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The next book on the subject was the Seaman's Dictionary, composed by Sir Henry Manwaring, and by himn presented to the Duke of Buckingham, the then Lord High Admiral. In his, Preface he says,
“ The use of this book is to instruct one whose quality, attendance, or the like, cannot permit him to gain the knowledge of terms, names, words, the parts, qualities, and manner of doing things with ships by long experience, without which hath not any one as yet arrived to the least judgement or knowledge of them. It being so, that very few gentlemen (though they be called seamen) do fully and wholly understand what belongs to their profession, having only some scrabbling terms and names belonging 10 some parts of a ship
whence it is that so many gentlemen go long voyages, and return in a manner as ignorant as when they went out.
“ To understand the art of navigation, is far easier learnt than to know the pratique of working ships ; in respect there are many helps for the first, by many books; but for the other, there was not so much as a means thought of till this to inform any one in it.”
I have quoted these authorities to show how difficult it was, at that time, to acquire any knowledge of seamanship. It is a curious circumstance, that Shakspeare should have been so fortunate in his instructor, and so correct in the application of his knowledge.
The succession of events is strictly observed in the natural progress of the distress described ; the expedients adopted are the most proper that could have been devised for a chance of safety : and it is neither to the want of skill of the seaman or the bad qualities of the ship, but solely to the power of Prospero, that the shipwreck is to be attributed.
The words of command are not only strictly proper, but are only such as point the object to be attained, and no superfluous ones of detail. Shakspeare's ship was too well manned to make it necessary to tell the seamen how they were to do it, as well as what they were to do.
He has shown a knowledge of the new improvements, as well as the doubtful points of seamanship; one of the latter he has introduced, under the only circumstance in which it was indispu-, table.
The events certainly follow too near one another for the strict time of representation : but perhaps, if the whole length of the play was divided by the time allowed by the critics, the portion allotted to this scene might not be too little for the whole. But he has taken care to mark intervals between the different operations by exits.
1st Position. Fall to't yarely, or we run
Land discovered under the ourselves aground.
lee; the wind blowing too fresh to hawl upon a wind with the topsail set.—Yare is an old sea term for briskly, in use at that time. This first command is therefore a notice to be ready to
execute any orders quickly. 2d Position.
2d Position. Yare yare, take in the top- The topsail is taken in.sail, blow till thou burst thy “Blow till thou hurst thy wind, wind, if room enough.
if room enough.” The danger in a good sea boat is only from being too near the land : this is introduced here to account for
the next order. 3d Position.
3d Position. Down with the top mast * The gale encreasing, the topYare, lower, lower, bring her to mast is struck, to take the weight try with the main course. from aloft, make the ship drive
less to leeward, and bear the mainsail under which the ship
is laid to. 4th Position.
4th Position. Lay her a hold, a hold : set The ship, having driven near her two courses, off to sea again, the shore, the mainsail is hawled lay her off.
up; the ship wore, and the two courses set on the other tack, to endeavour to clear the land that
way. 5th Position,
5th Position. We split, we split.
The ship not able to weather
a point, is driven on shore. * The striking the top masts was a new invention in Shakspeare's time, which he here very properly introduces. Sir Henry Manwaring says, “ It is not yet agreed amongst all seamen whether it is better for a ship to hull with her topmast up or down.” In the Postscript to the Dictionary, he afterwards gives his own opinion : If
you have sea room it is never good to strike the topmast." Shakspeare has placed his ship in the situation in which it was indisputably right to strike the topmast, when he had not sea room."
We have now finished the miscellaneous plays of Shakspeare, which I have printed in conformity with Mr. Malone's intention, according to the order in which he supposed them to be written. In compliance with the general opinion of those whom I have consulted on the subject, I have ventured to deviate from his plan in the arrangement of those dramas which are founded on English history. Dr. Johnson has observed in the preliminary notes to Henry IV. Part I. that most of them were designed by Shakspeare to be read in regular connection; and I have therefore thought it more for the reader's convenience, not to break the historical chain. Boswell.