Winter’s Tale
The Plays of William ShakespeareThe_Plays_of_William_Shakespeare.htmlshapeimage_2_link_0

ACT I. SCENE I: Antechamber in LEONTES' palace.



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.


I think, this coming summer, the King of Sicilia

means to pay Bohemia the visitation which he justly owes him.


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



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.


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!


I think there is not in the world either malice or

matter to alter it. You have an unspeakable

comfort of your young prince Mamillius: it is a

gentleman of the greatest promise that ever came

into my note.


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.


Would they else be content to die?


Yes; if there were no other excuse why they should

desire to live.


If the king had no son, they would desire to live

on crutches till he had one.


ACT 1. SCENE II: A room of state in the same.



Nine changes of the watery star hath been

The shepherd's note since we have left our throne

Without a burthen: time as long again

Would be find up, my brother, with our thanks;

And yet we should, for perpetuity,

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 a while;

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

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.


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,

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

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

You have 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,

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,

We'll thwack him hence with distaffs.

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

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.


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,

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,

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:

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:

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,

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 changed

Was innocence for innocence; we knew not

The doctrine of ill-doing, nor dream'd

That any did. Had we pursued that life,

And our weak spirits ne'er been higher rear'd

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!

Temptations have since then been born to's; for

In those unfledged days was my wife a girl;

Your precious self had then not cross'd the eyes

Of my young play-fellow.


Grace to boot!

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

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 spokest

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

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 beat an acre. But to the goal:

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

'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.


[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

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 practised smiles,

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!

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

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.


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

As o'er-dyed 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 welkin 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,

Communicatest with dreams;--how can this be?--

With what's unreal thou coactive art,

And fellow'st nothing: then 'tis very credent

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

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!

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


You look as if you held a brow of much distraction

Are you moved, my lord?


No, in good earnest.

How sometimes nature will betray its folly,

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,

Will you take eggs for money?


No, my lord, I'll fight.


You will! why, happy man be's dole! My brother,

Are you so fond of your young prince as we

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:

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

Officed with me: we two will walk, my lord,

And leave you to your graver steps. Hermione,

How thou lovest us, show in our brother's welcome;

Let what is dear in Sicily be cheap:

Next to thyself and my young rover, he's

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.


I am angling now,

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

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 disgraced a part, whose issue

Will hiss me to my grave: contempt and clamour

Will be my knell. Go, play, boy, play.

There have been,

Or I am much deceived, 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 sluiced in's absence

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

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

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;

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;

It will let in and out the enemy

With bag and baggage: many thousand on's

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


I am like you, they say.


Why that's some comfort. What, Camillo there?


Ay, my good lord.


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


Camillo, this great sir will yet stay longer.


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?


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.


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

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

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 cleansed my bosom, I from thee departed

Thy penitent reform'd: but we have been

Deceived in thy integrity, deceived

In that which seems so.


Be it forbid, my lord!


To bide upon't, thou art not honest, or,

If thou inclinest that way, thou art a coward,

Which hoxes honesty behind, restraining

From course required; 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,

And takest 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,

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

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,

Where of the execution did cry out

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,

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 eye-glass

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,

Or else be impudently negative,

To have nor eyes nor ears nor thought, then say

My wife's a hobby-horse, deserves a name

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

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?

Is leaning cheek to cheek? is meeting noses?

Kissing with inside lip? stopping the career

Of laughing with a sigh?--a note infallible

Of breaking honesty--horsing foot on foot?

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;

The covering sky is nothing; Bohemia nothing;

My wife is nothing; nor nothing have these nothings,

If this be nothing.


Good my lord, be cured

Of this diseased 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,

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

Infected as her life, she would not live

The running of one glass.


Who does infect her?


Why, he that wears her like a medal, hanging

About his neck, Bohemia: who, if I

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 cupbearer,--whom I from meaner form

Have benched and reared to worship, who mayst see

Plainly as heaven sees earth and earth sees heaven,

How I am galled,--mightst bespice a cup,

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

Believe this crack to be in my dread mistress,

So sovereignly being honourable.

I have loved thee,--


Make that thy question, and go rot!

Dost think I am so muddy, so unsettled,

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,

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:

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

Provided that, when he's removed, your highness

Will take again your queen as yours at first,

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.


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:

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.


I will seem friendly, as thou hast advised 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

Is the obedience to a master, one

Who in rebellion with himself will have

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

Promotion follows. If I could find example

Of thousands that had struck anointed kings

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

Nor brass nor stone nor parchment bears not one,

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.



This is strange: methinks

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

As he had lost some province and a region

Loved as he loves himself: even now I met him

With customary compliment; when he,

Wafting his eyes to the contrary and falling

A lip of much contempt, speeds from me and

So leaves me to consider what is breeding

That changeth thus his manners.


I dare not know, my lord.


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 changed complexions are to me a mirror

Which shows me mine changed too; for I must be

A party in this alteration, finding

Myself thus alter'd with 't.


There is a sickness

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:

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 experienced, which no less adorns

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't not

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

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;

If not, how best to bear it.


Sir, I will tell you;

Since I am charged in honour and by him

That I think honourable: therefore mark my counsel,

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.


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

To an infected jelly and my name

Be yoked with his that did betray the Best!

Turn then my freshest reputation to

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

By all their influences, you may as well

Forbid the sea for to obey the moon

As or by oath remove or counsel shake

The fabric of his folly, whose foundation

Is piled 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!

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

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

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

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,

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

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;

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

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


ACT II. SCENE I: A room in LEONTES' palace.



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?


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

I were a baby still. I love you better.

Second Lady

And why so, my lord?


Not for because

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

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.

Second Lady

Who taught you this?


I learnt it out of women's faces. Pray now

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.

First Lady

Hark ye;

The queen your mother rounds apace: we shall

Present our services to a fine new prince

One of these days; and then you'ld wanton with us,

If we would have you.

Second Lady

She is spread of late

Into a goodly bulk: good time encounter her!


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: 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.


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, with ANTIGONUS, Lords and others


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

First Lord

Behind the tuft of pines I met them; never

Saw I men scour so on their way: I eyed them

Even to their ships.


How blest am I

In my just censure, in my true opinion!

Alack, for lesser knowledge! how accursed

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

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.

Camillo was his help in this, his pander:

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:

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;

Which often hath no less prevail'd than so

On your command.


I know't too well.

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! and let her sport herself

With that she's big with; for 'tis Polixenes

Has made thee swell thus.


But I'ld 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

To say 'she is a goodly lady,' and

The justice of your bearts 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

The shrug, the hum or ha, these petty brands

That calumny doth use--O, I am out--

That mercy does, for calumny will sear

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,

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,

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

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

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

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,

You scarce can right me throughly then to say

You did mistake.


No; if I mistake

In those foundations which I build upon,

The centre is not big enough to bear

A school-boy'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:

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

Perchance shall dry your pities: but I have

That honourable grief lodged here which burns

Worse than tears drown: beseech you all, my lords,

With thoughts so qualified as your charities

Shall best instruct you, measure me; and so

The king's will be perform'd!


Shall I be heard?


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

My women may be with me; for you see

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

There is no cause: when you shall know your mistress

Has deserved prison, then abound in tears

As I come out: this action I now go on

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!

Exit HERMIONE, guarded; with 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,

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

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 farther trust her;

For every inch of woman in the world,

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 abused and by some putter-on

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;

If this prove true, they'll pay for't:

by mine honour,

I'll geld 'em all; fourteen they shall not see,

To bring false generations: they are co-heirs;

And I had rather glib myself than they

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

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?

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 blamed for't how you might.


Why, what need we

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 stupefied

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

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,

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

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

Yet, for a greater confirmation,

For in an act of this importance 'twere

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

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

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

From our free person she should be confined,

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

Will raise us all.



To laughter, as I take it,

If the good truth were known.


ACT II. SCENE II: A prison.

Enter PAULINA, a Gentleman, and Attendants


The keeper of the prison, call to him;

let him have knowledge who I am.

Exit Gentleman

Good lady,

No court in Europe is too good for thee;

What dost thou then in prison?

Re-enter Gentleman, with the Gaoler

Now, good sir,

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 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?


So please you, madam,

To put apart these your attendants, I

Shall bring Emilia forth.


I pray now, call her.

Withdraw yourselves.

Exeunt Gentleman and Attendants


And, madam,

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,

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 born greater,

She is something before her time deliver'd.


A boy?


A daughter, and a goodly babe,

Lusty and like to live: the queen receives

Much comfort in't; says 'My poor prisoner,

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:

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:

If she dares trust me with her little babe,

I'll show't the king and undertake to be

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

How he may soften at the sight o' the child:

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

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;

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

As boldness from my bosom, let 't 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,

I know not what I shall incur to pass it,

Having no warrant.


You need not fear it, sir:

This child was prisoner to the womb and is

By law and process of great nature thence

Freed and enfranchised, not a party to

The anger of the king nor guilty of,

If any be, the trespass of the queen.


I do believe it.


Do not you fear: upon mine honour,

I will stand betwixt you and danger.


ACT II. SCENE III: A room in LEONTES' palace.

Enter LEONTES, ANTIGONUS, Lords, and Servants


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 adulteress; for the harlot king

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

Might come to me again. Who's there?

First Servant

My lord?


How does the boy?

First Servant

He took good rest to-night;

'Tis hoped his sickness is discharged.


To see his nobleness!

Conceiving the dishonour of his mother,

He straight declined, droop'd, took it deeply,

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

Threw off his spirit, his appetite, his sleep,

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

See how he fares.

Exit Servant

Fie, fie! no thought of him:

The thought of my revenges that way

Recoil upon me: in himself too mighty,

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:

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,

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

More free than he is jealous.


That's enough.

Second Servant

Madam, he hath not slept tonight; commanded

None should come at him.


Not so hot, good sir:

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

Do come with words as medicinal 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

About some gossips for your highness.



Away with that audacious lady! Antigonus,

I charged thee that she should not come about me:

I knew she would.


I told her so, my lord,

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,

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;

And, I beseech you, hear me, who profess

Myself your loyal servant, your physician,

Your most obedient counsellor, yet that dare

Less appear so in comforting your evils,

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.


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,

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:

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.



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

Thou dotard! thou art woman-tired, unroosted

By thy dame Partlet here. Take up the bastard;

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


For ever

Unvenerable be thy hands, if thou

Takest 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

You'ld 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,

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

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:

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,

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,

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

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,

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 burnt.


I care not:

It is an 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,

Not able to produce more accusation

Than your own weak-hinged fancy, something savours

Of tyranny and will ignoble make you,

Yea, scandalous to the world.


On your allegiance,

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.

Look to your babe, my lord; 'tis yours:

Jove send her

A better guiding spirit! What needs these hands?

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

Will never do him good, not one of you.

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

And see it instantly consumed 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;

For thou set'st on thy wife.


I did not, sir:

These lords, my noble fellows, if they please,

Can clear me in't.


We can: my royal liege,

He is not guilty of her coming hither.


You're liars all.

First Lord

Beseech your highness, give us better credit:

We have always truly served you, and beseech you

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

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.


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.

It shall not neither. 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,

So sure as this 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:

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.


Mark and perform it, see'st thou! for the fail

Of any point in't shall not only be

Death to thyself but to thy lewd-tongued wife,

Whom for this time we pardon. We enjoin thee,

As thou art liege-man to us, that thou carry

This female bastard hence and that thou bear it

To some remote and desert place quite out

Of our dominions, and that there thou leave it,

Without more mercy, to its own protection

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,

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

To be thy nurses! Wolves and bears, they say

Casting their savageness aside have done

Like offices of pity. Sir, be prosperous

In more than this deed does 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

From those you sent to the oracle are come

An hour since: Cleomenes and Dion,

Being well arrived 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

Our most disloyal lady, for, as she hath

Been publicly accused, so shall she have

A just and open trial. While she lives

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

And think upon my bidding.


ACT III. SCENE I: A sea-port in Sicilia.



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,

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

And the ear-deafening voice o' the oracle,

Kin to Jove's thunder, so surprised 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,

The time is worth the use on't.


Great Apollo

Turn all to the best! These proclamations,

So forcing faults upon Hermione,

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

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

And gracious be the issue!


ACT III. SCENE II: A court of Justice.

Enter 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 beloved. Let us be clear'd

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.


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.



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

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 received. But thus: if powers divine

Behold our human actions, as they do,

I doubt not then but innocence shall make

False accusation blush and tyranny

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

Than history can pattern, though devised

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,

'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,

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

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

Less impudence to gainsay what they did

Than to perform it first.


That's true enough;

Through 'tis a saying, sir, not due to me.


You will not own it.


More than mistress of

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

At all acknowledge. For Polixenes,

With whom I am accused, I do confess

I loved him as in honour he required,

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

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,

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.


You knew of his departure, as you know

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



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,

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,

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:

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,

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,

The innocent milk in its most innocent mouth,

Haled out to murder: myself on every post

Proclaimed a strumpet: with immodest hatred

The child-bed privilege denied, which 'longs

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,

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

Upon surmises, all proofs sleeping else

But what your jealousies awake, I tell you

'Tis rigor and not law. Your honours all,

I do refer me to the oracle:

Apollo be my judge!

First Lord

This your request

Is altogether just: therefore bring forth,

And in Apollos name, his oracle.

Exeunt certain Officers


The Emperor of Russia was my father:

O that he were alive, and here beholding

His daughter's trial! that he did but see

The flatness of my misery, yet with eyes

Of pity, not revenge!

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

The seal'd-up oracle, by the hand deliver'd

Of great Apollo's priest; and that, since then,

You have not dared to break the holy seal

Nor read the secrets in't.


All this we swear.


Break up the seals and read.



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.


Now blessed be the great Apollo!




Hast thou read truth?


Ay, my lord; even so

As it is here set down.


There is no truth at all i' the oracle:

The sessions shall proceed: this is mere falsehood.

Enter Servant


My lord the king, the king!


What is the business?


O sir, I shall be hated to report it!

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.


How now there!


This news is mortal to the queen: look down

And see what death is doing.


Take her hence:

Her heart is but o'ercharged; she will recover:

I have too much believed mine own suspicion:

Beseech you, tenderly apply to her

Some remedies for life.

Exeunt PAULINA and Ladies, with HERMIONE

Apollo, pardon

My great profaneness 'gainst thine oracle!

I'll reconcile me to Polixenes,

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

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

Reward did threaten and encourage him,

Not doing 't and being done: he, most humane

And fill'd with honour, to my kingly guest

Unclasp'd my practise, quit his fortunes here,

Which you knew great, and to the hazard

Of all encertainties himself commended,

No richer than his honour: how he glisters

Thorough my rust! and how his pity

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?

What wheels? racks? fires? what flaying? 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

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

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,

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

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,

When I have said, cry 'woe!' the queen, the queen,

The sweet'st, dear'st 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

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!

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,

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 deserved

All tongues to talk their bitterest.

First Lord

Say no more:

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,

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

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:

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,

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:

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

Will bear up with this exercise, so long

I daily vow to use it. Come and lead me

Unto these sorrows.


ACT III. SCENE III: Bohemia. A desert country near the sea.

Enter ANTIGONUS with a Child, and a Mariner


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

The deserts of Bohemia?


Ay, my lord: and fear

We have landed in ill time: the skies look grimly

And threaten present blusters. In my conscience,

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

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:

I'll follow instantly.


I am glad at heart

To be so rid o' the business.



Come, poor babe:

I have heard, but not believed,

the spirits o' the dead

May walk again: if such thing be, thy mother

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,

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

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

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,

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,

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 squared by this. I do believe

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

Of its right father. Blossom, speed thee well!

There lie, and there thy character: there these;

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

And still rest thine. The storm begins; poor wretch,

That for thy mother's fault art thus exposed

To loss and what may follow! Weep I cannot,

But my heart bleeds; and most accursed am I

To be by oath enjoin'd to this. Farewell!

The day frowns more and more: thou'rt 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:

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 any where I have them, 'tis by

the seaside, browsing of ivy. Good luck, an't be thy

will what have we here! 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 hallooed

but even now. Whoa, ho, hoa!

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?


I have seen two such sights, by sea and by land!

but I am not to say it is a sea, for it is now the

sky: betwixt the firmament and it you cannot thrust

a bodkin's point.


Why, boy, how is it?


I would you did but see how it chafes, how it rages,

how it takes up the shore! but that's not 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 main-mast, and anon

swallowed with yest and froth, as you'ld thrust a

cork into a hogshead. And then for the

land-service, to see how the bear tore out his

shoulder-bone; 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.


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



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


I would you had been by the ship side, to have

helped her: there your charity would have lacked footing.


Heavy matters! heavy matters! but look thee here,

boy. Now bless thyself: thou mettest with things

dying, I with things newborn. 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?


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



That's a good deed. If thou mayest 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.


'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

good and bad, that makes and unfolds error,

Now take upon me, in the name of Time,

To use my wings. Impute it not a crime

To me or my swift passage, that I slide

O'er sixteen years and leave the growth untried

Of that wide gap, since it is in my power

To o'erthrow law and in one self-born hour

To plant and o'erwhelm custom. Let me pass

The same I am, ere ancient'st order was

Or what is now received: I witness to

The times that brought them in; so shall I do

To the freshest things now reigning and make stale

The glistering of this present, as my tale

Now seems to it. Your patience this allowing,

I turn my glass and give my scene such growing

As you had slept between: Leontes leaving,

The effects of his fond jealousies so grieving

That he shuts up himself, imagine me,

Gentle spectators, that I now may be

In fair Bohemia, and remember well,

I mentioned a son o' the king's, which Florizel

I now name to you; and with speed so pace

To speak of Perdita, now grown in grace

Equal with wondering: what of her ensues

I list not prophecy; but let Time's news

Be known when 'tis brought forth.

A shepherd's daughter,

And what to her adheres, which follows after,

Is the argument of Time. Of this allow,

If ever you have spent time worse ere now;

If never, yet that Time himself doth say

He wishes earnestly you never may.


ACT IV. SCENE II: Bohemia. The palace of POLIXENES.



I pray thee, good Camillo, be no more importunate:

'tis a sickness denying thee any thing; a death to

grant this.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


I willingly obey your command.


My best Camillo! We must disguise ourselves.


ACT IV. SCENE III.: 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.

The white sheet bleaching on the hedge,

With heigh! the sweet birds, O, how they sing!

Doth set my pugging tooth on edge;

For a quart of ale is a dish for a king.

The lark, that tirra-lyra chants,

With heigh! with heigh! the thrush and the jay,

Are summer songs for me and my aunts,

While we lie tumbling in the hay.

I have served Prince Florizel and in my time

wore three-pile; but now I am out of service:

But shall I go mourn for that, my dear?

The pale moon shines by night:

And when I wander here and there,

I then do most go right.

If tinkers may have leave to live,

And bear the sow-skin budget,

Then my account I well may, give,

And in the stocks avouch it.

My traffic is sheets; when the kite builds, look to

lesser linen. My father named me Autolycus; who

being, as I am, littered under Mercury, was likewise

a snapper-up of unconsidered trifles. With die and

drab I purchased this caparison, and my revenue is

the silly cheat. Gallows and knock are too powerful

on the highway: beating and hanging are terrors to

me: for the life to come, I sleep out the thought

of it. A prize! a prize!

Enter Clown


Let me see: every 'leven wether tods; every tod

yields pound and odd shilling; fifteen hundred

shorn. what comes the wool to?



If the springe hold, the cock's mine.


I cannot do't without counters. Let me see; what am

I to buy for our sheep-shearing feast? Three pound

of sugar, five pound of currants, rice,--what will

this sister of mine do with rice? But my father

hath made her mistress of the feast, and she lays it

on. She hath made me four and twenty nose-gays for

the shearers, three-man-song-men all, and very good

ones; but they are most of them means and bases; but

one puritan amongst them, and he sings psalms to

horn-pipes. I must have saffron to colour the warden

pies; mace; dates?--none, that's out of my note;

nutmegs, seven; a race or two of ginger, but that I

may beg; four pound of prunes, and as many of

raisins o' the sun.


O that ever I was born!

Groveling on the ground


I' the name of me--


O, help me, help me! pluck but off these rags; and

then, death, death!


Alack, poor soul! thou hast need of more rags to lay

on thee, rather than have these off.


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.


I am robbed, sir, and beaten; my money and apparel

ta'en from me, and these detestable things put upon



What, by a horseman, or a footman?


A footman, sweet sir, a footman.


Indeed, he should be a footman by the garments he

has left with thee: if this be a horseman's coat,

it hath seen very hot service. Lend me thy hand,

I'll help thee: come, lend me thy hand.


O, good sir, tenderly, O!


Alas, poor soul!


O, good sir, softly, good sir! I fear, sir, my

shoulder-blade is out.


How now! canst stand?


Picking his pocket

Softly, dear sir; good sir, softly. You ha' done me

a charitable office.


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


No, good sweet sir; no, I beseech you, sir: I have

a kinsman not past three quarters of a mile hence,

unto whom I was going; I shall there have money, or

any thing I want: offer me no money, I pray you;

that kills my heart.


What manner of fellow was he that robbed you?


A fellow, sir, that I have known to go about with

troll-my-dames; I knew him once a servant of the

prince: I cannot tell, good sir, for which of his

virtues it was, but he was certainly whipped out of the court.


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.


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.


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.


Not a more cowardly rogue in all Bohemia: if you had

but looked big and spit at him, he'ld 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



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.


Then fare thee well: I must go buy spices for our



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!


Jog on, jog on, the foot-path way,

And merrily hent the stile-a:

A merry heart goes all the day,

Your sad tires in a mile-a.


ACT IV. SCENE IV: The Shepherd's cottage.



These your unusual weeds to each part of you

Do give a life: no shepherdess, but Flora

Peering in April's front. This your sheep-shearing

Is as a meeting of the petty gods,

And you the queen on't.


Sir, my gracious lord,

To chide at your extremes it not becomes me:

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

The gracious mark o' the land, you have obscured

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

Most goddess-like prank'd up: but that our feasts

In every mess have folly and the feeders

Digest it with a custom, I should blush

To see you so attired, sworn, I think,

To show myself a glass.


I bless the time

When my good falcon made her flight across

Thy father's ground.


Now Jove afford you cause!

To me the difference forges dread; your greatness

Hath not been used to fear. Even now I tremble

To think your father, by some accident,

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

How would he look, to see his work so noble

Vilely bound up? What would he say? Or how

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

The sternness of his presence?



Nothing but jollity. The gods themselves,

Humbling their deities to love, have taken

The shapes of beasts upon them: Jupiter

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

A ram, and bleated; and the fire-robed god,

Golden Apollo, a poor humble swain,

As I seem now. Their transformations

Were never for a piece of beauty rarer,

Nor in a way so chaste, since my desires

Run not before mine honour, nor my lusts

Burn hotter than my faith.


O, but, sir,

Your resolution cannot hold, when 'tis

Opposed, as it must be, by the power of the king:

One of these two must be necessities,

Which then will speak, that you must

change this purpose,

Or I my life.


Thou dearest Perdita,

With these forced thoughts, I prithee, darken not

The mirth o' the feast. Or I'll be thine, my fair,

Or not my father's. For I cannot be

Mine own, nor any thing to any, if

I be not thine. To this I am most constant,

Though destiny say no. Be merry, gentle;

Strangle such thoughts as these with any thing

That you behold the while. Your guests are coming:

Lift up your countenance, as it were the day

Of celebration of that nuptial which

We two have sworn shall come.


O lady Fortune,

Stand you auspicious!


See, your guests approach:

Address yourself to entertain them sprightly,

And let's be red with mirth.

Enter Shepherd, Clown, MOPSA, DORCAS, and others, with POLIXENES and CAMILLO disguised


Fie, daughter! when my old wife lived, upon

This day she was both pantler, butler, cook,

Both dame and servant; welcomed all, served all;

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

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

On his shoulder, and his; her face o' fire

With labour and the thing she took to quench it,

She would to each one sip. You are retired,

As if you were a feasted one and not

The hostess of the meeting: pray you, bid

These unknown friends to's welcome; for it is

A way to make us better friends, more known.

Come, quench your blushes and present yourself

That which you are, mistress o' the feast: come on,

And bid us welcome to your sheep-shearing,

As your good flock shall prosper.



Sir, welcome:

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

The hostess-ship o' the day.


You're welcome, sir.

Give me those flowers there, Dorcas. Reverend sirs,

For you there's rosemary and rue; these keep

Seeming and savour all the winter long:

Grace and remembrance be to you both,

And welcome to our shearing!



A fair one are you--well you fit our ages

With flowers of winter.


Sir, the year growing ancient,

Not yet on summer's death, nor on the birth

Of trembling winter, the fairest

flowers o' the season

Are our carnations and streak'd gillyvors,

Which some call nature's bastards: of that kind

Our rustic garden's barren; and I care not

To get slips of them.


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;

Yet nature is made better by no mean

But nature makes that mean: so, over that art

Which you say adds to nature, is an art

That nature makes. You see, sweet maid, we marry

A gentler scion to the wildest stock,

And make conceive a bark of baser kind

By bud of nobler race: this is an art

Which does mend nature, change it rather, but

The art itself is nature.


So it is.


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;

No more than were I painted I would wish

This youth should say 'twere well and only therefore

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

Hot lavender, mints, savoury, marjoram;

The marigold, that goes to bed wi' the sun

And with him rises weeping: these are flowers

Of middle summer, and I think they are given

To men of middle age. You're very welcome.


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,

I would I had some flowers o' the spring that might

Become your time of day; and yours, and yours,

That wear upon your virgin branches yet

Your maidenheads growing: O Proserpina,

For the flowers now, that frighted thou let'st fall

From Dis's waggon! daffodils,

That come before the swallow dares, and take

The winds of March with beauty; violets dim,

But sweeter than the lids of Juno's eyes

Or Cytherea's breath; pale primroses

That die unmarried, ere they can behold

Bight Phoebus in his strength--a malady

Most incident to maids; bold oxlips and

The crown imperial; lilies of all kinds,

The flower-de-luce being one! O, these I lack,

To make you garlands of, and my sweet friend,

To strew him o'er and o'er!


What, like a corse?


No, like a bank for love to lie and play on;

Not like a corse; or if, not to be buried,

But quick and in mine arms. Come, take your flowers:

Methinks I play as I have seen them do

In Whitsun pastorals: sure this robe of mine

Does change my disposition.


What you do

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

I'ld have you do it ever: when you sing,

I'ld have you buy and sell so, so give alms,

Pray so; and, for the ordering your affairs,

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

A wave o' the sea, that you might ever do

Nothing but that; move still, still so,

And own no other function: each your doing,

So singular in each particular,

Crowns what you are doing in the present deed,

That all your acts are queens.


O Doricles,

Your praises are too large: but that your youth,

And the true blood which peepeth fairly through't,

Do plainly give you out an unstain'd shepherd,

With wisdom I might fear, my Doricles,

You woo'd me the false way.


I think you have

As little skill to fear as I have purpose

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

Your hand, my Perdita: so turtles pair,

That never mean to part.


I'll swear for 'em.


This is the prettiest low-born lass that ever

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

But smacks of something greater than herself,

Too noble for this place.


He tells her something

That makes her blood look out: good sooth, she is

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.

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

To have a worthy feeding: but I have it

Upon his own report and I believe it;

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

I think so too; for never gazed the moon

Upon the water as he'll stand and read

As 'twere my daughter's eyes: and, to be plain.

I think there is not half a kiss to choose

Who loves another best.


She dances featly.


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.

Enter Servant


O master, if you did but hear the pedlar at the

door, you would never dance again after a tabour and

pipe; no, the bagpipe could not move you: he sings

several tunes faster than you'll tell money; he

utters them as he had eaten ballads and all men's

ears grew to his tunes.


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.


He hath songs for man or woman, of all sizes; no

milliner can so fit his customers with gloves: he

has the prettiest love-songs for maids; so without

bawdry, which is strange; with such delicate

burthens of dildos and fadings, 'jump her and thump

her;' and where some stretch-mouthed rascal would,

as it were, mean mischief and break a foul gap into

the matter, he makes the maid to answer 'Whoop, do me

no harm, good man;' puts him off, slights him, with

'Whoop, do me no harm, good man.'


This is a brave fellow.


Believe me, thou talkest of an admirable conceited

fellow. Has he any unbraided wares?


He hath ribbons of an 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.


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'ld think, sister.


Ay, good brother, or go about to think.

Enter AUTOLYCUS, singing


Lawn as white as driven snow;

Cyprus black as e'er was crow;

Gloves as sweet as damask roses;

Masks for faces and for noses;

Bugle bracelet, necklace amber,

Perfume for a lady's chamber;

Golden quoifs and stomachers,

For my lads to give their dears:

Pins and poking-sticks of steel,

What maids lack from head to heel:

Come buy of me, come; come buy, come buy;

Buy lads, or else your lasses cry: Come buy.


If I were not in love with Mopsa, thou shouldst take

no money of me; but being enthralled as I am, it

will also be the bondage of certain ribbons and gloves.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


What hast here? ballads?


Pray now, buy some: I love a ballad in print o'

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

burthen and how she longed to eat adders' heads and

toads carbonadoed.


Is it true, think you?


Very true, and but a month old.


Bless me from marrying a usurer!


Here's the midwife's name to't, one Mistress

Tale-porter, and five or six honest wives that were

present. Why should I carry lies abroad?


Pray you now, buy it.


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 four-score of April,

forty thousand fathom above water, and sung this

ballad against the hard hearts of maids: it was

thought she was a woman and was turned into a cold

fish for she would not exchange flesh with one that

loved her: the ballad is very pitiful and as true.


Is it true too, think you?


Five justices' hands at it, and witnesses more than

my pack will hold.


Lay it by too: another.


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.


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.



Get you hence, for I must go

Where it fits not you to know.




O, whither?




It becomes thy oath full well,

Thou to me thy secrets tell.


Me too, let me go thither.


Or thou goest to the orange or mill.


If to either, thou dost ill.




What, neither?




Thou hast sworn my love to be.


Thou hast sworn it more to me:

Then whither goest? say, whither?


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.

Follows singing

Will you buy any tape,

Or lace for your cape,

My dainty duck, my dear-a?

Any silk, any thread,

Any toys for your head,

Of the new'st and finest, finest wear-a?

Come to the pedlar;

Money's a medler.

That doth utter all men's ware-a.


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.


Away! we'll none on 't: here has been too much

homely foolery already. I know, sir, we weary you.


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.


Leave your prating: since these good men are

pleased, let them come in; but quickly now.


Why, they stay at door, sir.


Here a dance of twelve Satyrs


O, father, you'll know more of that hereafter.


Is it not too far gone? 'Tis time to part them.

He's simple and tells much.


How now, fair shepherd!

Your heart is full of something that does take

Your mind from feasting. Sooth, when I was young

And handed love as you do, I was wont

To load my she with knacks: I would have ransack'd

The pedlar's silken treasury and have pour'd it

To her acceptance; you have let him go

And nothing marted with him. If your lass

Interpretation should abuse and call this

Your lack of love or bounty, you were straited

For a reply, at least if you make a care

Of happy holding her.


Old sir, I know

She prizes not such trifles as these are:

The gifts she looks from me are pack'd and lock'd

Up in my heart; which I have given already,

But not deliver'd. O, hear me breathe my life

Before this ancient sir, who, it should seem,

Hath sometime loved! I take thy hand, this hand,

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

Or Ethiopian's tooth, or the fann'd

snow that's bolted

By the northern blasts twice o'er.


What follows this?

How prettily the young swain seems to wash

The hand was fair before! I have put you out:

But to your protestation; let me hear

What you profess.


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:

That, were I crown'd the most imperial monarch,

Thereof most worthy, were I the fairest youth

That ever made eye swerve, had force and knowledge

More than was ever man's, I would not prize them

Without her love; for her employ them all;

Commend them and condemn them to her service

Or to their own perdition.


Fairly offer'd.


This shows a sound affection.


But, my daughter,

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!

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

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

That best becomes the table. Pray you once more,

Is not your father grown incapable

Of reasonable affairs? is he not stupid

With age and altering rheums? can he speak? hear?

Know man from man? dispute his own estate?

Lies he not bed-rid? and again does nothing

But what he did being childish?


No, good sir;

He has his health and ampler strength indeed

Than most have of his age.


By my white beard,

You offer him, if this be so, a wrong

Something unfilial: reason my son

Should choose himself a wife, but as good reason

The father, all whose joy is nothing else

But fair posterity, should hold some counsel

In such a business.


I yield all this;

But for some other reasons, my grave sir,

Which 'tis not fit you know, I not acquaint

My father of this business.


Let him know't.


He shall not.


Prithee, let him.


No, he must not.


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

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 acknowledged: thou a sceptre's heir,

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

I am sorry that by hanging thee I can

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

Of excellent witchcraft, who of force must know

The royal fool thou copest with,--


O, my heart!


I'll have thy beauty scratch'd with briers, and made

More homely than thy state. For thee, fond boy,

If I may ever know thou dost but sigh

That thou no more shalt see this knack, as never

I mean thou shalt, we'll bar thee from succession;

Not hold thee of our blood, no, not our kin,

Far than Deucalion off: mark thou my words:

Follow us to the court. Thou churl, for this time,

Though full of our displeasure, yet we free thee

From the dead blow of it. And you, enchantment.--

Worthy enough a herdsman: yea, him too,

That makes himself, but for our honour therein,

Unworthy thee,--if ever henceforth thou

These rural latches to his entrance open,

Or hoop his body more with thy embraces,

I will devise a death as cruel for thee

As thou art tender to't.



Even here undone!

I was not much afeard; for once or twice

I was about to speak and tell him plainly,

The selfsame sun that shines upon his court

Hides not his visage from our cottage but

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

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

Of your own state take care: this dream of mine,--

Being now awake, I'll queen it no inch farther,

But milk my ewes and weep.


Why, how now, father!

Speak ere thou diest.


I cannot speak, nor think

Nor dare to know that which I know. O sir!

You have undone a man of fourscore three,

That thought to fill his grave in quiet, yea,

To die upon the bed my father died,

To lie close by his honest bones: but now

Some hangman must put on my shroud and lay me

Where no priest shovels in dust. O cursed wretch,

That knew'st this was the prince,

and wouldst adventure

To mingle faith with him! Undone! undone!

If I might die within this hour, I have lived

To die when I desire.



Why look you so upon me?

I am but sorry, not afeard; delay'd,

But nothing alter'd: what I was, I am;

More straining on for plucking back, not following

My leash unwillingly.


Gracious my lord,

You know your father's temper: at this time

He will allow no speech, which I do guess

You do not purpose to him; and as hardly

Will he endure your sight as yet, I fear:

Then, till the fury of his highness settle,

Come not before him.


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

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

Am heir to my affection.


Be advised.


I am, and by my fancy: if my reason

Will thereto be obedient, I have reason;

If not, my senses, better pleased with madness,

Do bid it welcome.


This is desperate, sir.


So call it: but it does fulfil my vow;

I needs must think it honesty. Camillo,

Not for Bohemia, nor the pomp that may

Be thereat glean'd, for all the sun sees or

The close earth wombs or the profound sea hides

In unknown fathoms, will I break my oath

To this my fair beloved: therefore, I pray you,

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

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

To see him any more,--cast your good counsels

Upon his passion; let myself and fortune

Tug for the time to come. This you may know

And so deliver, I am put to sea

With her whom here I cannot hold on shore;

And most opportune to our need I have

A vessel rides fast by, but not prepared

For this design. What course I mean to hold

Shall nothing benefit your knowledge, nor

Concern me the reporting.


O my lord!

I would your spirit were easier for advice,

Or stronger for your need.


Hark, Perdita

Drawing her aside

I'll hear you by and by.


He's irremoveable,

Resolved for flight. Now were I happy, if

His going I could frame to serve my turn,

Save him from danger, do him love and honour,

Purchase the sight again of dear Sicilia

And that unhappy king, my master, whom

I so much thirst to see.


Now, good Camillo;

I am so fraught with curious business that

I leave out ceremony.


Sir, I think

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

That I have borne your father?


Very nobly

Have you deserved: it is my father's music

To speak your deeds, not little of his care

To have them recompensed as thought on.


Well, my lord,

If you may please to think I love the king

And through him what is nearest to him, which is

Your gracious self, embrace but my direction:

If your more ponderous and settled project

May suffer alteration, on mine honour,

I'll point you where you shall have such receiving

As shall become your highness; where you may

Enjoy your mistress, from the whom, I see,

There's no disjunction to be made, but by--

As heavens forefend!--your ruin; marry her,

And, with my best endeavours in your absence,

Your discontenting father strive to qualify

And bring him up to liking.


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

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

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,

And there present yourself and your fair princess,

For so I see she must be, 'fore Leontes:

She shall be habited as it becomes

The partner of your bed. Methinks I see

Leontes opening his free arms and weeping

His welcomes forth; asks thee the son forgiveness,

As 'twere i' the father's person; kisses the hands

Of your fresh princess; o'er and o'er divides him

'Twixt his unkindness and his kindness; the one

He chides to hell and bids the other grow

Faster than thought or time.


Worthy Camillo,

What colour for my visitation shall I

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,

Things known betwixt us three, I'll write you down:

The which shall point you forth at every sitting

What you must say; that he shall not perceive

But that you have your father's bosom there

And speak his very heart.


I am bound to you:

There is some sap in this.


A cause more promising

Than a wild dedication of yourselves

To unpath'd waters, undream'd shores, most certain

To miseries enough; no hope to help you,

But as you shake off one to take another;

Nothing so certain as your anchors, who

Do their best office, if they can but stay you

Where you'll be loath to be: besides you know

Prosperity's the very bond of love,

Whose fresh complexion and whose heart together

Affliction alters.


One of these is true:

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,

She is as forward of her breeding as

She is i' the rear our birth.


I cannot say 'tis pity

She lacks instructions, for she seems a mistress

To most that teach.


Your pardon, sir; for this

I'll blush you thanks.


My prettiest Perdita!

But O, the thorns we stand upon! Camillo,

Preserver of my father, now of me,

The medicine of our house, how shall we do?

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

Nor shall appear in Sicilia.


My lord,

Fear none of this: I think you know my fortunes

Do all lie there: it shall be so my care

To have you royally appointed as if

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

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

They talk aside



Ha, ha! what a fool Honesty is! and Trust, his

sworn brother, a very simple gentleman! I have sold

all my trumpery; not a counterfeit stone, not a

ribbon, glass, pomander, brooch, table-book, ballad,

knife, tape, glove, shoe-tie, bracelet, horn-ring,

to keep my pack from fasting: they throng who

should buy first, as if my trinkets had been

hallowed and brought a benediction to the buyer:

by which means I saw whose purse was best in

picture; and what I saw, to my good use I

remembered. My clown, who wants but something to

be a reasonable man, grew so in love with the

wenches' song, that he would not stir his pettitoes

till he had both tune and words; which so drew the

rest of the herd to me that all their other senses

stuck in ears: you might have pinched a placket, it

was senseless; 'twas nothing to geld a codpiece of a

purse; I could have filed keys off that hung in

chains: no hearing, no feeling, but my sir's song,

and admiring the nothing of it. So that in this

time of lethargy I picked and cut most of their

festival purses; and had not the old man come in

with a whoo-bub against his daughter and the king's

son and scared my choughs from the chaff, I had not

left a purse alive in the whole army.



Nay, but my letters, by this means being there

So soon as you arrive, shall clear that doubt.


And those that you'll procure from King Leontes--


Shall satisfy your father.


Happy be you!

All that you speak shows fair.


Who have we here?


We'll make an instrument of this, omit

Nothing may give us aid.


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.


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.


I know ye well enough.


Nay, prithee, dispatch: the gentleman is half

flayed already.


Are you in earnest, sir?


I smell the trick on't.


Dispatch, I prithee.


Indeed, I have had earnest: but I cannot with

conscience take it.


Unbuckle, unbuckle.

FLORIZEL and AUTOLYCUS exchange garments

Fortunate mistress,--let my prophecy

Come home to ye!--you must retire yourself

Into some covert: take your sweetheart's hat

And pluck it o'er your brows, muffle your face,

Dismantle you, and, as you can, disliken

The truth of your own seeming; that you may--

For I do fear eyes over--to shipboard

Get undescried.


I see the play so lies

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.


O Perdita, what have we twain forgot!

Pray you, a word.


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

Of this escape and whither they are bound;

Wherein my hope is I shall so prevail

To force him after: in whose company

I shall review Sicilia, for whose sight

I have a woman's longing.


Fortune speed us!

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


The swifter speed the better.



I understand the business, I hear it: to have an

open ear, a quick eye, and a nimble hand, is

necessary for a cut-purse; a good nose is requisite

also, to smell out work for the other senses. I see

this is the time that the unjust man doth thrive.

What an exchange had this been without boot! What

a boot is here with this exchange! Sure the gods do

this year connive at us, and we may do any thing

extempore. The prince himself is about a piece of

iniquity, stealing away from his father with his

clog at his heels: if I thought it were a piece of

honesty to acquaint the king withal, I would not

do't: I hold it the more knavery to conceal it;

and therein am I constant to my profession.

Re-enter Clown and Shepherd

Aside, aside; here is more matter for a hot brain:

every lane's end, every shop, church, session,

hanging, yields a careful man work.


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.


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.


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.


Indeed, brother-in-law was the farthest off you

could have been to him and then your blood had been

the dearer by I know how much an ounce.



Very wisely, puppies!


Well, let us to the king: there is that in this

fardel will make him scratch his beard.



I know not what impediment this complaint

may be to the flight of my master.


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?


To the palace, an it like your worship.


Your affairs there, what, with whom, the condition

of that fardel, the place of your dwelling, your

names, your ages, of what having, breeding, and any

thing that is fitting to be known, discover.


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.


Your worship had like to have given us one, if you

had not taken yourself with the manner.


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-odor from me? reflect I

not on thy baseness court-contempt? Thinkest thou,

for that I insinuate, or toaze from thee thy

business, I am therefore no courtier? I am courtier

cap-a-pe; and one that will either push on or pluck

back thy business there: whereupon I command thee to

open thy affair.


My business, sir, is to the king.


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.


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


How blessed are we that are not simple men!

Yet nature might have made me as these are,

Therefore I will not disdain.


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?


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.


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 beest 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.


If that shepherd be not in hand-fast, let him fly:

the curses he shall have, the tortures he shall

feel, will break the back of man, the heart of monster.


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.


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-vitae or some other hot infusion; then, raw as

he is, and in the hottest day prognostication

proclaims, shall be be set against a brick-wall, the

sun looking with a southward eye upon him, where he

is to behold him with flies blown to death. But what

talk we of these traitorly rascals, whose miseries

are to be smiled at, their offences being so

capital? Tell me, for you seem to be honest plain

men, what you have to the king: being something

gently considered, I'll bring you where he is

aboard, tender your persons to his presence,

whisper him in your behalfs; and if it be in man

besides the king to effect your suits, here is man

shall do it.


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.'


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?


Ay, sir.


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


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.


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.


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 blest in this man, as I may say, even blest.


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.


ACT V. SCENE I: A room in LEONTES' palace.



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,

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

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:

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!

She I kill'd! I did so: but thou strikest 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:

You might have spoken a thousand things that would

Have done the time more benefit and graced

Your kindness better.


You are one of those

Would have him wed again.


If you would not so,

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

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,

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;

For has not the divine Apollo said,

Is't not the tenor 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

As my Antigonus to break his grave

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

Did perish with the infant. 'Tis your counsel

My lord should to the heavens be contrary,

Oppose against their wills.


Care not for issue;

The crown will find an heir: great Alexander

Left his to the worthiest; so his successor

Was like to be the best.


Good Paulina,

Who hast the memory of Hermione,

I know, in honour, O, that ever I

Had squared 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,

And better used, 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,

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'ld bid you mark

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

You chose her; then I'ld 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

Never to marry but by my free leave?


Never, Paulina; so be blest my spirit!


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


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,

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

To see her in your arms.


My true Paulina,

We shall not marry till thou bid'st us.



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

Never till then.

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

Like to his father's greatness: his approach,

So out of circumstance and sudden, tells us

'Tis not a visitation framed, but forced

By need and accident. What train?


But few,

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

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

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,

Will have your tongue too. This is a creature,

Would she begin a sect, might quench the zeal

Of all professors else, make proselytes

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;

Yourself, assisted with your honour'd friends,

Bring them to our embracement. Still, 'tis strange

Exeunt CLEOMENES and others

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,

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 and others, with FLORIZEL and PERDITA

Your mother was most true to wedlock, prince;

For she did print your royal father off,

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,

As I did him, and speak of something wildly

By us perform'd before. Most dearly welcome!

And your fair princess,--goddess!--O, alas!

I lost a couple, that 'twixt heaven and earth

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,

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,

Can send his brother: and, but infirmity

Which waits upon worn times hath something seized

His wish'd ability, he had himself

The lands and waters 'twixt your throne and his

Measured to look upon you; whom he loves--

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

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

Exposed this paragon to the fearful usage,

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,

She came from Libya.


Where the warlike Smalus,

That noble honour'd lord, is fear'd and loved?


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

His tears proclaim'd his, parting with her: thence,

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;

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

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:

For which the heavens, taking angry note,

Have left me issueless; and your father's blest,

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,

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.


Here in your city; I now came from him:

I speak amazedly; and it becomes

My marvel and my message. To your court

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;

Whose honour and whose honesty till now

Endured all weathers.


Lay't so to his charge:

He's with the king your father.


Who? Camillo?


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:

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?


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,

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

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,

Should chase us with my father, power no jot

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

Remember since you owed no more to time

Than I do now: with thought of such affections,

Step forth mine advocate; at your request

My father will grant precious things as trifles.


Would he do so, I'ld beg your precious mistress,

Which he counts but a trifle.


Sir, my liege,

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.


But your petition

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

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


ACY V. SCENE II: Before LEONTES' palace.

Enter AUTOLYCUS and a Gentleman


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

First Gentleman

I was by at the opening of the fardel, heard the old

shepherd deliver the manner how he found it:

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.


I would most gladly know the issue of it.

First Gentleman

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.

Enter another Gentleman

Here comes a gentleman that haply knows more.

The news, Rogero?

Second Gentleman

Nothing but bonfires: the oracle is fulfilled; the

king's daughter is found: such a deal of wonder is

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?

Third Gentleman

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's, her jewel about the neck of it,

the letters of Antigonus found with it which they

know to be his character, the majesty of the

creature in resemblance of the mother, the affection

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?

Second Gentleman


Third Gentleman

Then have you lost a sight, which was to be seen,

cannot be spoken of. There might you have beheld one

joy crown another, so and in such manner that it

seemed sorrow wept to take leave of them, for their

joy waded in tears. There was casting up of eyes,

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.

Second Gentleman

What, pray you, became of Antigonus, that carried

hence the child?

Third Gentleman

Like an old tale still, which will have matter to

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.

First Gentleman

What became of his bark and his followers?

Third Gentleman

Wrecked the same instant of their master's death and

in the view of the shepherd: so that all the

instruments which aided to expose the child were

even then lost when it was found. But O, the noble

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.

First Gentleman

The dignity of this act was worth the audience of

kings and princes; for by such was it acted.

Third Gentleman

One of the prettiest touches of all and that which

angled for mine eyes, caught the water though not

the fish, was when, at the relation of the queen's

death, with the manner how she came to't bravely

confessed and lamented by the king, how

attentiveness wounded his daughter; till, from one

sign of dolour to another, she did, with an 'Alas,'

I would fain say, bleed tears, for I am sure my

heart wept blood. Who was most marble there changed

colour; some swooned, all sorrowed: if all the world

could have seen 't, the woe had been universal.

First Gentleman

Are they returned to the court?

Third Gentleman

No: the princess hearing of her mother's statue,

which is in the keeping of Paulina,--a piece many

years in doing and now newly performed by that rare

Italian master, Julio Romano, who, had he himself

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.

Second Gentleman

I thought she had some great matter there in hand;

for she hath privately twice or thrice a day, ever

since the death of Hermione, visited that removed

house. Shall we thither and with our company piece

the rejoicing?

First Gentleman

Who would be thence that has the benefit of access?

every wink of an eye some new grace will be born:

our absence makes us unthrifty to our knowledge.

Let's along.

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.

Enter Shepherd and Clown

Here come those I have done good to against my will,

and already appearing in the blossoms of their fortune.


Come, boy; I am past moe children, but thy sons and

daughters will be all gentlemen born.


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 gentlemen born: give me the

lie, do, and try whether I am not now a gentleman born.


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


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


And so have I, boy.


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.


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



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.


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?


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.


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.


ACT V. SCENE III: A chapel in PAULINA'S house.



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 vouchsafed,

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,

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

That which my daughter came to look upon,

The statue of her mother.


As she lived peerless,

So her dead likeness, I do well believe,

Excels whatever yet you look'd upon

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.

PAULINA draws a curtain, and discovers HERMIONE standing like 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

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.


So much the more our carver's excellence;

Which lets go by some sixteen years and makes her

As she lived now.


As now she might have done,

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 ashamed: does not the stone rebuke me

For being more stone than it? O royal piece,

There's magic in thy majesty, which has

My evils conjured to remembrance and

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,

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.


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

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,

If I had thought the sight of my poor image

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

I'ld not have show'd it.


Do not draw the curtain.


No longer shall you gaze on't, lest your fancy

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 breathed? and that those veins

Did verily bear blood?


Masterly done:

The very life seems warm upon her lip.


The fixture of her eye has motion in't,

As we are mock'd with art.


I'll draw the curtain:

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

The pleasure of that madness. Let 't alone.


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

I could afflict you farther.


Do, Paulina;

For this affliction has a taste as sweet

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:

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

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

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,

I am content to hear; for 'tis as easy

To make her speak as move.


It is required

You do awake your faith. Then all stand still;

On: those that think it is unlawful business

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,

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

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

Is she become the suitor?


O, she's warm!

If this be magic, let it be an art

Lawful as eating.


She embraces him.


She hangs about his neck:

If she pertain to life let her speak too.


Ay, and make't manifest where she has lived,

Or how stolen from the dead.


That she is living,

Were it but told you, should be hooted at

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;

Our Perdita is found.


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 preserved? where lived? how found

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

Knowing by Paulina that the oracle

Gave hope thou wast in being, have preserved

Myself to see the issue.


There's time enough for that;

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,

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,

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

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

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

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

And son unto the king, who, heavens directing,

Is troth-plight to your daughter. Good Paulina,

Lead us from hence, where we may leisurely

Each one demand an answer to his part

Perform'd in this wide gap of time since first

We were dissever'd: hastily lead away.