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THE WINTER'S TALE.
The first edition of this play known is that of the folio, 1623; and the earliest notice of its performance is an entry in the manuscript Diary (Mus. Ashmol. Oxon.) of Dr. Simon Forman, who thus describes the plot of the piece, which he witnessed at the Globe Theatre, May 15th, 1611:
“Observe ther howe Lyontes the Kinge of Cicillia was overcom with jelosy of his wife with the Kinge of Bohemia, his frind, that came to see him, and howe he contrived his death, and wold have had his cup-berer to have poisoned, who gave the Kinge of Bohemia warning thereof and fled with him to Bohemia.
“Remember also howe he sent to the orakell of Apollo, and the aunswer of Apollo that she was giltless, and that the kinge was jelouse, &c., and howe, except the child was found againe that was loste, the kinge should die without yssue ; for the child was caried into Bohemia, and there laid in a forrest, and brought up by a sheppard, and the Kinge of Bohemia, his sonn married that wentch: and howe they fled into Cicillia to Leontes, and the sheppard having showed [by] the letter of the nobleman whom Leontes sent, it was that child, and [by] the jewells found about her, she was knowen to be Leontes daughter, and was then 16. yers old.
“Remember also the rog [rogue] that cam in all tottered like roll pixci * and howe he fayned him sicke and to have him robbed of all that he had, and howe he cosoned the por man of all his money, and after cam to the shop ther (sheep sheer ?] with a pedlers packe, and ther cosened them again of all their money; and how he changed apparell with the Kinge of Bomia, his sonn, and then how he turned courtier, &c. Beware of trustinge feined beggars or fawninge fellouse." +
In the same year, as we learn from a record in the Accounts of the Revels at Court, it was acted at Whitehall :
The accounts of Lord Harrington, Treasurer of the Chamber to James I., show that it was again acted at Court, before Prince Charles, the Lady Elizabeth, and the Prince Palatine Elector, in May, 1613.
And it is further mentioned in the Office Book of Sir Henry Herbert, Master of the Revels, under the date of August the 19th, 1623:
“For the kings players. An olde playe called Winters Tale, formerly allowed of by Sir George Bucke and likewyse by mee on Mr. Hemminges his worde that there was nothing prophane added or reformed, thogh the allowed booke was missing : and therefore I returned it without a foe, this 19th of August, 1623."
• This was no doubt some noted vagabond, whose nick- L + From a carefully executed copy made from the original name has not come down to us correctly. Mr. Collier prints by Mr. Halliwell. it. * Coll Pipci."
From these facts Mr. Collier infers, and his inference is strengthened by the style of the language and the structure of the verse, that “ The Winter's Tale” was a novelty at the time Forman saw it played at the Globe, and had “been composed in the autumn and winter of 1610-11, with a view to its production on the Bankside, as soon as the usual performances by the king's players commenced there.”
The plot of “ The Winter's Tale” is founded on a popular novel by Robert Greene, first printed in 1588, and then called “Pandosto : The Triumph of Time," * &c., though in subsequent impressions intituled, “ The History of Dorastus and Fawnia.” In this tale we have the leading incidents of the play, and counterparts, though insufferably dull and coarse ones, of the principal personages. But Shakespeare has modified the crude materials of his original with such judgment, and vivified and ennobled the characters he has retained with such incomparable art, that, as usual, he may be said to have imposed rather than to have incurred an obligation by adopting them.
Lords, Ladies, and Attendants ; Satyrs for a Dance ; Shepherds, Shepherdesses, Guards, &c.
SCENE,- Sometimes in Sicilia ; sometimes in BOHEMIA.
Enter CAMILLo and ARCHIDAMUs.
ARCH. If you shall chance, Camillo, to visit Bohemia, on the like occasion whereon my services are now on foot, you shall see, as I have said, great difference betwixt our Bohemia and your Sicilia. CAM. I think, this coming summer, the king of Sicilia means to pay Bohemia the visitation which he justly owes him. ARCH. Wherein our entertainment shall shame us, we will be justified in our loves; for, indeed, CAM. Beseech you, ARCH. Verily, I speak it in the freedom of my knowledge, we cannot with such magnificence— in so rare—I know not what to say.—We will
give you sleepy drinks, that your senses, unintel
ligent of our insufficience, may, though they cannot praise us, as little accuse us. CAM. You pay a great deal too dear for what's given freely. ARCH. Believe me, I speak as my understanding instructs me, and as mine honesty puts it to utterance. CAM. Sicilia cannot show himself over-kind to Bohemia. They were trained together in their childhoods; and there rooted betwixt them then such an affection which cannot choose but branch now. Since their more mature dignities and royal necessities made separation of their society, their encounters, though not personal, have been royally attorneyed, with interchange of gifts, letters, loving embassies; that they have seemed to be together, though absent; shook hands, as over a vast;" and embraced, as it were, from the ends of opposed winds. The heavens continue their loves! ARCH. I think there is not in the world either malice or matter to alter it. You have an unspeakable comfort of your young prince Mamillius; it is a gentleman of the greatest promise that ever came into my note. CAM. I very well agree with you in the hopes of him: it is a gallant child; one that, indeed, physics the subject," makes old hearts fresh ; they that went on crutches ere he was born, desire yet their life to see him a man. Anch. Would they else be content to die? CAM. Yes; if there were no other excuse why they should desire to live. ARCH. If the king had no son they would desire to live on crutches till he had one. [Ereunt.
SCENE II.-The same. A Room of State in the Palace.
Enter LEoNTEs, PolixENEs, HERMIone, MAMILLius, CAMILLo, and Attendants.
Poll. Nine changes of the wat'ry star have been The shepherd's note, since we have left our throne Without a burden: time as long again Would be fill'd up, my brother, with our thanks; And yet we should, for perpetuity, Go hence in debt: and therefore, like a cipher, Yet standing in rich place, I multiply, With one we-thank-you, many thousands more That go before it.
LEoN. Stay your thanks awhile, And pay them when you part.
Poll. Sir, that’s to-morrow. I am question'd by my fears, of what may chance Or breed upon our absence; that may blow No sneaping winds at home, to make us say,
This is put forth too truly /* Besides, I have
a — shook hands, as over a vast;] So the first folio: that of 1632 reads,-" over a vast sea.” The earlier lection is no doubt the true one; in “The Tempest,” Act I. Sc. 2, we have, “past of night:” and in “Pericles,” Act III. Sc. 1,–
“The God of this great rast, rebuke these surges.”
b — one that, indeed, physics the subject, —J “Subject,” in this place, may import the people generally, as it is usually interpreted; yet from the words which immediately follow, “makes old hearts fresh,” it has perhaps a more particular meaning :-The sight and hopes of the princely boy were cordial to the afflicted, and invigorating to the old.
c — that may blow
The sense appears to be, Oh that no misfortune may occurat home
to justify my apprehensions, and make me say, “I predicted too truly : ” but Mr. Dyce and Mr. Collier suspect, with reason, that the passage is corrupt.
d To let—) To stay.
e – behind the gest—J A “gest" was the name of the scroll containing the route and resting-places of royalty during a “progress;” and Hermione's meaning may be, -when he visits Bohemia he shall have my licence to prolong his sojourn a month beyond the time prescribed for his departure. But gest, or jest, also signified a show or revelry, and it is not impossible that the sense intended was, -he shall have my permission to remain a month after the farewell entertainment.
f What lady-she her lord.— Mr. Collier's annotator suggests, prosaically enough, “What lady should her lord.” The difficulty in the expression arises, we apprehend, solely from the omission of the hyphen in “lady-she;” that restored, the sense is unmistakeable, -I love thee not a tick of the clock behind whatever high-born woman does her husband. So in Massinger's play of “The Bondman,” Act I.Sc. 3,
“I’ll kiss him for the honour of my country,