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THE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE,
CONTAINING ALL HIS COMEDIES, HISTORIES AND
TO THEIR FIRST ORIGINAL.
THE NAMES OF THE PRINCIPAL ACTORS
FIRST FOLIO OF THE SEVERAL COMEDIES, HISTORIES, AND TRAGEDIES
The Life and Death of King | The First Part of King Henry
The Life and Death of Richard The Second Part of King Henry
The First Part of King Henry The Third Part of King Henry
The Second Part of King Henry The Life and Death of Richard
The Life of King Henry the The Life of King Henry the
The Tragedy of Coriolanus.
Romeo and Juliet.
Timon of Athens.
Othello, The Moor of Venice.
The Life and Death of Julius Anthony and Cleopatra.
Cymbeline, King of Britain
The Tragedy of Macbeth.
The First Edition. The Tempest first appeared in the Folio of 1623, where it occupies pp. 1-19; no reference has been found to any earlier edition.
The position of the play in the First Folio may perhaps be regarded as evidence of its contemporary popularity; or, it may have been merely due to a happy, if perhaps unconscious, intuition' on the part of the editors.
'It is a mimic, magic tempest which we are to see; a tempest raised by Art, to work moral ends with actual men and women, and then to sink into a calm. And in such a storm and calm we have the very idea of a Play or Drama, the fitting specimen and frontispiece of the whole volume of plays before us.' *
With the exception of The Comedy of Errors, The Tempest is the shortest of Shakespeare's plays; certain critics have held that the text was abridged for acting purposes; others refer its brevity to the unusual amount of stage-machinery introduced, or to the necessities of Court representation.
The Epilogue to the play, as in the case of 2 Henry IV. and Henry VIII., is evidently by some other hand than Shakespeare's.
Some scholars hold the same opinion concerning the Masque in Act IV. Shakespeare may well have introduced it in compliance with the fashion of the time; it is obviously intended to celebrate some contemporary marriage. One must bear in mind the fondness for this *Sir E. Strachey, Quarterly Review, July, 1890, p. 116.
species of poetical pageantry during the reign of James I. (cp. Ben Jonson's Masque).
Date of Composition. No positive evidence exists for the Date of Composition of The Tempest; the probabilities are in favour of 1610-12.
The superior limit may be fixed at 1603; the speech of Gonzalo, describing his ideal Commonwealth (II. i. 147, etc.), was certainly derived from a passage in Florio's translation of Montaigne's Essays,' first published in that year. * The passage in question occurs in Book I., Chapter xxx., ' Of the Caniballes' (cp. Temple Classics, Vol. i.).
The play obviously connects itself with current stories of colonisation and adventures of English seamen. There is probably direct allusion to the wreck of Sir George Somers' ship, the Sea Venture, in July, 1609; an interesting account, which Shakespeare seems to have read-one of at least five accounts-was published in the following year, written by Sylvester Jourdain, entitled 'A discovery of the Barmudas, otherwise called the Ile of Divels: by Sir Thomas Gates, Sir George Sommers, and Captayne Newport, and divers others' (cp. Prospero's command to Ariel 'to fetch dew from the still-vexed Bermoothes ').
Soon after, in 1612, a fuller account was published, written by William Strachey; this tract illustrates the play in so many striking details that a strong case may be made for Shakespeare's use of it.†
*The authenticity of Shakespeare's autograph in the British Museum copy of Florio's Montaigne is now doubted.
† Cp. The Rev. W. G. Gosling's valuable articles contributed to Literature, April 8, 15, June 3, 1899. If Shakespeare actually used the printed tract, the date of the play would be subsequent to 1612; I note that Strachey returned to England at the close of 1611 he wrote from his lodging in the Blacke Friars. There are possibilities that Shakespeare read the MS. The problem, resting on date of publication, is somewhat complicated.
Ben Jonson seems to allude to The Tempest in the Introduction to his 'Bartholomew Fair' (1612-14). If there be never a Servant-monster i' the Fayre, who can help it, he sayes; nor a nest of Antiques? Hee is loth to make nature afraid in his Playes, like those that beget Tales, Tempests, and such like Drolleries!'
The Tempest, among other plays, was acted at Court in the beginning of the year 1613, before Prince Charles, the Lady Elizabeth, and the Prince Palatine Elector, whence some scholars have inferred that it was specially composed for the marriage of the two latter royal personages, and have detected in Prospero a striking resemblance to King James.
Various futile attempts have been made to place The Tempest among Shakespeare's early plays, but, apart from the evidence adduced above, metrical tests and general considerations of style make an early date impossible.
The Sources. The Tempest was in all probability founded on some older play, but as yet its source has not been discovered.
An old German Comedy, called The Fair Sidea, by Jacob Ayrer, a notary of Nurnberg, who died in 1605, is perhaps a German version of Shakespeare's original; its plot bears a striking resemblance to that of The Tempest. Ayrer's productions were in many cases mere adaptations or translations of English plays brought to Germany at the beginning of the seventeenth century or previously by strolling players, The English Comedians,' as they called themselves (cp. Cohn's Shakespeare in Germany, Preface, and pp. 1-75).
The Discovery of the Barmudas' has been already alluded to above.
In Eden's History of Travayle, 1577 (p. 252, Arber's Reprint), Shakespeare probably found Setebos' (Act I. sc. 2, 1. 437); from the same work he possibly derived