Taken from the Complete Works of William Shakespeare
The Winter’s Tale
ACT IV. SCENE III.—The same. A Shepherd’s Cottage.
Shep. None, sir; I have no pheasant, cock
nor hen. [men!
Aut. How bless’d are we that are not simple
Yet nature might have made me as these are,
Therefore I will not disdain.
Clo. This cannot be but a great courtier.
Shep. His garments are rich, but he wears
them not handsomely.
Clo. He seems to be the more noble in being
fantastical: a great man, I’ll warrant; I know
by the picking on’s teeth.
Aut. The fardel there? what’s i’ the fardel?
Wherefore that box?
Shep. Sir, there lies such secrets in this fardel
and box, which none must know but the king;
and which he shall know within this houir, if I
may come to the speech of him.
Aut. Age, thou hast lost thy labour.
Shep. Why, sir?
Aut.The king is not at the palace; he is
gone aboard a new ship to purge melancholy
and air himself: for, if thou beest capable of
things serious, thou must know the king is full
Shep. So ’tis said, sir,—about his son, that
should have married a shepherd’s daughter.
Aut. If that sheperd be not in hand-fast,
let him fly: the curses he shall have, the tor-
tures he shall feel, will break the back of man,
the heart of monster.
Clo. Think you so, sir?
Aut. No he alone shall suffer what wit can
make heavy and vengeance bitter; but those
that are germane to him, though removed fifty
times, shall all come under the hangman:
which, though it be great pity, yet it is neces-
sary. An old sheep-whistling rogue, a ram-
tender, to offer to have his daughter come into
grace! Some say he shall be stoned; but that
death is too soft for him, say I. Draw our
throne into a sheep-cote!—all deaths are too
few, the sharpest too easy.
Clo. Has the old man e’er a son, sir, do you
hear, an’t like you, sir?
Aut. He has a son,—who shall be flayed
alive; then ‘nointed over with honey, set on
the head of a wasp’s nest; then stand till he be
three quarters and a dram dead; then recovered
again with aquavitæ, or some other hot infu-
sion; then, raw as he is, andin the hottest day
prognostication proclaims, shall he be set
against a brick-wall, the sun looking with a
southward eye upon him,—where he is to be-
hold him with flies blown to death. But what
talk we of these traitorly raskals, whose mis-
eries are to be smiled at, their offences being so
capital? Tell me,—for you seem to be honest
plain men,—what have you to the king: being
something gently considered, I’ll bring you
where he is aboard, tender your persons to his
presence, whisper him in your behalfs; and if
it be in man besides the king to effect your
suits, here is man shall do it.
Clo. He seems to be of great authority: close
with him, give him gold; and though authority
be a stubborn bear, yet he is oft led by the nose
with gold: show the inside of your purse to the
outside of his hand, and no more ado. Remem-
ber,—stoned and flayed alive.
Shep. An’t please you, sir, to undertake the
business for us, here is that gold I have: I’ll
make it as much more, and leave this young
man in pawn till I bring it you.
Aut. After I have done what I promised?
Shep. Ay, sir.
Aut. Well, give me the moiety.—Are you a
party in this business?
Clo. In some sort, sir: but though my case be
a pitiful one, I hope I shall not be flayed out of
Aut. O, that’s the case of the shepherd’s son.
Hang him, he’ll be made an example!
Clo. 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. Sir, I will give you as much as
this old man does, when the business is per-
formed; and remain, as he says, your paw till
it be brought you.
Aut. I will trust you. Walk before toward
the sea-side; go on the right-hand: I will but
look upon the hedge, and follow you.
Clo. We are blessed in this man, as I may
say, even blessed.
Shep. Let’s before, as he bids us: he was pro-
vided to do us good.
[Exeunt Shepherd and Clown.
Aut. If I had a mind to be honest, I see For-
tune would not suffer me: she drops booties in
my mouth. I am courted now with a double
occasion,—gold, and a means to do the prince
my master good; which who knows how that
may turn back to my advancement? I will
bring these two moles, these blind ones, aboard
him; if he think it fit to shore them again, and
that the complaint they have to the king con-
cerns him nothing, let him call me rogue for be-
ing so far officious; for I am proof against that
title, and what shame else belongs to’t. To him
will I present them: there may be atter in it.
(On 10/23/14 – Join me for the continuation of “The Winter’s Tale”,
ACT V. SCENE I—SICILIA. A Room in the Palace of