Open Source Shakespeare

The Winter's Tale

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Act IV, Scene 4

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.
    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.