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his chayer, but comming downe in hast, he went to meete them, and first he kissed his mother, and imbraced her a pretie while, then his wife and litle children. And nature so wrought with him, that the teares fell from his eyes, and he coulde not keepe himselfe from making much of them, but yeelded to the
affection of his bloude, as if he had bene violently caried with the furie of a most swift running streame. After he had thus lovingly received them, and perceiving that his mother Volumnia would beginne to speak to him, he called the chiefest of the counsell of the VOLSCEs to heare what she would say. Then she spake in this sort: If we held our peace (my sonne) and determined not to speake, the state of our poore bodies, and present sight of our rayment, would easely bewray to the what life we have led at home, since thy exile and abode abroad; but thinke now with thy selfe, howe much more unfortunatly then all the women livinge, we are come hether, considering that the sight which should be most pleasaunt to all other to beholde, spitefull fortune hath made most fearefull to us : making my selfe to see my sonne, and my daughter here her husband, besieging the walls of his native countrie: 80 as that which is thonely comforte to all other in their adversitie and miserie, to pray unto the goddes, and to call to them for aide, is the onely thinge which plongeth us into most deepe perplexitie. For we cannot (alas) together pray, both for victorie for our countrie, and for safety of thy
life also: but a worlde of grievous curses, yea more then any mortall enemie can heape uppon us, are forcibly wrapt up in our prayers. For the bitter soppe of most harde choyse is offered thy wife and children, to forgoe the one of the two: either to lose the persone of thy selfe or the nurse of their native countrie. For my selfe (my sonne) I am determined not to tarie, till fortune in my life time doe make an end of this warre. For if I cannot perswade thee, rather to doe good unto both parties, then to overthrowe and destroye the one, preferring love and nature before the malice and calamitie of warres, thou shalt see, my sonne, and trust unto it, thou shalt no sooner march forward to assault thy countrie, but thy foot shall treade upon thy mothers wombe, that brought thee first into this world. And I maye not deferre to see the day, either that my sonne be led prisoner in triumphe by his naturall countrymen, or that he himselfe do triumphe of them, and of his naturall countrie. For if it were so, that my request tended to save thy countrie, in destroying the VOLSCES, I must confesse, thou wouldest hardly and doubtfully resolve on that. For as to destroie thy natural countrie, it is altogether unmeete and unlawfull, so were it not iust, and lesse honourable, to betraye those that put their trust in thee.' But my onely demaund consisteth, to make a gayle-deliverie of all evils, which delivereth equall benefite and safety, both to the one and the other, but most honourable for the VOLSCES. For it shall appeare, that having victorie in their hands, they have of speciall favour graunted us singular graces : peace, and amitie, albeit themselves have no lesse part of both, then we. Of which good, if it so come to passe, thy selfe is thonely author, and so hast thou thonely honour. But if it faile, and fall out contrarie, thy selfe alone deservedly shalt carie the shameful reproche and burden of either partie. So, though the end of warre be uncertaine, yet this notwithstanding is most certaine: that if it be thy chance to conquer, this benefite shalt thou reape of thy goodly conquest, to be chronicled the plague and destroyer of thy countrie. And if fortune also overthrowe thee, then the world will say that through desire to revenge thy private iniuries, thou hast for ever undone thy good friendes, who dyd most lovingly and curteously receive thee. Martius gave good eare unto his mothers wordes, without interrupting her speche at all, and after she had sayed what she would, he held his peace a prety while, and aunswered not a word. Hereupon she begane againe to speake unto him, and sayed: My sonne, why doest thou not aunswer me? doest thou thinke it good altogether to geve place unto thy choller and desire of revenge, and thinkest thou it not honestie for thee to graunt thy mother's request, in so weighty a cause? doest thou take it honorable for à noble man, to remember the wronges and iniuries done him, and doest not in like case think it an honest noble mans parte to be thankefull for the goodness that parents doe shewe to their children, acknowledging the dutie and reverence they ought to beare unto them? No man living is more bounde to shewe himselfe thankefull in all partes and respects then thy selfe: who 80 unnaturally shewest all ingratitude. Moreover (my sonne) thou hast
, sorely taken of thy countrie, exacting grievous payments upon them, in revenge of the iniuries offered thee: besides, thou hast not hitherto shewed thy poore mother any curtesie. And therfore, it is not onely honest, but due unto me, that without compulsion I should obtaine my so iust and reasonable request of thee. But since by reason I cannot persuade thee to it, to what purpose doe I deferre my last hope ? And with these wordes, herselfe, his wife, and children, fell down upon their knees before him : Martias seeing that, could refraine no longer, but went straight and lifte her up crying, out: Oh mother, what have you done to me? And holding her hard by the right hande, oh mother, said he, you have won a happy victorie for your countrie, but mortall and unhappy for your sonne: for I see my selfe vanquished by you alone."
(2) SCENE III.
Ladies, you deserve
To have a temple built you.]
“Whereupon the Senate ordeined, that the Magistrates to gratifie and honor these ladyes, should graunt them all that they would require. And they only requested that they would build a temple of Fortune of the women, unto the building whereof they offered them selves to defraye the whole charge of the sacrifices, and other ceremonies belonging to the service of the gods. Neverthelesse, the Senate commending their good-will and forwardnes, ordeined, that the temple and image should be made at the common charge of the cittie. Notwithstanding that, the ladyes gathered money emong them, and made with the same a second image of Fortune, which the ROMAINES say dyd speake as they offred her up in the temple, and dyd set her in her place.”
(3) SCENE VI.--Hail, lords ! I am return'd your soldier.] “Nowe, when Martius was returned againe into the citie of Antium from his voyage, Tullus, that hated and could no longer abide him for the fear he had of his authoritie, sought divers means to make him out of the way, thinking that if he let slippe that present time, he should never recover the like and fit occasion againe. Wherefore Tullus, having procured manie other of his confederacy, required Martius might be deposed from his estate, to render up accomptt to the VOLSCES of his charge and government. Martius fearing to become a private man againe under Tullus being Generall (whose authoritie was greater otherwise, then any other emong all the VOLSCES) answered: He was willing to geve up his charge, and would resigne it into the hands of the lordes of the VOLSCES, if they dyd al command him, as by al their commandment he received it. And moreover, that he would not refuse even at that present to geve up an accomptt unto the people, if they would tarie the hearing of it. The people hereupon called a common counsell, in which assembly there were certaine oratours appointed, that stirred up the common people against him: and when they had tolde their tales, Martius rose up to make them answer. Now, notwithstanding the mutinous people made a marvelous great noise, yet when they saw him, for the reverence they bare unto his valiantnesse, they quieted themselves, and gave him audience to alledge with leysure what he could for his purgation. Moreover, the honestest men of the ANTIATES, and who most rejoyced in peace, shewed by their countenaunce that they would heare him willingly, and iudge also according to their conscience. Whereupon Tullus fearing that if he dyd let him speake, he would prove his innocencie to the people, because emongest other things he had an eloquent tongue; besides that the first good service he had done to the people of the VOLSCES, dyd winne him more favour, then these last accusations could purchase him displeasure : and furthermore, the offence they layed to his charge, was a testimonie of the goodwill they ought him; for they
would never have thought he had done them wrong for that they tooke not the cittie of Rome, if they had not bin very neare taking of it, by meanes of his approche and couduction. For these causes Tulus thought he might no longer delaye his presence and enterprise, neither to tarie for the mutining and rising of the common people against him : wherefore, those that were of the conspiracie, began to cry out that he was not to be heard, and that they would not suffer a traitor to usurpe tyranicall power over the tribe of the VOLSCES, who would not yeld up his state and authority. And in saying these words, they all fell upon him, and killed him in the market place, none the people once offering to rescue him. Howbeit it is a clere case, that this murder was not generally consented unto, of the most parte of the VOLSCES : for men came out of all partes to honor his body, and dyd honourably bury him; setting up his tombe with great store of armour and spoiles, as the tombe of a worthy person and great captaine. The ROMAINES understanding of his death, shewed no other honour or malice, saving that they graunted the ladges the request they made : that they might mourné tenne moneths for him, and that was the full time they used to weare blackes for the death of their fathers, brethren, or husbands, according to Numa Pompilius order, who stablished the same, as we have enlarged more amplie in the description of his life. Now Martius being dead, the whole state of the VOLSCES harteily wished him alive againe. For, first of all they fell out with the ÆQUEs who were their friends and confederates, touching preheminence and place: and this quarrell grew on so farre betweene them, that fraies and murders fell out upon it one with another. After that the ROMAINES overcame them in battell, in which Tullus was slaine in the field and the flower of all their force was put to the sword : so that they were compelled to accept most shamefull conditions of peace, in yelding themselves subject unto the conquerers, and promising to be obedient at their commandement."-NORTH'S Plutarch.
“In the three Roman pieces, Coriolanus,' Julius Cæsar,' and 'Antony and Cleopatra,' the moderation with which Shakspeare excludes foreign appendages and arbitrary suppositions, and yet fully satisfies the wants of the stage, is particularly deserving of admiration. These plays are the very thing itself; and under the apparent artlessness of adhering closely to history as he found it, an uncommon degree of art is concealed. Of every historical transaction Shakspeare knows how to seize the true poetical point of view, and to give unity and rounding to a series of events detached from the immeasurable extent of history without in any degree changing them. The public life of ancient Rome is called up from its grave, and exhibited before our eyes with the utmost grandeur and freedom of the dramatic form, and the heroes of Plutarch are ennobled by the most eloquent poetry.
"In Coriolanus' we have more comic intermixtures than in the others, as the many-headed multitude plays here a considerable part; and when Shakspeare portrays the blind movements of the people in a mass, he almost always gives himself up to his merry humour. To the plebeians, whose folly is certainly sufficiently conspicuous already, the original old satirist Menenius is added by way of abundance. Droll scenes arise of a description altogether peculiar, and which are compatible only with such a political drama ; for instance, when Coriolanus, to obtain the consulate, must solicit the lower order of citizens, whom he holds in contempt for their cowardice in war, but cannot sefar master his haughty disposition as to assume the customary humility, and yet extorts from them their votes."-SCHLEGEL.
** "The serious and elevated persons of this drama are delineated in colours of equal, if not superior strength. The unrivalled military prowess of Coriolanus, in whose nervous arm Death—that dark spirit'-dwelt; the severe sublimity of his character, his stern and unbending hauteur, and his undisguised contempt of all that is vulgar, pusillanimous, and base, are brought before us with a raciness and power of impression, and, notwithstanding a very liberal use both of the sentiments and language of his Plutarch, with a freedom of outline which, even in Shakspeare, may be allowed to excite our astonishment.
* Among the female characters a very important part is necessarily attached to the person of Volumnia ; the fate of Rome itself depending upon her parental influence and authority. The poet has accordingly done full justice to the great qualities which the Cheronean sage has ascribed to this energetic woman ; the daring loftiness of her spirit, her bold and masculine eloquence, and, above all, her patriotic devotion, being marked by the most spirited and vigorous touches of his pencil.
"The numerous vicissitudes in the story ; its rapidity of action ; its contrast of character ; the splendid vigour of its serious, and the satirical sharpness and relish of its more familiar scenes, together with the animation which prevails throughout all its parts, have conferred on this play, both in the closet and on the stage, a remarkable degree of attraction.”—DRAKE.
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 at 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, sho 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 kings
The 5th of November; A play called players.
ye winters nightes Tayle.”
(1611.) The accounts of Lord Harrington, Treasurer of the Chamber to James I.,
This was no doubt some noted vagabond, whose nickname has not come down to us correctly. Mr. Collier prints it, “ Coll Pipci.”
† From a carefully executed copy made from the original by Mr. Halliwell.
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 fee, this 19th of August, 1623.”
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 1988, 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 coarso 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.
* “ PANDOSTO THE TRIUMPH OF TIME. Wherein is Discovered by a pleasant Historie, that although by the meanes of sinister fortune, Truth may be concealed yet by Time in spight of fortune it is most manifestly revealed. Pleasant for age to avoyde drowsie thoughts, profitable for youth to eschue other wanton pastimes, and bringing to both a desired content. Temporis filia veritas. By Robert Greene, Maister of Artes in Cambridge. Omne tulit punctum qui miscuit utile dulci. Imprinted at London by Thomas Orwin for Thomas Cadman, dwelling at the Signe of the Bible, neere unto the North doore of Paules, 1588."