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gentle boy Mamillius begins his pathetically unfinished tale with the words, “There was a man dwelt by a churchyard ”; by which simple phrase he transports himself from the time and country in which he is supposed to live to the time and country in which he was born in Shakespeare's mind. And The modernnow comes Autolycus, drawing himself to the life ity of Au
tolycus. as a clever rogue with “sixteenth century” stamped all over him. He "haunts wakes, fairs and bearbaitings,” and goes about with a puppet-show of the Prodigal Son. He has been an ape-bearer, a process-server, and a bailiff. The authenticity of his wondrous ballad of the great fish is warranted by its having “five justices' hands at it.” And the fashionable finery which he brings “for my lads to give their dears” is unblushingly Elizabethan. The scamp is as delightful as Falstaff, and the triumph of Shakespeare's genius is shown in making him so consummately attractive, without for a moment making his vices alluring. Falstaff is altogether too wonderful for this imperfect world, but one feels that Autolycus might turn up at any country fair. He is perhaps a shade too sophisticated, a thought too brilliant in his power of generalization and self-analysis; which is but saying that he takes too much after his creator. But all his desires and all his deeds are those of the gipsy stroller, who loves and appreciates the beauties of nature and has an unconquerable antipathy to honest work. Shakespeare not only renews his own youth, but gives voice to the unspoken spring fever of all the world, in the song of the jolly mountebank, ragged and hard-up but irrepressible:
When daffodils begin to peer,
With heigh! the doxy over the dale!
Further dis- The disappearance of Hermione after her trial is crepancies:
so discreetly veiled that its utter improbability is (1) Hermione after the apt to sink out of our memory. How was it posTrial.
sible for Paulina to make Leontes believe that his wife was dead when she was not? The most ordinary common sense would seem to demand a genuine corpse and a real funeral; and assuredly not less so in the case of a queen than in that of a private person. Yet Paulina manages to work the deception, apparently without taking anybody into her confidence.
There is a minor discrepancy, which the mere exigencies of stagecraft would have seemed to make
impossible. We are distinctly told (in sc. iv of Act (2) Flori- IV) that Florizel is disguised in shepherd's attire; zel's clothes.
yet in that very same scene, when he changes clothes (3) The with Autolycus, it is court apparel that Autolycus Shepherd and Antig
puts on. And who told the old Shepherd (Act III, sc. iii) that Antigonus, whom he had not seen, was an old man ?
Another of the delightful innovations of Shakespeare occurs in the passionate outburst with which Polixenes disclaims to Camillo the accusation of
Leontes. If he has done this thing, he says, then I ii 419. let his name be “yok'd with his that did betray the
This familiarity with the story of Judas Iscariot in the days of Apollo-worship would be startling, were it not so fully in accord with our
poet's invariable practice. Shake
The best scenes in The Winter's Tale place it in speare's na
the series of Shakespeare's nature-plays. They have ture-plays.
the out-of-door atmosphere of Love's Labour's Lost, A Midsummer Night's Dream, As You Like It and The Tempest. They are set in an idyllic world,- one of
Milton's Comus, Epilogue.
those happy climes that lie
There eternal Summer dwells.
daffodils That come before the swallow dares, and take The winds of March with beauty; violets dim,
IV iv 118 ff.
But sweeter than the lids of Juno's eyes
Bright Phoebus in his strength..
“THE TEMPEST”: SHAKESPEARE'S SWAN-SONG
and produccame from Shakespeare's hand. Its scene, the tion. enchanted island, is suggested by some accounts of the Bermudas that were not issued till the end of the year 1610. The character of Caliban embodies many traits ascribed to the natives of various parts of America, in whom the British public was at that time strongly interested; and it is barely possible that Trinculo's satirical remarks about the gaping II ii 25 ff. curiosity of the English over monsters ” may have been prompted by the exhibition of a North American Indian called Epenew, who, as we learn from Captain John Smith's Historie of New England, was taken to the Old Country in 1611, and, “being a man of so great a stature,” was “showed up and down London for money as a monster.”
It is known from official records that The Tempest was produced at Court for the opening of the winter season of 1611-12, and that it achieved conspicuous success both there and at the public theatre. Ben Jonson's allusion to it (quoted above, p. 210) was written at some date between 1611 and 1614, in which latter year his Bartholomew Fair was produced.
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