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THE WINTER'S TALL.
The first edition of this play known is that of the folio, 1623 ; and the earliest notice of its performance is an entry in the manuscript Diary (Mus. Ashmol. Oxon.) of Dr. Simon Forman, who thus describes the plot of the piece, which he witnessed at the Globe Theatre, May 15th, 1611 :
“Observe ther howe Lyontes the Kinge of Cicillia was overcom with jelosy of his wife with the Kinge of Bohemia, his frind, that came to see him, and howe he contrived his death, and wold have had his cup-berer to have poisoned, who gave the Kinge of Bohemia warning thereof and fied with him to Bohemia.
“Remember also howe he sent to the orakell of Apollo, and the aunswer of Apollo that she was giltless, and that the kinge was jelouse, &c., and howe, except the child was found againe that was loste, the kinge should die without yssue ; for the child was caried into Bohemia, and there laid in a forrest, and brought up by a sheppard, and the Kinge of Bohemia, his sonn married that wentch: and howe they fed into Cicillia to Leontes, and the sheppard having showed (by] the letter of the nobleman whom Leontes sent, it was that child, and [by] the jewells found about her, she was knowen to be Leontes daughter, and was then 16. yers old.
“ Remember also the rog [rogue] that cam in all tottered like roll pixci * and howe he fayned him sicke and to have him robbed of all that he had, and howe he cosoned the por man of all his money, and after cam to the shop ther (sheep sheer ?] with a pedlers packe, and ther cosened them again of all their money; and how he changed apparell with the Kinge of Bomia, his sonn, and then how he turned courtier, &c. Beware of trustinge feined beggars or fawninge
, fellouse." +
In the same year, as we learn from a record in the Accounts of the Revels at Court, it was acted at Whitehall
The accounts of Lord Harrington, Treasurer of the Chamber to James I., show that it was again acted at Court, before Prince Charles, the Lady Elizabeth, and the Prince Palatine Elector, in May, 1613.
And it is further mentioned in the Office Book of Sir Henry Herbert, Master of the Revels, under the date of August the 19th, 1623:
“For the kings players. An olde playe called Winters Tale, formerly allowed of by Sir George Bucke and likewyse by mee on Mr. Hemminges his worde that there was nothing prophane added or reformed, thogh the allowed booke was missing : and therefore I returned it without a fee, this 19th of August, 1623."
+ From a carefully executed copy made from the original by Mr. Halliwell.
+ This was no doubt some noted vagabond, whose nickname has not come down to us correctly. Mr. Collier prints it, * Coll Pipci."
From these facts Mr. Collier infers, and his inference is strengthened by the style of the language and the structure of the verse, that “ The Winter's Tale" was a novelty at the time Forman saw it played at the Globe, and had “ been composed in the autumn and winter of 1610-11, with a view to its production on the Bankside, as soon as the usual performances by the king's players commenced there."
The plot of “ The Winter's Tale” is founded on a popular novel by Robert Greene, first printed in 1588, and then called “ Pandosto: The Triumph of Time," * &c., though in subsequent impressions intituled, “ The History of Dorastus and Fawnia.” In this tale we have the leading incidents of the play, and counterparts, though insufferably dull and coarse ones, of the principal personages.
But Shakespeare has modified the crude materials of his original with such judgment, and vivified and ennobled the characters he has retained with such incomparable art, that, as usual, he may be said to have imposed rather than to have incurred an obligation by adopting them.
Lords, Ladies, and Attendants; Satyrs for a Dance ; Shepherds, Shepherdesses, Guards, &c.
SCENE,-Sometimes in SICILIA ; sometimes in BOHEMIA.
Enter CAMILLO and ARCHIDAMUS.
ligent of our insufficience, may, though they can
not praise us, as little accuse us. ARCH. If you shall chance, Camillo, to visit Cam. You pay a great deal too dear for what's Bohemia, on the like occasion whereon my services given freely. are now on foot, you shall see, as I have said, ARCH. Believe me, I speak as my understanding great difference betwixt our Bohemia and your instructs me, and as mine honesty puts it to Sicilia.
utterance. Cam. I think, this coming summer, the king CAM. Sicilia cannot show himself over-kind to of Sicilia means to pay Bohemia the visitation Bohemia. They were trained together in their which be 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 - attorneyed, with interchange of gifts, letters, in so rare-I know not what to say.-We will loving embassies; that they have seemed to be give you sleepy drinks, that your senses, unintel- together, though absent; shook hands, as over a