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expressions that seem to have made an impression on his mind are printed in Italicks :
“ Ye ayres and windes, ye elves of hills, of brooks,
of woodes alone,
wondering at the thing)
ward to their spring,
make the rough seas playne,
them thence again,
the viper's jaw,
and trees do draw.
to groan and fearfully
O lightsome moone,
“ The flaming breath of fierie bulles ye quenched
for my sake, “ And caused their unwieldy neckes the bended
yoke to take. Among the earth-bred brothers you a mortal
warre did set, “ And brought asleep the dragon fell, whose eyes were never shet.",
MALỒNE. 38. Ye elves of hills, &c.] Fairies and elves are frequently in the poets mentioned together, without any distinction of character that I can recollect.' Keysler says, that alp and alf, which is elf with the Suedes and English, equally signified a mountain, or a dæmon of the mountains. This seems to have been its original meaning; but Somner's Dict. mentions elves or fairies of the mountains of the woods, of the sea and fountains, without any distinction between elves and fairies.
with printless foot
Do chase the ebbing Neptune,--] So Milton in his Masque :
“.Whilst from off the waters fleet,
“ Thus I set my printless feet.” STćevens, 46. (Weak masters though ye be)-] The meáning of this passage may be, Though you are but inferior masters of these supernatural powers-though you possess them but in a low degree. Spenser uses the same kind of expression, B. III." cant. 8. st. 4.
Where she (the witch). was wont her sprights
“ The masters of her art: there was she fain
STEEVENS. by whose aid, (Weak masters though ye be) That is ; ye are pow. erful auxiliaries, but weak if left to yourselves; your employment is then to make green ringlets, and midnight mushrooms, and to play the idle pranks mentioned by Ariel in his next song ;-yet by your aid I have been enabled to invert the course of nature. We say proverbially, “ Fire is a good servant, but a bad master."
BLACKSTONE. 63.. A solemn air, and the best comforter
To an unsettled fancy, cure thy brains,
For you are spell-stoppid.] What can Prospero mean by desiring them to cure their brains, which he had himself disturbed, and which he knew it was not in their power to compose :—He indeed could settle them, and for that purpose ordered the musick to be played. It may, however, be said, that these words are to be understood as optativé ;-" May a solemn air, &c. cure thy brains!" -and so the passage has been printed in the late editions. But (not to insist on the awkwardness of the expression, and that Prosa pero, if that had been his meaning, speaking of musick that had been already played, would have said This solemn air--) is not sạch an interpretation totally inconsistent with the words immediately subjoined ?
there stand, For you are spell-stopp’d. The only ancient copy reads boil, which the modern editors, understanding cure to be a verb, were forced to change to boil's. But the old reading is, I think, right; and the whole passage, if regulated thus, with the addition of a single letter, perfectly clear :
A solemn air, and the best comforter
For you are spell-stopp'd.
My widow's comfort, and my sorrow's cure. Again, in Romeo and Juliet:
confusion's cure Lives not in these confusions. Prospero begins by observing that the air which had been played was adınirably adapted for his purpose. He then addresses Gonzalo and the rest, who had only just before gone into the circle. “Thy brains, now useless, boil within thy skull,” &c. [the soothing strain not having yet begun to operate.] Afterwards, perceiving that the musick begins to have the effect intended, he adds". The charm dissolves apace."
In The Winter's Tale we again meet with the singular expression contained in the latter lines of this passage : " Would any but these boild brains of nineteen and two and twenty hunt, this weather?"
Again, in Lord Burleigh's Précepts to his Son :" and if perchance their boiling brains yield a quaint scoffe, they will travel to be delivered of it, as a woman with child,"
-boild within thy skull !-] So, in the Midsummer Night's Dream: " Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,” &c.
STEVENS. 79. Thou’rt pinch'd for't now, Sebastian.-Flesh and blood,] Thus the old copy: Theobald points the pas. sage in a different manner, and perhaps rightly : Thou’rt pinch'd for't now, Sebastian, flesh and blood.
STEEVENS. 97. After summer, merrily:] This is the reading of all the editions. Yet Mr. Theobald has substituted sun-set, because Ariel talks of riding on the bat in this expedition. An idle fancy. That circumstance is given only to design the time of night in which fairies travel. One would think the consideration of the circumstances should have set him right. Ariel was la spirit of great delicacy, bound by the charms of Prospero to a constant attendance on his occasions. So that he was confined to the island winter and sum
But the roughness of winter is represented by Shakspere as disagreeable to fairies, and such like delicate spirits, who, on this account, constantly follow summer. Was not this then the most agreeable circumstance of Ariel's new-recovered liberty, that he could now avoid winter, and follow summer quite