Page images










THIS Play of Shakspeare is taken, with a few alterations, from Robert Greene's pleasant History of Dorastas and Fawnia.

In that story Pandosto, king of Bohemia, is married to Bellaria, a princess of great beauty and virtue, who at the end of the first year brings a son, by them called Garrinter.

Egistus, king of Sicily, had been the friend of Pandosto from their infancy, and now went into Bohemia to felicitate him on his marriage and the birth of his son. At first Pandosto receives him with all the ardor of friendship, but is soon seized with jealousy at the tender attention paid by Bellaria to the amiable and virtuous friend of a beloved husband.

Egistus is informed of his friend's unhappy suspicions and his intention to poison him, by Franian the king's cup-bearer, in company with whom he secretly quits the kingdom. Pandosto imprisons the queen and determines to put her to death, but the oracle of


Apollo declares her innocence. Before this decision of the god, Bellaria had been delivered of a daughter, whom the king ordered to be exposed in a boat to the mercy of the elements. At the report of the oracle Pandosto is smitten with remorse: not daring to approach his injured wife, he sends his nobles to intreat her forgiveness, but at this important moment a messenger arrives to say his son Garrinter is dead, and the queen overpowered, at once, by the extremes of joy and grief, falls down and instantly expires.

The boat which contained the infant was cast on the coast of Sicily: a shepherd picked up the child and reared her as his daughter, applying the riches he found with her to his own use. When Fawnia (for so she was called) had attained the age of fifteen, her beauty became the admiration of all the swains. At this period Dorastus, the only son of Egistus, sees and becomes enamoured of her. A reciprocal passion soon invades the bosom of the fair shepherdess, and as the prince foresees the anger of his father, at the discovery of his intended union, he determines to relinquish Sicily and his pretensions to its crown, in order to become the husband of his beloved Fawnia.

The bark in which the lovers escape is driven by a storm to the shores of Bohemia: here the old king Pandosto falls in love with his daughter, and imprisons Dorastus, who had assumed the name of Meleagrus. Some Bohemian merchants recognize the prince, and carry the news to the king of Sicily. Egistus sets out for the court of Pandosto, where Fawnia's rank

« EelmineJätka »