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VOLUME THE FOURTH.
TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA.
A MIDSUMMER-NIGHT'S DREAM.
Printed for J. Johnson, R. Baldwin, H. L. Gardner, W. J. and J. Richardson,
*TEMPEST.] The Tempeft and The Midfummer Night's Dream are the nobleft efforts of that fublime and amazing imagination peculiar to Shakspeare, which foars above the bounds of nature, without forfaking fenfe; or, more properly, carries nature along with him beyond her established limits. Fletcher feems particularly to have admired these two plays, and hath wrote two in imitation of them, The Sea Voyage and The Faithful Shepherdefs. But when he prefumes to break a lance with Shakspeare, and write in emulation of him, as he does in The Falfe One, which is the rival of Antony and Cleopatra, he is not fo fuccessful. After him, Sir John Suckling and Milton catched the brightest fire of their imagination from these two plays; which shines fantastically indeed in The Goblins, but much more nobly and ferenely in The Mask at Ludlow Castle.
No one has hitherto been lucky enough to discover the romance on which Shakspeare may be fuppofed to have founded this play, the beauties of which could not fecure it from the criticism of Ben Jonson, whofe malignity appears to have been more than equal to his wit. In the introduction to Bartholomew Fair, he fays: "If there be never a fervant monster in the fair, who can help it, he fays, nor a neft of antiques? He is loth to make nature afraid in his plays, like thofe that beget Tales, Tempefts, and fuch like drolleries." STEEVENS.
I was informed by the late Mr. Collins of Chichester, that Shakspeare's Tempeft, for which no origin is yet affigned, was formed on a romance called Aurelio and Ifabella, printed in Italian, Spanish, French, and English, in 1588. But though this information has not proved true on examination, an useful conclufion may be drawn from it, that Shakspeare's story is fomewhere to be found in an Italian novel, at least that the story preceded Shakspeare. Mr. Collins had fearched this fubject with no lefs fidelity than judgement and induftry; but his memory failing in his laft calamitous indifpofition, he probably gave me the name of one novel for another. I remember he added a circumftance, which may lead to a discovery,-that the principal character of the romance, anfwering to Shakspeare's Profpero, was a chemical necromancer, who had bound a spirit like Ariel to obey his call, and perform his fervices. It was a common pretence of dealers in the occult fciences to have a demon at command. At least Aurelio, or Orelio, was probably one of the names of this romance, the production and multiplicity of gold being the grand object of alchemy. Taken at large, the magical part of the Tempeft is founded on that fort of philofophy which was practifed by John Dee and his affociates, and