« ZurückWeiter »
critics and commentators have discovered the drift of in 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 advantage. 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 pictured 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 so 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 secona part of Henry the Eighth.
LEONTES, king of Sicilia.
HERMIONE, queen to Leontes.
, } attending the queen. MOPSA, shepherdesses
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.
Archidamus. If you shall chance, Camillo, to visit Bohemia, on the IF 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, 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 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 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 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,
 Though we cannot give you equal entertainment, yet the consciousness of our good will shall justify us. JOHNSON
have been royally attornied,' with interchange of gifts, letters, loving embassies ; that they have seemed to be together, though absent; shook hands, as over a vast ;) 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, physics the subject," 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.
The same. A Room of State in the Palace. Enter LeonTES,
POLIXENES, HERMIONE, MAMILLIUS, Camillo, and At.
Pol. Nine changes of the watry star have been
 Nobly supplied by substitution of embassies, &c. JOHNSON.
 Vastum was the ancient term for waste uncultivated land. Over a vast, therefore, means at a great and vacant distance from each other. Dast, however, may be used for the sea. STEEVENS.
Shakespeare has, more than once, taken his imagery from the prints, with which the books of his time were ornamented. If my memory do not deceive me be had his eye on a wood cut in Holinshed, while writing the incantation of the weird sisters in Macbeth. In this passage he refers to a device common in the title-page of old books, of two hands extended from opposite
clouds, and joined as in token of friendship over a wide waste of country. HENLEY.
 Affords a cordial to the state ; has the power of assuaging the sense of misery. JOHNSON