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and her child, after her long separation from them, is as affecting in itself as it is striking in the representation. Camillo, and the old shepherd and his son, are subordinate but not uninteresting instruments in the developement of the plot, and though last, not least, comes Autolycus, a very pleasant, thriving rogue; and (what is the best feather in the cap of all knavery) he escapes with impunity in the end.
THE WINTER'S TALE is one of the best-acting of our author's plays. We remember seeing it with great pleasure many years ago. It was on the night that King took leave of the stage, when he and Mrs. Jordan played together in the afterpiece of the Wedding day. Nothing could go off with more eclat, with more spirit, and grandeur of effect. Mrs. Siddons played Hermione, and in the last scene acted the painted statue to the life-with true monumental dignity and noble passion; Mr. Kemble, in Leontes, worked himself up into a very fine classical phrenzy; and Bannister, as Autolycus, roared as loud for pity as a sturdy beggar could do, who felt none of the pain he counterfeited, and was sound of wind and limb. We shall never see these parts so acted again; or if we did, it would be in vain. Actors grow old, or no longer surprise us by their novelty. But true poetry, like nature, is always young; and we still read the courtship of Florizel and Perdita, as we welcome the return of spring, with the same feelings as ever.
Thou dearest Perdita,
With these forc'd thoughts, I pr'ythee, darken not
Mine own, nor any thing to any, if
I be not thine. To this I am most constant,
That you behold the while. Your guests are coming:
Of celebration of that nuptial, which
We two have sworn shall come.
Perdita. O lady fortune,
Stand you auspicious!
Enter Shepherd, Clown, Morsa, DORCAS, Servants; with POLIXENES,
and CAMILLO, disguised.
Florizel. See, your guests approach:
Address yourself to entertain them sprightly,
Shepherd. Fie, daughter! when my old wife liv'd, upon
This day she was both pantler, butler, cook;
Both dame and servant: welcom'd all, serv'd all :
Would sing her song, and dance her turn: now here
With labour; and the thing she took to quench it
As your good flock shall prosper.
Perdita. Sir, welcome!
[To Polixenes and Camillo.
It is my father's will I should take on me
(A fair one are you) well you it our ages With flowers of winter.
Perdita. Sir, the year growing ancient,
Polixenes. Wherefore, gentle maiden, Do you neglect them?
Perdita. For I have heard it said
There is an art, which, in their piedness, shares
Polixenes. Say, there be:
Yet nature is made better by no mean,
But nature makes that mean: so, o'er that art
Which, you say, adds to nature, is an art
That nature makes. You see, sweet maid, we marry
A gentler scyon to the wildest stock;
And make conceive a bark of baser kind
By bud of nobler race.
This is an art
Which does mend nature, change it rather: but
The art itself is nature.
Perdita. So it is.
Polixenes. Then make your garden rich in gilly-flowers, And do not call them bastards.
Perdita. I'll not put
The dibble in earth, to set one slip of them;
No more than, were I painted, I would wish
This youth should say, 'twere well; and only therefore
Desire to breed by me.- Here's flowers for you;
Camillo. I should leave grazing, were I of your flock, And only live by gazing.
Perdita. Out, alas!
You'd be so lean, that blasts of January
Would blow you through and through. Now, my fairest friends, I would I had some flowers o' the spring, that might Become your time of day; and your's, and your's, That wear upon your virgin branches yet Your maiden-heads growing: O Proserpina, For the flowers now, that, frighted, thou let'st fall . From Dis's wagon! daffodils,
That come before swallow dares, and take
The winds of March with beauty: violets dim,
Florizel. What, like a corse ?
Perdita. No, like a bank, for love to lie and play on;
Not like a corse; or if not to be buried,
But quick, and in mine arms. Come, take your flowers;
In Whitsun pastorals: sure this robe of mine
Does change my disposition.
Florizel. What you do,
Still betters what is done. When you speak, sweet,
I'd have you buy and sell so; so give alms;
Pray so; and for the ordering your affairs,
And own no other function. Each your doing,
So singular in each particular,
Crowns what you're doing in the present deeds,
Perdita. O Doricles,
Your praises are too large; but that your youth
And the true blood, which peeps forth fairly through it,
Do plainly give you out an unstained shepherd;
You woo'd me the false way.
I think you have
As little skill to fear, as I have purpose
To put you to't But come, our dance, I pray :
That never mean to part.
Polixenes. This is the prettiest low-born lass that ever
Too noble for this place.
Camillo. He tells her something
That makes her blood look out: good sooth, she is
I'll swear for 'em.
This delicious scene is interrupted by the father of the prince discovering himself to Florizel, and haughtily breaking off the intended match between his son and Perdita. When Polixenes goes out Perdita says,
"Even here undone :
I was not much afraid; for once or twice
I told you what would come of this. Beseech you,
As Perdita, the supposed shepherdess, turns out to be the daughter of Hermione, and a princess in disguise, both feelings of the pride of birth and the claims of nature, are satisfied by the fortunate event of the story, and the fine romance of poetry is reconciled to the strictest court etiquette.