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Fer. This is a most majestic vision, and
Pro. - Sweet now, silence;
Iris. You nymphs, call'd Naiads, of the wan
With your sedg'd crowns, and ever-harmless looks,
Enter certain Nymphs.
You sun-burn’d sickle-men, of August weary,
> a wonder'd father, i.e. able to perform wonders.
3 wand'ring brooks,j The modern editors read—winding brooks. The old copy—windring. STEEvens.
* Leave your crisp channels, J. Crisp, i.e. curling, winding. Crisp, however, may allude to the little wave or curl (as it is commonly called) that the gentlest wind occasions on the sur
face of waters. STEEvens.
Enter certain Reapers properly habited; they join with the Nymphs in a graceful dance ; towards the end whereof PRosPERo starts suddenly, and speaks; after which, to a strange, hollow, and confused noise, they heavily vanish.
Pro. [aside.] I had forgot that foul conspiracy Of the beast Caliban, and his confederates, Against my life; the minute of their plot Is almost come.—[To the Spirits.] Well done;—
avoid ;—no more. Fer. This is most strange:* your father's in some passion
That works him strongly.
Mira. - Never till this day,
Pro. You do look, my son, in a mov’d sort
* This is most strange :] I have introduced the word—most, on account of the metre, which otherwise is defective.—In the first line of Prospero’s next speech there is likewise an omission, but I have not ventured to supply it. STEEvens.
4. all which it inherit, i. e. all who possess, who dwell upon it. MALoNE.
* And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, J. Faded means here—having vanished; from the Latin, vado. So, in Hamlet :
“It faded on the crowing of the cock.”
To feel the justice of this comparison, and the propriety of the epithet, the nature of these exhibitions should be remembered. The ancient English pageants were shows exhibited on the recep
VOL. I. w
Leave not a rack behind:* We are such stuff
As dreams are made of, and our little life
Fer. Mira. We wish your peace.
[Ea'eunt. Pro. Come with a thought:—I thank you :— Ariel, come.
tion of a prince, or any other solemnity of a similar kind. They were presented on occasional stages erected in the streets. Originally they appear to have been nothing more than dumb shows; but before the time of our author, they had been enlivened by the introduction of speaking personages, who were characteristically habited. The speeches were sometimes in verse; and as the procession moved forward, the speakers, who constantly bore some allusion to the ceremony, either conversed together in the form of a dialogue, or addressed the noble person whose presence occasioned the celebrity. On these allegorical spectacles very costly ornaments were bestowed. * Leave not a rack behind:] “The winds (says Lord Bacon) which move the clouds above, which we call the rack, and are not perceived below, pass without noise.” Mr. Steevens would explain the wordracksomewhat differently,by calling it the last fleeting vestige of the highest clouds, scarce perceptible on account of their distance and tenuity. What was anciently called the rack, is now termed by sailors—the scud. The word is common to many authors contemporary with Shakspeare. But Sir Thomas Hammer reads tract, for which there are some authorities; and Mr. Malone wrack, a mispelling for wreck; and after producing authorities, says, it has been urged, that “objects which have only a visionary and insubstantial existence, can, when the vision is faded, leave nothing real, and consequently no wreck behind them.” But the objection is founded on misapprehension. The words—“Leave not a rack (or wreck) behind,” relate not to “the baseless fabrick of this vision,” but to the final destruction of the world, of which the towers, temples, and palaces, shall (like a vision, or a pageant,) be dissolved, and leave no vestige behind.
pleasure ? Pro. Spirit, We must prepare to meet with Caliban.” Ari. Ay, my commander; when I presented Ceres, I thought to have told thee of it; but I fear'd, Lest I might anger thee. Pro. Say again, where didst thou leave these varlets 2 Ari. I told you, sir, they were red-hot with - drinking: So full of valour, that they smote the air For breathing in their faces; beat the ground For kissing of their feet; yet always bending Towards their project: Then I beat my tabor, At which, like unback'd colts, they prick'd their - ears, Advanc'd their eye-lids, lifted up their noses, As they smelt musick; so I charm'd their ears, That, calf-like, they my lowing follow'd, through Tooth'd briers, sharp furzes, pricking goss,” and - thorns, Which enter'd their frail shins : at last I left them I' the filthy mantled pool beyond your cell, There dancing up to the chins, that the foul lake O'erstunk their feet.
7 Thy thoughts I cleave to:] To cleave to, is to unite with closely.
8 to meet with Caliban.] To meet with is to counteract ; to play stratagem against stratagem. .
9 pricking goss, I know not how Shakspeare distinguished goss from furze, for what he calls, furze is called goss or gorse in the midland counties. Steev ENs.
By the latter, Shakspeare means the low sort of gorse that only grows upon wet ground, and which is well described by the name of whins in Markham's Farewell to Husbandry. It has prickles like those of a rose-tree or a gooseberry. Toll ET.
Pro. This was well done, my bird; Thy shape invisible retain thou still: The trumpery in my house, go, bring it hither, For stale to catch these thieves."
Ari. I go, I go. [Evit.
Pro. A devil, a born devil, on whose nature
Re-enter ARIEL loaden with glistering apparel, &c.
Even to roaring —Come, hang them on this line.
PROSPERo and ARIEL remain invisible. Enter CALIBAN, STEPHANO, and TRINCULO, all wet.
Cal. Pray you, tread softly, that the blind mole may not Hear a foot fall: * we now are near his cell.
* For stale to catch these thieves.] Stale is a word in fowling, and is used to mean a bate or decoy to catch birds. STEEvess.
* Nurture can never stick ;] Nurture is education.
3. all, all lost,) The first of these words was probably introduced by the carelessness of the transcriber or compositor. We might safely read—are all lost. MALONE.
* And as, with age, his body uglier grows,
So his mind cankers :] Shakspeare, when he wrote this de
scription, perhaps recollected what his patron's most intimate friend, the great Lord Essex, in an hour of discontent, said of Queen Elizabeth:—“that she grew old, and cankered, and that her mind was become as crooked as her carcase : ”—a speech, which, according to Sir Walter Raleigh, cost him his head, and which, we may therefore suppose, was at that time much talked of. This play being written in the time of King James, these obnoxious words might be safely repeated. MAlone.
* — the blind mole may not
Hear a foot fall .) This quality of hearing, which the mole
is supposed to possess in so high a degree, is mentioned in Euphues, 4to, 1581, p. 64: “Doth not the lion for strength, the turtle for