« VorigeDoorgaan »
and her child, after her long separation from them, is as affecting in itself as it is striking in the representation. Camillo, and the old shepherd and his son, are subordinate but not uninteresting instruments in the developement of the plot, and though last, not least, comes Autolycus, a very pleasant, thriving rogue; and (what is the best feather in the cap of all knavery) he escapes with impunity in the end.
The Winter's Tale is one of the best-acting of our author's plays. We remember seeing it with great pleasure many years ago. It was on the night that King took leave of the stage, when he and Mrs. Jordan played together in the afterpiece of the Wedding day. Nothing could go off with more eclat, with more spirit, and grandeur of effect. Mrs. Siddons played Hermione, and in the last scene acted the painted statue to the life-with true monumental dignity and noble passion; Mr. Kemble, in Leontes, worked himself up into a very fine classical phrenzy ; and Bannister, as Autolycus, roared as loud for pity as a sturdy beggar could do, who felt none of the pain he counterfeited, and was sound of wind and limb. We shall never see these parts so acted again; or if we did, it would be in vain. Actors grow old, or no longer surprise us by their novelty. But true poetry, like nature, is always young ; and we still read the courtship of Florizel and Perdita, as we welcome the return of spring, with the same feelings as ever.
" Florizel. Thou dearest Perdita,
Mine own, nor any thing to any, if
Perdita. O lady fortune,
Enter Shepherd, Clown, Mopsa, Dorcas, Servants ; with POLIXENES,
and Camillo, disguised. Florizel. See, your guests approach : Address yourself to entertain them sprightly, And let's be red with mirth.
Shepherd. Fie, daughter! when my old wife liv'd, upon This day, she was both pantler, butler, cook ; Both dame and servant: welcom'd all, serv'd all: Would sing her song, and dance her turn : now here At upper end o' the table, now i' the middle: On his shoulder, and his : her face o' fire With labour ; and the thing she took to quench it She would to each one sip. You are retird, As if you were a feasted one, and not The hostess of the meeting. Pray you, bid These unknown friends to us welcome; for it is A way to make us better friends, more known. Come quench your blushes; and present yourself That which you are, mistress o' the feast. Come on, And bid us welcome to your sheep-shearing, As your good flock shall prosper.
Perdita. Sir, welcome! [To Poliæenes and Camillo. It is my father's will I should take on me The hostess-ship o' the day: you're welcome, sir ! Give me those flowers there, Dorcas. -Reverend sirs, For you there's rosemary and rue; these keep Seeming, and savour, all the winter long : Grace and remembrance be unto you both, And welcome to our shearing !
Perdita. Sir, the year growing ancient,
Polixenes. Wherefore, gentle maiden,
Perdita. For I have heard it said
Polixenes. Say, there be:
This is an art
Perdita. So it is.
Polixenes. Then make your garden rich in gilly-flowers, And do not call them bastards.
Perdita. l'll not put
Camillo. I should leave grazing, were 1 of your flock, And only live by gazing.
Perdita. Onit, alas ! You'd be so lean, that blasts of January Would blow you through and through. Now, my fairest friends, I would I had some flowers o' the spring, that might Become your time of day; and your's, and your's, That wear upon your virgin branches yet Your maiden-beads growing: Proserpina, For the flowers now, that, frighted, thou let'st fall From Dis's wagon ! daffodils, That come before swallow dares, and take The winds of March with beauty : violets dim, But sweeter than the lids of Juno's eyes, Or Cytherea's breath; pale primroses, That die unmarried, ere they can behold Bright Phæbus in his strength (a malady Most incident to maids ;) hold oxlips, and The crown imperial ; lilies of all kinds, The fleur-de-lis being one! O, these I lack To make you garlands of ; and, my sweet friend To strow him o'er and o'er.
Florizel. What, like a corse ?
Perdita. No, like a bank, for love to lie and play on ;
Florizel. What you do,
Perdita. O Doricles,
Do plainly give you out an unstained shepherd ;
Florizel. I think you have
Perdita. I'll swear for 'em.
Polixenes. This is the prettiest low-born lass that ever
Camillo. He tells her something
This delicious scene is interrupted by the father of the prince discovering himself to Florizel, and haughtily breaking off the intended match between his son and Perdita. When Polixenes goes out
" Even here undone :
As Perdita, the supposed shepherdess, turns out to be the daughter of Hermione, and a princess in disguise, both feelings of the pride of birth and the claims of nature, are satisfied by the fortunate event of the story, and the fine romance of poetry is reconciled to the strictest court etiquette.