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 V. Scene II.

Scene II.—The Same. Before the Palace.

Enter AUTOLYCUS and a Gentleman.

Aut. Beseech you, sir, were you present at
this relation?
Gent. I was by at the opening of the fardel,
heard the old shepherd deliver the manner how
he found it: whereupon, after a little amazed-
ness, we were all commanded out of the chamber;
only this methought I heard the shepherd say,
he found the child.
Aut. I would most gladly know the issue of it.
Gent. I make a broken delivery of the busi-
ness; but the changes I perceived in the king
and Camillo were very notes of admiration: they
seemed almost, with staring on one another, to
tear the cases of their eyes; there was speech in
their dumbness, language in their very gesture;
they looked as they had heard of a world ran-
somed, or one destroyed: a notable passion of
wonder appeared in them; but the wisest be-
holder, that knew no more but seeing, could not
say if the importance were joy or sorrow; but in
the extremity of the one it must needs be.
Enter another Gentleman.
Here comes a gentleman that haply knows more.
The news, Rogero?
Sec. Gent. Nothing but bonfires: the oracle
is fulfilled; the king's daughter is found: such a
deal of wonder is broken out within this hour
that ballad-makers cannot be able to express it.

Enter a third Gentleman.
Here comes the lady Paulina's steward: he can
deliver you more. How goes it now, sir? this
news which is called true is so like an old tale,
that the verity of it is in strong suspicion: has
the king found his heir?
Third Gent. Most true, if ever truth were
pregnant by circumstance: that which you hear
you'll swear you see, there is such unity in the
proofs. The mantle of Queen Hermione, her
jewel about the neck of it, the letters of Anti-
gonus found with it, which they know to be his
character; the majesty of the creature in re-
semblance of the mother, the affection of noble-
ness which nature shows above her breeding, and
many other evidences proclaim her with all
certainty to be the king's daughter. Did you see
the meeting of the two kings?
Sec. Gent. No.
Third Gent. Then you have lost a sight, which
was to be seen, cannot be spoken of. There
might you have beheld one joy crown another,
so, and in such manner that, it seemed, sorrow
wept to take leave of them, for their joy waded
in tears. There was casting up of eyes, holding
up of hands, with countenances of such dis-
traction that they were to be known by garment,
not by favour. Our king, being ready to leap out
of himself for joy of his found daughter, as if
that joy were now become a loss, cries, 'O, thy
mother, thy mother!' then asks Bohemia for-
giveness; then embraces his son-in-law; then
again worries he his daughter with clipping her;
now he thanks the old shepherd, which stands
by like a weather-bitten conduit of many kings'
reigns. I never heard of such another encounter,
which lames report to follow it and undoes de-
scription to do it.
Sec. Gent. What, pray you, became of Anti-
gonus that carried hence the child?
Third Gent. Like an old tale still, which will
have matter to rehearse, though credit be asleep
and not an ear open. He was torn to pieces with,
a bear: this avouches the shepherd's son, who
has not only his innocence—which seems much
—to justify him, but a handkerchief and rings of
his that Paulina knows.
First Gent. What became of his bark and his
followers?
Third Gent. Wracked, the same instant of
their master's death, and in the view of the shep-
herd: so that all the instruments which aided to
expose the child were even then lost when it was
found. But, O! the noble combat that 'twixt
joy and sorrow was fought in Paulina. She had
one eye declined for the loss of her husband,
another elevated that the oracle was fulfilled:
she lifted the princess from the earth, and so
locks her in embracing, as if she would pin her
to her heart that she might no more be in danger
of losing.
First Gent. The dignity of this act was worth
the audience of kings and princes, for by such
was it acted.
Third Gent. One of the prettiest touches of
all, and that which angled for mine eyes,—
caught the water though not the fish,—was when
at the relation of the queen's death, with the
manner how she came to it,—bravely confessed
and lamented by the king,—how attentiveness
wounded his daughter; till, from one sign of
dolour to another, she did, with an 'alas!' I
would fain say, bleed tears, for I am sure my
heart wept blood. Who was most marble there
changed colour; some swounded, all sorrowed:
if all the world could have seen't, the woe had
been universal.
First Gent. Are they returned to the court?
Third Gent. No; the princess hearing of her
mother's statue, which is in the keeping of
Paulina—a piece many years in doing, and now
newly performed by that rare Italian master,
Julio Romano; who, had he himself eternity
and could put breath into his work, would
beguile Nature of her custom, so perfectly he is
her ape: he so near to Hermione hath done
Hermione that they say one would speak to her
and stand in hope of answer: thither with all
greediness of affection are they gone, and there
they intend to sup.
Sec. Gent. I thought she had some great
matter there in hand, for she hath privately,
twice or thrice a day, ever since the death of
Hermione, visited that removed house. Shall
we thither and with our company piece the re-
joicing?
First Gent. Who would be thence that has
the benefit of access? every wink of an eye some
new grace will be born: our absence makes it
unthrifty to our knowledge. Let's along.
[Exeunt Gentlemen.
Aut. Now, had I not the dash of my former
life in me, would preferment drop on my head.
I brought the old man and his son aboard the
prince; told him I heard them talk of a fardel
and I know not what; but he at that time, over-
fond of the shepherd's daughter,—so he then
took her to be,—who began to be much sea-sick,
and himself little better, extremity of weather
continuing, this mystery remained undiscovered.
But 'tis all one to me; for had I been the finder
out of this secret, it would not have relished
among my other discredits. Here come those
I have done good to against my will, and al-
ready appearing in the blossoms of their for-
tune.

Enter Shepherd and Clown.
Shep. Come, boy; I am past moe cliildren,
but thy sons and daughters will be all gentlemen
born.
Clo. You are well met, sir. You denied to
fight with me this other day, because I was no
gentleman born: see you these clothes? say, you
see them not and think me still no gentleman
born: you were best say these robes are not
gentleman born. Give me the lie, do, and try
whether I am not now gentleman born.
Aut. I know you are now, sir, a gentleman
born.
Clo. Ay, and have been so any time these
four hours.
Shep. And so have I, boy.
Clo. So you have: but I was a gentleman
born before my father; for the king's son took
me by the hand and called me brother; and
then the two kings called my father brother;
and then the prince my brother and the princess
my sister called my father father; and so we
wept; and there was the first gentleman-like
tears that ever we shed.
Shep. We may live, son, to shed many more.
Clo. Ay; or else 'twere hard luck, being in so
preposterous estate as we are.
Aut. I humbly beseech you, sir, to pardon me
all the faults I have committed to your worship,
and to give me your good report to the prince
my master.
Shep. Prithee, son, do; for we must be gentle,
now we are gentlemen.
Clo. Thou wilt amend thy life?
Aut. Ay, an it like your good worship.
Clo. Give me your hand: I will swear to the
prince thou art as honest a true fellow as any is
in Bohemia.
Shep. You may say it, but not swear it.
Clo. Not swear it, now I am a gentleman?
Let boors and franklins say it, I'll swear it.
Shep. How if it be false, son?
Clo. If it be ne'er so false, a true gentleman
may swear it in the behalf of his friend: and
I'll swear to the prince thou art a tall fellow
of thy hands and that thou wilt not be drunk;
but I know thou art no tall fellow of thy hands
and that thou wilt be drunk: but I'll swear it,
and I would thou wouldst be a tall fellow of thy
hands.
Aut. I will prove so, sir, to my power.
Clo. Ay, by any means prove a tall fellow:
if I do not wonder how thou darest venture to
be drunk, not being a tall fellow, trust me not.
Hark! the kings and the princes, our kindred,
are going to see the queen's picture. Come,
follow us: we'll be thy good masters.
[Exeunt.
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