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I here abjure: and, when I have requir'd
[Solemn musick. Re-enter ARIEL: after him, Alonso, with a frantick ges
ture, attended by GONZALO; SEBASTIAN and AntoNio in like manner, attended by ADRIAN and FRANCISco: they all enter the circle, which PROSPERO had made, and there stand charmed; which PROSPERO observing,
distinctly appear. Had our author written_“ All this,” &c. in. stead of_“ But this,” &c. the conclusion of the address would have been more pertinent to its beginning. Steevens. 1 A solemn air, and the best comforter
To an unsettled fancy, cure thy brains, &c.] Prospero does not desire them to cure their brains. His expression is optative, not imperative ; and means—
5-May music cure thy brains! i. e. settle them. Mr. Malone reads:
“ To an unsettled fancy's cure! Thy brains,
“ Now useless, boil within thy scull:”— Steevens. The old copy reads–Fancy. For this emendation I am answerable. So, in King John: “ My widow's comfort,
ту sorrow's cure.” Again, in Romeo and Juliet:
Confusion's cure " Lives not in these confusions." Prospero begins by observing, that the air, which had been played, was admirably adapted to compose unsettled minds. He then addresses Gonzalo and the rest, who had just before gone into the circle: “ Thy brains, now useless, boil within thy skull,” &c. [the soothing strain not having yet begun to operate.) Afterwards, perceiving that the musick begins to have the effect intended, he adds, “ The charm dissolves apace.” Mr. Pope and the subsequent editors read—build. Malone.
-boil'd within thy skull!] So, in A Midsummer Night's Dream: “Lovers and madmen have such Seething brains," &c.
For you are spell-stopped.
Again, in The Winter's Tale: “ Would any but these boild brains of nineteen and two-and-twenty, hunt this weather?"
Malone. -fellowly drops.] I would read, fellow drops. The addi. tional syllable only injures the metre, without enforcing the sense. Fellowly, however, is an adjective used by Tusser. Steevens. the ignorant fumes -] i. e. the fumes of ignorance.
Heath. 5 Thou’rt pinch'd for't now, Sebastian.- Flesh and blood,] Thus the old copy: Theobald points the passage in a different manner, and perhaps rightly: “ Thou'rt pinch'd for't now, Sebastian, flesh and blood."
Steevens. - that entertain'd ambition,] Old copy-entertain. Corrected by the editor of the second folio. Malone.
-remorse and nature;] Remorse is by our author, and the contemporary writers, generally used for pity, or tenderness of heart. Nature is natural affection. Malone.
As I was sometime Milan:-quickly, spirit;
In a cowslip's bell I lie :8
8 In a cowslip's bell I lie:] So, in Drayton's Nymphidia;
“ At midnight, the appointed hour;
“ On Hipcut hill, that bloweth." The date of this poem not being ascertained, we know not whether our author was indebted to it, or was himself copied by Drayton. I believe, the latter was the imitator. Nymphidia was not written, I imagine, till after the English Don Quixote had appeared, in 1612. Malone.
- when owls do cry.] i. e. at night. As this passage is now printed, Ariel says that he reposes in a cowslip's bell, during the night. Perhaps, however, a full point ought to be placed, after the word couch, and a comma at the end of the line. If the passage should be thus regulated, Ariel will then take his de. parture by night, the proper season for the bat to set out upon the expedition. Malone.
1 After summer, merrily:] This is the reading of all the edi. tions. Yet Mr. Theobald has substituted sun-set, because Ariel talks of riding on the bat in this expedition. An idle fancy. That circumstance is given only to design the time of night, in which fairies travel. One would think the consideration of the circumstances should have set him right. Ariel was a spirit of great delicacy, bound by the charms of Prospero to a constant attendance on his occasions. So that he was confined to the island, winter and summer. But the roughness of winter is re. presented by Shakspeare, as disagreeable to fairies, and such like delicate spirits, who, on this account, constantly follow summer. Was not this, then, the most agreeable circumstance of Ariel's new-recovered liberty, that he could now avoid winter, and follow summer quite round the globe? But to put the matter quite out of question, let us consider the meaning of this line:
“ There I couch when owls do cry." Where? in the cowslip's bell, and where the bee sucks, he tells us : this must needs be in summer. When? when owls cry, and this is in winter:
“ When blood is nipp'd, and ways be foul,
The Song of Winter, in Love's Labour Lost.
Merrily, merrily, shall I live now,
The consequence is, that Ariel flies after summer. Yet the Oxford editor has adopted this judicious emendation of Mr. Theobald. Warburton.
Ariel does not appear to have been confined to the island summer and winter, as he was sometimes sent, on so long an errand as to the Bermoothes. When he says, On the bat's back I do fly, &c. he speaks of his present situation only; nor triumphs in the idea of his future liberty, till the last couplet:
Merrily, merrily,” &c. The bat is no bird of passage, and the expression is therefore probably used to signify, not that he pursues summer, but that, after summer is past, he rides upon the warm down of a bat's back, which suits not improperly with the delicacy of his airy being. After summer is a phrase in K. Henry VI. P. II. Act II. sc. iv.
Shakspeare, who, in his Midsummer Night's Dream, has placed the light of a glow-worm in its eyes, might, through the same ignorance of natural history, have supposed the bat to be a bird of passage. Owls cry not only in winter. It is well known that they are to the full as clamorous in summer; and as a proof of it, Titania, in A Midsummer Night's Dream, the time of which is supposed to be May, commands her fairies to
keep back “ The clamorous owl, that nightly hoots.” Steevens. Our author is seldom solicitous that every part of his imagery should correspond. I therefore think, that though the bat is “no bird of passage,” Shakspeare probably meant to express what Dr. Warburton supposes. A short account, however, of this winged animal may perhaps prove the best illustration of the passage before us :
“ The bat (says Dr. Goldsmith, in his entertaining and instructive Natural History,) makes its appearance in summer, and be. gins its flight, in the dusk of the evening. It appears only in the most pleasant evenings; at other times it continues in its retreat; the chink of a ruined building, or the hollow of a tree. Thus the little animal, even in summer, sleeps the greatest part of his time, never venturing out by day-light, nor in rainy weather. But its short life is still more abridged, by continuing in a torpid state, during the winter. At the approach of the cold season, the bat prepares for its state of lifeless inactivity, and seems rather to choose a place, where it may continue safe from interruption, than where it may be warmly and commodiously lodged.”
When Shakspeare had determined to send Ariel in pursuit of summer, wherever it could be found, as most congenial to such an airy being, is it then surprising that he should have made the bat, rather than “ the wind, his post-horse;" an animal thus delighting in that season, and reduced by winter to a state of lifeless-inactivity ? Malone.
Pro. Why, that's my dainty Ariel: I shall miss thee; But yet thou shalt have freedom: so, so, so.To the king's ship, invisible as thou art: There shalt thou find the mariners asleep Under the hatches: the master, and the boatswain, Being awake, enforce them to this place; And presently, I pr’ythee.
Ari. I drink the air3 before me, and return, Or e'er your pulse twice beat.
Behold, sir king,
Whe'r thou beest he, or no,
2 shall I live now,
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough.] This thought is not thrown out at random. It composed a part of the magical sys. tem of these days. In Tasso’s Godfrey of Bulloigne, by Fairfax, B. IV. st. 18:
“ The goblins, fairies, feends, and furies mad,
“ And under everie trembling leafe they sit.” The idea was probably first suggested, by the description of the venerable elm, which Virgil planted at the entrance of the infernal shades. Æn. VI. v. 282:
“ Ulmus opaca, ingens ; quam sedem somnio vulgo
Holt White. s I drink the air -) To drink the air—is an expression of swiftness of the same kind as to devour the way, in R. Henry IV.
Fohnson 4 Whe’r thou beest he, or no,] Whe'r for whether, is an abbrevi. ation frequently used both by Shakspeare and Jonson. So, in Julius Cesar:
“ See, whe'r their basest metal be not mov'd,” Again, in the Comedy of Errors: “ Good sir, whe'r you'll answer me, or not.” M. Mason.