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brings her up as his own child. At the age of sixteen she is encountered by Prince Dorastus as he returns from hawking, wins his heart and loses hers, and sets sail with him for Italy, fearing his father's displeasure should their marriage become known. Meantime Porrus, the old shepherd, who knows the rank of his adopted daughter's lover, is equally in dread of the King's anger; andtaking the mantle, jewels, and treasure which he found with Fawnia, he sets out to acquaint Egistus of the whole affair. But he is encountered by the confidential servant of the Prince, who gets him, partly by stratagem and partly by force, on board the Prince's ship, which immediately sets sail. It does not reach Italy, but is wrecked on the coast of Bohemia. Dorastus, knowing the enmity between the two kings, assumes a false name, and gives out that he is an Italian knight of Trapolonia. But he is apprehended as a spy, and brought before Pandosto, who becomes enamoured of Fawnia and casts Dorastus into prison. Egistus hears the fate of his son, and immediately sets out for Bohemia, where on his arrival Dorastus is set free. But upon his threatening Fawnia and Porrus with fearful vengeance for their presumption in allying themselves with the blood royal, the latter tells the story which he had left home to tell; Fawnia, proving to be a princess, is married to Dorastus; and Pandosto, in remorse at having caused the death of his wife and his son, and at having vexed his own daughter with amorous solicitation, kills himself. Such is the rude structure and repulsive catastrophe of the narrative; for which Shakespeare substituted the pastoral charm and characteristic humor of the fourth Act of The Winter's Tale, and the bold design of the statue scene in the fifth, where serenity and joy descend to all from the pedestal of Hermione, as she returns, like Alcestis, from the grave.
The other variations between the incidents of the novel and those of the drama are too trivial to merit notice. But it is worthy of remark that Greene gives Pandosto more cause for his jealousy than Shakespeare gives to Leontes. For in the tale Bellaria, though entirely innocent, uses Egistus "so familiarly that her countenance bewraied how her mind was affected towardcs him, oftentimes comming her selfe into his bed chamber to see that nothing should be amis to mislike him;" and also "there grew such a secret uniting of their affections that the one could not well be without the company of the other." It may possibly have been Shakespeare's intention to make its sudden birth and its extravagance characteristic traits of Leontes' jealousy; but this difference between the play and the novel seems rather due to a necessity for the compression of the latter. Shakespeare sought only to put a very popular story into a dramatic form; and of this he advertised his hearers by calling this play a Tale, just as before he had called a play similarly wanting in dramatic interest, a Dream.
The Winter's Tale is remarkable, even among Shakespeare's plays, for its defiance of all restraint of time or place. No other approaches it in its recklessness of these conditions; and it is remarkable that he produced at about the same time, probably in the same year, the two of his works most unlike in this respect, — The Tempest, and the play under consideration. For while in the former (partly, it is true, on account of the nature of its story) the unities are so strictly observed that it could be played with two scenes, and that the time of its supposed action is little longer than that of the performance, and no traces of carelessness or ignorance appear; in the latter the poet puts sixteen years between two Acts, and thousands of miles between two Scenes, brings inland countries to the sea, carries the Temple of Apollo from the continent to an island, makes the Queen of Sicilia, who is waiting to hear her doom from the Delphic Oracle, say that the Emperor of Russia is her father, puts into FlorizeVs mouth the story that he brought the fair Perdita from Libya, and, in the midst of all this, shows us a statue the work of Giulio Romano, and gives us a clown who talks of pound and odd shilling, and a Puritan singing psalms to hornpipes! For much of this chronological confusion Greene is answerable, and it concerns us here chiefly as evidence how constantly Shakespeare had the work of his predecessor in his mind while writing this play, if indeed he did not have it before his eye.
But although counterparts of nearly all the characters and most of the incidents of The Winter's Tale exist in Pandosto, and even verbal reminiscences of the latter are to be found in the former, it cannot be said that the play is in the least indebted to the tale for the place it holds in literature, or even for the mere interest of its story. Whatever the merits of Greene's work, — and it is a good tale of its sort and its time, though clumsily and pedantically told, — they are altogether different in kind (we will not consider the question of degree) from the merits of Shakespeare's. In characterization of personages the tale is notably coarse and common place, in thought arid and barren, and in language alternately meagre and inflated: whereas there are few more remarkable creations in all literature than Hermione, Perdita, Autolycus, Paulina, not to notice minor characters; and its teeming wealth of wisdom, and the daring and dainty beauty of its poetry, give the play a high place in the second rank of Shakespeare's works. Briefly, it is the old story over again: the dry stick that seems to bloom and blossom is but hidden by the leafy luxuriance and floral splendor of the plant that has been trained upon it.
The date of the production of this drama is determinable with a near approach to accuracy. That it was written before May 15th, 1611, we have evidence in the following entry under that date in the diary of Dr. Simon Forman, now among the MSS. in the Ashmolean Museum of Oxford, England.
u In the Winter's Talk at the Glob, 1611, the 15 of Maye, Wednesday,
"Observe ther howTe Lyontes the Kinge of Cicillia was overcorn 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 [him] who gave the King of Bohemia warning thereof and fled with him to Bohemia.
i'Remember also howe he sent to the orakell of Apollo, and the aunswer of Apollo that she was giltless, and that the king was jelouse, &c, and howe, except the child was found again 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 fled into Cicillia to Leontes, and the sheppard having showed the letter of the nobleman, by 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 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 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." *
* From a precise copy carefully made from the original by Mr. Halliwell. VOL. V. R
An entry in the Office Book of Sir George Buck, Master of the levels, recording the performance of The Winter's Tale at Court on the 5th of November, 1611, has also been discovered by Mr. Peter Cunningham.* The farther limit of the period during which it was produced is indicated, though, perhaps, hardly established beyond question, by Malone's discovery that it was licensed by Sir Henry Herbert in 1623, without a fee and without examination, because it had been "formerly allowed of by Sir George Buck," and Mr. Hemminge (one of the player editors of the folio) gave his word that "there was nothing prophane added or reformed."t Now Sir George Buck, having obtained a reversionary grant of the Office of Master of the Revels in 1603, succeeded to it in the autumn of 1610; and The Winter's Tale was therefore produced between that time and the spring of 1611, when Dr. Forman saw it; unless, indeed, it was licensed by Sir George before he obtained his office. For Buck succeeded Edmund Tilney, who was his maternal uncle; and if we can rely upon Chalmers' quotations from the Stationers' Register, the nephew was allowed to share the official labors of the uncle, and licensed twenty-seven plays between May, 1606, and October, 1608. J But it should be remarked that these plays, among which The Winter's Tale is not named, were licensed for publication only; and although the censorship was sometimes vicariously exercised, it is very improbable that licenses for representation, by far the more important, were granted in any other name than that of the Master of the Revels himself. It may therefore be safely assumed that The Winter's Tale was produced under the official sanction of Sir George Buck, and probably in the early part of 1611. §
This play was first published in the folio of 1623, and is there printed with unusual care; the very punctuation, which throughout that volume is extremely irregular and careless, being in a great measure reliable. The corruptions of the text are therefore comparatively few, far fewer than we might reasonably expect from the style of the play, which is more open to the charge of obscurity than any other of Shakespeare's works. It abounds in elliptical passages in which the gap to be bridged is unprecedentedly great; parentheses within parentheses, even to the third and fourth degree, require sustained attention and a clear head to unravel their involutions; and thoughts incompletely stated, or only suggested, tantalize and bewilder the untrained or superficial reader. Under such circumstances, it is rather surprising that the text has come down to us in so pure a state; and the absolute incomprehensibility of one or two passages may safely be attributed to the attempt, on the part of the printers, to correct that which they thought corrupt in their copy, but which was only obscure.
* Extracts from the Accounts of the Revels at Court. 1842. Shakespeare Society.
f Boswell's Malone, Yol. II. p. 463, and Vol. III. p. 229.
% Supplemental Apology for the Believers, &c, pp. 200, 201.
\ See note upon Apollo's Oracle, Act III. Sc. 2, as to another point of evi« dence.
There are indications in the folio that its publishers did not at first expect this play to appear in that volume. Twelfth Night ends upon page 275, and according to custom, which is observed in that volume, The Winter's Tale should begin on page 276; but that page is left entirely blank, and is unpaged; this play beginning upon the following recto, page 277.* The signature marks also, which change at this part of the volume, being peculiar to this play, show that it was not put in type in its regular order.f It is possible that in gathering the plays together, Heminge and Condell forgot this one until the folio was nearly in type; but it is more probable that, finding it no more tragical in its course or its catastrophe than Cymbeline, they at first intended to class it with the Tragedies, and after it was ready to be struck off restored it to its proper place among the Comedies. A similar uncertainty, shown in a similar manner, seems to have attended the introduction of Troilus and Cressida into the folio.
As to the period of the action and the costume of this Tale, they are as absolutely indeterminable as those of the Dream which it so much resembles in its entire disregard of the probabilities, not to say the unities, of time and place. Any attempt to reduce its material conditions into harmony with chronology, will succeed only in destroying in some measure the romantic and fantastic character which was stamped upon it by the time in which it was written, no less than by the man who wrote it.
* The reverse of the page upon which The Winter's Tale ends is also left blank; but as the next play begins a new division, Histories, with a new paging, no conclusion can be based on this fact.
f They begin A a; and this double lettering ceases with The Winter's Tale; the first page of King John being signature a, and the single lower case or gmall letter marking being continued regularly until the alphabet is exhausted