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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act IV. Scene III.

The Winter’s Tale

The Same.A Lawn before the Shepherd’s Cottage.


Flo.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.

Per.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 obscur’d

With a swain’s wearing, and me, poor lowly maid,

Most goddess-like prank’d up. But that our feasts

In every mess have folly, and the feeders

Digest it with a custom, I should blush

To see you so attired,—swoon, I think,

To show myself a glass.

Flo.I bless the time

When my good falcon made her flight across

Thy father’s ground.

Per.Now, Jove afford you cause!

To me the difference forges dread; your greatness

Hath not been us’d to fear. Even now I tremble

To think, your father, by some accident,

Should pass this way as you did. O, the Fates!

How would he look, to see his work, so noble,

Vilely bound up? What would he say? Or how

Should I, in these my borrow’d flaunts, behold

The sternness of his presence?


Nothing but jollity. The gods themselves,

Humbling their deities to love, have taken

The shapes of beasts upon them: Jupiter

Became a bull, and bellow’d; the green Neptune

A ram, and bleated; and the fire-rob’d god,

Golden Apollo, a poor humble swain,

As I seem now. Their transformations

Were never for a piece of beauty rarer,

Nor in a way so chaste, since my desires

Run not before mine honour, nor my lusts

Burn hotter than my faith.

Per.O! but, sir,

Your resolution cannot hold, when ’tis

Oppos’d, as it must be, by the power of the king.

One of these two must be necessities,

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

Or I my life.

Flo.Thou dearest Perdita,

With these forc’d thoughts, I prithee, darken not

The mirth o’ the feast: or I’ll be thine, my fair,

Or not my father’s; for I cannot be

Mine own, nor anything to any, if

I be not thine: to this I am most constant,

Though destiny say no. Be merry, gentle;

Strangle such thoughts as these with any thing

That you behold the while. Your guests are coming:

Lift up your countenance, as it were the day

Of celebration of that nuptial which

We two have sworn shall come.

Per.O lady Fortune,

Stand you auspicious!

Flo.See, your guests approach:

Address yourself to entertain them sprightly,

And let’s be red with mirth.

Enter Shepherd, with POLIXENES and CAMILLO disguised; Clown, MOPSA, DORCAS, and Others.

Shep.Fie, daughter! when my old wife liv’d, upon

This day she was both pantler, butler, cook;

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

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

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

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

With labour and the thing she took to quench it,

She would to each one sip. You are retir’d,

As if you were a feasted one and not

The hostess of the meeting: pray you, bid

These unknown friends to’s welcome; for it is

A way to make us better friends, more known.

Come, quench your blushes and present yourself

That which you are, mistress o’ the feast: come on,

And bid us welcome to your sheep-shearing,

As your good flock shall prosper.

Per.[To POLIXENES.]Sir, welcome:

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

The hostess-ship o’ the day:—[To CAMILLO.]You’re welcome, sir.

Give me those flowers there, Dorcas. Reverend sirs,

For you there’s rosemary and rue; these keep

Seeming and savour all the winter long:

Grace and remembrance be to you both,

And welcome to our shearing!


A fair one are you,—well you fit our ages

With flowers of winter.

Per.Sir, the year growing ancient,

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

Of trembling winter, the fairest flowers o’ the season

Are our carnations, and streak’d gillyvors,

Which some call nature’s bastards: of that kind

Our rustic garden’s barren, and I care not

To get slips of them.

Pol.Wherefore, gentle maiden,

Do you neglect them?

Per.For I have heard it said

There is an art which in their piedness shares

With great creating nature.

Pol.Say there be;

Yet nature is made better by no mean

But nature makes that mean: so, over that art,

Which you say adds to nature, is an art

That nature makes. You see, sweet maid, we marry

A gentler scion to the wildest stock,

And make conceive a bark of baser kind

By bud of nobler race: this is an art

Which does mend nature, change it rather, but

The art itself is nature.

Per.So it is.

Pol.Then make your garden rich in gillyvors,

And do not call them bastards.

Per.I’ll not put

The dibble in earth to set one slip of them;

No more than, were I painted, I would wish

This youth should say, ’twere well, and only therefore

Desire to breed by me. Here’s flowers for you;

Hot lavender, mints, savory, 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.

Cam.I should leave grazing, were I of your flock,

And only live by gazing.

Per.Out, alas!

You’d be so lean, that blasts of January

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

I would I had some flowers o’ the spring that might

Become your time of day; and yours, and yours,

That wear upon your virgin branches yet

Your maidenheads growing: O Proserpina!

For the flowers now that frighted thou let’st fall

From Dis’s waggon! daffodils,

That come before the swallow dares, and take

The winds of March with beauty; violets dim,

But sweeter than the lids of Juno’s eyes

Or Cytherea’s breath; pale prime-roses,

That die unmarried, ere they can behold

Bright Phœbus in his strength, a malady

Most incident to maids; bold oxlips and

The crown imperial; lilies of all kinds,

The flower-de-luce being one. O! these I lack

To make you garlands of, and my sweet friend,

To strew him o’er and o’er!

Flo.What! like a corse?

Per.No, like a bank for love to lie and play on;

Not like a corse; or if,—not to be buried,

But quick and in mine arms. Come, take your flowers:

Methinks I play as I have seen them do

In Whitsun pastorals: sure this robe of mine

Does change my disposition.

Flo.What you do

Still betters what is done. When you speak, sweet,

I’d have you do it ever: when you sing,

I’d have you buy and sell so; so give alms;

Pray so; and, for the ordering your affairs,

To sing them too: when you do dance, I wish you

A wave o’ the sea, that you might ever do

Nothing but that; move still, still so,

And own no other function: each your doing,

So singular in each particular,

Crowns what you are doing in the present deed,

That all your acts are queens.

Per.O Doricles!

Your praises are too large: but that your youth,

And the true blood which fairly peeps through it,

Do plainly give you out an unstain’d shepherd,

With wisdom I might fear, my Doricles,

You woo’d me the false way.

Flo.I think you have

As little skill to fear as I have purpose

To put you to ’t. But, come; our dance, I pray.

Your hand, my Perdita: so turtles pair

That never mean to part.

Per.I’ll swear for ’em.

Pol.This is the prettiest low-born lass that ever

Ran on the green-sord: nothing she does or seems

But smacks of something greater than herself;

Too noble for this place.

Cam.He tells her something

That makes her blood look out. Good sooth, she is

The queen of curds and cream.

Clo.Come on, strike up.

Dor.Mopsa must be your mistress: marry, garlic,

To mend her kissing with.

Mop.Now, in good time!

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

Come, strike up.[Music.Here a dance of Shepherds and Shepherdesses.

Pol.Pray, good shepherd, what fair swain is this

Which dances with your daughter?

Shep.They call him Doricles, and boasts himself

To have a worthy feeding; but I have it

Upon his own report and I believe it:

He looks like sooth. He says he loves my daughter:

I think so too; for never gaz’d the moon

Upon the water as he’ll stand and read

As ’twere my daughter’s eyes; and to be plain,

I think there is not half a kiss to choose

Who loves another best.

Pol.She dances featly.

Shep.So she does anything, though I report it

That should be silent. If young Doricles

Do light upon her, she shall bring him that

Which he not dreams of.

Enter a Servant.

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

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

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

Pol.This is a brave fellow.

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

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

CloPrithee, bring him in, and let him approach singing.

Per.Forewarn him that he use no scurrilous words in ’s tunes.[Exit Servant.

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

Per.Ay, good brother, or go about to think.

Enter AUTOLYCUS, singing.

  • Lawn as white as driven snow;
  • Cyprus black as e’er was crow;
  • Gloves as sweet as damask roses;
  • Masks for faces and for noses;
  • Bugle-bracelet, necklace-amber,
  • Perfume for a lady’s chamber;
  • Golden quoifs and stomachers,
  • For my lads to give their dears;
  • Pins and poking-sticks of steel;
  • What maids lack from head to heel:
  • Come buy of me, come; come buy, come buy;
  • Buy, lads, or else your lasses cry:
  • Come buy.
  • Clo.If I were not in love with Mopsa, thou shouldst take no money of me; but being enthralled s I am, it will also be the bondage of certain ribands and gloves.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Clo.What hast here? ballads?

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

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

    Mop.Is it true, think you?

    Aut.Very true, and but a month old.

    Dor.Bless me from marrying a usurer!

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

    Mop.Pray you now, buy it.

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

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

    Dor.Is it true too, think you?

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

    Clo.Lay it by too: another.

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

    Mop.Let’s have some merry ones.

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

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

    Dor.We had the tune on ’t a month ago.

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

    Aut.Get you hence, for I must go,

    Where it fits not you to know.


    Mop.O! whither?


    Mop.It becomes thy oath full well,

    Thou to me thy secrets tell.

    Dor.Me too: let me go thither.

    Mop.Or thou go’st to the grange or mill.

    Dor.If to either, thou dost ill.


    Dor.What, neither?


    Dor.Thou hast sworn my love to be.

    Mop.Thou hast sworn it more to me:

    Then whither go’st? say whither?

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

    Aut.And you shall pay well for ’em.

  • Will you buy any tape,
  • Or lace for your cape,
  • My dainty duck, my dear-a?
  • Any silk, any thread,
  • Any toys for your head,
  • Of the new’st and fin’st, fin’st wear-a?
  • Come to the pedlar;
  • Money’s a meddler,
  • That doth utter all men’s ware-a.
  • [Exit.

    Re-enter Servant.

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

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

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

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

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

    Serv.Why, they stay at door, sir.[Exit.

    Re-enter Servant, with Twelve Rustics habited like Satyrs.They dance, and then exeunt.

    Pol.[To Shep.]O, father! you’ll know more of that hereafter.

    [To CAMILLO.]Is it not too far gone? ’Tis time to part them.

    He’s simple and tells much.[To FLORIZEL.]

    How now, fair shepherd!

    Your heart is full of something that does take

    Your mind from feasting. Sooth, when I was young,

    And handed love as you do, I was wont

    To load my she with knacks: I would have ransack’d

    The pedlar’s silken treasury and have pour’d it

    To her acceptance; you have let him go

    And nothing marted with him. If your lass

    Interpretation should abuse and call this

    Your lack of love or bounty, you were straited

    For a reply, at least if you make a care

    Of happy holding her.

    Flo.Old sir, I know

    She prizes not such trifles as these are.

    The gifts she looks from me are pack’d and lock’d

    Up in my heart, which I have given already,

    But not deliver’d. O! hear me breathe my life

    Before this ancient sir, who, it should seem,

    Hath sometime lov’d: I take thy hand; this hand,

    As soft as dove’s down, and as white as it,

    Or Ethiopian’s tooth, or the fann’d snow

    That’s bolted by the northern blasts twice o’er.

    Pol.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.

    Flo.Do, and be witness to ’t.

    Pol.And this my neighbour too?

    Flo.And he, and more

    Than he, and men, the earth, the heavens, and all;

    That, were I crown’d the most imperial monarch,

    Thereof most worthy, were I the fairest youth

    That ever made eye swerve, had force and knowledge

    More than was ever man’s, I would not prize them

    Without her love: for her employ them all;

    Commend them and condemn them to her service

    Or to their own perdition.

    Pol.Fairly offer’d.

    Cam.This shows a sound affection.

    Shep.But, my daughter,

    Say you the like to him?

    Per.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.

    Shep.Take hands; a bargain;

    And, friends unknown, you shall bear witness to ’t:

    I give my daughter to him, and will make

    Her portion equal his.

    Flo.O! that must be

    I’ the virtue of your daughter: one being dead,

    I shall have more than you can dream of yet;

    Enough then for your wonder. But, come on;

    Contract us ’fore these witnesses.

    Shep.Come, your hand;

    And, daughter, yours.

    Pol.Soft, swain, awhile, beseech you.

    Have you a father?

    Flo.I have; but what of him?

    Pol.Knows he of this?

    Flo.He neither does nor shall.

    Pol.Methinks a father

    Is, at the nuptial of his son, a guest

    That best becomes the table. Pray you, once more,

    Is not your father grown incapable

    Of reasonable affairs? is he not stupid

    With age and altering rheums? can he speak? hear?

    Know man from man? dispute his own estate?

    Lies he not bed-rid? and again does nothing

    But what he did being childish?

    Flo.No, good sir:

    He has his health and ampler strength indeed

    Than most have of his age.

    Pol.By my white beard,

    You offer him, if this be so, a wrong

    Something unfilial. Reason my son

    Should choose himself a wife, but as good reason

    The father,—all whose joy is nothing else

    But fair posterity,—should hold some counsel

    In such a business.

    Flo.I yield all this;

    But for some other reasons, my grave sir,

    Which ’tis not fit you know, I not acquaint

    My father of this business.

    Pol.Let him know ’t.

    Flo.He shall not.

    Pol.Prithee, let him.

    Flo.No, he must not.

    Shep.Let him, my son: he shall not need to grieve

    At knowing of thy choice.

    Flo.Come, come, he must not.

    Mark our contract.

    Pol.Mark your divorce, young sir,[Discovering himself.

    Whom son I dare not call: thou art too base

    To be acknowledg’d: thou a sceptre’s heir,

    That thus 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 cop’st with,—

    Shep.O, my heart!

    Pol.I’ll have thy beauty scratch’d with briers, and made

    More homely than thy state. For thee, fond boy,

    If I may ever know thou dost but sigh

    That thou no more shalt see this knack,—as never

    I mean thou shalt,—we’ll bar thee from succession;

    Not hold thee of our blood, no, not our kin,

    Far than Deucalion off: mark thou my words:

    Follow us to the court. Thou, churl, for this time,

    Though full of our displeasure, yet we free thee

    From the dead blow of it. And you, enchantment,—

    Worthy enough a herdsman; yea, him too,

    That makes himself, but for our honour therein,

    Unworthy thee,—if ever henceforth thou

    These rural latches to his entrance open,

    Or hoop his body more with thy embraces,

    I will devise a death as cruel for thee

    As thou art tender to ’t.[Exit.

    Per.Even here undone!

    I was not much afeard; for once or twice

    I was about to speak and tell him plainly,

    The self-same sun that shines upon his court

    Hides not his visage from our cottage, but

    Looks on alike. Will ’t please you, sir, be gone?

    I told you what would come of this: beseech you,

    Of your own state take care: this dream of mine—

    Being now awake, I’ll queen it no inch further,

    But milk my ewes and weep.

    Cam.Why, how now, father!

    Speak, ere thou diest.

    Shep.I cannot speak, nor think,

    Nor dare to know that which I know. O sir!

    You have undone a man of fourscore three,

    That thought to fill his grave in quiet, yea,

    To die upon the bed my father died,

    To lie close by his honest bones: but now

    Some hangman must put on my shroud and lay me

    Where no priest shovels in dust. O cursed wretch!

    That knew’st this was the prince, and wouldst adventure

    To mingle faith with him. Undone! undone!

    If I might die within this hour, I have liv’d

    To die when I desire.[Exit.

    Flo.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.

    Cam.Gracious my lord,

    You know your father’s temper: at this time

    He will allow no speech, which I do guess

    You do not purpose to him; and as hardly

    Will he endure your sight as yet, I fear:

    Then, till the fury of his highness settle,

    Come not before him.

    Flo.I not purpose it.

    I think, Camillo?

    Cam.Even he, my lord.

    Per.How often have I told you ’twould be thus!

    How often said my dignity would last

    But till ’twere known!

    Flo.It cannot fail but by

    The violation of my faith; and then

    Let nature crush the sides o’ the earth together

    And mar the seeds within! Lift up thy looks:

    From my succession wipe me, father; I

    Am heir to my affection.

    Cam.Be advis’d.

    Flo.I am; and by my fancy: if my reason

    Will thereto be obedient, I have reason;

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

    Do bid it welcome.

    Cam.This is desperate, sir.

    Flo.So call it; but it does fulfil my vow,

    I needs must think it honesty. Camillo,

    Not for Bohemia, nor the pomp that may

    Be thereat glean’d, for all the sun sees or

    The close earth wombs or the profound sea hides

    In unknown fathoms, will I break my oath

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

    As you have ever been my father’s honour’d friend,

    When he shall miss me,—as, in faith, I mean not

    To see him any more,—cast your good counsels

    Upon his passion: let myself and fortune

    Tug for the time to come. This you may know

    And so deliver, I am put to sea

    With her whom here I cannot hold on shore;

    And most opportune to our need, I have

    A vessel rides fast by, but not prepar’d

    For this design. What course I mean to hold

    Shall nothing benefit your knowledge, nor

    Concern me the reporting.

    Cam.O my lord!

    I would your spirit were easier for advice,

    Or stronger for your need.

    Flo.Hark, Perdita.[Takes her aside.

    [To CAMILLO.]I’ll hear you by and by.

    Cam.He’s irremovable,

    Resolv’d for flight. Now were I happy if

    His going I could frame to serve my turn,

    Save him from danger, do him love and honour,

    Purchase the sight again of dear Sicilia

    And that unhappy king, my master, whom

    I so much thirst to see.

    Flo.Now, good Camillo,

    I am so fraught with curious business that

    I leave out ceremony.

    Cam.Sir, I think

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

    That I have borne your father?

    Flo.Very nobly

    Have you deserv’d: it is my father’s music

    To speak your deeds, not little of his care

    To have them recompens’d as thought on.

    Cam.Well, my lord,

    If you may please to think I love the king

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

    Your gracious self, embrace but my direction,

    If your more ponderous and settled project

    May suffer alteration, on mine honour

    I’ll point you where you shall have such receiving

    As shall become your highness; where you may

    Enjoy your mistress,—from the whom, I see,

    There’s no disjunction to be made, but by,

    As, heavens forfend! your ruin,—marry her;

    And with my best endeavours in your absence

    Your discontenting father strive to qualify,

    And bring him up to liking.

    Flo.How, Camillo,

    May this, almost a miracle, be done?

    That I may call thee something more than man,

    And, after that trust to thee.

    Cam.Have you thought on

    A place whereto you’ll go?

    Flo.Not any yet;

    But as the unthought-on accident is guilty

    To what we wildly do, so we profess

    Ourselves to be the slaves of chance and flies

    Of every wind that blows.

    Cam.Then list to me:

    This follows; if you will not change your purpose

    But undergo this flight, make for Sicilia,

    And there present yourself and your fair princess,—

    For so, I see, she must be,—’fore Leontes;

    She shall be habited as it becomes

    The partner of your bed. Methinks I see

    Leontes opening his free arms and weeping

    His welcomes forth; asks thee, the son, forgiveness

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

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

    ’Twixt his unkindness and his kindness: the one

    He chides to hell, and bids the other grow

    Faster than thought or time.

    Flo.Worthy Camillo,

    What colour for my visitation shall I

    Hold up before him?

    Cam.Sent by the king your father

    To greet him and to give him comforts. Sir,

    The manner of your bearing towards him, with

    What you as from your father shall deliver,

    Things known betwixt us three, I’ll write you down:

    The which shall point you forth at every sitting

    What you must say; that he shall not perceive

    But that you have your father’s bosom there

    And speak his very heart.

    Flo.I am bound to you.

    There is some sap in this.

    Cam.A course more promising

    Than a wild dedication of yourselves

    To unpath’d waters, undream’d shores, most certain

    To miseries enough: no hope to help you,

    But as you shake off one to take another;

    Nothing so certain as your anchors, who

    Do their best office, if they can but stay you

    Where you’ll be loath to be. Besides, you know

    Prosperity’s the very bond of love,

    Whose fresh complexion and whose heart together

    Affliction alters.

    Per.One of these is true:

    I think affliction may subdue the cheek,

    But not take in the mind.

    Cam.Yea, say you so?

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

    Be born another such.

    Flo.My good Camillo,

    She is as forward of her breeding as

    She is i’ the rear o’ her birth.

    Cam.I cannot say ’tis pity

    She lacks instructions, for she seems a mistress

    To most that teach.

    Per.Your pardon, sir; for this

    I’ll blush you thanks.

    Flo.My prettiest Perdita!

    But O! the thorns we stand upon. Camillo,

    Preserver of my father, now of me,

    The med’cine of our house, how shall we do?

    We are not furnish’d like Bohemia’s son,

    Nor shall appear in Sicilia.

    Cam.My lord,

    Fear none of this: I think you know my fortunes

    Do all lie there: it shall be so my care

    To have you royally appointed as if

    The scene you play were mine. For instance, sir,

    That you may know you shall not want, one word.[They talk aside.

    Enter AUTOLYCUS.

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

    Cam.Nay, but my letters, by this means being there

    So soon as you arrive, shall clear that doubt.

    Flo.And those that you’ll procure from King Leontes—

    Cam.Shall satisfy your father.

    Per.Happy be you!

    All that you speak shows fair.

    Cam.[Seeing AUTOLYCUS.]Whom have we here?

    We’ll make an instrument of this: omit

    Nothing may give us aid.

    Aut.[Aside.]If they have overheard me now, why, hanging.

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

    Aut.I am a poor fellow, sir.

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

    Aut.I am a poor fellow, sir.—[Aside.]I know ye well enough.

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

    Aut.Are you in earnest, sir?[Aside.]I smell the trick on ’t.

    Flo.Dispatch, I prithee.

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

    Cam.Unbuckle, unbuckle.—[FLORIZEL and AUTOLYCUS exchange garments.

    Fortunate-mistress,—let my prophecy

    Come home to ye!—you must retire yourself

    Into some covert: take your sweetheart’s hat

    And pluck it o’er your brows; muffle your face;

    Dismantle you, and, as you can, disliken

    The truth of your own seeming; that you may,—

    For I do fear eyes over you,—to shipboard

    Get undescried.

    Per.I see the play so lies

    That I must bear a part.

    Cam.No remedy.

    Have you done there?

    Flo.Should I now meet my father

    He would not call me son.

    Cam.Nay, you shall have no hat.[Giving it to PERDITA.

    Come, lady, come. Farewell, my friend.

    Aut.Adieu, sir.

    Flo.O Perdita, what have we twain forgot!

    Pray you, a word.[They converse apart.

    Cam.[Aside.]What I do next shall be to tell the king

    Of this escape, and whither they are bound;

    Wherein my hope is I shall so prevail

    To force him after: in whose company

    I shall review Sicilia, for whose sight

    I have a woman’s longing.

    Flo.Fortune speed us!

    Thus we set on, Camillo, to the sea-side.

    Cam.The swifter speed the better.[Exeunt FLORIZEL, PERDITA, and CAMILLO.

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

    Re-enter Clown and Shepherd.

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

    Shep.Nay, but hear me.

    Clo.Nay, but hear me.

    Shep.Go to, then.

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

    Shep.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.

    Clo.Indeed, brother-in-law was the furthest off you could have been to him, and then your blood had been the dearer by I know not how much an ounce.

    Aut.[Aside.]Very wisely, puppies!

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

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

    Clo.Pray heartily he be at palace.

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

    Shep.To the palace, an it like your worship.

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

    Clo.We are but plain fellows, sir.

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

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

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

    Aut.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-odour from me? reflect I not on thy baseness court-contempt? Think’st thou, for that I insinuate, or toaze from thee thy business, I am therefore no courtier? I am courtier, cap-a-pe, and one that will either push on or pluck back thy business there: whereupon I command thee to open thy affair.

    Shep.My business, sir, is to the king.

    Aut.What advocate hast thou to him?

    Shep.I know not, an ’t like you.

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

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

    Aut.How bless’d are we that are not simple men!

    Yet nature might have made me as these are,

    Therefore I’ll not disdain.

    Clo.This cannot be but a great courtier.

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

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

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

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

    Aut.Age, thou hast lost thy labour.

    Shep.Why, sir?

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

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

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

    Clo.Think you so, sir?

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

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

    Aut.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-vitæ or some other hot infusion; then, raw as he is, and in the hottest day prognostication proclaims, shall he be set against a brick-wall, the sun looking with a southward eye upon him, where he is to behold him with flies blown to death. But what talk we of these traitorly rascals, whose miseries are to be smiled at, their offences being so capital? Tell me,—for you seem to be honest plain men,—what you have to the king: being something gently considered, I’ll bring you where he is aboard, tender your persons to his presence, whisper him in your behalfs; and if it be in man besides the king to effect your suits, here is a man shall do it.

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

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

    Aut.After I have done what I promised?

    Shep.Ay, sir.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Shep.Let’s before as he bids us. He was provided to do us good.[Exeunt Shepherd and Clown.

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