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SOURCE OF THE PLOT. The plot, as before stated, is taken, with the alteration of names and some important changes of incident, from Robert Greene's tale, entitled “ Pandosto, or the Triumph of Time,” better known under its second title of " The Historie of Dorastus and Fawnia ;” the first named, Pandosto, being the jealous Leontes of Shakespeare, as Dorastos and Fawnia are his Florizel and Perdita. It was first printed in 1588; reprinted, with alterations, in 1607 ; and again in 1609; and afterwards went through many editions. Such was its popularity, that there are said to be fourteen editions, if not more, still to be found in the libraries of collectors. As Collier suggests, it seems likely that Shakespeare's attention was directed to it (as affording a fit subject for dramatic composition) by the third edition, which he appears to have used, and which came out in 1609, the year before the date which so many concurring circumstances conspire to point out as that of the preparation of the Winter's Tale. The tale bas lately been reprinted by Mr. Collier, in his “Shakespeare's Library," with an excellent introductory notice, in which the nature and degree of the Poet's obligations to the novelist are thus accurately stated :
“Robert Greene was a man who possessed all the advantages of education: he was a graduate of both aniversities; he was skilled in ancient learning and in modern languages; he had, besides, a prolific imagination, a lively and elegant fancy, and a grace of expression rarely exceeded; yet, let any person well acquainted with the Winter's Tale read the novel of ‘Pandosto,' upon which it was founded, and he will be struck at once with the vast pre-eminence of Shakespeare, and with the admirable manner in which he has converted materials supplied by another to his own use. The bare outline of the story (with the exception of Shakespeare's miraculous conclusion) is nearly the same in both; but this is all they have in common, and Shakespeare may be said to have scarcely adopted a single hint for his descriptions, or a line for his dialogue ;* while, in point of passion and seetiment, Greene is cold, formal, and artificial—the very opposite of every thing in Shakespeare."
And again, Mr. Collier adds
“The variation in the conclusion has already been mentioned: nothing can well be more lame, unsatisfactory, and even offensive, than the winding up of Greene's novel, where he makes Pandosto first fall desperately in love with his own daughter, and then, without any adequate motive, commit suicide. Here the genius of Shakespeare triumphed over all competition: he saw at once how the preceding incidents might be converted to a great dra matic and moral purpose, the most pathetic and the most beautiful. In other places, the skill and judgment of our great dramatist are scarcely less conspicuous: as, for instance, in the very outset of his play, where he rep resents Polixenes (the Egistus of the novel) as previously prepared to take his departure in his ships, which had only, therefore, to weigh anchor; while, in Greene's novel, the determination of the visitor to quit the kingdom of his royal friend is sudden, and all his vessels have to be got ready on the instant. The variation in the time of the disclosure of the oracle may also be noticed as a proof of the knowledge Shakespeare possessed of dramatic effect."
It is worthy of remark that in Greene's novel, as well as in Shakespeare's play, Bohemia is described as a maritime country, a matter which, as to Shakespeare, has given as much trouble to his commentators and critics as a similar question (in regard to the possibility of Bohemia having been made an island) is recorded to have given to Corporal Trim and Captain Shandy. This blunder, if such it were in the novel, was (it may reasonably be supposed) one that the Poet did not care to correct, lest he should disturb the associations of his audience familiar with the conventional geography of the popular tale, and not at all fastidious in such matters, while he himself was content, with the more cultivated parts of his audience, to consider the whole of the localities (in Mr. Knight's happy language) as “purposely taken out of the domain of the real” and belonging to “some poetical sphere, where Bohemia is but a name for a wild country upon the sea, and the oracular voices of the pagan world are heard amid the merriment of Whitsun Pastorals' and the solemnities of Christian burial;' where the Emperor of Russia' represents some dim conception of a mighty monarch of far-off lands; and that rare Italian master, Julio Romano,' stands as the abstract personification of excellence in art."
To endeavour to adjust the geography of such a romantic tale as this to that of a modern atlas, is as absurd as it would be to apply the same rule to Spenser's “Faery Queen,” or the “Orlando Furioso."
* “Some verbal resemblances and trifling obligations have been incidentally pointed out by the commentators in their notes to tbe Winter's Tale. One of the principal instances occurs in act iv. scene 3, where Florizel says :
- The gods themselves,
Nor in a way so chaste. “This (says Malone) is taken almost literally from the novel,' when, in fact, the resemblance merely consists in the adoption by Sherespeare of part of the mythological knowledge supplied by Greene. "The Gods above disdaine not to love women beneath. Phædus liked Daphne ; Jupiter lo; and why not I then Fawnia?' The resemblance is any thing but literal.”—COLLIER'S “Shakespeare's Library."
But Greene was a professed scholar, and perhaps for him it was no sufficient vindication that (according to Mr. Collier) a passage in John Taylor's “ Travels to Prague in Bohemia," in 1620, shows that the satirical writer did not consider it strange that an alderman of London was not aware that a fleet of ships could not arrive at a port of Bohemia :-"I am no sooner eased of him, but Gregory Gandergoose, an alderman of Gotham, catches me by the goll, demanding if Bohemia be a great town, and whether there be any meat in it, and whether the last fleet of ships be arrived there."
In fact, Greene has a very satisfactory defence, which would serve also for Shakespeare if it were not evident that he had treated the subject with perfect indifference; and it surprises me that it has not occurred to some of the English critics, who are never deficient in classical learning. It is this. The present Bohemia (the Boiihmium of the Latins, as we learn from Tacitus and others) derived its name from the ancient Boii, a Gaulish or Celtic people, part of whom migrated there about five hundred years before the Christian era. But these same Boii, we learn from the best ancient authorities (Cæsar, Strabo, and Ausonius among them) were a numerous and powerful people of many tribes, some of which occupied the south part of Cis-Alpine Gaul, between the Appenines and the Rubicon to the sea, while another nation of the same stock and name inhabited the western coast of Gaul Proper along the sea-coast. Either of these districts, as the land of the Boii, might well be designated as Bohemia by a scholar like Greene, and would answer all the purpose of his story without hazarding any imputation on his knowledge of geography, ancient or modern.
LEONTES, King of Sicilia.
EERMIONE, Queen to LEONTHS.
attending the QUEEN.
Lords, Ladies, and Attendants ; Satyrs for a Dance :
Shepherds, Shepherdesses Guards, etc.
SCENE - Sometimes in SICILIA ; sometimes in BourMIA.
SCENE I.-Sicilia. An Antechamber in LEONTES' you sleepy drinks, that your senses, unintelligent Palace.
of our insufficience, may, though they cannot Enter Camillo and ARCHIDAMUS.
praise us, as little accuse us.
Cam. You pay a great deal too dear for what's Arch. If you shall chance, Camillo, to visit Bo- given freely. hemia, on the like occasion whereon my services Arch. Believe me, I speak as my understanding are now on foot, you shall see, as I have said, great instructs me, and as mine honesty puts it to utterdifference betwixt our Bohemia and your Sicilia.
Cam. I think, this coming summer, the king of Cam. Sicilia cannot show himself over-kind to Sicilia means to pay Bohemia the visitation which | Bohemia. They were trained together in their 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- attorney'd, with interchange of gifts, letters, loving in so rare-I know not what to say.–We will give || embassies, that they have seemed to be together,
though absent, shook hands, as over a vast, and em But let him swear so, and he shall not stay,
Yet of your royal presence [To PoliXENES.] I'd Arch. I think, there is not in the world either
adventure malice, or matter, to alter it. You have an un The borrow of a week. When at Bohemia speakable comfort of your young prince Mamillius : You take my lord, I'll give him my commission, . it is a gentleman of the greatest promise that ever To let him there a month behind the gest came into my note.
Prefix'd for 's parting: yet, good deed, Leontes, Cam. I very well agree with you in the hopes I love thee not a jar o' the clock behind of him. It is a gallant child ; one that, indeed, What lady should her lord. You'll stay ! physics the subject, makes old hearts fresh : they, Pol.
No, madam. that went on crutches ere he was born, desire yet Her. Nay, but you will ? their life to see him a man.
I may not, verily. Arch. Would they else be content to die?
Her. Verily! Cam. Yes; if there were no other excuse why You put me off with limber vows; but I, they should desire to live.
Though you would seek t’unsphere the stars with Arch. If the king had no son they would desire
oaths, to live on crutches till he had one. [Exeunt. Should yet say, “Sir, no going." Verily,
You shall not go: a lady's verily is SCENE II.-The Same. A Room of State in the As potent as a lord's. Will you go yet? Palace.
Force me to keep you as a prisoner, Enter LEONTES, POLIXENES, HERMIONE, MAMIL
Not like a guest, so you shall pay your fees,
When you depart, and save your thanks. How say LIUS, Camillo, and Attendants.
you? Pol. Nine changes of the watery star have been My prisoner, or my guest ? by your dread verily, The shepherd's note, since we have left our throne One of them you shall be. Without a burden: time as long again
Your guest then, madam:
Which is for me less easy to commit,
Not your jailor then, With one we-thank-you many thousands more But your kind hostess. Come, I'll question you That go before it.
Of my lord's tricks, and yours, when you were bors: Leon. Stay your thanks awhile,
You were pretty lordings then. And pay them when you part.
fair queen, Pol.
Sir, that's to-morrow. Two lads, that thought there was no more behind, I am question’d by my fears, of what may chance, But such a day to-morrow as to-day, Or breed upon our absence; that may blow
And to be boy eternal. No sneaping winds at home, to make us say,
Her. Was not my lord the verier wag o'the two! “ This is put forth too truly." Besides, I have stay'd Pol. We were as twinn'd lambs, that did frisk To tire your royalty. Leon.
We are tougher, brother, And bleat the one at th' other: what we chang'd, Than you can put us to't.
Was innocence for innocence; we knew not
The doctrine of ill-doing, nor dream'd
That any did. Had we pursued that life, Pol.
Very sooth, to-morrow. And our weak spirits ne'er been higher rear'd Leon. We'll part the time between 's then; and With stronger blood, we should have answerd in that
heaven l'll no gain-saying.
Boldly, “not guilty;" the imposition clear'd, Pol.
Press me not, beseech you, so. Hereditary ours. There is no tongue that moves, none, none i' the Her.
By this we gather, world,
You have tripp'd since. So soon as yours, could win me: so it should now, Pol.
O! my most sacred lady, Were there necessity in your request, although Temptations have since then been born to 's; for "Twere needful I denied it. My affairs
In those unfledg'd days was my wife a girl: Do even drag me homeward; which to hinder, Your precious self had then not cross'd the eyes Were in your love a whip to me, my stay
Of my young play-fellow. To you a charge, and trouble: to save both,
Grace to boot! Farewell, our brother.
Of this make no conclusion, lest you say, Leon. Tongue-tied, our queen ? speak you. Your queen and I are devils : yet, go on; Her. I had thought, sir, to have held my peace, Th’offences we have made you do, we'll answer; until
If you first sinn'd with us, and that with us You had drawn oaths from him, not to stay. You, You did continue fault, and that you slipp'd not sir,
With any, but with us. Charge him too coldly : tell him, you are sure
Is he won yet? All in Bohemia's well : this satisfaction
Her. He'll stay, my lord. The by-gone day proclaim'd. Say this to him, Leon.
At my request he would not He's beat from his best ward.
Hermione, my dearest, thou never spok'st Leon.
Well said, Hermione.
To better purpose. Her. To tell he longs to see his son were strong:
Never? But let him say so then, and let him go ;
Never, but once.
i' the sun,