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When the spirit play conjured up by Prospero has vanished, he says :
These our actors,
In Count Stirling's tragedy of Darius, published in London, 1604, the following verses occur :
'Let Greatness of her glassy scepters vaunt,
History could scarcely afford a more striking proof that in art the style is all, subject and meaning being of comparatively small importance. Stirling's verses are by no means bad, nor even poor, and their decidedly pleasing rhymes express, in very similar words, exactly the same idea we find in Shakespeare's lines, and were, moreover, their precursors. Nevertheless, both they and the name of their author would be utterly forgotten long since if Shakespeare had not, by a marvellous touch or two, transformed them into a few lines of blank verse which will hold their own in the memory of man as long as the English language lasts.
Shakespeare may have found the first suggestions of Caliban and Ariel in Greene's Friar Bacon. In the ninth scene of this play, two necromancers, Bungay and Vandermast, dispute as to which possess the greater power, the pyromantic (fire) spirits or the geomantic (earth) spirits. The fire spirits, says Bungay, are mere transparent shadows that float past us like heralds, while the spirits of earth are strong enough to burst rocks asunder. Vandermast maintains that earth spirits are dull, as befits their place of abode. They are coarse and earthly, less intelligent than other spirits, and thus it is they are at the service of jugglers, witches, and common sorcerers. But the fire spirits are mighty and swift, their power is far-reaching.
A more striking example of Shakespeare's taste and talent for adaptation is presented by Prospero's farewell speech to the elves (Act v. Sc. 1), “Ye elves of hills, brooks,' etc. Warburton was the first to draw attention to the fact that this speech, in which Shakespeare bids farewell to his art, and tells, through the medium of Prospero's marvellous eloquence, of all that he has accomplished, was founded upon the great incantation in Ovid's Metamorphoses (vii. 197-219), where, after the conquest of the golden fleece, Medea, at Jason's request, invokes the spirits of night to obtain the prolongation of his old father's life. A comparison of the text plainly proves Shakespeare's indebtedness to Golding's translation of the Latin work :
"Ye Ayres and Windes : ye Elues of Hilles, of Brooks, of Woods By charnies I make the calme seas rough, and make the rough
alone, Of standing Lakes, and of the Night approche ye everyone Through helpe of whom (the crooked bankes much wondring at
the thing) I haue compelled streames to run cleane backward to their
seas playne, And cover all the Skie with clouds and chase them thence
againe. By charmes I raise and lay the windes and burst the Viper's
iaw, And from the bowels of the earth both stones and trees do draw. Whole woods and Forrests I remoouve : I make the Mountains
shake, And euen the earth it selfe to grone and fearefully to quake. I call up dead men from their graucs, and thee, O lightsome
Moone, I darken oft, though beaten brass abate thy perill soone. Our Sorcerie dinmes the Morning faire, and darkes the Sun
Among the earth-bred brothers you a mortall warre did set And brought asleepe the Dragon fell whose eyes were neuer
The corresponding lines in The Tempest run :
* Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes and groves,
by whose aid,
By my so potent art.'
e now seem to have exhausted the available literary sources of The Tempest, and we need only add that Dryden and Davenant, in their abominable adaptation of the play (published in London 1670), made free use of Calderon's 'En esta vida todo es vertad y todo es mentira,' and thus provided the Miranda, who has never seen a young man, with a counterpart in Hippolyto, who has never seen the face of woman.
Although, taken from the point of view of a play, The Tempest is lacking in dramatic interest, the entire work is so marvellously rich in poetry and so inspired by imagination, that it forms a whole little world in itself, and holds the reader captive by that power which sheer perfection possesses to enthrall.
If the ordinary being desires to obtain a salutary impression of his own insignificance and an ennobling one of the sublimity of true genius, he need only study this last of Shakespeare's masterpieces. In the majority of cases the result will be prostrate admiration.
It may be said that, in a manner, The Tempest was a continuation of his gloomy period; once again he treated of black ingratitude and cunning and violence practised upon a good man.
Prospero, Duke of Milan, absorbed in scientific study, and finding his real dukedom in his library, imprudently entrusted the direction of his little state to his brother Antonio. The latter, betraying his trust, won over to his side all the officers of state appointed by Prospero, entered into an alliance with the Duke's enemy, Alonso, King of Naples, and reduced the hitherto free state of Milan to a condition of vassalage. Then, with the assistance of Alonso and his brother Sebastian, Antonio attacked and dethroned Prospero. The Duke, with his little three-year-old daughter, was carried out some leagues to sea, placed in a rotten old hull, and abandoned. A Neapolitan noble, Gonzalo, compashis power.
sionately supplied them with provisions, clothes, and, above all, the precious books upon which Prospero's supernatural powers depended. The boat was driven ashore upon an island whose one inhabitant, the aboriginal Caliban, was reduced to subjection by means of the control exercised over the spirit world by the banished man. Here, then, Prospero dwelt in peace and solitude, devoting himself to the culture of his mind, the enjoyment of nature, and the careful education of his daughter Miranda, who received such a training as seldom falls to the lot of a princess.
Twelve years have passed, and Miranda is just fifteen when the play begins. Prospero is aware that his star has reached its zenith and that his old enemies are in
The King of Naples has married his daughter, Claribel, to the King of Tunis, and the wedding has been celebrated, oddly enough, at the home of the bridegroom ; but then it was probably the first time in history that a Christian King of Naples had bestowed his daughter upon a Mohammedan. Alonso, with all his train, including his brother and the
usurper of Milan, is on his homeward voyage when Prospero raises the storm which drives them on his island. After being sufficiently bewildered and humiliated, they are finally forgiven, and the King's son, purified by the trials through which he has passed, is, as Prospero has all along intended that he should be, united to Miranda.
It was evidently Shakespeare's intention in The Tempest to give a picture of mankind as he now saw it, and we are shown something quite new in him, a typical representation of the different phases of humanity.
Prospero is the master-mind, the man of the future, as shown by his control over the forces of Nature. He passes as a magician, and Shakespeare found his proto