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Malone places the composition of the Winter's Tale in 1611, 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. Gifford *.
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. Boswell that these supposed allusions by Shakspeare to the history of his own time are very much to be doubted.
which were either grounded on impossibilities, or at least so meanly written, that the comedy neither caused your mirth, nor the serious parts your concernment.' Pope, in his Preface to Shakspeare, almost reechoes this: I should conjecture (says he) of some of the others, particularly Love's Labour's Lost, The Winter's Tale, Comedy 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.
Another Sicilian Lord.
ROGERO, a Sicilian Gentleman.
An Attendant on the young Prince Mamillius.
POLIXENES, King of Bohemia.
ARCHIDAMUS, a Bohemian Lord.
An old Shepherd, reputed Father of Perdita,
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.
Two other Ladies, attending the Queen,
Lords, Ladies, and Attendants; Satyrs for a Dance; Shepherds, Shepherdesses, Guards, &c.
SCENE, sometimes in Sicilia, sometimes in Bohemia,
Sicilia. An Antichamber in Leontes' Palace.
Enter CAMILLO and 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 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.
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 utter
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 attornied1, with interchange of gifts, letters, loving embassies; that they have seemed to be together, though absent; shook hands, as over a vast2; 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 subject3, 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.
Nobly supplied by substitution of
2 i. e. over a wide intervening space.
3 Physicks the subject.' Affords a cordial to the state; has
the power of assuaging the sense of misery.
The same. A Room of State in the Palace.
Enter LEONTES, POLIXENES, HERMIONE, MAMILLIUS, CAMILLO, and Attendants.
Pol. Nine changes of the wat'ry star have been The shepherd's note, since we have left our throne Without a burden: time as long again
Would be fill'd up, my brother, with our thanks:
Go hence in debt: And therefore, like a cipher,
With one we-thank-you, many thousands more
Stay your thanks awhile;
And pay them when you part.
Sir, that's to-morrow.
Pol. I am question'd by my fears, of what may chance, Or breed upon our absence: That1 may blow No sneaping 5 winds at home, to make us say, This is put forth too truly! Besides, I have stay'd To tire your royalty.
Very sooth, to-morrow.
Leon. We'll part the time between's then: and in that
I'll no gain-saying.
4 That for Oh that! is not uncommon in old writers. So in Romeo and Juliet :
'That runaway's eyes may wink.'
5 Sneaping, nipping.
6 i. e. to make me stay. I had too good reason for my fears concerning what may happen in my absence from home.