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AFTER a careful examination of the sources from which Shakspeare appears to have derived hints for the plot, characters, and incidents of the present drama, the predominating impression left on our minds is that of its originality. In this instance, as in almost all others, the more he borrows, the more does his entire power over his materials become apparent. The vulgar is metamorphosed into the refined; the crude outlines are filled up with well-establi. hed life; shadows are changed into substance, or substance into shadow; and the whole is put in motion, not like a new set of things, but with the crowded impetus of forgone existences, and all their complex activities.
A wild-headed, old “conceitede comedie,” called “MUCEDORUS,” has been thought by a pleasant critic of antiquarian literature (Octavius Gilchrist by name), to have furnished Shakspeare with the first idea of the plot and persons of the “ TEMPEST.” The passages he adduces in support of his opinion are amusing from their dissimilarity. The romantic monster in “Mu
CEDORUS” makes love to the heroine princess in so truly poetical and touching a strain, that she absolutely consents to live with him in the woods; but eventually receives the hand of her royal lover! Still, there may be some slight foundation for the critical fancy.
It should be observed, that certain kinds of harmless “monsters" were in high favor with the court at this period. We find in the old chronicles and black-letter correspondence, that Queen Elizabeth, during a hunting excursion, was occasionally met, “all unawares;” by some savage man issuing out of the woods, his naked body overgrown “with mosse and yvie.” Instead of flourishing his club so as to bring his rich prize to the ground, and carry her off to his cave, according to his nature and usual custom of an afternoon,” the savage man made her a profound bow, and instantly fell to reciting a well-conceited batch of complimentary verses, very pleasant to hear.
A far more feasible origin of the “ TEMPEST” than the old, and once very popular comedy of “MUCEDORUS," may be superstitiously traced to an account by one Sylvester Jourdan of the discovery of the Bermudas. In this te find a narrative of the shipwreck of Sir George Somers, who was on a voyage for the purpose of colonizing Virginia. He was cast on the Bermuda Islands, then uninhabited, and generally believed to be enchanted; althongh a benevolent commentator on Jourdon edifies and comforts his readers with the assurance that they were not really enchanted. Several mutinies occurred while Sir George Somers and his people remained on the island; and a sea-monster-man had once shewn himself to some of the party whose eyes were best suited to the raro discovery. Stowe, in his “Annals,” speaking of this shipwreck upon “the dreadful coast,” further remarks, that these islands “were, of all nations, said and supposed to be enchanted and inhabited with witches and devills, which grow by reason of accustomed monstrous thunder, storms, and tempests.” This account by old Stowe of the elemental growth and generation of the hags and imps and devils and abortions of the island, is fearfully fine. Caliban and Sycorax and Setebos, might well be imagined to have first glared into life through the long fermenting incantation of " accustomed monstrous thunder."
The narrative of the shipwreck of Sir George Somers was published in 1610: the romantic drama of the “ TEMPEST,” in 1611. It is supposed to have been the last of Shakspeare's productions. How beautiful the thought, that after his hard struggle with the common world, and the liccntious society into which he had been so much thrown, he should yet have preserved the freshness of heart, the youth of mind, the purity of affection, and the magnanimity of soul, which pervade this “ enchanted” drama.
R. H. H
SCENE I. — On a Ship at Sea. A storm, with elements to silence, and work the peace of the thunder and lightniny.
present, we will not hand a rope more; use your
authority. If you cannot, give thanks you have Enter a Shipmaster and a Boatswain.
lived so long, and make yourself ready in your Master. Boatswain,
cabin for the mischance of the hour, if it so hap. Boats. Here, master : what cheer?
Cheerly, good hearts. -Out of our way, I say. Master. Good : Speak to the mariners: fall
[Erit. to't yarely, or we run ourselves aground; bestir, Gon. I have great comfort from this fellow : bestir.
[Exit. methinks he hath no drowning mark upon him ;
his complexion is perfect gallows. Stand fast, Enter Mariners.
good fate, to his hanging! make the rope of his Boats. Heigh, my hearts; cheerly, cheerly, my destiny our cable, for our own doth little advanhearts; yare, yare : Take in the topsail; 'Tend to tage! If he be not born to be hanged, our case the master's whistle. Blow till thou burst thy is miserable.
[Exeunt. wind, if room enough!
Re-enter Boatswain. Enter ALONSO, SEBASTIAN, ANTONIO, FERDI
Boats. Down with the topmast; yare; lower, NAND, GONZALO, and others.
lower ; bring her to try with main-course. [A cry Alon. Good Boatswain, have care. Where's within.] A plague upon this howling! They are the master ? Play the men.
louder than the weather, or our office. Boats. I pray now, keep below. Ant. Where is the master, Boatswain ?
Re-enter SEBASTIAN, ANTONIO, and GONZALO Boats. Do you not hear him? You mar our labor; keep your cabins : you do assist the storm. Yet again ? what do you here? Shall we give Gon. Nay, good, be patient.
o'er, and drown? Have you a mind to sink? Boats. When the sea is. Hence! What care Seb. A pox o' your throat ! you bawling, blasthese roarers for the name of king ? To cabin : phemous, incharitable dog ! silence : trouble us not.
then. Gon. Good; yet remember whom thou hast Hang, cur, hang ! you whoreson, insolent aboard.
noise-maker, we are less afraid to be drowned than Boats. None that I more love than myself. thou art. You are a counselor; if you can command these Gon. I'll warrant him from drowning; though
the ship were no stronger than a nut-shell, and as Against my very heart! Poor souls ! they perleaky as an unstanched wench.
ished, Boats. Lay her a-hold, a-hold: set her two Had I been any god of power, I would courses ; off to sea again, lay her off.
Have sunk the sea within the earth, or ere
It should the good ship so have swallowed, and Enter Mariners, wet.
The freighting souls within her. Mar. All lost! to prayers, to prayers! all lost ! Pro. Be collected;
[E.ceunt. No more amazement: tell your piteous heart, Boats. What, must our mouths be cold? There's no harm done. Gon. The king and prince at prayers ! let us Mira. O, woe the day! assist them,
No harm. For our case is as theirs.
I have done nothing but in care of thee, Seb. I am out of patience.
(Of thee, my dear one! thee, my daughter !) who Ant. We are merely cheated of our lives by Art ignorant of what thou art, nought knowing drunkards.
Of whence I am; nor that I am more better This wide-chapped rascal ; - 'Would, thou mightst | Than Prospero, master of a full poor cell, lic drowning,
And thy no greater father. The washing of ten tides !
Mira. More to know
Did never meddle with my thoughts.
I should inform thee further. Lend thy hand, [A confused noise within.] - Mercy on us! we And pluck my magic garment from me.- So; split, we split ! — Farewell, my wife and children !
[Lays down his mantle. Farewell, brother ! — We split, we split, we Lie there, my art, — Wipe thou thine eyes; have split !
comfort. Ant. Let 's all sink with the king. [Exit. The direful spectacle of the wreck, which touched Seb. Let's take leave of him.
[Exit. The very virtue of compassion in thee, Gon. Now would I give a thousand furlongs of I have with such provision in mine art sea for an acre of barren ground; long heath, So safely ordered, that there is no soul brown furze, any thing: The wills above be done! No, not so much perdition as an hair, but I would fain die a dry death. [Exit. Betid to any creature in the vessel
Which thou heard'st cry, which thou saw'st siuk.
Sit down ;
For thou must now know further. SCENE II. — The Island; before the Cell of Mira. You have often PROSPERO.
Begun to tell me what I am ; but stopped,
And left me to a bootless inquisition;
Concluding, “Stay, not yet."-
орс Put the wild waters in this roar, allay them : Obey, and be attentive. Canst thou remember The sky, it seems, would pour down stinking A time before we came unto this cell ? pitch,
I do not think thou canst; for then thou wast not But that the sea, mounting to the welkin's cheek, Out three years old. Dashes the fire out. O, I have suffered
Mira. Certainly, sir, I can. With those that I saw suffer! a brave vessel, Pro. By what? by any other house, or person? Who had no doubt some noble creatures in her, Or any thing the image tell me, that Dashed all to pieces. O, the cry did knock Hath kept with thy remembrance.
- like one,
Pro. Being once perfected how to grant suits,
them, how is it,
Or else new formed them : having both the key That this lives in thy mind? What seest thou of officer and office, set all hearts i' th' state else
To-what tune pleased his ear; and now he was In the dark backward and abysm of time? The ivy which had hid my princely trunk, If thou remember'st aught, ere thou cam’st here, And sucked my verdure out on ’t.—Thou attend'st How thou cam'st here, thou mayst.
not. Mira. But that I do not.
Mira. O, good sir, I do. Pro. Twelve years since, Miranda, twelve years Pro. I pray thee, mark me. since,
I thus neglecting worldly ends, all dedicate Thy father was the Duke of Milan, and
To closeness, and the bettering of my mind A prince of power.
With that, which, but by being so retired, Mira. Sir, are not you my father? O'erprized all popular rate, in my false brother
Pro. Thy mother was a piece of virtue, and Awaked an evil nature: and my trust, She said — thou wast my daughter; and thy Like a good parent, did beget of him father
A falsehood, in its contrary as great Was Duke of Milan; and his only heir
As my trust was; which had, indeed, no limit, A princess; no worse issued.
A confidence sans bound. He being thus lorded, Mira. 0, the heavens!
Not only with what my revenue yielded,
Who, having, unto truth, by telling of it,
Made such a sinner of his memory, By foul play, as thou say’st, were we heaved To credit his own lie, — he did believe thence;
He was indeed the duke; out of the substitution, Bat blessedly holp hither.
And executing the outward face of royalty. Mira. O, my heart bleeds
With all prerogative :- Hence his ambition To think o' the teen that I have turned you to,
growing, Which is from my remembrance ! Please you, Dost thou hear ? further.
Mira. Your tale, sir, would cure deafness. Pro. My brother, and thy uncle, called Anto- Pro. To have no screen between this part he nio, –
played, I pray thee, mark
that a brother should And him he played it for, he needs will be Be so perfidious ! — he whom, next thyself, Absolute Milan : Me, poor man ! — my library Of all the world I loved, and to him put
Was dukedom large enough : of temporal royalties The manage of my state; as, at that time, He thinks me now incapable : confederates Through all the signiories it was the first, (So dry he was for sway) with the King of Naples, And Prospero the prime duke; being so reputed To give him annual tribute, do him homage; In dignity, and, for the liberal arts,
Subject his coronet to the crown, and bend Without a parallel : those being all my study, The dukedom, yet unbowed, (alas, poor Milan !) The government I cast upon my brother,
To most ignoble stooping. And to my state grew stranger, being transported, Mira. 0, the heavens ! And rapt in secret studies. Thy false uncle - Pro. Mark his condition, and the event; then Dost thou attend me? Mira. Sir, most heedfully.
If this might be a brother.