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The Winters Tale Shakespeare Drama

The Winters Tale Shakespeare Drama

Act I, Scene 1 The Winters Tale Shakespeare Drama

Antechamber in LEONTES’ palace.


  • 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,— 10
  • 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 15
  • 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. 20
    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, 25
    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 30
    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 35
    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 40
    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 45
    on crutches till he had one.


Act I, Scene 2 The Winters Tale Shakespeare Drama

A room of state in the same.


  • Polixenes. Nine changes of the watery star hath been 50
    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, 55
    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. 60
  • 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 65
    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. 70
  • 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, 75
    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 80
    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 85
    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. 90
  • 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. 95
    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, 100
    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. 105
  • 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, 110
    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? 115
    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 120
    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? 125
  • 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 130
    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 135
    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. 140
  • 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; 145
    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; 150
    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? 155
  • Hermione. He’ll stay my lord.
  • Leontes. At my request he would not.
    Hermione, my dearest, thou never spokest
    To better purpose.
  • Hermione. Never? 160
  • 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. 165
    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, 170
    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, 175
    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: 180
    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; 185
    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, 190
    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? 195
  • 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, 200
    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? 205
  • 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 210
    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! 215
    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, 220
    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. 225
  • 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 230
    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 235
    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: 240
    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, 245
    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, 250
    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 255
    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 260
    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. 265
    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! 270
    And arms her with the boldness of a wife
    To her allowing husband!
    [Exeunt POLIXENES, HERMIONE, and Attendants] 
    Gone already!
    Inch-thick, knee-deep, o’er head and 275
    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. 280
    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 285
    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 290
    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; 295
    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? 300
  • Camillo. Ay, my good lord.
  • Leontes. Go play, Mamillius; thou’rt an honest man.
    [Exit MAMILLIUS] 
    Camillo, this great sir will yet stay longer.
  • Camillo. You had much ado to make his anchor hold: 305
    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? 310
    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? 315
  • 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 320
    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 325
    Bohemia stays here longer.
  • Leontes. Ha!
  • Camillo. Stays here longer.
  • Leontes. Ay, but why?
  • Camillo. To satisfy your highness and the entreaties 330
    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 335
    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. 340
  • 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 345
    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, 350
    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, 355
    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, 360
    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, 365
    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 370
    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, 375
    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. 380
  • 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 385
    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 390
    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? 395
    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 400
    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: 405
    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 410
    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 415
    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 420
    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. 425
  • 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, 430
    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 435
    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, 440
    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 445
    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 450
    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 455
    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; 460
    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.


  • Camillo. O miserable lady! But, for me, 465
    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, 470
    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 475
    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 480
    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. 485
  • 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 490
    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? 495
    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 500
    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 505
    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,— 510
    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 515
    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, 520
    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; 525
    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, 530
    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. 535
  • 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 540
    To vice you to’t, that you have touch’d his queen
  • Polixenes. O, then my best blood turn
    To an infected jelly and my name
    Be yoked with his that did betray the Best! 545
    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! 550
  • 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 555
    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 560
    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, 565
    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 570
    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: 575
    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 580
    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 585
    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 590
    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.


The Winters Tale Shakespeare Drama

Act II, Scene 1 (The Winters Tale Shakespeare Drama)

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? 600
  • 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? 605
  • 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. 610
  • 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 615
    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, 620
    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, 625
    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. 630
  • 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. 635
  • 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 645
    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 650
    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. 655
    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 660
    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 665
    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. 670
  • 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. 675
  • 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 680
    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 685
    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 690
    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, 695
    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, 700
    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: 705
    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 710
    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 715
    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, 720
    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: 725
    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 730
    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! 735
  • 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 740
    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. 745
  • 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, 750
    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, 755
    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; 760
    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: 765
    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; 770
    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 775
    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 780
    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. 785
  • 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. 790
  • 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 795
    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. 800
  • 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, 805
    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 810
    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, 815
    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. 820
  • 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 825
    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. 830
  • Antigonus. [Aside] 
    To laughter, as I take it,
    If the good truth were known.


Act II, Scene 2 (The Winters Tale Shakespeare Drama)

A prison.

[Enter PAULINA, a Gentleman, and Attendants]

  • Paulina. The keeper of the prison, call to him;
    let him have knowledge who I am.
    [Exit Gentleman] 
    Good lady,
    No court in Europe is too good for thee; 840
    What dost thou then in prison?
    [Re-enter Gentleman, with the Gaoler] 
    Now, good sir,
    You know me, do you not?
  • Gaoler. For a worthy lady 845
    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. 850
  • 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? 855
  • Gaoler. So please you, madam,
    To put apart these your attendants, I
    Shall bring Emilia forth.
  • Paulina. I pray now, call her.
    Withdraw yourselves. 860

[Exeunt Gentleman and Attendants]

  • Gaoler. And, madam,
    I must be present at your conference.
  • Paulina. Well, be’t so, prithee.
    [Exit Gaoler] 865
    Here’s such ado to make no stain a stain
    As passes colouring.
    [Re-enter Gaoler, with EMILIA] 
    Dear gentlewoman,
    How fares our gracious lady? 870
  • 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? 875
  • 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 880
    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 885
    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 890
    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, 895
    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 900
    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. 905
    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, 910
    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: 915
    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. 920
  • Gaoler. I do believe it.
  • Paulina. Do not you fear: upon mine honour,
    I will stand betwixt you and danger.


The Winters Tale Shakespeare Drama

Act II, Scene 3 (The Winters Tale Shakespeare Drama)

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 930
    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? 935
  • 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, 940
    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. 945
    [Exit Servant] 
    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 950
    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. 955

[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, 960
    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: 965
    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, 970
    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. 975
  • 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, 980
    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, 985
    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. 990
  • 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, 995
    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; 1000
    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; 1005
    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! 1010
    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 1015
    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 1020
    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 1025
    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! 1030
  • 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, 1035
    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 1040
    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: 1045
    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, 1050
    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, 1055
    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, 1060
    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 1065
    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. 1070
  • 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, 1075
    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, 1080
    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: 1085
    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. 1090


  • 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; 1095
    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; 1100
    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, 1105
    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: 1110
    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 1115
    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. 1120
    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, 1125
    —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: 1130
    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. 1135
  • 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 1140
    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 1145
    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 1150
    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 1155
    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 1160
    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, 1165
    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 1170
    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 1175
    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.


The Winters Tale Shakespeare Drama

Act III, Scene 1 (The Winters Tale Shakespeare Drama)

A sea-port in Sicilia.


  • 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, 1185
    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! 1190
  • 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 1195
    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, 1200
    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, 1205
    Shall the contents discover, something rare
    Even then will rush to knowledge. Go: fresh horses!
    And gracious be the issue!


The Winters Tale Shakespeare Drama

Act III, Scene 2 (The Winters Tale Shakespeare Drama)

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 1215
    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! 1220
    [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 1225
    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, 1230
    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 1235
    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 1240
    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 1245
    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 1250
    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, 1255
    ‘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, 1260
    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 1265
    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. 1270
  • 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 1275
    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, 1280
    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 1285
    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, 1290
    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: 1295
    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,— 1300
    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 1305
    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: 1310
    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 1315
    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 1320
    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. 1325
    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 1330
    ‘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, 1335
    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 1340
    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 1345
    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. 1350
  • Cleomenes. [with Dion] 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; 1355
    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? 1360
  • 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. 1370
  • Leontes. How! gone!
  • Servant. Is dead.
  • Leontes. Apollo’s angry; and the heavens themselves
    Do strike at my injustice.
    [HERMIONE swoons] 1375
    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: 1380
    I have too much believed mine own suspicion:
    Beseech you, tenderly apply to her
    Some remedies for life.
    [Exeunt PAULINA and Ladies, with HERMIONE] 
    Apollo, pardon 1385
    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 1390
    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 1395
    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 1400
    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!

The Winters Tale Shakespeare Drama

[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? 1410
    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, 1415
    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; 1420
    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 1425
    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, 1430
    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, 1435
    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 1440
    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 1445
    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 1450
    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: 1455
    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 1460
    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 1465
    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, 1470
    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 1475
    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 1480
    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.


The Winters Tale Shakespeare Drama

Act III, Scene 3 (The Winters Tale Shakespeare Drama)

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 1490
    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 1495
    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. 1500
  • Antigonus. Go thou away:
    I’ll follow instantly.
  • Mariner. I am glad at heart
    To be so rid o’ the business.


  • 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 1510
    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 1515
    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, 1520
    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, 1525
    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 1530
    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 1535
    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, 1540
    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! 1545
    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. 1550

[Exit, pursued by a bear]

[Enter a Shepherd]

  • Old 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 1555
    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 1560
    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: 1565
    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 1570
    pity: yet I’ll tarry till my son come; he hallooed
    but even now. Whoa, ho, hoa!

[Enter Clown]

  • Clown. Hilloa, loa!
  • Old Shepherd. What, art so near? If thou’lt see a thing to talk 1575
    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 1580
    a bodkin’s point.
  • Old 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! 1585
    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 1590
    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 1595
    and the bear mocked him, both roaring louder than
    the sea or weather.
  • Old 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 1600
    the bear half dined on the gentleman: he’s at it
  • Old 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. 1605
  • Old 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; 1610
    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! 1615
  • Old 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. 1620
  • 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. 1625
  • Old 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.
  • Old Shepherd. ‘Tis a lucky day, boy, and we’ll do good deeds on’t. 1630


The Winters Tale Shakespeare Drama

Act IV, Scene 1 (The Winters Tale Shakespeare Drama)

Chorus as Time speaks.

[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, 1635
    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 1640
    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 1645
    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 1650
    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 1655
    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, 1660
    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. 1665


The Winters Tale Shakespeare Drama

Act IV, Scene 2 (The Winters Tale Shakespeare Drama)

Bohemia. The palace of POLIXENES.


  • Polixenes. I pray thee, good Camillo, be no more importunate:
    ’tis a sickness denying thee any thing; a death to
    grant this. 1670
  • 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 1675
    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 1680
    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 1685
    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, 1690
    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 1695
    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 1700
    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 1705
    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 1710
    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 1715
    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. 1720
  • Polixenes. My best Camillo! We must disguise ourselves.


The Winters Tale Shakespeare Drama

Act IV, Scene 3 (The Winters Tale Shakespeare Drama)

A road near the Shepherd’s cottage.

[Enter AUTOLYCUS, singing]

  • Autolycus. When daffodils begin to peer,
    With heigh! the doxy over the dale, 1725
    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; 1730
    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. 1735
    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, 1740
    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. 1745
    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 1750
    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. 1760
  • 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 1765
    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 1770
    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! 1775

[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 1780
    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 1785
    great matter.
  • Autolycus. I am robbed, sir, and beaten; my money and apparel
    ta’en from me, and these detestable things put upon
  • Clown. What, by a horseman, or a footman? 1790
  • 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. 1795
  • 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? 1800
  • 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 1805
    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? 1810
  • 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 1815
    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 1820
    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 1825
    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. 1830
  • Autolycus. I must confess to you, sir, I am no fighter: I am
    false of heart that way; and that he knew, I warrant
  • Clown. How do you now?
  • Autolycus. Sweet sir, much better than I was; I can stand and 1835
    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 1840
  • Autolycus. Prosper you, sweet sir!
    [Exit Clown] 
    Your purse is not hot enough to purchase your spice.
    I’ll be with you at your sheep-shearing too: if I 1845
    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, 1850
    And merrily hent the stile-a:
    A merry heart goes all the day,
    Your sad tires in a mile-a.


The Winters Tale Shakespeare Drama

Act IV, Scene 4 (The Winters Tale Shakespeare Drama)

The Shepherd’s cottage.


  • 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. 1860
  • 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, 1865
    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. 1870
  • 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 1875
    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 1880
    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 1885
    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 1890
    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, 1895
    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, 1900
    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 1905
    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: 1910
    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! 1915
  • 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] 1920
  • Old 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; 1925
    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 1930
    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, 1935
    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.
    [To CAMILLO] 1940
    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, 1945
    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, 1950
    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 1955
    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 1960
    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 1965
    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 1970
    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. 1975
  • 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; 1980
    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. 1985
  • 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. 1990
    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, 1995
    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 2000
    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, 2005
    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; 2010
    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. 2015
  • 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, 2020
    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, 2025
    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, 2030
    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 2035
    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 2040
    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 2045
    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! 2050
  • Clown. Not a word, a word; we stand upon our manners.
    Come, strike up!
    [Music. Here a dance of Shepherds and] 
  • Polixenes. Pray, good shepherd, what fair swain is this 2055
    Which dances with your daughter?
  • Old 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: 2060
    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. 2065
  • Polixenes. She dances featly.
  • Old 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. 2070

[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 2075
    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 2080
    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 2085
    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 2090
    ‘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; 2095
    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 2100
    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 2105
    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; 2110
    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, 2115
    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. 2120
  • 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. 2125
  • 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 2130
    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. 2135
  • 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; 2140
    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’ 2145
    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. 2150
  • 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 2155
    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 2160
    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 2165
    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. 2170
  • 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 2175
    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 2180
    occupation; have at it with you.


  • Autolycus. Get you hence, for I must go
    Where it fits not you to know.
  • Dorcas. Whither? 2185
  • 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. 2190
  • Mopsa. Or thou goest to the orange or mill.
  • Dorcas. If to either, thou dost ill.
  • Autolycus. Neither.
  • Dorcas. What, neither?
  • Autolycus. Neither. 2195
  • 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 2200
    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. 2205
    [Follows singing] 
    Will you buy any tape,
    Or lace for your cape,
    My dainty duck, my dear-a?
    Any silk, any thread, 2210
    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. 2215


[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 2220
    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. 2225
  • Old 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 2230
    danced before the king; and not the worst of the
    three but jumps twelve foot and a half by the squier.
  • Old Shepherd. Leave your prating: since these good men are
    pleased, let them come in; but quickly now.
  • Servant. Why, they stay at door, sir. 2235


[Here a dance of twelve Satyrs]

  • Polixenes. O, father, you’ll know more of that hereafter.
    [To CAMILLO] 
    Is it not too far gone? ‘Tis time to part them. 2240
    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 2245
    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 2250
    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 2255
    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, 2260
    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. 2265
  • 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. 2270
  • 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, 2275
    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 2280
    Or to their own perdition.
  • Polixenes. Fairly offer’d.
  • Camillo. This shows a sound affection.
  • Old Shepherd. But, my daughter,
    Say you the like to him? 2285
  • 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.
  • Old Shepherd. Take hands, a bargain! 2290
    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, 2295
    I shall have more than you can dream of yet;
    Enough then for your wonder. But, come on,
    Contract us ‘fore these witnesses.
  • Old Shepherd. Come, your hand;
    And, daughter, yours. 2300
  • 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. 2305
  • 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 2310
    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; 2315
    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 2320
    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; 2325
    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. 2330
  • Polixenes. Prithee, let him.
  • Florizel. No, he must not.
  • Old Shepherd. Let him, my son: he shall not need to grieve
    At knowing of thy choice.
  • Florizel. Come, come, he must not. 2335
    Mark our contract.
  • Polixenes. Mark your divorce, young sir,
    [Discovering himself] 
    Whom son I dare not call; thou art too base
    To be acknowledged: thou a sceptre’s heir, 2340
    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,— 2345
  • Old 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 2350
    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 2355
    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, 2360
    Or hoop his body more with thy embraces,
    I will devise a death as cruel for thee
    As thou art tender to’t.


  • Perdita. Even here undone! 2365
    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? 2370
    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! 2375
    Speak ere thou diest.
  • Old 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, 2380
    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, 2385
    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.


  • 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. 2395
  • 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: 2400
    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. 2405
  • 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 2410
    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. 2415
  • 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. 2420
  • 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 2425
    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 2430
    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 2435
    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! 2440
    I would your spirit were easier for advice,
    Or stronger for your need.
  • Florizel. Hark, Perdita
    [Drawing her aside] 
    I’ll hear you by and by. 2445
  • 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 2450
    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. 2455
  • 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 2460
    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 2465
    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 2470
    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 2475
    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. 2480
  • 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 2485
    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, 2490
    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 2495
    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 2500
    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 2505
    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 2510
    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. 2515
  • 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; 2520
    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 2525
    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? 2530
    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 2535
    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 2540
    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? 2545
    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 2550
    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, 2560
    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 2565
    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 2570
    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 2575
    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. 2580

[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. 2585
  • Perdita. Happy be you!
    All that you speak shows fair.
  • Camillo. Who have we here?
    [Seeing AUTOLYCUS] 
    We’ll make an instrument of this, omit 2590
    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. 2595
  • 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 2600
    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. 2605
  • Camillo. Nay, prithee, dispatch: the gentleman is half
    flayed already.
  • Autolycus. Are you in earnest, sir?
    I smell the trick on’t. 2610
  • Florizel. Dispatch, I prithee.
  • Autolycus. Indeed, I have had earnest: but I cannot with
    conscience take it.
  • Camillo. Unbuckle, unbuckle.
    [FLORIZEL and AUTOLYCUS exchange garments] 2615
    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 2620
    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. 2625
  • 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. 2630
    [Giving it to PERDITA] 
    Come, lady, come. Farewell, my friend.
  • Autolycus. Adieu, sir.
  • Florizel. O Perdita, what have we twain forgot!
    Pray you, a word. 2635
  • 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 2640
    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.


  • 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. 2650
    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 2655
    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.
    [Re-enter Clown and Shepherd] 2660
    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 2665
    she’s a changeling and none of your flesh and blood.
  • Old Shepherd. Nay, but hear me.
  • Clown. Nay, but hear me.
  • Old Shepherd. Go to, then.
  • Clown. She being none of your flesh and blood, your flesh 2670
    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. 2675
  • Old 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 2680
    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!
  • Old Shepherd. Well, let us to the king: there is that in this
    fardel will make him scratch his beard. 2685
  • 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. 2690
    [Takes off his false beard] 
    How now, rustics! whither are you bound?
  • Old 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 2695
    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 2700
    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. 2705
  • Old 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 2710
    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 2715
    open thy affair.
  • Old Shepherd. My business, sir, is to the king.
  • Autolycus. What advocate hast thou to him?
  • Old Shepherd. I know not, an’t like you.
  • Clown. Advocate’s the court-word for a pheasant: say you 2720
    have none.
  • Old 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. 2725
  • Clown. This cannot be but a great courtier.
  • Old 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 2730
    on’s teeth.
  • Autolycus. The fardel there? what’s i’ the fardel?
    Wherefore that box?
  • Old Shepherd. Sir, there lies such secrets in this fardel and box,
    which none must know but the king; and which he 2735
    shall know within this hour, if I may come to the
    speech of him.
  • Autolycus. Age, thou hast lost thy labour.
  • Old Shepherd. Why, sir?
  • Autolycus. The king is not at the palace; he is gone aboard a 2740
    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.
  • Old Shepherd. So ’tis said, sir; about his son, that should have
    married a shepherd’s daughter. 2745
  • 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 2750
    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 2755
    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? 2760
  • 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 2765
    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 2770
    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, 2775
    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 2780
    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.’
  • Old Shepherd. An’t please you, sir, to undertake the business for
    us, here is that gold I have: I’ll make it as much 2785
    more and leave this young man in pawn till I bring it you.
  • Autolycus. After I have done what I promised?
  • Old 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 2790
    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 2795
    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; 2800
    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.
  • Old 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 2810
    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 2815
    what shame else belongs to’t. To him will I present
    them: there may be matter in it.


The Winters Tale Shakespeare Drama

Act V, Scene 1 (The Winters Tale Shakespeare Drama)

A room in LEONTES’ palace.


  • Cleomenes. Sir, you have done enough, and have perform’d 2820
    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. 2825
  • 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 2830
    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, 2835
    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 2840
    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 2845
    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 2850
    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? 2855
    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, 2860
    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 2865
    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 2870
    My lord should to the heavens be contrary,
    Oppose against their wills.
    [To LEONTES] 
    Care not for issue;
    The crown will find an heir: great Alexander 2875
    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 2880
    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. 2885
  • 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, 2890
    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. 2895
  • 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 2900
    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 2905
    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, 2910
    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 2915
    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. 2920
  • 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. 2925

[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. 2930
  • 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? 2935
  • 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. 2940
  • 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 2945
    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: 2950
    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 2955
    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. 2960
  • Leontes. Go, Cleomenes;
    Yourself, assisted with your honour’d friends,
    Bring them to our embracement. Still, ’tis strange
    [Exeunt CLEOMENES and others] 
    He thus should steal upon us. 2965
  • 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 2970
    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.
    [Re-enter CLEOMENES and others, with FLORIZEL and PERDITA] 2975
    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, 2980
    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 2985
    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. 2990
  • 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 2995
    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. 3000
  • 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, 3005
    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? 3010
  • 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 3015
    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; 3020
    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 3025
    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, 3030
    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! 3035

[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; 3040
    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. 3045
  • 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 3050
    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 3055
    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 3060
    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. 3065
  • 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; 3070
    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, 3075
    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 3080
    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 3085
    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. 3090
  • 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 3095
    Than what you look on now.
  • Leontes. I thought of her,
    Even in these looks I made.
    [To FLORIZEL] 
    But your petition 3100
    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. 3105


The Winters Tale Shakespeare Drama

Act V, Scene 2 (The Winters Tale Shakespeare Drama)

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: 3110
    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 3115
    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 3120
    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. 3125
    [Enter another Gentleman] 
    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 3130
    broken out within this hour that ballad-makers
    cannot be able to express it.
    [Enter a third Gentleman] 
    Here comes the Lady Paulina’s steward: he can
    deliver you more. How goes it now, sir? this news 3135
    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 3140
    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 3145
    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. 3150
  • 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, 3155
    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, 3160
    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 3165
    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 3170
    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. 3175
  • 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 3180
    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 3185
    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 3190
    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 3195
    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. 3200
  • 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 3205
    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 3210
    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 3215
    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. 3220

[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 3225
    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 3230
    been the finder out of this secret, it would not
    have relished 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. 3235
  • Old 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 3240
    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. 3245
  • Old 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 3250
    the princess my sister called my father father; and
    so we wept, and there was the first gentleman-like
    tears that ever we shed.
  • Old Shepherd. We may live, son, to shed many more.
  • Clown. Ay; or else ’twere hard luck, being in so 3255
    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.
  • Old Shepherd. Prithee, son, do; for we must be gentle, now we are 3260
  • 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. 3265
  • Old 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.
  • Old Shepherd. How if it be false, son?
  • Clown. If it be ne’er so false, a true gentleman may swear 3270
    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 3275
    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 3280
    and the princes, our kindred, are going to see the
    queen’s picture. Come, follow us: we’ll be thy
    good masters.


The Winters Tale Shakespeare Drama

Act V, Scene 3

A chapel in PAULINA’S house.


  • 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 3290
    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. 3295
  • 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 3300
    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 3305
    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.
    [PAULINA draws a curtain, and discovers HERMIONE] 3310
    standing like a statue]
    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! 3315
    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 3320
    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. 3325
  • 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! 3330
    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, 3335
    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, 3340
    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, 3345
    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 3350
    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— 3355
    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. 3360
    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: 3365
    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 3370
    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. 3375
  • 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, 3380
    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; 3385
    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. 3390
  • 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— 3395
    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 3400
    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. 3405
  • Leontes. Proceed:
    No foot shall stir.
  • Paulina. Music, awake her; strike!
    ‘Tis time; descend; be stone no more; approach; 3410
    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:
    [HERMIONE comes down] 3415
    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 3420
    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. 3425
  • 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, 3430
    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; 3435
    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 3440
    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; 3445
    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 3450
    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, 3455
    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 3460
    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, 3465
    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 3470
    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.


Sad poetry

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