The Winter's Tale By William Shakespeare Act V: Scene 1

One that gives out himself Prince Florizel,
Son of Polixenes, with his princess, — she
The fairest I have yet beheld, — desires access
To your high presence.

What with him? he comes not
Like to his father's greatness: his approach,
So out of circumstance and sudden, tells us
'Tis not a visitation fram'd, but forc'd
By need and accident. What train?

But few,
And those but mean.

His princess, say you, with him?

Ay; the most peerless piece of earth, I think,
That e'er the sun shone bright on.

O Hermione,
As every present time doth boast itself
Above a better gone, so must thy grave
Give way to what's seen now! Sir, you yourself
Have said and writ so, — but your writing now
Is colder than that theme, — 'She had not been,
Nor was not to be equall'd'; thus your verse
Flow'd with her beauty once; 'tis shrewdly ebb'd,
To say you have seen a better.

Pardon, madam:
The one I have almost forgot, — your pardon; —
The other, when she has obtain'd your eye,
Will have your tongue too. This is a creature,
Would she begin a sect, might quench the zeal
Of all professors else; make proselytes
Of who she but bid follow.

How! not women?

Women will love her that she is a woman
More worth than any man; men, that she is
The rarest of all women.

Go, Cleomenes;
Yourself, assisted with your honour'd friends,
Bring them to our embracement. —

[Exeunt CLEOMENES, Lords, and Gent.]

Still, 'tis strange
He thus should steal upon us.

Had our prince, —
Jewel of children, — seen this hour, he had pair'd
Well with this lord: there was not full a month
Between their births.

Pr'ythee no more; cease; Thou know'st
He dies to me again when talk'd of: sure,
When I shall see this gentleman, thy speeches
Will bring me to consider that which may
Unfurnish me of reason. — They are come. —

[Re-enter CLEOMENES, with FLORIZEL, PERDITA, and Attendants.]

Your mother was most true to wedlock, prince;
For she did print your royal father off,
Conceiving you: were I but twenty-one,
Your father's image is so hit in you,
His very air, that I should call you brother,
As I did him, and speak of something wildly
By us perform'd before. Most dearly welcome!
And your fair princess, — goddess! O, alas!
I lost a couple that 'twixt heaven and earth
Might thus have stood, begetting wonder, as
You, gracious couple, do! And then I lost, —
All mine own folly, — the society,
Amity too, of your brave father, whom,
Though bearing misery, I desire my life
Once more to look on him.

By his command
Have I here touch'd Sicilia, and from him
Give you all greetings that a king, at friend,
Can send his brother: and, but infirmity, —
Which waits upon worn times, — hath something seiz'd
His wish'd ability, he had himself
The lands and waters 'twixt your throne and his
Measur'd, to look upon you; whom he loves,
He bade me say so, — more than all the sceptres
And those that bear them, living.

O my brother, —
Good gentleman! — the wrongs I have done thee stir
Afresh within me; and these thy offices,
So rarely kind, are as interpreters
Of my behind-hand slackness! — Welcome hither,
As is the spring to the earth. And hath he too
Expos'd this paragon to the fearful usage, —
At least ungentle, — of the dreadful Neptune,
To greet a man not worth her pains, much less
The adventure of her person?

Good, my lord,
She came from Libya.

Where the warlike Smalus,
That noble honour'd lord, is fear'd and lov'd?

Most royal sir, from thence; from him whose daughter
His tears proclaim'd his, parting with her: thence, —
A prosperous south-wind friendly, we have cross'd,
To execute the charge my father gave me,
For visiting your highness: my best train
I have from your Sicilian shores dismiss'd;
Who for Bohemia bend, to signify
Not only my success in Libya, sir,
But my arrival, and my wife's, in safety
Here, where we are.

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