William Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale (1610-11)

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)  


This is a part of a collection of works by William Shakespeare.


The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, ed. with a glossary by W.J. Craig M.A. (London: Oxford University Press, 1916).

See the complete volume in HTML and facs. PDF.



Table of Contents







Leontes, King of Sicilia.
Mamillius, young Prince of Sicilia.
Camillo,     } Lords of Sicilia.
Antigonus, }
Cleomenes, }
Dion,          }
Polixenes, King of Bohemia.
Florizel, his Son.
Archidamus, a Lord of Bohemia.
A Mariner.
A Gaoler.
An old Shepherd, reputed Father of Perdita.
Clown, his Son.
Servant to the old Shepherd.
Autolycus, a Rogue.
Hermione, Queen to Leontes.
Perdita, Daughter to Leontes and Hermione.
Paulina, Wife to Antigonus.
Emilia, a Lady, } attending the Queen.
Other Ladies,   }
Mopsa,         } Shepherdesses.
Dorcas,       }
Sicilian Lords and Ladies, Attendants, Guards, Satyrs, Shepherds, Shepherdesses, &c.
Time, as Chorus.



Scene.Sometimes in Sicilia, sometimes in Bohemia.


Scene I.— Sicilia. An Antechamber in LeontesPalace.

Enter Camillo and Archidamus.


If you shall chance, Camillo, to visit Bohemia, on the like occasion whereon my services are now on foot, you shall see, as I have said, great difference betwixt our Bohemia and your Sicilia.  5


I think, this coming summer, the King of Sicilia means to pay Bohemia the visitation which he justly owes him.  8


Wherein our entertainment shall shame us we will be justified in our loves: for, indeed,—


Beseech you,—


Verily, I speak it in the freedom of my knowledge: we cannot with such magnificence—in so rare—I know not what to say. We will give you sleepy drinks, that your senses, unintelligent of our insufficience, may, though they cannot praise us, as little accuse us.  17


You pay a great deal too dear for what’s given freely.


Believe me, I speak as my understanding instructs me, and as mine honesty puts it to utterance.  22


Sicilia cannot show himself over-kind to Bohemia. They were trained together in their childhoods; and there rooted betwixt them then such an affection which cannot choose but branch now. Since their more mature dignities and royal necessities made separation of their society, their encounters, though not personal, have been royally attorneyed with interchange of gifts, letters, loving embassies; that they have seemed to be together, though absent, shook hands, as over a vast, and embraced, as it were, from the ends of opposed winds. The heavens continue their loves!  35


I think there is not in the world either malice or matter to alter it. You have an unspeakable comfort of your young Prince Mamilhus: it is a gentleman of the greatest promise that ever came into my note.  40


I very well agree with you in the hopes of him. It is a gallant child; one that indeed physics the subject, makes old hearts fresh; they that went on crutches ere he was born desire yet their life to see him a man.  45


Would they else be content to die?


Yes; if there were no other excuse why they should desire to live.  48


If the king had no son, they would desire to live on crutches till he had one.


Scene II.— The Same. A Room of State in the Palace.

Enter Leontes, Polixenes, Hermione, Mamillius, Camillo, and Attendants.


Nine changes of the watery star have been

The shepherd’s note since we have left our throne

Without a burden: time as long again

Would be fill’d up, my brother, with our thanks;

And yet we should for perpetuity  5

Go hence in debt: and therefore, like a cipher,

Yet standing in rich place, I multiply

With one ‘We thank you’ many thousands moe

That go before it.


Stay your thanks awhile,  9

And pay them when you part.


Sir, that’s to-morrow.

I am question’d by my fears, of what may chance

Or breed upon our absence; that may blow  12

No sneaping winds at home, to make us say,

‘This is put forth too truly!’ Besides, I have stay’d

To tire your royalty.


We are tougher, brother,

Than you can put us to’t.


No longer stay.  16


One seven-night longer.


Very sooth, to-morrow.


We’ll part the time between’s then; and in that

I’ll no gainsaying.


Press me not, beseech you, so.

There is no tongue that moves, none, none i’ the world,  20

So soon as yours could win me: so it should now,

Were there necessity in your request, although

’Twere needful I denied it. My affairs

Do even drag me homeward; which to hinder  24

Were in your love a whip to me; my stay

To you a charge and trouble: to save both,

Farewell, our brother.


Tongue-tied, our queen? speak you.


I had thought, sir, to have held my peace until  28

You had drawn oaths from him not to stay.

You, sir,

Charge him too coldly: tell him, you are sure

All in Bohemia’s well: this satisfaction

The by-gone day proclaim’d: say this to him,  32

He’s beat from his best ward.


Well said, Hermione.


To tell he longs to see his son were strong:

But let him say so then, and let him go;

But let him swear so, and he shall not stay,  36

We’ll thwack him hence with distaffs.

[To Polixenes.] Yet of your royal presence I’ll adventure

The borrow of a week. When at Bohemia

You take my lord, I’ll give him my commission

To let him there a month behind the gest  41

Prefix’d for’s parting: yet, good deed, Leontes,

I love thee not a jar o’ the clock behind

What lady she her lord. You’ll stay?


No, madam.  44


Nay, but you will?


I may not, verily.



You put me off with limber vows; but I,

Though you would seek to unsphere the stars with oaths,  48

Should yet say, ‘Sir, no going.’ Verily,

You shall not go: a lady’s ‘verily’ ’s

As potent as a lord’s. Will you go yet?

Force me to keep you as a prisoner,  52

Not like a guest; so you shall pay your fees

When you depart, and save your thanks. How say you?

My prisoner, or my guest? by your dread ‘verily,’

One of them you shall be.


Your guest, then, madam:  56

To be your prisoner should import offending;

Which is for me less easy to commit

Than you to punish.


Not your gaoler then,

But your kind hostess. Come, I’ll question you

Of my lord’s tricks and yours when you were boys:  61

You were pretty lordings then.


We were, fair queen,

Two lads that thought there was no more behind

But such a day to-morrow as to-day,  64

And to be boy eternal.


Was not my lord the verier wag o’ the two?


We were as twinn’d lambs that did frisk i’ the sun,

And bleat the one at the other: what we chang’d  68

Was innocence for innocence; we knew not

The doctrine of ill-doing, no nor dream’d

That any did. Had we pursu’d that life,

And our weak spirits ne’er been higher rear’d  72

With stronger blood, we should have answer’d heaven

Boldly, ‘not guilty;’ the imposition clear’d

Hereditary ours.


By this we gather

You have tripp’d since.


O! my most sacred lady,  76

Temptations have since then been born to’s; for

In those unfledg’d days was my wife a girl;

Your precious self had then not cross’d the eyes

Of my young playfellow.


Grace to boot!  80

Of this make no conclusion, lest you say

Your queen and I are devils; yet, go on:

The offences we have made you do we’ll answer;

If you first sinn’d with us, and that with us  84

You did continue fault, and that you slipp’d not

With any but with us.


Is he won yet?


He’ll stay, my lord.


At my request he would not.

Hermione, my dearest, thou never spok’st  88

To better purpose.




Never, but once.


What! have I twice said well? when was’t before?

I prithee tell me; cram’s with praise, and make’s

As fat as tame things: one good deed, dying tongueless,  92

Slaughters a thousand waiting upon that.

Our praises are our wages: you may ride’s

With one soft kiss a thousand furlongs ere

With spur we heat an acre. But to the goal:  96

My last good deed was to entreat his stay:

What was my first? it has an elder sister,

Or I mistake you: O! would her name were Grace.

But once before I spoke to the purpose: when?

Nay, let me have’t; I long.


Why, that was when

Three crabbed months had sour’d themselves to death,

Ere I could make thee open thy white hand

And clap thyself my love: then didst thou utter,  104

‘I am yours for ever.’


’Tis grace indeed.

Why, lo you now, I have spoke to the purpose twice:

The one for ever earn’d a royal husband,

The other for some while a friend.  108

[Giving her hand to Polixenes.


[Aside.] Too hot, too hot!

To mingle friendship far is mingling bloods.

I have tremor cordis on me: my heart dances;

But not for joy; not joy. This entertainment  112

May a free face put on, derive a liberty

From heartiness, from bounty, fertile bosom,

And well become the agent:’t may I grant:

But to be paddling palms and pinching fingers,

As now they are, and making practis’d smiles,  117

As in a looking-glass; and then to sigh, as ’twere

The mort o’ the deer; O! that is entertainment

My bosom likes not, nor my brows. Mamillius,

Art thou my boy?


Ay, my good lord.


I’ fecks?  121

Why, that’s my bawcock. What! hast smutch’d thy nose?

They say it is a copy out of mine. Come, captain,

We must be neat; not neat, but cleanly, captain:

And yet the steer, the heifer, and the calf,  125

Are all call’d neat. Still virginalling

Upon his palm! How now, you wanton calf!

Art thou my calf?


Yes, if you will, my lord.  128


Thou want’st a rough pash and the shoots that I have,

To be full like me: yet they say we are

Almost as like as eggs; women say so,

That will say anything: but were they false  132

As o’er-dy’d blacks, as wind, as waters, false

As dice are to be wish’d by one that fixes

No bourn ’twixt his and mine, yet were it true

To say this boy were like me. Come, sir page,

Look on me with your wolkin eye: sweet villain!

Most dear’st! my collop! Can thy dam?—may’t be?—

Affection! thy intention stabs the centre:

Thou dost make possible things not so held,  140

Communicat’st with dreams;—how can this be?—

With what’s unreal thou co-active art,

And fellow’st nothing: then, ’tis very credent

Thou mayst co-join with something; and thou dost,  144

And that beyond commission, and I find it,

And that to the infection of my brains

And hardening of my brows.


What means Sicilia?


He something seems unsettled.


How, my lord!  148

What cheer? how is’t with you, best brother?


You look

As if you held a brow of much distraction:

Are you mov’d, my lord?


No, in good earnest.

How sometimes nature will betray its folly,  152

Its tenderness, and make itself a pastime

To harder bosoms! Looking on the lines

Of my boy’s face, methoughts I did recoil

Twenty-three years, and saw myself unbreech’d,

In my green velvet coat, my dagger muzzled,

Lest it should bite its master, and so prove,

As ornaments oft do, too dangerous:

How like, methought, I then was to this kernel,

This squash, this gentleman. Mine honest friend,  161

Will you take eggs for money?


No, my lord, I’ll fight.


You will? why, happy man be his dole! My brother,

Are you so fond of your young prince as we  164

Do seem to be of ours?


If at home, sir,

He’s all my exercise, my mirth, my matter,

Now my sworn friend and then mine enemy;

My parasite, my soldier, statesman, all:  168

He makes a July’s day short as December,

And with his varying childness cures in me

Thoughts that would thick my blood.


So stands this squire

Offic’d with me. We two will walk, my lord,  172

And leave you to your graver steps. Hermione,

How thou lov’st us, show in our brother’s welcome:

Let what is dear in Sicily be cheap:

Next to thyself and my young rover, he’s  176

Apparent to my heart.


If you would seek us,

We are yours i’ the garden: shall’s attend you there?


To your own bents dispose you: you’ll be found,

Be you beneath the sky.—[Aside.] I am angling now,  180

Though you perceive me not how I give line.

Go to, go to!

How she holds up the neb, the bill to him!

And arms her with the boldness of a wife  184

To her allowing husband!

[Exeunt Polixenes, Hermione, and Attendants.

Gone already!

Inch-thick, knee-deep, o’er head and ears a fork’d one!

Go play, boy, play; thy mother plays, and I

Play too, but so disgrac’d a part, whose issue  188

Will hiss me to my grave: contempt and clamour

Will be my knell. Go play, boy, play. There have been,

Or I am much deceiv’d, cuckolds ere now;

And many a man there is even at this present,

Now, while I speak this, holds his wife by the arm,

That little thinks she has been sluic’d in’s absence,

And his pond fish’d by his next neighbour, by

Sir Smile, his neighbour: nay, there’s comfort in’t,  196

Whiles other men have gates, and those gates open’d,

As mine, against their will. Should all despair

That have revolted wives the tenth of mankind

Would hang themselves. Physic for’t there is none;  200

It is a bawdy planet, that will strike

Where ’tis predominant; and ’tis powerful, think it,

From east, west, north, and south: be it concluded,

No barricado for a belly: know’t;  204

It will let in and out the enemy

With bag and baggage. Many a thousand on’s

Have the disease, and feel’t not. How now, boy!


I am like you, they say.


Why, that’s some comfort.  208

What! Camillo there?


Ay, my good lord.


Go play, Mamillius; thou’rt an honest man.

[Exit Mamillius.

Camillo, this great sir will yet stay longer.  212


You had much ado to make his anchor hold:

When you cast out, it still came home.


Didst note it?


He would not stay at your petitions; made

His business more material.


Didst perceive it?  216

[Aside.] They’re here with me already, whispering, rounding

‘Sicilia is a so-forth.’ ’Tis far gone,

When I shall gust it last. How came’t, Camillo,

That he did stay?


At the good queen’s entreaty.  220


At the queen’s, be’t: ‘good’ should be pertinent;

But so it is, it is not. Was this taken

By any understanding pate but thine?

For thy conceit is soaking; will draw in  224

More than the common blocks: not noted, is’t,

But of the finer natures? by some severals

Of head-piece extraordinary? lower messes

Perchance are to this business purblind? say.


Business, my lord! I think most understand

Bohemia stays here longer.




Stays here longer.


Ay, but why?


To satisfy your highness and the entreaties  232

Of our most gracious mistress.



The entreaties of your mistress! satisfy!

Let that suffice. I have trusted thee, Camillo,

With all the nearest things to my heart, as well

My chamber-councils, wherein, priest-like, thou

Hast cleans’d my bosom: I from thee departed

Thy penitent reform’d; but we have been

Deceiv’d in thy integrity, deceiv’d  240

In that which seems so.


Be it forbid, my lord!


To bide upon ’t, thou art not honest; or,

If thou inclin’st that way, thou art a coward,

Which hoxes honesty behind, restraining  244

From course requir’d; or else thou must be counted

A servant grafted in my serious trust,

And therein negligent; or else a fool

That seest a game play’d home, the rich stake drawn,  248

And tak’st it all for jest.


My gracious lord,

I may be negligent, foolish, and fearful;

In every one of these no man is free,

But that his negligence, his folly, fear,  252

Among the infinite doings of the world,

Sometime puts forth. In your affairs, my lord,

If ever I were wilful-negligent,

It was my folly; if industriously  256

I play’d the fool, it was my negligence,

Not weighing well the end; if ever fearful

To do a thing, where I the issue doubted,

Whereof the execution did cry out  260

Against the non-performance, ’twas a fear

Which oft infects the wisest: these, my lord,

Are such allow’d infirmities that honesty

Is never free of: but, beseech your Grace,  264

Be plainer with me; let me know my trespass

By its own visage; if I then deny it,

’Tis none of mine.


Ha’ not you seen, Camillo,—

But that’s past doubt; you have, or your eyeglass  268

Is thicker than a cuckold’s horn,—or heard,—

For to a vision so apparent rumour

Cannot be mute,—or thought,—for cogitation

Resides not in that man that does not think,—

My wife is slippery? If thou wilt confess,—  273

Or else be impudently negative,

To have nor eyes, nor ears, nor thought,—then say

My wife’s a hobby-horse; deserves a name  276

As rank as any flax-wench that puts to

Before her troth-plight: say’t and justify’t.


I would not be a stander-by, to hear

My sovereign mistress clouded so, without  280

My present vengeance taken: ’shrew my heart,

You never spoke what did become you less

Than this; which to reiterate were sin

As deep as that, though true.


Is whispering nothing?  284

Is leaning cheek to cheek? is meeting noses?

Kissing with inside lip? stopping the career

Of laughter with a sigh?—a note infallible

Of breaking honesty,—horsing foot on foot?  288

Skulking in corners? wishing clocks more swift?

Hours, minutes? noon, midnight? and all eyes

Blind with the pin and web but theirs, theirs only,

That would unseen be wicked? is this nothing?

Why, then the world and all that’s in’t is nothing;  293

The covering sky is nothing; Bohemia nothing;

My wife is nothing; nor nothing have these nothings,

If this be nothing.


Good my lord, be cur’d  296

Of this diseas’d opinion, and betimes;

For ’tis most dangerous.


Say it be, ’tis true.


No, no, my lord.


It is; you lie, you lie:

I say thou liest, Camillo, and I hate thee;  300

Pronounce thee a gross lout, a mindless slave,

Or else a hovering temporizer, that

Canst with thine eyes at once see good and evil,

Inclining to them both: were my wife’s liver  304

Infected as her life, she would not live

The running of one glass.


Who does infect her?


Why, he that wears her like her medal, hanging

About his neck, Bohemia: who, if I  308

Had servants true about me, that bare eyes

To see alike mine honour as their profits,

Their own particular thrifts, they would do that

Which should undo more doing: ay, and thou,

His cup-bearer,—whom I from meaner form  313

Have bench’d and rear’d to worship, who mayst see

Plainly, as heaven sees earth, and earth sees heaven,

How I am galled,—mightst bespice a cup,  316

To give mine enemy a lasting wink;

Which draught to me were cordial.


Sir, my lord,

I could do this, and that with no rash potion,

But with a lingering dram that should not work

Maliciously like poison: but I cannot  321

Believe this crack to be in my dread mistress,

So sovereingly being honourable:

I have lov’d thee,—


Make that thy question, and go rot!

Dost think I am so muddy, so unsettled,  325

To appoint myself in this vexation; sully

The purity and whiteness of my sheets,

Which to preserve is sleep; which being spotted

Is goads, thorns, nettles, tails of wasps?  329

Give scandal to the blood o’ the prince my son,

Who I do think is mine, and love as mine,

Without ripe moving to’t? Would I do this?

Could man so blench?


I must believe you, sir:  333

I do; and will fetch off Bohemia for’t;

Provided that when he’s remov’d, your highness

Will take again your queen as yours at first,  336

Even for your son’s sake; and thereby for sealing

The injury of tongues in courts and kingdoms

Known and allied to yours.


Thou dost advise me

Even so as I mine own course have set down:

I’ll give no blemish to her honour, none.  341


My lord,

Go then; and with a countenance as clear

As friendship wears at feasts, keep with Bohemia,

And with your queen. I am his cupbearer;  345

If from me he have wholesome beverage,

Account me not your servant.


This is all:

Do’t, and thou hast the one half of my heart;

Do’t not, thou split’st thine own.


I’ll do’t, my lord.  349


I will seem friendly, as thou hast advis’d me.



O miserable lady! But, for me,

What case stand I in? I must be the poisoner

Of good Polixenes; and my ground to do’t  353

Is the obedience to a master; one

Who, in rebellion with himself will have

All that are his so too. To do this deed  356

Promotion follows. If I could find example

Of thousands that had struck anointed kings,

And flourish’d after, I’d not do’t; but since

Nor brass nor stone nor parchment bears not one,  360

Let villany itself forswear’t. I must

Forsake the court: to do’t, or no, is certain

To me a break-neck. Happy star reign now!

Here comes Bohemia.

Re-enter Polixenes.


This is strange: methinks  364

My favour here begins to warp. Not speak?—

Good day, Camillo.


Hail, most royal sir!


What is the news i’ the court?


None rare, my lord.


The king hath on him such a countenance  368

As he had lost some province and a region

Lov’d as he loves himself: even now I met him

With customary compliment, when he,

Wafting his eyes, to the contrary, and falling  372

A lip of much contempt, speeds from me and

So leaves me to consider what is breeding

That changes thus his manners.


I dare not know, my lord.  376


How! dare not! do not! Do you know, and dare not

Be intelligent to me? ’Tis thereabouts:

For, to yourself, what you do know, you must,

And cannot say you dare not. Good Camillo,

Your chang’d complexions are to me a mirror

Which shows me mine chang’d too; for I must be

A party in this alteration, finding

Myself thus alter’d with’t.


There is a sickness  384

Which puts some of us in distemper; but

I cannot name the disease, and it is caught

Of you that yet are well.


How! caught of me?

Make me not sighted like the basilisk:  388

I have look’d on thousands, who have sped the better

By my regard, but kill’d none so. Camillo,—

As you are certainly a gentleman, thereto

Clerk-like experienc’d, which no less adorns  392

Our gentry than our parents’ noble names,

In whose success we are gentle,—I beseech you,

If you know aught which does behove my knowledge

Thereof to be inform’d, imprison it not  396

In ignorant concealment.


I may not answer.


A sickness caught of me, and yet I well!

I must be answer’d. Dost thou hear, Camillo;

I conjure thee, by all the parts of man  400

Which honour does acknowledge,—whereof the least

Is not this suit of mine,—that thou declare

What incidency thou dost guess of harm

Is creeping toward me; how far off, how near;

Which way to be prevented if to be;  405

If not, how best to bear it.


Sir, I will tell you;

Since I am charg’d in honour and by him

That I think honourable. Therefore mark my counsel,  408

Which must be even as swiftly follow’d as

I mean to utter it, or both yourself and me

Cry ‘lost,’ and so good night!


On, good Camillo.


I am appointed him to murder you.  412


By whom, Camillo?


By the king.


For what?


He thinks, nay, with all confidence he swears,

As he had seen’t or been an instrument

To vice you to’t, that you have touch’d his queen



O, then my best blood turn  417

To an infected jelly, and my name

Be yok’d with his that did betray the Best!

Turn then my freshest reputation to  420

A savour, that may strike the dullest nostril

Where I arrive; and my approach be shunn’d,

Nay, hated too, worse than the great’st infection

That e’er was heard or read!


Swear his thought over

By each particular star in heaven and  425

By all their influences, you may as well

Forbid the sea for to obey the moon

As or by oath remove or counsel shake  428

The fabric of his folly, whose foundation

Is pil’d upon his faith, and will continue

The standing of his body.


How should this grow?


I know not: but I am sure ’tis safer to

Avoid what’s grown than question how ’tis born.

If therefore you dare trust my honesty,

That lies enclosed in this trunk, which you

Shall bear along impawn’d, away to-night!  436

Your followers I will whisper to the business,

And will by twos and threes at several posterns

Clear them o’the city. For myself, I’ll put

My fortunes to your service, which are here  440

By this discovery lost. Be not uncertain;

For, by the honour of my parents, I

Have utter’d truth, which, if you seek to prove,

I dare not stand by; nor shall you be safer  444

Than one condemn’d by the king’s own mouth, thereon

His execution sworn.


I do believe thee:

I saw his heart in’s face. Give me thy hand:

Be pilot to me and thy places shall  448

Still neighbour mine. My ships are ready and

My people did expect my hence departure

Two days ago. This jealousy

Is for a precious creature: as she’s rare  452

Must it be great, and, as his person’s mighty

Must it be violent, and, as he does conceive

He is dishonour’d by a man which ever

Profess’d to him, why, his revenges must  456

In that be made more bitter. Fear o’ershades me:

Good expedition be my friend, and comfort

The gracious queen, part of his theme, but nothing

Of his ill-ta’en suspicion! Come. Camillo;  460

I will respect thee as a father if

Thou bear’st my life off hence: let us avoid.


It is in mine authority to command

The keys of all the posterns: please your highness  464

To take the urgent hour. Come, sir, away!



Scene I.— Sicilia. A Room in the Palace.

Enter Hermione, Mamillius, and Ladies.


Take the boy to you: he so troubles me, ’Tis past enduring.

First Lady.

Come, my gracious lord, Shall I be your playfellow?


No, I’ll none of you.

First Lady.

Why, my sweet lord?  4


You’ll kiss me hard and speak to me as if

I were a baby still. I love you better.

Sec. Lady.

And why so, my lord?


Not for because

Your brows are blacker; yet black brows, they say,  8

Become some women best, so that there be not

Too much hair there, but in a semicircle,

Or a half-moon made with a pen.

Sec. Lady.

Who taught you this?


I learn’d it out of women’s faces. Pray now,  12

What colour are your eyebrows?

First Lady.

Blue, my lord.


Nay, that’s a mock: I have seen a lady’s nose

That has been blue, but not her eyebrows.

Sec. Lady.

Hark ye;

The queen your mother rounds apace: we shall

Present our services to a fine new prince  17

One of these days; and then you’d wanton with us,

If we would have you.

First Lady.

She is spread of late

Into a goodly bulk: good time encounter her!  20


What wisdom stirs amongst you? Come sir, now

I am for you again: pray you, sit by us,

And tell’s a tale.


Merry or sad shall’t be?


As merry as you will.


A sad tale’s best for winter.  24

I have one of sprites and goblins.


Let’s have that, good sir.

Come on, sit down: come on, and do your best

To fright me with your sprites; you’re powerful at it.


There was a man,—


Nay, come, sit down; then on.  28


Dwelt by a churchyard. I will tell it softly;

Yond crickets shall not hear it.


Come on then,

And give’t me in mine ear.

Enter Leontes, Antigonus, Lords, and Others.


Was he met there? his train? Camillo with him?  32

First Lord.

Behind the tuft of pines I met them: never

Saw I men scour so on their way: I ey’d them

Even to their ships


How blest am I

In my just censure, in my true opinion!  36

Alack, for lesser knowledge! How accurs’d

In being so blest! There may be in the cup

A spider steep’d, and one may drink, depart,

And yet partake no venom, for his knowledge  40

Is not infected; but if one present

The abhorr’d ingredient to his eye, make known

How he hath drunk, he cracks his gorge, his sides,

With violent hefts. I have drunk, and seen the spider.  44

Camillo was his help in this, his pandar:

There is a plot against my life, my crown;

All’s true that is mistrusted: that false villain

Whom I employ’d was pre-employ’d by him:  48

He has discover’d my design, and I

Remain a pinch’d thing; yea, a very trick

For them to play at will. How came the posterns

So easily open?

First Lord.

By his great authority;  52

Which often hath no less prevail’d than so

On your command.


I know’t too well.

[To Hermione.] Give me the boy: I am glad you did not nurse him:

Though he does bear some signs of me, yet you

Have too much blood in him.


What is this? sport?


Bear the boy hence; he shall not come about her;

Away with him!—[Exit Mamillius, attended.] and let her sport herself

With that she’s big with; for ’tis Polixenes  60

Has made thee swell thus.


But I’d say he had not,

And I’ll be sworn you would believe my saying,

Howe’er you lean to the nayward.


You, my lords,

Look on her, mark her well; be but about  64

To say, ‘she is a goodly lady,’ and

The justice of your hearts will thereto add

‘’Tis pity she’s not honest, honourable:’

Praise her but for this her without-door form,—

Which, on my faith deserves high speech,—and straight  69

The shrug, the hum or ha, these petty brands

That calumny doth use,—O, I am out!—

That mercy does, for calumny will sear  72

Virtue itself: these shrugs, these hums and ha’s,

When you have said ‘she’s goodly,’ come between,

Ere you can say ‘she’s honest.’ But be’t known,

From him that has most cause to grieve it should be,  76

She’s an adulteress.


Should a villain say so,

The most replenish’d villain in the world,

He were as much more villain: you, my lord,

Do but mistake.


You have mistook, my lady,  80

Polixenes for Leontes. O thou thing!

Which I’ll not call a creature of thy place,

Lest barbarism, making me the precedent,

Should a like language use to all degrees,  84

And mannerly distinguishment leave out

Betwixt the prince and beggar: I have said

She’s an adulteress; I have said with whom:

More, she’s a traitor, and Camillo is  88

A federary with her, and one that knows

What she should shame to know herself

But with her most vile principal, that she’s

A bed-swerver, even as bad as those  92

That vulgars give bold’st titles; ay, and privy

To this their late escape.


No, by my life,

Privy to none of this. How will this grieve you

When you shall come to clearer knowledge that

You thus have publish’d me! Gentle my lord,  97

You scarce can right me throughly then to say

You did mistake.


No; if I mistake

In those foundations which I build upon,  100

The centre is not big enough to bear

A schoolboy’s top. Away with her to prison!

He who shall speak for her is afar off guilty

But that he speaks.


There’s some ill planet reigns:  104

I must be patient till the heavens look

With an aspect more favourable. Good my lords,

I am not prone to weeping, as our sex

Commonly are; the want of which vain dew  108

Perchance shall dry your pities; but I have

That honourable grief lodg’d here which burns

Worse than tears drown. Beseech you all, my lords,

With thoughts so qualified as your charities  112

Shall best instruct you, measure me; and so

The king’s will be perform’d!


[To the Guards.] Shall I be heard?


Who is’t that goes with me? Beseech your highness,

My women may be with me; for you see  116

My plight requires it. Do not weep, good fools;

There is no cause: when you shall know your mistress

Has deserv’d prison, then abound in tears

As I come out: this action I now go on  120

Is for my better grace. Adieu, my lord:

I never wish’d to see you sorry; now

I trust I shall. My women, come; you have leave.


Go, do our bidding: hence!  124

[Exeunt Queen guarded, and Ladies.

First Lord.

Beseech your highness call the queen again.


Be certain what you do, sir, lest your justice

Prove violence: in the which three great ones suffer,

Yourself, your queen, your son.

First Lord.

For her, my lord,  128

I dare my life lay down, and will do’t, sir,

Please you to accept it,—that the queen is spotless

I’ the eyes of heaven and to you: I mean,

In this which you accuse her.


If it prove  132

She’s otherwise, I’ll keep my stables where

I lodge my wife; I’ll go in couples with her;

Than when I feel and see her no further trust her;

For every inch of woman in the world,  136

Ay, every dram of woman’s flesh is false,

If she be.


Hold your peaces!

First Lord.

Good my lord,—


It is for you we speak, not for ourselves.

You are abus’d, and by some putter-on  140

That will be damn’d for’t; would I knew the villain,

I would land-damn him. Be she honour-flaw’d,—

I have three daughters; the eldest is eleven,

The second and the third, nine and some five;  144

If this prove true, they’ll pay for’t: by mine honour,

I’ll geld them all; fourteen they shall not see,

To bring false generations: they are co-heirs;

And I had rather glib myself than they  148

Should not produce fair issue.


Cease! no more.

You smell this business with a sense as cold

As is a dead man’s nose; but I do see’t and feel’t,

As you feel doing thus, and see withal  152

The instruments that feel.


If it be so,

We need no grave to bury honesty:

There’s not a grain of it the face to sweeten

Of the whole dungy earth.


What! lack I credit?  156

First Lord.

I had rather you did lack than I, my lord,

Upon this ground; and more it would content me

To have her honour true than your suspicion,

Be blam’d for’t how you might.


Why, what need we  160

Commune with you of this, but rather follow

Our forceful instigation? Our prerogative

Calls not your counsels, but our natural goodness

Imparts this; which if you,—or stupified  164

Or seeming so in skill,—cannot or will not

Relish a truth like us, inform yourselves

We need no more of your advice: the matter,

The loss, the gain, the ordering on’t, is all  168

Properly ours.


And I wish, my liege,

You had only in your silent judgment tried it,

Without more overture.


How could that be?

Either thou art most ignorant by age,  172

Or thou wert born a fool. Camillo’s flight,

Added to their familiarity,

Which was as gross as ever touch’d conjecture,

That lack’d sight only, nought for approbation

But only seeing, all other circumstances  177

Made up to the deed, doth push on this proceeding:

Yet, for a greater confirmation,—

For in an act of this importance ’twere  180

Most piteous to be wild,—I have dispatch’d in post

To sacred Delphos, to Apollo’s temple,

Cleomenes and Dion, whom you know

Of stuff’d sufficiency. Now, from the oracle  184

They will bring all; whose spiritual counsel had,

Shall stop or spur me. Have I done well?

First Lord.

Well done, my lord.


Though I am satisfied and need no more  188

Than what I know, yet shall the oracle

Give rest to the minds of others, such as he

Whose ignorant credulity will not

Come up to the truth. So have we thought it good  192

From our free person she should be confin’d,

Lest that the treachery of the two fled hence

Be left her to perform. Come, follow us:

We are to speak in public; for this business  196

Will raise us all.


[Aside.] To laughter, as I take it,

If the good truth were known.


Scene II.— The Same. The outer Room of a Prison.

Enter Paulina and Attendants.


The keeper of the prison, call to him;

Let him have knowledge who I am.—[Exit an Attendant.] Good lady,

No court in Europe is too good for thee;

What dost thou then in prison?

Re-enter Attendant with the Gaoler.

Now, good sir,  4

You know me, do you not?


For a worthy lady

And one whom much I honour.


Pray you then,

Conduct me to the queen.


I may not, madam: to the contrary  8

I have express commandment.


Here’s ado,

To lock up honesty and honour from

The access of gentle visitors! Is’t lawful, pray you,

To see her women? any of them? Emilia?  12


So please you, madam,

To put apart these your attendants, I

Shall bring Emilia forth.


I pray now, call her.

Withdraw yourselves.

[Exeunt Attendants.


And, madam,  16

I must be present at your conference.


Well, be’t so, prithee.

[Exit Gaoler.

Here’s such ado to make no stain a stain,

As passes colouring.

Re-enter Gaoler, with Emilia.

Dear gentlewoman,  20

How fares our gracious lady?


As well as one so great and so forlorn

May hold together. On her frights and griefs,—

Which never tender lady hath borne greater,—

She is something before her time deliver’d.  25


A boy?


A daughter; and a goodly babe,

Lusty and like to live: the queen receives

Much comfort in’t; says, ‘My poor prisoner,  28

I am innocent as you.’


I dare be sworn:

These dangerous unsafe lunes i’ the king, beshrew them!

He must be told on’t, and he shall: the office

Becomes a woman best; I’ll take’t upon me.  32

If I prove honey-mouth’d, let my tongue blister,

And never to my red-look’d anger be

The trumpet any more. Pray you, Emilia,

Commend my best obedience to the queen:  36

If she dares trust me with her little babe,

I’ll show it to the king and undertake to be

Her advocate to the loud’st. We do not know

How he may soften at the sight of the child:  40

The silence often of pure innocence

Persuades when speaking fails.


Most worthy madam,

Your honour and your goodness is so evident

That your free undertaking cannot miss  44

A thriving issue: there is no lady living

So meet for this great errand. Please your ladyship

To visit the next room, I’ll presently

Acquaint the queen of your most noble offer,  48

Who but to-day hammer’d of this design,

But durst not tempt a minister of honour,

Lest she should be denied.


Tell her, Emilia,

I’ll use that tongue I have: if wit flow from’t  52

As boldness from my bosom, let it not be doubted

I shall do good.


Now be you blest for it!

I’ll to the queen. Please you, come something nearer.


Madam, if’t please the queen to send the babe,  56

I know not what I shall incur to pass it,

Having no warrant.


You need not fear it, sir:

The child was prisoner to the womb, and is

By law and process of great nature thence  60

Freed and enfranchis’d; not a party to

The anger of the king, nor guilty of,

If any be, the trespass of the queen.


I do believe it.  64


Do not you fear: upon mine honour, I

Will stand betwixt you and danger.


Scene III.— The Same. A Room in the Palace.

Enter Leontes, Antigonus, Lords, and other Attendants.


Nor night, nor day, no rest; it is but weakness

To bear the matter thus; mere weakness. If

The cause were not in being,—part o’ the cause,

She the adultress; for the harlot king  4

Is quite beyond mine arm, out of the blank

And level of my brain, plot-proof; but she

I can hook to me: say, that she were gone,

Given to the fire, a moiety of my rest  8

Might come to me again. Who’s there?

First Atten.

[Advancing.] My lord?


How does the boy?

First Atten.

He took good rest to-night;

’Tis hop’d his sickness is discharg’d.


To see his nobleness!  12

Conceiving the dishonour of his mother,

He straight declin’d, droop’d, took it deeply,

Fasten’d and fix’d the shame on’t in himself,

Threw off his spirit, his appetite, his sleep,  16

And downright languish’d. Leave me solely: go,

See how he fares. [Exit Attendant.]—Fie, fie! no thought of him;

The very thought of my revenges that way

Recoil upon me: in himself too mighty,  20

And in his parties, his alliance; let him be

Until a time may serve: for present vengeance,

Take it on her. Camillo and Polixenes

Laugh at me; make their pastime at my sorrow:  24

They should not laugh, if I could reach them, nor

Shall she within my power.

Enter Paulina, with a Child.

First Lord.

You must not enter.


Nay, rather, good my lords, be second to me:

Fear you his tyrannous passion more, alas,  28

Than the queen’s life? a gracious innocent soul,

More free than he is jealous.


That’s enough.

Sec. Atten.

Madam, he hath not slept to-night; commanded

None should come at him.


Not so hot, good sir;  32

I come to bring him sleep. ’Tis such as you,

That creep like shadows by him and do sigh

At each his needless heavings, such as you

Nourish the cause of his awaking: I  36

Do come with words as med’cinal as true,

Honest as either, to purge him of that humour

That presses him from sleep.


What noise there, ho?


No noise, my lord; but needful conference  40

About some gossips for your highness.



Away with that audacious lady! Antigonus,

I charg’d thee that she should not come about me:

I knew she would.


I told her so, my lord,  44

On your displeasure’s peril, and on mine,

She should not visit you.


What! canst not rule her?


From all dishonesty he can: in this,

Unless he take the course that you have done,

Commit me for committing honour, trust it,  49

He shall not rule me.


La you now! you hear;

When she will take the rein I let her run;

But she’ll not stumble.


Good my liege, I come,  52

And I beseech you, hear me, who professes

Myself your loyal servant, your physician,

Your most obedient counsellor, yet that dares

Less appear so in comforting your evils  56

Than such as most seem yours: I say, I come

From your good queen.


Good queen!


Good queen, my lord, good queen; I say, good queen;

And would by combat make her good, so were I

A man, the worst about you.


Force her hence.  61


Let him that makes but trifles of his eyes

First hand me: on mine own accord I’ll off;

But first I’ll do my errand. The good queen,  64

For she is good, hath brought you forth a daughter:

Here ’tis; commends it to your blessing.

[Laying down the Child.



A mankind witch! Hence with her, out o’ door:

A most intelligencing bawd!


Not so;  68

I am as ignorant in that as you

In so entitling me, and no less honest

Than you are mad; which is enough, I’ll warrant,

As this world goes, to pass for honest.


Traitors!  72

Will you not push her out? Give her the bastard.

[To Antigonus.] Thou dotard! thou art woman-tir’d, unroosted

By thy dame Partlet here. Take up the bastard;

Take’t up, I say; give’t to thy crone.


For ever  76

Unvenerable be thy hands, if thou

Tak’st up the princess by that forced baseness

Which he has put upon’t!


He dreads his wife.


So I would you did; then, ’twere past all doubt,  80

You’d call your children yours.


A nest of traitors!


I am none, by this good light.


Nor I; nor any

But one that’s here, and that’s himself; for he

The sacred honour of himself, his queen’s,  84

His hopeful son’s, his babe’s, betrays to slander,

Whose sting is sharper than the sword’s; and will not,—

For, as the case now stands, it is a curse

He cannot be compell’d to’t,—once remove  88

The root of his opinion, which is rotten

As ever oak or stone was sound.


A callat

Of boundless tongue, who late hath beat her husband

And now baits me! This brat is none of mine;

It is the issue of Polixenes:  93

Hence with it; and, together with the dam

Commit them to the fire!


It is yours;

And, might we lay the old proverb to your charge,  96

‘So like you, ’tis the worse.’ Behold, my lords,

Although the print be little, the whole matter

And copy of the father; eye, nose, lip,

The trick of’s frown, his forehead, nay, the valley,  100

The pretty dimples of his chin and cheek, his smiles,

The very mould and frame of hand, nail, finger:

And thou, good goddess Nature, which hast made it

So like to him that got it, if thou hast  104

The ordering of the mind too, ’mongst all colours

No yellow in’t; lest she suspect, as he does,

Her children not her husband’s.


A gross hag!

And, lozel, thou art worthy to be hang’d,  108

That wilt not stay her tongue.


Hang all the husbands

That cannot do that feat, you’ll leave yourself

Hardly one subject.


Once more, take her hence.


A most unworthy and unnatural lord

Can do no more.


I’ll ha’ thee burn’d.


I care not:

It is a heretic that makes the fire,

Not she which burns in’t. I’ll not call you tyrant;

But this most cruel usage of your queen,—  116

Not able to produce more accusation

Than your own weak-hing’d fancy,—something savours

Of tyranny, and will ignoble make you,

Yea, scandalous to the world.


On your allegiance,  120

Out of the chamber with her! Were I a tyrant,

Where were her life? she durst not call me so

If she did know me one. Away with her!


I pray you do not push me; I’ll be gone.  124

Look to your babe, my lord; ’tis yours: Jove send her

A better guiding spirit! What need these hands?

You, that are thus so tender o’er his follies,

Will never do him good, not one of you.  128

So, so: farewell; we are gone.



Thou, traitor, hast set on thy wife to this.

My child! away with’t!—even thou, that hast

A heart so tender o’er it, take it hence  132

And see it instantly consum’d with fire:

Even thou and none but thou. Take it up straight:

Within this hour bring me word ’tis done,—

And by good testimony,—or I’ll seize thy life,

With what thou else call’st thine. If thou refuse

And wilt encounter with my wrath, say so;

The bastard brains with these my proper hands

Shall I dash out. Go, take it to the fire;  140

For thou sett’st on thy wife.


I did not, sir:

These lords, my noble fellows, if they please,

Can clear me in’t.

First Lord.

We can, my royal liege,

He is not guilty of her coming hither.  144


You are liars all.

First Lord.

Beseech your highness, give us better credit:

We have always truly serv’d you, and beseech you

So to esteem of us; and on our knees we beg,  148

As recompense of our dear services

Past and to come, that you do change this purpose,

Which being so horrible, so bloody, must

Lead on to some foul issue. We all kneel.  152


I am a feather for each wind that blows.

Shall I live on to see this bastard kneel

And call me father? Better burn it now

Than curse it then. But, be it; let it live:  156

It shall not neither.—[To Antigonus.] You, sir, come you hither;

You that have been so tenderly officious

With Lady Margery, your midwife there,

To save this bastard’s life,—for ’tis a bastard,  160

So sure as thy beard’s grey,—what will you adventure

To save this brat’s life?


Any thing, my lord,

That my ability may undergo,

And nobleness impose: at least, thus much:  164

I’ll pawn the little blood which I have left,

To save the innocent: any thing possible.


It shall be possible. Swear by this sword

Thou wilt perform my bidding.


I will, my lord.  168


Mark and perform it,—seest thou!—for the fail

Of any point in’t shall not only be

Death to thyself, but to thy lewd-tongu’d wife,

Whom for this time we pardon. We enjoin thee,

As thou art liegeman to us, that thou carry  173

This female bastard hence; and that thou bear it

To some remote and desart place quite out

Of our dominions; and that there thou leave it,

Without more mercy, to its own protection,  177

And favour of the climate. As by strange fortune

It came to us, I do in justice charge thee,

On thy soul’s peril and thy body’s torture,  180

That thou commend it strangely to some place,

Where chance may nurse or end it. Take it up.


I swear to do this, though a present death

Had been more merciful. Come on, poor babe:

Some powerful spirit instruct the kites and ravens  185

To be thy nurses! Wolves and bears, they say,

Casting their savageness aside have done

Like offices of pity. Sir, be prosperous  188

In more than this deed doth require! And blessing

Against this cruelty fight on thy side,

Poor thing, condemn’d to loss!

[Exit with the Child.


No; I’ll not rear

Another’s issue.

Enter a Servant.


Please your highness, posts  192

From those you sent to the oracle are come

An hour since: Cleomenes and Dion,

Being well arriv’d from Delphos, are both landed,

Hasting to the court.

First Lord.

So please you, sir, their speed

Hath been beyond account.


Twenty-three days

They have been absent: ’tis good speed; foretells

The great Apollo suddenly will have

The truth of this appear. Prepare you, lords;

Summon a session, that we may arraign  201

Our most disloyal lady; for, as she hath

Been publicly accus’d, so shall she have

A just and open trial. While she lives  204

My heart will be a burden to me. Leave me,

And think upon my bidding.



Scene I.— A Sea-port in Sicilia.

Enter Cleomenes and Dion.


The climate’s delicate, the air most sweet,

Fertile the isle, the temple much surpassing

The common praise it bears.


I shall report,

For most it caught me, the celestial habits,—  4

Methinks I so should term them,—and the reverence

Of the grave wearers. O, the sacrifice!

How ceremonious, solemn, and unearthly

It was i’ the offering!


But of all, the burst  8

And the ear-deafening voice o’ the oracle,

Kin to Jove’s thunder, so surpris’d my sense,

That I was nothing.


If the event o’ the journey

Prove as successful to the queen,—O, be’t so! —

As it hath been to us rare, pleasant, speedy,  13

The time is worth the use on’t.


Great Apollo

Turn all to the best! These proclamations,

So forcing faults upon Hermione,  16

I little like.


The violent carriage of it

Will clear or end the business: when the oracle,

Thus by Apollo’s great divine seal’d up,

Shall the contents discover, something rare  20

Even then will rush to knowledge.—Go:—fresh horses!

And gracious be the issue!


Scene II.— Sicilia. A Court of Justice.

Leontes, Lords, and Officers.


This sessions, to our great grief we pronounce,

Even pushes ’gainst our heart: the party tried

The daughter of a king, our wife, and one

Of us too much belov’d. Let us be clear’d  4

Of being tyrannous, since we so openly

Proceed in justice, which shall have due course,

Even to the guilt or the purgation.

Produce the prisoner.  8


It is his highness’ pleasure that the queen

Appear in person here in court. Silence!

Enter Hermione guarded; Paulina and Ladies attending.


Read the indictment.  11


Hermione, queen to the worthy Leontes, King of Sicilia, thou art here accused and arraigned of high treason, in committing adultery with Polixenes, King of Bohemia, and conspiring with Camillo to take away the life of our sovereign lord the king, thy royal husband: the pretence whereof being by circumstances partly laid open, thou, Hermione, contrary to the faith and allegiance of a true subject, didst counsel and aid them, for their better safety, to fly away by night.


Since what I am to say must be but that

Which contradicts my accusation, and  24

The testimony on my part no other

But what comes from myself, it shall scarce boot me

To say ‘Not guilty:’ mine integrity

Being counted falsehood, shall, as I express it,

Be so receiv’d. But thus: if powers divine  29

Behold our human actions, as they do,

I doubt not then but innocence shall make

False accusation blush, and tyranny  32

Tremble at patience. You, my lord, best know,—

Who least will seem to do so,—my past life

Hath been as continent, as chaste, as true,

As I am now unhappy; which is more  36

Than history can pattern, though devis’d

And play’d to take spectators. For behold me,

A fellow of the royal bed, which owe

A moiety of the throne, a great king’s daughter,

The mother to a hopeful prince, here standing

To prate and talk for life and honour ’fore

Who please to come and hear. For life, I prize it.

As I weigh grief, which I would spare: for honour,  44

’Tis a derivative from me to mine,

And only that I stand for. I appeal

To your own conscience, sir, before Polixenes

Came to your court, how I was in your grace,  48

How merited to be so; since he came,

With what encounter so uncurrent I

Have strain’d, to appear thus: if one jot beyond

The bound of honour, or in act or will  52

That way inclining, harden’d be the hearts

Of all that hear me, and my near’st of kin

Cry fie upon my grave!


I ne’er heard yet

That any of these bolder vices wanted  56

Less impudence to gainsay what they did

Than to perform it first.


That’s true enough;

Though ’tis a saying, sir, not due to me.


You will not own it.


More than mistress of  60

Which comes to me in name of fault, I must not

At all acknowledge. For Polixenes,—

With whom I am accus’d,—I do confess

I lov’d him as in honour he requir’d,  64

With such a kind of love as might become

A lady like me; with a love even such,

So and no other, as yourself commanded:

Which not to have done I think had been in me

Both disobedience and ingratitude  69

To you and toward your friend, whose love had spoke,

Even since it could speak, from an infant, freely

That it was yours. Now, for conspiracy,  72

I know not how it tastes, though it be dish’d

For me to try how: all I know of it

Is that Camillo was an honest man;

And why he left your court, the gods themselves,

Wotting no more than I, are ignorant.  77


You knew of his departure, as you know

What you have underta’en to do in’s absence.


Sir,  80

You speak a language that I understand not:

My life stands in the level of your dreams,

Which I’ll lay down.


Your actions are my dreams:

You had a bastard by Polixenes,  84

And I but dream’d it. As you were past all shame,—

Those of your fact are so,—so past all truth:

Which to deny concerns more than avails; for as

Thy brat hath been cast out, like to itself,  88

No father owning it,—which is, indeed,

More criminal in thee than it,—so thou

Shalt feel our justice, in whose easiest passage

Look for no less than death.


Sir, spare your threats:  92

The bug which you would fright me with I seek.

To me can life be no commodity:

The crown and comfort of my life, your favour,

I do give lost; for I do feel it gone,  96

But know not how it went. My second joy,

And first-fruits of my body, from his presence

I am barr’d, like one infectious. My third comfort,

Starr’d most unluckily, is from my breast,  100

The innocent milk in its most innocent mouth,

Hal’d out to murder: myself on every post

Proclaim’d a strumpet: with immodest hatred

The child-bed privilege denied, which ’longs  104

To women of all fashion: lastly, hurried

Here to this place, i’the open air, before

I have got strength of limit. Now, my liege,

Tell me what blessings I have here alive,  108

That I should fear to die? Therefore proceed.

But yet hear this; mistake me not; no life,

I prize it not a straw:—but for mine honour,

Which I would free, if I shall be condemn’d  112

Upon surmises, all proofs sleeping else

But what your jealousies awake, I tell you

’Tis rigour and not law. Your honours all,

I do refer me to the oracle:  116

Apollo be my judge!

First Lord.

This your request

Is altogether just: therefore, bring forth,

And in Apollo’s name, his oracle.

[Exeunt certain Officers.


The Emperor of Russia was my father:

O! that he were alive, and here beholding  121

His daughter’s trial; that he did but see

The flatness of my misery; yet with eyes

Of pity, not revenge!  124

Re-enter Officers, with Cleomenes and Dion.


You here shall swear upon this sword of justice,

That you, Cleomenes and Dion, have

Been both at Delphos, and from thence have brought

This seal’d-up oracle, by the hand deliver’d  128

Of great Apollo’s priest, and that since then

You have not dar’d to break the holy seal,

Nor read the secrets in’t.


All this we swear.


All this we swear.


Break up the seals, and read.  132


Hermione is chaste; Polixenes blameless; Camillo a true subject; Leontes a jealous tyrant; his innocent babe truly begotten; and the king shall live without an heir if that which is lost be not found!  137


Now blessed be the great Apollo!




Hast thou read truth?


Ay, my lord; even so

As it is here set down.  140


There is no truth at all i’ the oracle:

The sessions shall proceed: this is mere falsehood.

Enter a Servant.


My lord the king, the king!


What is the business?


O sir! I shall be hated to report it:  144

The prince your son, with mere conceit and fear

Of the queen’s speed, is gone.


How! gone!


Is dead.


Apollo’s angry; and the heavens themselves

Do strike at my injustice.

[Hermione swoons.

How now, there!  148


This news is mortal to the queen:— look down,

And see what death is doing.


Take her hence:

Her heart is but o’ercharg’d; she will recover:

I have too much believ’d mine own suspicion:

Beseech you, tenderly apply to her  153

Some remedies for life.—

[Exeunt Paulina, and Ladies, with Hermione.

Apollo, pardon

My great profaneness ’gainst thine oracle!

I’ll reconcile me to Polixenes,  156

New woo my queen, recall the good Camillo,

Whom I proclaim a man of truth, of mercy;

For, being transported by my jealousies

To bloody thoughts and to revenge, I chose  160

Camillo for the minister to poison

My friend Polixenes: which had been done,

But that the good mind of Camillo tardied

My swift command; though I with death and with  164

Reward did threaten and encourage him,

Not doing it, and being done: he, most humane

And fill’d with honour, to my kingly guest

Unclasp’d my practice, quit his fortunes here,  168

Which you knew great, and to the certain hazard

Of all incertainties himself commended,

No richer than his honour: how he glisters

Thorough my rust! and how his piety  172

Does my deeds make the blacker!

Re-enter Paulina.


Woe the while!

O, cut my lace, lest my heart, cracking it,

Break too!

First Lord.

What fit is this, good lady?


What studied torments, tyrant, hast for me?  176

What wheels? racks? fires? What flaying? or what boiling

In leads, or oils? what old or newer torture

Must I receive, whose every word deserves

To taste of thy most worst? Thy tyranny,  180

Together working with thy jealousies,

Fancies too weak for boys, too green and idle

For girls of nine, O! think what they have done,

And then run mad indeed, stark mad; for all  184

Thy by-gone fooleries were but spices of it.

That thou betray’dst Polixenes, ’twas nothing;

That did but show thee of a fool, inconstant

And damnable ingrateful; nor was’t much  188

Thou wouldst have poison’d good Camillo’s honour

To have him kill a king; poor trespasses,

More monstrous standing by: whereof I reckon

The casting forth to crows thy baby daughter  192

To be or none or little; though a devil

Would have shed water out of fire ere done’t:

Nor is’t directly laid to thee, the death

Of the young prince, whose honourable thoughts,—

Thoughts high for one so tender,—cleft the heart

That could conceive a gross and foolish sire

Blemish’d his gracious dam: this is not, no,

Laid to thy answer: but the last,—O lords!  200

When I have said, cry, ‘woe!’—the queen, the queen,

The sweetest, dearest creature’s dead, and vengeance for’t

Not dropp’d down yet.

First Lord.

The higher powers forbid!


I say she’s dead; I’ll swear’t: if word nor oath  204

Prevail not, go and see: if you can bring

Tincture or lustre in her lip, her eye,

Heat outwardly, or breath within, I’ll serve you

As I would do the gods. But, O thou tyrant!  208

Do not repent these things, for they are heavier

Than all thy woes can stir; therefore betake thee

To nothing but despair. A thousand knees

Ten thousand years together, naked, fasting,  212

Upon a barren mountain, and still winter

In storm perpetual, could not move the gods

To look that way thou wert.


Go on, go on;

Thou canst not speak too much: I have deserv’d

All tongues to talk their bitterest.

First Lord.

Say no more:  217

Howe’er the business goes, you have made fault

I’ the boldness of your speech.


I am sorry for’t:

All faults I make, when I shall come to know them,  220

I do repent. Alas! I have show’d too much

The rashness of a woman: he is touch’d

To the noble heart. What’s gone and what’s past help

Should be past grief: do not receive affliction  224

At my petition; I beseech you, rather

Let me be punish’d, that have minded you

Of what you should forget. Now, good my liege,

Sir, royal sir, forgive a foolish woman:  228

The love I bore your queen,—lo, fool again!—

I’ll speak of her no more, nor of your children;

I’ll not remember you of my own lord,

Who is lost too: take your patience to you,  232

And I’ll say nothing.


Thou didst speak but well,

When most the truth, which I receive much better

Than to be pitied of thee. Prithee, bring me

To the dead bodies of my queen and son:  236

One grave shall be for both: upon them shall

The causes of their death appear, unto

Our shame perpetual. Once a day I’ll visit

The chapel where they lie, and tears shed there

Shall be my recreation: so long as nature  241

Will bear up with this exercise, so long

I daily vow to use it. Come and lead me

Unto these sorrows.


Scene III.— Bohemia. A desert Country near the Sea.

Enter Antigonus, with the Child; and a Mariner.


Thou art perfect, then, our ship hath touch’d upon

The desarts of Bohemia?


Ay, my lord; and fear

We have landed in ill time: the skies look grimly

And threaten present blusters. In my conscience,  4

The heavens with that we have in hand are angry,

And frown upon’s.


Their sacred wills be done! Go, get aboard;

Look to thy bark: I’ll not be long before  8

I call upon thee.


Make your best haste, and go not

Too far i’ the land: ’tis like to be loud weather;

Besides, this place is famous for the creatures

Of prey that keep upon’t.


Go thou away:  12

I’ll follow instantly.


I am glad at heart

To be so rid of the business.



Come, poor babe:

I have heard, but not believ’d, the spirits o’ the dead

May walk again: if such thing be, thy mother  16

Appear’d to me last night, for ne’er was dream

So like a waking. To me comes a creature,

Sometimes her head on one side, some another;

I never saw a vessel of like sorrow,  20

So fill’d, and so becoming: in pure white robes,

Like very sanctity, she did approach

My cabin where I lay; thrice bow’d before me,

And, gasping to begin some speech, her eyes  24

Became two spouts: the fury spent, anon

Did this break from her: ‘Good Antigonus,

Since fate, against thy better disposition,

Hath made thy person for the thrower-out  28

Of my poor babe, according to thine oath,

Places remote enough are in Bohemia,

There weep and leave it crying; and, for the babe

Is counted lost for ever, Perdita,  32

I prithee, call’t: for this ungentle business,

Put on thee by my lord, thou ne’er shalt see

Thy wife Paulina more:’ and so, with shrieks,

She melted into air. Affrighted much,  36

I did in time collect myself, and thought

This was so and no slumber. Dreams are toys;

Yet for this once, yea, superstitiously,

I will be squar’d by this. I do believe  40

Hermione hath suffer’d death; and that

Apollo would, this being indeed the issue

Of King Polixenes, it should here be laid,

Either for life or death, upon the earth  44

Of its right father. Blossom, speed thee well!

[Laying down Child.

There lie; and there thy character: there these;

[Laying down a bundle.

Which may, if fortune please, both breed thee, pretty,

And still rest thine. The storm begins: poor wretch!  48

That for thy mother’s fault art thus expos’d

To loss and what may follow. Weep I cannot,

But my heart bleeds, and most accurs’d am I

To be by oath enjoin’d to this. Farewell!  52

The day frowns more and more: thou art like to have

A lullaby too rough. I never saw

The heavens so dim by day. A savage clamour!

Well may I get aboard! This is the chase:  56

I am gone for ever.

[Exit, pursued by a bear.

Enter a Shepherd.


I would there were no age between sixteen and three-and-twenty, or that youth would sleep out the rest; for there is nothing in the between but getting wenches with child, wronging the ancientry, stealing, fighting. Hark you now! Would any but these boiled brains of nineteen and two-and-twenty hunt this weather? They have scared away two of my best sheep; which I fear the wolf will sooner find than the master: if anywhere I have them, ’tis by the sea-side, browsing of ivy. Good luck, an’t be thy will! what have we here? [Taking up the Child.] Mercy on’s, a barne; a very pretty barne! A boy or a child, I wonder? A pretty one; a very pretty one; sure some scape: though I am not bookish, yet I can read waiting-gentlewoman in the scape. This has been some stair-work, some trunk-work, some behind-door-work; they were warmer that got this than the poor thing is here. I’ll take it up for pity; yet I’ll tarry till my son come; he hollaed but even now. Whoa, ho, hoa!  79

Enter Clown.


Hilloa, loa!


What! art so near? If thou’lt see a thing to talk on when thou art dead and rotten, come hither. What ailest thou, man?  83


I have seen two such sights by sea and by land! but I am not to say it is a see, for it is now the sky: betwixt the firmament and it you cannot thrust a bodkin’s point.


Why, boy, how is it?  88


I would you did but see how it chafes, how it rages, how it takes up the shore! but that’s not to the point. O! the most piteous cry of the poor souls; sometimes to see ’em, and not to see ’em; now the ship boring the moon with her mainmast, and anon swallowed with yest and froth, as you’d thrust a cork into a hogshead. And then for the land-service: to see how the bear tore out his shoulderbone; how he cried to me for help and said his name was Antigonus, a nobleman. But to make an end of the ship: to see how the sea flap-dragoned it: but, first, how the poor souls roared, and the sea mocked them; and how the poor gentleman roared, and the bear mocked him, both roaring louder than the sea or weather.  104


Name of mercy! when was this, boy?


Now, now; I have not winked since I saw these sights: the men are not yet cold under water, nor the bear half dined on the gentleman: he’s at it now.  109


Would I had been by, to have helped the old man!


I would you had been by the ship’s side, to have helped her: there your charity would have lacked footing.  114


Heavy matters! heavy matters! but look thee here, boy. Now bless thyself: thou mettest with things dying, I with things new born. Here’s a sight for thee; look thee, a bearing-cloth for a squire’s child! Look thee here: take up, take up, boy; open’t. So, let’s see: it was told me, I should be rich by the fairies: this is some changeling.—Open’t. What’s within, boy?  123


You’re a made old man: if the sins of your youth are forgiven you, you’re well to live. Gold! all gold!


This is fairy gold, boy, and ’twill prove so: up with’t, keep it close: home, home, the next way. We are lucky, boy; and to be so still, requires nothing but secrecy. Let my sheep go. Come, good boy, the next way home.


Go you the next way with your findings. I’ll go see if the bear be gone from the gentleman, and how much he hath eaten: they are never curst but when they are hungry. If there be any of him left, I’ll bury it.  136


That’s a good deed. If thou mayst discern by that which is left of him what he is, fetch me to the sight of him.


Marry, will I; and you shall help to put him i’ the ground.  141


’Tis a lucky day, boy, and we’ll do good deeds on’t.



Enter Time, the Chorus.


I, that please some, try all, both joy and terror

Of good and bad, that make and unfold error,

Now take upon me, in the name of Time,

To use my wings. Impute it not a crime  4

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  8

To plant and o’erwhelm custom. Let me pass

The same I am, ere ancient’st order was

Or what is now receiv’d: I witness to

The times that brought them in; so shall I do

To the freshest things now reigning, and make stale  13

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  16

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  20

In fair Bohemia; and remember well,

I mention’d 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  24

Equal with wondering: what of her ensues

I list not prophesy; but let Time’s news

Be known when ’tis brought forth. A shepherd’s daughter,

And what to her adheres, which follows after,

Is th’ argument of Time. Of this allow,  29

If ever you have spent time worse ere now:

If never, yet that Time himself doth say

He wishes earnestly you never may.


Scene I.— Bohemia. A Room in the Palace of Polixenes.

Enter Polixenes and Camillo.


I pray thee, good Camillo, be no more importunate: ’tis a sickness denying thee anything; a death to grant this.  3


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.  10


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.


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.  37


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.  45


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.  49


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.  58


I willingly obey your command.


My best Camillo!—We must disguise ourselves.


Scene II.— The Same. A Road near the Shepherd’s Cottage.

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.  4

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  8

The lark, that tirra-lirra 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.  12

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;  16

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 bowget,  20

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!  32

Enter Clown.


Let me see: Every ’leven wether tods; every tod yields pound and odd shilling: fifteen hundred shorn, what comes the wool to?


[Aside.] If the springe hold, the cock’s mine.  37


I cannot do’t without compters. 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 nosegays 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 hornpipes. 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.  53


O! that ever I was born!

[Grovelling on the ground.


I’ the name of me!—


O! help me, help me! pluck but off these rags, and then death, death!  57


Alack, poor soul! thou hast need of more rags to lay on thee, rather than have these off.  60


O, sir! the loathsomeness of them offends me more than the stripes I have received, which are mighty ones and millions.


Alas, poor man! a million of beating may come to a great matter.  65


I am robbed, sir, and beaten; my money and apparel ta’en from me, and these detestable things put upon me.  68


What, by a horseman or a footman?


A footman, sweet sir, a footman.


Indeed, he should be a footman, by the garments he hath 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.

[Helping him up.


O! good sir, tenderly, O!  76


Alas, poor soul!


O! good sir; softly, good sir! I fear, sir, my shoulder-blade is out.


How now! canst stand?  80


Softly, dear sir; [Picks his pocket.] good sir, softly. You ha’ done me a charitable office.


Dost lack any money? I have a little money for thee.  84


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 anything I want: offer me no money, I pray you! that kills my heart.  89


What manner of fellow was he that robbed you?


A fellow, sir, that I have known to go about with trol-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.  96


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.  100


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.  108


Out upon him! Prig, for my life, prig: he haunts wakes, fairs, and bear-baitings.


Very true, sir; he, sir, he: that’s the rogue that put me into this apparel.  112


Not a more cowardly rogue in all Bohemia: if you had but looked big and spit at him, he’d have run.


I must confess to you, sir, I am no fighter: I am false of heart that way, and that he knew, I warrant him.  118


How do you now?


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.


Shall I bring thee on the way?


No, good-faced sir; no, sweet sir.  124


Then fare thee well: I must go buy spices for our sheep-shearing.


Prosper you, sweet sir!—[Exit Clown.] Your purse is not hot enough to purchase your spice. I’ll be with you at your sheep-shearing too. If I 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.  132

Jog on, jog on, the footpath way,

And merrily hent the stile-a:

A merry heart goes all the day,

Your sad tares in a mile-a.


Scene III.— The Same. A Lawn before the Shepherd’s Cottage.

Enter Florizel and Perdita.


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,  4

And you the queen on’t.


Sir, my gracious lord,

To chide at your extremes it not becomes me:

O! pardon, that I name them. Your high self,

The gracious mark o’ the land, you have obscur’d

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

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

In every mess have folly, and the feeders

Digest it with a custom, I should blush  12

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

To show myself a glass.


I bless the time

When my good falcon made her flight across

Thy father’s ground.


Now, Jove afford you cause!  16

To me the difference forges dread; your greatness

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

To think, your father, by some accident,

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

How would he look, to see his work, so noble,  21

Vilely bound up? What would he say? Or how

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

The sternness of his presence?


Apprehend  24

Nothing but jollity. The gods themselves,

Humbling their deities to love, have taken

The shapes of beasts upon them: Jupiter

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

A ram, and bleated; and the fire-rob’d god,  29

Golden Apollo, a poor humble swain,

As I seem now. Their transformations

Were never for a piece of beauty rarer,  32

Nor in a way so chaste, since my desires

Run not before mine honour, nor my lusts

Burn hotter than my faith.


O! but, sir,

Your resolution cannot hold, when ’tis  36

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

One of these two must be necessities,

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

Or I my life.


Thou dearest Perdita,  40

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

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

Or not my father’s; for I cannot be

Mine own, nor anything to any, if  44

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:  48

Lift up your countenance, as it were the day

Of celebration of that nuptial which

We two have sworn shall come.


O lady Fortune,

Stand you auspicious!


See, your guests approach:  52

Address yourself to entertain them sprightly,

And let’s be red with mirth.

Enter Shepherd, with Polixenes and Camillo disguised; Clown, Mopsa, Dorcas, and Others.


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

This day she was both pantler, butler, cook;  56

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

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

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

On his shoulder, and his; her face o’ fire  60

With labour and the thing she took to quench it,

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

As if you were a feasted one and not

The hostess of the meeting: pray you, bid  64

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,  68

And bid us welcome to your sheep-shearing,

As your good flock shall prosper.


[To Polixenes.] Sir, welcome:

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

The hostess-ship o’ the day:—[To Camillo.] You’re welcome, sir.  72

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,  76

And welcome to our shearing!



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

With flowers of winter.


Sir, the year growing ancient,

Not yet on summer’s death, nor on the birth  80

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  84

To get slips of them.


Wherefore, gentle maiden,

Do you neglect them?


For I have heard it said

There is an art which in their piedness shares

With great creating nature.


Say there be;  88

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  92

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.


So it is.  97


Then make your garden rich in gillyvors,

And do not call them bastards.


I’ll not put

The dibble in earth to set one slip of them;  100

No more than, were I painted, I would wish

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

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

Hot lavender, mints, savory, marjoram;  104

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.  108


I should leave grazing, were I of your flock,

And only live by gazing.


Out, alas!

You’d be so lean, that blasts of January

Would blow you through and through. Now, my fair’st friend,  112

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!  116

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  121

Or Cytherea’s breath; pale prime-roses,

That die unmarried, ere they can behold

Bright Phœbus in his strength, a malady  124

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!


What! like a corse?  129


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:  132

Methinks I play as I have seen them do

In Whitsun pastorals: sure this robe of mine

Does change my disposition.


What you do

Still betters what is done. When you speak, sweet,  136

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

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

Pray so; and, for the ordering your affairs,

To sing them too: when you do dance, I wish you  140

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,  144

Crowns what you are doing in the present deed,

That all your acts are queens.


O Doricles!

Your praises are too large: but that your youth,

And the true blood which fairly peeps through it,

Do plainly give you out an unstain’d shepherd,

With wisdom I might fear, my Doricles,

You woo’d me the false way.


I think you have

As little skill to fear as I have purpose  152

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

Your hand, my Perdita: so turtles pair

That never mean to part.


I’ll swear for ’em.


This is the prettiest low-born lass that ever  156

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

But smacks of something greater than herself;

Too noble for this place.


He tells her something

That makes her blood look out. Good sooth, she is  160

The queen of curds and cream.


Come on, strike up.


Mopsa must be your mistress: marry, garlic,

To mend her kissing with.


Now, in good time!


Not a word, a word: we stand upon our manners.  164

Come, strike up.

[Music. Here a dance of Shepherds and Shepherdesses.


Pray, good shepherd, what fair swain is this

Which dances with your daughter?


They call him Doricles, and boasts himself  168

To have a worthy feeding; but I have it

Upon his own report and I believe it:

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

I think so too; for never gaz’d the moon  172

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.


She dances featly.  176


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.  180

Enter a Servant.


O master! if you did but hear the pedlar at the door, you would never dance again after a tabor and pipe; no, the bagpipe could not move you. He sings several tunes faster than you’ll tell money; he utters them as he had eaten ballads and all men’s ears grew to his tunes.  186


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.  190


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 stretchmouthed 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.’  201


This is a brave fellow.


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


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


Prithee, bring him in, and let him approach singing.  214


Forewarn him that he use no scurrilous words in’s tunes.

[Exit Servant.


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


Ay, good brother, or go about to think.

Enter Autolycus, singing.

Lawn as white as driven snow;  220

Cyprus black as e’er was crow;

Gloves as sweet as damask roses;

Masks for faces and for noses;

Bugle-bracelet, necklace-amber,  224

Perfume for a lady’s chamber;

Golden quoifs and stomachers,

For my lads to give their dears;

Pins and poking-sticks of steel;  228

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.  232


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 ribands and gloves.  236


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


He hath promised you more than that, or there be liars.  240


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


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.


I have done. Come, you promised me a tawdry lace and a pair of sweet gloves.  252


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


And indeed, sir, there are cozeners abroad; therefore it behoves men to be wary.  256


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


I hope so, sir; for I have about me many parcels of charge.  260


What hast here? ballads?


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


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


Is it true, think you?  268


Very true, and but a month old.


Bless me from marrying a usurer!


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


Pray you now, buy it.  274


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


Here’s another ballad of a fish that appeared upon the coast on Wednesday the fourscore of April, forty thousand fathom above water, and sung this ballad against the hard hearts of maids: it was thought she was a woman and was turned into a cold fish for she would not exchange flesh with one that loved her. The ballad is very pitiful and as true.  284


Is it true too, think you?


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


Lay it by too: another.  288


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


Let’s have some merry ones.


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.  295


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


We had the tune on’t a month ago.


I can bear my part; you must know ’tis my occupation: have at it with you.  300


Get you hence, for I must go,

Where it fits not you to know.




O! whither?  304




It becomes thy oath full woll,

Thou to me thy secrets tell.


Me too: let me go thither.  308


Or thou go’st to the grange or mill.


If to either, thou dost ill.




What, neither?  312




Thou hast sworn my love to be


Thou hast sworn it more to me:

Then whither go’st? say whither?  316


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.


And you shall pay well for ’em.

Will you buy any tape,  324

Or lace for your cape,

My dainty duck, my dear-a?

Any silk, any thread,

Any toys for your head,  328

Of the new’st and fin’st, fin’st wear-a?

Come to the pedlar;

Money’s a meddler,

That doth utter all men’s ware-a.  332


Re-enter 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.  341


Away! we’ll none on’t: here has been too much homely foolery already. I know, sir, we weary you.  344


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


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.  350


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


Why, they stay at door, sir.


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


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

[To Camillo.] Is it not too far gone? ’Tis time to part them.  356

He’s simple and tells much. [To Florizel.] How now, fair shepherd!

Your heart is full of something that does take

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

And handed love as you do, I was wont  360

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  364

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.


Old sir, I know  368

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,  373

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

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

Or Ethiopian’s tooth, or the fann’d snow  376

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


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  381

What you profess.


Do, and be witness to’t.


And this my neighbour too?


And he, and more

Than he, and men, the earth, the heavens, and all;  384

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  388

Without her love: for her employ them all;

Commend them and condemn them to her service

Or to their own perdition.


Fairly offer’d.


This shows a sound affection.


But, my daughter,  392

Say you the like to him?


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.


Take hands; a bargain;  396

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

I give my daughter to him, and will make

Her portion equal his.


O! that must be  399

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.


Come, your hand;

And, daughter, yours.


Soft, swain, awhile, beseech you.

Have you a father?


I have; but what of him?


Knows he of this?


He neither does nor shall.


Methinks a father

Is, at the nuptial of his son, a guest  408

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?  412

Know man from man? dispute his own estate?

Lies he not bed-rid? and again does nothing

But what he did being childish?


No, good sir:

He has his health and ampler strength indeed

Than most have of his age.


By my white beard,  417

You offer him, if this be so, a wrong

Something unfilial. Reason my son

Should choose himself a wife, but as good reason  420

The father,—all whose joy is nothing else

But fair posterity,—should hold some counsel

In such a business.


I yield all this;

But for some other reasons, my grave sir,  424

Which ’tis not fit you know, I not acquaint

My father of this business.


Let him know’t.


He shall not.


Prithee, let him.


No, he must not.


Let him, my son: he shall not need to grieve  428

At knowing of thy choice.


Come, come, he must not.

Mark our contract.


Mark your divorce, young sir,

[Discovering himself.

Whom son I dare not call: thou art too base

To be acknowledg’d: thou a sceptre’s heir,  432

That thus affect’st a sheep-hook! Thou old traitor,

I am sorry that by hanging thee I can

But shorten thy life one week. And thou, fresh piece

Of excellent witchcraft, who of force must know

The royal fool thou cop’st with,—


O, my heart!  437


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  440

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,  445

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,  448

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,  452

I will devise a death as cruel for thee

As thou art tender to’t.



Even here undone!

I was not much afeard; for once or twice

I was about to speak and tell him plainly,  456

The self-same sun that shines upon his court

Hides not his visage from our cottage, but

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

I told you what would come of this: beseech you,  460

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

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

But milk my ewes and weep.


Why, how now, father!

Speak, ere thou diest.


I cannot speak, nor think,  464

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,  468

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  472

To mingle faith with him. Undone! undone!

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

To die when I desire.



Why look you so upon me?

I am but sorry, not afeard; delay’d,  476

But nothing alter’d. What I was, I am:

More straining on for plucking back; not following

My leash unwillingly.


Gracious my lord,

You know your father’s temper: at this time  480

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,  484

Come not before him.


I not purpose it.

I think, Camillo?


Even he, my lord.


How often have I told you ’twould be thus!

How often said my dignity would last  488

But till ’twere known!


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  493

Am heir to my affection.


Be advis’d.


I am; and by my fancy: if my reason

Will thereto be obedient, I have reason;  496

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

Do bid it welcome.


This is desperate, sir.


So call it; but it does fulfil my vow,

I needs must think it honesty. Camillo,  500

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  504

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

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

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

To see him any more,—cast your good counsels

Upon his passion: let myself and fortune  509

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  513

A vessel rides fast by, but not prepar’d

For this design. What course I mean to hold

Shall nothing benefit your knowledge, nor  516

Concern me the reporting.


O my lord!

I would your spirit were easier for advice,

Or stronger for your need.


Hark, Perdita. [Takes her aside.

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


He’s irremovable,  520

Resolv’d for flight. Now were I happy if

His going I could frame to serve my turn,

Save him from danger, do him love and honour,

Purchase the sight again of dear Sicilia  524

And that unhappy king, my master, whom

I so much thirst to see.


Now, good Camillo,

I am so fraught with curious business that

I leave out ceremony.


Sir, I think  528

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

That I have borne your father?


Very nobly

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

To speak your deeds, not little of his care  532

To have them recompens’d as thought on.


Well, my lord,

If you may please to think I love the king

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

Your gracious self, embrace but my direction,

If your more ponderous and settled project  537

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,  541

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

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

And with my best endeavours in your absence

Your discontenting father strive to qualify,  545

And bring him up to liking.


How, Camillo,

May this, almost a miracle, be done?

That I may call thee something more than man,

And, after that trust to thee.


Have you thought on  549

A place whereto you’ll go?


Not any yet;

But as the unthought-on accident is guilty

To what we wildly do, so we profess  552

Ourselves to be the slaves of chance and flies

Of every wind that blows.


Then list to me:

This follows; if you will not change your purpose

But undergo this flight, make for Sicilia,  556

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  560

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  564

’Twixt his unkindness and his kindness: the one

He chides to hell, and bids the other grow

Faster than thought or time.


Worthy Camillo,

What colour for my visitation shall I  568

Hold up before him?


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,  572

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  576

And speak his very heart.


I am bound to you.

There is some sap in this.


A course more promising

Than a wild dedication of yourselves

To unpath’d waters, undream’d shores, most certain  580

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  584

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

Prosperity’s the very bond of love,

Whose fresh complexion and whose heart together

Affliction alters.


One of these is true:  588

I think affliction may subdue the cheek,

But not take in the mind.


Yea, say you so?

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

Be born another such.


My good Camillo,  592

She is as forward of her breeding as

She is i’ the rear o’ her birth.


I cannot say ’tis pity

She lacks instructions, for she seems a mistress

To most that teach.


Your pardon, sir; for this  596

I’ll blush you thanks.


My prettiest Perdita!

But O! the thorns we stand upon. Camillo,

Preserver of my father, now of me,

The med’cine of our house, how shall we do?  600

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

Nor shall appear in Sicilia.


My lord,

Fear none of this: I think you know my fortunes

Do all lie there: it shall be so my care  604

To have you royally appointed as if

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

That you may know you shall not want, one word.

[They talk aside.

Enter Autolycus.


Ha, ha! what a fool Honesty is! and Trust, his sworn brother, a very simple gentleman! I have sold all my trumpery: not a counterfeit stone, not a riband, glass, pomander, brooch, table-book, ballad, knife, tape, glove, shoe-tie, bracelet, horn-ring, to keep my pack from fasting: they throng who should buy first, as if my trinkets had been hallowed and brought a benediction to the buyer: by which means I saw whose purse was best in picture; and what I saw, to my good use I remembered. My clown,—who wants but something to be a reasonable man,—grew so in love with the wenches’ song that he would not stir his pettitoes till he had both tune and words; which so drew the rest of the herd to me that all their other senses stuck in ears: you might have pinched a placket, it was senseless; ’twas nothing to geld a codpiece of a purse; I would have filed keys off that hung in chains: no hearing, no feeling, but my sir’s song, and admiring the nothing of it; so that, in this time of lethargy I picked and cut most of their festival purses; and had not the old man come in with a whoo-bub against his daughter and the king’s son, and scared my choughs from the chaff, I had not left a purse alive in the whole army.  634

[Camillo, Florizel, and Perdita come forward.


Nay, but my letters, by this means being there

So soon as you arrive, shall clear that doubt.  636


And those that you’ll procure from King Leontes—


Shall satisfy your father.


Happy be you!

All that you speak shows fair.


[Seeing Autolycus.] Whom have we here?

We’ll make an instrument of this: omit  640

Nothing may give us aid.


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


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


I am a poor fellow, sir.  647


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.


I am a poor fellow, sir.—[Aside.] I know ye well enough.  656


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


Are you in earnest, sir? [Aside.] I smell the trick on’t.  660


Dispatch, I prithee.


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


Unbuckle, unbuckle.—  664

[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  669

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

For I do fear eyes over you,—to shipboard

Get undescried.


I see the play so lies  672

That I must bear a part.


No remedy.

Have you done there?


Should I now meet my father

He would not call me son.


Nay, you shall have no hat.

[Giving it to Perdita.

Come, lady, come. Farewell, my friend.


Adieu, sir.  676


O Perdita, what have we twain forgot!

Pray you, a word.

[They converse apart.


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

Of this escape, and whither they are bound;  680

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.


Fortune speed us!  684

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


The swifter speed the better.

[Exeunt Florizel, Perdita, and Camillo.


I understand the business; I hear it. To have an open ear, a quick eye, and a nimble hand, is necessary for a cut-purse: a good nose is requisite also, to smell out work for the other senses. I see this is the time that the unjust man doth thrive. What an exchange had this been without boot! what a boot is here with this exchange! Sure, the gods do this year connive at us, and we may do anything extempore. The prince himself is about a piece of iniquity; stealing away from his father with his clog at his heels. If I thought it were a piece of honesty to acquaint the king withal, I would not do’t: I hold it the more knavery to conceal it, and therein am I constant to my profession. Aside, aside: here is more matter for a hot brain. Every lane’s end, every shop, church, session, hanging, yields a careful man work.  704

Re-enter Clown and Shepherd.


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.


Nay, but hear me.  708


Nay, but hear me.


Go to, then.


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.  717


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.  722


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


[Aside] Very wisely, puppies!  727


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


[Aside.] I know not what impediment this complaint may be to the flight of my master.  732


Pray heartily he be at palace.


[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?  738


To the palace, an it like your worship.  740


Your affairs there, what, with whom, the condition of that fardel, the place of your dwelling, your names, your ages, of what having, breeding, and anything that is fitting to be known, discover.  745


We are but plain fellows, sir.


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.  752


Your worship had like to have given us one, if you had not taken yourself with the manner.  755


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


Whether it like me or no, I am a courtier. Seest thou not the air of the court in these enfoldings? hath not my gait in it the measure of the court? receives not thy nose court-odour from me? reflect I not on thy baseness court-contempt? Think’st thou, for that I insinuate, or toaze from thee thy business, I am therefore no courtier? I am courtier, cap-a-pe, and one that will either push on or pluck back thy business there: whereupon I command thee to open thy affair.


My business, sir, is to the king.  768


What advocate hast thou to him?


I know not, an’t like you.


Advocate’s the court-word for a pheasant: say you have none.  772


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


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

Yet nature might have made me as these are,

Therefore I’ll not disdain.  776


This cannot be but a great courtier.


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


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


The fardel there? what’s i’ the fardel?

Wherefore that box?  784


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.  788


Age, thou hast lost thy labour.


Why, sir?


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


So ’tis said, sir, about his son, that should have married a shepherd’s daughter.  797


If that shepherd be not now in hand-fast, let him fly: the curses he shall have, the torture he shall feel, will break the back of man, the heart of monster.  801


Think you so, sir?


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.  813


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


He has a son, who shall be flayed alive; then ’nointed over with honey, set on the head of a wasp’s nest; then stand till he be three quarters and a dram dead; then recovered again with aqua-vitæ or some other hot infusion; then, raw as he is, and in the hottest day prognostication proclaims, shall he be set against a brick-wall, the sun looking with a southward eye upon him, where he is to behold him with flies blown to death. But what talk we of these traitorly rascals, whose miseries are to be smiled at, their offences being so capital? Tell me,—for you seem to be honest plain men,—what you have to the king: being something gently considered, I’ll bring you where he is aboard, tender your persons to his presence, whisper him in your behalfs; and if it be in man besides the king to effect your suits, here is a man shall do it.  833


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!’  839


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.


After I have done what I promised?  845


Ay, sir.


Well, give me the moiety. Are you a party in this business?  848


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


O! that’s the case of the shepherd’s son: hang him, he’ll be made an example.  853


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.  860


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.


We are blessed in this man, as I may say, even blessed.  865


Let’s before as he bids us. He was provided to do us good.

[Exeunt Shepherd and Clown.


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.



Scene I.— Sicilia. A Room in the Palace of Leontes.

Enter Leontes, Cleomenes, Dion, Paulina, and others.


Sir, you have done enough, and have perform’d

A saint-like sorrow: no fault could you make

Which you have not redeem’d; indeed, paid down

More penitence than done trespass. At the last,  4

Do as the heavens have done, forget your evil;

With them forgive yourself.


Whilst I remember

Her and her virtues, I cannot forget

My blemishes in them, and so still think of  8

The wrong I did myself; which was so much,

That heirless it hath made my kingdom, and

Destroy’d the sweet’st companion that e’er man

Bred his hopes out of.


True, too true, my lord;  12

If one by one you wedded all the world,

Or from the all that are took something good,

To make a perfect woman, she you kill’d

Would be unparallel’d.


I think so. Kill’d!  16

She I kill’d! I did so; but thou strik’st me

Sorely to say I did: it is as bitter

Upon thy tongue as in my thought. Now, good now

Say so but seldom.


Not at all, good lady:  20

You might have spoken a thousand things that would

Have done the time more benefit, and grac’d

Your kindness better.


You are one of those

Would have him wed again.


If you would not so,  24

You pity not the state, nor the remembrance

Of his most sovereign name; consider little

What dangers, by his highness’ fail of issue,

May drop upon his kingdom and devour  28

Incertain lookers-on. What were more holy

Than to rejoice the former queen is well?

What holier than for royalty’s repair,

For present comfort, and for future good,  32

To bless the bed of majesty again

With a sweet fellow to’t?


There is none worthy,

Respecting her that’s gone. Besides, the gods

Will have fulfill’d their secret purposes;  36

For has not the divine Apollo said,

Is’t not the tenour of his oracle,

That King Leontes shall not have an heir

Till his lost child be found? which that it shall,

Is all as monstrous to our human reason  41

As my Antigonus to break his grave

And come again to me; who, on my life,

Did perish with the infant. ’Tis your counsel  44

My lord should to the heavens be contrary,

Oppose against their wills.—[To Leontes.] Care not for issue;

The crown will find an heir: great Alexander

Left his to the worthiest, so his successor  48

Was like to be the best.


Good Paulina,

Who hast the memory of Hermione,

I know, in honour; O! that ever I

Had squar’d me to thy counsel! then, even now,

I might have look’d upon my queen’s full eyes,

Have taken treasure from her lips,—


And left them

More rich, for what they yielded.


Thou speak’st truth.

No more such wives; therefore, no wife: one worse,  56

And better us’d, would make her sainted spirit

Again possess her corpse and on this stage,—

Where we’re offenders now,—appear soul-vex’d,

And begin, ‘Why to me?’


Had she such power,  60

She had just cause.


She had; and would incense me

To murder her I married.


I should so:

Were I the ghost that walk’d, I’d bid you mark

Her eye, and tell me for what dull part in’t  64

You chose her; then I’d shriek, that even your ears

Should rift to hear me; and the words that follow’d

Should be ‘Remember mine.’


Stars, stars!

And all eyes else dead coals. Fear thou no wife;

I’ll have no wife, Paulina.


Will you swear  69

Never to marry but by my free leave?


Never, Paulina: so be bless’d my spirit!


Then, good my lords, bear witness to his oath.  72


You tempt him over much.


Unless another,

As like Hermione as is her picture,

Affront his eye.


Good madam,—


I have done.

Yet, if my lord will marry,—if you will, sir,  76

No remedy, but you will,—give me the office

To choose you a queen, she shall not be so young

As was your former; but she shall be such

As, walk’d your first queen’s ghost, it should take joy  80

To see her in your arms.


My true Paulina,

We shall not marry till thou bidd’st us.



Shall be when your first queen’s again in breath;

Never till then.  84

Enter a Gentleman.


One that gives out himself Prince Florizel,

Son of Polixenes, with his princess,—she

The fairest I have yet beheld,—desires access

To your high presence.


What with him? he comes not  88

Like to his father’s greatness; his approach,

So out of circumstance and sudden, tells us

’Tis not a visitation fram’d, but forc’d

By need and accident. What train?


But few,  92

And those but mean.


His princess, say you, with him?


Ay, the most peerless piece of earth, I think,

That e’er the sun shone bright on.


O Hermione!

As every present time doth boast itself  96

Above a better gone, so must thy grave

Give way to what’s seen now. Sir, you yourself

Have said and writ so,—but your writing now

Is colder than that theme,—‘She had not been,

Nor was not to be equall’d;’ thus your verse  101

Flow’d with her beauty once: ’tis shrewdly ebb’d

To say you have seen a better.


Pardon, madam:

The one I have almost forgot—your pardon—

The other, when she has obtain’d your eye,  105

Will have your tongue too. This is a creature,

Would she begin a sect, might quench the zeal

Of all professors else, make proselytes  108

Of who she but bid follow.


How! not women?


Women will love her, that she is a woman

More worth than any man; men, that she is

The rarest of all women.


Go, Cleomenes;  112

Yourself, assisted with your honour’d friends,

Bring them to our embracement. Still ’tis strange,

[Exeunt Cleomenes, Lords, and Gentleman.

He thus should steal upon us.


Had our prince—

Jewel of children—seen this hour, he had pair’d

Well with this lord: there was not full a month

Between their births.


Prithee, no more: cease! thou know’st

He dies to me again when talk’d of: sure,  120

When I shall see this gentleman, thy speeches

Will bring me to consider that which may

Unfurnish me of reason. They are come.

Re-enter Cleomenes, with Florizel, Perdita, and Others.

Your mother was most true to wedlock, prince;

For she did print your royal father off,  125

Conceiving you. Were I but twenty-one,

Your father’s image is so hit in you,

His very air, that I should call you brother,  128

As I did him; and speak of something wildly

By us perform’d before. Most dearly welcome!

And you, fair princess,—goddess! O, alas!

I lost a couple, that ’twixt heaven and earth  132

Might thus have stood begetting wonder as

You, gracious couple, do: and then I lost—

All mine own folly—the society,

Amity too, of your brave father, whom,  136

Though bearing misery, I desire my life

Once more to look on him.


By his command

Have I here touch’d Sicilia; and from him

Give you all greetings that a king, at friend,  140

Can send his brother: and, but infirmity,—

Which waits upon worn times,—hath something seiz’d

His wish’d ability, he had himself

The land and waters ’twixt your throne and his

Measur’d to look upon you, whom he loves—  145

He bade me say so—more than all the sceptres

And those that bear them living.


O, my brother!—

Good gentleman,—the wrongs I have done thee stir  148

Afresh within me, and these thy offices

So rarely kind, are as interpreters

Of my behind-hand slackness! Welcome hither,

As is the spring to the earth. And hath he too

Expos’d this paragon to the fearful usage—  153

At least ungentle—of the dreadful Neptune,

To greet a man not worth her pains, much less

The adventure of her person?


Good my lord,  156

She came from Libya.


Where the war-like Smalus,

That noble honour’d lord, is fear’d and lov’d?


Most royal sir, from thence; from him, whose daughter

His tears proclaim’d his, parting with her: thence—  160

A prosperous south-wind friendly—we have cross’d,

To execute the charge my father gave me

For visiting your highness: my best train

I have from your Sicilian shores dismiss’d;  164

Who for Bohemia bend, to signify

Not only my success in Libya, sir,

But my arrival and my wife’s, in safety

Here where we are.


The blessed gods  168

Purge all infection from our air whilst you

Do climate here! You have a holy father,

A graceful gentleman; against whose person,

So sacred as it is, I have done sin:  172

For which the heavens, taking angry note,

Have left me issueless; and your father’s bless’d—

As he from heaven merits it—with you,

Worthy his goodness. What might I have been,

Might I a son and daughter now have look’d on,

Such goodly things as you!

Enter a Lord.


Most noble sir,

That which I shall report will bear no credit,

Were not the proof so nigh. Please you, great sir,  180

Bohemia greets you from himself by me;

Desires you to attach his son, who has—

His dignity and duty both cast off—

Fled from his father, from his hopes, and with

A shepherd’s daughter.


Where’s Bohemia? speak.  185


Here in your city; I now came from him:

I speak amazedly, and it becomes

My marvel and my message. To your court  188

Whiles he was hastening,—in the chase it seems

Of this fair couple,—meets he on the way

The father of this seeming lady and

Her brother, having both their country quitted

With this young prince.


Camillo has betray’d me;  193

Whose honour and whose honesty till now

Endur’d all weathers.


Lay’t so to his charge:

He’s with the king your father.


Who? Camillo?  196


Camillo, sir: I spake with him, who now

Has these poor men in question. Never saw I

Wretches so quake: they kneel, they kiss the earth,

Forswear themselves as often as they speak:  200

Bohemia stops his ears, and threatens them

With divers deaths in death.


O my poor father!

The heaven sets spies upon us, will not have

Our contract celebrated.


You are married?  204


We are not, sir, nor are we like to be;

The stars, I see, will kiss the valleys first:

The odds for high and low’s alike.


My lord,

Is this the daughter of a king?


She is,  208

When once she is my wife.


That ‘once,’ I see, by your good father’s speed,

Will come on very slowly. I am sorry,

Most sorry, you have broken from his liking  212

Where you were tied in duty; and as sorry

Your choice is not so rich in worth as beauty,

That you might well enjoy her.


Dear, look up:

Though Fortune, visible an enemy,  216

Should chase us with my father, power no jot

Hath she to change our loves. Beseech you, sir,

Remember since you ow’d no more to time

Than I do now; with thought of such affections,

Step forth mine advocate; at your request  221

My father will grant precious things as trifles


Would he do so, I’d beg your precious mistress,

Which he counts but a trifle.


Sir, my liege,  224

Your eye hath too much youth in’t: not a month

’Fore your queen died, she was more worth such gazes

Than what you look on now.


I thought of her,

Even in these looks I made. [To Florizel.] But your petition  228

Is yet unanswer’d. I will to your father:

Your honour not o’erthrown by your desires,

I am friend to them and you; upon which errand

I now go toward him. Therefore follow me,  232

And mark what way I make: come, good my lord.


Scene II.— The Same. Before the Palace.

Enter Autolycus and a Gentleman.


Beseech you, sir, were you present at this relation?


I was by at the opening of the fardel, heard the old shepherd deliver the manner how he found it: 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.  8


I would most gladly know the issue of it.


I make a broken delivery of the business; but the 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 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.  21

Enter another Gentleman.

Here comes a gentleman that haply knows more. The news, Rogero?

Sec. Gent.

Nothing but bonfires: the oracle is fulfilled; the king’s daughter is found: such a deal of wonder is 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 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?  32

Third Gent.

Most true, if ever truth were pregnant by circumstance: that which you hear you’ll swear you see, there is such unity in the proofs. The mantle of Queen Hermione, 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 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?  44

Sec. Gent.


Third Gent.

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, 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, 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 another encounter, which lames report to follow it and undoes description to do it.  64

Sec. Gent.

What, pray you, became of Antigonus that carried hence the child?

Third Gent.

Like an old tale still, which will have matter to 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.  73

First Gent.

What became of his bark and his followers?

Third Gent.

Wracked, 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 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 her to her heart that she might no more be in danger of losing.  87

First Gent.

The dignity of this act was worth the audience of kings and princes, for by such was it acted.

Third Gent.

One of the prettiest touches of all, and that which 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 it,—bravely confessed and lamented by the king,—how attentiveness wounded his daughter; till, from one 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 swounded, all sorrowed: if all the world could have seen’t, the woe had been universal.  103

First Gent.

Are they returned to the court?

Third Gent.

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 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 are they gone, and there they intend to sup.  116

Sec. Gent.

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 the rejoicing?  122

First Gent.

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.  126

[Exeunt Gentlemen.


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 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 been the finder out of this secret, it would not have relished among my other discredits. Here come those I have done good to against my will, and already appearing in the blossoms of their fortune.  141

Enter Shepherd and Clown.


Come, boy; I am past moe children, but thy sons and daughters will be all gentlemen born.  144


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 think me still no gentleman born: you were best say these robes are not gentleman born. Give me the lie, do, and try whether I am not now gentleman born.


I know you are now, sir, a gentleman born.  153


Ay, and have been so any time these four hours.


And so have I, boy.  156


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 the princess my sister called my father father; and so we wept: and there was the first gentleman-like tears that ever we shed.  164


We may live, son, to shed many more.


Ay; or else ’twere hard luck, being in so preposterous estate as we are.


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.


Prithee, son, do; for we must be gentle, now we are gentlemen.  173


Thou wilt amend thy life?


Ay, an it like your good worship.


Give me thy hand: I will swear to the prince thou art as honest a true fellow as any is in Bohemia.  178


You may say it, but not swear it.


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


How if it be false, son?  182


If it be ne’er so false, a true gentleman may swear 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 be a tall fellow of thy hands.


I will prove so, sir, to my power.  191


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 and the princes, our kindred, are going to see the queen’s picture. Come, follow us: we’ll be thy good masters.  197


Scene III.— The Same. A Chapel in Paulina’s House.

Enter Leontes, Polixenes, Florizel, Perdita, Camillo, Paulina, Lords, and Attendants.


O grave and good Paulina, the great comfort

That I have had of thee!


What, sovereign sir,

I did not well, I meant well. All my services

You have paid home; but that you have vouchsaf’d,  4

With your crown’d brother and these your contracted

Heirs of your kingdoms, my poor house to visit,

It is a surplus of your grace, which never

My life may last to answer.


O Paulina!  8

We honour you with trouble: but we came

To see the statue of our queen: your gallery

Have we pass’d through, not without much content

In many singularities, but we saw not  12

That which my daughter came to look upon,

The statue of her mother.


As she liv’d peerless,

So her dead likeness, I do well believe,

Excels whatever yet you look’d upon  16

Or hand of man hath done; therefore I keep it

Lonely, apart. But here it is: prepare

To see the life as lively mock’d as ever

Still sleep mock’d death: behold! and say ’tis well.  20

[Paulina draws back a curtain, and discovers Hermione as a statue.

I like your silence: it the more shows off

Your wonder; but yet speak: first you, my liege.

Comes it not something near?


Her natural posture!

Chide me, dear stone, that I may say, indeed  24

Thou art Hermione; or rather, thou art she

In thy not chiding, for she was as tender

As infancy and grace. But yet, Paulina,

Hermione was not so much wrinkled; nothing

So aged as this seems.


O! not by much.  29


So much the more our carver’s excellence;

Which lets go by some sixteen years and makes her

As she liv’d now.


As now she might have done,  32

So much to my good comfort, as it is

Now piercing to my soul. O! thus she stood,

Even with such life of majesty,—warm life,

As now it coldly stands,—when first I woo’d her.

I am asham’d: does not the stone rebuke me  37

For being more stone than it? O, royal piece!

There’s magic in thy majesty, which has

My evils conjur’d to remembrance, and  40

From thy admiring daughter took the spirits,

Standing like stone with thee.


And give me leave,

And do not say ’tis superstition, that

I kneel and then implore her blessing. Lady,  44

Dear queen, that ended when I but began,

Give me that hand of yours to kiss.


O, patience!

The statue is but newly fix’d, the colour’s

Not dry.  48


My lord, your sorrow was too sore laid on,

Which sixteen winters cannot blow away,

So many summers dry: scarce any joy

Did ever so long live; no sorrow  52

But kill’d itself much sooner.


Dear my brother,

Let him that was the cause of this have power

To take off so much grief from you as he

Will piece up in himself.


Indeed, my lord,  56

If I had thought the sight of my poor image

Would thus have wrought you,—for the stone is mine,—

I’d not have show’d it.


Do not draw the curtain.


No longer shall you gaze on’t, lest your fancy  60

May think anon it moves.


Let be, let be!

Would I were dead, but that, methinks, already—

What was he that did make it? See, my lord,

Would you not deem it breath’d, and that those veins  64

Did verily bear blood?


Masterly done:

The very life seems warm upon her lip.


The fixure of her eye has motion in’t,

As we are mock’d with art.


I’ll draw the curtain;  68

My lord’s almost so far transported that

He’ll think anon it lives.


O sweet Paulina!

Make me to think so twenty years together:

No settled senses of the world can match  72

The pleasure of that madness. Let’t alone.


I am sorry, sir, I have thus far stirr’d you: but

I could afflict you further.


Do, Paulina;

For this affliction has a taste as sweet  76

As any cordial comfort. Still, methinks,

There is an air comes from her: what fine chisel

Could ever yet cut breath? Let no man mock me,

For I will kiss her.


Good my lord, forbear.  80

The ruddiness upon her lip is wet:

You’ll mar it if you kiss it; stain your own

With oily painting. Shall I draw the curtain?


No, not these twenty years.


So long could I  84

Stand by, a looker-on.


Either forbear,

Quit presently the chapel, or resolve you

For more amazement. If you can behold it,

I’ll make the statue move indeed, descend,  88

And take you by the hand; but then you’ll think,—

Which I protest against,—I am assisted

By wicked powers.


What you can make her do,

I am content to look on: what to speak,  92

I am content to hear; for ’tis as easy

To make her speak as move.


It is requir’d

You do awake your faith. Then, all stand still;

Or those that think it is unlawful business  96

I am about, let them depart.



No foot shall stir.


Music, awake her: strike!


’Tis time; descend; be stone no more: approach;

Strike all that look upon with marvel. Come;

I’ll fill your grave up: stir; nay, come away;  101

Bequeath to death your numbness, for from him

Dear life redeems you. You perceive she stirs:

[Hermione comes down.

Start not; her actions shall be holy as  104

You hear my spell is lawful: do not shun her

Until you see her die again, for then

You kill her double. Nay, present your hand:

When she was young you woo’d her; now in age  108

Is she become the suitor!


[Embracing her.] O! she’s warm.

If this be magic, let it be an art

Lawful as eating.


She embraces him.


She hangs about his neck:  112

If she pertain to life let her speak too.


Ay; and make’t manifest where she has liv’d,

Or how stol’n from the dead.


That she is living,

Were it but told you, should be hooted at  116

Like an old tale; but it appears she lives,

Though yet she speak not. Mark a little while.

Please you to interpose, fair madam. kneel

And pray your mother’s blessing. Turn, good lady;  120

Our Perdita is found.

[Presenting Perdita, who kneels to Hermione.


You gods, look down,

And from your sacred vials pour your graces

Upon my daughter’s head! Tell me, mine own,

Where hast thou been preserv’d? where liv’d? how found  124

Thy father’s court? for thou shalt hear that I,

Knowing by Paulina that the oracle

Gave hope thou wast in being, have preserv’d

Myself to see the issue.


There’s time enough for that;  128

Lest they desire upon this push to trouble

Your joys with like relation. Go together,

You precious winners all: your exultation

Partake to every one. I, an old turtle,  132

Will wing me to some wither’d bough, and there

My mate, that’s never to be found again,

Lament till I am lost.


O! peace, Paulina.

Thou shouldst a husband take by my consent,  136

As I by thine a wife: this is a match,

And made between’s by vows. Thou hast found mine;

But how, is to be question’d; for I saw her,

As I thought dead, and have in vain said many  140

A prayer upon her grave. I’ll not seek far,—

For him, I partly know his mind,—to find thee

An honourable husband. Come, Camillo,

And take her by the hand; whose worth and honesty  144

Is richly noted, and here justified

By us, a pair of kings. Let’s from this place.

What! look upon my brother: both your pardons,

That e’er I put between your holy looks  148

My ill suspicion. This’ your son-in-law,

And son unto the king,—whom heavens directing,

Is troth-plight to your daughter. Good Paulina,

Lead us from hence, where we may leisurely  152

Each one demand and answer to his part

Perform’d in this wide gap of time since first

We were dissever’d: hastily lead away.