Plays  +  Sonnets  +  Poems  +  Concordance  +  Advanced Search  +  About OSS

The Winter's Tale

print/save print/save view


Act V, Scene 2

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?
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Clown. Not swear it, now I am a gentleman? Let boors and
    franklins say it, I'll swear it.
  • 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.