Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

racters, single scenes, or perhaps a few particular passages, were of his hand.

None of our author's plays has been more censured for the breach of dramatick rules than The Winter's Tale. In confirmation of what Mr. Steevens has remarked in another place“ that Shakspeare was not ignorant of these rules, but disregarded them,”-it may be observed, that the laws of the drama are clearly laid down by a writer once universally read and admired, Sir Philip Sidney, who, in his Defence of Poesy, 1595, has pointed out the very improprieties into which our author has fallen in this play. After mentioning the detects of the tragedy of Gorboduc, he adds: “ But if it be so in Gorboducke, how much more in all the rest, where you shall have Asia of the one side, and Affricke of the other, and so manie under kingdomes, that the player when he comes in, must ever begin with telling where he is, or else the tale will not be conceived ?-Now of time they are much more liberal. For ordinarie it is, that two young princes fall in love, after many traverses she is got with childe, delivered of a faire boy: he is lost, groweth a man, falleth in love, and is ready to get another childe, and all this in two houres space: which how absurd it is in sence, even sence may ima

gine."

The Winter's Tale is sneered at by B. Jonson, in the Induction to Bartholomew Fair, 1614: “ If there be never a servant-monster in the fair, who can help it, nor a nest of antiques? He is loth to make nature afraid in his plays, like those that beget Tales, Tempests, and such like drolleries.” By the nest of antiques, the twelve satyrs who are introduced at the sheep-shearing festival, are alluded to.-In his conversation with Mr. Drummond, of Hawthornden, in 1619, he has another stroke at his beloved friend: “He [Jonson] said, that Shak speare wanted art, and sometimes sense; for in one of his plays he brought in a number of men, saying they had suffered shipwreck in Bohemia, where is no sea near by 100 miles." Drummond's Works, fol. 225, edit. 1711.

When this remark was made by Ben Jonson, The Winter's Tale was not printed. These words, therefore, are a sufficient answer to Sir T. Hanmer's idle supposition that Bohemia was an error of the press for Buthinia. This play, I imagine, was written in the year 1604.

MALONE. Sir Thomas Hanmer gave himself much needless concern that Shakspeare should consider Bohemia as a maritime country. He would have us read Bythinia: but our author implicitly copied the novel before him. Dr. Grey, indeed, was apt to believe that Dorastus and Faunia might rather be borrowed from the play; but I have met with a copy of it which was printed in 1588.-Cervantes ridicules these geographical mistakes, when he makes the princess Micomicona land at Ossuna.—Corporal Trim's king of Bohemia“ delighted in navigation, and had never a sea-port in his dominions;" and my Lord Herbert tells us, that De Luines, the prime minister of France, when he was embassador there, demanded, whether Bohemia was an inland country, or lay“ upon the sea?”— There is a similar mistake in The 'Two Gentlemen of Verona, relative to that city and Milan. FARMER.

The Winter's Tale may be ranked among the historic plays of Shakspeare, though not one of his numerous criticks and commentators have discovered the drift of it. It was certainly intended (in compliment to Queen Elizabeth,) as an indirect apology for her mother, Anne Boleyn. The address of the poet appears no where to more advantage. The subject was too delicate to be exhibited on the stage without a veil; and it was too recent, and touched the Queen too nearly, for the bard to have ventured so home an allusion on any other ground than compliment. The unreasonable jealousy of Leontes, and his violent conduct in consequence, form a true portrait of Henry the Eighth, who generally made the law the engine of his boisterous passions. Not only the general plan of the story is most applicable, but several passages are so marked, that they touch the real history nearer than the fable. Hermione on her trial says:

- for honour,
“ 'Tis a derivative from me to mine,

“ And only that I stand for." This seems to be taken from the very letter of Anne Boleyn to the King before her execution, where she pleads for the infant Princess his daughter. Mamillius, the young Prince, an unneces. sary character, dies in his infancy; but it confirms the allusion, as Queen Anne, before Elizabeth, bore a still-born son. But the most striking passage, and which had nothing to do in the tragedy, but as it pictured Elizabeth, is, where Paulina, describing the newborn Princess, and her likeness to her father, says: “She has the very trick of his frown." There is one sentence indeed so applicable, both to Elizabeth and her father, that I should suspect the poet inserted it after her death. Paulina, speaking of the child, tells the King:

- 'Tis yours;
“And might we lay the old proverb to your charge,

“ So like you, 'tis the worse.” The Winter's Tale was therefore in reality a second part of Henry the Eighth. WALPOLE.

[ocr errors]

Leontes, King of Sicilia:
Mamillius, his Son.
Camillo,
Antigonus, Sicilian Lords.
Cleomenes,
Dion,
Another Sicilian Lord.
Rogero, a Sicilian Gentleman.
An Attendant on the young Prince Mamillius.
Officers of a Court of Judicature.
Polixenes, King of Bohemia:
Florizel, his Son.
Archidamus, a Bohemian Lord.
A Mariner.
Gaoler.
An old Shepherd, reputed Father of Perdita:
Clown, his Son.
Servant to the old Shepherd.
Autolycus, a Rogue.
Time, as Chorus.

Hermione, Queen to Leontes.
Perdita, Daughter to Leontes and Hermione.
Paulina, Wife to Antigonus.
Emilia, a Lady, } attending the Queen.
Two other Ladies, sa
Mopsa, } Shepherdesses.
Dorcas, s

Lords, Ladies, and Attendants; Satyrs for a Dance;

Shepherds, Shepherdesses, Guards, &c.

SCENE, sometimes in Sicilia, sometimes in Bohemia.

WINTER'S TALE.

ACT I.

SCENE I. Sicilia.

An Antechamber in Leontes'
Palace.

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, unintelligent of our insufficience, may, though they cannot praise us, as little accuse us.

· 1- our entertainment, &c.] Though we cannot give you equal entertaininent, yet the consciousness of our good-will shall justify us. Johnson.

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 attornied, 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, physicks the subject,4 makes old hearts fresh: they,

with your.lindeed: they,

? — royally attornied,] Nobly supplied by substitution of embassies, &c. Johnson.

s- shook hands, as over a vast; and embraced, as it were, from the ends of opposed winds.] Shakspeare has, more than once, taken his imagery from the prints, with which the books of his time were ornamented. If my memory do not deceive me, he had his eye on a wood cut in Holinshed, while writing the incantation of the weird sisters in Macbeth. There is also an allusion to a print of one of the Henries holding a sword adorned with crowns. In this passage he refers to a device common in the title-page of old books, of two hands extended from opposite clouds, and joined as in token of friendship over a wide waste of country. HENLEY.

4- physicks the subject,] Affords a cordial to the state; has the power of assuaging the sense of misery. JOHNSON.

« AnteriorContinuar »