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the text, which merely requires the change of o to e, in an obvious misprint.
"I would not do 't"-Hanmer proposed, and Stevens adopted a transposition of this, which is the original text, so as to read, "If I thought it were not a piece of honesty, etc., I would do it." Yet, as part of the knave's reasoning with himself, and stating his own principle of action, the old text, which is also that of the three last editions, may well stand.
"-pedler's EXCREMENT"-i. e. His beard. In LOVE'S LABOUR LOST, Armado calls his beard" excrement." Also, in the COMEDY OF ERRORS. The word is used as we now might use excrescence.
"Bred his hopes out of: TRUE"-The text is here much indebted to Mr. Collier for having restored the reading of all the old editions. Leontes, in grief and remorse, states a fact. and adds, mournfully, "true;" to which Paulina naturally adds that it is "too true." The modern editors, from the time of Theobald, have made Paulina say, "True, too true, my lord," without necessity or authority; and, I think, injuriously to the feeling of the
Of his most sovereign NAME"-Most of the modern editions, in opposition to all the old copies, have dame instead of "name;" as if the reference were to Hermione, and not the preservation of the name of Leontes, by marrying again, and having issue to succeed to the throne. In the folios "name" is printed with a capital letter, which makes the error more improbable.
-and on this stage
(Where we offenders now appear) soul-vex'd,
This is evidently erroneous; but the true reading is very doubtful. We have given that of Stevens, followed by Collier and others, which makes no change but the transposition of and. Knight changes the parenthesis thus: "(Where we offenders now) appear." Z. Jackson ingeniously reads, "(Where we offended) now appear"-Theobald, "(Where we offend her now.)"
"And why to me?" means, " And why such treatment to me, who deserved so much better, than one worse and better used?”
"AFFRONT his eye"-i. e. Meet his eye, or encounter it. (Affrontare, Ital.) Shakespeare uses this word with the same meaning again in HAMLET, (act iii. scene 1:)
That he, as 'twere by accident, may here
And in CYMBELINE:-"Your preparation can affront no less than what you hear of." The word is used in the same sense by Ben Jonson, and even by Dryden. Lodge, in the preface to his "Translation of Seneca," says, "No soldier is counted valiant that affronteth not his enemie."
"Good madam,-I have done"-Stevens and Malone transfer "I have done" to Paulina, who is going vehemently on. Cleomenes endeavours to interpose, but he gives over the attempt, with "I have done;" and then Paulina continues. With Knight and Collier, we follow
the old text.
"if the IMPORTANCE were joy, or sorrow”—Malone says that "importance" here means only import; but the word is rather to be taken in its etymological sense, from the French emporter. Spenser uses important in a kindred manner:
-he fiercely at him flew, And with important outrage him assail'd. "The meaning of the text seems to be, that a beholder could not say if they were carried away by joy or sorrow."-COLLIER.
"not by FAVOUR"-i. e. Countenance-often employed in this sense.
with CLIPPING her"-i. e. Embracing her-a word of constant use formerly. Thus, in KING JOHN :Neptune's arms, who clippeth thee about."
"like a WEATHER-BITTEN CONDUIT"-Conduits, representing the human form, were formerly common. The same image is found in ROMEO AND JULIET :How now? a conduit, girl? what, still in tears? Evermore streaming?
"Weather-bitten" was, in the third folio, changed to weather-beaten; but there is no necessity for the change. Hamlet says, "The air bites shrewdly ;" and the Duke, in As You LIKE IT, speaking of the wind, says :"When it bites and blows upon my body." "Weather bitten," therefore, means, corroded by the weather-as we still say, frost-bilten.
"JULIO ROMANO"-" However misplaced the praise, it is no small honour to Julio Romano to be thus mentioned by the Poet. By eternity Shakespeare only means immortality. It should seem that a painted statue was no singularity in that age: Ben Jonson, in his "Magnetic Lady," makes it a reflection on the bad taste of the city:
Rut. I'd have her statue cut now in white marble.
Sr. Moth. And have it painted in most orient colours. Rut. That's right! all city statues must be painted, Else they be worth nought in their subtle judgments. Sir Henry Wotton, who had travelled much, calls it an "English barbarism." But painted statues were known to the Greeks, as appears from the accounts of Pausanias and Herodotus. That semi-barbarous nations should paint them, is not, therefore, to be wondered at; it is a custom which has prevailed everywhere in the infancy of art."-STEVENS, and others.
"This scene is not only one of the most picturesque and striking instances of stage-effect to be found in the ancient or modern drama, but, by the skilful manner in which it is prepared, it has, wonderful as it appears, all the merit of consistency and truth. The grief, the love, the remorse, and impatience of Leontes, are finely contrasted with the astonishment and admiration of Perdita, who, gazing on the figure of her mother, like one entranced, looks as if she were also turned to marble. There is here one little instance of tender remembrance in Leontes, which adds to the charming impression of Hermione's character:
Chide me, dear stone! that I may say indeed
As infancy and grace.
Thus she stood,
Even with such life of majesty,-warm life-
"The effect produced on the different persons of the drama by this living statue-an effect which, at the same moment, is and is not illusion-the manner in which the feelings of the spectators become entangled between the conviction of death and the impression of life, the idea of a deception, and the feeling of a reality, and the exquisite colouring of poetry and touches of natural feeling with which the whole is brought uptill wonder, expectation, and intense pleasure, hold our pulse and breath suspended on the event-are quite inimitable.
The expression used here by Leontes-
Even with such life of majesty,-warm life.
and by Polixenes
The very life seems warm upon her lipappear strangely applied to a statue, such as we usually imagine it-of the cold colourless marble; but it is evident that in this scene Hermione personates one of those images, or effigies, such as we may see in the old Gothic cathedrals, in which the stone, or marble, was coloured after nature. I remember coming suddenly upon one of these effigies, either at Basle or Fribourg, which made me start. The figure was as large as life; the drapery of crimson, powdered with stars of gold; the face and eyes, and hair, tinted after nature, though faded by time. It stood in a Gothic niche, over a tomb, as I think, and in a kind of dim, uncertain light. It would have been very easy for a living person to represent such an effigy, particularly if it had been painted by that rare Italian master, Julio Romano,' who, as we are informed, was the reputed author of this wonderful statue.
"The moment when Hermione descends from her pedestal, to the sound of soft music, and throws herself, without speaking, into her husband's arms, is one of inexpressible interest. It appears to me that her silence, during the whole of this scene, (except when she in
vokes a blessing on her daughter's head,) is in the finest taste, as a poetical beauty, besides being an admirable trait of character. The misfortunes of Hermione, her long religious seclusion, the wonderful and almost supernatural part she has just enacted, have invested her with such a sacred and awful charm, that any words put into her mouth must, I think, have injured the solemn and profound pathos of the situation."-MRS. JAMESON.
"would beguile nature of her CUSTOM"-That is, of her trade-would draw nature's customers from her. "Let boors and FRANKLINS say it”—A “franklin" was a freeholder, or yeoman: a man above a villain, but not a gentleman.
"-thou art a TALL fellow of thy hands”—i, e. A courageous fellow. (See Note on MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR, act i. scene 4.)
"we'll be thy GOOD MASTERS"-"The Clown conceits himself already a man of consequence at court. It was the fashion for an inferior, or suitor, to beg of the great man, after his humble commendations, that he would be good master' to him. Many ancient letters run in this fashion. Thus, Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, when in prison, in a letter to Lord Cromwell, (in the time of Henry VIII.,) says:-'Furthermore, I beseech you, to be good master unto one in my necessities; for I have neither shirt nor suit, nor yet other clothes, that are necessary for me to wear.""WHALLEY.
"PAULINA undraws a curtain, and discovers a statue"-"In the old editions there is no stage-direction, excepting that, at the beginning of the scene, Hermione (like a statue,)' is inserted among the characters. Hermione was probably concealed by a curtain.”— COLLIER.
This whole act, with the idea of the statue and the restoration of Hermione, is entirely of Shakespeare's own invention, there being no trace of any similar thought in the novel, where the queen dies with sudden grief, upon the death of her son. Some of the critics of the last century, when this piece was unknown on the stage, and branded, in the ordinary editions, with Dryden's censure and Pope's doubts, have specially remarked upon this scene as improbable and undramatic. Mrs. Lennox brands it as "low and ridiculous." But the revival of the play on the stage, in latter days, has proved that Shakespeare was a better judge than his critics of stage-effect and dramatic probability. Campbell appeals to the public recollection of Mrs. Siddons, in this scene, as a sufficient refutation of the criticism of Mrs. Lennox, and all her tribe; while Hazlitt, among his dramatic reminiscences of this piece, besides noticing the "fine classical phrensy" of Kemble, in Leontes, says that Mrs. Siddons, "in the last scene, acted the painted statue to the life-with true monumental dignity, and noble passion."
"Would I were dead, but that, methinks, already”— Leontes, in his ecstasy, breaks off without completing what he was about to say: what was in his thought seems to have been something to contradict his wish, "Would I were dead," because he almost fancies that the statue of Hermione is alive.
"The FIXURE of her eye has MOTION in't"-"The meaning is, though her eye be fixed, yet it seems to have "motion" in it: that tremulous motion which is perceptible in the eye of a living person, how much soever one endeavours to fix it."-EDWArds.
"ON; Those that think”—The folio reading is retained, because it is not clear that it can be changed for the better, with probability. Knight and Collier retain it; the former (with whom we agree) understands it as, Let us go on. The king immediately adds, Proceed. Collier interprets-"Let those go on, or de
part," etc. Hanmer, followed by other editors, changes "on" into or, thus:
Or those that think it is unlawful business.
"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 Shakespeare, 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 regards sentiment and character, is scarce inferior to any in the whole collection."-WARBURTON.
Dr. Warburton, by "some of great name," means Dryden and Pope. (See the Essay at the end of the second part of the "Conquest of Granada.")
The WINTER'S TALE is as appropriately named as the MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM. It is one of those tales which are peculiarly calculated to beguile the dreary leisure of a long winter evening, which are even attractive and intelligible to childhood; and which, animated by fervent truth, in the delineation of character and passion, invested with the decoration of a poetry lowering itself, as it were, to the simplicity of the subject, transport even manhood back to the golden age of imagination. The calculation of probabilities has nothing to do with such wonderful and fleeting adventures, ending at last in general joy; and, accordingly, Shakespeare has here taken the greatest liberties with anachronisms and geographical errors."-SCHLEGEL.
"The idea of this delightful drama, (says Coleridge, in his Literary Remains, vol. ii. p. 250,) is a genuine jealousy of disposition; and it should be immediately followed by the perusal of OтHELLO, which is the direct contrast of it, in every particular. For jealousy is a vice of the mind, a culpable tendency of temper, having certain well-known and well-defined effects and concomitants, all of which are visible in Leontes, and, I boldly say, not one of which marks its presence in Othello:
"The qualities which impart to Perdita her distinct individuality, are the beautiful combination of the pastoral with the elegant-of simplicity with elevation -of spirit with sweetness. The exquisite delicacy of the picture is apparent. To understand and appreciate its effective truth and nature, we should place Perdita beside some of the nymphs of Arcadia, or the Italian pastorals, who, however graceful in themselves, when opposed to Perdita, seem to melt away into mere poetical abstractions:-as, in Spenser, the fair but fictitious Florimel, which the subtle enchantress had moulded out of snow, 'vermeil tinctured,' and informed with an airy spirit, that knew all wiles of woman's wits,' fades and dissolves away, when placed next to the real Florimel, in her warm, breathing, human loveliness.
"Perdita does not appear till the fourth act, and the whole of the character is developed in the course of a single scene, (the third,) with a completeness of effect which leaves nothing to be required-nothing to be supplied. She is first introduced in the dialogue between herself and Florizel, where she compares her own lowly state to his princely rank, and expresses her fears of the issue of their unequal attachment. With all her timidity, and her sense of the distance which separates her from her lover, she breathes not a single word which could lead us to impugn either her delicacy or her dignity.
"There are several among Shakespeare's characters which exercise a far stronger power over our feelings, our fancy, our understanding, than that of Hermione; but not one,-unless perhaps Cordelia,-constructed upon so high and pure a principle. It is the union of gentleness with power which constitutes the perfection of mental grace. Thus, among the ancients, with whom the graces were also the charities, one and the same word signified equally strength and virtue. This feeling, carried into the fine arts, was the secret of the antique grace-the grace of repose. The same eternal nature-the same sense of immutable truth and beauty, which revealed this sublime principle of art to the
such as, first, an excitability by the most inadequate ancient Greeks, revealed it to the genius of Shake
causes, and an eagerness to snatch at proofs; secondly, a grossness of conception, and a disposition to degrade the object of the passion by sensual fancies and images; thirdly, a sense of shame of his own feelings, exhibited in a solitary moodiness of humour, and yet, from the violence of the passion, forced to utter itself, and therefore catching occasions to ease the mind by ambiguities, equivoques, by talking to those who cannot, and who are known not to be able to understand what is said to them-in short, by soliloquy in the form of dialogue, and hence a confused, broken, and fragmentary manner; fourthly, a dread of vulgar ridicule, as distinct from a high sense of honour, or a mistaken sense of duty; and lastly, and immediately consequent on this, a spirit of selfish vindictiveness."
We learn from Mr. Collier that, in his extemporary though elaborately prepared lectures, in 1815, "Coleridge dwelt on the 'not easily jealous' frame of Othello's mind, and on the art of the great Poet in working upon his generous and unsuspecting nature: he contrasted the characters of Othello and Leontes in this respect; the latter, from predisposition, requiring no such malignant instigator as Iago."
Mrs. Jameson thus delineates her ideas of the delicately pourtrayed and finely discriminated female characters of this drama :—
"The story of Florizel and Perdita is but an episode in the WINTER'S TALE; and the character of Perdita is properly kept subordinate to that of her mother, Hermione: yet the picture is perfectly finished in every part; Juliet herself is not more firmly and distinctly drawn. But the colouring in Perdita is more silvery light and delicate; the pervading sentiment more touched with the ideal; compared with Juliet, she is like a Guido hung beside a Georgione, or one of Paesiello's airs heard after one of Mozart's.
speare; and the character of Hermione, in which we have the same largeness of conception and delicacy of execution, the same effect of suffering without passion, and grandeur without effort,-is an instance, I think, that he felt within himself, and by intuition, what we study all our lives in the remains of ancient art. calm, regular, classical beauty of Hermione's character is the more impressive from the wild and Gothic accompaniments of her story, and the beautiful relief afforded by the pastoral and romantic grace which is thrown around her daughter Perdita.
"The character of Paulina, in the WINTER'S TALE, though it has obtained but little notice and no critical remark, (that I have seen,) is yet one of the striking beauties of the play: and it has its moral too. As we see running through the whole universe that principle of contrast which may be called the life of nature, so we behold it everywhere illustrated in SHAKESPEARE: upon this principle he has placed Emilia beside Desdemona, the Nurse beside Juliet; the clowns and dairymaids, and the merry pedlar-thief Autolycus round Florizel and Perdita ;-and made Paulina the friend of Hermione.
"Paulina does not fill any ostensible office near the person of the queen, but is a lady of high rank in the court the wife of the Lord Antigonus. She is a character strongly drawn from real and common lifea clever, generous, strong-minded, warm-hearted woman, fearless in asserting the truth, firm in her sense of right, enthusiastic in all her affections; quick in thought, resolute in word, and energetic in action; but heedless, hot-tempered, impatient, loud, bold, voluble, and turbulent of tongue; regardless of the feelings of those for whom she would sacrifice her life, and injuring from excess of zeal those whom she most wishes to
"How many such are there in the world! But Paulina, though a very termagant, is yet a poetical termagant in her way; and the manner in which all the evil and dangerous tendencies of such a temper are placed before us, even while the individual character preserves the strongest hold upon our respect and admiration, forms an impressive lesson, as well as a natural and delightful portrait.
"We can only excuse Paulina by recollecting that it is a part of her purpose to keep alive in the heart of Leontes the remembrance of his queen's perfections, and of
his own cruel injustice. It is admirable, too, that Hermione and Paulina, while sufficiently approximated to afford all the pleasure of contrast, are never brought too nearly in contact on the scene in the dialogue; for this would have been a fault in taste, and have necessarily weakened the effect of both characters:-either the serene grandeur of Hermione would have subdued and overawed the fiery spirit of Paulina, or the impetuous temper of the latter must have disturbed, in some respect, our impression of the calm, majestic, and somewhat melancholy beauty of Hermione."