood look on’t. Good sooth, she is

The queen of curds and cream.


Come on. Strike up.


Mopsa must be your mistress; marry, garlic,

To mend her kissing with!


Now in good time!


Not a word, a word, we stand upon our manners.

Come, strike up.


Here a dance of Shepherds and Shepherdesses.


Pray, good shepherd, what fair swain is this

Which dances with your daughter?


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 gaz’d 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.


She dances featly.


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 of the Old Shepherd.


O master! If you did but hear the pedlar at the door, you would never dance again after a tabor 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.


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.


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 burdens of dildos and fadings, “jump her and thump her”; and where some stretch-mouth’d 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.”


This is a brave fellow.


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


He hath ribbons of all the colors i’ th’ rainbow; points more than all the lawyers in Bohemia can learnedly handle, though they come to him by th’ gross; inkles, caddises, 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.


Prithee bring him in, and let him approach singing.


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

Exit Servant of the Old Shepherd.


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


Ay, good brother, or go about to think.

Enter Autolycus singing.


Lawn as white as driven snow,

Cypress 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.


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


I was promis’d them against the feast, but they come not too late now.


He hath promis’d you more than that, or there be liars.


He hath paid you all he promis’d you. May be he has paid you more, which will shame you to give him again.


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 whisp’ring. Clamor your tongues, and not a word more.


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


Have I not told thee how I was cozen’d by the way, and lost all my money?


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


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


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


What hast here? Ballads?


Pray now buy some. I love a ballet in print, a-life, for then we are sure they are true.


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


Is it true, think you?


Very true, and but a month old.


Bless me from marrying a usurer!


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?


Pray you now buy it.


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


Here’s another ballad, of a fish that appear’d upon the coast on We’n’sday the fourscore 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 turn’d into a cold fish for she would not exchange flesh with one that lov’d her. The ballad is very pitiful, and as true.


Is it true too, think you?


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


Lay it by too. Another.


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


Let’s have some merry ones.


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.


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


We had the tune on’t a month ago.


I can bear my part, you must know ’tis my occupation. Have at it with you.



Get you hence, for I must go

Where it fits not you to know.




O, whither?




It becomes thy oath full well,

Thou to me thy secrets tell.


Me too; let me go thither.


Or thou goest to th’ grange, or mill.


If to either, thou dost ill.




What, neither?




Thou hast sworn my love to be.


Thou hast sworn it more to me:

Then whither goest? Say, whither?


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.


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 fin’st, fin’st wear-a?

Come to the pedlar,

Money’s a meddler,

That doth utter all men’s ware-a.


Enter First Servant.

1. SERV.

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’ th’ mind (if it be not too rough for some that know little but bowling) it will please plentifully.


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


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

1. SERV.

One three of them, by their own report, sir, hath danc’d before the King; and not the worst of the three but jumps twelve foot and a half by th’ square.


Leave your prating. Since these good men are pleas’d, let them come in; but quickly now.

1. SERV.

Why, they stay at door, sir.


Here a dance of twelve Satyrs.


O, father, you’ll know more of that hereafter.

To Camillo.

Is it not too far gone? ’Tis time to part them.

He’s simple, and tells much.

To Florizel.

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.


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, whom, it should seem,

Hath sometime lov’d! 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 th’ northern blasts twice o’er.


What follows this?

How prettily th’ 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.


Do, and be witness to’t.


And this my neighbor too?


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.


Fairly offer’d.


This shows a sound affection.


But, my daughter,

Say you the like to him?


I cannot speak

So well, nothing so well; no, nor mean better.

By th’ pattern of mine own thoughts I cut out

The purity of his.


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.


O, that must be

I’ th’ 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.


Come, your hand;

And, daughter, yours.


Soft, swain, awhile, beseech you.

Have you a father?


I have; but what of him?


Knows he of this?


He neither does, nor shall.


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 alt’ring 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?


No, good sir;

He has his health, and ampler strength indeed

Than most have of his age.


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.


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.


Let him know’t.


He shall not.


Prithee let him.


No, he must not.


Let him, my son. He shall not need to grieve

At knowing of thy choice.


Come, come, he must not.

Mark our contract.


Mark your divorce, young sir,

Discovering himself.

Whom son I dare not call. Thou art too base

To be acknowledg’d. Thou, a sceptre’s heir,

That thus affects 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, whom of force must know

The royal fool thou cop’st with—


O, my heart!


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,

Farre 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 honor 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.



Even here undone!

I was not much afeard; for once or twice

I was about to speak, and tell him plainly

The self-same 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.


Why, how now, father?

Speak ere thou diest.


I cannot speak, nor think,

Nor dare to know that which I know.

To Florizel.

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.

To Perdita.

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 liv’d

To die when I desire.



Why look you so upon me?

I am but sorry, not afeard; delay’d,

But nothing alt’red. What I was, I am:

More straining on for plucking back, not following

My leash unwillingly.


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.


I not purpose it.

I think Camillo?


Even he, my lord.


How often have I told you ’twould be thus!

How often said my dignity would last

But till ’twere known!


It cannot fail, but by

The violation of my faith, and then

Let nature crush the sides o’ th’ earth together,

And mar the seeds within! Lift up thy looks.

From my succession wipe me, father, I

Am heir to my affection.


Be advis’d.


I am—and by my fancy. If my reason

Will thereto be obedient, I have reason;

If not, my senses, better pleas’d with madness,

Do bid it welcome.


This is desperate, sir.


So call it; but it does fulfill my vow;

I needs must think it honesty. Camillo,

Not for Bohemia, nor the pomp that may

Be thereat gleaned, for all the sun sees, or

The close earth wombs, or the profound seas hides

In unknown fathoms, will I break my oath

To this my fair belov’d. Therefore, I pray you,

As you have ever been my father’s honor’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 who here I cannot hold on shore;

And most opportune to her need I have

A vessel rides fast by, but not prepar’d

For this design. What course I mean to hold

Shall nothing benefit your knowledge, nor

Concern me the reporting.


O my lord,

I would your spirit were easier for advice,

Or stronger for your need.


Hark, Perdita!

Drawing her aside.

To Camillo.

I’ll hear you by and by.


He’s irremovable,

Resolv’d for flight. Now were I happy if

His going I could frame to serve my turn,

Save him from danger, do him love and honor,

Purchase the sight again of dear Sicilia

And that unhappy king, my master, whom

I so much thirst to see.


Now, good Camillo,

I am so fraught with curious business that

I leave out ceremony.


Sir, I think

You have heard of my poor services, i’ th’ love

That I have borne your father?


Very nobly

Have you deserv’d. It is my father’s music

To speak your deeds; not little of his care

To have them recompens’d as thought on.


Well, my lord,

If you may please to think I love the King,

And through him what’s nearest to him, which is

Your gracious self, embrace but my direction,

If your more ponderous and settled project

May suffer alteration. On mine honor,

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 endeavors in your absence,

Your discontenting father strive to qualify,

And bring him up to liking.


How, Camillo,

May this (almost a miracle) be done?

That I may call thee something more than man,

And after that trust to thee.


Have you thought on

A place whereto you’ll go?


Not any yet:

But as th’ 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.


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 there, son, forgiveness,

As ’twere i’ th’ father’s person; kisses the hands

Of your fresh princess; o’er and o’er divides him

’Twixt his unkindness and his kindness: th’ one

He chides to hell, and bids the other grow

Faster than thought or time.


Worthy Camillo,

What color for my visitation shall I

Hold up before him?


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.


I am bound to you.

There is some sap in this.


A course 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.


One of these is true:

I think affliction may subdue the check,

But not take in the mind.


Yea? Say you so?

There shall not at your father’s house these seven years

Be born another such.


My good Camillo,

She’s as forward of her breeding as

She is i’ th’ rear ’our birth.


I cannot say ’tis pity

She lacks instructions, for she seems a mistress

To most that teach.


Your pardon, sir; for this

I’ll blush you thanks.


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.


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.

Enter Autolycus laughing.


Ha, ha, what a fool Honesty is! And Trust, his sworn brother, a very simple gentleman! I have sold all my trompery; 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 hallow’d 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 rememb’red. 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 pinch’d a placket, it was senseless; ’twas nothing to geld a codpiece of a purse; I would have fil’d 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 pick’d and cut most of their festival purses; and had not the old man come in with a whoobub against his daughter and the King’s son, and scar’d my choughs from the chaff, I had not left a purse alive in the whole army.

Camillo, Florizel, and Perdita come forward.


Nay, but my letters, by this means being there

So soon as you arrive, shall clear that doubt.


And those that you’ll procure from King Leontes?


Shall satisfy your father.


Happy be you!

All that you speak shows fair.


Who have we here?

Seeing Autolycus.

We’ll make an instrument of this; omit

Nothing may give us aid.



If they have overheard me now—why, hanging.


How now, good fellow? Why shak’st thou so?

Fear not, man, here’s no harm intended to thee.


I am a poor fellow, sir.


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.

Giving money.


I am a poor fellow, sir.


I know ye well enough.


Nay, prithee dispatch. The gentleman is half flayed already.


Are you in earnest, sir?


I smell the trick on’t.


Dispatch, I prithee.


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


Unbuckle, unbuckle.

Florizel and Autolycus exchange garments.

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.


I see the play so lies

That I must bear a part.


No remedy.

Have you done there?


Should I now meet my father,

He would not call me son.


Nay, you shall have no hat.

Giving it to Perdita.

Come, lady, come. Farewell, my friend.


Adieu, sir.


O Perdita! What have we twain forgot?

Pray you a word.



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 re-view Sicilia, for whose sight

I have a woman’s longing.


Fortune speed us!

Thus we set on, Camillo, to th’ sea-side.


The swifter speed the better.

Exit with Florizel and Perdita.


I understand the business, I hear it. To have an open ear, a quick eye, and a nimble hand, is necessary for a cutpurse; a good nose is requisite also, to smell out work for th’ 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.

Enter Clown and Shepherd.

Aside, aside, here is more matter for a hot brain. Every lane’s end, every shop, church, session, hanging, yields a careful man work.


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.


Nay, but hear me.


Nay—but hear me.


Go to then.


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 punish’d 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.


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.


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.



Very wisely, puppies!


Well; let us to the King. There is that in this fardel will make him scratch his beard.



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


Pray heartily he be at’ palace.



Though I am not naturally honest, I am so sometimes by chance. Let me pocket up my pedlar’s excrement.

Takes off his false beard.

How now, rustics, whither are you bound?


To th’ palace, and it like your worship.


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.


We are but plain fellows, sir.


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.


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


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


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? Think’st thou, for that I insinuate, that toze 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.


My business, sir, is to the King.


What advocate hast thou to him?


I know not, and’t like you.


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


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


How blessed are we that are not simple men!

Yet nature might have made me as these are,

Therefore I will not disdain.


This cannot be but a great courtier.


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


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


The fardel there? What’s i’ th’ fardel? Wherefore that box?


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 th’ speech of him.


Age, thou hast lost thy labor.


Why, sir?


The King is not at the palace. He is gone aboard a new ship to purge melancholy and air himself; for if thou be’st capable of things serious, thou must know the King is full of grief.


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


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.


Think you so, sir?


Not he alone shall suffer what wit can make heavy and vengeance bitter; but those that are germane to him (though remov’d 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 ston’d; 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.


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


He has a son, who shall be flay’d 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 recover’d again with aqua-vitae or some other hot infusion; then, raw as he is (and in the hottest day prognostication proclaims), shall he 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 smil’d at, their offenses being so capital? Tell me (for you seem to be honest plain men) what you have to the King. Being something gently consider’d, 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.


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 “ston’d,” and “flay’d alive.”


And’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.


After I have done what I promis’d?


Ay, sir.


Well, give me the moi’ty. Are you a party in this business?


In some sort, sir; but though my case be a pitiful one, I hope I shall not be flay’d out of it.


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


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 perform’d, and remain (as he says) your pawn till it be brought you.


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.


We are bless’d in this man, as I may say, even bless’d.


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

Exeunt Shepherd and Clown.


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.



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