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Robert Gbeene published in l588 a novel called "Pandosto; or, the Triumph of Time." It has been said that it was founded on a story of the treatment of his wife by a Duke Masovius Zemovitus, of which there is an account by Tcharikovski, Arohbishop of Gnesen, in the second volume of Sommersberg's "Rerum Silesiarum Scriptores." It has been suggested also that some Latin version of that story may have been seen by Lope de Vega as well as by Robert Greene, and that thus points of resemblance between Greene's "Pandosto" and Lope de Vega's "El Marmol de Felisardo" may have arisen. However that may be, Shakespeare's " Winter's Tale " was founded only upon Greene's novel of "Pandosto," whioh (after Greene's death in 1592) was reprinted in 1607 and 1609, both years being probably before that in which Shakespeare wrote the play. The popularity of Greene's story continued to the end of the seventeenth century. It was again reprinted in 16l4, translated into French in 16l5, again reprinted in English in 16l9, and in l629, and in 1632, and in l636. Then it appeared as "The Pleasant History of Dorastus and Fawnia" in seven more editions before the end of the century, and yet again at the beginning of Queen Anne's reign, in 1703, making the sixteenth edition ; and it was again printed as a chap-book in 1735. No other novel of Greene's remained so long in demand, or has been so frequently reprinted. Next in popularity was the next novel written by Greene in euphuistic style, "Cioeronis Amor: Tullies Love," first published in l589, which went through nine editions, the last belng in l639. The demand for it then came to an end, and it was never again printed for the public at large, because it had been read rather for its euphuism than for any story in it. "Pandosto" alone lived on by virtue of a story which was good enough to have caught Shakespeare's fancy, and which acquired, of course, for some readers a new interest from that fact.
"Pandosto " was first published nine years after Lyly's "Euphues," and abounded in ingenious speeches and antithetical conflicts of love passion, daintily worked out in the true enphuistic fashion. As Shakespeare made no use of these, and they grow to the story like the barnacles on a ship's bottom that delay its course, I have removed them (leaving note always of the places where they stuck), and have thereby obtained space enough to give, without other abridgment, the whole tale on which Shakespeare's play is founded, in the same book with the play itself, for readiest comparison.
Shakespeare's play of the "Winter's Tale" was first printed in the folio of 1623. Dr. Simon Forman records in his diary, of which the MS. is in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, that he saw the " Winter's Tale " acted at the Globe Theatre on Wednesday, the l5th of May, 1611. "Observe there how Leontes, King of Sicilia, was overcome with jealousy of his wife with the King of Bohemia, his friend that came to see him, and how he contrived his death, and would have had his cup-bearer to have poisoned, who gave the King of Bohemia warning thereof, and fled with him to Bohemia. Remember also how he sent to the oracle of Apollo, and the answer of Apollo that she was guiltless, and that the king was jealous, &c, and how, except the child was found again that was lost, the king should die without issue; for the child was carried to Bohemia, and there laid in a forest, and brought up by a shepherd; and the King of Bohemia's son married that wench, and how they fled into Sioilia to Leontes ; and the shepherd having showed the letter of the nobleman whom Leontes sent, it was that child, and the jewels found about her, she was known to be Leontes' daughter, and was then sixteen years old. Remember also the rogue that came in all tattered, like Coll Pipoi, and how he feigned him sick, and to have been robbed of all he had ; and how he cozened the poor man of all his money, and after came to the sheep-shear with a pedlar's pack, and there cozened them again of all their money. And how he changed apparel with the King of Bohemia's son, and then how he turned courtier, &c. Beware of trusting feigned beggars or fawning fellows." Remember, we may add, how this was an impression taken from the play as acted by Shakespeare's company in Shakespeare's time, and how Autolycus hit the vein of the day that delighted in small books upon the ingenuities of cozeners and cony-catchers.
In the office-book of Sir Henry Herbert, Master of the Revels, under date the l9th of August, l623, Edmond Malone found this entry: "For the King's Players. An old play called 'Winter's Tale,' formerly allowed of by Sir George Buck, and likewise by me on Mr. Hemmings his word that there was nothing profane added or reformed, though the allowed book was missing: and therefore I returned it'without a fee this 19th of August, 1623." Sir George Buck, who is referred to as the first licenser, was appointed to his office in October, 1610. Although it has been argued by Chalmers that Sir George Buck obtained in 1603 a grant of the reversion of the office of Master of the Revels, and himself licensed many plays before 16l0, there is ground for a strong opinion, though not for absolute belief, that the play was a new play when Dr. Simon Forman saw it at the Globe in May, 16ll.
If we look now to Shakespeare's variations from Greene's novel, we find that the great change made is in the restoration to Leontes of his queen, together with his daughter. In Greene's novel both the queen and her son die after the decision of the oracle has, to the satisfaction of Pandosto, proved the queen's innocence. To change a real into a supposed death, required invention of means of concealment, and this requirement was met by the creation of the character of Paulina. In the exposure of the new-born infant, Shakespeare avoided the sheer impossibility of the survival of an infant, drenched and tossed alone in a boat on the sea without food or nursing, until it has been cast ashore in a storm upon a distant coast. It is the coast of Sicily in Greene. Shakespeare, transposing the homes of the two royal friends, places Leontes in Sicily, not in Bohemia. Bohemia had belonged to Austria since l526, and it was easy to confound in romance its inland mountains with the mountain districts of Illyria, which were also Austrian. Greene could in the telling slip over an impossible survival of a new-born infant after a few weeks of total starvation and exposure to storm and salt water by night and day, even after it had been finally rolled up as a waif upon a stormy shore; but it would not bear the realisation that is of the essence of a play. Shakespeare gives, therefore, a husband to Paulina, Antigonus, who is of gentle heart, though he obeys the evil bidding of the king, and the infant is committed to the waves, surrounded by the tenderest care nntil the hour of its exposure upon a coast not found by chance, but chosen at the bidding of a dream. This done, the poet gets rid of the men who are no longer wanted in the story, and who would be in its way if they lived and returned to Sicily. He gives emphasis at the same time to the peril of the child by destroying the ship and its crew in a storm at sea, and giving Antigonus to a wild beast on land, "so that all Vie instruments which aided to expose the child were even then lost when it was found." In the following scenes dramatic life could not have been put into the telling of the tale without addition of the shepherd's son. His wife, who is in Greene's tale, could not have been used for the purposes served by Shakespeare's invention of the clownish son and of the rogue Autolycus. Greene uses the shepherd's wife as means for bringing about the solution of the plot, and has the shepherd carried off by foroe upon the ship of the offended king. Shakespeare removes several improbabilities, and gets rid of incidents that mar the grace of the tale, including Pandosto's animal love for his unrecognised daughter. His changes in the manner of bringing about the solution of the plot, as far as concerns Florizel and Perdita, are mainly produced by his invention of Autolycus, the merry rogue—a cashiered courtier—who sings his songs at the sheepshearing, fleeces the rustics, and half in hope to recover favour with the prince, sends the witnesses who can untie the knot of the tale on board the prince's ship to Sicily, It is enough then to suggest playfully that Florizel and Perdita were too full of their own affairs to ask many questions of other people, and that they were sea-sick as well as love-sick. The reader who follows attentively Shakespeare's use of Autolycus as a means of putting dramatic life into the solution of the plot without spoiling the pastoral grace and playfulness of that part of the story, will see that but for his trick in sending the bearers of the fardel to the Prince's ship instead of to the King. Perdito must have been identified before the persons of the story were about Leontes in the close.
Garrick cut the play down into three acts of the "Winter's Tale; or, Florizel and Perdita," in l756, with many alterations and additions of his own. In that form it was revived from time to time till the end of the century. In l802 Shakespeare's play was revived at Drury Lane by John Kemble, with only a partial use of