« السابقةمتابعة »
name, Pericles, Prince of Tyre, [and here, by-the-by Dryden expressly names Pericles as our author's produce tion,] nor the historical plays of Shakespeare ; besides many of the rest, as The Winter's Tale, Love's Labour's Lost, Measure for Meusure, which were either grounded on impossibilities, or at least so meanly written, that the comedy neither caused your mirth, nor the serious part your concernment.” Mr. Pope, in the Preface to his edition of our author's plays, pronounced the same ill-considered judgement on the play before us: “I should conjecture (says he,) of some of the others, particularly Love's Labour's Lost, The WINTER'S TALE, Comedy of Errors, and T'itus Andronicus, that only some characters, 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 dramátick rules than The Winter's Tale. In confirmation of what Mr. Steevens has remarked in another place" that Shakespeare was not ignorant of these rules, but disregarded thein," 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, basí pointed out the very improprieties into which our author has fallen in this play. After mentioning the defects 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 other under kingdomes, that the player when he comes in, must ever begin with telling where he is, or else the tale will not be colle ceived.-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: be is lost, groweth a inan, falleth in love, and is readie to get another childe, and all this in two houres space : which how absurb it is in sence, even sence may imagine."
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 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 Shakespeare wanted art, and sometimes sense; for in one of his plays he brought in a number of men, saying they had suffered shipwreck in Bobemia, 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 Bythinia.
This play, I imagine, was written in the year 1604. See An Attempt to ascertain the Order of Shakespeare's Plays, Vol. II.
MALONE. Sir Thomas Hanmer gave himself much needless concern that Shakespeare should consider Bohemia as a maritime country. He would have us read Bythiniu : 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 sca ?".
-There is a similar mistake in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, relative to that city and Milan.
The Winter's Tale may be ranked among the historie plays of Shakespeare, 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 ad-, vantage. 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:
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 unnecessary 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 pietured Elizabeth, is, where Paulina, describing the new-born Princess and her likeness to her father, says : She has the very trick of his frown." There is one sentence indeed se 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:
“ So like you, 'tis the worse. " The Winter's Tale was therefore in reality a second part of Henry the Eighth.
LEONTES, king of Sicilia :
Polot her er deles, } attending the queen.
Lords, Ladies, and Attendants; Satyrs for a dance,
Shepherds, Shepherdesses, Guards, &c.
SCENE, sometimes in Sicilia, sometimes in Bohemia.
SCENE I.-Sicilia. An antechamber in Leontes' palace.
Enter CAMILLO and ARCHIDAMUS.
Arch. Wherein our entertainment shall shame us,
Cam. 'Beseech you,
Arch. Verily, I speak it in the freedom of my knowledge: we cannot with such magnificence-in so rareI 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
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.