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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,
“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." of
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 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 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, dc.
SCENE,- Sometimes in SICILIA ; sometimes in BOHEMIA.
Enter CAMILLO and ARCHIDAMUS.
ligent of our insufficience, may, though they can
not praise us, as little accuse us. ARCH. If you shall chance, Camillo, to visit Cam. You pay a great deal too dear for what's Bohemia, on the like occasion whereon my services given freely. are now on foot, you shall see, as I have said, Arch. Believe me, I speak as my understanding great difference betwixt our Bohemia and your instructs me, and as mine honesty puts it to Sicilia.
utterance. CAM. I think, this coming summer, the king Cam. Sicilia cannot show himself over-kind to of Sicilia means to pay Bohemia the visitation Bohemia. They were trained together in their which he justly owes him.
childhoods ; and there rooted betwixt them then ARCH. Wherein our entertainment shall shame such an affection which cannot choose but branch us, we will be justified in our loves; for, indeed,— now. Since their more mature dignities and royal Cam. Beseech you,
necessities made separation of their society, their ARCH. Verily, I speak it in the freedom of my encounters, though not personal, have been royally knowledge, we cannot with such magnificence- attorneyed, with interchange of gifts, letters, in so rare—I know not what to say.—We will loving embassies ; that they have seemed to be give you sleepy drinks, that your senses, unintel- together, though absent; shook hands, as over a vast ;* and embraced, as it were, from the ends of This is put forth too truly ! Besides, I have opposed winds. The heavens continue their loves !
stay'd ARCH. I think there is not in the world either To tire your royalty. malice or matter to alter it. You have an un- Leon. We are tougher, brother, speakable comfort of your young prince Mamillius ; Than you can put us to't. it is a gentleman of the greatest promise that ever Pol.
No longer stay. came into my note.
LEON. One seven-night longer.
Very sooth, to-morrow. of him: it is a gallant child; one that, indeed, LEON. We'll part the time between’s then ; and physics the subject," makes old hearts fresh ; they
in that that went on crutches ere he was born, desire yet
I'llyno gainsaying. their life to see him a man.
Pol. Press me not, beseech you, so ; ARCH. Would they else be content to die ? There is no tongue that moves, none, none i' the Cam. Yes; if there were no other excuse why
world, they should desire to live.
So soon as yours could win me: so it should now, ARCH. If the king had no son they would Were there necessity in your request; although desire to live on crutches till he had one.
'T were needful I denied it. My affairs
Were, in your love, a whip to me; my stay,
Tongue-tied, our queen ? speak you.
HER. I had thought, sir, to have held my peace Palace.
You had drawn oaths from him not to stay. You, Enter LEONTES, POLIXENES, HERMIONE, MAMIL
Charge him too coldly. Tell him, you are sure LIUS, CAMILLO, and Attendants.
All in Bohemia's well; this satisfaction
The by-gone day proclaim'd; say this to him, Pol. Nine changes of the wat'ry star have been He's beat from his best ward. The shepherd's note, since we have left our throne LEON.
Well said, Hermione. Without a burden : time as long again
HER. To tell he longs to see his son, were Would be fill’d up, my brother, with our thanks;
strong: And yet we should, for perpetuity,
But let him say so then, and let him go ; Go hence in debt: and therefore, like a cipher, But let him swear so, and he shall not stay, Yet standing in rich place, I multiply,
We'll thwack him hence with distaffs.With one we-thank-you, many thousands more Yet of your royal presence [To POLIXENES.] I'll That
go before it.
Stay your thanks awhile, The borrow of a week. When at Bohemia And pay them when you part.
You take my lord, I'll give him my commission, Pol.
Sir, that's to-morrow. To let d him there a month, behind the gesto I am question’d by my fears, of what may
chance Prefix'd for's parting: yet. good deed, Leontes, Or breed upon our absence; that may blow I love thee not a jar o' the clock behind No sneaping winds at home, to make us say, What lady-she' her lord.—You'll stay ?
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," vast of night;" and in " Pericles," Act III. Sc. 1,
“The God of this great vast, rebuke these surges." b – one that, indeed, physics the subject,-) "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.
to justify my apprehensions, and make me say, "I predicted too
— behind the gest– 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.
that may blow
This is put forth too truly !)
"This is put forth too early." And Capell,-
“This is put forth too tardily." The sense appears to be,--Oh that no misfortune may occur at home
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,
With any she in Corinth."
pay your fees
No, madam. If you first sinn'd with us, and that with us HER. Nay, but you will ?
You did continue fault, and that you slipp'd not Pol. I may not, verily. With
but with us. HER. Verily!
Is he won yet ? You put me off with limber vows; but I,
HER. He'll stay, my lord. Though you would seek to unsphere the stars LEON.
At my request he would not. with oaths,
Hermione, my dear’st, thou never spok'st Should yet say, Sir, no going. Verily,
To better purpose. You shall not go; a lady's verily's
Never ? As potent as a lord's. Will you go yet ?
Never, but once. Force me to keep you as a prisoner,
HER. What! have I twice said well ? when Not like a guest ; so you shall
was't before ? When you depart, and save your thanks. How I pry'thee, tell me. Cram us with praise, and say you?
make us My prisoner or my guest ? by your dread verily, As fat as tame things : one good deed dying One of them you shall be.
Your guest then, madam: Slaughters a thousand waiting upon that. To be your prisoner should import offending; Our praises are our wages : you may ride us Which is for me less easy to commit
Withi one soft kiss a thousand furlongs, ere Than you to punish.
With spur we heat an acre. But to the goal ;
Not your gaoler, then, My last good deed was to entreat his stay ; But your
kind hostess. Come, I'll question you What was my first? it has an elder sister, Of my lord's tricks and yours when you were boys: Or I mistake you: 0, would her name were Grace ! You were pretty lordings then ?
But once before I spoke to the purpose : when ? Pol.
We were, fair queen, Nay, let me have't; I long. Two lads that thought there was no more behind, LEON.
Why, that was when But such a day to-morrow as to-day,
Three crabbed months had sour'd themselves to And to be boy eternal.
death, HER. Was not my lord the verier wag o' the Ere I could make thee open thy white hand, two ?
And clap thyself my love; then didst thou utter, Pol. We were as twinn'd lambs that did frisk
I am yours for ever.
'Tis Grace, indeed ! And bleat the one at th' other : what we chang'd Why, lo you now, I have spoke to the purpose Was innocence for innocence; we knew not
twice ; The doctrine of ill-doing, nor dream'd
The one for ever earn'd a royal husband ; That any did. Had we pursu'd that life,
The other for some while a friend. And our weak spirits ne'er been higher rear'd
[Giving her hand to POLIXENES. With stronger blood, we should have answer'd LEON.
[Aside.] Too hot, too hot ! heaven
To mingle friendship far, is mingling bloods. Boldly, Not guilty; the imposition clear'd, I have tremor cordis on me,my heart dances,Hereditary ours.
But not for joy,--not joy.—This entertainment HER. By this we gather,
May a free face put on ; derive a liberty You have tripp'd since.
From heartiness, from bounty, fertile bosom,
grant: Temptations have since then been born to us ! for But to be paddling palms and pinching fingers, In those unfledg’d days was my wife a girl ; As now they are ; and making practis'd smiles, Your precious self had then not cross’d the eyes As in a looking-glass ;--and then to sigh, as 't Of my young play-fellow. Her. Grace to boot !
The mort o' the deer ;d 0, that is entertainment Of this make no conclusion, lest you say
My bosom likes not, nor my brows !-Mamillius, Your queen and I are devils : yet, go on ;
Art thou my boy? The offences we have made you do, we'll answer, Mam.
Ay, my good lord.
the imposition clear'd, Hereditary ours.) That is, were the penalty remitted which we inherit from the transgression of our first parents.
b With spur we heat an acre. But to the goal ;-) Mr. Collier's annotator substitutes,
“With spur we clear an acre. But to the good.”
– bounty, fertile bosom,-) Hanmer and Mr. Collier's annotator read,
"— bounty's fertile bosom," &c. d The mort of the deer;] The mort or mote of the deer was a particular strain blown by the huntsmen when the deer was killed. There is perhaps, also, a latent play on the word "deer," akin to that in the ensuing speech on "neai."