The Winter's Tale By William Shakespeare Act V: Scene 2

ACT V. SCENE 2. The same. Before the Palace.

[Enter AUTOLYCUS and a Gentleman.]

Beseech you, sir, were you present at this relation?

I was by at the opening of the fardel, heard the old shepherd
deliver the manner how he found it: whereupon, after a little
amazedness, we were all commanded out of the chamber; only this,
methought I heard the shepherd say he found the child.

I would most gladly know the issue of it.

I make a broken delivery of the business; but the changes I
perceived in the king and Camillo were very notes of admiration.
They seem'd 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
ransomed, or one destroyed: a notable passion of wonder appeared
in them; but the wisest beholder, 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. Here comes a gentleman
that happily knows more.

[Enter a Gentleman.]

The news, Rogero?

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.
Here comes the Lady Paulina's steward: he can deliver you more.

[Enter a third Gentleman.]

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?

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 Antigonus, found with it, which they know to
be his character; the majesty of the creature in resemblance of
the mother; the affection of nobleness, 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?


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 countenance of such distraction 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 forgiveness; 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 description to do it.

What, pray you, became of Antigonus, that carried hence the

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.

What became of his bark and his followers?

Wrecked the same instant of their master's death, and in the
view of the shepherd: 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.

The dignity of this act was worth the audience of kings and
princes; for by such was it acted.

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