The Winter’s Tale simplified

Synopsis

The play opens in Sicilia, where Leontes, Sicilia’s king, is hosting his long-time friend, Polixenes, the king of Bohemia.  These two men have been good friends since they were boys.  The settings for this story include both Sicilia and Bohemia, but one can’t let the geography get in the way.  This is a tale told based on a very long ago fable, long before Shakespeare’s time, we believe. 

Leontes and his queen Hermione have one child, a young son, Mamillius, and we’re told the boy “is a gentleman of the greatest promise.”  The play begins with Leontes doing his best to encourage Polixenes to extend his stay; Polixenes insisting he must leave, saying, “My affairs drag me homeward.”  Hermione actively (too actively as it turns out) joins in her husband’s effort to encourage Polixenes to stay a little longer as their guest.

The geography, as we say, of all the places identified in this play is a little murky, but you just go with it.  Leontes asks his wife “Is he won yet,” Hermione by now having pretty much taken charge of the effort to have Polixenes extend his visit. She responds “He’ll stay my lord.”  But the way Hermione goes about her persuasive appeal to Polixenes so unsettles her husband that he quickly becomes irrationally jealous of what he believes has become a too-close relationship between his wife and Polixenes, saying to himself “she does too playfully touch his hand.”

Leontes calls forward his principal courtier, Camillo, and berates him for being “not honest, a coward, a fool.”  Leontes has become upset with Camillo for not seeing and not telling him about what he irrationally believes has become an adulterous relationship between Polixenes and his wife. Having little choice, his well-being pretty much dependent on the king, Camillo agrees to Leontes’ demand that he kill Polixenes.  Camillo says since “I am his cupbearer; I will poison him.”  Realizing that he “faces ruin whether or not he poisons Polixenes” Camillo defects to Polixenes, telling him that Leontes believes that Polixenes has “touched his queen forbiddenly” and that the king’s instructions to him are “to murder you.” After sizing up this dilemma and how it might play out for both of them, Polixenes and Camillo and their entourage beat a hasty retreat out of Sicilia. 

We soon learn that Hermione is pregnant. She asks Mamillius to “sit by us, and tell ‘s a tale.”  The boy offers to tell a “merry tale” saying “a sad tale’s best for winter.”  Leontes soon confronts his wife directly, calling her an “adult’ress,” saying “’Tis Polixenes had made thee swell thus.”  Leontes sends her to prison.  She has a daughter there in prison.  All along she has graciously defended herself and her honor. Leontes lashes out at his lords, a number of them having questioned his judgment, his having sent his pregnant wife to prison on the flimsiest of evidence. Soon after the child’s birth, Paulina, Antigonus’ wife and Hermione’s lady-in-waiting, takes the baby to Leontes, believing she can win him over. Antigonus is a key aide to Leontes.  When Paulina presents him with the baby, Leontes cries out “This brat is none of mine” and turns to Antigonus saying “Thou, traitor, hast set on thy wife to this.”  A startled Antigonus denies any impropriety, saying “I will do anything possible” to save the child.  Leontes takes him up on it, saying “Thou wilt perform my bidding.”  Leontes then instructs Antigonus to take away the baby girl and to “bear it to some remote and desert place and there leave it.” 

Leontes sends Cleomenes and Dion, his other courtiers, to Delphos on a special assignment to visit the temple of the oracle Apollo; the objective being for them to return with the oracle’s instructions on how he should deal with what he believes to be his wife’s infidelity.  Cleomenes and Dion return with the oracle’s instructions, but we’ll get to the oracle’s insights a little later.  Meanwhile, Leontes instructs his lords to “summon a session to arraign our most disloyal lady.” 

Hermione is brought before the court and calmly and beautifully defends her honor.  But being deaf to her comments, Leontes says “As you were past all shame, so thou shall feel our justice, in whose easiest passage look for no less than death.”  Hermione responds “Sir, spare your threats.”  Cleomenes and Dion enter with officers of the court, an officer saying that these two men “have brought this sealed-up oracle and have not dared to break the holy seal nor read the secrets in ‘t.”  Leontes says “Break up the seals and read.”  We learn that Apollo has proclaimed Hermione “chaste” and “Leontes a jealous tyrant.”  Leontes cries out “There is no truth at all i’ th’ oracle.”  We then learn that Mamillius has died, causing Hermione to collapse.  She is carried away by officers of the court, causing Leontes to acknowledge that perhaps he has overplayed his hand.  Paulina rushes onto the stage, severely and publicly criticizing Leontes; reporting to all that Hermione has died. She then promptly apologizes to the king for her impulsive outburst.

By this time Antigonus has taken the baby to what might be called the outback, leaving the all bundled up child and a box of gold in the “deserts of Bohemia.”  As he places the baby and the box on the ground a bear happens by and chases him, running him down, killing him. A shepherd finds the child and picks her up saying “I’ll take it up for pity.”  The Shepherd’s son, having seen the bear maul Antigonus, arrives, opens the box of gold, and says to his father “If the sins of your youth are forgiven you, you’re well to live. Gold, all gold.”  With the child in one hand and the gold in the other, the Shepherd yells out to his son “This is fairy gold, boy, and ‘twill prove so. Let my sheep go. Come, good boy, the nearest way home.”  The Shepherd’s son soon joins his father, but first leaves to bury Antigonus.

Father Time then enters to let us know that sixteen years have elapsed between acts three and four, and that we should keep our eye on Florizell, Polixenes’ son, and on the beautiful young Perdita “now grown in grace equal to the wonder she inspires in others.” 

Being a little homesick, Camillo, having by now been in Bohemia for sixteen years, tells us that he wants to return to Sicilia saying “the penitent king, my master, having sent for me.”  But Polixenes, needing Camillo’s help, persuades him to stay in Bohemia, concerned as he is that his son Florizell is spending too much time with the Shepherd’s daughter, who, it is said, has “from very nothing grown into a fortune beyond description.”  Polixenes and Camillo make plans to disguise themselves and visit the Shepherd.

On his way to the market “to buy for our sheep-shearing feast” the Shepherd’s son meets the “rogue” Autolycus who convinces him that “a once servant of the prince” has robbed him, beat him and “put on him these detestable things.”  Autolycus then picks the Shepherd’s Son’s pocket.  He lets us know he too will be at the sheep-shearing event.

The sheep-shearing feast begins.  Florizell and Perdita are on stage, Florizell disguised as Doricles.  The two of them realize that she being a shepherd’s daughter and he being a king’s son may well lead to some conflicts, but he says “I’ll be thine or not my father’s.”  The Shepherd and his son enter.  Polixenes and Camillo enter, both disguised.  All are having a good time, singing and dancing.  But as the feast progresses, Polixenes decides that he’s had enough fun and aside says “’Tis time to part Florizell and Perdita.” 

The Shepherd says “I give my daughter to him.”  Florizell responds “Contract us ‘fore these witnesses.”  A still disguised Polixenes interrupts, asking of his son “Have you a father?”  Florizell replies, “I have, but what of him?”  It goes downhill from there, Polixenes angrily removing his disguise, making some choice comments and exiting.  Florizell tells a no-longer-disguised-Camillo in confidence that he and Perdita plan to soon sail away. Camillo comes up with a plan. He suggests to Florizell that they “make for Sicilia” and that he’ll help the two of them get there.  Later, a smooth-talking and disguised Autolycus enters.  Camillo provides him with some cash.  Autolycus, the ultimate con-man, and Florizell willingly exchange clothes. Camillo, Florizell and Perdita exit.  Autolycus says to himself “I understand the business. I hear it.”  He also says he plans to continue his “knavery.”

The Shepherd and his son carry a “bundle and a box” as they move forward on their way to see Bohemia’s king.  The Shepherd’s Son says “There is no other way but to tell the king she’s a child left by the fairies and none of your flesh and blood.”  Autolycus (now dressed as Florizell) emerges and convinces the poor Shepherd and his son that the two of them will be “stoned” and “flayed alive.”  He advises them “the king is not at the palace. He is gone aboard a new ship.”  The Shepherd’s Son says of charming Autolycus “he seems of great authority.”  The Shepherd offers him money.  Autolycus says “Well, give me the half.”  When the Shepherd and his son exit, Autolycus tells us “I will bring these two blind ones aboard the prince’s ship.” 

In Sicilia, Leontes, Paulina, Cleomenes and Dion are having a candid discussion about Hermione, the king’s lack of an heir, and Apollo’s declaration that “There shall be no heir to the king till his child be found.”  Leontes agrees with Paulina that he must “never to marry but by her free leave.” Prince Florizell and Perdita enter, she described by the servant as “The most peerless piece of earth that e’er the sun shone bright on.”  But each time the men mention how attractive the princess is, Paulina reminds them of the beautiful Hermione.  Leontes warmly greets Florizell and says that against your father “I have done sin.” They learn that Polixenes also has recently arrived in Sicilia, is upset with his son, and that he has had the Shepherd and his son arrested.  Perdita cries “O my poor father.”

A gentleman enters exclaiming “The oracle is fulfilled; the king’s daughter is found!”  Another gentleman enters and tells us how “joy waded in tears” when the two kings greeted each other. When asked about Antigonus, one of the gentlemen says “He was torn to pieces with a bear” but that the Shepherd’s Son has “a handkerchief and rings of his.”  The same gentleman tells us that when Paulina saw the now grown-up Perdita she “lifted the princess and locked her to her heart.”  Paulina and the princess leave to “see her mother’s statue, many years in the doing by that rare Italian master, Julio Romano.”  The others also walk into the other room to see the reported replica of the late queen.  Paulina pulls back the curtain “to reveal Hermione as a statue.”  All is quiet as Paulina says “I like your silence. It the more shows off your wonder.”  Perdita and Leontes want to touch the statue, but Paulina cries “Patience, the color’s not dry” and “You’ll mar it if you kiss it.”  Finally Paulina says “Music, awake her!”  Hermione stirs.  Leontes says “O, she’s warm.”  Hermione embraces Leontes.  Perdita kneels. Paulina says “Go together, you precious winners all.”  As the play ends Leontes suggests to Paulina that Camillo will make her a trusted and worthy husband.

Principal Characters

Antigonus.  Antigonus is a courtier in Leontes’ court and is required to take the new born baby girl into the outback and leave her.  Soon after he places the baby and a box of gold on the ground, he is chased down by a bear and killed.  He is Paulina’s husband. 

Autolycus.  Autolycus is a rogue, but a pretty good rogue, and a self-described petty thief, receiving most of his revenue as a pick-pocket.  Shakespeare gave him an important role as one who from time to time helps shift the action.  Before this tale begins, he had been a servant to Florizell.

Camillo.  Camillo is an aide to Leontes, but early on, fearing for his life, leaves for Bohemia with Polixenes, becoming an aide to Polixenes.  For sixteen years he had remained loyal to Polixenes and in self-imposed exile in Bohemia, but then wanted to return to Sicilia.  He gets his chance to return near the end of the story. 

Florizell.  Florizell is Polixenes’ son, the Prince of Bohemia and the heir to the country’s throne.  He falls for the beautiful Perdita, a sixteen year old, raised by the Shepherd, who had found her in the “outback.” 

Hermione.  Hermione is Leontes’ wife and the queen of Sicilia, accused by Leontes of having an adulterous relationship with his boyhood friend, Polixenes, the king of Bohemia. 

Leontes.  Leontes is the king of Sicilia who in an extended jealous rage is told that his queen has died, and that Camillo, his courtier and friend, has fled the country.  Paulina reports that Hermione died (false) on hearing the news that her only child, the heir to Sicilia’s throne, Mamillius, had died (true). 

Paulina.  Paulina is Antigonus’ wife and Hermione’s lady-in-waiting.  She is a calm, strong-willed woman, given a major role by Shakespeare, who once again has a leading woman as a wise and stabilizing influence.

Perdita.  Perdita is the name given by the Shepherd to Leontes and Hermione’s baby daughter, who, wrapped in a bundle, was left to die in the outback, only to be found by the Shepherd and his son; then raised by the Shepherd as his daughter.  As was his habit, Shakespeare has her presented as a beautiful, gracious and talented young woman.

The Play


  • Act 1, Scene 1
  • Camillo and Archidamus are on stage talking. Camillo is a courtier, a friend to Leontes and later to Polixenes. Archidamus is another courtier.
  • ARCHIDAMUS
  • If you shall chance, Camillo, to visit Bohemia you shall see great difference betwixt our Bohemia and your Sicilia.
  • CAMILLO
  • I think this coming summer the King of Sicilia means to pay Bohemia the visitation which he justly owes him. Camillo cannot show himself too 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 make separation of their society, their encounters hath been royally attorneyed with interchange of gifts, letters, loving embassies.
  • ARCHIMDAMUS
  • You have an unspeakable comfort of your young Prince Mamillius. He is a gentleman of the greatest promise that ever came into my note.
  • CAMILLO
  • I very well agree with you in the hopes of him. He is a gallant child --- one that indeed makes old hearts fresh.
  • They exit.
  • Act 1, Scene 2
  • Leontes, Hermione, Mamillius, Polixenes and Camillo are on stage.
  • POLIXENES
  • Nine changes of the moon have been the shepherd’s note since we have left our throne without a burden. We thank you.
  • LEONTES
  • Stay your thanks awhile, and pay them when you part.
  • POLIXENES
  • Sir, that’s tomorrow. I am questioned by my fears of what may chance or breed upon our absence. Besides, I have stayed to tire your Majesty.
  • LEONTES
  • One sev’nnight longer.
  • POLIXENES
  • In truth, tomorrow. There is no tongue that moves, none, i’ th’ world, so soon as yours could win me. My affairs drag me homeward. To save both, farewell, our brother.
  • LEONTES
  • Tongue-tied, our queen?
  • HERMIONE
  • Tell him you are sure all in Bohemia’s well.
  • LEONTES
  • Well said, Hermione.
  • HERMIONE TO POLIXENES
  • Yet of your royal presence I’ll risk the borrowing of a week. When you have Leontes visit you in Bohemia, my lord, I’ll give him my commission to stay there a month. You’ll stay?
  • POLIXENES
  • No, madam.
  • HERMIONE
  • Nay, but you will?
  • POLIXENES
  • I may not, truly.
  • HERMIONE
  • Truly? Truly, you shall not go. A lady’s truly is as potent as a lord’s. 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?
  • POLIXENES
  • Your guest, then, madam.
  • HERMIONE
  • Not your jailer, then, but your kind hostess. Come, I’ll question you of my lord’s tricks and yours when you were boys. You were fine young lads.
  • POLIXENES
  • Two lads that thought to be boy eternal.
  • HERMIONE
  • Was not my lord the more mischievous o’ th’ two?
  • POLIXENES
  • We were as twinned lambs that did frisk i’ th’ sun and bleat the one at th’ other. We knew not the doctrine of ill-doing, nor dreamed that any did.
  • HERMIONE
  • By this we gather you have tripped since.
  • POLIXENES
  • 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 crossed the eyes of my young playfellow.
  • HERMIONE
  • Of this make no conclusion, lest you say your queen and I are devils. Yet go on. Th’ offenses we have made you do we’ll answer.
  • LEONTES
  • Is he won yet?
  • HERMIONE
  • He’ll stay, my lord.
  • LEONTES
  • At my request he would not. Hermione, my dearest, thou never spok’st to better purpose.
  • HERMIONE
  • Never?
  • LEONTES
  • Never but once.
  • HERMIONE
  • What, have I twice said well? When was ’t before? I prithee tell me. My last good deed was to entreat his stay. What was my first?
  • LEONTES
  • Why, that was when three harsh months before I could make thee open thy hand; then didst thou utter ’I am yours forever.?
  • HERMIONE
  • ’Tis grace indeed. Why I have spoke to th’ purpose twice. The one forever earned a royal husband, th’ other for some while a friend.
  • She gives Polixenes her hand.
  •  
  •  
  • Leontes to Himself
  •  
  • I have a trembling heart that dances, but
  • Not for joy; her actions may not be what
  • They seem. I grant it may be a free face
  • Put on; a fertile heartiness from a
  • Generous heart, but the way she doth race
  • To playfully touch his hand as she doth say
  • Much too freely. Women say we are as
  • Like as one egg is to another. Has
  • She become as false as the inconstant
  • Wind; false as dice are to be wished by
  • One who sees ‘twixt us no difference? Can’t
  • She see the boundary? Mehopes I keep my
  • Dagger muzzled lest I let it bite us
  • And prove as weapons do too dangerous
  •  
  • POLIXENES
  • What means Sicilia?
  • HERMIONE
  • He something seems unsettled.
  • POLIXENES
  • How, my lord?
  • LEONTES
  • How is ’t with you, best brother?
  • HERMIONE
  • You look as if you held a barrow of much distraction.
  • LEONTES
  • Mamillius, art thou my boy?
  • MAMILLIUS
  • Ay, my good lord.
  • LEONTES
  • My brother, are you so fond of your young prince as we do seem to be or ours?
  • POLIXENES
  • If at home, sir, he’s all my exercise, my mirth, my matter, my soldier, statesman, all.
  • LEONTES
  • So stands this squire officed with me. Mamillius and I will walk, my lord, and leave you to your graver steps.
  • LEONTES TO HERMIONE
  • Hermione, how thou lov’st us show in our brother’s welcome.
  • HERMIONE
  • If you would seek us, we are yours i’ th’ garden. Shall we attend you there?
  • LEONTES
  • To your own bents dispose you. You’ll be found, be you beneath the sky.
  • LEONTES ASIDE
  • I am angling now, though you perceive me not how I give you latitude.
  • Hermione and Polixenes exit.
  • LEONTES TO MAMILLIUS
  • 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 clamor will be my knell. Go play, boy, play. Many thousand of us have the disease and feel ’t not.
  • MAMILLIUS
  • I am like you, they say.
  • LEONTES
  • Why, that’s some comfort.
  • Camillo comes forward. Mamillius exits.
  • CAMILLO
  • He would not stay at your petitions, made his business more material.
  • LEONTES
  • Didst perceive it? How came ’t, Camillo, that he did stay?
  • CAMILLO
  • At the good queen’s entreaty.
  • LEONTES
  • The lower masses perchance are to this business blind?
  • CAMILLO
  • Business, my lord? I think most understand Bohemia stays here longer.
  • LEONTES
  • Ha? Ay, but why?
  • CAMILLO
  • To satisfy your Highness and the entreaties of our most gracious mistress.
  • LEONTES
  • Satisfy? Th’ entreaties of your mistress? Satisfy? Let that suffice. I have trusted thee, Camillo, but we have been deceived regarding thy integrity, deceived in that which seems so.
  • CAMILLO
  • Be it forbid, my lord!
  • LEONTES
  • To dwell upon it: thou art not honest; or thou art a coward; or else thou must be counted a servant completely in my confidence and therein negligent; or else a fool that seest a game played home, the rich stake drawn, and tak’st it all in jest.
  •  
  •  
  • Camillo to Leontes
  •  
  • My gracious lord, I may negligent be,
  • And foolish, but in these no man is free,
  • For in the fears and folly that here lie
  • Among the infinite doings of the
  • World, his weaknesses sometimes appear. My
  • Lord, it was my folly if I willfully
  • Were ever negligent. If purposely
  • I was being negligent, it was me
  • Playing the fool, not weighing the end. Men
  • Are sometimes hesitant to do a thing. ’Tis
  • A fear that oft infects the wisest when
  • An issue is doubted. Honesty is
  • Ne’er free of these allowed infirmities.
  • Be plainer with me with what your Grace sees.
  •  
  • LEONTES
  • Have you not seen, Camillo? If thou wilt confess, then say my wife deserves a name as rank as any lower class worker. Say it and justify it.
  • CAMILLO
  • You never spoke what did become you less than this.
  • LEONTES
  • Is whispering nothing? Is leaning cheek to cheek? Is meeting noses? Stopping the course of laughter with a sigh? Horsing foot on foot? Is this nothing? Why, then the world and all that’s in ’t is nothing.
  • CAMILLO
  • Good my lord, be cured of this diseased opinion, for ’tis most dangerous.
  • LEONTES
  • Suppose it is dangerous, ’tis true.
  • CAMILLO
  • No, no, my lord.
  • LEONTES
  • It is. You lie, you lie. I say thou liest, Camillo. Were my wife’s liver infected as her life, she would not live the running of one glass.
  • CAMILLO
  • Who does infect her?
  • LEONTES
  • Why, he that wears her like her medal, hanging about his neck --- Bohemia.
  • CAMILLO
  • Sir, my lord, I cannot believe this flaw to be in my dread mistress, so sovereignly being honorable.
  • LEONTES
  • Dost think I am so muddy, so unsettled, to appoint myself in this vexation to give scandal to the blood o’ th’ Prince, my son, who I do think is mine and love as mine. Would I do this?
  • CAMILLO
  • I must believe you, sir. I will kill 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.
  • LEONTES
  • Thou dost advise me even so as I mine own course have set down. I’ll give no blemish to her honor, none.
  • CAMILLO
  • My lord, go then and keep with Bohemia and with your queen. I am his cupbearer. If from me he have wholesome beverage, account me not your servant.
  • LEONTES
  • This is all. Do ’t and thou hast the one half of my heart; do ’t not, thou splitt’st thine own.
  • CAMILLO
  • I’ll do ’t, my lord.
  • LEONTES
  • I will seem friendly, as thou hast advised me.
  • He exits.
  •  
  •  
  • Camillo to Himself
  •  
  • O miserable queen! And too for me;
  • I’m here trapped. I must the poisoner be
  • Of good Polixenes; my reason for
  • Doing it is obedience to a
  • Master, whose every angry thought feeds more
  • Rebellion; but my doing the deed may
  • Lead to promotion. But if I could find
  • One who’d struck a king and flourished I’d mind
  • Not doing it. But since neither brass nor
  • Parchment bears not one let dour villainy
  • Forswear it. I face ruin whether or
  • Not I poison Polixenes. Let me
  • Leave the king’s court and therein disallow
  • This pledge. May a fortunate star reign now.
  •  
  • CAMILLO
  • Here comes Bohemia.
  • Polixenes enters.
  • POLIXENES ASIDE
  • This is strange. Methinks my favor here begins to warp.
  • POLIXENES TO CAMILLO
  • The King hath on him such an appearance as he had lost some province loved as he loves himself. Even now he speeds from me. What is breeding that changes thus his manners?
  • CAMILLO
  • I dare not know, my lord.
  • POLIXENES
  • How, dare not? Do not? You must and cannot say you dare not. Good Camillo, your changed complexions are to me a mirror which shows me mine changed too.
  • CAMILLO
  • There is a sickness, and it is caught of you that yet are well.
  • POLIXENES
  • How caught of me? Camillo, I beseech you, if you know aught which does behoove my knowledge thereof to be informed, imprison ’t not in ignorant concealment.
  • CAMILLO
  • I may not answer.
  • POLIXENES
  • A sickness caught of me, and yet I well? I must be answered. Dost thou hear, Camillo? I appeal to thee to declare what incidency thou dost guess of harm is creeping toward me.
  • CAMILLO
  • Sir, I will tell you. Mark my counsel, which must be e’en as swiftly followed as I mean to utter it, or both yourself and me cry lost, and so goodnight.
  • POLIXENES
  • On, good Camillo.
  • CAMILLO
  • I am appointed him to murder you.
  • POLIXENES
  • By whom, Camillo?
  • CAMILLO
  • By the King.
  • POLIXENES
  • For what?
  • CAMILLO
  • He thinks that you have touched his queen forbiddenly.
  • POLIXENES
  • How should this grow?
  • CAMILLO
  • I know not. But I am sure ’tis safer to avoid what’s grown than question how ’tis born. For myself, I’ll put my fortunes to your service, which are here by this discovery lost. I have uttered truth.
  • POLIXENES
  • I do believe thee. I saw his heart in ’s face. Give me thy hand. 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 he does conceive he is dishonored by a man which ever professed to him, why, his revenges must in that be made more bitter. Fear overshadows me. Come, Camillo, I will respect thee as a father if thou bear’st my life from this time forward. Let us depart.
  • CAMILLO
  • May it please your Highness to take the urgent hour. Come, sir, away.
  • They exit.
  • Act 2, Scene 1
  • Hermione, Mamillius and Ladies are on stage.
  • HERMIONE
  • Take the boy to you. He so troubles me ’tis past enduring.
  • FIRST LADY
  • Come, my gracious lord, shall I be your playfellow?
  • MAMILLIUS
  • No, I’ll none of you.
  • FIRST LADY
  • Hark ye, the queen your mother rounds apace. We shall present our services to a fine new prince one of these days.
  • SECOND LADY
  • She is spread of late into a goodly bulk.
  • HERMIONE
  • Come, sir, now I am for you again. Pray you sit by us, and tell ’s a tale.
  • MAMILLIUS
  • Merry or sad shall ’t be?
  • HERMIONE
  • As merry as you will.
  • MAMILLIUS
  • A sad tale’s best for winter. I have one of sprites and goblins.
  • HERMIONE
  • Let’s have that, good sir.
  • They talk privately. Leontes, Antigonus, and Lords enter.
  • LEONTES
  • Was he met there? His train? Camillo with him?
  • LORD
  • Behind the tuft of pines I met them. I eyed them even to their ships.
  • LEONTES
  • I wish there had been less for me to know. How accursed in being so blest! 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 employed was pre-employed by him.
  • LEONTES TOHERMIONE
  • Give me the boy.
  • HERMIONE
  • What is this? Sport?
  • LEONTES TO THE LADIES
  • Bear the boy hence. He shall not come about her. Away with him.
  • LEONTES TOHERMIONE
  • ’Tis Polixenes has made thee swell thus.
  • A Lady exits with Mamillius.
  • HERMIONE
  • But I’d say he had not, and I’ll be sworn you would believe my saying, howe’er you lean to th’ nayward.
  • LEONTES
  • You, my lords, be but about to say “She is a goodly lady,” and the justice of your hearts will thereto add ?’Tis pity she’s not honest, honorable.? She’s an adult’ress.
  • HERMIONE
  • You, my lord, do but mistake.
  • LEONTES
  • You have mistook, my lady, Polixenes for Leontes. I have said she’s an adult’ress; I have said with whom. More, she’s a traitor, and Camillo is an accomplice with her. Away with her to prison. He who shall speak for her is indirectly guilty but that he speaks.
  • HERMIONE
  • No, by my life, privy to none of this.
  •  
  •  
  • Hermione to Leontes, No. 1
  •  
  • How are you going to grieve when you see
  • More clearly how you have thus denounced me.
  • You will scarcely be able to right me
  • Thoroughly when you realize your mistake.
  • Good my lords, I am not prone to weep; the
  • Lack of wanted tears may perchance forsake
  • Your just pities. But what I have mirrors
  • Grief lodged in this heart that burns more than tears
  • Can drown. Be slow to judge me, lords. ’Tis fit,
  • Your Highness, that my good women may go
  • With me; my late pregnancy requires it.
  • Do not weep for me good friends; there is no
  • Reason. When you know I deserve this route
  • To prison, shed your tears as I come out.
  •  
  • LEONTES
  • Shall I be heard?
  • ANTIGONUS
  • Be certain what you do, sir; lest your justice prove violence, in the which three great ones suffer: yourself, your queen, your son.
  • LORD
  • For her, my lord, I dare my life lay down that the Queen is spotless i’ th’ eyes of heaven, and to you --- I mean in this which you accuse her.
  • ANTIGONUS
  • If it prove she’s otherwise, I’ll keep my stables where I lodge my wife. Ay, every dram of woman’s flesh, is false, if she be
  • LEONTES
  • Hold your peaces
  • ANTIGONUS
  • It is for you we speak, not for ourselves. You are deceived, and by some instigator that will be damned for ’t. Would I knew the villain!
  • LEONTES
  • Cease. No more. You smell this business with a sense as cold as a dead man’s nose
  • ANTIGONUS
  • If it be so, we need no grave to bury honesty
  • LEONTES
  • What? Lack I credit?
  • LORD
  • I had rather you did lack than I, my lord, upon this ground. And more it would content me to have her honor true than your suspicion, be blamed for ’t how you might
  •  
  •  
  • Leontes to Lords
  •  
  • What need we confer with men like yourselves?
  • Our prerogative calls not for counsels,
  • My imparting this to you of my own
  • Natural goodness; informing you we
  • Need no more of your faulty advice sown
  • Since it seems you cannot or will not see
  • Truth as I do. This, lords, you must allow:
  • Either thou art most ignorant or thou
  • Wert all born fools. Camillo’s flight added
  • To the intimacy between the two,
  • Which is as true as ever reason led,
  • Lacking sight only, bearing what we do.
  • Come, we are to attend the public’s call
  • To speak, for this business will rouse us all.
  •  
  • ANTIGONUS ASIDE
  • To laughter, as I take it, if the good truth were known
  • LEONTES
  • Yet, for a greater confirmation, I have dispatched in post to sacred Delphos, to Apollo’s temple, Cleomenes and Dion, whom you know to be more than capable. Now from the oracle they will bring all, whose spiritual counsel once I have received it shall stop or spur me. Have I done well?
  • LORD
  • Well done, my lord
  • They exit
  • Act 2, Scene 2
  • Paulina, a Gentleman, and Paulina’s attendants enter
  • PAULINA TO GENTLEMAN
  • The keeper of the prison, call to him. Let him have knowledge who I am
  • Gentleman exits. Jailer enters with Gentleman
  • PAULINA
  • Now, good sir, you know me, do you not?
  • JAILER
  • For a worthy lady and one who much I honor.
  • PAULINA
  • Pray you then, conduct me to the Queen.
  • JAILER
  • I may not, madam.
  • PAULINA
  • Is ’t lawful, pray you, to see her women? Any of them? Emilia?
  • JAILER
  • So please you, madam, I shall bring Emilia forth.
  • Attendants and Gentleman exit. Emilia with Jailer enter.
  • PAULINA
  • Dear gentlewoman, how fares our gracious lady?
  • EMILIA
  • As well as one so great and so forlorn may hold together. She is somewhat before her time delivered.
  • PAULINA
  • A boy?
  • EMILIA
  • A daughter, and a goodly babe. The Queen receives much comfort in ’t, says “My poor prisoner, I am innocent as you.”
  • PAULINA
  • I dare be sworn. These dangerous unsafe fits of lunacy i’ th’ King, curse them! He must be told on ’t, and he shall. The office becomes a woman best. I’ll take ’t upon me. 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.
  • EMILIA
  • There is no lady living so suitable for this great errand. Please your Ladyship to visit the next room, I’ll presently acquaint the Queen of your most noble offer.
  • PAULINA
  • Tell her, Emilia, I’ll use that tongue I have.
  • EMILIA
  • I’ll to the Queen.
  • JAILER TO PAULINA
  • Madam, if ’t please the Queen to send the babe, I know not what I shall incur to pass it, having no warrant.
  • PAULINA
  • You need not fear it, sir. This child is not a party to the anger of the King, nor guilty of the trespass of the Queen.
  • JAILERialogue">I do believe it.
  • PAULINA
  • Upon mine honor, I will stand betwixt you and danger.
  • They exit.
  • Act 2, Scene 3
  • Leontes enters.
  • LEONTES
  • Neither night nor day any rest. Who’s there?
  • A Servant enters.
  • SERVANT
  • My lord.
  • LEONTES
  • How does the boy?
  • SERVANT
  • He took good rest tonight.
  • LEONTES
  • To see his nobleness, conceiving the dishonor of his mother. He threw off his spirit, his appetite, his sleep, and downright languished. Go, see how he fares.
  • The Servant exits.
  • LEONTES
  • Fie, fie, no thought of him. Camillo and Polixenes laugh at me, make their pastime at my sorrow.
  • Carrying the baby, Paulina, Antigonus and Servants enter.
  • LORD
  • You must not enter.
  • PAULINA
  • Do you fear his tyrannous anger more than you fear the Queen’s life?
  • ANTIGONUS
  • That’s enough.
  • SERVANT
  • Madam, he hath not slept tonight, commanded none should come at him.
  • PAULINA
  • I come to bring him sleep. I do come with words to purge him of that humor that presses him from sleep.
  • LEONTES
  • What noise there, ho’ How? I charged thee that she should not come about me. I knew she would.
  • ANTIGONUS
  • I told her so, my lord.
  • LEONTES
  • What, canst not rule her?
  • PAULINA
  • From all dishonesty he can. In this, he shall not rule me.
  • ANTIGONUS
  • When she will take the rein I let her run, but she’ll not stumble.
  • PAULINA
  • Good my liege, I come. I say I come from your good queen.
  • LEONTES
  • Good queen?
  • PAULINA
  • I say ’good queen.?
  • LEONTES
  • Force her hence.
  • PAULINA
  • Let him that makes but trifles of his eyes first lay hands on me. The good queen, for she is good, hath brought you forth a daughter. Here ’tis.
  • She lays down the baby.
  • LEONTES
  • Out! Hence with her, out o’ door.
  • PAULINA
  • 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.
  • LEONTES
  • Traitors, will you not push her out?
  • LEONTES TOANTIGONUS
  • Give her the bastard. Take up the bastard, take ’t up, I say.
  • PAULINA TOANTIGONUS
  • Forever unvenerable be thy hands if thou tak’st up the Princess by that forced baseness which he has put upon ’t.
  • LEONTES
  • He fears his wife.
  • PAULINA
  • So I would you did.
  • LEONTES
  • A nest of traitors!
  • ANTIGONUS
  • I am none, by this good light.
  • PAULINA
  • Nor I, nor any but one that’s here, and that’s himself.
  • LEONTES
  • 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.
  •  
  •  
  • Paulina to Leontes and the Lords
  •  
  • It is yours, and if we may accuse you,
  • The proverb, she’s the worse for it, you two
  • So alike, fits. Behold, my lords, although
  • The image be little, the contents are
  • The copy of the father. She doth owe
  • Her eyes, nose, and lips to him, not a mar
  • Here seen. She has the dimples of his chin
  • And cheeks, and has the trick of his frown. In
  • Her hands and fingers, she has his very
  • Mold and frame. And thou, good goddess Nature,
  • Making her like him that got her, if thee
  • Provides order to the mind too, let her
  • ’Mongst all colors have no yellow in as
  • He does to suspect her child as he has.
  •  
  • LEONTES
  • A gross hag! I’ll ha’ thee burnt.
  • PAULINA
  • I care not. It is a heretic that makes the fire, not she which burns in ’t.
  • LEONTES TOANTIGONUS
  • On your allegiance, out of the chamber with her! Away with her!
  • PAULINA
  • I pray you do not push me; I’ll be gone. Look to your babe, my lord; ’tis yours.
  • She exits.
  • LEONTES TOANTIGONUS
  • Thou, traitor, hast set on thy wife to this. My child? Take it hence and see it instantly consumed with fire. Even thou, and none but thou. Within this hour bring me word ’tis done, and by good testimony, or I’ll seize thy life. Go, take it to the fire, for thou sett’st on thy wife.
  • ANTIGONUS
  • I did not, sir. These lords can clear me in ’t.
  • LORDS
  • We can, my royal liege.
  • LEONTES
  • You’re liars all.
  • LORD
  • Beseech your Highness, give us better credit. We have always truly served you. We all knell.
  • LEONTES
  • 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.
  • LEONTES TOANTIGONUS
  • You that have been so tenderly officious to save this bastard’s life --- for ’tis a bastard, so sure as this beard’s gray. What will you adventure to save this brat’s life?
  • ANTIGONUS
  • Anything, my lord. Anything possible.
  • LEONTES
  • It shall be possible. Swear by this sword thou wilt perform my bidding.
  • Antigonus places his hand on the hilt.
  • ANTIGONUS
  • I will, my lord.
  • LEONTES
  • We direct thee 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 favor of the climate. Take it up.
  • ANTIGONUS
  • I swear to do this, though a present death had been more merciful.
  • He picks up the baby.
  • ANTIGONUS
  • Some powerful spirit instruct the hawks and ravens to be thy nurses!
  • ANTIGONUS TOLEONTES
  • Sir, be prosperous in more than deed does require. Poor thing, condemned to loss.
  • He exits, carrying the baby.
  • LEONTES
  • No, I’ll not rear another’s issue.
  • A Servant enters.
  • SERVANT
  • Please your Highness, posts from those you sent to th’ oracle are come an hour since. Cleomenes and Dion, being well arrived from Delphos, are both landed, hasting to th’ court.
  • LORD TO LEONTES
  • Sir, their speed hath been beyond account.
  • LEONTES
  • Twenty-three days they have been absent. 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. Leave me, and think upon my bidding.
  • They exit.
  • Act 3, Scene 1
  • Cleomenes and Dion are on stage.
  • CLEOMENES
  • The climate’s delicate, the air most sweet, fertile the Delphos, the temple much surpassing the usual praise it bears.
  • DION
  • O, the sacrifice, how ceremonious, solemn, and unearthly it was i’ the off’ring!
  • CLEOMENES
  • But of all, the burst and the ear-deaf’ning voice o’ th’ oracle, kin to Jove’s thunder.
  • DION
  • If th’ event o’ th’ journey prove as successful to the Queen --- O, be ’t so!
  • CLEOMENES
  • Great Apollo turn all to th’ best! These proclamations, so forcing faults upon Hermione, I little like.
  • DION
  • Something rare even then will rush to knowledge.
  • They exit.
  • Act 3, Scene 2
  • Leontes, Lords and Officers enter.
  • LEONTES
  • Let us be cleared of being tyrannous, since we so openly proceed in justice. Produce the prisoner.
  • Hermione, Paulina and Ladies enter.
  • OFFICER
  • Silence.
  • LEONTES
  • Read the indictment.
  • OFFICER READS
  • Hermione, queen 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.
  • HERMIONE
  • 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.?
  •  
  •  
  • Hermione to the Court
  •  
  • If powers divine behold our human
  • Actions, I doubt not that innocence can
  • Make false accusers blush and tyranny
  • Tremble at suffering endured. You, my
  • Lord, know my past life’s been true, and know me
  • For my marked self-restraint; as chaste as I
  • Am now unhappy. This trial is greater
  • Than drama, set to charm each spectator.
  • Behold me, a queen, the mother of a
  • Promising prince, but standing before what
  • Is a show, prating on with this to say:
  • I prize life much as I value grief. But
  • Honor ’tis the derivative I send
  • To my children, and that’s what I defend.
  •  
  • LEONTES
  • I ne’er heard yet that any of these bolder vices lacked any less shameless insolence to gainsay what they did than to perform it first.
  • HERMIONE
  • That’s true enough, though ’tis a saying, sir, not due to me.
  • LEONTES
  • You will not acknowledge it.
  • HERMIONE
  • For Polixenes, with whom I am accused, I do confess I loved him as in honor he required with such a kind of love as might become a lady like me. Your friend, whose love had spoke even since it could speak, from an infant, freely that it was yours. Why Camillo left your court, the gods themselves, knowing no more than I, are ignorant.
  • LEONTES
  • You knew of his departure, as you know what you have underta’en to do in ’s absence.
  • HERMIONE
  • You speak a language that I understand not.
  • LEONTES
  • As you are past all shame, thou shalt feel our justice, in whose easiest passage look for no less than death.
  • HERMIONE
  • Sir, spare your threats.
  •  
  •  
  • Hermione to Leontes, No. 2
  •  
  • Can life for me have such benefit? I
  • Claim as lost the crown and comfort of my
  • Life, your favor, knowing not how it went.
  • I am barred like one infectious from my
  • Second comfort, the first fruit the gods sent,
  • My son. My third joy’s been taken, and I
  • By sheriffs proclaimed a strumpet; lastly
  • Hurried here to this place for all to see
  • Without bed rest from childbirth. Now, tell me
  • What blessings have I here alive that I
  • Should fear to die? Mistake not that I be
  • Here to prize life; rather my honor. My
  • Good lords all. To end this personal woe
  • I’ll submit to the word from Apollo.
  •  
  • LORD
  • This your request is altogether just. Therefore bring forth, and in Apollo’s name, his oracle.
  • Officers exit.
  • HERMIONE
  • The Emperor of Russia was my father. O, that he were alive and here beholding his daughter’s trial.
  • Cleomenes and Dion enter with officers. An Officer presents a sword.
  • OFFICER
  • You here shall swear upon this sword of justice that you, Cleomenes and Dion, have been both at Delphos, and from thence have brought this sealed-up oracle, by the hand delivered of great Apollo’s priest, and that since have not dared to break the holy seal nor read the secrets in ’t.
  • CLEOMENES AND DION
  • All this we swear.
  • LEONTES
  • Break up the seals and read.
  • OFFICER READS
  • 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.
  • LORDS
  • Now blessed be the great Apollo!
  • LEONTES
  • Hast thou read truth?
  • OFFICER
  • Ay, my lord, even so as all i’ th’ oracle.
  • LEONTES
  • There is no truth at all i’ th’ oracle. The sessions shall proceed. This is mere falsehood.
  • A Servant enters.
  • SERVANT
  • My lord the King!
  • LEONTES
  • What is the business?
  • SERVANT
  • O sir, the Prince your son is gone.
  • LEONTES
  • How? Gone?
  • SERVANT
  • Is dead.
  • LEONTES
  • Apollo’s angry, and the heavens themselves do strike at my injustice.
  • Hermione falls.
  • PAULINA
  • This news is mortal to the Queen.
  • LEONTES
  • Take her hence. Her heart is but o’ercharged. She will recover. Beseech you, tenderly apply to her some remedies for life.
  • Paulina exits with Officers carrying Hermione.
  • LEONTES
  • 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 and mercy.
  • Paulina enters.
  • PAULINA
  • Woe the while!
  • LORD
  • What fit is this, good lady?
  • PAULINA TO LEONTES
  • What studied torments, tyrant, hast for me? What old or newer torture must I receive?
  •  
  •  
  • Paulina to Leontes
  •  
  • O, think what you have done. Thy tyranny
  • Together working with thy jealousy
  • Have with your fooleries led to this woe,
  • But a trace of what you have now done. That
  • Thou betrayedst Polixenes did show
  • Thee an ungrateful fool, as it did at
  • Poisoning good Camillo’s honor, to
  • Have him kill a king. Satan could not do
  • Without shedding tears what you have done by
  • Casting forth thy baby daughter to the
  • Crows. The death of the young prince does not lie
  • At your feet, but you’re not so vengeance free
  • From the state of the Queen. It was just said
  • To me: the sweet’st, dear’st creature’s dead.
  •  
  • LORD
  • The higher powers forbid!
  • PAULINA
  • I say she’s dead. I’ll swear ’t. If word nor oath prevail not, go and see. 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.
  • LEONTES
  • Go on, go on. I have deserved all tongues to talk their bitt’rest.
  • LORD TO PAULINA
  • Say no more.
  • PAULINA
  • I am sorry for ’t. I do repent. Alas, I have showed too much the rashness of a woman. He is touched to th’ noble heart. What’s gone and what’s past help should be past grief. Now, good my liege, sir, royal sir, forgive a foolish woman. I’ll speak of her no more, nor of your children.
  • LEONTES
  • Thou didst speak only the truth. 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. Come, and lead me to these sorrows.
  • They exit.
  • Act 3, Scene 3
  • A Mariner and Antigonus carrying the babe enter.
  • ANTIGONUS
  • Thou art perfect, then, our ship hath touched upon the deserts of Bohemia?
  • MARINER
  • Ay, my lord, and fear we have landed in ill time. The skies look grimly and threaten present blusters.
  • ANTIGONUS
  • Go, get aboard. Look to thy ship. I’ll not be long before I call upon thee.
  • MARINER
  • Make your best haste, and go not too far i’ th’ land. ’Tis like to be loud weather.
  • ANTIGONUS
  • Go thou away. I’ll follow instantly.
  • Mariner exits.
  • ANTIGONUS
  • Come, poor babe. I do believe Hermione hath suffered 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 true father. Blossom, prosper thee well.
  • He lays down the baby, a bundle, and a box. Thunder cracks.
  • ANTIGONUS
  • Poor wretch, that for thy mother’s fault art thus exposed to loss and what may follow. Farewell, the day frowns more and more. I never saw the heavens so dim by day.
  • Thunder and sounds of hunting.
  • ANTIGONUS
  • This is the chase. I am gone forever.
  • He exits, pursued by a bear. A Shepherd enters.
  •  
  •  
  • Shepherd to Himself
  •  
  • I wish there were no age in-between ten
  • And twenty, or that they were slept through, when
  • There is nothing ’tween but wenches getting
  • Children, stealing, youngsters wronging elders,
  • Fighting. Would any of those be hunting
  • In this weather, weather no one deserves?
  • Mercy, what have we here? A newborn child,
  • A pretty one, one left here in the wild,
  • Surely the result of some transgression.
  • Though I be not bookish, I can read more
  • Gentlewoman than strumpet. What’s been done
  • Was done behind closed doors, secretly, for
  • Warmer they that ’got this than the baby
  • Is out here. I’ll take it up for pity.
  •  
  • The Shepherd’s son enters.
  • SHEPHERD
  • What ail’st thou, man?
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • I have seen two such sights, by sea and by land.
  • SHEPHERD
  • Why, boy, how is it?
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • O, the most piteous cry of the poor souls! Sometimes to see ’em, and not to see ’em. Now the ship boring the moon and her mainmast, and immediately swallowed with yeast and froth. 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 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.
  • SHEPHERD
  • Name of mercy, when was this, boy?
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • Now, now.
  • SHEPHERD
  • Heavy matter, heavy matters. Now bless thyself. Thou met’st with things dying, I with things newborn. Look thee here. Take up, take up, boy. Open ’t. So, let’s see. What’s within, boy?
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • Gold, all gold.
  • SHEPHERD
  • This is fairy gold, boy, and ’twill prove so. Up with ’t, keep it close. Home, home, the nearest way. Let my sheep go. Come, good boy, the nearest way home.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • Go you the nearest way with your findings. If there be any of him left, I’ll bury it.
  • SHEPHERD
  • That’s a good deed. ’Tis a lucky day, boy, and we’ll do good deed on ’t.
  • They exit.
  • Act 4, Scene 1
  • Father Time enters with wings on his back and an hourglass in his hand.
  •  
  •  
  • Time to Himself
  •  
  • I now take upon me to use my wings.
  • In the name of Time, as the one who brings
  • Swift passage as I slide o’er sixteen years,
  • Since it is my power to o’erthrow law
  • And custom, and to leave alone the fears
  • Of that wide gap, allowing you to say
  • You had slept between the acts. Leontes
  • We leave, and imagine each of you sees
  • Me in Bohemia. I mentioned the
  • King’s son, which Florizell I now name to
  • You, and speed to speak of Perdita, a
  • Shepherd’s daughter, grown in grace and by you
  • Seen as an inspiration, the god’s sign,
  • And what follows here is the theme of mine.
  •  
  • He exits.
  • Act 4, Scene 2
  • Polixenes and Camillo are on stage.
  • POLIXENES
  • Good Camillo, ’tis a sickness denying thee anything, a death to grant this.
  • CAMILLO
  • It is fifteen years since I saw my country. The penitent king, my master, hath sent for me.
  • POLIXENES
  • The need I have of thee thine own goodness hath made. Thou must either stay to execute my businesses thyself or take away with thee the very services thou hast done. Of that fatal country Sicilia, prithee speak no more, whose very naming punishes me with the remembrance of that penitent, as thou call’st him, and reconciled king whose loss of his most precious queen and children are even now to be afresh lamented. Say to me, when sawst thou the Prince Florizell, my son?
  • CAMILLO
  • Sir, it is three days since I saw the Prince. What his happier affairs may be are to me unknown.
  • POLIXENES
  • I have this intelligence: that he is seldom from the house of a most homely shepherd, a man, they say, that from very nothing is grown into a fortune beyond description.
  • CAMILLO
  • I have heard, sir, of such a man, who hath a daughter of most rare distinction.
  • POLIXENES
  • That’s likewise part of my intelligence, but, I fear, the fishhook that plucks our son thither. Thou shalt accompany us to the place, where we will have some question with the shepherd. Prithee, lay aside the thoughts of Sicilia.
  • CAMILLO
  • I willingly obey your command.
  • POLIXENES
  • My best Camillo. We must disguise ourselves.
  • They exit.
  • Act 4, Scene 3
  • Autolycus, the rogue and confidence man, is on stage.
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • I have served Prince Florizell, but now I am out of service. My father named me Autolycus, who, being, as I am, was likewise a thief of unconsidered trifles. My revenue is the petty theft.
  • The Shepherd’s son enters. Autolycus lies down.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • 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?
  • Autolycus writhes in pain
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • O, that ever I was born!
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • I’ th’ name of me!
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • O, help me, help me! Pluck but off these rags, and then death, death.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • Alack, poor soul, thou hast need of more rags to lay on thee rather than have these off.
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • I am robbed, sir, and beaten, my money and apparel ta’en from me, and these detestable things put upon me.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • Lend me thy hand; I’ll help thee.
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • O, good sir, softly. I fear, sir, my shoulder blade is out.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • Canst stand?
  • Autolycus steals the Shepherd’s Son’s purse.
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • Softly, good sir. You ha’ done me an act of kindness.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • Dost lack any money? I have a little money for thee.
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • No good sweet sir, no, I beseech you. Offer me no money, I pray you; that kills my heart.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • What manner of fellow was he that robbed you?
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • I knew him once a servant of the Prince.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • His vices, you would say.
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • Vices, I would say, sir. I know this man well. Having flown over many knavish professions, he settled only on rogue. Some call him Autolycus.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • Out upon him! He haunts wakes, fairs, and bearbaitings.
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • That’s the rogue that put me into this apparel.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • How do you now?
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • Sweet sir, much better than I was. I can stand and walk.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • Then fare thee well. I must go buy spices for our sheep-shearing.
  • Shepherd’s Son exits.
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • Your purse is too empty to purchase your spice. I’ll be with you at your sheep-shearing too.
  • He exits.
  • Act 4, Scene 4
  • Florizell and Perdita are on stage. Florizell is disguised and has assumed the name of Doricles.
  • FLORIZELL
  • These your unusual garments does to each part of you give a vitality. This your sheep-shearing is as a meeting of the petty gods, and you the queen on ’t.
  • PERDITA
  • Sir, my gracious lord, to chide at your praise not becomes me. Your high self, the object of attention throughout the country, and me, poor lowly maid, most goddesslike dressed up.
  • FLORIZELL
  • I bless the time when my good falcon made her flight across thy father’s ground.
  • PERDITA
  • Even now I tremble to think your father by some accident should pass this way as you did. What would he say? Or how should I, in these my borrowed finery, behold the sternness of his presence?
  • FLORIZELL
  • Anticipate nothing but jollity.
  • PERDITA
  • O, but sir, your resolution cannot hold when ’tis opposed, as it must be, by th’ power of the King.
  • FLORIZELL
  • Thou dear’st Perdita, with these forced thoughts I prithee darken not the mirth o’ th’ feast. Or I’ll be thine, my fair, or not my father’s. For I cannot be mine own if I be not thine. Be merry, gentle. Your guests are coming. Look up as if it were the day of celebration of that nuptial which we two have sworn shall come.
  • PERDITA
  • O Lady Fortune, stand you auspicious!
  • The Shepherd, the Shepherd’s Son, Servants, Musicians along with Polixenes and Camillo in disguise enter.
  • SHEPHERD
  • Fie, daughter, pray you bid these unknown friends to ’s welcome, for it is a way to make us better friends, more known. Come on, and bid us welcome to your sheep-shearing.
  • PERDITA TO POLIXENES
  • Sir, welcome. It is my father’s will I should take on me to be the hostess o’ th’ day.
  • PERDITA TO CAMILLO
  • You’re welcome, sir. Give me those flowers there.
  • POLIXENES
  • Shepherdess --- a fair one are you --- well you fit our ages with flowers of winter. You see, sweet maid, we graft a more cultivated twig to the wildest stock to produce a nobler flower from this baser bark, changing nature, the art of nature itself.
  • PERDITA
  • So it is. Sir, the year growing ancient, not yet on summer’s death nor on the birth of trembling winter, the fairest flowers o’ th’ season are our carnations. Here’s flowers for you: the marigold, that goes to bed wi’ th’ sun and with him rises wet with dew. These are flowers of middle summer, and I think they are given to men of middle age.
  • CAMILLO
  • I should leave grazing, were I of your flock, and only live by gazing.
  • PERDITA
  • Out, alas! You’d be so lean that blasts of January would blow you through and through.
  • PERDITA TO FLORIZELL
  • Now, my fair’st friend, I would I had some flowers o’ th’ spring, that might become your time of day. Come, take your flowers. Methinks I play as I have seen them do. Sure this robe of mine does change my disposition.
  • FLORIZELL
  • What you do still betters what is done. Each thing you do, so singular in particular, whatever you are doing at the moment are acts of queens.
  • PERDITA
  • O, Doricles, your praises are too large. If it were not that your true disposition shows plainly through, proclaiming you pure and morally unsullied. With wisdom I might fear you wooed me the false way.
  • FLORIZELL
  • I think you have as little reason to fear as I have purpose to put you to ’t. But come, our dance, I pray. Your hand, my Perdita.
  • POLIXENES TO CAMILLO
  • This is the prettiest lowborn lass that ever ran on the greensward. Nothing she does or seems but smacks of something greater than herself, too noble for this place.
  • CAMILLO
  • Good sooth, she is the queen of curds and cream.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON TO MUSICIANS
  • Come on, strike up.
  • Music begins. Shepherds and Shepherdesses dance.
  • POLIXENES
  • Pray, good shepherd, what fair suitor is this which dances with your daughter.
  • SHEPHERD
  • They call him Doricles. He looks like sooth. He says he loves my daughter. And, to be plain, I think there is not half a kiss to choose who loves another best.
  • POLIXENES
  • She dances gracefully.
  • SHEPHERD
  • So she does anything, though I report it that should be silent.
  • A Servant enters.
  • SERVANT
  • O, master, if you did but hear the peddler at the door, you would never dance again after a drum and pipe; no, the bagpipe could not move you.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • He could never come better. He shall come in.
  • SERVANT
  • He hath songs for man or woman, of all sizes. He has the prettiest love songs for maids.
  • POLIXENES
  • This is a brave fellow.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • Has he any undamaged wares?
  • SERVANT
  • He hath ribbons of all the colors i’ th’ rainbow.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • Prithee bring him in, and let him approach singing.
  • PERDITA
  • Forewarn him that he has no scurrilous words in ’s tunes.
  • Servant exits.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • You have of these peddlers that have more in them than you’d think, sister.
  • PERDITA
  • Ay, good brother, or have any desire to think.
  • Autolycus wearing a false beard enters singing.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • Come on, lay it by, and let’s first see more ballads.
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • This is a merry ballad, but a very pretty one.
  • He sings and then exits. The Servant enters.
  • POLIXENES TO FLORIZELL
  • Master, there are three dancers that call themselves leapers.
  • SHEPHERD
  • Away! We’ll none on ’t. Here has been too much homely foolery already.
  • POLIXENES
  • Pray, let’s see these herdsmen.
  • SHEPHERD
  • Let them come in --- but quickly now.
  • He admits the herdsmen. The herdsmen, dressed as Satyrs, dance. The Herdsmen, Musicians and Servants exit.
  • POLIXENES ASIDE TO CAMILLO
  • Is it not too far gone? ’Tis time to part Florizell and Perdita.
  • POLIXENES TO FLORIZELL
  • Sooth, when I was young and handed love, as you do, I was wont to load my she with trinkets. You have let him go and bought nothing from him.
  • FLORIZELL
  • I know she prizes not such trifles as these are. The gifts she looks from me are packed and locked up in my heart, which I have given already.
  • POLIXENES
  • I have put you out. Let me hear what you profess.
  • FLORIZELL
  • Do, and be witness to ’t.
  • POLIXENES
  • And this my neighbor too?
  • FLORIZELL
  • And he. That I were crowned 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.
  • POLIXENES
  • Fairly offered.
  • CAMILLO
  • This shows a sound affection.
  • SHEPHERD
  • But my daughter, say you the like to him?
  • PERDITA
  • I cannot speak so well, nothing so well, no, nor mean better.
  • SHEPHERD
  • Take hands, a bargain. I give my daughter to him and will make her portion equal his.
  • FLORIZELL
  • O, that must be i’ th’ virtue of your daughter. But come on, contract us fore these witnesses.
  • SHEPHERD
  • Come, your hand --- and daughter, yours.
  • POLIXENES TO FLORIZELL
  • Soft, suitor, awhile, beseech you. Have you a father?
  • FLORIZELL
  • I have, but what of him?
  • POLIXENES
  • Knows he of this?
  • FLORIZELL
  • He neither does nor shall.
  • POLIXENES
  • Methinks a father is at the nuptial of his son a guest that best becomes the table. Pray you once more, is not your father grown incapable of reasonable affairs? Is he stupid with age and alt’ring rheums?
  • FLORIZELL
  • No, good sir. He has his health and ampler strength indeed than most have of his age.
  • POLIXENES
  • By my white beard, you offer him, if this be so, a wrong something unbecoming to a dutiful son. It is reasonable that a son should choose himself a wife, but as good reason the father should hold some counsel in such a business.
  • FLORIZELL
  • I yield all this; but for some other reasons which ’tis not fit you know, I not acquaint my father of this business.
  • POLIXENES
  • Let him know ’t.
  • FLORIZELL
  • He shall not. He must not.
  • SHEPHERD
  • Let him, my son. He shall not need to grieve at knowing of thy choice.
  • FLORIZELL
  • Come, come, he must not. Mark our contract.
  • Polixenes removes his disguise.
  • POLIXENES
  • Mark your divorce, young sir, whom son I dare not call.
  • POLIXENES TO SHEPHERD
  • Thou, old traitor, I am sorry that by hanging thee I can but shorten thy life one week.
  • POLIXENES TO PERDITAD
  • And thou, young masterpiece of excellent witchcraft, whom of force most know the royal fool you have to do with --- I’ll have thy beauty scratched with briers and made more homely than thy state.
  • SHEPHERD
  • O, my heart!
  • POLIXENES
  • For thee, fond boy, we’ll bar thee from succession, not hold thee of our blood, no, not our kin. Mark thou my words. Follow us to the court.
  • POLIXENES TO SHEPHERD
  • Thou, churl, for this time, thought full of our displeasure, yet we free thee from the deadly blow of it.
  • He exits.
  • PERDITA
  • Even here ruined.
  • PERDITA TO FLORIZELL
  • 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 milk my ewes and weep.
  • CAMILLO TO SHEPHERD
  • Why, how now, father? Speak before thou diest.
  • SHEPHERD
  • I cannot speak, nor think, nor dare to know that which I know.
  • SHEPHERD TO FLORIZELL
  • O sir, you have undone a man of fourscore three, that thought to fill his grave in quiet, but now some hangman must put on my shroud and lay me where no priest shovels in dust.
  • SHEPHERD TO PERDITA
  • O cursed wretch, that knew’st this was the Prince, and wouldst adventure to mingle faith with him! If I might die within this hour, I have lived to die when I desire.
  • He exits.
  • FLORIZELL TO PERDITA
  • Why look you so upon me? I am but sorry, delayed, but nothing altered.
  • CAMILLO
  • Gracious my lord, you know your father’s temper. Then, till the fury of his Highness settle, come not before him.
  • FLORIZELL
  • I not intend to offer. I think Camillo?
  • Camillo removes his disguise.
  • PERDITA TO FLORIZELL
  • How often have I told you ’twould be thus?
  • FLORIZELL
  • Look up. From my succession wipe me, father. I am heir to my affection.
  • CAMILLO
  • Be advised.
  • FLORIZELL
  • I have reason. If not, my senses, better pleased with madness, do bid it welcome.
  • CAMILLO
  • This is desperate, sir.
  •  
  •  
  • Florizell to Camillo
  •  
  • So call it; but it does fulfill my vow.
  • My honesty does not other allow,
  • Camillo. Not for Bohemia nor
  • The pomp that may be got from its ruling;
  • For all the sun sees, the closed earth holds or
  • The profound seas hide will I dare breaking
  • My oath to my beloved. I pray you, though
  • He shall miss me, as his friend let him know
  • I mean not to see him anymore. I
  • Must put to sea and with her plan to start
  • Sailing, my vessel at anchor nearby,
  • But we remain unprepared to depart.
  • There will be no clue what course I plan to
  • Hold, nor is it my concern to tell you.
  •  
  • CAMILLO
  • O my lord.
  • FLORIZELL
  • Hark, Perdita.
  • Florizell and Perdita walk aside.
  • CAMILLO
  • He’s inflexible, 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 honor, purchase the sight again of dear Sicilia and that unhappy king whom I so much thirst to see.
  • Florizell comes forward.
  • FLORIZELL
  • Now, good Camillo, I am fraught with matters that cause me anxiety.
  • CAMILLO
  • Sir, I think you have heard of my services i’ th’ love that I have borne your father?
  • FLORIZELL
  • Very nobly have you deserved. It is my father’s delight to speak your deeds.
  • CAMILLO
  • If you may please to think I love the King and, through him, what’s nearest to him, which is your gracious self, embrace but my direction. I’ll point you where you shall have such receiving as shall become your Highness, where you may enjoy your mistress, and marry her, and with my best endeavors in your absence bring your father up to liking.
  • FLORIZELL
  • How, Camillo, may this be done?
  • CAMILLO
  • Have you thought on a place whereto you’ll go?
  • FLORIZELL
  • Not any yet.
  • CAMILLO
  • Then listen to me. Make for Sicilia, and there present yourself and your fair princess ’fore Leontes. Methinks I see Leontes opening his free arms and weeping his welcomes forth, asks thee, the son, forgiveness, as ’twere i’ th’ father’s person.
  • FLORIZELL
  • Worthy Camillo, what pretext for my visitation shall I hold up before him?
  • CAMILLO
  • Sent by the King your father to greet him and to give him comforts. Things known betwixt us three, I’ll write you down, the which shall point you forth at every sitting what you must say.
  • FLORIZELL
  • I am bound to you.
  • CAMILLO
  • A course more promising than a wild dedication of yourselves to unpathed waters.
  • FLORIZELL
  • Camillo, preserver of my father, now of me, the medicine of our house, how shall we do? We are not furnished like Bohemia’s son, nor shall appear as such in Sicilia.
  • CAMILLO
  • My lord, fear none of this. I think you know my fortunes do all lie there. It shall be so my care to have you royally appointed as if the scene you play were mine.
  • They step aside and talk. Autolycus enters.
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • Ha, ha, what a fool honesty is! I have sold all my worthless items. They throng who should buy first, as if my trinkets had been hallowed and brought a benediction to the buyer. And had not the shepherd come in with a hubbub against his daughter and the King’s son, I had not left a purse alive in the whole army.
  • Camillo, Florizell and Perdita come forward.
  • CAMILLO TO FLORIZELL
  • Nay, but my letters, by this means being there as soon as you arrive, shall clear that doubt.
  • FLORIZELL
  • And those that you’ll procure from King Leontes ---
  • CAMILLO
  • Shall satisfy your father.
  • PERDITA
  • All that you speak shows fair.
  • Camillo notes Autolycus.
  • CAMILLO
  • Who have we here?
  • AUTOLYCUS ASIDE
  • If they have overheard me now, why, hanging.
  • CAMILLO
  • How now, good fellow? Why shak’st thou so? Here’s no harm intended to thee.
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • I am a poor fellow, sir.
  • CAMILLO
  • Here’s nobody will steal that from thee. Yet for the outside of thy poverty we must make an exchange. Therefore undress thee instantly and change garments with this gentleman. Here’s something in addition.
  • He hands Autolycus money.
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • I am a poor fellow, sir.
  • AUTOLYCUS ASIDE
  • I know you well enough.
  • Florizell and Autolycus exchange garments.
  • CAMILLO
  • Fortune mistress, you must withdraw yourself into come thicket. And, as you can, disguise the truth of your own seeming, that you may to shipboard arrive undiscovered.
  • PERDITA
  • I see the play so lies that I must bear a part.
  • FLORIZELL
  • Should I now meet my father, he would not call me son.
  • CAMILLO
  • Farewell, my friend.
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • Adieu, sir.
  • FLORIZELL
  • O Perdita, what have we two forgot?
  • They talk aside.
  • CAMILLO ASIDE
  • What I do next shall be to tell the King of this escape, and whither they are bound; wherein my hope is I shall so prevail to force him after, in whose company I shall re-view Sicilia, for whose sight I have an intense longing.
  • FLORIZELL
  • Fortune speed us! Thus we set on, Camillo, to th’ seaside.
  • CAMILLO
  • The swifter speed the better.
  • Camillo, Florizell and Perdita exit.
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • I understand the business: I hear it. The Prince is engaged in a piece of iniquity, stealing away from his father with Perdita 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.
  • The Shepherd’s Son and shepherd, carrying the bundle and the box enter. Autolycus moves aside.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON TO SHEPHERD
  • See, see, what a man you are now! There is no other way but to tell the King she’s a child left by the fairies and none of your flesh and blood.
  • SHEPHERD
  • Nay, but hear me.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • 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.
  • SHEPHERD
  • I will tell the King all, every word, yea, and his son’s pranks too; who, I may say, is no honest man, neither to his father nor to me, to go about to make me the King’s brother-in-law.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • Indeed.
  • AUTOLYCUS ASIDE
  • Very wisely, puppies.
  • SHEPHERD
  • Well, let us to the King.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • Pray heartily he be at the palace.
  • AUTOLYCUS ASIDE
  • Though I am not naturally honest, I am so sometimes by chance.
  • He removes his false beard.
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • How not, rustics, whither are you bound?
  • SHEPHERD
  • To th’ palace.
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • Your affairs there? What, with whom, the condition of the bundle, your names, your ages.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • We are but plain fellows, sir.
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • A lie. Let me have no lying.
  • SHEPHERD
  • Are you a courtier, an ’t like you, sir?
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • Whether it like me or no, I am a courtier. I am a courtier from head to toe; and one that will either push on or pluck back thy business there. Whereupon, I command thee to open thy affair.
  • SHEPHERD
  • My business, sir, is to the King.
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • How blest are we that are not simple men! Yet Nature might have made me as these are. Therefore I will not disdain.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON TO SHEPHERD
  • This cannot be but a great courtier.
  • SHEPHERD
  • His garments are rich, but he wears them not handsomely.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • A great man, I’ll warrant. I know by the picking on ’s teeth.
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • What’s i’ th’ bundle? Wherefore the box?
  • SHEPHERD
  • Sir, there lies such secrets in this bundle and box which none must know but the King, and which he shall know within this hour if I may come to th’ speech of him.
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • The King is not at the palace. He is gone aboard a new ship to purge melancholy and air himself, for thou must know the King is full of grief.
  • SHEPHERD
  • So ’tis said, sir --- about his son, that should have married a shepherd’s daughter.
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • If that shepherd be not imprisoned, let him fly.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • Think you so, sir?
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • An old sheep-whistling rogue to offer to have his daughter come into grace! Some say he shall be stoned, but the death is too soft for him.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • Has the old man by any chance a son, sir?
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • He has a son, who shall be flayed alive; then ’nointed over with honey, set on the head of a wasp’s nest. But what talk we of these traitorly rascals, whose miseries are to be smiled at, their offenses being so serious. Tell me --- for you seem to be honest plain men --- what you have to the King. I’ll bring you where he is aboard; tender your persons to his presence.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON TO SHEPHERD
  • He seems to be of great authority. Show the inside of your purse to the outside of his hand, and no more ado. Remember: ’stoned? and ’flayed alive.?
  • SHEPHERD TO AUTOLYCUS
  • An ’t please you, sir, to undertake the business for us, here is that gold I have.
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • After I have done what I promised?
  • SHEPHERD
  • Ay, sir.
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • Well, give me the half.
  • Shepherd hands him money.
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • Are you a party in this business?
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • In some sort, sir; but I hope I shall not be flayed out of it.
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • O, that’s the case of the shepherd’s son! Hang him, he’ll be made an example.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON TO SHEPHERD
  • 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.
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • I will trust you. Walk before toward the seaside. Go on the right hand.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON TO SHEPHERD
  • We are blessed in this man, as I may say, even blessed.
  • SHEPHERD
  • Let’s before, as he bids us.
  • Shepherd and his son exit.
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • If I had a mind to be honest, I see Fortune would not suffer me. I am courted now with a double occasion: gold, and a means to do the Prince my master good. I will bring these two blind ones aboard him. To him will I present them. There may be some importance to it.
  • He exits.
  • Act 5, Scene 1
  • Leontes, Cleomenes, Dion and Paulina are on stage
  • CLEOMENES
  • Sir, you have done enough. Do as the heavens have done: forget your evil; with them forgive yourself.
  • LEONTES
  • I still think of the wrong I did myself, which was so much that heirless it hath made my kingdom and destroyed the sweet’st companion that e’er man bred his hopes out of.
  • PAULINA
  • True, too true, my lord. If one by one you wedded all the world, she you killed would be unparalleled.
  • LEONTES
  • She I killed? I did so, but thou strik’st me sorely to say I did.
  • CLEOMENES
  • You might have spoken a thousand things that would have done the time more benefit and graced your kindness better.
  • PAULINA
  • You are one of those would have him wed again.
  • DION
  • If you would not so, you consider little what dangers by his Highness? fail of issue may drop upon his kingdom and devour uncertain lookers-on.
  •  
  •  
  • Paulina to Others
  •  
  • In respect to Hermione, there’s none
  • Worthy. Besides, we must honor the one
  • Who’s gone, the gods having demanded their
  • Secret purposes be fulfilled, for ’twas
  • Apollo who said there shall be no heir
  • To the King till his child be found, and does
  • That not defy our human reason as
  • If my husband broke from his grave and has
  • Come again to me, who, on my life, did
  • Perish with the infant. ’Tis your plan, sir,
  • To be contrary to heaven’s wills. Bid
  • Your crown to find an heir. Alexander
  • The Great left his crown to the worthiest;
  • That his successor be seen as the best.
  •  
  • LEONTES
  • Good Paulina, who hast the memory of Hermione, I know, in honor, O, that ever I might have looked upon my queen’s full eyes, have taken treasure from her lips ---
  • PAULINA
  • And left them more rich for what they yielded.
  • LEONTES
  • Thou speak’st truth. No more such wives, therefore no wife.
  • PAULINA
  • Will you swear never to marry but by my free leave?
  • LEONTES
  • Never, Paulina, so be blest my spirit.
  • PAULINA
  • Then, good my lords, bear witness to his oath.
  • CLEOMENES
  • You tempt him over-much.
  • PAULINA
  • Unless another as like Hermione as is her picture affront his eye.
  • CLEOMENES
  • Good madam ---
  • PAULINA
  • Yet if my lord will marry, 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, it should take joy to see her in your arms.
  • LEONTES
  • My true Paulina, we shall not marry till thou bid’st us.
  • PAULINA
  • That shall be when your first queen’s again in breath, never till then.
  • A Servant enters.
  • SERVANT
  • One that claims to be Prince Florizell, son of Polixenes, with his princess, desires access to your high presence.
  • LEONTES
  • His approach tells us ’tis not a visitation framed, but forced by need and accident. What train?
  • SERVANT
  • But few, and those but low in social status.
  • LEONTES
  • His princess, say you, with him?
  • SERVANT
  • Ay, the most peerless piece of earth, I think, that e’er the sun shone bright on.
  • PAULINA
  • O Hermione, so must thy grave give way to what’s seen now.
  • PAULINA TO SERVANT
  • Sir, you yourself have said and writ so, she had not been nor was not to be equaled. ’Tis grievously ebbed to say you have seen a better.
  • SERVANT
  • Pardon, madam. The one I have almost forgot --- your pardon. This is a creature, would she begin a sect, might quench the zeal of all those who affirmed a belief in other religions.
  • PAULINA
  • How, not women?
  • SERVANT
  • Women will love her that she is a woman more worth than any man; men, that she is the rarest of all women.
  • LEONTES
  • Go, Cleomenes. Bring them to our embracement.
  • Cleomenes and others exit.
  • PAULINA
  • Had our prince, jewel of children, seen this hour, he had paired well with this lord.
  • LEONTES
  • Prithee, no more; cease. Thou know’st he dies to me again when talked of. They are come.
  • Florizell, Perdita, Cleomenes and others enter.
  •  
  •  
  • Leontes to Florizell
  •  
  • Your mother, conceiving you, was most true,
  • Prince, printing your father’s image through you.
  • Your father’s look is so represented
  • In you that if I were but twenty-four
  • I should here call you brother, as I did
  • Him, and speak of times we had before.
  • Most dearly welcome, and your fair princess.
  • Alas, ’twixt heaven and earth, I confess,
  • I lost a couple that might have stood as
  • You, young couple, begetting wonder, do.
  • ’Twas mine own folly that our friendship has
  • Been lost, as has our time together too.
  • In spite of this sad life of misery,
  • I do desire to once more with him be.
  •  
  • FLORIZELL
  • By his command I give you all greetings that a king, as a friend, can send his brother.
  • LEONTES
  • O my brother, the wrongs I have done thee stir afresh within me. Welcome hither, as is the spring to th’ earth. And hath he too exposed this paragon to th’ dreadful Neptune, to greet a man not worth her pains?
  • FLORIZELL
  • Most royal sir, from thence, a prosperous south wind friendly. We have crossed to execute the charge my father gave me for visiting your Highness: my wife’s safety here where we are.
  • LEONTES
  • The blessed gods purge all infection from our air whilst you do visit here. You have a holy father, against whose person, so sacred as it is, I have done sin, for which the heavens have left me issueless. What might I have been might I a son daughter now have looked on, such goodly things as you?
  • A Lord enters.
  • LORD
  • Please you, great sir, Bohemia greets you from himself by me, desires you to attach his son, who has fled his father, and with a shepherd’s daughter.
  • LEONTES
  • Where’s Bohemia? Speak.
  • LORD
  • Here in your city. To your court whiles he was hast’ning meets he on the way the father of this seeming lady and her brother, having both their country quitted with this young prince.
  • FLORIZELL
  • Camillo has betrayed us.
  • LORD
  • He’s with the King your father.
  • LEONTES
  • Who? Camillo?
  • LORD
  • Camillo, sir. I spake with him, who now has these poor men under judicial control.
  • PERDITA
  • O my poor father! The heaven sets spies upon us, will not have our contract celebrated.
  • LEONTES
  • You are married?
  • FLORIZELL
  • We are not, sir, nor are we like to be.
  • LEONTES
  • My lord, is this the daughter of a king?
  • FLORIZELL
  • She is when once she is my wife.
  • LEONTES
  • 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.
  • FLORIZELL TO PERDITA
  • Dear, cheer up.
  • FLORIZELL TO LEONTES
  • Beseech you, sir. At your request, my father will grant precious things as trifles.
  • LEONTES
  • Would he do so, I’d beg your precious mistress, which he counts but a trifle.
  • PAULINA
  • 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.
  • LEONTES TO FLORIZELL
  • But your petition is yet unanswered. I will to your father. Your honor not o’erthrown by your desires, I am friend to them and you. Therefore follow me, and observe how I remove obstacles in your way.
  • They exit.
  • Act 5, Scene 2
  • Autolycus and a Gentleman are on stage.
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • Beseech you, sir, where you present at the telling of this story.
  • FIRST GENTLEMAN
  • I was at the opening of the bundle, heard the old shepherd deliver the manner how he found it. I heard the shepherd say: he found the child.
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • I would most gladly know the outcome of it.
  • FIRST GENTLEMAN
  • The King and Camillo seemed almost, with staring on one another, to tear the lids of their eyes. There was speech in their dumbness, language in their very gesture. A notable passion of wonder appeared in them.
  • Another Gentleman enters.
  • FIRST GENTLEMAN
  • Here comes a gentleman that happily knows more.
  • SECOND GENTLEMAN
  • The oracle is fulfilled: the King’s daughter is found!
  • Another Gentleman enters.
  • SECOND GENTLEMAN
  • Here comes the Lady Paulina’s steward. He can deliver you more. 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 majesty of the creature in resemblance of the mother, and other evidences proclaim her with all certainty to be the King’s daughter. Did you see the meeting of the two kings?
  • SECOND GENTLEMAN
  • No.
  •  
  •  
  • Third Gentleman to the Second Gentleman
  •  
  • ’Twas a sight to be seen, not to hear of.
  • There you would have beheld one joy above
  • Another, in such a rare manner where
  • Sorrow seeming took its leave of them, for
  • Their joy waded in tears. They cast up their
  • Eyes, held up their hands, known by what they wore,
  • Not by faces. Our king, being ready
  • To leap out of his happy self for glee
  • Of his found daughter, cries ’O thy mother,?
  • As if that joy had become a loss. He
  • Then attacks his daughter with hugging her,
  • Embraces Florizell for all to see,
  • And thanks the shepherd for the help he’s been;
  • The man weeping like a worn-through fountain.
  •  
  • THIRD GENTLEMAN
  • I never heard of such another encounter, which makes weak the report to follow it and ruins description’s attempt to describe it.
  • SECOND GENTLEMAN
  • What, pray you, became of Antigonus, that carried hence the child?
  • THIRD GENTLEMAN
  • He was torn to pieces with a bear. This avouches the shepherd’s son, who has not only his innocence, but a handkerchief and rings of his that Paulina knows.
  • FIRST GENTLEMAN
  • What became of his ship and his followers.
  • THIRD GENTLEMAN
  • Shipwrecked the same instant of their master’s death and in the view of the shepherd. 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 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 excellence of this act was worth the audience of kings and princes.
  • THIRD GENTLEMAN
  • One of the prettiest touches of all was when at the telling of the Queen’s death, bravely confessed and lamented by the King, how attentiveness wounded his daughter, till, I would fain say bleed tears, for I am sure my heart wept blood. Who was most hard-hearted there changed color; some swooned, all sorrowed.
  • FIRST GENTLEMAN
  • Are they returned to the court?
  • THIRD GENTLEMAN
  • No. The Princess has left to see her mother’s statue, which is in the keeping of Paulina; a piece many years in the doing by that rare Italian master, Julio Romano. He so near to Hermione hath done Hermione that they say one would speak to her and stand in hope of answer. There they intend to sup.
  • SECOND GENTLEMAN
  • Shall we thither and with our company join the rejoicing?
  • FIRST GENTLEMAN
  • Our absence makes us harmful to our knowledge. Let’s along.
  • The Three Gentlemen exit.
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • I brought the old man and his son aboard the Prince’s ship and heard them talk of a bundle and I know not what. 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.
  • The Shepherd and his son enter, both dressed in rich clothing.
  • SHEPHERD
  • Come, boy, I am past fathering children, but thy sons and daughters will be gentlemen born.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON TO AUTOLYCUS
  • You denied to fight me this other day because I was no gentleman born. See you these clothes? Am I not now a gentleman born?
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • I know you are now, sir, a gentleman born.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • The King’s son took me in the hand and called me brother, and then the two kinds 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 gentlemanlike tears that ever we shed.
  • SHEPHERD
  • We may live, son, to shed many more.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • Ay, being in so prosperous estate as we are.
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • I humbly beseech you, sir, to pardon me all the faults I have committed to your Worship.
  • SHEPHERD
  • Prithee, son, do for we must be gentle now we are gentlemen.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON TO AUTOLYCUS
  • Thou wilt amend thy life?
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • Ay.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • Give me thy hand. I will swear to the Prince thou art as honest a true fellow as any is in Bohemia.
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • You may say it, but not swear it.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • Not swear it, now I am a gentleman? I’ll swear it.
  • SHEPHERD
  • How if it be false, son?
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • If it be ne’er so false, a true gentleman may swear it in the behalf of his friend.
  • AUTOLYCUS
  • I will prove so, sir, to my power.
  • SHEPHERD’S SON
  • Hark, the Kings and Princes, our kindred, are going to see the Queen’s picture. Come, follow us.
  • They exit.
  • Act 5, Scene 3
  • Leontes, Polixenes, Florizell, Perdita, Camillo and Paulina enter.
  • LEONTES
  • O grave and good Paulina, the great comfort that I have had of thee!
  • PAULINA
  • What, sovereign sir, you have paid in full. But you have promised with your crowned brother to visit my poor house.
  • LEONTES
  • O Paulina, we honor you with trouble. But we came to see the statue of our queen. Your gallery have we passed through, but we saw not that which my daughter came to look upon, the statue of her mother.
  • PAULINA
  • As she lived peerless, so her dead likeness. But here it is. Prepare to see the life as vividly imitated as ever still sleep mocked death.
  • She draws a curtain to reveal Hermione as a statue.
  • PAULINA
  • I like your silence. It the more shows off your wonder.
  • LEONTES
  • 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, kind, loving, gentle as infancy and grace. But yet, Paulina, Hermione was not so much wrinkled, nothing so aged as the seems.
  • PAULINA
  • So much the more our carver’s excellence, which lets go by some sixteen years and makes her as she lived now.
  • LEONTES
  • O, thus she stood, even with such life of majesty when first I wooed her. I am ashamed. Does not the stone rebuke me for being more stone than it?
  • PERDITA
  • Give me leave that I kneel, and then implore her blessing.
  • She kneels.
  • PERDITA
  • Lady, dear queen, that ended when I but began, give me that hand of yours to kiss.
  • PAULINA
  • O, patience! The statue is but newly fixed; the color’s not dry.
  • CAMILLO TO LEONTES, WHO WEEPS
  • My lord, your sorrow was too sore laid on, which sixteen winters cannot blow away, so many summers dry.
  • PAULINA
  • Indeed, my lord, if I had thought the sight of my poor image would thus have disturbed you; I’d not have showed it.
  • LEONTES
  • Do not draw the curtain. Let be, let be. See, my lord, would you not deem it breathed?
  • POLIXENES
  • Masterly done. The very life seems warm upon her lip.
  • LEONTES
  • The fixed position of her eye has motion in ’t.
  • PAULINA
  • I’ll draw the curtain. My lord’s almost so far transported that he’ll thin at once it lives.
  • LEONTES
  • 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.
  • PAULINA
  • I am sorry, sir, I have thus far stirred you, but I could afflict you farther.
  • LEONTES
  • Do, Paulina, for this affliction has a taste as sweet as any cordial comfort. Still methinks there is an air comes from her. Let no man mock me, for I will kiss her.
  • PAULINA
  • Good my lord, forbear. You’ll mar it if you kiss it. Shall I draw the curtain?
  • LEONTES
  • No, not these twenty years.
  • Perdita rises.
  • PAULINA
  • If you can behold it, I’ll make the statue move indeed, descend and take you by the hand. But then you’ll think I am assisted by wicked powers.
  • LEONTES
  • Whatever you can make her do I am content to look on; for ’tis as easy to make her speak as move.
  • PAULINA
  • It is required you do awake your faith. Then all stand still.
  • LEONTES
  • Proceed. No foot shall stir.
  • PAULINA
  • Music, awake her! Strike up!
  • Music sounds.
  • PAULINA
  • ’Tis time. Descend. Be stone no more. Approach. Strike all that look upon with marvel. Come. Bequeath to death your numbness, for from death dear life redeems you. You perceive she stirs.
  • Hermione stirs.
  • PAULINA
  • Do not shun her until you see her die again, for then you kill her a second time. Nay, present your hand. When she was young, you wooed her; now in age is she become the suitor?
  • LEONTES
  • O, she’s warm! If this be magic, let it be an art.
  • POLIXENES
  • She embraces him.
  • CAMILLO
  • She hangs about his neck. Let her speak too.
  • PAULINA
  • It appears she lives, though yet she speaks not. Observe a little while.
  • PAULINA TO PERDITA
  • Please you to interpose, fair madam. Kneel and pray your mother’s blessing.
  • PAULINA TO HERMIONE
  • Turn, good lady, our Perdita is found.
  • HERMIONE
  • You gods, look down, and from your sacred vials pour your graces upon my daughter’s head! Tell me, mine own, where hast thou been 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.
  • PAULINA
  • Go together, you precious winners all. I, an old turtledove, will fly to some withered bough and there my Antigonus, who’s never to be found again, lament till I am dead.
  •  
  •  
  • Leontes to Others
  •  
  • Paulina, thou shouldst a husband take
  • By my consent, as I, from this fair wake
  • A wife with thy consent, as made by vows
  • Between us. I’ll not seek far to find thee
  • A most worthy husband, as fate allows
  • Me to call Camillo, whose worth to me
  • And my brother is richly noted and
  • By us found to be true. Please, take my hand
  • Hermione; accept my pardons you
  • Both that e’er I put between your sinless
  • Looks my ill suspicion. This son unto
  • The King, Florizell, as the heavens bless,
  • And your daughter are betrothed. Each a word
  • To his part since first we were dissevered.
  •  
  • LEONTES
  • Good Paulina, hastily lead away.

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