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ALONSO, King of Naples.

SEBASTIAN, his brother.

PROSPERO, the right Duke of Milan.

ANTONIO, his brother, the usurping Duke of Milan.

FERDINAND, Son to the King of Naples.

GONZALO, an honest old Counsellor.

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The action occupies three or four hours of a single day, probably beginning about 2 P.M. (I. 2. 239, 240.)






THE TEMPEST, like most of Shakespeare's later plays, Early was first printed in the Folio edition of 1623, where History. it occupies the first place. It had then been, for Earliest at least ten years, one of his most popular and reputed pieces. It was among the eighteen plays (six at least of Earliest them by Shakespeare) chosen for performance during the wedding festivities of the Palsgrave and the Princess Elizabeth in February 1613.1 Beyond this fact we have no direct evidence of its date.2 But it Date of Composiis extremely probable that the title contains an allusion tion. to a tempest which wrecked Sir George Somers' ship, the 'Sea Venture,' in July 1609; and that various circumstances are drawn from the narratives afterwards published by Silvester Jourdain, one of the survivors, in October 1610, and by William Strachey, at a date which has not been precisely determined. The limits-October 1610 and February 1613-thus

1 Lord Treasurer Stanhope's Accounts (quoted in Century of Shakespeare's Praise, p. 103). The exact number of Shakespeare's plays given depends upon the identification of Hotspur' with Henry IV. and of 'Sir John Falstaff' with this or The Merry Wives. He probably had a share also in the


2 In the Induction to his Bartholomew Fair, 1614, Ben Jonson delivered a passing gibe at 'those that beget Tales, Tempests, and such like Drolleries,' and 'If there be never a Servant-master i' the Fayre who can help it?' But this adds nothing to our knowledge.

arrived at, are entirely confirmed by the internal evidence.

In style and metre The Tempest shares all the characteristics which place Pericles, The Winter's Tale, and Cymbeline very near the close of Shakespeare's work. The same proneness to metrical movements which cross the normal verse-rhythm or enrich it with double endings;1 the same abruptness of transition and elliptical brevity of phrase. Evident affinities of treatment, though less decisive, help to cement this connection: the separation and reunion of kin, the deliberate unreality of time and place, the bold implication of sea and storm in the web of the dramatic plot, the episodes of gracious idyll, the lofty humanity of the close. The one fragment of Shakespearean work clearly later in metrical character than The Tempest is his portion of Henry VIII. The Winter's Tale and Cymbeline cannot be later than 1611, when they were performed at the Globe most probably as new plays. to have been a new play in therefore unlikely to have been produced much before or much after the earlier date.

Henry VIII. is known 1613. The Tempest is

This is the chief ground of hesitation in regard to the only really plausible counter-suggestion which has ever been made.2 Dr. Garnett, taking up an idea already mooted by the older critics, but never before

1 The 'metrical tests' give The Tempest 35 per cent of double endings, 41 per cent of enjambements, 4.59 per cent of light or weak endings; the first is the highest proportion of all the plays, the second and third the highest but three.

2 It is impossible to qualify this assertion in favour of the

theory of Elze, who placed The Tempest in 1604, because Jonson in the prologue to Volpone (1605) referred to thefts from Montaigne (as if in allusion to Gonzalo's ' republic' in ii. 1). The earlier theory of Hunter, who identified The Tempest with the 'Love's Labour's Won' mentioned by Meres in 1598, is now quite out of count.

so effectively pushed home, holds that the recorded performance of The Tempest at the wedding festivities of the Princess Elizabeth was in reality the original one, that it was written expressly for the occasion, and that the circumstances of the marriage are allegorically figured in its plot. "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 of his policy; all found their counterparts among the splendid company that watched the performance on that February night.'1 The parallel so far is striking, but it cannot be pursued much further without the aid of a somewhat questionable ingenuity. When, for example, a delicate allusion to the recent death of Prince Henry, the brother of the bride, is discovered in the supposed death of Ferdinand, the bridegroom-'the woe being by a consummate stroke of genius taken from Prospero the representative of James, and transferred to the house of his enemy,'-we suspect the hand of the critical necromancer who can make anything of anything. It may well be asked, too, whether a plot 'which revolves about the forcible expulsion of a ruler from his dominions and his daughter's wooing by the son of the usurper's chief ally,' was 'one that a shrewd dramatist would have chosen as the setting of an official epithalamium in honour of the daughter of a monarch so sensitive about his title to the crown as James I.'2 And was the fanatical denouncer of 'those detestable slaves of the devil,-witches and enchanters' likely to appreciate the compliment of being 'represented' even by the most sublime magician in all literature?

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It is, nevertheless, highly probable that The Tempest was designed to celebrate a marriage. A wedding masque occupies, with its insubstantial pageantry, the place of a strict dramatic crisis; and the hints of tragic harms, instead of being carried almost to the point of tragedy, as in The Winter's Tale and Cymbeline, are, like Ferdinand's log-piling, little more than a transparent make-believe. The real tragedy of Prospero's expulsion is an event already in the remote past when the action begins, and, though its results remain, they are so carefully denuded of pathetic suggestion that the island appears a very 'paradise of exiles.'

Nothing is known of the immediate source from Incidents. which Shakespeare drew the story of The Tempest; but there is no doubt that it had already in substance been told. Among the waifs of historic tradition which drifted westward from the east of Europe was the story of Witold, a prince of Lithuania in the last quarter of the fourteenth century. Witold had resigned his government to a cousin Jagiello, who thereupon threw him into prison and handed over his capital, Wilna, to one Skirgiello. In 1388, however, Witold escaped with his daughter Sophia to Prussia, whence he carried on an indecisive struggle with Jagiello and Skirgiello for his inheritance. this struggle he was supported by the avant-guard of eastern Christendom, the Teutonic Order; and in particular by the contingent of English soldiers who followed Henry Bolingbroke on one of those Reisen into Prussia, which were already familiar enough in England to be known by their German name.1 Henry was thus brought into direct contact with

1 Chaucer's knight 'reised in Lettowe.' The formation of the verb implies an extraordi


nary vogue; cf. the modern French and German boycotter, boycotten.

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