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INTRODUCTION, AND NOTES EXPLANATORY AND CRITICAL.
FOR USE IN SCHOOLS AND CLASSES.
REV. HENRY N. HUDSON, LL.D.
PUBLISHED BY GINN & COMPANY.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1879, by
HENRY N. HUDSON, In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington,
J. S. CUSHING & Co., PRINTERS, BOSTON.
State of the Text.
HE TEMPEST is one of the plays that were never
printed till in the folio of 1623; where, for reasons unknown to us, it stands the first in the division of Ccmedies, and the first in the volume, though it was undoubtedly among the latest of the Poet's works.
The play is badly printed, considerably worse than most of the plays first printed in that polume ; though not so badly as All's Well that Ends Well, Timon of Athens, and Coriolanus. Besides many slighter errors, not very difficult of correction, it has a number of passages that are troublesome in the highest degree, and some that have hitherto baffled the most persevering and painstaking efforts to bring them into a satisfactory state ; insomuch that they should, perhaps, be left untouched, as hopelessly incurable. Still I suppose it would hardly do to give up the cause on the plea that the resources of corrective art have here been exhausted : so I have, though without any great confidence of success, ventured to try my hand on several of them, and, after many years of careful study, have done the best I could with them. The details of the matter are, I believe, fully presented in the Critical Notes, and therefore need not be further enlarged upon here. It will be seen that I have adopted several new
readings recently proposed by eminent contemporary Shakespearians; and in these, as I can hardly have any self-partiality to warp my judgment, so I feel more confident as to the result.
Date of the Writing. It has been ascertained beyond question that The Tempest was written at some time between the years 1603 and 1613. On the one hand, the leading features of Gonzalo's Commonwealth, as described in Act ii., Scene 1, were evidently taken from John Florio's translation of Montaigne, which was published in 1603. As the passage is curious in itself, and as it aptly illustrates the Poet's method of appropriating from others, I subjoin it together with the original:
Had I plantation of this isle, my lord,
In Montaigne's essay Of the Cannibals, as translated by Florio, we have the following: “Meseemeth that what in those nations we see by experience doth not only exceed all the pictures wherewith licentious Poesy hath proudly embellished the golden age, and all her quaint inventions to feign a happy condition of man, but also the conception and desire of Philosophy. It is a nation, would I answer Plato, that hath no kind of traffic, no knowledge of letters, no intelligence of numbers, no name of magistrate, nor of politic superiority; no use of service, of riches, or of poverty; no contracts, no successions, no dividences; no occupation, but idle ; no respect of kindred, but common; no apparel but natural; no manuring of lands; no use of wine, corn, or metal : the very words that import lying, falsehood, treason, dissimulation, covetousness, envy, detraction, and pardon, were never heard amongst them.”
Here the borrowing is too plain to be questioned; and this fixes the writing of The Tempest after 1603. On the other hand, Malone ascertained from some old records that the play was acted by the King's players “before Prince Charles, the Princess Elizabeth, and the Prince Palatine, in the beginning of 1613."
But the time of writing is to be gathered more nearly from another source. The play has several points clearly connecting with some of the then recent marvels of Transatlantic discovery: in fact, I suspect America may justly claim to have borne a considerable part in suggesting and shaping this delectable workmanship. In May, 1609, Sir George Somers, with a fleet of nine ships, headed by the SeaVenture, which was called the Admiral's Ship, sailed for Virginia. In mid-ocean they were struck by a terrible tempest, which scattered the whole fleet; seven of the ships, however, reached Virginia ; but the Sea-Venture was parted from the rest, driven out of her course, and finally wrecked