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WINTER'S TALE.] This play, throughout, is written in the very fpirit of its author. And in telling this homely and fimple, though agreeable, country tale,

Our Sweetest Shakspeare, fancy's child,

Warbles his native wood-notes wild.

This was neceffary to obferve in mere juftice to the play; as the meanness of the fable, and the extravagant condu&t of it, had milled fome of great name into a wrong judgement of its merit; which, as far as it regards fentiment and character, is fcarce inferior to any in the whole collection. WARBURTON.

At Stationers' Hall, May 22, 1594, Edward White entered "A booke entitled 4 Wynter Nyght's Paftime." STEEVENS.

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The flory of this play is taken from The Pleafant Hiftory of Doraftus and Fawnia, written by Robert Greene. JOHNSON.

In this novel, the king of Sicilia whom Shakspeare names

Leontes, is called

Polixenes K. of Bohemia

Mamillius P. of Sicilia

Florizel P. of Bohemia

Old Shepherd












The parts of Antigonus, Paulina, and Autolycus, are of the poet's own invention; but many circumftances of the novel are omitted in the play. STEEVENS.

Dr. Warburton, by "fome of great name," means Dryden and Pope. See the Effay at the end of the Second Part of The Conquest of Granada: " Witness the lameness of their plots; [the plots of Shakspeare and Fletcher; ] many of which, especially thofe which, they wrote first, (for even that age refined itfelf in some measure,} were made up of fome ridiculous incoherent ftory, which in one play many times took up the business of an age. I suppose I need not name Pericles, Prince of Tyre, and here, by-the-by, Dryden exprefsly names Pericles as our author's production,] nor the hiftorical plays of Shakspeare; befides many of the reft, as The Winter's Tale, Love's Labour's Loft, Measure for Meafure, which were either grounded on impoffibilities, or at leaft fo meanly written, that the comedy neither caufed your mirth, nor the ferious part your concernment." Mr. Pope, in the Preface to his edition of our author's plays, pronounced the fame ill-confidered judgement on the play before us. I fhould conje&ure (fays he) of fome of the others, particularly Love's Labour's Loft, THE WINTER'S TALE, Comedy of Errors, and Titus Andronicus, that only fome characters, fingle fcenes, or perhaps a few particular paffages, were of his hand."

that Shak

None of our author's plays has been more cenfured for the breach In confirmation of of dramatick rules than The Winter's Tale. what Mr. Steevens has remaiked in another place — fpeare was not ignorant of these rules, but difregarded them,"—it may be observed, that the laws of the drama are clearly laid down by a writer once univerfally read and admired, Sir Philip Sidney, who in his Defence of Poefy, 1595, had pointed out the very improprieties into which our author has fallen in this play. After mentioning the defects of the tragedy of Gorboduc, he adds: “ But if it be fo in Gorbo ducke, how much more in all the reft, where you fhall have Afia of the one fide, and Affricke of the other, and fo manie other under kingdomes, that the player when he comes in, muft ever begin with telling where he is, or elfe the tale will not be conceived. Now of time they are much more liberal. For ordinarie it is, that two young princes fall in love, after many. traverfes fhe is got with childe, delivered of a faire boy: he is loft, groweth a man, falleth in love, and is readie to get another childe, and all this in two houres space: which how abfurd it is in fence, even fence may imagine."

The Winter's Tale is fneered at by B. Jonfon, in the induction to Bartholomew Fair, 1614: "If there be never a fervant-monfter in the fair, who can help it, nor a neft of antiques? He is loth to make nature afraid in his plays, like those that beget TALES, Tempests, and fuch like drolleries." By the nest of antiques, the twelve fatyrs who are introduced at the sheep-fhearing festival, are alluded to,-In his converfation with Mr. Drummond of Hawthornden, in 1619, he has another ftroke at his beloved friend: "He [Jonfon] faid, that Shakspeare wanted art, and fometimes fenfe; for in one of his plays he brought in a number of men, faying they had fuffered fhipwreck in Bohemia, where is no fea' near by 100 miles." Drummond's Works, fol. 225, edit. 1711. When this remark was made by Ben Jonson, The Winter's Tale was not printed. Thefe words therefore are a fufficient answer to Sir T. Hanmer's idle fuppofition that Bohemia was an error of the prefs for Bythinia.

This play, I imagine, was written in the year 1604. See An Attempt to afcertain the order of Shakspeare's plays, Vol. II.


Sir Thomas Hanmer gave himself much needlefs concern that a maritime country. He Shakspeare fhould confider Bohemia as would have us read Bythinia: but our author implicitly copied the novel before him. Dr. Grey, indeed, was apt to believe that Do rafus and Faunia might rather be borrowed from the play; but I have met with a copy of it, which was printed in 1588. vantes ridicules thefe geographical mistakes, when he makes the Corporal Trim's king of princefs Micomicona land at Offuna. Bohemia " delighted in navigation, and had never a fea-port in


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