William Shakespeare.

The dramatic works of William Shakspeare... embracing a life of the poet, and notes, original and selected (Volume 3) online

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Online LibraryWilliam ShakespeareThe dramatic works of William Shakspeare... embracing a life of the poet, and notes, original and selected (Volume 3) → online text (page 1 of 39)
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VOL. in. 1





THE story of this play is taken from The Pleasant History of Do-
rastus and Fawnia, by Robert Greene, which was first printed in 1588.
The parts of Antigonus, Paulina, and Autolycus, are of the Poet s own
creation; and many circumstances of the novel are omitted in the play.

"A booke entitled A Winter s Night s Pastime," entered at Sta
tioner s Hall, in 1594, but which has not come down to us, may have
suggested the title, by which Shakspeare thought the romantic and
extraordinary incidents of the play well characterized. He several
times, in the course of the last act, makes one of his characters remark
its similarity to an old tale. Schlegel has observed, that " The Winter s
Tale is as appropriately named as the Midsummer Night s Dream. It is
one of those tales, which are peculiarly calculated to beguile the dreary
leisure of a long winter evening, which are even attractive and intel
ligible to childhood, and which, animated by fervent truth in the deline
ation of character and passion, invested with the decoration of a poetry
lowering itself, as it were, to the simplicity of the subject, transport even
manhood back to the golden age of imagination. The calculation of
probabilities has nothing to do with such wonderful and fleeting adven
tures, ending at last in general joy ; and, accordingly, Shakspeare has
here taken the greatest liberties with anachronisms and geographical
errors : he opens a free navigation between Sicily and Bohemia, makes
Julio Romano the contemporary of the Delphic oracle, not to mention
other incongruities."

It is extraordinary that Pope should have thought only some single
scenes of this play were from the hand of Shakspearo. It breathes his
spirit throughout ; in the serious parts as well as in those of a lighter
kind: and who but Shakspeare could have conceived that exquisite
pastoral scene in which the loves of Florizel and Pordita are developed?


It is indeed a pastoral of the golden age, and Perdita"no shepherdess,

but Flora,

Peering in April s front,"

and breathing flowers, in the spring-tide of youth and beauty. How
gracefully she distributes her emblematic favors ! What language ac
companies them ! Well may Florizel exclaim,

when you speak, sweet,

I d have you do it ever ! "

The reader reechoes the sentiment of the lover, and is sorry to come to
the close. Witli what modest, unconscious dignity are all her words and
actions accompanied ! even Polixenes, who looks on her with no favor
able eye, says that there is

" nothing she does or says

But smacks of something greater than herself."

The shepherds and shepherdesses, with whom she has been brought
up, are such as ordinary life affords, and are judicious foils to this de
lightful couple of lovers.

The arch roguery and mirthful stratagems of Autolycus are very
amusing, and his character is admirably sustained. "The jealousy of
Leontes (says the judicious Schlegel) is not, like that of Othello, de
veloped with all the causes, symptoms, and gradations; it is brought
forward at once, and is portrayed as a distempered frenzy. It is a
passion which does not produce the catastrophe, but merely ties the knot
of the piece." But it has the same intemperate course, is the same soul-
goading passion which wrings a noble nature to acts of revengeful
cruelty ; at which, under happier stars, it would have shuddered, and
which are no sooner committed than repented of.

The patient and affecting resignation of the wronged Hermione,
under circumstances of the deepest anguish, and the zealous and cour
ageous remonstrances of the faithful Paulina, have the stamp of Shak-
speare upon them. Indeed I know not what parts of this drama could
be attributed to any even of the most skilful of his contemporaries. It
was perhaps the discrepancies of the plot, (which, in fact, almost divides
it into two plays with an interval of sixteen years between,) and the
anachronisms, which made Dryden* and Pope overlook the beauties of
execution in this enchanting play.

* Dryden, in the Essay at the end of the second part of the Conquest of Granada, speak
ing of the plays of Shakspeare and Fletcher, says : " Witness the lameness of their plots ;
many of which, especially those which they wrote first, (for even that age refined itself in
some measure,) were made up of some ridiculous, incoherent story, which in one play many


Malone places the composition of The Winter s Tale in 161], because
it was first licensed for representation by Sir George Bucke, Master of
the Revels, who did not assume the functions of his office until August,
1610. The mention of the "Puritan singing psalms to hornpipes" also
points at this period, as does another passage, which is supposed to be a
compliment to James on his escape from the Gowrie Conspiracy. These
are conjectures, but probable ones. Malone had in former instances
placed the date much earlier; first in 1594, and then in 1602. The
supposition that Ben Jonson intended a sneer at this play in his Induction
to Bartholomew Fair, has been satisfactorily answered by Mr. Gilford.*

Horace Walpole, in his Historic Doubts, attempts to show that The
Winter s Tale was intended (in compliment to Queen Elizabeth) as an
indirect apology for her mother Anne Boleyn ; but the ground for his
conjecture is so slight as scarcely to deserve attention. Indeed it may
be answered, that the plot of the play is not the invention of Shakspeare,
who therefore cannot be charged with this piece of flattery : if it was
intended, it must be attributed to Greene, whose novel was published in
1588. I think, with Mr. Boswcll, that these supposed allusions by Shak-
speare to the history of his own time, are very much to be doubted.

times took up the business of an age. I suppose I need not name Pericles, nor the historical
plays of Shak?peare: besides many of the rest, as, The Wi,i~i. * **^, Love s Labor s Lost,
Measure for Measure, which were either grounded on impossibilities, or at least so meanly
written, that the comedy neither caused your mirth, nor the serious parts your concern
ment." Pope, in his Preface to Shakspeare, almost reechoes this : " I should conjecture
(says he) of some of the others, particularly Love s Labor s Lost, The Winter s Tale, Com
edy of Errors, and Titus Andronicus, that only some characters or single scenes, or perhaps
a few particular passages, are from the hand of Shakspeare."
* Works of Ben Jonson, vol. iv. p. 371.


LEONTES, King of Sicilia.


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.


An old Shepherd, reputed Father o/ Perdita.

Clown, his Son.

Servant to the old Shepherd.


Time, as Chorus.

HERMIONE, Queen to Leontes.

PERDITA, Daughter to Leontes and Hermione.

PAULINA, Wife to Antigonus.

Sxift *-**-


Lords, Ladies, and Attendants ; Satyrs for a Danct \
Shepherds, Shepherdesses, Guards, fyc.

SCENE, sometimes in Sicilia, sometimes in Bohemia.



SCENE I. Sicilia. An Antechamber in Leontes



Archidamus. 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 differ
ence 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.

^ 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 child
hoods ; and there rooted betwixt thenj 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, 1 with inter
change of gifts, letters, loving embassies ; that they
have seemed to be together, though absent ; shook
hands, as over a vast ; 2 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 unspeak
able 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, 3 makes old hearts fresh. They that went
on crutches ere he was born, desire yet their life, to
see him a man.

Arch. 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. [Exeunt.

SCENE II. The same. A Room of State in the


CAMILLO, and Attendants.

Pol. Nine changes of the watery star have been
The shepherd s note, since we have left our throne
Without a burden. Time as long again
Would be filled up, my brother, with our thanks ;

1 "Royally attorneyed." Nobly supplied by substitution of embassies.

2 i. e. over a wide, intervening space.

3 Physics the subject." Affords a cordial to the state ; has the power
of assuaging the sense of misery.


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.

Pol. Sir, that s to-morrow.

I am questioned by my fears, of what may chance,
Or breed upon our absence : that 1 may blow
No sneaping 2 winds at home, to make us say,
This is put forth too truly! 3 Besides, I have staid
To tire your royalty.

Leon. We are tougher, brother,
Than you can put us to t.

Pol. No longer stay.

Leon. One sevennight longer.

Pol. Very sooth, to-morrow.

Leon. We ll part the time between s then ; and in

I ll no gainsaying.

Pol. Press me not, beseech you, so.

There is no tongue that moves, none, none i the world,
So soon as yours, could win me ; so it should now,
Were there necessity in your request, although
Twere needful I denied it. My affairs
Do even drag me homeward ; which to hinder
Were, in your love, a whip to me ; my stay,
To you a charge and trouble. To save both,
Farewell, our brother.

Leon. Tongue-tied, our queen ? Speak you.

Her. I had thought, sir, to have held my peace,


You had drawn oaths from him not to stay. You, sir,
Charge him too coldly. Tell him, you are sure,
All in Bohemia s well ; this satisfaction

1 That for Oh that ! is not uncommon in old writers.

2 Sncaping, nipping.

3 i. e. to make me say, I had too good reason for my fears concerning
what may happen in my absence from home.



The by-gone day proclaimed ; say this to him,
He s beat from his best ward.

Leon. Well said, Hermione.

Her. To tell he longs to see his son, were strong :
But let him say so then, and let him go;
But let him swear so, and he shall not stay ;
We ll thwack him hence with distaffs.
Yet of your royal presence [To POL.] I ll adventure
The borrow of a week. When at Bohemia
You take my lord, I ll give him my commission,
To let l him there a month, behind the gest 1
Prefixed for his parting ; yet, good deed, 2 Leontes,
I love thee not ajar o the clock behind
What lady she her lord. You ll stay ?

Pol. No, madam.

Her. Nay, but you will ?

Pol. I may not, verily.

Her. Verily !

You put me off with limber vows ; but I,
Though you would seek to unsphere the stars with


Should yet say, Sir, no going. Verily,
You shall not go ; a lady s verily is
As potent as a lord s. Will you go yet ?
Force me to keep you as a prisoner,
Not like a guest: so you shall pay your fees,
When you depart, and save your thanks. How say


My prisoner, or my guest ? By your dread verily,
One of them you shall be.

Pol. Your guest, then, madam :

To be your prisoner, should import offending ;
Which is for me less easy to commit,
Than you to punish.

Her. Not your jailer, then,

1 To let had for its synonymcs to stay or stop ; to let him there, is to
stay him there. Gests were scrolls in which were marked the stages or
places of rest in a progress or journey, especially a royal one.

2 i. e. indeed, in very deed, in troth. Good deed is used in the same
sense by the earl of Surrey, sir John Hayward, and Gascoigne.


But jour kind hostess. Come, I ll question you

Of my lord s tricks, and yours, when you were boys ;

You were pretty lordings then.

Pol. We were, fair queen,

Two lads that thought there was no more behind,
But such a day to-morrow as to-day,
And to be boy eternal.

Her. Was not my lord the verier wag o the two ?

Pol. We were as twinned lambs, that did frisk

i the sun,

And bleat the one at the other. What w r e changed,
Was innocence for innocence ; we knew not
The doctrine of ill doing, nor dreamed
That any did. Had we pursued that life,
And our weak spirits ne er been higher reared
With stronger blood, we should have answered Heaven
Boldly, Not Guilty ; the imposition cleared, 1
Hereditary ours.

Her. By this we gather,

You have tripped since.

Pol. O, my most sacred lady,

Temptations have since then been born to us ; for
In those unfledged days was my wife a girl ;
Your precious self had then not crossed the eyes
Of my young play-fellow.

Her. Grace to boot ! 2

Of this make no conclusion ; lest you say,
Your queen and I are devils. Yet, go on ;
The offences we have made you do, we ll answer ;
If you first sinned with us, and that with us
You did continue fault, and that you slipped not
With any but with us.

Leon. Is he won yet ?

Her. He ll stay, my lord.

Leon. At my request he would not.

Hermione, my dearest, thou never spok st
To better purpose.

1 i. e. setting aside the original sin, bating the imposition from the
offence of our first parents, we might have boldly protested our innocence.

2 " Grace to boot ; " an exclamation equivalent to give us grace.


Her. Never ?

Leon. Never, but once.

Her. What ? have I twice said well ? When was t

before ?

I pr ythee, tell me. Cram us with praise, and make us
As fat as tame things ; one good deed, dying torigueless,
Slaughters a thousand, waiting upon that.
Our praises are our wages : you may ride us,
With one soft kiss, a thousand furlongs, ere
With spur we heat an acre. But to the goal.
My last good was, to entreat his stay ;
What was my first ? It has an elder sister,
Or I mistake you. O, would her name were Grace !
But once before I spoke to the purpose. When ?
Nay, let me have t; I long.

Leon. Why, that was when

Three crabbed months had soured themselves to death,
Ere I could make thee open thy white hand,
And clap l thyself my love ; then didst thou utter,
/ am yours forever.

Her. It is grace, indeed.

Why, lo you now, I have spoke to the purpose twice.
The one forever earned a royal husband ;
The other, for some while, a friend.

[Giving her hand to POLIXENES.

Leon. Too hot, too hot. [Aside.

To mingle friendship far, is mingling bloods.
I have tremor cordis on me ; my heart dances ;
But not for joy, not joy. This entertainment
May a free face put on ; derive a liberty
From heartiness, from bounty, fertile bosom, 2
And well become the agent. It may, I grant :
But to be paddling palms, and pinching fingers,

1 At entering into any contract, or plighting of troth, this clapping of
hands together set the seal. Numerous instances of allusion to the cus
tom have been adduced by the editors ; one shall suffice, from the old
play of Ram Alley : " Come, dap hands, a match." The custom is not
yet disused in common life.

2 from bounty, fertile bosom." Malone thinks that a letter lias

been omitted, and that we should read

" from bounty s fertile bosom."


As now they are ; and making practised smiles,
As in a looking-glass ; and then to sigh, as twere
The mort o the deer ; 1 O, that is entertainment
My bosom likes not, nor my brows. Mamillius,
Art thou my boy ?

Mam. Ay, my good lord.

Leon. Pfecks ?

Why, that s my bawcock. 2 What, hast smutched thy

nose ?

They say, it s a copy out of mine. Come, captain,
We must be neat ! not neat, but cleanly, captain ;
And yet the steer, the heifer, and the calf,
Are all called neat. Still virginalling 3

Upon his palm? How now, you wanton calf?
Art thou my calf?

Mam. Yes, if you will, my lord.

Leon. Thou want st a rough pash, and the shoots

that I have, 4

To be full 5 like me : yet, they say, we are
Almost as like as eggs ; women say so,
That will say any thing. But were they false
As o er-dyed blacks, 6 as wind, as waters ; false
As dice are to be wished, by one that fixes
No bourn twixt his and mine ; yet were it true
To say this boy were like me. Come, sir page,
Look on me with your welkin 7 eye. Sweet villain !

1 i. e. the death of the deer. The mort was also certain notes played on
the horn at the death of the deer.

2 " Bawcock" A burlesque word of endearment supposed to be derived
from beau-coq, or boy-cock. It occurs again in Twelfth Night, and in
King Henry V., and in both places is coupled with chuck or chick. It is
said that bra cock is still used in Scotland.

3 Still playing with her fingers as a girl playing on the virginals. Vir
ginals were stringed instruments played with keys like a spinnet, which
they resembled in all respects but in shape, spinnets being nearly trian
gular, and virginals of an oblong square shape like a small piano-forte.

4 Thou wantest a rough head, and the budding horns that I have. A
pash in some places denoting a young bull calf whose horns are spring
ing ; a mad pash, a mad-brained boy.

5 i. e. entirely.

6 i. e. old, faded stuffs, of other colors, dyed black.

7 Welkin is blue ; i. e. the color of the welkin or sky.


Most dearest! my collop! 1 can thy dam? May t


Affection ! thy intention stabs the centre ; 2
Thou dost make possible, things not so held ;
Communicat st with dreams ; (How can this be ?)
With what s unreal thou coactive art,
And fellow st nothing. Then, tis very credent, 3
Thou mayst conjoin with something ; and thou dost ;
(And that beyond commission, and I find it ;)
And that to the infection of my brains,
And hardening of my brows.

Pol. What means Sicilia ?

Her. He something seems unsettled.

Pol. How, my lord ?

What cheer ? How is t with you, best brother ?

Her. You look

As if you held a brow of much distraction.
Are you moved, my lord ?

Leon. No, in good earnest.

How sometimes nature will betray its folly,
Its tenderness, and make itself a pastime
To harder bosoms ! Looking on the lines
Of my boy s face, methought I did recoil
Twenty-three years ; and saw myself unbreeched,
In my green velvet coat ; my dagger muzzled,
Lest it should bite its master, and so prove,
As ornaments oft do, too dangerous.
How like, methought, I then was to this kernel,
This squash, 4 this gentleman. Mine honest friend,
Will you take eggs for money ? 5

Mam. No, my lord, I ll fight.

1 In King Henry VI. Part I. we have

" God knows thou art a collop of my flesh."

2 Jlffection here means imagination. Intention is earnest consideration,
eager attention. It is this vehemence of mind which affects Leontes, by
making him conjure up unreal causes of disquiet; and thus, in the Poet s
language, " stabs him to the centre."

3 Credent, credible.

4 i. e. an immature pea-pod.

5 "Will you take eggs for money?" A proverbial phrase for " Will
you suffer yourself to be cajoled or imposed upon?"


Leon. You will ? why, happy man be his dole ! l

My brother,

Are you so fond of your young prince, as we
Do seem to be of ours ?

Pol. If at home, sir,

He s all my exercise, my mirth, my matter :
Now, my sworn friend, and then mine enemy ;
My parasite, my soldier, statesman, all ;
He makes a July s day short as December ;
And, with his varying childness, cures in me
Thoughts that would thick my blood.

Leon. So stands this squire

Officed with me. We two will walk, my lord,
And leave you to your graver steps. Hermione,
How thou lov st us, show in our brother s welcome ;
Let what is dear in Sicily be cheap.
Next to thyself, and my young rover, he s
Apparent 2 to my heart.

Her. If you would seek us,

We are yours i the garden. Shall s attend you there ?

Leon. To your own bents dispose you : you ll be


Be you beneath the sky ; I am angling now,
Though you perceive me not how I give line.
Go to, go to !

[Aside. Observing POLIXENES and HERMIONE.
How she holds up the neb, 3 the bill to him !
And arms her with the boldness of a wife
To her allowing husband ! Gone already !
Inch-thick, knee-deep, o er head and ears a forked

one. 4 -

[Exeunt POL., HER., and Attendants.
Go, play, boy, play ; thy mother plays, and I
Play too ; but so disgraced a part, whose issue
Will hiss me to my grave ; contempt and clamor
Will be my knell. Go, play, boy, play. There have

1 i. e. may happiness be his portion !

2 Heir apparent, next claimant

3 i. e. mouth. 4 i. e . a horned one.


Or I am much deceived, cuckolds ere now ;

And many a man there is, even at this present,

Now, while I speak this, holds his wife by the arm,

That little thinks she has been sluiced in his absence,

And his pond fished by his next neighbor, by

Sir Smile, his neighbor. Nay, there s comfort in t,

Whiles other men have gates ; and those gates opened,

As mine, against their will. Should all despair,

That have revolted wives, the tenth of mankind

Would hang themselves. Physic for t there is none ;

It is a bawdy planet, that will strike

Where tis predominant ; and tis powerful, think it,

From east, west, north, and south : be it concluded,

No barricado for a belly ; know it ;

It will let in and out the enemy,

With bag and baggage. Many a thousand of us

Have the disease, and feel t not. How now, boy ?

Mam. I am like you, they say.

Leon. Why, that s some comfort.

What! Camillo there ?

Cam. Ay, my good lord.

Leon. Go play, Mamillius : thou rt an honest man.

Camillo, this great sir will yet stay longer.

Cam. You had much ado to make his anchor hold ;
When you cast out, it still came home. 1

Leon. Didst note it?

Cam. He would not stay at your petitions ; made
His business more material. 2

Leon. Didst perceive it ?

They re here with me already: 3 whispering, round
ing, 4
Sicilia is a so-forth. 5 Tis far gone,

1 " It still came home," a nautical term, meaning, " the anchor would
not take hold."

2 The more you requested him to stay, the more urgent he represented
that business to be which summoned him away.

3 Not Polixenes and Hermione, but casual observers.

4 To round in the ear was to tell secretly, to whisper.

5 Jl so-forth, a phrase apparently employed to avoid the utterance of an
opprobrious one. 0, 50, is sometimes used in a similar manner.


When I shall gust 1 it last. How came t, Camillo,

Online LibraryWilliam ShakespeareThe dramatic works of William Shakspeare... embracing a life of the poet, and notes, original and selected (Volume 3) → online text (page 1 of 39)