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truth involves as high a moral in the one case as in the other. That Shakspere's notion of poetical justice was not the hackneyed notion of an intolerant age, reflected even by a Boccaccio, is shown by the difference in the lot of the offender in the Italian tale and the lot of Iachimo. The Ambrogiolo of the novelist, who slanders a virtuous lady for the gain of a wager, is fastened to a stake, smeared with honey, and left to be devoured by flies and locusts. The close of our dramatist's story is perfect Shakspere:— “Post. Speak, Iachimo; I had you down, and might
Have made you finish.
Iach. I am down again: But now my heavy conscience sinks my knee, As then your force did. Take that life,
Which I so often owe: but, your ring first; And here the bracelet of the truest princess, That ever swore her faith.
Post. Kneel not to me; The power that I have on you is to spare you; The malice towards you to forgive you: Live, And deal with others better.
Cym. Nobly doom'd: We'll learn our freeness of a son-in-law; Pardon's the word to all.”
CHAPTER III. THE TEMPEST.
THIs comedy stands the first in the folio collection of 1623, in which edition it was originally printed. In the entry upon the Stationers' registers of November the 8th, 1623, claiming for the booksellers Blount and Jaggard such plays of Shakspere “as were not formerly entered to other men,” it also is the first in order. The original text is printed with singular correctness. A very general belief has always prevailed that “The Tempest’ was the last of Shakspere's works. We are inclined to think that this belief was rather a matter of feeling than of judgment. Mr. Campbell has put the feeling very elegantly:—“‘The Tempest’ has a sort of sacredness as the last work of a mighty workman. Shakspere, as if conscious that it would be his last, and as if inspired to typify himself, has made his hero a natural, a dignified, and benevolent magician, who could conjure up spirits from the vasty deep, and command supernatural agency by the most seemingly natural and simple means. And this final play of our poet has magic indeed; for, what can be simpler in language than the courtship of Ferdinand and Miranda, and yet what can be more magical than the sympathy with which it subdues us? Here
Shakspere himself is Prospero, or rather the superior genius who commands both Prospero and Ariel. But the time was approaching when the potent sorcerer was to break his staff, and to bury it fathoms in the ocean,
“Deeper than did ever plummet sound.’
That staff has never been, and never will be, recovered.” But this feeling, pretty and fanciful as it is, is certainly somewhat deceptive. It is not borne out by the internal evidence of the play itself. Shakspere never could have contemplated, in health and intellectual vigour, any abandonment of that occupation which constituted his happiness and glory. We have no doubt that he wrote on till the hour of his last illness. His later plays are unquestionably those in which the mighty intellect is more tasked than the unbounded fancy. His later plays, as we believe, present the philosophical and historical aspect of human affairs rather than the passionate and the imaginative. The Roman historical plays are, as it appears to us, at the end of his career, as the English historical plays are at the beginning. Nothing can be more different than the principle of art upon which the “Henry VI.’ and the ‘Antony and Cleopatra’ are constructed. The Roman plays denote, we think, the growth of an intellect during five-and-twenty years. ‘The Tempest’ does not present the characteristics of the latest plays. It has the playfulness and beauty of the comedies, mingled with the higher notes of passionate and solemn thought which distinguished the great tragedies. It is essentially, too, written wholly with reference to the stage, at a period when an Ariel could be presented to an imaginative audience without the prosaic encumbrance of wings. The later plays, such as ‘Troilus and Cressida, and the three Roman subjects, are certainly written without any very strong regard to dramatic effect. They are noble acting plays, especially ‘Julius Caesar’ and “Coriolanus;' but even in these the poet appears to have poured himself forth with a philosophical mastery of the great principles by which men are held in the social state, without being very solicitous as to the favourable reception of his opinions by the mixed audiences of the days of James I. The ‘Antony and Cleopatra’ is still more remarkable for its surpassing historical truth—not the mere truth of chronological exactness, but that truth which is evolved out of the power of making the past present and real, through the marvellous felicity of knowing and representing how individuals and masses of men must have acted under circumstances which are only assimilated to the circumstances of modern times by the fact that all the great principles and motives of human action are essentially the same in every age and in every condition of civilization. The plays that we have mentioned must have been the result of very profound thought and very accurate investigation. The characters of the ‘Troilus and Cressida’ are purposely Gothicised. An episode of “the tale of Troy divine” is seized upon, to be divested of its romantic attributes, and to be presented with all the bold colouring of a master regardless of minute proprieties of costume, but producing the most powerful and harmonious effect through the universal truth of his delineations. On the contrary, the Roman plays are perfect in costume. We do not believe
that there are any productions of the human mind in existence, ancient or modern, which can give us so complete a notion of what Roman life was under its great general aspects. This was the effect, not only of his instinctive wisdom, but of that leisure for profound inquiry and extensive investigation which Shakspere possessed in the latter years of his life. We cannot bring ourselves to believe that ‘The Tempest’ belonged to the latest period. Ulrici has said “‘The Tempest’ is the completing companion-piece of the “Winter's Tale’ and ‘A MidsummerNight's Dream.’” The ‘Midsummer-Night's Dream’ was printed in 1600;-it was probably written some five or six years previous. The “Winter's Tale’ was acted in 1611. From the “Extracts from the Accounts of the Revels at Court, edited by Mr. Peter Cunningham, we learn that on Hallowmas Night (November 1), 1611, “was presented at Whitehall, before the King's Majesty, a play called ‘The Tempest.’” Four nights afterwards the “Winter's Tale’ was also presented. The “Winter's Tale' appears to us to bear marks of a later composition than ‘The Tempest.” But we are not disposed to separate them by any very wide interval: more especially we cannot agree with Mr. Hunter, who has brought great learning to an investigation of all the points connected with ‘The Tempest,’ that this play, “instead of being the latest work of this great master, is in reality one of the earliest, nearly the first in time, as the first in place, of the dramas which are wholly his.” The difficulty of settling the chronology of some of Shakspere's plays by internal evidence is very much increased by the circumstance that some of them must be regarded as early performances that have come down to us with the large additions and corrections of maturer years. For example: ‘Pericles' was, it is probable, produced as a novelty in 1608, or not long before. There are portions of that play which we think no one could have written but the mature Shakspere; mixed up with other portions which indicate, not so much immature powers as the treatment of a story in the spirit of the oldest dramas. So it is with “Cymbeline;’ and, to a certain extent, with the “Winter's Tale.’ The probability is, that these plays were produced in their present form soon after the period of Shakspere's quitting the stage about 1603; and perhaps before the production of “Macbeth,’ ‘Troilus and Cressida,’ “Henry VIII., and the Roman plays. “The Tempest’ appears to us to belong to the same cycle. The opinion which we here express is not inconsistent with a belief that Mr. Hunter has brought forward several curious facts to render it highly probable that it was produced in 1596. But the aggregate evidence, as we think, outweighs these curious facts. ‘The Tempest’ is not included by name in the list of plays ascribed to Shakspere by Francis Meres in 1599. Mr. Hunter says that it was included, under the name of ‘Love's Labour Won.” We have endeavoured to show, in the Chapter on ‘All's Well that Ends Well, not only that the comedy bearing that name had the highest pretension to the title of ‘Love's Labour Won,’ but that ‘The Tempest” had no such pretension. We do not agree that the comedy called ‘The Tempest,’ when it was first printed, bore the title, either as a leading or secondary title, when Meres published his list in 1599, of ‘Love's Labour Won.” We believe that it was always called ‘The Tempest;’ and that, looking at its striking fable, and its beauty of characterization and language, it would undoubtedly have been mentioned by Meres if it had existed in 1599. The ‘Bartholomew Fair” of Ben Jonson was produced at the Hope Theatre in 1614; and it was performed by “the Lady Elizabeth's servants.” It is stated by Malone that “it appears from MSS. of Mr. Wertue that ‘The Tempest’ was acted by John Heminge and the rest of the King's company, before Prince Charles, the Lady Elizabeth, and the Prince Palatine Elector, in the beginning of the year 1613.” This circumstance gives some warrant to the belief of the commentators that a passage in the Induction to ‘Bartholomew Fair' is a sarcasm upon Shakspere: —“If there be never a servant-monster in the fair, who can help it, he says, nor a nest of antiques 2 He is loth to
make nature afraid in his plays, like those that beget tales, tempests, and such-like drolleries.” Gifford has contended, arguing against the disposition of the commentators to charge Jonson with malignity, that the expressions servant-monster, and tales, tempests, and such-like drolleries, had reference to the popular puppet-shows which were especially called drolleries. The passage, however, still looks to us like a sly, though not ill-natured, allusion to Shakspere's Caliban, and his “Winter's Tale, and ‘Tempest,’ which were then popular acting plays. Mr.
Hunter believes that in this passage Jonson
does pointedly direct his satire against ‘The Tempest;' but he also maintains that Jonson does, in the same way, satirize ‘The Tempest” in 1596, in the Prologue to ‘Every Man in his Humour:’—
“He rather prays you will be pleased to see
It is scarcely probable, if Jonson had meant to allude to ‘The Tempest,’ either in the Prologue or the Induction, that he would have been so wanting in materials for his dislike of the romantic drama in general as to select the same play for attack in works separated by an interval of eighteen years. The “creaking throne” is, according to Mr. Hunter, the throne of Juno as she descends, in the mask; the “nimble squib" is the lightning, and the “tempestuous drum” the thunder, of the first scene. Mr. Hunter adds that the last line of the Prologue,
“You that have so graced monsters may like men,”—
must allude to Caliban. Surely the term monsters, as opposed to men, must be a general designation of what Jonson believed to be unnatural in the romantic drama, as contrasted with the “image of the times” in comedy. But, if we must have real monsters, there were plenty to be found in the older plays. Gosson, in 1581, thus writes:– “Sometimes you shall see nothing but the adventures of an amorous knight, passing from country to country for the love of his lady, encountering many a terrible monster, made of brown paper, and at his return is so wonderfully changed that he cannot be known but by some posy in his tablet, or by a broken ring, or a handkerchief, or a piece of a cockle-shell.” Sir Philip Sidney ridicules the appearance of “a hideous monster, with fire and smoke.” Much older theatres than the Globe were furnished with their thunder and lightning. In 1572 John Izarde, according to an entry in the accounts of the revels at court, was paid for a device for “counterfeiting thunder and lightning.”* It is as likely that thrones descended in other plays besides ‘The Tempest,’ as it is certain that in ‘The Tempest' Juno descended with a classical fitness of which Jonson has given us many similar examples in his own masks. We can see nothing in these circumstances to connect the date of ‘The Tempest” with that of Ben Jonson's ‘Every Man in his Humour.” The third point upon which Mr. Hunter relies for fixing the date of ‘The Tempest,’ as of 1596, is deduced from the passage in the third act where Gonzalo laughs at the stories of “men whose heads stood in their breasts.” Raleigh told this story, in his account of his voyage to Guiana, in 1595. Shakspere makes Othello, not in a boasting or lying spirit, but with the confiding belief that belonged to his own high nature, tell Desdemona of “The Anthropophagi, and men whose heads Do grow beneath their shoulders.”
Would Mr. Hunter contend that this second notice of “men whose heads do grow beneath their shoulders” fixes the date of ‘Othello," as well as that of ‘The Tempest,’ in 1596 | Such circumstances are, as we believe, of the very slightest value. The argument may be put ingeniously and learnedly, as Mr. Hunter puts it; or it may be rendered ludicrous, as Chalmers renders it. What, for example,
* Collier, “Annals of the Stage,’ vol. iii. p. 370.
can be more absurd than Chalmers's attempt to make us believe that, because the King of Naples is inconsolable for the supposed loss of Ferdinand, there is an allusion to the death of Prince Henry in 1612; that the line
“Like poison given to work a great time after”
plainly refers to the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury in the same year; and that a great storm which happened in January, 1613, “gave the appropriate name to this admirable drama!” In the ‘Essays' of Montaigne, as translated by Florio, there is the following passage:— “Me seemeth that what in those nations we see by experience doth not only exceed all the pictures wherewith licentious poesy hath proudly embellished the golden age, and all her quaint inventions to feign a happy condition of man, but also the conception and desire of philosophy. They could not imagine a genuitie so pure and simple as we see it by experience; nor ever believe our society might be maintained with so little art and human combination. It is a nation, would I answer Plato, that hath no kind of traffic, no knowledge of letters, no intelligence of numbers, no name of magistrates, nor of politic superiority; no use of service, of riches, or of poverty; no contracts, no successions, no dividences; no occupation, but idle; no respect of kindred, but common; no apparel, but natural; no manuring of lands; no use of wine, corn, or metal. The very words that import lying, falsehood, treason, dissimulation, covetousness, envy, detraction, and pardon, were never heard amongst them. How dissonant would he find his imaginary commonwealth from this perfection!”
and so Cornwallis might have written about “divers parts” of Florio’s ‘Montaigne’ before 1596; and Shakspere might have read this identical part of Florio's ‘Montaigne’ before 1596; and thus the dates both of Cornwallis's and Florio's books go for nothing in this inquiry. Is this evidence? The date of Shakspere's ‘Tempest’ has been a fertile subject for the exercise of critical conjecture. Malone writes a pamphlet of sixty pages upon it; Chalmers another pamphlet somewhat longer. The first has been reprinted in Boswell's edition; the other costs as much as a manuscript in the days before printing. It is worth the money, however, for a quiet laugh. The two critics differ very slightly in their opinions as to the date of the comedy; but their proofs are essentially different. Malone contends for 1611, holding that “the storm by which Sir George Sommers was shipwrecked on the island of Bermuda, in 1609, unquestionably gave rise to Shakspeare's ‘Tempest, and suggested to him the title, as well as some incidents.” The whole relation is contained in the additions to Stow's “Annals’ by Howes:–
“In the year 1609 the Adventurers and Company of Virginia sent from London a fleet of eight ships, with people to supply and make strong the colony in Virginia; Sir Thomas Gates being general, in a ship of 300 tons: in this ship was also Sir George Sommers, who was admiral, and Captain Newport, vice-admiral, and with them about 160 persons. This ship was ‘Admiral, and kept company with the rest of the fleet to the height of 30 degrees; and, being then assembled to consult touching divers matters, they were surprised with a most extreme violent storm, which scattered the whole fleet, yet all the rest of the fleet bent their course for Virginia, where, by God's special favour, they arrived safely; but this great ship, though new, and far stronger than any of the rest, fell into a great leak, so as mariners and passengers were forced, for three days' space, to do their utmost to save themselves from sudden sinking: but notwithstanding their incessant pumping, and casting out of water by buckets and all other means, yet the water covered all the goods within the hold, and all men were utterly tired, and spent in strength, and overcome with labour;
and hopeless of any succour, most of them were gone to sleep, yielding themselves to the mercy of the sea, being all very desirous to die upon any shore wheresoever. Sir George Sommers, sitting at the stern, seeing the ship desperate of relief, looking every minute when the ship would sink, he espied land, which, according to his and Captain Newport's opinion, they judged it should be that dreadful coast of the Bermudas, which islands were, of all nations, said and supposed to be enchanted, and inhabited with witches and devils, which grew by reason of accustomed monstrous thunder-storm and tempest near unto those islands; also for that the whole coast is so wonderous dangerous of rocks that few can approach them but with unspeakable hazard of shipwreck. Sir George Sommers, Sir Thomas Gates, Captain Newport, and the rest, suddenly agreed of two evils to choose the least, and so, in a kind of desperate resolution, directed the ship mainly for these islands, which, by God's divine providence, at a high water ran right between two strong rocks, where it stuck fast without breaking, which gave leisure and good opportunity for them to hoist out their boat, and to land all their people, as well sailors as soldiers and others, in good safety; and being come ashore they were soon refreshed and cheered, the soil and air being most sweet and delicate.”
Here we have a storm, a wreck, the Bermudas, and an enchanted island; and, in other descriptions of the same event, we have mention of a sea-monster. “Nothing can be more conclusive, then,” says Malone, “that the date of the play is fixed, with uncommon precision, between the end of the year 1610 and the autumn of 1611.” No, says Chalmers, the shipwreck of Sir George Sommers did suggest the incidents; but Malone himself had admitted that there was a great tempest at home in 1612;- “the author availed himself of a circumstance then fresh in the minds of his audience, by affixing a title to it which was more likely to excite curiosity than any other that he could have chosen, while, at the same time, it was sufficiently justified by the subject of the drama.” “Now this tempest,” says Chalmers, “happened at Christmas 1612; and so the play could not have been written in the summer of 1612.” Surely all this is admirable fooling,