Open Source Shakespeare

The Winter's Tale

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Act IV, Scene 3

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.