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“In the Epilogue, which was written perhaps by Shakespeare, perhaps by someone acquainted with his thoughts, Prospero in his character of a man, no longer a. potent enchanter, petitions the spectators of the theatre for two things, pardon and freedom. It would be straining matters to discover in this Epilogue profound significances. And yet in its playfulness it curiously falls in with the moral purport of the whole. Prospero, the pardoner, implores pardon. Shakespeare was aware—whether such be the significance (aside-for the writer's mind) of this Epilogue or not--that no life is ever lived which does not need to receive as well as to render forgiveness” (Dowden).
Many critics have doubted whether this Epilogue is by Shakespeare, chiefly because of what Grant White calls “the miserable and eminently un-Shakespearian rhythm”. This critic especially falls foul of the sense-pauses in the middle of the line, e.g. 3 and 13. But as already been said in discussing the Masque (cf. iv. I. 60, note), these run-on lines and unrhythmical pauses are just what we should expect from Shakespeare at this period, and are no argument against the authenticity of Epilogue.
10. An invitation to the audience to applaud. Noise was supposed to dissolve a spell.
16. prayer, probably suggested by the custom, prevalent at the time, of concluding the play by a prayer offered up for the sovereign. 18. Mercy itself, the merciful God.
frees, procures pardon from.
THE PREFACE AND PROLOGUE TO DRYDEN AND DAVENANT'S THE TEMPEST OR THE
ENCHANTED ISLAND 1
The writing of Prefaces to Plays, was probably invented by some very ambitious Poet, who never thought he had done enough: Perhaps by some Ape of the French Eloquence, which uses to make a business of a Letter of Gallantry, an examen of a Farce; and, in short, a great pomp and ostentation of words on every trifle. This is certainly the Talent of that Nation, and ought not to be invaded by any other.
They do that out of gaiety, which would be an imposition upon us.
We may satisfie our selves with surmounting them in the Scene, and safely leave them those trappings of writing, and flourishes of the Pen, with which they adorn the borders of their Plays, and which are indeed no more than good Landskips to a very indifferent Picture. I must proceed no farther in this Argument, lest I run my self beyond my excuse for writing this. Give me leave therefore to tell you, Reader, that I do it not to set a value on anything I have written in this Play, but out of gratitude to the memory of Sir William Davenant, who did me the honour to join me with him in the alteration of it.
It was originally Shakespear's: a Poet for whom he had particularly a high veneration, and whom he first taught me to admire. The Play it self had formerly been acted with success in the BlackFryers: and our Excellent Fletcher had so great a value for it, that he thought fit to make use of the same Design, not much varied, a second time. Those who have seen his Sea-Voyage, may easily discern that it was a Copy of Shakespear's Tempest: the Storm, the Desart Island, and the Woman who had never seen a Man, are all sufficient Testimonies of it. But Fletcher was not the only Poet who made use of Shakespear's Plot: Sir John Suikling, a profess'd admirer of our Author, has follow'd his footsteps in his Goblins; his Regmella being an open imitation of Shakespear's Miranda; and his Spirits, though counterseit, yet are copied from Ariel. But Sir
1 The play was produced November 7th, 1667. The Preface, dated December ist, 1669, was probably written for the earliest publication in 1670.
William Davenant, as he was a Man of quick and piercing imagination, soon found that somewhat might be added to the design of Shakespear, of which neither Fletcher nor Suckling had ever . thought: and therefore to put the last hand to it, he design’d the Counter part to Shakespear's Plot, namely, that of a Man who had never seen a Woman; that by this means those two Characters of Innocence and Love might the more illustrate and commend each other. This excellent Contrivance he was pleas'd to communicate to me, and to desire my assistance in it. I confess, that from the very first moment it so pleas’d me, that I never writ anything with more delight. I must likewise do him that justice to acknowledge, that my writing received daily his amendments, and that is the reason why it is not so faulty, as the rest which I have done, without the help or correction of so judicious a Friend. The Comical part of the Saylors were also of his invention and for the most part his writing, as you will easily discover by the Style. In the time I writ with him, I had the opportunity to observe somewhat more nearly of him than I had formerly done, when I had only a bare acquaintance with him: I found him then of so quick a fancy, that nothing was propos’d to him on which he could not suddenly produce a thought extremely pleasant and surprising: and those first thoughts of his, contrary to the old Latine Proverb, were not always the least happy. And as his fancy was quick, so likewise were the products of it remote and new. He borrowed not of any other; and his imaginations were such as could not easily enter into any other Man. His Corrections were sober and judicious: and he corrected his own writings much more severely than those of another Man, bestowing twice the time and labour in polishing, which he us’d in invention. It had perhaps been easie enough for me to have arrogated more to my self than was my due, in the writing of this Play, and to have pass’d by his name with silence in the Publication of it, with the same ingratitude which others have us'd to him, whose Writings he hath not only corrected, as he hath done this, but has had a greater inspection over them, and sometimes added whole Scenes together, which may as easily be distinguish'd from the rest, as true Gold from counterfeit by the weight. But besides the unworthiness of the Action which deterred me from it (there being nothing so base as to rob the dead of his reputation) I am satisfi'd I could never have receiv'd so much honour, in being thought the Author of any Poem, how excellent soever, as I shall from the joining my imperfections with the Merit and Name of Shakespear and Sir William Davenant.
As when a Tree's cut down, the secret Root
Shakespear, who (taught by none) did first impart
MRS. F. A. KEMBLE'S ALLEGORICAL INTERPRETA
TION OF THE TEMPEST
Many critics of The Tempest have endeavoured to interpret it allegorically: Thus Lowell indentifies Prospero with the Imagination, Ariel with the Fancy, Caliban with the brute understanding, Miranda with Abstract Womanhood, and Ferdinand with Youth. Emile Montégut and Dowden (the former in all seriousness, the latter in a playful exercise of fancy) have traced in the play an allegory of the poet's dramatic career (See the Revue des Deux Mondes, 1865, and Dowden's Shakspere, His Mind and Art, pp. 425-427). Less well known is Mrs. F. A. Kemble's interpretation, contained in a MS. note in a copy of Hanmer's edition, and printed by Furness.
“ The Tempest is my favourite of Shakespeare's dramas. Chiefly I delight in this play, because of the image it presents to my mind of the glorious supremacy of the righteous human soul over all things by which it is surrounded. Prospero is to me the representative of wise and virtuous manhood in its true relation to the combined elements of existence, the physical powers of the external world, and the varieties of character with which it comes into voluntary, accidental, or enforced contact. --Of the wonderful chain of being, of which Caliban is the densest and Ariel the most ethereal extreme, Prospero is the middle link. He—the wise and good man- is the ruling power, to whom the whole series is subject. First, and lowest in the scale, comes the gross and uncouth but powerful savage, who represents both the more ponderous and unwieldy natural elements (as the earth and water), which the wise magician by his knowledge compels to his service; and the brutal and animal propensities of the nature of man which he, the type of its noblest development, holds in lordly subjugation.-- Next follow the drunken, ribald, foolish retainers of the king of Naples, whose ignorance, knavery, and stupidity represent the coarser attributes of those great, unenlightened masses which, in all communities, threaten authority by their conjunction with brute force and savage ferocity; and only under the wholesome restraint of a wise discipline can be gradually admonished into the salutary subserviency necessary for their civilization.--Ascending by degrees in the scale, the next group is that of the cunning, cruel, selfish, treacherous worldlings, Princes and Potentates, the peers, in outward circumstances of high birth and breeding, of the noble Prospero, whose villainous policy (not unaided by his own dereliction of his duties as a governor in the pursuit of his pleasure as a philosopher) triumphs over his fortune, and, through a devilishi ability and craft, for a time gets the better of truth and virtue in his person.— From these, who represent the baser intellectual, as the former do the baser sensual, properties of humanity, we approach by a most harmonious, moral transition, through the agency of the skilfully interposed figure of the kindly gentleman, Gonzalo, those charming types of youth and love,-Ferdinand and Miranda.—The fervent, chivalrous devotion of the youth, and the yielding simplicity and sweetness of the girl, are lovely represertations of those natural emotions of tender sentiments and passionate desire which, watched and guided and guarded by the affectionate solicitude and paternal prudence of Prospero, are pruned of their lavish luxuriance, and supported in their violent weakness by the wise will that teaches forbearance and self-control as the only price at which these exquisite flowers of existence may unfold their blossoms in prosperous beauty and bear their rightful harvest of happiness as well as pleasure.—Next in this wonderful gamut of being, governed by the sovereign soul of Prospero, come the shining