The Winter's Tale

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 4 Scene 4

page Act 4 Scene 4 Page 36

Original Text

Modern Text

CLOWN

Has the old man e’er a son, sir, do you hear, an’t
875like you, sir?

YOKEL

Have you heard if the old man has a son?

AUTOLYCUS

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
880aqua-vitae or some other hot infusion; then, raw as
he is, and in 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 behold him with flies blown to death. But what
885talk we of these traitorly rascals, whose miseries
are to be smiled at, their offences being so
capital? Tell me, for you seem to be honest plain
men, what you have to the king: being something
gently considered, I’ll bring you where he is
890aboard, 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.

AUTOLYCUS

He has a son who will be whipped, then covered with honey and put on a wasp’s nest until he is three quarters of the way to death. Then he’ll be revived with liquor or some other hot drink. Then, raw as his flesh is, on the hottest day that can be predicted he’ll be set against a brick wall with the sun beating down upon him, and where he will be swarmed with flies. But why are we talking about these traitors, whose offences are so terrible that their misery should cause us happiness? Tell me, since you seem to be honest, ordinary men, what business do you have with the king? Since I’m well-respected at court, I’ll take you to his ship, bring you into his presence, and whisper to him a recommendation on your behalf. If there is any man beside the king who can help your case, that’s me.

CLOWN

He seems to be of great authority: close with him,
895give 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. Remember ‘stoned,’ and ‘flayed alive.’

YOKEL

He seems to have a great deal of authority. Approach him and give his some money. No matter how stubborn and untamable authority may be, a little money can make him docile. Let him put his hand into your purse, and no more fuss. Remember: “stoned,” and “flayed alive.”