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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 established 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 fantastically indeed in The Goblins, but much more nobly and ferenely in The Mafk at Ludlow Caftle. WARBURTON.
No one has hitherto been lucky enough to difcover 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 says: "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, Tempefts, and fuch like drolleries." STEEVENS.
I was informed by the late Mr. Collins of Chichester, that Shakspeare's Tempeft, 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 story is fomewhere to be found in an Italian novel, at least that the ftory preceded Shakspeare. Mr. Collins had fearched this fubject with no lefs fidelity than judgement and induftry; 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 necromancer, 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 com
mand. At leaft 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 Tempeft is 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 Talmudistick myfteries with which the learned Jews had infected this Science. T. WARTON.
Mr. Theobald tells us, that The Tempeft 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 shipwrecked 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 Jonson 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 bufy fcene of publick life!
This play muft have been written before 1614, when Jonfon fneers at it in his Bartholomew Fair. In the latter plays of Shakfpeare, 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 discover the dates of his plays. BLACKSTONE.
See Mr. Malone's attempt to afcertain the order plays, and a Note on The cloud-capt Towers, &c.
of Shakspeare's A& IV. STEEVENS.
Alonfo, king of Naples.
Profpero, the rightful duke of Milan.
Antonio, his brother, the ufurping duke of Milan.
Gonzalo, an honeft old counsellor of Naples.
Adrian, } lords.
Caliban, a favage and deformed flave.
Trinculo, a jefter.
Stephano, a drunken butler.
Mafter of a ship, Boatswain, and Mariners.
Miranda, daughter to Prospero.
Other Spirits attending on Profpero.
SCENE, the fea, with a ship; afterwards an uninhabited island.
This enumeration of perfons is taken from the folio 1623.
ACT I. SCENE I.
On a Ship at Sea.
A Storm with Thunder and Lightning.
Enter a Ship-mafter and a Boatfwain.
BOATS. Here, mafter: What cheer?
MAST. Good: Speak to the mariners: fall to't yarely, or we run ourselves aground: beftir, beftir. [Exit.
BOATS. Heigh, my hearts; cheerly, cheerly, my hearts; yare, yare: Take in the top-fail; Tend to
2 Boatswain,] In this naval dialogue, perhaps the firft example of failor's language exhibited on the ftage, there are, as I have been told by a skilful navigator, fome inaccuracies and contradictory orders. JOHNSON.
The foregoing obfervation is founded on a mistake. Thefe orders fhould be confidered as given, not at once, but fucceffively, as the emergency required. One attempt to fave the fhip failing, another is tried. MALONE.
3fall to't yarely,] i. e. Readily, nimbly. Our author is frequent in his ufe of this word. So in Decker's Satiromaftix: 'They'll make his muse as yare as a tumbler." STEEVENS. Here it is applied as a fea-term, and in other parts of the fcene. So he uses the adjective, Act V. fc. v: “Our fhip is tight and yare." And in one of the Henrics: " Iyare are our fhips." To this day the failors fay, "" fit yare to the helm." Again, in Antony and Cleopatra, Act II. fc. iii: "The tackles yarely frame the office." T. WARTON.