Page images
PDF
EPUB

ACT IV.

.

Enter Time, as Chorus.
Time. I,—that please some, try all ; both joy,

and terror,

Of good and bad ; that make, and unfold error,
Now take upon me, in the name of Time,
To use my wings. Impute it not a crime,
To me, or my swift passage, that I slide
O'er sixteen years, and leave the growth untried
Of that wide gap;' since it is in my power
To o'erthrow law, and in one self-born hour
To plant and o'erwhelm custom : Let me pass
The same I am, ere ancient'st order was,
Or what is now receiv'd: I witness to
The times that brought them in ; so shall I do
To the freshest things now reigning; and make stale
The glistering of this present, as my tale
Now seems to it. Your patience this allowing,
I turn iny glass ; and give my scene such growing,
As
you

had slept between. Leontes leaving
The effects of his fond jealousies ; so grieving,
That he shuts up himself; imagine me,
Gentle spectators, that I now may be
In fair Bohemia ; and remember well,
I mentioned a son o'the king's, which Florizel

- and leave the growth untried

Of that wide gap;] Our author attends more to his ideas than to his words. The growth of the wide gap, is somewhat irregular; but he means, the growth, or progression of the time which filled up the gap of the story between Perdịta's birth and her sixteenth year. To leave this growth untried, is, to leave the passages of the intermediate years unnoted and unexamined. Untried is not, perhaps, the word which he would have chosen, but which his rhyme required. Johnson.

I now name to you; and with speed so pace
To speak of Perdita, now grown in grace
Equal with wond'ring: What of her ensues,
I list not prophecy; but let Time's news
Be known, when 'tis brought forth :- shepherd's

daughter,
And what to her adheres, which follows after,
Is the argument of time :: Of this allow,
If ever you have spent time worse ere now;
If never yet, that Time himself doth say,
He wishes earnestly, you never may. [Exit.

SCENE I.

The same.

A Room in the Palace of Polixenes.

Enter POLIXENES and CAMILLO.

Pol. I pray thee, good Camillo, be no more importunate : 'tis a sickness, denying thee any thing ; a death, to grant this.

Cam. It is fifteen years,* since I saw my country: though I have, for the most part, been aired abroad, I desire to lay my bones there. Besides, the penitent king, my master, hath sent for me: to whose feeling sorrows I might be some allay, or I o'erween to think so; which is another spur to my departure.

Pol. As thou lovest me, Camillo, wipe not out the rest of thy services, by leaving me now: the need I have of thee, thine own goodness hath made; better not to have had thee, than thus to want thee: thou, having made me businesses, which none,

? Is the argument of time:] Argument is the same with subject.

3

Of this allow,] To allow in our author's time signified to approve.

4 It is fifteen years,] We should read-sixteen, according to several preceding passages.

without thee, can sufficiently manage, must either stay to execute them thyself, or take away with thee the very services thou hast done : which if I have not enough considered, (as too much I cannot,) to be more thankful to thee, shall be my study; and my profit therein, the heaping friendships. Of that fatal country Sicilia, pr’ythee speak no more: whose very naming punishes me with the remembrance of that penitent, as thou call'st him, and reconciled king, my brother; whose loss of his most precious queen, and children, are even now to be afresh lamented. Say to me, when saw'st thou the prince Florizel my son? Kings are no less unhappy, their issue not being gracious, than they are in losing them, when they have approved their virtues.

Cam. Sir, it is three days, since I saw the prince: What his happier affairs may be, are to me unknown: but I have, missingly,' noted, he is of late much retired from court; and is less frequent to his princely exercises, than formerly he hath appeared.

Pol. I have considered so much, Camillo; and with some care; so far, that I have eyes under my service, which look upon his removedness: from whom I have this intelligence; That he is seldom from the house of a most homely shepherd; a man, they say, that from very nothing, and beyond the imagination of his neighbours, is grown into an unspeakable estate.

Cam. I have heard, sir, of such a man, who hath a daughter of most rare note: the report of her is extended more, than can be thought to begin from such a cottage.

and my profit therein, the heaping friendships.] Friendships is, I believe, here used, with sufficient licence, merely for friendly offices. MALONE.

missingly,) Missingly, i. e. at intervals, not constantly.

Pol. That's likewise part of my intelligence. But, I fear the angle that plucks our son thither. Thou shalt accompany us to the place: where we will, not appearing what we are, have some question? with the shepherd; from whose simplicity, I think it not uneasy to get the cause of my son's resort thither. Pr’ythee, be my present partner in this business, and lay aside the thoughts of Sicilia.

Cam. I willingly obey your command.

Pol. My best Čamillo !-We must disguise ourselves.

[Exeunt.

SCENE II.

The same.

A Road near the Shepherd's Cottage.

Enter AutoLycus, singing.

When daffodils begin to peer,

With, heigh! the doxy over the dale, Why, then comes in the sweet o'the year ;

For the red blood reigns in the winter's pale.'

7

some question -] i. e. some talk. * When daffodils begin to peer,And

Jog on, jog on, the foot-path way,] “ Two nonsensical songs, by the rogue Autolycus," says Dr. Burney: who subsequently observes, that “ This Autolycus is the true ancient Minstrel, as described in the old Fabliaux." I believe, that many of our readers will push the comparison a little further, and concur with me in thinking that our modern minstrels of the opera, like their predecessor Autolycus, are pickpockets as well as singers of nonsensical ballads. STEEVENS.

9 For the red blood reigns in the winter's pale.] The meaning is, the red, the spring blood now reigns o'er the parts lately under the dominion of winter. The English pale, the Irish pale, were frequent expressions in Shakspeare's time; and the words red and pale were chosen for the sake of the antithesis. FARMER.

The white sheet bleaching on the hedge,

With, hey! the sweet birds, 0, how they sing ! Doth set my pugging tooth on edge;

For a quart of ale is a dish for a king. The lark, that tirra-lirra chants,

With, hey! with, hey! 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 traffick 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.-A prize! a prize!

2

- pugging tooth--) perhaps progging, i, e. thievish.

my aunts,] Aunt appears to have been at this time a cant word for a bawd.

wore three-pile;] i. e, rich velvet.

With die, and drab,] i. e. with gaming and whoring. the silly cheat :] Cant term for picking pockets.

« PreviousContinue »