Enter Autolycus, singing
When daffodils begin to peer,
With heigh, the doxy over the dale,
beggar's mistress, whore; sweetheart
Why, then comes in the sweet o'the year,
For the red blood reigns in the winter's pale.
The white sheet bleaching on the hedge,
With heigh, the sweet birds O, how they sing!
Doth set my pugging tooth an edge,
For a quart of ale is a dish for a king.
The lark, that tirra-lyra chants,
With heigh, with heigh, the thrush and the jay,
Are summer songs for me and my aunts
While we lie tumbling in the hay.
I have served Prince Florizel, and in my time wore
three-pile; but now I am out of service.
But shall I go mourn for that, my dear?
The pale moon shines by night:
And when I wander here and there
I then do most go right.
If tinkers may have leave to live,
And bear the sow-skin budget,
Then my account I well may give,
And in the stocks avouch it.
My traffic is sheets; when the kite builds, look to lesser
bird of prey; thieving bird [of ill omen; also, strong term of abuse]
linen. My father named me Autolycus, who, being, as I
am, littered under Mercury, was likewise a snapper-up
[comparing humans to animals] bring forth, be born
of unconsidered trifles. With die and drab I purchased
this caparison, and my revenue is the silly cheat.
Gallows and knock are too powerful on the highway:
beating and hanging are terrors to me. For the life to come, I
sleep out the thought of it. A prize! A prize!
Let me see: every 'leven wether tods, every tod
produce a tod [about 28 pounds] of wool
yields pound and odd shilling; fifteen hundred shorn,
what comes the wool to?
If the springe hold, the cock's mine.
I cannot do't without counters. Let me see: what
am I to buy for our sheep-shearing feast? Three pound
of sugar, five pound of currants, rice – what will this
sister of mine do with rice? But my father hath made her
mistress of the feast, and she lays it on. She hath made
me four-and-twenty nosegays for the shearers,
three-man-song men all, and very good ones; but they are
most of them means and bases – but one Puritan
amongst them, and he sings psalms to hornpipes. I must
have saffron to colour the warden pies; mace; dates –
saffron (n.) 1
orange-red dye [for colouring some types of food or drink]
none, that's out of my note; nutmegs, seven; a race or
two of ginger, but that I may beg; four pound of prunes,
and as many of raisins o'th' sun.
AUTOLYCUS (grovelling on the ground) O that ever I was
I'th' name of me!
O, help me, help me! Pluck but off these
rags; and then, death, death!
Alack, poor soul! Thou hast need of more rags
to lay on thee, rather than have these off.
O sir, the loathsomeness of them offend me
more than the stripes I have received, which are mighty
ones and millions.
Alas, poor man! A million of beating may come
to a great matter.
I am robbed, sir, and beaten; my money and
apparel ta'en from me, and these detestable things put
What, by a horseman or a footman?
A footman, sweet sir, a footman.
Indeed, he should be a footman, by the garments
he has left with thee. If this be a horseman's coat, it hath
seen very hot service. Lend me thy hand, I'll help thee.
Come, lend me thy hand.
He helps him up
O, good sir, tenderly, O!
Alas, poor soul!
O, good sir, softly, good sir! I fear, sir, my
shoulder-blade is out.
How now? Canst stand?
Softly, dear sir; (he picks his pockets) good
sir, softly. You ha' done me a charitable office.
Dost lack any money? I have a little money for
No, good, sweet sir; no, I beseech you, sir.
I have a kinsman not past three-quarters of a mile hence,
unto whom I was going. I shall there have money, or
anything I want. Offer me no money, I pray you: that
kills my heart.
What manner of fellow was he that robbed you?
A fellow, sir, that I have known to go about
with troll-my-dames. I knew him once a servant of the
Prince. I cannot tell, good sir, for which of his virtues it
was, but he was certainly whipped out of the court.
His vices, you would say. There's no virtue
whipped out of the court: they cherish it to make it stay
there; and yet it will no more but abide.
Vices I would say, sir. I know this man well.
He hath been since an ape-bearer; then a process-server,
a bailiff; then he compassed a motion of the Prodigal
sheriff's officer who serves writs, carries out arrests, etc
compass (v.) 7
go round with, travel about with; or: obtain, lay hold of
Son, and married a tinker's wife within a mile where my
land and living lies; and having flown over many
knavish professions, he settled only in rogue. Some call
Out upon him! Prig, for my life, prig! He haunts
wakes, fairs, and bear-baitings.
Very true, sir; he, sir, he: that's the rogue
that put me into this apparel.
Not a more cowardly rogue in all Bohemia. If you
had but looked big and spit at him, he'd have run.
I must confess to you, sir, I am no fighter.
I am false of heart that way, and that he knew, I warrant
How do you now?
Sweet sir, much better than I was: I can
stand and walk. I will even take my leave of you, and
pace softly towards my kinsman's.
Shall I bring thee on the way?
No, good-faced sir; no, sweet sir.
Then fare thee well. I must go buy spices for our
Prosper you, sweet sir!
Your purse is not hot enough to purchase your spice.
I'll be with you at your sheep-shearing too. If I make
not this cheat bring out another, and the shearers prove
sheep, let me be unrolled, and my name put in the book
of virtue! (sings)
Jog on, jog on, the footpath way,
And merrily hent the stile-a:
A merry heart goes all the day,
Your sad tires in a mile-a.