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Florizel. Thou dearest Perdita, With these forc'd thoughts, I pr'ythee, darken not the mirth of the feast.
THIS play throughout is written in the very spirit of its author. And in telling this homely and simple, though agreeable, country tale,
Our sweetest Shakspeare, fancy's child,
This was necessary to observe in mere justice to the play; as the meanness of the fable, and the extravagant conduct of it, had misled some of great name into a wrong judgment of its merit; which, as far as it regards sentiment and character, is scarce inferior to any in the whole collection. WARBURTON. The story of this play is taken from the Pleasant History of Dorastus and Fawnia, written by Robert Greene. JOHNSON. The Winter's Tale may be ranked among the historic plays of Shakspeare, though not one of his numerous criticks and commentators have discovered the drift of it. 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:
"'Tis a derivative from me to mine,
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 :
"And might we lay the old proverb to your charge,
The Winter's Tale was therefore in reality a second part of Henry the Eighth.
Another Sicilian lord.
ROGERO, a Sicilian gentleman.
An Attendant on the young prince Mamillius.
FLORIZEL, his son.
ARCHIDAMUS, a Bohemian lord.
An old Shepherd, reputed father of Perdita.
Servant to the old shepherd.
AUTOLYCUs, a rogue.
HERMIONE, queen to Leontes.
PERDITA, daughter to Leontes and Hermione
EMILIA, a lady,
Two other ladies, attending the queen.
Lord, Ladies, and Attendants; Satyrs for a dance; Shepherds, Shepherdesses, Guards, &c.
SCENE-Sometimes in Sicilia ; sometimes in Bohemia.
An Antechamber in LEONTES' Palace. Enter CAMILLO and ARCHIDAMUS.
IF IF you shall chance, Camillo, to visit Bohemia, on the 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, we 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 ac
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.