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Ariel, thy charge
Past the mid season. Pro. At least two glasses : The time 'twixt six
and now, Must by us both be spent most preciously. Ari. Is there more toil ? Since thou dost give
How now? moody?
promise To bate me a full year. Pro.
Dost thou forget
9 Dost thou forget-] That the character and conduct of Prospero may be understood, something must be known of the system of enchantment, which supplied all the marvellous found in the romances of the middle ages. This system seems to be founded on the opinion that the fallen spirits, having different degrees of guile, had different habitations allotted them at their expulsion, some being confined in hell, some (as Hooker, who delivers the opinion of our poet's age, expresses it,) dispersed in air, some on earth, some in water, others in caves, dens, or minerals under the earth. Of these, some were more malignant and mischievous than others. The earthy spirits seem to have been thought the most depraved, and the aerial the less vitiated. Thus Prospero observes of Ariel:
Thou wast a spirit too delicate To act her earthy and abhorr'd commands. Over these spirits a power might be obtained by certain rites performed or charms learned. This power was called The black Art, or Knowledge of Enchantment. The enchanter being, (as king James observes in his Demonology) one who commands the devil,
From what a torment I did free thee?
I do not, sir.
forgot The foul witch Sycorax, who, with age, and envy, Was grown into a hoop? hast thou forgot her?
Ari. No, sir.
Thou hast : Where was she born ?
O, was she so? I must,
Äri. Ay, sir.
whereas the witch serves him. The art was held by all, though not equally criminal, yet unlawful, and therefore Casaubon, speaking of one who had commerce with spirits, blames him, though he imagines him one of the best kind, who dealt with them by way of command. Thus Prospero repents of his art in the last scene. The spirits were always considered as in some measure enslaved to the enchanter, at least for a time, and as serving with unwillingness; therefore Ariel so often begs for liberty; and Caliban observes, that the spirits serve Prospero with no good will, but hate him rootedly. Johnson.
in Argier.] Argier is the ancient English name for Algiers.
And here was left by the sailors : Thou, my slave,
she died, And left thee there; where thou did'st vent thy groans, As fast as mill-wheels strike: Then was this island, (Save for the son that she did litter here, A freckled whelp, hag-born,) not honour'd with A human shape. Ari.
Yes; Caliban her son, Pro. Dull thing, I say so; he, that Caliban, Whom now I keep in service. Thou best know'st What torment I did find thee in : thy groans Did make wolves howl, and penetrate the breasts Of ever-angry bears; it was a torment To lay upon the damn'd, which Sycorax Could not again undo; it was mine art, When I arriv'd, and heard thee, that made gape The pine, and let thee out. Ari.
I thank thee, master. Pro. If thou more murmur'st, I will rend an oak, And
peg thee in his knotty entrails, till Thou hast howl'd away twelve winters. Ari.
Pardon, master : I will be correspondent to command, And do my spiriting gently. Pro.
Do so; and after two days I will discharge thee. Ari.
my noble master! What shall I do? say what? what shall I do?
Pro. Go make thyself like to a nymph o’the sca; ? Be subject to no sight but mine; invisible To every eye-ball else. Go, take this shape, And hither come in't: hence, with diligence.
[Erit Ariel. Awake, dear heart, awake! thou hast slept well; Awake!
Mira. The strangeness of your story put
Shake it off: Come on;
'Tis a villain, sir,
But, as 'tis,
What ho! slave! Caliban!
Cal. (Within.] There's wood enough within.
- to a nymph o' the sea ;] There does not appear to be sufficient cause why Ariel should assume this new shape, as he was to be invisible to all eyes but those of Prospero. STEEVENS.
3 The strangeness-] Why should a wonderful story produce sleep? I believe experience will prove, that any violent agitation of the mind easily subsides in slumber, especially when, as in Prospero's relation, the last images are pleasing. Johnson.
The poet seems to have been apprehensive that the audience, as well as Miranda, would sleep over this long but necessary tale, and therefore strives to break it. First, by making Prospero divest himself of his magic robe and wand: then by waking her attention no less than six times by verbal interruption: then by varying the action when he rises and bids her continue sitting : and lastly, by carrying on the business of the fable while Miranda sleeps, by which she is continued on the stage till the poet has occasion for her again. WARNER.
* We cannot miss him :] That is, we cannot do without him.
Re-enter Ariel, like a water-nymph.
My lord, it shall be done. [Exit.
himself Upon thy wicked dam, come forth!
Cal. As wicked dew' as e'er my mother brush'd With raven's feather from unwholesome fen, Drop on you both! a south-west blow on ye, And blister you all o'er. Pro. For this, be sure, to-night thou shalt have
cramps, Side-stitches that shall
pen thy breath up; urchins Shall, for that vast of night that they may work, All exercise on thee: thou shalt be pinch'd As thick as honey-combs, each pinch more stinging Than bees that made them. Cal.
I must eat my dinner. This island's mine, by Sycorax my mother,
5 Cal. As wicked dew-] Wicked, having baneful qualities. 6 — urchins-) i. e. hedgehogs; or perhaps, here, fairies.
-. for that vast of night that they may work,] The vast of night means the night which is naturally empty and deserted, without action; or when all things lying in sleep and silence, makes the world appear one great uninhabited waste.
Vastum is likewise the ancient law term for waste, uncultivated land.
It should be remembered, that, in the pneumatology of former ages, these particulars were settled with the most minute exactness, and the different kinds of visionary beings had different allotments of time suitable to the variety or consequence of their employments. During these spaces, they were at liberty to act, but were always obliged to leave off at a certain hour, that they might not interfere in that portion of night which belonged to others.