Sicily. Before Leontes’ palace.
(Autolycus; First Gentleman; Second Gentleman; Third Gentleman; Shepherd; Clown)
To Autolycus’s questions, a gentleman replies that he cannot give the full details of what’s going on, as he was sent out of the room, but he saw the package that the Shepherd brought along with him opened and Leontes and Camillo’s awestruck, mute response. A second gentleman enters with the news that Perdita has been proven to be Leontes’s daughter, and that the oracle is thus fulfilled. A third comes in, bringing with him the confirmation that all the pieces of the puzzle fit together. Leontes and Polixenes have been reunited, and all the details of the story worked out. Everyone is feeling very emotional, Perdita in particular weeping over the story of her mother’s death, which Leontes honestly confessed to. Paulina has told the court that she owns a very lifelike statue of Hermione, and has invited the court to come and see it. The gentlemen decide to join the crowd, remarking on how often Paulina has visited the small house it is kept in. Autolycus is a bit disturbed to have been the cause of all these discoveries, as causing so much happiness is not really his business, but cannot help remarking that were he not known as a thief he would presently be getting amply rewarded. This is evidenced as the Shepherd and the Clown comes in, richly dressed as noblemen, having just been made noblemen by the Kings. The Clown is particularly delighted at being called a brother by Prince Florizel. He makes Autolycus promise to mend his ways, which Autolycus does. They go off to see the statue. (41 lines)
Enter Autolycus and a Gentleman.
Beseech you, sir, were you present at this relation?
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.
I would most gladly know the issue of it.
I make a broken delivery of the business; but the changes I perceiv’d in the King and Camillo were very notes of admiration. They seem’d 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 look’d as they had heard of a world ransom’d, or one destroy’d. A notable passion of wonder appear’d in them; but the wisest beholder, that knew no more but seeing, could not say if th’ importance were joy or sorrow; but in the extremity of the one, it must needs be.
Enter another Gentleman.
Here comes a gentleman that haply knows more. The news, Rogero?
Nothing but bonfires. The oracle is fulfill’d; 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.
Enter another Gentleman.
Here comes the Lady Paulina’s steward, he can deliver you more. How goes it now, sir? This news, which is call’d true, is so like an old tale, that the verity of it is in strong suspicion. Has the King found his heir?
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?
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 seem’d sorrow wept to take leave of them, for their joy waded in tears. There was casting up of eyes, holding up of hands, with countenance of such distraction that they were to be known by garment, not by favor. 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.
What, pray you, became of Antigonus, that carried hence the child?
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.
What became of his bark and his followers?
Wrack’d 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 declin’d for the loss of her husband, another elevated that the oracle was fulfill’d. 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.
The dignity of this act was worth the audience of kings and princes, for by such was it acted.
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 confess’d and lamented by the King), how attentiveness wounded his daughter, till (from one sign of dolor 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 chang’d color; some swounded, all sorrow’d. If all the world could have seen’t, the woe had been universal.
Are they return’d to the court?
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 perform’d 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.
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 remov’d house. Shall we thither, and with our company piece the rejoicing?
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.
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 remain’d undiscover’d. But ’tis all one to me; for had I been the finder-out of this secret, it would not have relish’d among my other discredits.
Enter Shepherd and Clown.
Here come those I have done good to against my will, and already appearing in the blossoms of their fortune.
Come, boy, I am past more children, but thy sons and daughters will be all gentlemen born.
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.
I know you are now, sir, a gentleman born.
Ay, and have been so any time these four hours.
And so have I, boy.
So you have. But I was a gentleman born before my father; for the King’s son took me by the hand, and call’d me brother; and then the two kings call’d my father brother; and then the Prince, my brother, and the Princess, my sister, call’d my father father; and so we wept; and there was the first gentleman-like tears that ever we shed.
We may live, son, to shed many more.
Ay; or else ’twere hard luck, being in so preposterous estate as we are.
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.
Prithee, son, do; for we must be gentle, now we are gentlemen.
Thou wilt amend thy life?
Ay, and it like your good worship.
Give me thy hand: I will swear to the Prince thou art as honest a true fellow as any is in Bohemia.
You may say it, but not swear it.
Not swear it, now I am a gentleman? Let boors and franklins say it, I’ll swear it.
How if it be false, son?
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.
I will prove so, sir, to my power.
Ay, by any means prove a tall fellow. If I do not wonder how thou dar’st 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.