The Winter's Tale "A Snapper-up Of Unconsidered Trifles"

William Shakespeare

"A Snapper-up Of Unconsidered Trifles"

Context: When all appears gloomy–King Leontes, it seems, has caused the deaths of his wife, his son, and his daughter, and is estranged from his dearest friend, the King of Bohemia–suddenly Autolycus, a vender and ballad-monger, appears, singing a light-hearted ballad about daffodils and spring. Autolycus ends his song and delivers a short soliloquy about himself:

. . .
My traffic is sheets; when the kite builds, look to lesser linen. My father named me Autolycus, who being, as I am, littered under Mercury, was likewise a snapper-up 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. . . .