« AnteriorContinuar »
magic potency as to justify Ariel being sent thither to fetch some of it for the spell-devising Prospero. In a Disquisition on Shakespeare's Tempest, by the Rev. Joseph Hunter, it is maintained that the scene of the play was Lampedusa, an uninhabited island in the Mediterranean, believed by sailors to be enchanted, and lying not far out of a ship’s course passing from Tunis to Naples.' Douce also asserts that this Lampedusa will turn out to be the veritable island' of Prospero 'whenerer the Italian novel on which the play was founded shall be discovered.' For our own part, we cannot think that Shakespeare would have hazarded the interest of his play by permitting its incidents to be referred to any known locality. The island of Prospero should be merely conceived as having been somewhere in a circuitous route from Tunis to Naples, and as having never again been visited or seen after Prospero's wand was broken, and his book drowned in the unfathomable sea.
That some novel on which the play was founded’ may yet be discovered is possible enough ; for Shakespeare was ever more ready to dramatize existing stories than to devise plots for himself. Collins, the poet, appears to have read a romance that might have supplied the groundwork of The Tempest ; for he stated to Mr. T. Warton that the principal character in the story was a chemical necromancer who had a spirit like Ariel in his service; but Collins, who was then unsound in his mind, gave as the name of the romance, 'Aurelio and Isabella,' in which he has been shown to have been mistaken.
In the New Monthly Magazine,' for January 1841, is a paper by Mr. Thoms, on the • Early English and German Dramas,' in which is mentioned a play by Jacob Ayrer, a notary of Nuremberg, entitled Die schöne Sidea (the Beautiful Sidea), as bearing considerable resemblance to The Tempest, and as conjectured by Tieck to have been a translation of some old English play from which Shakespeare derived his plot. In the German drama, it is said, Prince Ludolph and Prince Leudegast supply the places of Prospero and Alonso. Ludolph is a magician, and has an only daughter, Sidea, and an attendant spirit, Runcifal. Ludolph having been vanquished by his rival, and with his daughter driven into a forest, summons his spirit, Runcifal, to learn from him their future destiny and prospects of revenge. Runcifal, who is, like Ariel, somewhat moody,' announces to Ludolph that the son of his enemy will shortly become his prisoner. We afterwards see Prince Leudegast, with his son Engelbrecht and the councillors, hunting in the same forest; when Engelbrecht and his companion, Famulus, having separated from their associates, are suddenly encountered by Ludolph and his daughter. He commands them to yield themselves prisoners : they refuse, and try to draw their swords, when Ludolph, with his wand, keeps their swords in their scabbards, paralyses Engelbrecht, and gives him over to Sidea as a slave, to carry logs for her. Towards the end of the play, Sidea, moved by pity for the labours of Engelbrecht, declares to him that she will be happy if he will be faithful and marry her- -an event which, in the end, is happily brought about, along with the reconciliation of their rival fathers.
Jacob Ayrer was the author of several dramas at the beginning of the seventeenth century, some of them obviously founded on English plays, and as Shakespeare does not appear to have been known in Germany till nearly the close of that century, it seems not improbable that some old play or fable suggested incidents to both Ayrer and Shakespeare.
REMARKS OF VARIOUS AUTHORS
• THERE is a sort of improbability with which we are shocked in dramatic representation, not less than in a narrative of real life. Consequently, there must be rules respecting it; and as rules are nothing but means to an end previously ascertained, we must first determine what the immediate end or object of the drama is. And here I find the two extremes of critical decision :—the French, which evidently presupposes that a perfect delusion is to be aimed at; and the exact opposite to it, brought forward by Dr. Johnson, who supposes the auditors throughout in the full reflective knowledge of the contrary. In evincing the impossibility of delusion, he makes no sufficient allowance for an intermediate state, which I have before distinguished by the term illusion, and have attempted to illustrate its quality and character by reference to our mental state when dreaming. In both cases we simply do not judge the imagery to be unreal; there is a negative reality, and no more. Whatever, therefore, tends to prevent the mind from placing itself, or being placed, gradually in that state in which the images have such negative reality for the auditor, destroys this illusion, and is dramatically improbable.
• The Tempest is a specimen of the purely romantic drama, in which the interest is not historical, or dependent upon fidelity of portraiture, or the natural connection of events; but is a birth of the imagination, and rests only on the coaptation and union of the elements granted to, or assumed by, the poet. It is a species of drama which owes no allegiance to time or space,