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Line 177. for tuning the harpsichord, spinnet, or virginal. HAWKINS. Line 190. Like a good parent,-] Alluding to the observation, that a father above the common rate of men has commonly a son below it. Heroum filii noxæ. JOHNSON.
-the key-] This doubtless is meant of a key
Who having, INTO truth, by telling of it,
To credit his own lie,-] The corrupted reading
of the second line has rendered this beautiful similitude quite unintelligible.
I read and point it thus:
Who having, UNTO truth, by telling OFT,
To credit his own lie,
i. c. by often repeating the same story, made his memory such a sinner unto truth, as to give credit to his own lie. A miserable delusion, to which story-tellers are frequently subject. The Oxford Editor having, by this correction, been let into the sense of the passage, gives us this sense in his own words:
Who loving an untruth, and telling't oft,
-out of the substitution,] Is the old reading. The modern editors, for the sake of smoother versification, readfrom substitution.
Line 209. So dry he was for sway,] i. e. Thirsting after. 219. To think but nobly-] But, i. e. otherwise than. 263. -deck'd the sea- -] To deck the sea, if explained to honour, adorn, or dignify, is indeed ridiculous: but the original import of the verb deck is, to cover; so in some parts they yet say deck the table.
who being then appointed, &c.] Such is the old
reading. We might better read,
-he being, &c.
'tis a good dulness,] Dr. Warburton rightly
observes, that this sleepiness, which Prospero by his art had brought upon Miranda, and of which he knew not how soon the
effect would begin, makes him question her so often whether she is attentive to his story.
Line 308. -and all his quality.] i. e. His companions. 310.. Perform'd to point―] i. e. to the minutest ar
-now on the beak,] The beak was a strong
pointed body at the head of the ancient gallies; it is used here for
the forecastle, or the bolt-sprit.
Line 313. Now in the waste, ter-deck and the forecastle.
JOHNSON. -] The part between the quarJOHNSON.
Line 329. But felt a fever of the mad,-] If it be at all necessary to explain the meaning, it is this: Not a soul but felt such a fever as madmen feel, when the frantic fit is upon them.
Line 341. sustaining—] i. e. Their garments that bore them up and supported them. So K. Lear, Act 4. Sc. 4.
"In our sustaining corn."
Line 354. From the still-vex'd Bermoothes.- -] Theobald says Bermoothes is printed by mistake for Bermudas. No. That was the name by which the islands then went, as we may see by the voyages of that time; and by our author's contemporary poets. Fletcher, in his Woman Pleased, says, The devil should think of purchasing that egg-shell to victual out a witch for the Bermoothes. Smith, in his account of these islands, p. 172. says, that the Bermudas were so fearful to the world, that many called them The Isle of Devils.-P. 174.—to all seamen no less terrible than an enchanted den of furies. And no wonder, for the clime was extremely subject to storms and hurricanes; and the islands were surrounded with scattered rocks lying shallowly hid under the surface of the WARBURTON.
The opinion that Bermudas was haunted with evil spirits continued so late as the civil wars. PERCY.
-the Mediterranean flote,] Flote is wave.
Line 384. Dost thou forget] That the character and conduct of Prospero may be understood, something must be known of the system of enchantment, which supplied all the marvellous found
in the romances of the middle ages. This system seems to be founded on the opinion that the fallen spirits, having different degrees of guilt, had different habitations allotted them at their expulsion, some being confined in hell, some (as Hooker, who delivers the opinion of our poet's age, expresses it) dispersed in air, some on earth, some in water, others in caves, dens, or minerals under the earth. Of these, some were more malignant and mischievous than others. The earthy spirits seem to have been thought the most depraved, and the aerial the least vitiated. Thus Prospero observes of Ariel:
-Thou wast a spirit too delicate
To act her earthy and abhorr'd commands.
Over these spirits a power might be obtained by certain rites performed or charms learned. This power was called The Black Art, or Knowledge of Enchantment. The enchanter being (as king James observes in his Demonology) one who commands the devil, whereas the witch serves him. Those who thought best of this art, the existence of which was, I am afraid, believed very seriously, held, that certain sounds and characters had a physical power over spirits, and compelled their agency; others who condemned the practice, which in reality was surely never practised, were of opinion, with more reason, that the power of charms arose only from compact, and was no more than the spirits voluntary allowed them for the seduction of man. The art was held by all, though not equally criminal, yet unlawful; and therefore Causabon, speaking of one who had commerce with spirits, blames him, though he imagines him one of the best kind who dealt with them by way of command. Thus Prospero repents of his art in the last scene. The spirits were always considered as in some measure enslaved to the enchanter, at least for a time, and as serving with unwillingness, therefore Ariel so often begs for liberty; and Caliban observes, that the spirits serve Prospero with no good will, but hate him rootedly. JOHNSON.
Line 400. in Argier.] i. e. Algiers.
452. The strangeness of your story, &c.-] Why should a wonderful story produce sleep? I believe experience will prove, that any violent agitation of the mind easily subsides in slumber,
especially when, as in Prospero's relation, the last images are pleasing.
Line 460. -miss him:] i. e. Do without him.
Cal. As wicked dew, as e'er my mother brush'd With raven's feather from unwholesome fen, Drop on you both!] Shakespeare hath very artificially given the air of the antique to the language of Caliban, in order to heighten the grotesque of his character. As here he uses wicked for unwholesome. WARBURTON.
Line 474. As wicked dew,-] Wicked; having baneful qualities. Thus Spenser says, wicked weed; so, in opposition, we say herbs or medicines have virtues. Bacon mentions virtuous Bezoar, and Dryden virtuous herbs.
urchins-] i. e. Hedge-hogs.
--for that vast of night that they may work,] The vast of night means the night which is naturally empty and deserted, without action. It has a meaning like that of nox vasta.
It should be remembered, that, in the pneumatology of former times, these particulars were settled with the most minute exactness, and the different kinds of visionary beings had different allotments of time suitable to the variety or consequence of their employments. During these spaces, they were at liberty to act, but were always obliged to leave off at a certain hour, that they might not interfere in that portion of night which belonged to others. Among these we may suppose urchins to have had a part subjected to their dominion. To this limitation of time Shakspeare alludes again in K. Lear. He begins at curfew, and walks till the second cock. STEEVENS.
Line 511. Abhorred slave;] This speech, which the old copy gives to Miranda, is very judiciously bestowed by Mr. Theobald on Prospero. JOHNSON. The modern editions take this speech from Miranda, and give it to Prospero; though there is nothing in it but what she may speak with the greatest propriety; especially as it accounts for her being enough in the way and power of Caliban, to enable him to make the attempt complained of. The poet himself shews he intended Miranda should be his tutoress; when he makes Caliban say, "I've seen thee in her, my mistress shewed me, thee and
"thy dog, and thy bush;" to Stephano, who had just assured the monster he was the man in moon.
-When thou didst not, savage,
Know thy own meaning,] By this expression, however defective, the poet seems to have meant- -When thou didst utter sounds, to which thou hadst no determinate meaning.
Line 519. -But thy vile race,] Race, in this place, seems to signify original disposition, inborn qualities. STEEVENS. Line 527. —the red plague-] The red plague was the ancient name of the disease called the Erysipelas, or St. Anthony's fire.
Line 539. It would controul my dam's god Setebos,] In Hackluyt's Voyages, we have mention of Setebos being accounted a great devil by the Patagons; from which Shakspeare doubtless formed this part of his Dramatis Persona.
Line 543. Court'sied when you have, and kiss'd,] As was anciently done at the beginning of some dances. STEEVENS: Line 559. Weeping again—] i. e. Against.
ding-dong, bell.] A common chorus to Shak
speare's songs. See Merchant of Venice.
-] To owe, in this place, as
Line 575. That the earth ores: well as in many others, signifies to own. So in Othello.
Line 576. The fringed curtains, &c.] See also Pericles Prince of Tyre.
Line 604. -certainly, a maid.] Ferdinand asks her not whether she was a created being, a question which, if he meant it, he has ill expressed, but whether she was unmarried; for after the dialogue which Prospero's interruption produces, he goes on pursuing his former question.
O, if a virgin,
I'll make you queen of Naples.
Line 618. And his brave son, being twain.] This is a slight forgetfulness. Nobody was left in the wreck, yet we find no such character as the son of the duke of Milan.
-control thee.] Confute thee, unanswerably JOHNSON.
Line 624. I fear, you have done yourself some wrong:-] Al