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The preceding Index is compiled on the fame plan as that fub.
TEMPEST.) The Tempeft and The Midfummer Night's Dream are the nobleft efforts of that fublime and amazing imagination peculiar to Shakspeare, which foars above the bounds of nature without forfaking fenfe; or, more properly, carries nature along with him beyond her eftablished limits. Fletcher feems particularly to have admired thefe two plays, and hath wrote two in imitation of them, The Sea Voyage and The Faithful Shepherdefs. But when he prefumes to break a lance with Shakspeare, and write in emulation of him, as he does in The Falfe One, which is the rival of Antony and Cleopatra, he is not fo fuccefsful. After him, Sir John Suckling and Milton catched the brighteft fire of their imagination from thefe two plays; which fhines fantaftically indeed in The Goblins, but much more nobly and ferenely in The Mask at Ludlow Caftle.
No one has hitherto been lucky enough to discover the romance on which Shakspeare may be fuppofed to have founded this play, the beauties of which could not fecure it from the criticifm of Ben Jonfon, whofe malignity appears to have been more than equal to his wit. In the induction to Bartholomew Fair, he fays: If there be never a fervant monster in the fair, who can help it, he fays, nor a neft of antiques? He is loth to make nature afraid in his plays, like thofe that beget Tales, Tempests, and fuch like drolleries. 19 STEEVENS.
I was informed by the late Mr., Collins of Chichester, that Shakspeare's Tempest, for which no origin is yet affigned, was formed on a romance called Aurelio and Ifabella, 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 ftory is fome-where to be found in an Italian novel, at least that the ftory preceded Shakfpeare. Mr. Collins had fearched. this fubject with no lefs fidelity than judgement and industry: but his memory failing in his laft calamitous indifpofition, he probably gave me the name of one novel for another. I remember he added a circumftance, which may lead to a difcovery, that the principal character of the romance anfwering to Shakspeare's Profpero, was a chemical negromancer, who had bound a spirit like Ariel to obey his call, and perform his fervices. It was a common pretence of
dealers in the occult fciences to have a demon at command.
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 Tempeftis founded on that fort of philofophy which was practifed by John Dee and his affociates, and has been called the Roficrucian. The name Ariel came from the Talmudiftick myfteries with which the learned Jews had infected this Science.
Mr. Theobald tells us, that The Tempest must have been written after 1609, because the Bermuda iflands, which are mentioned in it, were unknown to the English until that year; but this is a mistake. He might have seen in Hackluyt, 1600, folio, a defcription of Bermuda, by Henry May, who was fhipwrecked there in 1593.
It was however one of our author's laft 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 Jonfon taught him the pronunciation of the latter word, which is always right in The Tempeft.
Is not this Stephano, my 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 Stephano, fignify I pray you, ", &c.
So little did Mr. Capell know of his author, when he idly fuppofed his fchool literature might perhaps have been loft by the diffipation of youth, or the busy fcene of public life!
This play must have been written before 1614, when Jonfon fneers at it in his Bartholomew Fair. In the latter plays of Shakspeare, he has lefs of pun and quibble than in his early ones. In The Merchant of Venice, he exprefsly declares against them. This perhaps might be one criterion to difcover the dates of his plays.
See Mr. Malone's attempt to ascertain the order of Shakspeare's plays, and a Note on The cloud-capt Towers, &c. A&, IV. STEEVENS.
PERSONS represented. *
Alonfo, king of Naples.
Profpero, the rightful duke of Milan.
Caliban, a favage and deformed flave.
Stephano, a drunken butler.
Mafter of a fhip, Boatswain, and Mariners.
Miranda, daughter to Profpero.
Ariel, an airy fpirit.
Other fpirits attending on Profpero.
with a ship; afterwards
SCENE, the fea, with a
an uninhabited ifland.
*This enumeration of perfons is taken from the folio 1623.