Sidor som bilder

He could anticipate

and by some means or other supplied it. Milton's own Greek and Latin ;

Tortive and errant from his course of growth
The multitudinous seas incarnardine-
A pudency so rosy, &c.

In fact, if Shakspeare's poetry has any fault, it is that of being too learned ; too over-informed with thought and allusion. His wood-notes wild surpass Haydn and Bach. His wild roses were all twenty times double. He thinks twenty times to another man's once, and makes all his serious characters talk as well as he could himself,—with a superabundance of wit and intelligence. He knew, however, that fairies must have a language of their own; and hence, perhaps, his poetry never runs in a more purely poetical vein than when he is speaking in their persons ;-I mean it is less mixed up with those heaps of comments and reflections which, however the wilful or metaphysical critic may think them suitable on all occasions, or succeed in persuading us not to wish them absent, by reason of their stimulancy to one's mental activity, are assuredly neither always proper to dramatic, still less to narrative poetry; nor yet so opposed to all idiosyncrasy on the writer's part as Mr. Coleridge would have us believe. It is pretty manifest, on the contrary, that the over-informing intellect which Shakspeare thus carried into all his writings, must have been a personal as well as lite. rary peculiarity ; and as the events he speaks of are sometimes more interesting in their nature than even a superabundance of his comments can make them, readers may be pardoned in sometimes wishing that he had let them speak a little more briefly for themselves. Most people would prefer Ariosto's and Chaucer's narrative poetry to his; the Griselda, for instance, and the story of Isabel,—to the Rape of Lucrece. The intense passion is enough. The misery is enough. We do not want even the divinest talk about what Nature herself tends to petrify into silence. Curæ ingentes stupent. Our divine poet had not quite outlived the times when it was thought proper for a writer to say everything that came into his head. He was a student of Chaucer: he beheld the living fame of Spenser; and his fellow-dramatists did not help to restrain him. The players told Ben Jonson that Shakspeare never blotted a line ; and Ben says he was thought invidious for observing, that he wished he had blotted a thousand. He sometimes, he says, required stopping. (Aliquando suftaminandus erat.) Was this meant to apply to his conversation as well as writing ? Did he manifest a like exuberance in company ? Perhaps he would have done so, but for modesty and self-knowledge. To keep his eloquence alto. gether within bounds was hardly possible ; and who could have wished it had been ? Would that he had had a Boswell a hundred times as voluminous as Dr. Johnson's, to take all down! Bacon's Essays would have seemed like a drop out of his ocean. He would have swallowed dozens of Hobbeses by anticipation, like larks for his supper.

If Shakspeare, instead of proving himself the greatest poet in the world, had written nothing but the fanciful scenes in this volume, he would still have obtained a high and singular repu. tation,—that of Poet of the Fairies. For he may be said to have invented the Fairies; that is to say, he was the first that turned them to poetical account; that bore them from clownish neighborhoods to the richest soils of fancy and imagination.



The whole story of the Tempest is really contained in this


Mira. I pray you, sir,
(For still 'tis beating in my mind) your reason
For raising this sea-storm?

Know thus far forth ;-
By accident, most strange, bountiful fortune,
Now my dear lady, hath mine enemies
Brought to this shore: and by my prescience,
I find my zenith doth depend upon

A most auspicious star : whose influence,
If now I court not, but omit, my fortunes
Will ever after droop :-here cease more questions ;
Thou art inclin'd to sleep; 'tis a good dulness,
And give it way ;-I know thou canst not choose.

(Miranda sleeps.) Come away, servants, come; I am ready now; Approach, my Ariel; come.

Ari. All hail, great master ! grave sir, hail! I come
To answer thy best pleasure: be 't to fly,
To swim, to dive into the fire, to ride
On the curl'd clouds; to thy strong bidding, task
Ariel, and all his quality.

Hast thou, spirit,
Perform’d to point the tempest that I bade thee?

Ari. To every article.
I boarded the king's ship; now on the beak,
Now in the waist, the deck, in every cabin,
I flam’d amazement. Sometimes, I'd divide,
And burn in many places ; on the top-mast,
The yards, and bowsprit, would I flame distinctly,
Then meet, and join : Jove's lightnings, the precursors
O the dreadful thunder-claps more momentary
And sight out-running were not : the fire and cracks
Of sulphurous roaring, the most mighty Neptune
Seemed to besiege, and make his bold waves tremble;
Yea, his dread trident shake.

My brave spirit!
Who was so firm, so constant, that this coil
Would not infect his reason ?

Not a soul
But felt a fever of the mind, and play'd
Some tricks of desperation; all, but mariners,
Plung’d in the foaming brine, and quit the vessel
Then all a-fire with me: the king's son, Ferdinand,
With hair up-staring (then like reeds, not hair),
Was the first man that leap’d; cried, Hell is empty,
And all the devils are here.

Why that 's my spirit !
But was not this nigh shore ?

Close by, my master.
Pro. But are they, Ariel, safe?

Not a hair perish'd;
On their sustaining garments not a blemish,

But fresher than before : and as thou bad'st me,
In troops I have dispers’d them 'bout the isle:
The king's son have I landed by himself;
Whom I left cooling of the air with sighs,
In an odd angle of the isle, and sitting,
His arms in this sad knot.

Of the king's ship,
The mariners, say, how thou hast dispos’d,
And all the rest o' the fleet?

Safely in harbor
Is the king's ship; in the nook, where once
Thou call dst me up at midnight to fetch dew
From the still vexed Bermoothes ; there she's hid;
The mariners all under hatches stow'd;
Whom, with a charm join'd to their suffer'd labor,
I have left asleep; and for the rest o’the fleet,
Which I dispers’d, they all have met again;
And are upon the Mediterranean flote,
Bound sadly home for Naples ;
Supposing that they saw the king's ship wreck'd,
And his great person perish.

Ariel, my charge
Exactly is perform’d; but there's more work:
What is the time o' the day?

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 me pains,
Let me remember the that thou hast promis’d,
Which is not yet performed me.

How now! moody?
What is 't thou canst demand ?

My liberty.
Pro. Before the time be out? no more.


Remember, I have done thee worthy service;
Told thee no lies, made no mistakings, serv'd
Without or grudge or grumblings: thou didst promise
To bate me a full year.

Dost thou forget
From what a torment I did free thee?

Pro. Thou dost; and think'st
It much to tread the ooze of the salt deep,
To run upon the sharp wind of the north ;
To do me business in the veins of the earth,


When it is bak'd with frost.

I do not, sir.
Pro. Thou liest, malignant thing! Hast thou forgot
The foul witch Sycorax, who, with age and envy,
Was grown into a hoop? Hast thou forgot her ?

Ari. No, sir.
Pro. Thou hast : where was she born? speak; tell me.
Ari. Sir, in Argier.

0, was she so? I must,
Once in a month, recount what thou hast been,
Which thou forget'st. This damn’d witch, Sycorax,
For mischiefs manifold, and sorceries terrible
To enter human hearing, from Argier
Thou know'st was banish’d, for one thing she did ;
They would not take her life : Is not this true ?

Aye, sir.
Pro. This blue-ey'd hag was hither brought with child,
And here was left by the sailors : Thou, my slave,
As thou report'st thyself, was then her servant :
And, for thou wast a spirit too delicate
To act her earthy and abhorr'd commands,
Refusing her grand hests, she did confine thee
By help of her more potent ministers,
And in her most unmitigable rage,
Into a cloven pine: within which rift,
Imprison'd, thou didst painfully remain
A dozen years; within which space she died,
And left thee there; where thou didst vent thy groans,
As fast as mill-wheels strike: Then was this island
(Save for the son which she did litter here,
A freckled whelp, hag-born) not honor'd with
A human shape.

Yes; Caliban her son.
Pro. Dull thing, I say so,-he, that Caliban,
Whom now I keep in service. Thou best know'st
What torments 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.

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.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »