Page images
PDF
EPUB

land;- but I am not to say it is a sea, for it is now the sky; betwixt the firmament and it, you cannot thrust a bodkin's point. Shep. Why, boy, how is it?

Clo. I would, you did but see how it chafes, how it rages, how it takes up the shore! but that's not to the point: 0, the most piteous cry of the poor souls ! sometimes to see 'em, and not to see 'em: now the ship boring the moon with her main-mast; and anon swallowed with yest and froth, as you'd thrust a cork into a hogshead. And then for the land service,- To see how the bear tore out his shoulderbone? how he cried to me for help, and said, his name was Antigonus, a nobleman:- But to make an end of the ship :-to see how the sea flap-dragonedo it :-but, first, how the poor souls roared, and the sea mocked them:- and how the poor gentleman roared, and the bear mocked him, both roaring louder than the sea, or weather.

Shep. Name of mercy, when was this, boy? Clo. Now, now; I have not winked since I saw these sights: the men are not yet cold under water, nor the bear half dined on the gentleman; he's at it now.

Shep. 'Would, I had been by, to have helped the old man?!

Clo. I would you had been by the ship side, to have helped her; there your charity would have lacked footing.

[Aside. Shep. Heavy matters! heavy matters! but look thee here, boy. Now bless thyself; thou met'st with things dying, I with things new born. Here's a sight for thee; look thee, a bearing-cloths for a

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

6 i. e. swallowed it, as our ancient topers swallowed flap-dragong. In Love's Labour's Lost we have, thou art easier 6wallowed than a flap-dragon.' See vol. ii. p. 319, note 9.

7 Shakspeare, who knew that he himself designed Antigonus for an old man,'has inadvertently given this knowledge to the shepherd, who had never seen him.

8 A bearing is cloth,' the mantle of fine cloth, in which a child was carried to be baptized. Vol. IV.

3 *

squire's child! Look thee here; take up, take up, boy; open't. So, let's see; It was told me, I should be rich, by the fairies: this is some change. ling!:-open't: What's within, boy?

Clo. You're a made10 old man; if the sins of your youth are forgiven you, you're well to live. Gold! all gold!

Shep. This is fairy gold, boy, and 'twill prove so: up with it, keep it close: home, home, the next11 way. We are lucky, boy; and to be so still, requires nothing but secresy,-Let my sheep go:Come, good boy, the next way home.

Clo. Go you the next way with your findings; I'll go see if the bear be gone from the gentleman, and how much he hath eaten: they are never curst12, but when they are hungry: if there be any of him left, I'll bury it.

Shep. That's a good deed; If thou may'st discern by that which is left of him, what he is, fetch me to the sight of him.

Clo. Marry, will I; and you shall help to put him i' the ground.

Shep. 'Tis a lucky day, boy; and we'll do good deeds on't.

[Exeunt.

ACT IV.

Enter Time, as Chorus. Time. 1,—that please some, try all; both joy,

and terror, Of good and bad; that make, and unfold error!,

9 A changeling Some child left behind by the fairics, in the room of one which they had stolen.

10 The old copies read mad. The emendation is Theobald's. 11 i, e, nearest.

12 Curst here signifies mischievous. The old adage says, Curst cows have short horns.'

1 Departed time renders many facts obscure, and in that senne is the cause of error. Time to come brings discoveries with it.

Now take upon me, in the name of Time,
To use my wings. Impute it not a crime,
To me, or my swift passage, that I slide
O’er sixteen years, and leave the growth untried
Of that wide gap3; since it is in my power
To o’erthrow law, and in one self-born hour
To plant and o'erwhelm custom: Let me pass
The same I am, ere ancient'st order was,
Or what is now received: I witness to
The times that brought them in; so shall I do
To the freshest things now reigning; and make stale
The glistering of this present, as my tale
Now seems to it. Your patience this allowing,
I turn my glass; and give my scene such growing,
As you had slept between. Leontes leaving
The effects of his fond jealousies; so grieving,
That he shuts up himself; imagine mex,
Gentle spectators, that I now may be
In fair Bohemia; and remember well,
I mentioned a son o'the king's, which Florizel
I now name to you; and with speed so pace

2 It is certain that Shakspeare was well acquainted with the laws of the drama, as they are calle

rama. as they are called, but disregarded, nay wilfully departed from them, and snatch'd a grace beyond the reach of art.' His productions are not therefore to be tried by such laws. The German critics, with Schlegel at their head, have shown the essential difference between the classic and the romantic drama, and that the latter ought not, nor could not be confined to the unities. It is remarkable that George Whetstone

Dedication of his Promos and Cassandra, which Shakspeare used as the groundwork of Measure for Measure, has pointed at this violation of the rules in the English drama in strong terms:"The Englishman in this qualitie is most vaine, indiscreet, and out of order. He first grounds his worke on impossibilities: then in three houres ronnes he thorowe the worlde: marryes, gets children, makes children men, men to conquer kingdomes, murder monsters, and bringeth goddes from heaven, and fetcheth devils from hell,' &c. 3 i. e. leave unexamined the progress of the intermediate time

op ihe gap in Perdita's story. The reasoning of Time is not very clear; he seems to mean, that he who overthrows every thing, and makes as well as overwhelms custom, may surely infringe the laws of custom as they are made by him.

4 i. e. ine with me. It is a French idioin which Shakspeare has played upon in the Taming of the Shrew. And Falstaff speaking of sack, in King Henry IV. says :

"It ascends me into the brain, dries me there,' &c.

To speak of Perdita, now grown in grace
Equal with wond'ring: What of her ensues,
I list not prophesy; but let Time's news
Be known, when 'tis brought forth:-a shepherd's

daughter,
And what to her adheres, which follows after,
Is the arguments of time: Of this allow 6,
If ever you have spent time worse ere now;
If never yet, that Time himself doth say,
He wishes earnestly you never may. [Exit.

SCENE I. The same. A Room in the Palace of Polixenes.

Enter POLIXENES and CAMILLO. Pol. I pray thee, good Camillo, be no more importunate: 'tis a sickness, denying thee any thing; a death, to grant this.

Cam. It is fifteen2 years, since I saw my country: though I have, for the most part, been aired abroad, I desire to lay my bones there. Besides, the penitent king, my master, hath sent for me: to whose feeling sorrows I might be some allay, or I o'erween to think so; which is another spur to my departure.

Pol. As thou fovest me, Camillo, wipe not out the rest of thy services, by leaving me now: the need I have of thee, thine own goodness hath made; better not to have had thee, than thus to want thee: thou, having made me businesses, which none without thee can sufficiently manage, must either stay to execute them thyself, or take away with thee the very services thou hast done: which if I have not enough considered (as too much I cannot), to be more thankful to thee, shall be my study; and my profit therein, the heaping friendships. Of that fatal country, Sicilia, pr’ythee speak no more: whose very naming punishes me with the remembrance of that penitent, as thou call'st him, and reconciled king, my brother: whose loss of his most precious queen and children, are even now to be afresh lamented. Say to me, when saw'st thou the prince Florizel, my son ? Kings are no less unhappy, their issue not being gracious, than they are in losing them, when they have approved their virtues.

6 Argument, subject. 6 i. e, approve.

i It should be sixteen, as Time has just stated, and future passages have it.

Cam. Sir, it is three days since I saw the prince: What his happier affairs may be, are to me unknown: but I have missingly noted}, he is of late much retired from court; and is less frequent to his princely exercises, than formerly he hath appeared.

Pol. I have considered so much, Camillo; and with some care; so far, that I have eyes under my service, which look upon his removedness : from whom I have this intelligence: That he is seldom from the house of a most homely shepherd; a man, they say, that from very nothing, and beyond the imagination of his neighbours, is grown into an unspeakable estate.

Cam. I have heard, sir, of such a man, who hath a daughter of most rare note: the report of her is extended more than can be thought to begin from such à cottage.

Pol. That's likewise part of my intelligence. But, I fear the angle4 that plucks our son thither. Thou shalt accompany us to the place: where we will, not appearing what we are, have some question with the shepherd; from whose simplicity, I think it not uneasy to get the cause of my son's resort

2 Heaping friendships, friendly offices.
3 Missingly noted, observed at intervals.

4 Angle is here used for the bait, or line and hook, that draws his son like a fish away. So in Hamlet, Act v. Sc. 2:

- -throws out his angle for my proper life.' Hamiota is rendered 'a fisher with the angle' in the dictionaries.

« PreviousContinue »