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eyes all the outward effects of these inward feelings; we do not know whence they come, but we recognize perfectly well what they seem to be true visions of which we can discern neither the flesh nor the bones, but the forms of which are distinct and familiar to us.

Thus, by the suppleness and lightness of their nature, these singular creatures conduce to a rapidity of action and a variety of movement, unexampled, perhaps, in any other of Shakspeare's dramas. None of his other plays are more amusing or more animated than this, and in none is a lively, and even waggish, gayety more naturally conjoined with serious interests, melancholy feelings, and touching affections. It is a fairy tale in all the force of the term, and in all the vivacity of the impressions which such a tale can impart.

The style of the “ Tempest" shares in this kind of magic. Figurative and aerial, bringing before the mind a host of images and impressions as vague and fugitive as those uncertain forms which are depicted in the clouds, it moves the imagination without riveting it, and maintains it in a state of undecided excitement, which renders it accessible to all the spells under which the enchanter desires to place it. It is a tradition in England, that the celebrated Lord Falkland,* Mr. Selden, and Lord Chief-justice Vaughan, regarded the style of the part of Caliban, in the

* The most virtuous, amiable, and erudite man in England, during the reign of Charles*I:, of whom Lord Clarendon has said that "if there were no other brand upon the Civil War than his single loss, it must be most infamous and execrable to all posterity.” After having boldly maintained the liberties of his country against Charles I. in Parliament, he joined the cause of that prince as soon as it became the cause of justice; and having been made a minister of Charles, he died at the battle of Newbury, in despair at the misfortunes which he foresaw; he was then thirty-three years

of age.


“ Tempest,” as quite peculiar to that personage, and as one of Shakspeare's own creations. Johnson is of a contrary opinion; but, supposing the tradition to be authentic, the authority of Johnson would not be sufficient to invalidate that of Lord Falkland, a man of eminently elegant mind, and who was remarkable, as it would appear, for a


, delicacy of tact, which, in criticism at least, was often wanting in the Doctor. Besides, Lord Falkland, who was almost a contemporary of Shakspeare, as he was born several years before the death of the poet, would be entitled to be believed in preference regarding shades of language which, a hundred and fifty years later, were naturally merged by Johnson under a general color of oldness. If, therefore, we had any right to decide between them, we should be rather disposed to adhere to the opinion of Lord Falkland, and even to apply to the whole work what he has said regarding the part of Caliban alone. At all events, we may remark, that the style of the “ Tempest” appears, more than any other of Shakspeare's works, to differ from that general type of expression of thought which is found and maintained more or less every where, in spite of the difference of idioms. We must probably ascribe this fact partly to the singularity of the position, and to the necessity for bringing into harmony so many different conditions, feelings, and interests, which, for a few hours, are involved in a common fate, and surrounded by the same supernatural atmosphere. In none of his other works, moreover, has Shakspeare been so sparing of plays upon words.

It would be somewhat difficult to determine with precision to what species of the marvelous that which Shaks. peare has employed in the “ Tempest” belongs. Ariel is a true sylph ; but the sprites which Prospero subjects to him, fairies, imps, and goblins, belong to the popular su


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perstitions of the North. Caliban is akin at once to the gnome and the demon; his brute existence is animated only by an infernal malice; and the “Oho! Oho!" with which he answers Prospero, when he charges him with having attempted to dishonor his daughter, was the exclamation, and probably the kind of chuckle, ascribed, in England, to the Devil, in the old Mysteries in which he played a part. Setebos, whom the monster invokes as the god, and perhaps as the husband, of his mother, was held to be the devil or god of the Patagonians, who represented him, it was said, with horns growing out of his head. We can not exactly picture to ourselves the manner in which this Caliban must have been formed, so as to account for his being so frequently taken for a fish; it appears that he was represented with his arms and legs covered with scales; but it seems to me that a fish's head, or something like it, would be necessary to impart any probability to the mistakes of which he is the object. But Shakspeare may very probably not have looked so closely into the matter, and may have troubled himself but little to obtain an exact idea of the form suited to his monster. He played with his subject, and allowed it to flow from his brilliant imagination clothed with all the poetic tints which it received while passing through his brain. The lightness of his labor is sufficiently observable from the various inadvertences which have escaped from him; as, for example, when he makes Ferdinand say that the Duke of Milan" and his brave son” have perished in the storm, although nothing whatever is said about this son in the remainder of the drama, and there is nothing to lead us to suppose that he is in existence upon the island, although Ariel, who assures Prospero that no one has perished, has only confined the crew under the hatches.


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The “ Tempest" is a drama tolerably regular as regards the unities, since the storm which swamps the vessel in the first scene occurs within view of the island, and the entire action does not ombrace an interval of more than three hours. Some commentators have thought that Shakspeare might have intended to reply, by this specimen of what he was able to do, to Ben Jonson's continual criticisms upon the irregularity of his works. Dr. Johnson is of an opposite opinion, and regards this circumstance as an effect of chance and the natural result of the subject; but there is one thing that might give us reason to believe that Shakspeare, at least, intended to avail himself of this advantage, and that is, the care with which the different personages, even including the boatswain, who has slept during the whole of the action, mark the time which has elapsed since the beginning of the play. More than this; when Ariel informs Prospero that they are drawing near the sixth hour, the hour in which his master had promised him that their labors should cease, Prospero replies:

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“I did say so, when first I raised the tempest.”

This remark would even seem to indicate an intention which the poet desired should be perceived.

It is not known from what sources Shakspeare derived the subject of the “Tempest;" but it appears sufficiently certain that he borrowed it from some Italian novel, which it has hitherto been impossible to discover.

Malone's chronology places the composition of the "Tempest” in the year 1612, which conjecture, however, agrees ill with another supposition equally probable. While reading the Masque performed before Ferdinand and Miranda, it is impossible not to be struck with the idea that the

Tempest” was first composed to be performed on the oc


casion of some marriage festival; and the lightness of the subject, as well as the brilliant carelessness which is remarkable in the composition, seem entirely to confirm this conjecture. Mr. Holt, one of the commentators upon Shaks- . peare, has supposed that the marriage upon which Shakspeare has poured so many blessings, through the mouths of Juno and Ceres, might very probably be that of the Earl of Essex, who married Lady Frances Howard in 1611, or rather terminated in that year his marriage, which had been contracted ever since 1606, but the consummation of which had been delayed by the travels of the earl, and probably by the youth of the contracting parties. This last circumstance appears even to be indicated with considerable clearness in the scene in which great stress is laid upon the continence which the young lovers have promised to observe until the complete accomplishment of all the necessary ceremonies. Would it not also be possible to suppose that this piece, though composed in 1611 for the nuptials of the Earl of Essex, was not performed in London until the following year?




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