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The Winter’s Tale
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Navigate this workThe Winter’s Tale
Act 5, scene 2
Autolycus learns from courtiers that Leontes’ lost daughter has been found; he then meets the newly elevated shepherd and shepherd’s son, who promise to recommend Autolycus to Florizell.Enter Autolycus and a Gentleman.
AUTOLYCUS 3101 Beseech you, sir, were you present at this
FIRST GENTLEMAN 3103 I was by at the opening of the fardel,
3104 heard the old shepherd deliver the manner how he
3105 5 found it, whereupon, after a little amazedness, we
3106 were all commanded out of the chamber. Only this,
3107 methought, I heard the shepherd say: he found the
AUTOLYCUS 3109 I would most gladly know the issue of it.
FIRST GENTLEMAN 3110 10I make a broken delivery of the
3111 business, but the changes I perceived in the King
3112 and Camillo were very notes of admiration. They
3113 seemed almost, with staring on one another, to tear
3114 the cases of their eyes. There was speech in their
3115 15 dumbness, language in their very gesture. They
3116 looked as they had heard of a world ransomed, or
3117 one destroyed. A notable passion of wonder appeared
3118 in them, but the wisest beholder that knew
3119 no more but seeing could not say if th’ importance
3120 20 were joy or sorrow; but in the extremity of the one it
3121 must needs be.
Enter another Gentleman.
3122 Here comes a gentleman that happily knows more.—
3123 The news, Rogero?
SECOND GENTLEMAN 3124 Nothing but bonfires. The oracle
3125 25 is fulfilled: the King’s daughter is found! Such a
p. 2153126 deal of wonder is broken out within this hour that
3127 ballad makers cannot be able to express it.
Enter another Gentleman.
3128 Here comes the Lady Paulina’s steward. He can
3129 deliver you more.—How goes it now, sir? This news
3130 30 which is called true is so like an old tale that the
3131 verity of it is in strong suspicion. Has the King
3132 found his heir?
THIRD GENTLEMAN 3133 Most true, if ever truth were pregnant
3134 by circumstance. That which you hear you’ll
3135 35 swear you see, there is such unity in the proofs. The
3136 mantle of Queen Hermione’s, her jewel about the
3137 neck of it, the letters of Antigonus found with it,
3138 which they know to be his character, the majesty of
3139 the creature in resemblance of the mother, the
3140 40 affection of nobleness which nature shows above
3141 her breeding, and many other evidences proclaim
3142 her with all certainty to be the King’s daughter. Did
3143 you see the meeting of the two kings?
SECOND GENTLEMAN 3144 No.
THIRD GENTLEMAN 3145 45Then have you lost a sight which
3146 was to be seen, cannot be spoken of. There might
3147 you have beheld one joy crown another, so and in
3148 such manner that it seemed sorrow wept to take
3149 leave of them, for their joy waded in tears. There
3150 50 was casting up of eyes, holding up of hands, with
3151 countenance of such distraction that they were to
3152 be known by garment, not by favor. Our king, being
3153 ready to leap out of himself for joy of his found
3154 daughter, as if that joy were now become a loss,
3155 55 cries “O, thy mother, thy mother!” then asks Bohemia
3156 forgiveness, then embraces his son-in-law, then
3157 again worries he his daughter with clipping her.
3158 Now he thanks the old shepherd, which stands by
p. 2173159 like a weather-bitten conduit of many kings’ reigns.
3160 60 I never heard of such another encounter, which
3161 lames report to follow it and undoes description to
3162 do it.
SECOND GENTLEMAN 3163 What, pray you, became of Antigonus,
3164 that carried hence the child?
THIRD GENTLEMAN 3165 65Like an old tale still, which will
3166 have matter to rehearse though credit be asleep and
3167 not an ear open: he was torn to pieces with a bear.
3168 This avouches the shepherd’s son, who has not only
3169 his innocence, which seems much, to justify him,
3170 70 but a handkerchief and rings of his that Paulina
FIRST GENTLEMAN 3172 What became of his bark and his
THIRD GENTLEMAN 3174 Wracked the same instant of their
3175 75 master’s death and in the view of the shepherd, so
3176 that all the instruments which aided to expose the
3177 child were even then lost when it was found. But O,
3178 the noble combat that ’twixt joy and sorrow was
3179 fought in Paulina. She had one eye declined for the
3180 80 loss of her husband, another elevated that the
3181 oracle was fulfilled. She lifted the Princess from the
3182 earth, and so locks her in embracing as if she would
3183 pin her to her heart that she might no more be in
3184 danger of losing.
FIRST GENTLEMAN 3185 85The dignity of this act was worth the
3186 audience of kings and princes, for by such was it
THIRD GENTLEMAN 3188 One of the prettiest touches of all,
3189 and that which angled for mine eyes—caught the
3190 90 water, though not the fish—was when at the relation
3191 of the Queen’s death—with the manner how
3192 she came to ’t bravely confessed and lamented by
3193 the King—how attentiveness wounded his daughter,
p. 2193194 till, from one sign of dolor to another, she did,
3195 95 with an “Alas,” I would fain say bleed tears, for I am
3196 sure my heart wept blood. Who was most marble
3197 there changed color; some swooned, all sorrowed.
3198 If all the world could have seen ’t, the woe had been
FIRST GENTLEMAN 3200 100Are they returned to the court?
THIRD GENTLEMAN 3201 No. The Princess hearing of her
3202 mother’s statue, which is in the keeping of
3203 Paulina—a piece many years in doing and now
3204 newly performed by that rare Italian master, Julio
3205 105 Romano, who, had he himself eternity and could
3206 put breath into his work, would beguile Nature of
3207 her custom, so perfectly he is her ape; he so near to
3208 Hermione hath done Hermione that they say one
3209 would speak to her and stand in hope of answer.
3210 110 Thither with all greediness of affection are they
3211 gone, and there they intend to sup.
SECOND GENTLEMAN 3212 I thought she had some great
3213 matter there in hand, for she hath privately twice or
3214 thrice a day, ever since the death of Hermione,
3215 115 visited that removed house. Shall we thither and
3216 with our company piece the rejoicing?
FIRST GENTLEMAN 3217 Who would be thence that has the
3218 benefit of access? Every wink of an eye some new
3219 grace will be born. Our absence makes us unthrifty
3220 120 to our knowledge. Let’s along.
⌜The Three Gentlemen⌝ exit.
AUTOLYCUS 3221 Now, had I not the dash of my former life
3222 in me, would preferment drop on my head. I
3223 brought the old man and his son aboard the Prince,
3224 told him I heard them talk of a fardel and I know
3225 125 not what. But he at that time, overfond of the
3226 shepherd’s daughter—so he then took her to be—
3227 who began to be much seasick, and himself little
p. 2213228 better, extremity of weather continuing, this mystery
3229 remained undiscovered. But ’tis all one to
3230 130 me, for had I been the finder-out of this secret, it
3231 would not have relished among my other
Enter Shepherd and ⌜Shepherd’s Son,
both dressed in rich clothing.⌝
3233 Here come those I have done good to against my
3234 will, and already appearing in the blossoms of their
3235 135 fortune.
SHEPHERD 3236 Come, boy, I am past more children, but thy
3237 sons and daughters will be all gentlemen born.
SHEPHERD’S SON, ⌜to Autolycus⌝ 3238 You are well met, sir.
3239 You denied to fight with me this other day because I
3240 140 was no gentleman born. See you these clothes? Say
3241 you see them not and think me still no gentleman
3242 born. You were best say these robes are not gentlemen
3243 born. Give me the lie, do, and try whether I am
3244 not now a gentleman born.
AUTOLYCUS 3245 145I know you are now, sir, a gentleman born.
SHEPHERD’S SON 3246 Ay, and have been so any time these
3247 four hours.
SHEPHERD 3248 And so have I, boy.
SHEPHERD’S SON 3249 So you have—but I was a gentleman
3250 150 born before my father. For the King’s son took me
3251 by the hand and called me brother, and then the
3252 two kings called my father brother, and then the
3253 Prince my brother and the Princess my sister called
3254 my father father; and so we wept, and there was the
3255 155 first gentlemanlike tears that ever we shed.
SHEPHERD 3256 We may live, son, to shed many more.
SHEPHERD’S SON 3257 Ay, or else ’twere hard luck, being in
3258 so preposterous estate as we are.
AUTOLYCUS 3259 I humbly beseech you, sir, to pardon me all
p. 2233260 160 the faults I have committed to your Worship and to
3261 give me your good report to the Prince my master.
SHEPHERD 3262 Prithee, son, do, for we must be gentle now
3263 we are gentlemen.
SHEPHERD’S SON, ⌜to Autolycus⌝ 3264 Thou wilt amend thy
3265 165 life?
AUTOLYCUS 3266 Ay, an it like your good Worship.
SHEPHERD’S SON 3267 Give me thy hand. I will swear to the
3268 Prince thou art as honest a true fellow as any is in
SHEPHERD 3270 170You may say it, but not swear it.
SHEPHERD’S SON 3271 Not swear it, now I am a gentleman?
3272 Let boors and franklins say it; I’ll swear it.
SHEPHERD 3273 How if it be false, son?
SHEPHERD’S SON 3274 If it be ne’er so false, a true gentleman
3275 175 may swear it in the behalf of his friend.—And
3276 I’ll swear to the Prince thou art a tall fellow of thy
3277 hands and that thou wilt not be drunk; but I know
3278 thou art no tall fellow of thy hands and that thou
3279 wilt be drunk. But I’ll swear it, and I would thou
3280 180 wouldst be a tall fellow of thy hands.
AUTOLYCUS 3281 I will prove so, sir, to my power.
SHEPHERD’S SON 3282 Ay, by any means prove a tall fellow. If
3283 I do not wonder how thou dar’st venture to be
3284 drunk, not being a tall fellow, trust me not. Hark,
3285 185 the Kings and Princes, our kindred, are going to see
3286 the Queen’s picture. Come, follow us. We’ll be thy
3287 good masters.