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A WINTER'S TALE.
Adapted for Scholastic or Private Study, and for those qualifying for
BY THE REV. JOHN HUNTER, M.A.
One of the National Society's Examiners of Middle-Class Schools;
No earlier edition of A Winter's Tale is known than that of the folio, 1623. But the piece was performed in 1611, as we learn from the manuscript diary of Dr. Simon Forman, the astrologer, who used to frequent the theatres, and to make notes of the plot and incidents of the performance. His diary refers to the chief details of Shakspeare's Winter's Tale, as presented at the Globe Theatre, on May 15, 1611; and the play was probably composed about the beginning of that year.
The source of the plot is Robert Greene's novel of Pandosto: the Triumph of Time,' being 'the History of Dorastus and Fawnia.' In that story the chief incidents of A Winter's Tale are found; but Shakspeare, while he has changed the names
of the characters, imparted to the characters themselves, from his own creative mind, such life, and vigour, and beauty, as made the delineations in the old novel appear comparatively rude and feeble. Greene's story, however, was very popular, and passed through many editions.
REMARKS OF VARIOUS AUTHORS
SHAKSPEARE'S 'WINTER'S TALE'
'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. The calculation of probabilities has nothing to do with such wonderful and fleeting adventures, when all end at last in universal joy: and, accordingly, Shakspeare has here taken the greatest license of anachronisms and geographical errors; not to mention other incongruities, he opens a free navigation between Sicily and Bohemia, and makes Giulio Romano the contemporary of the Delphic oracle. The piece divides itself in some degree into two plays. Leontes becomes suddenly jealous of his royal bosom-friend Polixenes, who is on a visit to his court; makes an attempt on his life, from which Polixenes only saves himself by a clandestine flight;Hermione, suspected of infidelity, is thrown into prison, and the daughter which she there brings into the world is exposed on a remote coast;—the accused queen, declared innocent by the oracle, on learning that her infant son has pined to death on her account, falls down in a swoon, and is mourned as dead by her husband, who becomes sensible, when too late, of his error; all this makes up the first three acts. The last two are separated from these by a chasm of sixteen years; but the