« ZurückWeiter »
composed in honour of a wedding, and Dr. Garnett argues that everything corresponds with the royal marriage of 1613. "The foreign prince come from beyond sea, the island princess who has never left her home, the wise father who brings about the auspicious consummation by his policy; all found their counterparts among the splendid company that watched the performance on that February night." Dr. Garnett further sees in the story of Prince Ferdinand an exquisitely skilful allusion to the sudden death of Prince Henry in November, 1612, during the progress of the marriage negotiations. "The recent calamity is not unrecognised; on the contrary, the supposed death of the drowned Prince is a most vital incident, kept continually in view. But by a consummate stroke of genius, the woe is taken from Prospero, the representative of James, and transferred to the house of his enemy. The lost prince is duly mourned, but not by his real father. James is reminded of his bereavement, but it is not obtruded on him. In the end the hitherto sonless Prospero gains a son, as the bereaved James is gaining one in the Palatine."
§8. Dr. Garnett's theory is suggestively worked out, and the date for which he contends is not impossible. But the metrical evidence is not in favour of The Tempest being two years later than The Winter's Tale, which was seen at the Globe Theatre on May 15, 1611, by Dr. Forman. The two plays seem rather to have been written almost at the same time, and the internal tests thus support Malone's Probable date, suggestion that The Tempest was inspired in part by Silvester Jourdan's narrative of the wreck of Sir George Somers' ship, The Sea-Venture, off the Bermudas. The wreck took place in July, 1609, and during the latter part of that year much anxiety was felt for the fate of the crew, as is proved by the issue of a pamphlet by the Council of Virginia to allay apprehension. After the safe return of the shipwrecked company to England, Jourdan, who was one of their number, published his account, dated 13th October, 1610. The parallel points between his tract and The Tempest are discussed in III. § 13, and they suggest the end of 1610 or the beginning of 1611 as the date of the play. But resem
blances still more striking exist between the piece and another account of the wreck by William Strachey. If Strachey's pamphlet, as there is ground for supposing, was not printed till 1612, this would favour Garnett's hypothesis of 1613 being the date. But the matter is too uncertain to outweigh the metrical tests, and to sum up, we may assert that The Tempest certainly belongs to Shakespeare's final period, that it probably dates from 1610-11, but that possibly it may be as late as 1612-13.
§9. The Tempest is the opening play in the Folio of 1623, and the text is of remarkable purity. It shares with The Two Gentlemen of Verona the distinction of being printed with more correctness than perhaps any other play in that volume. It is the shortest of Shakespeare's dramas except The Comedy of Errors, and contains 2064 lines. This exceptional brevity supports the view that it was originally composed for some Court entertainment. Some critics (e.g. Fleay and Grant-White) have conjectured that it has come down to us in a form abbreviated for this purpose; but it must be remembered that the play with its songs and dances, and elaborate masque in Act IV., would take longer in representation than the number of lines suggests.
§ 10. In spite of Ben Jonson's sarcasm, The Tempest was evidently from the first a popular play, and was imitated by succeeding dramatists, as Dryden testifies. "It had formerly been acted with success in the Black-Fryers: and our excellent Fletcher had so great a value for it, that he thought fit to make use of the same design, not much varied, a second time. Those who have seen his Sea Voyage may easily discern that it was a copy of Shakespeare's Tempest: the Storm, the Desart Island, and the Woman who had never seen a Man, are all sufficient testimonies of it. But Fletcher was not the only poet who made use of Shakespeare's plot: Sir John Suckling, a professed admirer of our author, has followed his footsteps in his Goblins, his Regmella being an open imita
tion of Shakespeare's Miranda; and his Spirits, though counterfeit, yet are copied from Ariel." These words are taken from Dryden's preface1 to his own and Dryden and Davenant's version of the play, The Enchanted Davenant's Island, produced at the Duke of York's Theatre in 1667, and published in 1670. The original suggestion of this version came, as Dryden acknowledges, from Davenant; the added scenes, as the German essayist Grimm has shown, are translated from a drama by the Spanish writer, Calderon.
In this Restoration version the play is robbed of more than half its poetry; and of all its moral elevation and exquisite purity of tone. Yet it would be unfair to deny that The Enchanted Island is a very deft piece of craftsmanship, and, measured by the artistic and moral standard of its day, must be pronounced a success. The somewhat tedious plot of Sebastian and Antonio against Alonso is omitted, as also the conspiracy of Caliban and his allies against Prospero. Instead we have an amusing political burlesque. Stephano elects himself Duke, with Mustacho the mate, and Ventoso, a mariner, as Vice-Roys, but Trincalo (sic) sets up an opposition régime, supported by Caliban and his sister Sycorax, whom he makes his bride. The desire to share Trincalo's butt of wine makes Stephano's party submit to the rival rule, but after a joint-potation discord breaks out again. All this is excellent fooling, which would be specially appreciated by spectators who had passed through the troubled period of the Civil War and Commonwealth. But the figure of Caliban is shorn of the features that clothe it with a wild poetry and dignity, and Ariel is vulgarized by being represented in love with another spirit, Milcha.
In the main plot Miranda has associated with her a sister, Dorinda, while dwelling in another part of the cave is Hippolito, rightful heir to the dukedom of Mantua. Bequeathed in infancy to Prospero's care, he has shared his fortunes, and is kept thus secluded because his horoscope portends death should he see the face of woman. His 1 This preface is given in full in Appendix A.
chance encounter with Dorinda, and their love at first sight, followed by the similar passion between Miranda and the shipwrecked Ferdinand; the duel between the princes because Hippolito claims the right to love all women; the apparent death of Hippolito and his restoration by Ariel's balms; the attendant entanglements that ensue for a time— all this makes up a plot far-fetched and often disagreeably suggestive, but, unfolded in easy and fluent dialogue, very effective for stage purposes. The opportunities for spectacular effect, in which the original play had been so rich, were yet further multiplied in the revised version. The Masque of Iris, Ceres, and Juno is left out, but instead we have one of devils and personified sins, which appears to Alonso and his companions, and another of the Sea-Deities, which closes the play. The success of this Restoration version is clear from repeated entries in Pepys' diary. Thus on November 7, 1667, Pepys writes: "At noon resolved with Sir W. Pen to go to see The Tempest, an old play of Shakespeare's, acted I hear the first day. .. The house mighty full; the King and Court there; and the most innocent play that ever I saw. The play has no great wit, but yet good, above ordinary plays." A week later the diarist's verdict was more enthusiastic : 66 Saw The Tempest again, which is very pleasant, and full of so good variety that I cannot be more pleased almost in a comedy, only the seamen's part a little too tedious". And four more visits testify to Pepys' appreciation of the play, and to its hold on the Restoration public.
§11. In later days The Tempest's magnetic influence has inspired independent works which seek to develop certain of its aspects. The Virgin Queen, by F. G Virgin Queen, Waldron, 1797, is a melodramatic production narrating the additional dangers which Prospero and his relatives endure on the return journey to Milan, and from which they are only delivered when Ariel restores to Prospero his drowned book and buried staff.
On a very different plane is Ernest Renan's Caliban1, a
1 For a detailed analysis of Renan's Caliban, see Furness' Variorum edition of The Tempest, 383-386.
dramatized piece of political philosophy. The scene is laid
It is under a different aspect that Caliban is viewed in Browning's powerful poem, Caliban upon Setebos. The untutored intelligence of the savage (who, with his rudimentary sense of personality, speaks of himself in the third person) is groping among the mysteries of existence-the problem of pain, the apparently capricious government of the world, and the nature of the Being who is responsible for it. He conceives of Setebos, his dam's god, as a creature after his own likeness, cruel, cunning, and full of purposeless malignity, whose anger can be best evaded by a pretence of being miserable. Above Setebos he dimly imagines a higher power, Quiet, without joy or grief, and his hope is that Quiet may conquer Setebos, or that the latter may grow old and doze, which would be as good as if He were dead. But at this moment the bursting of a terrible storm warns him that his speculations have been overheard, and he grovels in an agony of fear.
A tree's head snaps-and there, there there, there there,
So! 'Lieth flat and loveth Setebos."
§ 12. Musicians also have found The Tempest a fertile source