« AnteriorContinuar »
* TEMPEST.) The Tempeft and The Midsummer Night's Dream are the noblest efforts of that sublime and amazing imagination peculiar to Shakspeare, which soars above the bounds of nature without forsaking sense; or, more properly, carries nature along with him beyond her established limits. Fletcher seems particularly to have admired these two plays, and hath wrote iwo in imitation of them, The Sea Voyage and The Faithful Shepherdess. But when he presumes to break a lance with Shakspeare, and write in emulation of him, as he does in The False One, which is the rival of Antony and Cleopatra, he is not so successful. After him, Sir John Suckling and Milton catched the brightest fire of their imagination from these two plays; which shines fantastically indeed in The Goblins, but much more nobly and serenely in The Mask at Ludlow Castle.
WARBURTON. No one has hitherto been lucky enough to discover the romance on which Shakspeare may be supposed to have founded this play, the beauties of which could not secure it from the criticism of Ben Jonson, whose malignity appears to have been more than equal to his wit. In the induction to Bartholomew Fair, he says: “ If there be never a fervant monster in the “ fair, who can help it, he says, nor a nest of antiques ? He is “ loth to make nature afraid in his plays, like those that beget “ Tales, Tempefts, and such like drolleries.' STEEVENS.
I was informed by the late Mr. Collins of Chichester, that Shakspeare's Tempeft, for which no origin is yet assigned, was formed on a romance called Aurelio and Isabella, printed in Italian, Spanish, French, and English, in 1588. But though this information has not proved true on examination, an useful conclufion may be drawn from it, that Shakspeare's story is somewhere to be found in an Italian novel, at least that the story preceded Shakspeare. Mr. Collins had searched this fubject with no less fidelity than judgement and industry ; but his memory failing in his last calamitous indifpofition, he probably gave me the name of one novel for another. I remember he added a circumstance, which may lead to a discovery,—that the principal character of the romance, answering to Shakspeare's Profpero, was a chemical necromancer, who had bound a spirit like Ariel to obey his call, and perform his services. It was a common pretence of dealers in the occult sciences to have a demon at com. mand. At least Aurelio, or Orelio, was probably one of the names of this romance, the production and multiplicity of gold being the grand object of alchemy. Taken at large, the magical part of the Tempest is founded on that sort of philosophy which was practised by John Dee and his associates, and has been called the Rosicrucian. The name Ariel came from the Talmudistick mysteries with which the learned Jews had infected this Science.
T. WARTON. Mr. Theobald tells us, that The Tempeft must have been written after 1609, because the Bermuda islands, which are mentioned in it, were unknown to the English until that year ; but this is a miftake. He might have seen in Hackluyt, 1600, folio, a description of Bermuda, by Henry May, who was shipwrecked
there in 1593.
It was however one of our_author's last works. In 1598 he played a part in the original Every Man in his Humour. Two of the characters are Profpero and Stephano. Here Ben Jonson taught him the pronunciation of the latter word, which is always right in The Tempeft.
“ Is not this Stephảno, iny drunken butler ?" And always wrong in his earlier play, The Merchant of Venice, which had been on the stage at least two or three years before its publication in 1600.
“ My friend Stepbāno, fignify I pray you," &c.
-So little did Mr. Capell know of his author, when he idly supposed his school literature might perhaps have been lost by the dilipation of youth, or the busy scene of publick life!
FARMER. • This play must have been written before 1614, when Jonson sneers at it in his Bartholomew Fair. In the latter plays of Shakspeare, he has less of pun and quibble than in his early ones. In The Merchant of Venice, he expressly declares against them. This perhaps might be one criterion to discover the dates of his plays.
BLACKSTONE. See Mr. Malone's attempt to ascertain the order of Shakspeare's plays, and a Note on The cloud-capt Towers, &c. Ac Iv.
Alonso, king of Naples.
Francisco, } lords.
Caliban, a savage and deformed Nave.
Other spirits attending on Prospero. SCENE, the sea, with a mip; afterwards an
* This enumeration of persons is taken from the folio 1623.
On a Ship at Sea.
A Storm with Thunder and Lightning.
Enter a Ship-master and a Boatswain.
Mast. Good : Speak to the mariners: fall to't yarely,' or we run ourselves aground: bestir, bestir.
[Exit. Enter Mariners. Boats. Heigh, my hearts; cheerly, cheerly, my hearts; yare, yare: Take in the top-fail; Tend to
· Boatswain,) In this nayal dialogue, perhaps the first example of sailor's language exhibited on the stage, there are, as I have been told by a skilful navigator, some inaccuracies and contradictory orders. JOHNSON.
The foregoing observation is founded on a mistake. These orders should be considered as given, not at once, but successively, as the emergency required. One attempt to save the ship failing, another is tried. MALONE.
3 — fall to't yarely,] i. e. Readily, nimbly. Our author is frequent in his use of this word. So in Decker's Satiromastix : “ 'They'll make his muse as yare as a tumbler.” Steevens.
Here it is applied as a sea-term, and in other parts of the scene. So he uses the adjective, Act V. sc. v: “ Our fhip is tight and yare.” And in one of the Henries: “
yare are our fips.” To this day the sailors say, “ fit yare to the helm.” Again, in Antony and Cleopatra, Act II. sc. iii : “ The tackles jarely frame the office.” 'T. WARTON.
the master's whistle. - Blow, till thou burst thy wind, if room enough! Enter Alonso, Sebastian, Antonio, Ferdi
NAND, Gonzalo, and others. Alon. Good boatswain, have care.
Where's the master? Play the men. BOATS. I
pray now, keep below. Ant. Where is the master, boatswain?
Boats. Do you not hear him? You mar our labour; Keep your cabins: you do assist the storm.
Gon. Nay, good, be patient.
BOATS.. When the sea is. Hence! What care these roarers for the name of king? To cabin: filence: trouble us not.
4 Blow, till thou burft thy wind, &c.] Perhaps it might be read Blow till thou burst, wind, if room enough. Johnson.
Perhaps rather blow till thou burst thee, wind! if room enough. Beaumont and Fletcher have copied this passage in The Pilgrim:
Blow, blow weft wind, «Blow till thou rive!” Again, in Pericles Prince of Tyre, 1609:
“ ift Sailor. Blow, and split thyself!" Again, in K. Lear: si Blow winds, and burst your
cheeks !!! The allufion in these passages, as Mr. M. Mafon observes, is to the manner in which the winds were represented in ancient prints and pictures. Steevens.
9 Play the men.] i. e. act with spirit, behave like men. So in K. Henry VI. P. I. sc. vi :
“ When they shall hear how we have play'd the men.” Again, in Marlowe’s Tamburlaine, 1590, p. 2:
* Viceroys and peers of Turkey, play the men." "52 píxos, ávápisisi, Iliad. V. v. 529.
“Be of good courage, and let us play the men for our people.” Malone.
-allif the storm.] So in Pericles: “ Patience, good Sir; do not afin the storm." STEEVENS.