The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Part 584

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

CAMILLO. It is fifteen years since I saw my country; though I have for the most part been aired abroad, I desire to lay my bones there. Besides, the penitent King, my master, hath sent for me; to whose feeling sorrows I might be some allay, or I o’erween to think so, which is another spur to my departure.

POLIXENES. As thou lov’st me, Camillo, wipe not out the rest of thy services by leaving me now. The need I have of thee thine own goodness hath made. Better not to have had thee than thus to want thee; thou, having made me businesses which none without thee can sufficiently manage, must either stay to execute them thyself, or take away with thee the very services thou hast done; which if I have not enough considered- as too much I cannot- to be more thankful to thee shall be my study; and my profit therein the heaping friendships. Of that fatal country Sicilia, prithee, speak no more; whose very naming punishes me with the remembrance of that penitent, as thou call’st him, and reconciled king, my brother; whose loss of his most precious queen and children are even now to be afresh lamented. Say to me, when saw’st thou the Prince Florizel, my son? Kings are no less unhappy, their issue not being gracious, than they are in losing them when they have approved their virtues.

CAMILLO. Sir, it is three days since I saw the Prince. What his happier affairs may be are to me unknown; but I have missingly noted he is of late much retired from court, and is less frequent to his princely exercises than formerly he hath appeared.

POLIXENES. I have considered so much, Camillo, and with some care, so far that I have eyes under my service which look upon his removedness; from whom I have this intelligence, that he is seldom from the house of a most homely shepherd- a man, they say, that from very nothing, and beyond the imagination of his neighbours, is grown into an unspeakable estate.

CAMILLO. I have heard, sir, of such a man, who hath a daughter of most rare note. The report of her is extended more than can be thought to begin from such a cottage.

POLIXENES. That’s likewise part of my intelligence; but, I fear, the angle that plucks our son thither. Thou shalt accompany us to the place; where we will, not appearing what we are, have some question with the shepherd; from whose simplicity I think it not uneasy to get the cause of my son’s resort thither. Prithee be my present partner in this business, and lay aside the thoughts of Sicilia.

CAMILLO. I willingly obey your command.

POLIXENES. My best Camillo! We must disguise ourselves.



Bohemia. A road near the SHEPHERD’S cottage

Enter AUTOLYCUS, singing

When daffodils begin to peer, With heigh! the doxy over the dale, Why, then comes in the sweet o’ the year, For the red blood reigns in the winter’s pale.

The white sheet bleaching on the hedge, With heigh! the sweet birds, O, how they sing!

Doth set my pugging tooth on edge, For a quart of ale is a dish for a king.

The lark, that tirra-lirra chants, With heigh! with heigh! the thrush and the jay, Are summer songs for me and my aunts, While we lie tumbling in the hay.

I have serv’d Prince Florizel, and in my time wore three-pile; but now I am out of service.

But shall I go mourn for that, my dear?

The pale moon shines by night; And when I wander here and there, I then do most go right.

If tinkers may have leave to live, And bear the sow-skin budget, Then my account I well may give And in the stocks avouch it.

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

My father nam’d me Autolycus; who, being, I as am, litter’d under Mercury, was likewise a snapper-up of unconsidered trifles. With die and drab I purchas’d this caparison; and my revenue is the silly-cheat. Gallows and knock are too powerful on the highway; beating and hanging are terrors to me; for the life to come, I sleep out the thought of it. A prize! a prize!


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

AUTOLYCUS. [Aside] If the springe hold, the c.o.c.k’s mine.

CLOWN. I cannot do ‘t without counters. Let me see: what am I to buy for our sheep-shearing feast? Three pound of sugar, five pound of currants, rice- what will this sister of mine do with rice? But my father hath made her mistress of the feast, and she lays it on. She hath made me four and twenty nosegays for the shearers- three-man song-men all, and very good ones; but they are most of them means and bases; but one Puritan amongst them, and he sings psalms to hornpipes. I must have saffron to colour the warden pies; mace; dates- none, that’s out of my note; nutmegs, seven; race or two of ginger, but that I may beg; four pound of prunes, and as many of raisins o’ th’ sun.

AUTOLYCUS. [Grovelling on the ground] O that ever I was born!

CLOWN. I’ th’ name of me!

AUTOLYCUS. O, help me, help me! Pluck but off these rags; and then, death, death!

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

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

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

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

CLOWN. What, by a horseman or a footman?

AUTOLYCUS. A footman, sweet sir, a footman.

CLOWN. Indeed, he should be a footman, by the garments he has left with thee; if this be a horseman’s coat, it hath seen very hot service. Lend me thy hand, I’ll help thee. Come, lend me thy hand. [Helping him up]

AUTOLYCUS. O, good sir, tenderly, O!

CLOWN. Alas, poor soul!

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

CLOWN. How now! Canst stand?

AUTOLYCUS. Softly, dear sir [Picks his pocket]; good sir, softly.

You ha’ done me a charitable office.

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

AUTOLYCUS. No, good sweet sir; no, I beseech you, sir. I have a kinsman not past three quarters of a mile hence, unto whom I was going; I shall there have money or anything I want. Offer me no money, I pray you; that kills my heart.

CLOWN. What manner of fellow was he that robb’d you?

AUTOLYCUS. A fellow, sir, that I have known to go about with troll-my-dames; I knew him once a servant of the Prince. I cannot tell, good sir, for which of his virtues it was, but he was certainly whipt out of the court.

CLOWN. His vices, you would say; there’s no virtue whipt out of the court. They cherish it to make it stay there; and yet it will no more but abide.

AUTOLYCUS. Vices, I would say, sir. I know this man well; he hath been since an ape-bearer; then a process-server, a bailiff; then he compa.s.s’d a motion of the Prodigal Son, and married a tinker’s wife within a mile where my land and living lies; and, having flown over many knavish professions, he settled only in rogue.

Some call him Autolycus.

CLOWN. Out upon him! prig, for my life, prig! He haunts wakes, fairs, and bear-baitings.

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

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

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

CLOWN. How do you now?

AUTOLYCUS. Sweet sir, much better than I was; I can stand and walk.

I will even take my leave of you and pace softly towards my kinsman’s.

CLOWN. Shall I bring thee on the way?

AUTOLYCUS. No, good-fac’d sir; no, sweet sir.

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

AUTOLYCUS. Prosper you, sweet sir! Exit CLOWN Your purse is not hot enough to purchase your spice. I’ll be with you at your sheep-shearing too. If I make not this cheat bring out another, and the shearers prove sheep, let me be unroll’d, and my name put in the book of virtue!


Jog on, jog on, the footpath way, And merrily hent the stile-a; A merry heart goes all the day, Your sad tires in a mile-a. Exit


Bohemia. The SHEPHERD’S cottage


FLORIZEL. These your unusual weeds to each part of you Do give a life- no shepherdess, but Flora Peering in April’s front. This your sheep-shearing Is as a meeting of the petty G.o.ds, And you the Queen on’t.

PERDITA. Sir, my gracious lord, To chide at your extremes it not becomes me- O, pardon that I name them! Your high self, The gracious mark o’ th’ land, you have obscur’d With a swain’s wearing; and me, poor lowly maid, Most G.o.ddess-like prank’d up. But that our feasts In every mess have folly, and the feeders Digest it with a custom, I should blush To see you so attir’d; swoon, I think, To show myself a gla.s.s.

FLORIZEL. I bless the time When my good falcon made her flight across Thy father’s ground.

PERDITA. Now Jove afford you cause!

To me the difference forges dread; your greatness Hath not been us’d to fear. Even now I tremble To think your father, by some accident, Should pa.s.s this way, as you did. O, the Fates!

How would he look to see his work, so n.o.ble, Vilely bound up? What would he say? Or how Should I, in these my borrowed flaunts, behold The sternness of his presence?

FLORIZEL. Apprehend Nothing but jollity. The G.o.ds themselves, Humbling their deities to love, have taken The shapes of beasts upon them: Jupiter Became a bull and bellow’d; the green Neptune A ram and bleated; and the fire-rob’d G.o.d, Golden Apollo, a poor humble swain, As I seem now. Their transformations Were never for a piece of beauty rarer, Nor in a way so chaste, since my desires Run not before mine honour, nor my l.u.s.ts Burn hotter than my faith.

PERDITA. O, but, sir, Your resolution cannot hold when ’tis Oppos’d, as it must be, by th’ pow’r of the King.

One of these two must be necessities, Which then will speak, that you must change this purpose, Or I my life.

FLORIZEL. Thou dearest Perdita, With these forc’d 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, nor anything to any, if I be not thine. To this I am most constant, Though destiny say no. Be merry, gentle; Strangle such thoughts as these with any thing That you behold the while. Your guests are coming.

Lift up your countenance, as it were the day Of celebration of that nuptial which We two have sworn shall come.

PERDITA. O Lady Fortune, Stand you auspicious!

FLORIZEL. See, your guests approach.

Address yourself to entertain them sprightly, And let’s be red with mirth.

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