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To swim, to dive into the fire, to ride
Hast thou, spirit,
article. I boarded the king's ship; now on the beak,” Now in the waist, 8 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,o more momentary And sight out-running were not: The fire and cracks Of sulphurous roaring, the most mighty Neptune Seem'd to besiege, and make his bold waves tremble,
“ And bring thee coral, making way
Through the rising waves,” &c. Henley. 4 On the curld clouds ;] So, in Timon-Crisp heaven. Steevens.
and all his quality.] i.e. all his confederates, all who are of the same profession. So, in Hamlet:
“Come give us a taste of your quality.” See notes on this passage, Act II. sc. ii. Steevens.
6 Perform'd to point — ] i. e. to the minutest article ; a literal translation of the French phrase-a point. So, in the Chances, by Beaumont and Fletcher :
“are you all fit ?
“ To point, sir.” Thus, in Chapman's version of the second book of Homer's Odyssey, we have
* Perform'd to full: Steevens. 7 — now on the beak,] The beak was a strong pointed body at the head of the ancient gallies; it is used here for the fore. castle, or the boltsprit. Johnson.
So in Philemon Holland's translation of the 2d chapter of the 32d book of Pliny's Natural History: our goodly, tall and proud ships, so well armed in the beake-head with yron pikes,” &c. Steevens.
8 Now in the waist,] The part between the quarter-deck and the forecastle. Johnson.
· precursors Oʻthe dreadful thunder-claps,] So, in King Lear:
“ 'Vant couriers of oak-cleaving thunderbolts.” Steevens.
Yea, his dread trident shake. 1
My brave spirit !
Not a soul
Why, that's my spirit !
Close by, my master.
Not a hair perish'd; On their sustaining* garments not a blemish,
1 Yea, his dread trident shake.] Lest the metre should appear defective, it is necessary to apprize the reader, that, in Warwick. shire and other midland counties, shake is still pronounced by the common people as if it was written shaake, a dissyllable.
Farmer. The word shake is so printed in Golding's version of the 9th book of Ovid's Metamorphoses, edit. 1575:
“ Hee quaak’t and shaak’t and looked pale,” &c. Steevens. 2 But felt a fever of the mad,] If it be 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. Steevens.
- and quit the vessel,] Quit is, I think, here used for quitted. So, in K. Lear:
'Twas he inform’d against him,
Might have the freer course.”
“ He ne'er lift up his hand, but conquered.” Malone. 4-sustaining ---) i. e. their garments that bore them up and supported them. Thus, in Chapman's translation of the eleventh Iliad: “Who fell, and crawled upon the earth with his sustaining
palmes.” Again, in K. Lear, Act IV. sc. iv.
“ In our sustaining corn." Again, in Hamlet :
Her clothes spread wide
But fresher than before: And, as thou bad'st me,
Of the king's ship,
Safely in harbour
Mr. M. Mason, however, observes that “the word sustaining, in this place, does not mean supporting, but enduring ; and by their sustaining garments, Ariel means their garments which bore, without being injured, the drenching of the sea.” Steevens.
5 From the still-vex'd Bermoothes,] Fletcher, in his Women 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 inchanted 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 water. Warburton.
The epithet, here applied to the Bermudas, will be best understood by those who have seen the chafing of the sea over the rugged rocks by which they are surrounded, and which render access to them so dangerous. It was in our poet's time the current opinion, that Bermudas was inhabited by monsters, and devils.---Setebos, the god of Caliban's dam, was an American devil, worshipped by the giants of Patagonia. Henley.
Again, in Decker's If this be not a good Play, the Devil is in it, 1612: “ Sir, if you have made me tell a lye, they'll send me on a voyage to the island of Hogs and Devils, the Bermudas. Steevens.
The opinion that Bermudas was haunted with evil spirits continued so late as the civil wars. In a little piece of Sir John Berkinghead's intitled, Two Genturies of Paul's Church-yard, una cum indice expurgatorio, &c. 12°, in page 62, under the title Cases of Conscience, is this:
“ 34. Whether Bermudas and the Parliament-house lie under one planet, seeing both are haunted with devils.” Percy.
Bermudas was, on this account, the cant name for some privileged place, in which the cheats and riotous bullies of Shakspeare's time assembled. So, in The Devil is an Ass, by Ben Jonson :
keeps he still your quarter “ In the Bermudas?
The mariners all under hatches stow'd;
Ariel, thy charge
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 thee what thou hast promis'd, Which is not yet perform’d me. Pro.
How now? moody? What is't thou can'st demand? Ari.
My liberty. Pro. Before the time be out ? no more. Ari.
I pray thee Remember I have done thee worthy service; Told thee no lies, made no mistakings, serv’d8
Again, in one of his Epistles :
“ Have their Bermudas, and their straights i' th’ Strand." Again, in The Devil is an Ass :
I gave my word
Steevens. 7. What is the time o' the day?] This passage needs not be disturbed, it being common to ask a question, which the next moment enables us to answer : he that thinks it faulty, may easily adjust it thus :
Pro. What is the time o' the day? Past the mid season?
Pro. The time 'twixt six and now —. Fohnson.
Ariel. Past the mid season, at least two glasses.
Without or grudge, or grumblings: thou didst promise To bate me a full
Dost thou forget
The repetition of a word will be found a frequent mistake, in the ancient editions. Ritson.
9 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 seri. ously, 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 voluntarily allowed them for the seduction of man. The art was held by all, though not equally criminal, yet unlawful, and therefore Casaubon, 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.-Of these trifles enough.