William Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale in the complete original text.
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The Winter's Tale

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Act IV. Scene III.

Page: 1 2
Scene III.—The Same. A Lawn before the
Shepherd's Cottage.

Enter FLORIZEL and PERDITA.

Flo. 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-shear-
ing
Is as a meeting of the petty gods,
And you the queen on't.
Per. Sir, my gracious lord,
To chide at your extremes it not becomes me:
O! pardon, that I name them. Your high self,
The gracious mark o' the land, you have obscur'd
With a swain's wearing, and me, poor lowly maid,
Most goddess-like prank'd up. But that our
feasts
In every mess have folly, and the feeders
Digest it with a custom, I should blush
To see you so attired,—swoon, I think,
To show myself a glass.
Flo. I bless the time
When my good falcon made her flight across
Thy father's ground.
Per. Now, Jove afford you cause!
To me the difference forges dread; your great-
ness
Hath not been us'd to fear. Even now I tremble
To think, your father, by some accident,
Should pass this way as you did. O, the Fates!
How would he look, to see his work, so noble,
Vilely bound up? What would he say? Or how
Should I, in these my borrow'd flaunts, behold
The sternness of his presence?
Flo. Apprehend
Nothing but jollity. The gods themselves,
Humbling their deities to love, have taken
The shapes of beasts upon them: Jupiter
Became a bull, and bellow'd; the green Neptune
A ram, and bleated; and the fire-rob'd god,
Golden Apollo, a poor humble swain,
As I seem now. Their transformations
Were never for a piece of beauty rarer,
Nor in a way so chaste, since my desires
Run not before mine honour, nor my lusts
Burn hotter than my faith.
Per. O! but, sir,
Your resolution cannot hold, when 'tis
Oppos'd, as it must be, by the power of the king.
One of these two must be necessities,
Which then will speak, that you must change
this purpose,
Or I my life.
Flo. Thou dearest Perdita,
With these forc'd thoughts, I prithee, darken not
The mirth o' the feast: or I'll be thine, my fair,
Or not my father's; for I cannot be
Mine own, nor anything to any, if
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.
Per. O lady Fortune,
Stand you auspicious!
Flo. See, your guests approach:
Address yourself to entertain them sprightly,
And let's be red with mirth.

Enter Shepherd, with POLIXENES and CAMILLO
disguised; Clown, MOPSA, DORCAS, and Others.
Shep. Fie, daughter! when my old wife lived,
upon
This day she was both pantler, butler, cook;
Both dame and servant; welcom'd all, serv'd all,
Would sing her song and dance her turn; now
here,
At upper end o' the table, now i' the middle;
On his shoulder, and his; her face o' fire
With labour and the thing she took to quench it,
She would to each one sip. You are retir'd,
As if you were a feasted one and not
The hostess of the meeting: pray you, bid
These unknown friends to's welcome; for it is
A way to make us better friends, more known.
Come, quench your blushes and present yourself
That which you are, mistress o' the feast: come
on,
And bid us welcome to your sheep-shearing,
As your good flock shall prosper.
Per. [To POLIXENES.] Sir, welcome:
It is my father's will I should take on me
The hostess-ship o' the day:—[To CAMILLO.]
You're welcome, sir.
Give me those flowers there, Dorcas. Reverend
sirs,
For you there's rosemary and rue; these keep
Seeming and savour all the winter long:
Grace and remembrance be to you both,
And welcome to our shearing!
Pol. Shepherdess,—
A fair one are you,—well you fit our ages
With flowers of winter.
Per. Sir, the year growing ancient,
Not yet on summer's death, nor on the birth
Of trembling winter, the fairest flowers o' the
season
Are our carnations, and streak'd gillyvors,
Which some call nature's bastards: of that kind
Our rustic garden's barren, and I care not
To get slips of them.
Pol. Wherefore, gentle maiden,
Do you neglect them?
Per. For I have heard it said
There is an art which in their piedness shares
With great creating nature.
Pol. Say there be;
Yet nature is made better by no mean
But nature makes that mean: so, over that art,
Which you say adds to nature, is an art
That nature makes. You see, sweet maid, we
marry
A gentler scion to the wildest stock,
And make conceive a bark of baser kind
By bud of nobler race: this is an art
Which does mend nature, change it rather, but
The art itself is nature.
Per. So it is.
Pol. Then make your garden rich in gillyvors,
And do not call them bastards.
Per. I'll not put
The dibble in earth to set one slip of them;
No more than, were I painted, I would wish
This youth should say, 'twere well, and only
therefore
Desire to breed by me. Here's flowers for you;
Hot lavender, mints, savory, marjoram;
The marigold, that goes to bed wi' the sun,
And with him rises weeping: these are flowers
Of middle summer, and I think they are given
To men of middle age. You're very welcome.
Cam. I should leave grazing, were I of your
flock,
And only live by gazing.
Per. Out, alas!
You'd be so lean, that blasts of January
Would blow you through and through. Now,
my fair'st friend,
I would I had some flowers o' the spring that
might
Become your time of day; and yours, and yours,
That wear upon your virgin branches yet
Your maidenheads growing: O Proserpina!
For the flowers now that frighted thou let'st fall
From Dis's waggon! daffodils,
That come before the swallow dares, and take
The winds of March with beauty; violets dim,
But sweeter than the lids of Juno's eyes
Or Cytherea's breath; pale prime-roses,
That die unmarried, ere they can behold
Bright Phœbus in his strength, a malady
Most incident to maids; bold oxlips and
The crown imperial; lilies of all kinds,
The flower-de-luce being one. O! these I lack
To make you garlands of, and my sweet friend,
To strew him o'er and o'er!
Flo. What! like a corse?
Per. No, like a bank for love to lie and play
on;
Not like a corse; or if,—not to be buried,
But quick and in mine arms. Come, take your
flowers:
Methinks I play as I have seen them do
In Whitsun pastorals: sure this robe of mine
Does change my disposition.
Flo. What you do
Still betters what is done. When you speak,
sweet,
I'd have you do it ever: when you sing,
I'd have you buy and sell so; so give alms;
Pray so; and, for the ordering your affairs,
To sing them too: when you do dance, I wish
you
A wave o' the sea, that you might ever do
Nothing but that; move still, still so,
And own no other function: each your doing,
So singular in each particular,
Crowns what you are doing in the present deed,
That all your acts are queens.
Per. O Doricles!
Your praises are too large: but that your youth,
And the true blood which fairly peeps through
it,
Do plainly give you out an unstain'd shepherd,
With wisdom I might fear, my Doricles,
You woo'd me the false way.
Flo. I think you have
As little skill to fear as I have purpose
To put you to't. But, come; our dance, I pray.
Your hand, my Perdita: so turtles pair
That never mean to part.
Per. I'll swear for 'em.
Pol. This is the prettiest low-born lass that
ever
Ran on the green-sord: nothing she does or
seems
But smacks of something greater than herself;
Too noble for this place.
Cam. He tells her something
That makes her blood look out. Good sooth,
she is
The queen of curds and cream.
Clo. Come on, strike up.
Dor. Mopsa must be your mistress: marry
garlic,
To mend her kissing with.
Mop. Now, in good time!
Clo. Not a word, a word: we stand upon our
manners.
Come, strike up. [Music. Here a dance of Shep-
herds and Shepherdesses.
Pol. Pray, good shepherd, what fair swain is
this
Which dances with your daughter?
Shep. They call him Doricles, and boasts
himself
To have a worthy feeding; but I have it
Upon his own report and I believe it:
He looks like sooth. He says he loves my
daughter:
I think so too; for never gaz'd the moon
Upon the water as he'll stand and read
As 'twere my daughter's eyes; and, to be plain,
I think there is not half a kiss to choose
Who loves another best.
Pol. She dances featly.
Shep. So she does any thing, though I report
it
That should be silent. If young Doricles
Do light upon her, she shall bring him that
Which he not dreams of.

Enter a Servant.
Serv. O master! if you did but hear the pedlar
at the door, you would never dance again after a
tabor and pipe; no, the bagpipe could not move
you. He sings several tunes faster than you'll
tell money; he utters them as he had eaten
ballads and all men's ears grew to his tunes.
Clo. He could never come better: he shall
come in: I love a ballad but even too well, if it
be doleful matter merrily set down, or a very
pleasant thing indeed and sung lamentably.
Serv. He hath songs for man or woman, of all
sizes; no milliner can so fit his customers with
gloves: he has the prettiest love-songs for maids;
so without bawdry, which is strange; with such
delicate burthens of dildos and fadings, 'jump
her and thump her;' and where some stretch-
mouthed rascal would, as it were, mean mischief
and break a foul gap into the matter, he makes
the maid to answer, 'Whoop, do me no harm,
good man;' puts him off, slights him with 'Whoop,
do me no harm, good man.'
Pol. This is a brave fellow.
Clo. Believe me, thou talkest of an admirable
conceited fellow. Has he any unbraided wares?
Serv. He hath ribands of all the colours i'
the rainbow; points more than all the lawyers
in Bohemia can learnedly handle, though they
come to him by the gross; inkles, caddisses,
cambrics, lawns: why, he sings 'em over, as they
were gods or goddesses. You would think a
smock were a she-angel, he so chants to the
sleeve-hand and the work about the square on't.
Clo. Prithee, bring him in, and let him ap-
proach singing.
Per. Forewarn him that he use no scurrilous
words in's tunes. [Exit Servant.
Clo. You have of these pedlars, that have
more in them than you'd think, sister.
Per. Ay, good brother, or go about to think.

Enter AUTOLYCUS, singing.
Lawn as white as driven snow;
Cyprus black as e'er was crow;
Gloves as sweet as damask roses;
Masks for faces and for noses;
Bugle-bracelet, necklace-amber,
Perfume for a lady's chamber;
Golden quoifs and stomachers,
For my lads to give their dears;
Pins and poking-sticks of steel;
What maids lack from head to heel:
Come buy of me, come; come buy, come buy;
Buy, lads, or else your lasses cry:
Come buy.
Clo. If I were not in love with Mopsa, thou
shouldst take no money of me; but being en-
thralled as I am, it will also be the bondage of
certain ribands and gloves.
Mop. I was promised them against the feast;
but they come not too late now.
Dor. He hath promised you more than that,
or there be liars.
Mop. He hath paid you all he promised you:
may be he has paid you more, which will shame
you to give him again.
Clo. Is there no manners left among maids?
will they wear their plackets where they should
bear their faces? Is there not milking-time,
when you are going to bed, or kiln-hole, to whistle
off these secrets, but you must be tittle-tatthng
before all our guests? 'Tis well they are whisper-
ing: clamour your tongues, and not a word more.
Mop. I have done. Come, you promised me
a tawdry lace and a pair of sweet gloves.
Clo. Have I not told thee how I was cozened
by the way, and lost all my money?
Aut. And indeed, sir, there are cozeners
abroad; therefore it behoves men to be wary.
Clo. Fear not thou, man, thou shalt lose
nothing here.
Aut. I hope so, sir; for I have about me many
parcels of charge.
Clo. What hast here? ballads?
Mop. Pray now, buy some: I love a ballad in
print, a-life, for then we are sure they are true.
Aut. Here's one to a very doleful tune, how
a usurer's wife was brought to bed of twenty
money-bags at a burden; and how she longed to
eat adders' heads and toads carbonadoed.
Mop. Is it true, think you?
Aut. Very true, and but a month old.
Dor. Bless me from marrying a usurer!
Aut. Here's the midwife's name to't, one Mis-
tress Taleporter, and five or six honest wives' that
were present. Why should I carry lies abroad?
Mop. Pray you now, buy it.
Clo. Come on, lay it by: and let's first see
moe ballads; we'll buy the other things anon.
Aut. Here's another ballad of a fish that
appeared upon the coast on Wednesday the
fourscore of April, forty thousand fathom above
water, and sung this ballad against the hard
hearts of maids: it was thought she was a woman
and was turned into a cold fish for she would not
exchange flesh with one that loved her. The
ballad is very pitiful and as true.
Dor. Is it true, think you?
Aut. Five justices' hands at it, and witnesses
more than my pack will hold.
Clo. Lay it by too: another.
Aut. This is a merry ballad, but a very pretty
one.
Mop. Let's have some merry ones.
Aut. Why, this is a passing merry one, and
goes to the tune of 'Two maids wooing a man:'
there's scarce a maid westward but she sings it:
'tis in request, I can tell you.
Mop. We can both sing it: if thou'lt bear a
part thou shalt hear; 'tis in three parts.
Dor. We had the tune on't a month ago.
Aut. I can bear my part; you must know 'tis
my occupation: have at it with you.
Aut. Get you hence, for I must go,
Where it fits not you to know.
Dor. Whither?
Mop. O! whither?
Dor. Whither?
Mop. It becomes thy oath full well,
Thou to me thy secrets tell.
Dor. Me too: let me go thither.
Mop. Or thou go'st to the grange or mill.
Dor. If to either, thou dost ill.
Aut. Neither.
Dor. What, neither?
Aut. Neither.
Dor. Thou hast sworn my love to be.
Mop. Thou hast sworn it more to me:
Then whither go'st? aay whither?
Clo. We'll have this song out anon by our-
selves: my father and the gentlemen are in sad
talk, and we'll not trouble them: come, bring
away thy pack after me. Wenches, I'll buy for
you both. Pedlar, let's have the first choice. Fol-
low me, girls. [Exit with DORCAS and MOPSA.
Aut. And you shall pay well for 'em.
Will you buy any tape,
Or lace for your cape,
My dainty duck, my dear-a?
Any silk, any thread,
Any toys for your head,
Of the new'st and fin'st, fin'st wear-a?
Come to the pedlar;
Money's a meddler,
That doth utter all men's ware-a.
[Exit.

Re-enter Servant.
Serv. Master, there is three carters, three
shepherds, three neat-herds, three swine-herds,
that have made themselves all men of hair;
they call themselves Saltiers; and they have a
dance which the wenches say is a gallimaufry of
gambols, because they are not in't; but they
themselves are o' the mind,—if it be not too
rough for some that know little but bowling,—it
will please plentifully.
Shep. Away! we'll none on't: here has been
too much homely foolery already. I know, sir,
we weary you.
Pol. You weary those that refresh us: pray,
let's see these four threes of herdsmen.
Serv. One three of them, by their own report,
sir, hath danced before the king; and not the
worst of the three but jumps twelve foot and a
half by the squier.
Shep. Leave your prating: since these good
men are pleased let them come in; but quickly
now.
Serv. Why, they stay at door, sir. [Exit.

Re-enter Servant, with Twelve Rustics habited
like Satyrs. They dance, and then exeunt.
Pol. [To Shep.] O, father! you'll know more
of that hereafter.
[To CAMILLO.] Is it not too far gone? 'Tis time
to part them.
He's simple and tells much. [To FLORIZEL.]
How now, fair shepherd!
Your heart is full of something that does take
Your mind from feasting. Sooth, when I was
young,
And handed love as you do, I was wont
To load my she with knacks: I would have
ransack'd
The pedlar's silken treasury and have pour'd it
To her acceptance; you have let him go
And nothing marted with him. If your lass
Interpretation should abuse and call this
Your lack of love or bounty, you were straited
For a reply, at least if you make a care
Of happy holding her.
Flo. Old sir, I know
She prizes not such trifles as these are.
The gifts she looks from me are pack'd and
lock'd
Up in my heart, which I have given already,
But not deliver'd. O! hear me breathe my life
Before this ancient sir, who, it should seem,
Hath sometime lov'd; I take thy hand; this
hand,
As soft as dove's down, and as white as it,
Or Ethiopian's tooth, or the fann'd snow
That's bolted by the northern blasts twice o'er.
Pol. What follows this?
How prettily the young swain seems to wash
The hand was fair before! I have put you out:
But to your protestation: let me hear
What you profess.
Flo. Do, and be witness to't.
Pol. And this my neighbour too?
Flo. And he, and more
Than he, and men, the earth, the heavens, and
all;
That, were I crown'd the most imperial monarch,
Thereof most worthy, were I the fairest youth
That ever made eye swerve, had force and know-
ledge
More than was ever man's, I would not prize
them
Without her love: for her employ them all;
Commend them and condemn them to her ser-
vice
Or to their own perdition.
Pol. Fairly offer'd.
Caw. This shows a sound affection.
Shep. But, my daughter,
Say you the like to him?
Per. I cannot speak
So well, nothing so well; no, nor mean better:
By the pattern of mine own thoughts I cut out
The purity of his.
Shep. Take hands; a bargain;
And, friends unknown, you shall bear witness
to't:
I give my daughter to him, and will make
Her portion equal his.
Flo. O! that must be
I' the virtue of your daughter: one being dead,
I shall have more than you can dream of yet;
Enough then for your wonder. But, come on;
Contract us 'fore these witnesses.
Shep. Come, your hand;
And, daughter, yours.
Pol. Soft, swain, awhile, beseech you.
Have you a father?
Flo. I have; but what of him?
Pol. Knows he of this?
Flo. He neither does nor shall.
Pol. Methinks a father
Is, at the nuptial of his son, a guest
That best becomes the table. Pray you, once
more,
Is not your father grown incapable
Of reasonable affairs? is he not stupid
With age and altering rheums? can he speak?
hear?
Know man from man? dispute his own estate?
Lies he not bed-rid? and again does nothing
But what he did being childish?
Flo. No, good sir:
He has his health and ampler strength indeed
Than most have of his age.
Pol. By my white beard,
You offer him, if this be so, a wrong
Something unfilial. Reason my son
Should choose himself a wife, but as good
reason
The father,—all whose joy is nothing else
But fair posterity,—should hold some counsel
In such a business.
Flo. I yield all this;
But for some other reasons, my grave sir,
Which 'tis not fit you know, I not acquaint
My father of this business.
Pol. Let him know't.
Flo. He shall not.
Pol. Prithee, let him.
Flo. No, he must not.
Shep. Let him, my son: he shall not need to
grieve
At knowing of thy choice.
Flo. Come, come, he must not.
Mark our contract.
Pol. Mark your divorce, young sir,
[Discovering himself.
Whom son I dare not call: thou art too base
To be acknowledg'd: thou a sceptre's heir,
That thus affect'st a sheep-hook! Thou old
traitor,
I am sorry that by hanging thee I can
But shorten thy life one week. And thou, fresh
piece
Of excellent witchcraft, who of force must know
The royal fool thou cop'st with,—
Shep. O, my heart!
Pol. I'll have thy beauty scratch'd with briers,
and made
More homely than thy state. For thee, fond
boy,
If I may ever know thou dost but sigh
That thou no more shall see this knack,—as
never
I mean thou shalt,—we'll bar thee from succes-
sion;
Not hold thee of our blood, no, not our kin,
Far than Deucalion off: mark thou my words:
Follow us to the court. Thou, churl, for this
time,
Though full of our displeasure, yet we free thee
From the dead blow of it. And you, enchant-
ment,—
Worthy enough a herdsman; yea, him too,
That makes himself, but for our honour therein,
Unworthy thee—if ever henceforth thou
These rural latches to his entrance open,
Or hoop his body more with thy embraces,
I will devise a death as cruel for thee
As thou art tender to't. [Exit.
Per. Even here undone!
I was not much afeard; for once or twice
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