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To swim, to dive into the fire, to ride

On the curl'd clouds;4 to thy strong bidding, task
Ariel, and all his quality."


Hast thou, spirit,

Perform'd to point the tempest that I bade thee?
Ari. To every article.


I boarded the king's ship; now on the beak,7
Now in the waist, the deck, in every cabin,
I flam'd amazement: Sometimes, I'd divide,
And burn in many places; on the top-mast,
The yards and bowsprit, would I flame distinctly,
Then meet, and join: Jove's lightnings, the precursors
O' the dreadful thunder-claps, more momentary
And sight out-running were not: The fire and cracks
Of sulphurous roaring, the most mighty Neptune
Seem'd to besiege, and make his bold waves tremble,


"And bring thee coral, making way

"Through the rising waves," &c. Henley.

4 On the curl'd clouds;] So, in Timon-Crisp heaven.



and all his quality.] i. e. all his confederates, all who are of the same profession. So, in Hamlet:

"Come give us a taste of your quality." See notes on this passage, Act II. sc. ii. Steevens.

6 Perform'd to point -] i. e. to the minutest article; a literal translation of the French phrase-a point. So, in the Chances, by Beaumont and Fletcher:

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Thus, in Chapman's version of the second book of Homer's Odyssey, we have

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every due Perform'd to full :

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7—now on the beak,] The beak was a strong pointed body at the head of the ancient gallies; it is used here for the forecastle, or the boltsprit. Johnson.

So in Philemon Holland's translation of the 2d chapter of the 32d book of Pliny's Natural History: -"our goodly, tall and proud ships, so well armed in the beake-head with yron pikes,” Steevens.


8 Now in the waist,] The part between the quarter-deck and the forecastle. Johnson.


- precursors

O'the dreadful thunder-claps,] So, in King Lear:

""Vant couriers of oak-cleaving thunderbolts." Steevens.

Yea, his dread trident shake.1


My brave spirit! Who was so firm, so constant, that this coil Would not infect his reason?


Not a soul

But felt a fever of the mad,2 and play'd

Some tricks of desperation: All, but mariners,
Plung'd in the foaming brine, and quit the vessel,3
Then all a-fire with me: The king's son, Ferdinand,
With hair up-staring (then like reeds, not hair,)
Was the first man that leap'd; cried, Hell is empty,
And all the devils are here.

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1 Yea, his dread trident shake.] Lest the metre should appear defective, it is necessary to apprize the reader, that, in Warwickshire and other midland counties, shake is still pronounced by the common people as if it was written shaake, a dissyllable.

Farmer. The word shake is so printed in Golding's version of the 9th book of Ovid's Metamorphoses, edit. 1575:

"Hee quaak't and shaak't and looked pale," &c. Steevens. 2 But felt a fever of the mad,] If it be at all necessary to explain the meaning, it is this: Not a soul but felt such a fever, as madmen feel, when the frantic fit is upon them. Steevens.

3 and quit the vessel,] Quit is, I think, here used for quitted. So, in K. Lear:

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'Twas he inform'd against him,

"And quit the house on purpose, that their punishment
cc Might have the freer course."

So, in King Henry VI. P. I. lift, for lifted:


"He ne'er lift up his hand, but conquered." Malone.

sustaining —] i. e. their garments that bore them up and supported them. Thus, in Chapman's translation of the eleventh Iliad:

"Who fell, and crawled upon the earth with his sustaining palmes."

Again, in K. Lear, Act IV. sc. iv.

"In our sustaining corn."

Again, in Hamlet:


Her clothes spread wide

"And, mermaid-like, a while they bore her up."

But fresher than before: And, as thou bad'st me,
In troops I have dispers'd them 'bout the isle :
The king's son have I landed by himself;
Whom I left cooling of the air with sighs,
In an odd angle of the isle, and sitting,
His arms in this sad knot.


Of the king's ship,

The mariners, say, how thou hast dispos'd,
And all the rest o' the fleet?

Safely in harbour
Is the king's ship; in the deep nook, where once
Thou call'dst me up at midnight to fetch dew
From the still-vex'd Bermoothes,5 there she's hid:

Mr. M. Mason, however, observes that "the word sustaining, in this place, does not mean supporting, but enduring; and by their sustaining garments, Ariel means their garments which bore, without being injured, the drenching of the sea." Steevens.

5 From the still-vex'd Bermoothes,] Fletcher, in his Women Pleased, says, "The devil should think of purchasing that egg-shell to victual out a witch for the Bermoothes." Smith, in his account of these islands, p. 172, says, "that the Bermudas were so fearful to the world, that many called them The Isle of Devils.-P. 174. -to all seamen no less terrible than an inchanted den of furies." And no wonder, for the clime was extremely subject to storms and hurricanes; and the islands were surrounded with scattered rocks lying shallowly hid under the surface of the water. Warburton.

The epithet, here applied to the Bermudas, will be best understood by those who have seen the chafing of the sea over the rugged rocks by which they are surrounded, and which render access to them so dangerous. It was in our poet's time the current opinion, that Bermudas was inhabited by monsters, and devils-Setebos, the god of Caliban's dam, was an American devil, worshipped by the giants of Patagonia. Henley.

Again, in Decker's If this be not a good Play, the Devil is in it, 1612: "Sir, if you have made me tell a lye, they'll send me on a voyage to the island of Hogs and Devils, the Bermudas. Steevens.

The opinion that Bermudas was haunted with evil spirits continued so late as the civil wars. In a little piece of Sir John Berkinghead's intitled, Two Centuries of Paul's Church-yard, una cum indice expurgatorio, &c. 12°, in page 62, under the title Cases of Conscience, is this:

"34. Whether Bermudas and the Parliament-house lie under one planet, seeing both are haunted with devils." Percy.

Bermudas was, on this account, the cant name for some privileged place, in which the cheats and riotous bullies of Shakspeare's time assembled. So, in The Devil is an Ass, by Ben Jonson: - keeps he still your quarter

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"In the Bermudas?

The mariners all under hatches stow'd;

Whom, with a charm, join'd to their suffer'd labour,

I have left asleep: and, for the rest o' the fleet,

Which I dispers'd, they all have met again;
And are upon the Mediterranean flote,6
Bound sadly home, for Naples ;

Supposing that they saw the king's ship wreck'd,
And his great person perish.


Ariel, thy charge

Past the mid season.

Exactly is perform'd; but there's more work:
What is the time o' the day?7


Pro. Atleast two glasses: The time 'twixt six and now, Must by us both be spent most preciously.

Ari. Is there more toil? Since thou dost give me pains, Let me remember thee what thou hast promis'd,

Which is not yet perform'd me.


What is't thou can'st demand?


How now moody?

My liberty.

I pray thee

Pro. Before the time be out? no more.
Remember I have done thee worthy service;
Told thee no lies, made no mistakings, serv'd3

Again, in one of his Epistles:

"Have their Bermudas, and their straights i' th' Strand.” Again, in The Devil is an Ass:


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I gave my word

"For one that's run away to the Bermudas."


the Mediterranean flote,] Flote is wave. Flot. Fr.


7 What is the time o' the day?] This passage needs not be disturbed, it being common to ask a question, which the next moment enables us to answer: he that thinks it faulty, may easily adjust it thus:

Pro. What is the time o' the day? Past the mid season ?

Ari. At least two glasses.

Pro. The time 'twixt six and now -.


Mr. Upton proposes to regulate this passage differently:
Ariel. Past the mid season, at least two glasses.

Pros. The time, &c. Malone.

8 Told thee no lies, made no mistakings, serv'd-] The old copy has

"Told thee no lies, made thee no mistakings, serv'd—”


Without or grudge, or grumblings: thou didst promise

To bate me a full year.

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It much, to tread the ooze of the salt deep;
To run upon the sharp wind of the north;
To do me business in the veins o' the earth,

The repetition of a word will be found a frequent mistake, in the ancient editions. Ritson.

9 Dost thou forget -] That the character and conduct of Prospero may be understood, something must be known of the system of enchantment, which supplied all the marvellous, found in the romances of the middle ages. This system seems to be founded on the opinion that the fallen spirits, having different degrees of guilt, had different habitations allotted them at their expulsion, some being confined in hell, some (as Hooker, who delivers the opinion of our poet's age, expresses it,) dispersed in air, some on earth, some in water, others in caves, dens, or minerals under the earth. Of these, some were more malignant and mischievous than others. The earthy spirits seem to have been thought the most depraved, and the aerial the least vitiated. Thus Prospero observes of Ariel:

Thou wast a spirit too delicate

To act her earthy and abhorr'd commands.

Over these spirits a power might be obtained by certain rites performed, or charms learned. This power was called The black Art, or Knowledge of Enchantment. The enchanter being (as king James observes in his Demonology) one who commands the devil, whereas the witch serves him. Those who thought best of this art, the existence of which was, I am afraid, believed very seriously, held, that certain sounds and characters had a physical power over spirits, and compelled their agency; others who condemned the practice, which in reality was surely never practised, were of opinion, with more reason, that the power of charms arose only from compact, and was no more than the spirits voluntarily allowed them for the seduction of man. The art was held by all, though not equally criminal, yet unlawful, and therefore Casaubon, speaking of one who had commerce with spirits, blames him, though he imagines him one of the best kind, who dealt with them by way of command. Thus Prospero repents of his art in the last scene. The spirits were always considered as in some measure enslaved to the enchanter, at least for a time, and as serving with unwillingness; therefore Ariel so often begs for liberty; and Caliban observes, that the spirits serve Prospero with no good will, but hate him rootedly.-Of these trifles enough.


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