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Enter certain Nymphs.
You fun-burn'd ficklemen, of Auguft weary,
Enter certain Reapers, properly habited: they join with the Nymphs in a graceful dance; towards the end whereof PROSPERO ftarts fuddenly, and speaks; after which, to a ftrange, bollow, and confufed noife, they beavily vanish.
PRO. [afide.] I had forgot that foul confpiracy Of the beaft Caliban, and his confederates, Against my life; the minute of their plot
Is almoft come.-[To the Spirits.] Well done ;avoid; no more.
FER. This is moft ftrange: your father's in some passion
That works him strongly.
4 This is most frange:] I have introduced the word-meft, on account of the metre, which otherwife is defective. In the firft line of Profpero's next fpeech there is likewife an omiffion, but I have not ventured to fupply it. STEEVENS.
5 And, like the bafelefs fabrick of this vifion, &c.] The exact period at which this play was produced is unknown: it was not,
The cloud-capt towers, the gorgeous palaces,
however, published before 1623. In the year 1603, the Tragedy of Darius, by Lord Sterline, made its appearance, and there I find the following paffage :
Let greatnefs of her glaffy fcepters vaunt,
"Not fcepters, no, but reeds, foon bruis'd, foon broken; "And let this worldly pomp our wits enchant,
"All fades, and scarcely leaves behind a token.
"Thofe ftately courts, thofe iky-encount'ring walls,
Lord Sterline's play muft have been written before the death of queen Elizabeth, (which happen'd on the 24th of March 1603) as it is dedicated to James VI. King of Scots.
Whoever should feek for this paffage (as here quoted from the 4to, 1603) in the folio edition, 1637, will be difappointed, as Lord Sterline made confiderable changes in all his plays, after their first publication. STEEVENS,
6-all which it inherit,] i. e. all who poffefs, who dwell upon it. So, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona:
"This, or else nothing, will inherit her." MALONE. And, like this infubftantial pageant faded,] Faded means here→ having vanished; from the Latin, vado. So, in Hamlet : "It faded on the crowing of the cock."
To feel the juftice of this comparison, and the propriety of the epithet, the nature of thefe exhibitions fhould be remembered. The ancient English pageants were shows exhibited on the reception of a prince, or any other folemnity of a fimilar kind. They were prefented on occafional stages erected in the streets. Origi nally they appear to have been nothing more than dumb fhows; but before the time of our author, they had been enlivened by the introduction of fpeaking perfonages, who were characteristically habited. The fpeeches were fometimes in verfe; and as the proceffion moved forward, the fpeakers, who conftantly bore fome allufion to the ceremony, either converfed together in the form of a dialogue, or addreffed the noble perfon whofe prefence occafioned the celebrity. On thefe allegorical fpectacles very coftly ornaments were beftowed. See Fabian, II. 382. Warton's Hift. of
Leave not a rack behind : We are fuch stuff
The well-known lines before us may receive fome illustration from Stowe's account of the pageants exhibited in the year 1604, (not very long before this play was written,) on King James, his Queen, &c. paffing triumphantly from the Tower to Westminster; on which occasion seven Gates or Arches were erected in different places through which the proceffion paffed.-Over the first gate was reprefented the true likenefs of all the notable houses, "TOWERS and fteeples, within the citie of London."-" The "fixt arche or gate of triumph was erected above the Conduit in "Fleete-Streete, whereon the GLOBE of the world was feen to move, &c. At Temple-bar a seaventh arche or gate was erect"ed, the forefront whereof was proportioned in every refpect like
a TEMPLE, being dedicated to Janus, &c.-The citie of Weft"minfter, and dutchy of Lancafter, at the Strand had erected "the invention of a Rainbow, the moone, funne, and ftarres, "advanced between two Pyramides," &c. ANNALS, P. 1429, edit. 1605. MALONE.
8 Leave not a rack behind:] "The winds (fays lord Bacon) which move the clouds above, which we call the rack, and are not perceived below, pafs without noife." I fhould explain the word rack fomewhat differently, by calling it the laft fleeting veftige of the higheft clouds, fcarce perceptible on account of their diftance and tenuity. What was anciently called the rack, is now termed by failors-the feud.
The word is common to many authors contemporary with Shakspeare. So, in the Faithful Shepherdefs, by Fletcher:
- fhall I ftray
"In the middle air, and stay
Again, in David and Bethfabe, 1599:
Beating the clouds into their swifteft rack."
"Anon permits the baseft clouds to ride
Mr. Pennant in his Tour in Scotland obferves, there is a fish called a rack-rider, because it appears in winter or bad weather; Rack, in the English of our author's days, fignifying the driving of the clouds by tempefts.
Sir T. Hanmer instead of rack, reads track, which may be countenanced by the following paffage in the firft fcene of Timm of Athens:
As dreams are made of," and our little life
If you be pleas'd, retire into my cell,
"But flies an eagle flight, bold, and forth on,
Rack is generally ufed for a body of clouds, or rather for the courfe of clouds in motion; fo, in Antony and Cleopatra:
"That which is now a horfe, even with a thought,
But no inftance has yet been produced where it is used to fignify a fingle fmall fleeting cloud, in which fenfe only it can be figuratively applied here. I incline, therefore, to Sir Thomas Hanmer's
I am now inclined to think that rack is a mis-fpelling for wrack, i. e, wreck, which Fletcher likewife has used for a minute broken fragment. See his Wife for a Month, where we find the word mis-fpelt as it is in The Tempeft:
"He will bulge fo fubtilly and fuddenly,
"You may fnatch him up by parcels, like a sea-rack.” It has been urged, that " objects which have only a vifionary and insubstantial existence, can, when the vifion is faded, leave nothing real, and confequently no wreck behind them." But the objection is founded on mifapprehenfion. The words"Leave not a rack (or wreck) behind," relate not to "the bafeless fabrick of this vifion,” but to the final destruction of the world, of which the towers, temples, and palaces, fhall (like a vifion, or a pageant,) be diffolved, and leave no veftige behind.
MALONE. 9 As dreams are made of,] The old copy reads-on. But this is a mere colloquial vitiation; of, among the vulgar, being ftill pronounced. STEEVENS.
The ftanza which immediately precedes the lines quoted by Mr. Steevens from Lord Sterline's Darius, may ferve ftill further to confirm the conjecture that one of these poets imitated the other. Our author was, I believe, the imitator.
“And when the eclipfe comes of our glory's light,
"A meer illufion made to mock the fight,
"Whofe beft was but the fhadow of a dream," MALONE.
We wish your peace.
PRO. Come with a thought:-I thank you :
ARI. Thy thoughts I cleave to: What's thy
ARI. Ay, my commander: when I prefented
I thought to have told thee of it; but I fear'd,
PRO. Say again, where didst thou leave these
ARI. I told you, fir, they were red-hot with drinking;
2 Fer. Mir. We wish your peace.
Ariel, come.] But these thanks be
Pro. Come with a thought: I thank you: The old copy reads "I thank thee." ing in reply to the joint wish of Ferdinand and Miranda, I have fubftituted you for thee, by the advice of Mr. Ritfon.
3 Thy thoughts I cleave to:] To cleave to, is to unite with clofely. So, in Macbeth:
"Like our ftrange garments, cleave not to their mould.”
fhall cleave to my confent." STEEVENS.
to meet with Caliban.] To meet with is to counteract; to play ftratagem against ftratagem.-The parfon knows the temper of every one in his houfe, and accordingly either meets with their vices, or advances their virtues. HERBERT's Country Parfon. JOHNSON. So, in Cynthia's Revenge, 1613;
You may meet
"With her abusive malice, and exempt
"Yourself from the fufpicion of revenge." STEEVENS.