« PreviousContinue »
Or it hath drawn me rather:—but 'tis gone, —t
Of his bones are coral made:
Nothing of him that doth fade,
Ferdinand. The ditty does remember my drown'd father. This is no mortal business, nor no sound That the earth owns: I hear it now above me."—
The courtship between Ferdinand and Miranda is one of the chief beauties of this play. It is the very purity of love. The pretended interference of Prospero with it heightens its interest, and is in character with the magician, whose sense of preternatural power makes him arbitrary, tetchy, and impatient of opposition.
The Tempest is a finer play than the Midsummer Night's Dream, which has sometimes been compared with it; but it is not so fine a poem. There are a greater number of beautiful passages in the latter. Two of the most striking in the Tempest are spoken by Prospero. The one is that admirable one when the vision which he has conjured up disappears, beginning " The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces," &c. which has been so often quoted, that every school-boy knows it by heart; the other is that which Prospero makes in abjuring his art.
"Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes, and groves, And ye that on the sands with printless foot Do chase the ebbing Neptune, and do fly him When he comes back; you demi-puppets, that By moon-shine do the green sour ringlets make, Whereof the ewe not bites; and you whose pastime Is to make midnight mushrooms, that rejoice To hear the solemn curfew, by whose aid (Weak masters tho' ye be) I have be-dimm'd The noon-tide sun, call'd forth the mutinous winds, And 'twixt the green sea and the azur'd vault Set roaring war; to the dread rattling thunder Have I giv'n fire, and rifted Jove's stout oak With his own bolt; the strong-bas'd promontory Have I made shake, and by the spurs pluck'd up The pine and cedar: graves at my command Have wak'd their sleepers; op'd, and let 'em forth By my so potent art. But this rough magic I here abjure; and when I have requir'd Some heav'nly music, which ev'n now I do, (To work mine end upon their senses that This airy charm is for) I'll break my staff, Bury it certain fathoms in the earth, And deeper than did ever plummet sound, I'll drown my book."—
We must not forget to mention among other things in this play, that Shakespear has anticipated nearly all the arguments on the Utopian schemes of modern philosophy.
"Gonzalo. Had I the plantation of this isle, my lord—
Antonio. He'd sow't with nettle-seed.
Sebastian. Or docks or mallows.
Gonzalo. And were the king on't, what would I do?
Sebastian. 'Scape being drunk, for want of wine.
Gonzalo. I' th' commonwealth I would by contraries Execute all things: for no kind of traffic Would I admit; no name of magistrate; Letters should not be known; wealth, poverty, And use of service, none; contract, succession, Bourn, bound of land, tilth, vineyard, none; No use of metal, corn, or wine, or oil; No occupation, all men idle, all, And women too; but innocent and pure: No sov'reignty.
Sebastian. And yet he would be king on't.
Antonio. The latter end of his commonwealth forgets the beginning.
Gonzalo. All things in common nature should produce Without sweat or endeavour. Treason, felony, Sword, pike, knife, gun, or need of any engine Would I not have; but nature should bring forth, Of its own kind, all foizon, all abundance To feed my innocent people!
Sebastian. No marrying 'mong his subjects?
Antonio. None, man; all idle; whores and knaves. Gonzalo. I would with such perfection govern, sir, T' excel the golden age.
Sebastian. Save his majesty!"
MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM.
Bottom the Weaver is a character that has not had justice done him. He is the most romantic of mechanics. And what a list of companions he has—Quince the Carpenter, Snug the Joiner, Flute the Bellows-mender, Snout the Tinker, Starveling the Tailor; and then again, what a group of fairy attendants, Puck, Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth, and Mustardseed! It has been observed that Shakespear's characters are constructed upon deep physiological principles; and there is something in this play which looks very like it. Bottom the Weaver, who takes the lead of
"This crew of patches, rude mechanicals,
follows a sedentary trade, and he is accordingly represented as conceited, serious, and fantastical. He is ready to undertake any thing and every thing, as if it was as much a matter of course as the motion of his loom and shuttle. He is for playing the tyrant, the lover, the lady, the lion. "He will roar that it shall do any man's heart good to hear him;" and this being objected to as improper, he still has a resource in his good opinion of himself, and "will roar you an 'twere any nightingale." Snug the Joiner is the moral man of the piece, who proceeds by measurement and discretion in all things. You see him with his rule and compasses in his hand. "Have you the lion's part written? Pray you, if it be, give it me, for I am slow of study."—" You may do it extempore," says Quince, "for it is nothing but roaring." Starveling the Tailor keeps the peace, and objects to the lion and the drawn sword. "I believe we must leave the killing out when all's done." Starveling, however, does not start the objections himself, but seconds them when made by others, as if he had not spirit to express his fears without encouragement. It is too much to suppose all this intentional: but it very luckily falls out so. Nature includes all that is implied in the most subtle analytical distinctions; and the same distinctions will be found in Shakespear. Bottom, who is not