Enter Time, the Chorus
Time I, that please some, try all, both joy and terror
Of good and bad, that makes and unfolds error,
Now take upon me, in the name of Time,
To use my wings. Impute it not a crime
To me or my swift passage, that I slide
O’er sixteen years and leave the growth untried
Of that wide gap, since it is in my power
To o’erthrow law and in one self-born hour
To plant and o’erwhelm custom. Let me pass
The same I am, ere ancient’st order was
Or what is now received: I witness to
The times that brought them in; so shall I do
To the freshest things now reigning and make stale
The glistering of this present, as my tale
Now seems to it. Your patience this allowing,
I turn my glass and give my scene such growing
As you had slept between: Leontes leaving,
The effects of his fond jealousies so grieving
That he shuts up himself, imagine me,
Gentle spectators, that I now may be
In fair Bohemia, and remember well,
I mentioned a son o’ the king’s, which Florizel
I now name to you; and with speed so pace
To speak of Perdita, now grown in grace
Equal with wondering: what of her ensues
I list not prophecy; but let Time’s news
Be known when ’tis brought forth.
A shepherd’s daughter,
And what to her adheres, which follows after,
Is the argument of Time. Of this allow,
If ever you have spent time worse ere now;
If never, yet that Time himself doth say
He wishes earnestly you never may.
Enter Polixenes and Camillo
Polixenes I pray thee, good Camillo, be no more importunate: ’tis a sickness denying thee any thing; a death to grant this.
Camillo It is fifteen years since I saw my country: though I have for the most part been aired abroad, I desire to lay my bones there. Besides, the penitent king, my master, hath sent for me; to whose feeling sorrows I might be some allay, or I o’erween to think so, which is another spur to my departure.
Polixenes As thou lovest me, Camillo, wipe not out the rest of thy services by leaving me now: the need I have of thee thine own goodness hath made; better not to have had thee than thus to want thee: thou, having made me businesses which none without thee can sufficiently manage, must either stay to execute them thyself or take away with thee the very services thou hast done; which if I have not enough considered, as too much I cannot, to be more thankful to thee shall be my study, and my profit therein the heaping friendships. Of that fatal country, Sicilia, prithee speak no more; whose very naming punishes me with the remembrance of that penitent, as thou callest him, and reconciled king, my brother; whose loss of his most precious queen and children are even now to be afresh lamented. Say to me, when sawest thou the Prince Florizel, my son? Kings are no less unhappy, their issue not being gracious, than they are in losing them when they have approved their virtues.
Camillo Sir, it is three days since I saw the prince. What his happier affairs may be, are to me unknown: but I have missingly noted, he is of late much retired from court and is less frequent to his princely exercises than formerly he hath appeared.
Polixenes I have considered so much, Camillo, and with some care; so far that I have eyes under my service which look upon his removedness; from whom I have this intelligence, that he is seldom from the house of a most homely shepherd; a man, they say, that from very nothing, and beyond the imagination of his neighbours, is grown into an unspeakable estate.
Camillo I have heard, sir, of such a man, who hath a daughter of most rare note: the report of her is extended more than can be thought to begin from such a cottage.
Polixenes That’s likewise part of my intelligence; but, I fear, the angle that plucks our son thither. Thou shalt accompany us to the place; where we will, not appearing what we are, have some question with the shepherd; from whose simplicity I think it not uneasy to get the cause of my son’s resort thither. Prithee, be my present partner in this business, and lay aside the thoughts of Sicilia.
Camillo I willingly obey your command.
Polixenes My best Camillo! We must disguise ourselves.
Enter Autolycus, singing
When daffodils begin to peer,
With heigh! the doxy over the dale,
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;
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.
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,
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.
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 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!
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.
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 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 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!
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 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 great matter.
Autolycus I am robbed, sir, and beaten; my money and apparel ta’en from me, and these detestable things put upon me.
Clown What, by a horseman, or a footman?
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.
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?
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 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?
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 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 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 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.
Autolycus I must confess to you, sir, I am no fighter: I am false of heart that way; and that he knew, I warrant him.
Clown How do you now?
Autolycus Sweet sir, much better than I was; I can stand and 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 sheep-shearing.
Autolycus Prosper you, sweet sir!
Your purse is not hot enough to purchase your spice. I’ll be with you at your sheep-shearing too: if I 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,
And merrily hent the stile-a:
A merry heart goes all the day,
Your sad tires in a mile-a.
Enter Florizel and Perdita
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.
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,
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.
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
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
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-robed 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.
Perdita O, but, sir,
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,
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
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:
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!
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
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;
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
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.
Perdita [To Polixenes] Sir, welcome:
It is my father’s will I should take on me
The hostess-ship o’ the day.
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.
Perdita 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.
Polixenes Wherefore, gentle maiden,
Do you neglect them?
Perdita For I have heard it said
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
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.
Perdita So it is.
Polixenes Then make your garden rich in gillyvors,
And do not call them bastards.
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;
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.
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.
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 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,
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;
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.
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,
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.
Perdita O Doricles,
Your praises are too large: but that your youth,
And the true blood which peepeth fairly through’t,
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
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
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
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!
Clown Not a word, a word; we stand upon our manners.
Come, strike up!
Music. Here a dance of Shepherds and Shepherdesses
Polixenes Pray, good shepherd, what fair swain is this
Which dances with your daughter?
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:
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.
Polixenes She dances featly.
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.
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 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 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 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.’
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 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.
Clown Prithee bring him in; and let him approach singing.
Perdita Forewarn him that he use no scurrilous words in ’s tunes.
Clown You have of these pedlars, that have more in them than you’ld think, sister.
Perdita 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:
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.
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 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.
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; 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’ 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.
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 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 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 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.
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 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 occupation; have at it with you.
Get you hence, for I must go
Where it fits not you to know.
It becomes thy oath full well,
Thou to me thy secrets tell.
Me too, let me go thither.
Or thou goest to the orange or mill.
If to either, thou dost ill.
Thou hast sworn my love to be.
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 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.
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 finest, finest wear-a?
Come to the pedlar;
Money’s a medler.
That doth utter all men’s ware-a.
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 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.
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 danced before the king; and not the worst of the three but jumps twelve foot and a half by the squier.
Shepherd Leave your prating: since these good men are pleased, let them come in; but quickly now.
Servant Why, they stay at door, sir.
Here a dance of twelve Satyrs
Polixenes O, father, you’ll know more of that hereafter.
Is it not too far gone? ’Tis time to part them.
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
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.
Florizel 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 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.
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.
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,
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.
Polixenes Fairly offer’d.
Camillo This shows a sound affection.
Shepherd But, my daughter,
Say you the like to him?
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.
Shepherd 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.
Florizel 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.
Shepherd Come, your hand;
And, daughter, yours.
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.
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
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;
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
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;
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.
Polixenes Prithee, let him.
Florizel No, he must not.
Shepherd Let him, my son: he shall not need to grieve
At knowing of thy choice.
Florizel Come, come, he must not.
Mark our contract.
Polixenes Mark your divorce, young sir,
Whom son I dare not call; thou art too base
To be acknowledged: 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 copest with —
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
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.
Perdita Even here undone!
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?
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!
Speak ere thou diest.
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,
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 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.
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:
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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 prepared
For this design. What course I mean to hold
Shall nothing benefit your knowledge, nor
Concern me the reporting.
Camillo O my lord!
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.
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
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.
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
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
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 forefend! — your ruin; marry her,
And, with my best endeavours in your absence,
Your discontenting father strive to qualify
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.
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
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,
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.
Florizel Worthy Camillo,
What colour for my visitation shall I
Hold up before him?
Camillo 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.
Florizel I am bound to you:
There is some sap in this.
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;
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
Perdita One of these is true:
I think affliction may subdue the cheek,
But not take in the mind.
Camillo Yea, say you so?
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
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
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?
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
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
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, 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 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 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
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.
Perdita Happy be you!
All that you speak shows fair.
Camillo Who have we here?
We’ll make an instrument of this, omit
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.
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 pennyworth on his side be the worst, yet hold thee, there’s some boot.
Autolycus I am a poor fellow, sir.
Aside I know ye well enough.
Camillo Nay, prithee, dispatch: the gentleman is half flayed already.
Autolycus Are you in earnest, sir?
Aside I smell the trick on’t.
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
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 — to shipboard
Perdita I see the play so lies
That I must bear a part.
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.
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.
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
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.
Exeunt Florizel, Perdita, and Camillo
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. 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 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
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 she’s a changeling and none of your flesh and blood.
Shepherd Nay, but hear me.
Clown Nay, but hear me.
Shepherd Go to, then.
Clown 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.
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 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!
Shepherd Well, let us to the king: there is that in this fardel will make him scratch his beard.
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.
Takes off his false beard
How now, rustics! whither are you bound?
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 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 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.
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 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 open thy affair.
Shepherd My business, sir, is to the king.
Autolycus What advocate hast thou to him?
Shepherd I know not, an’t like you.
Clown Advocate’s the court-word for a pheasant: say you have none.
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.
Clown This cannot be but a great courtier.
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 on’s teeth.
Autolycus The fardel there? what’s i’ the fardel?
Wherefore that box?
Shepherd 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.
Autolycus Age, thou hast lost thy labour.
Shepherd Why, sir?
Autolycus The king is not at the palace; he is gone aboard a 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.
Shepherd So ’tis said, sir; about his son, that should have married a shepherd’s daughter.
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 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.
Clown Has the old man e’er a son, sir, do you hear. an’t like you, sir?
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 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 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 man shall do it.
Clown 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.’
Shepherd 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.
Autolycus After I have done what I promised?
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 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 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; 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.
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 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.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:13