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CHARACTERISTICS OF THOUGHT AND MANNER-DATE OF THE
PLAY, STATE OF THE TEXT, ETC.
connected with man's duties and history, having occasion, in one of his
tragedies, and any one of his best comedies, would give us a notion faithful in kind, although requiring to be augmented in degree.”—(Introductory Lecture on Modern History.)
True as this rule may be, as regards the mass of authors of every age, and even most of those of the very highest rank, it is surely erroneous in reference to Shakespeare, even in the guarded and qualified form in which it is applied to him; and this exception of the great English Poet from so general a law of mind, which has governed the loftiest and most powerful minds, is among the most striking and unequivocal evidences of his superiority. Neither Macbeth nor Hamlet, alone, could give any competent idea of the character of mind and cast of thought, or of the habitual views of life, of the author of Othello; while Lear, with all its wonderful combination of intellect and passion, would as little lead us to imagine that the same author had written such a tragedy as Romeo AND JULIET. This play of the Tempest, especially, is one of those works for which no other production of the author's prolific fancy could have prepared his readers. It is wholly of a different cast of temper, and mood of disposition, from those so conspicuous in his gayer comedies; while even the ethical dignity and poetic splendour of the Merchant of VENICE, could not well lead the critic to anticipate the solemn grandeur, the unrivalled harmony and grace, the bold originality, and the grave beauty of the Tempest.
The MIDSUMMER-Night's Dream, as different from its author's other gayer and more purely poetical works, as the Tempest is from his graver delineations of deeper thought and stronger passion, is that among his dramas which, from its fairy machinery and the predominance of the imaginative over the real, most naturally presents itself as the counterpart of the Tempest. Yet it is as essentially different as if it had been the work of some other contemporary poet; being, indeed, rather a contrast than a resembling counterpart. More abounding in single passages of matchless and varied sweetness or brilliancy, it is less perfect as a whole, and differs still more 'com it in its pervading tone of feeling, and the impression it leaves on the mind. The one is joyous in emper, laxuriant in fancy, and dazzling throughout from its sudden and brilliant contrasts. The other is also filled with high and true poetry, but it is poetry pervaded and controlled by a contemplative philosophy; and it is the calm, solemn light of that philosophy that harmonizes, and mellows down, the richest fancies and boldest inventions into one grave and even severe tone of colour. The two dramas are to each other as the full and strong burst of life, and the balmy fragrance of spring, with its joyous and exhilarating influence, and bright confusion of beauties, compared with the autumnal magnificence of our Indian summer, with its calmness and repose, its yellow radiance,' and all its pensive yet soothing associations and influences. There are several respects in which the TEMPEST thus stands alone, as distinguishable in character from any other of its author's varied creations. Without being his work of greatest power, not equalling several of the other dramas in depth of passion, or in the exhibition of the working of the affections ; surpassed by others in brilliancy of poetic fancy or exquisite delicacies of expression, it is nevertheless among the most perfect (perhaps in fact the most perfect) of all, as a work of art, of the most unbroken unity of effect and sustained majesty of intellect. It is too—if we can speak of degrees of originality in the productions of this most creative of all poets—the most purely original of his conceptions, deriving nothing of any consequence from any other source for the plot, and without any prototype in literature of the more important personages, or any model for the thoughts and language, beyond the materials presented by actual and living human nature, to be raised and idealized into the “wild and wondrous" forms of Ariel and Caliban, of the majestic Prospero, and, above all, of his peerless daughter. Miranda is a character blending the truth of nature with tho most exquisite refinement of poetic fancy, unrivalled, even in Shakespeare's own long and beautiful series of portraitures of feminino excellence, and paralleled only by the Eve of Milton, who, I cannot but think, was iodirectly indebted for some of her fascinating auributes to the solitary daughter of Prospero.
For still 'tis beating in my mind, your reason
Know thus far forth.
[MIRANDA sleeps. Come away, servant, come! I am ready now. Approach, my Ariel: come!
Enter ARIEL. Ari. All hail, great master; grave sir, hail. I 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. Pro.
Hast thou, spirit, Perform'd to point the tempest that I bade thee?
And burn in many places; on the topmast,
My brave spirit !
Not a soul
empty, And all the devils are here." Pro.
Why, that's my spirit' But was not this nigh shore? Ari.
Close by, my master. Pro. But are they, Ariel, safe? Ari.
Not a hair perishd; 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.
Ari. To every
The king's son have I landed by himself,
Dost thou forget Whom I left cooling of the air with sighs
From what a torment I did free thee? In an odd angle of the isle, and sitting,
No. His arms in this sad knot.
Pro. Thou dost; and think'st it much, to tread Pro. Of the king's ship
the ooze The mariners, say, how thou hast dispos'd, Of the salt deep, And all the rest o' the Neet?
To run upon the sharp wind of the north,
Safely in harbour To do me business in the veins o'th' earth,
I do not, sir. From the still-vex'd Bermoothes, there she's hid: Pro. Thou liest, malignant thing! Hast thou The mariners all under hatches stow'd;
forgot Whom, with a charm join’d to their suffer'd labour, The foul witch Sycorax, who, with age and envy, I have left asleep: and for the rest o' the fleet Was grown into a hoop? hast thou forgot her? Which I dispers'd, they all have met again,
Ari. No, sir. And are upon the Mediterranean flote,
Pro. Thou hast. Where was she born? Bound sadly home for Naples,
speak; tell me. Supposing that they saw the king's ship wreck’d, Ari. Sir, in Argier. And his great person perish.
O! was she so? I must, Pro.
Ariel, thy charge Once in a month, recount what thou hast been, Exactly is perform'd; but there's more work. Which thou forget'st. This damn’d witch, Sycorax, What is the time o' the day?
For mischiefs manifold, and sorceries terrible Ari.
Past the mid season. To enter human hearing, from Argier, Pro. At least two glasses. The time 'twixt six Thou know'st was banish'd : for one thing she did, and now
They would not take her life. Is not this true? Must by us both be spent most preciously.
Ari. Ay, sir. Ari. Is there more toil? Since thou dost give Pro. This blue-ey'd hag was hither brought with me pains,
child, Let me remember thee what thou hast promis'd, And here was left by the sailors : thou, my slave Which is not yet perform’d me.
As thou report'st thyself, wast then her servant: Pro.
How now! moody? || And, for thou wast à spirit too delicate What is't thou canst demand ?
To act her earthly and abhorr'd commands, Ari.
Refusing her grand hests, she did confine thee Pro. Before the time be out? no more.
of her more potent ministers, Ari.
I prithee | And in her most unmitigable rage, Remember, I have done thee worthy service; Into a cloven pine; within which rift Told thee no lies, made thee no mistakings, serv'd Imprison'd, thou didst painfully remain Without or grudge, or grumblings. Thou didst A dozen years; within which space she died, promise
And left thee there, where thou didst vent thy To bate me a full year.
As fast as mill-wheels strike. Then was this island This island's mine, by Sycorax my mother, (Save for the son that she did litter here,
Which thou tak'st from me. When thou camest A freckled whelp, bag-born) not honour'd with
first, A human shape.
Thou strok’st me, and mad'st much of me; would's Ari. Yes; Caliban, her son.
give me Pro. Dull thing, I say so; he, that Caliban, Water with berries in't; and teach me how Whom now I keep in service. Thou best know'st To name the bigger light, and how the less, What torment I did find thee in : thy groans That burn by day and night: and then I lov'd thee. Did make wolves howl, and penetrate the breasts And show'd thee all the qualities o' th’ isle, Of ever-angry bears. It was a torment
The fresh springs, brine pits, barren place, and To lay upon the damu'd, which Sycorax
fertile. Could not again undo: it was mine art,
Cursed be I that did so !-All the charms When I arriv'd and heard thee, that made gape Of Sycorax, toads, beetles, bats, light on you! The pine, and let thee out.
For I am all the subjects that you have, Ari.
I thank thee, master. Which first was mine own king; and here you Pro. If thou more murmur'st, I will rend an oak,
sty me, And peg thee in his knotty entrails, till
In this hard rock, whiles you do keep from me Thou hast howl'd away twelve winters.
The rest o'th' island.
Thou most lying slave,
Whom stripes may move, not kindness, I have us d And do my spriting gently.
Do so, and after two days i Filth as thou art, with human care; and lodg'd thes I will discharge thee.
In mire own cell, till thou didst seek to violate Ari.
That's my poble master! The honour of my child. What shall I do? say what? what shall I do? Cal. O ho! O ho!—would it had been done! Pro. Go, make thyself like a nymph o' the sea : Thou didst prevent me; I had peopled else be subject
This isle with Calibans. To no sight but thine and mine ; invisible
[Exit ARIEL. Took pains to make thee speak, taught thee each Awake, dear heart, awake! thou hast slept well;
One thing or other: when thou didst not, savage. Mira. The strangeness of your story put Know thine own meaning, but would'st gabble like Heaviness in me.
A thing most brutish, I endow'd thy purposes Pro. Shake it off. Come on:
With words that made them known; but thy vile We'll visit Caliban, my slave, wbo never Yields us kind answer.
Though thou didst learn, had that in't which good Mira. 'Tis a villain, sir,
natures I do not love to look on.
Could not abide to be with : therefore wast thou
Deservedly confin'd into this rock,
Cal. You taught me language; and my profit on't That profit us. - What ho! slave! Caliban!
Is, I know how to curse. The red plague rid you. Thou earth, thou! speak.
For learning me your language ! Cal. [Within.] There's wood enough within.
Hag-seed, hence! Pro. Come forth, I say: there's other business Fetch us in fuel; and be quick, thou'rt best, for thee.
To answer other business. Shrug'st thou, malice! Come, thou tortoise! when ?
If thou neglect'st, or dost unwillingly
What I command, I'll rack thee with old
Fill all thy bones with aches; make thee roar, Fine apparition! My quaint Ariel,
That beasts shall tremble at thy din. Hark in thine ear.
No, pray thee! Ari.
My, lord it shall be done. (Exit. I must obey: his art is of such power, (Aside. Pro. Thou poisonous slave, got by the devil It would control my dam's god, Setebos, himself
And make a vassal of him. Upon thy wicked dam, come forth!
So, slave; hence!
[Erit CalibAN. Enter CALIBAN.
Re-enter ARIEL, invisible, playing and singing; Cal. As wicked dew, as e'er my mother brush'd
FERDINAND following him.
Come unto these yellow sands, Pro. For this, be sure, to-night thou shalt have
And then take hands : cramps,
Court'sied when you have, and kiss'd Side-stitches that shall pen thy breath up; urchins
The wild waves whist, Shall, for that vast of night that they may work,
Foot il feally here and there; All exercise on thee: thou shalt be pinch'd
And, sweet sprites, the burden bear.
The watch-dogs bark:
Ari. Hark, hark! I hear
With grief, that's beauty's canker, thou might'st The strain of strutting chanticlere
call him Cry, Cock-a-doodle-doo.
A goodly person. He hath lost his fellows,
And strays about to find 'em. Fer. Where should this music be? i' th' air, or Mira.
I might call him
A thing divine, for nothing natural
[Aside. Weeping again the king my father's wreck,
As my soul prompts it.—Spirit, fine spirit! I'll free This music crept by me upon the waters,
thee Allay ing both their fury, and my passion,
Within two days for this. With its sweet air: thence I have follow'd it,
Most sure, the goddess
May know if you remain upon this island,
And that you will some good instruction give,
How I may bear me here: my prime request, Full fathom five thy father lies ;
Which I do last pronounce, is, O you wonder! Of his bones are coral made ;
you be maid, or no ? Those are pearls that were his eyes:
No wonder, sir;
But, certainly a maid.
My language! heavens !Into something rich and strange,
I am the best of them that speak this speech,
Were I but where 'tis spoken.
How! the best?
What wert thou, if the king of Naples heard
thee? Fer. The ditty does remember my drown'd Fer. A single thing, as I am now, that wonders father.
To hear thee speak of Naples. He does hear me, This is no mortal business, nor no sound
And that he does I weep: myself am Naples ; That the earth owes.-I hear it now above me. Who with mine eyes, ne'er since at ebb, beheld
Pro. The fringed curtains of thine eye advance The king, my father, wreck'd. And say, what thou seest yond'.
Alack, for mercy! Mira.
What is't? a spirit ? Fer. Yes, faith, and all his lords; the duke of Lord, how it looks about! Believe me, sir,
Milan, It carries a brave form :—but 'tis a spirit.
And his brave son, being twain. Pro. No, wench: it eats and sleeps, and hath Pro.
The duke of Milan, such senses
And his more braver daughter, could control thee, As we have ; such. This gallant which thou If now 'twere fit to do't.—[Aside.]-At the first seest,
sight Was in the wreck; and but he's something stain'd | They have chang'd eyes :—delicate Ariel,