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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 voluntary 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 bėgs for liberty; and Caliban observes, that the spirits serve Prospero with no good will, but hate him rootedly.--Of these trifles enough. JOHNSON
379. in Argier.] Argier is the ancient English name for Algiers. See a pamphlet entitled, “ A true Relation of the Travailes, &c. of William Davies, barber-surgeon,” &c. 1614. In this is a chapter “ on the description, &c. of Argier." STEEVENS.
425. -10 a nymph o' the sea :] There does not appear to be sufficient cause why Ariel should assume this new shape, as he was to be invisible to all eyes but those of Prospero.
STEEVENS. --To, which is not in the first and authentick copy of this play, was unnecessarily introduced by the editor
of the second folio. The lines should, I think, be re. gulated thus :
Go make thyself like a nymph o' the sea :
MALONE. 431. The strangeness -] Why should a wonderful story produce sleep? I believe experience will prove, that any violent agitation of the mind easily subsides in slumber, especially when, as in Prospero's relation, the last images are pleasing. JOHNSON.
The poet seems to have been apprehensive that the audience, as well as Miranda, would sleep over this long but necessary tale, and therefore strives to break it. First, by making Prospero divest himself of his magick robe and wand; then by waking her attention no less than six times by verbal interruption; then by varying the action when he rises and bids her continue sitting: and lastly, by carrying on the business of the fable while Miranda sleeps, by which she is continued on the stage till the poet has occasion for her again.
WARNER. 451. Cal. As wicked dew, as e'er my
mother brush'd With raven's feather
from unwholesome fen, Drop on you both! --] Shakspere hath very artificially given the air of the antique to the language of Caliban, in order to heighten the grotesque of his character. As here he uses wicked for unwholesome. So Sir John Maundevil, in his travels, P. 337. edit. Lond. 1625. at alle tymes brennethe a
vesselle of Crystalle fulle of bawme for to zeven gode smelle and odour to the emperour, and to voyden away all WYCKEDE eyers and corrupciouns. It was a tradition, it seems, that lord Falkland, lord C. J. Vaughan, and Mr. Selden, concurred in observing, that Shakspere had not only found out a new character in his Caliban, but had also devised and adapted a new manner of language for that character. What they meant by it, without doubt, was, that Shakspere gave his language a certain grotesque air of the savage and antique ; which it certainly has.
WARBURTON. Where these criticks derived the notion of a new language appropriated to Caliban, I cannot find : they certainly mistook brutality of sentiment for uncouthness of words. Caliban had learned to speak of Prospero and his daughter, he had no names for the sun and moon before their arrival, and could not have invented a language of his own without more understanding than Shakspere has thought it proper to bestow upon him. His diction is indeed somewhat clouded by the gloominess of his temper, and the malignity of his purposes; but let any other being entertain the same thoughts, and he will find them casily issue in the same expressions. JOHNSON.
As wicked dew,----] Wicked ; having baneful quali. ties. So Spenser says, wicked weed; so, in opposition, we say herbs or medicines have virtues. Bacon meno tions virtuous bezoar, and Dryden virtuous herbs.
So in the Booke of Haukyng, &c. bl. let. no date. “ If a wycked fellon be swollen in such manner that a man may hele it, the hauke shall not dye.”
STEEVENS 456. urchins] i.e. hedgehogs.
Urchins' are enumerated by Reginald Scott among other terrifick beings. “-to fold thyself up like an urchin,"
Chapman's May Day, 1611, Again, in Selimus Emperor of the Turks, 1638:
“ What, are the urchins crept out of their dens
6. Under the conduct of this porcupine !" 457 - for that vast of night that they may work, ] The vast of night-means the night which is naturally .empty and deserted, without action; or when all things, lying in sleep and silence, makes the world appear one great uninhabited waste. So in Hamlet:
“ In the dead waste and middle of the night." It has a meaning like that of nox vasta.
Perhaps, however, it may be used in a signification somewhat different; in Pericles Prince of Tyre, 1609:
“ Thou God of this great vast, rebuke the
Vastum is likewise the ancient law term for waste uncultivated land; and, with this meaning, vast is used by Chapman in his Shadow of Night, 1594:
“When unlightsome, vast and indigest
“ The formeless matter of this world did lye." It should be remembered, that, in the pneumatology of former ages, these particulars were settled Ciij
with the most minute exactness, and the different kinds of visionary beings had different allotments of time suitable to the variety or consequence of their employments. During these spaces, they were at liberty to act, but were always obliged to leave off at a certain hour, that they might not interfere in that portion of night which belonged to others. Among these we may suppose urchins to have had a part subjected to their dominion. To this limitation of time Shakspere alludes again in K, Lear : He begins at curfew, and walks till the second cock. Sreevens.
470. Cursed be 1, that I did so !--All the charms] The editor of the second folio, not perceiving that our author uses charms as a dissyllable, introduced an unnecessary supplemental word. The reading of the first and authentick copy-Cursed be I that did so, &c. ought certainly to be adhered to.
MALONE. 484. Abhorred slave;] The speech, which the old copy gives to Miranda, is very judiciously bestowed by Mr. Theobald on Prospero.
JOHNSON. The modern editions take this speech from Miranda, and give it to Prospero ; though there is nothing in it but what she may speak with the greatest propriety ; especially as it accounts for her being enough in the way and
power of Caliban, to enable him to make the attempt complained of. The poet himself shews he intended Miranda should be his tutoress, when he makes Caliban say, I've seen thee in her, my mistress shewed me thee and thy dog, and thy bush ;" to