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It now remains to shew that Shakspeare, when he wrote THE TEMPEST, had in view the particular disaster of which so ample an account has been given. To fix as nearly as possible the exact time of his writing it, I have said that he knew that the Admiral-ship was safe ; and this appears by the following lines, which manifestly allude to that circumstance and several others attending the tempest that dispersed Somers's fleet, and finally wrecked the vessel he was in, in one of the Bermuda islands.

“ PROSPERO. Hast thou, spirit, “ Perform’d to point the tempest that I bade thee?

ARIEL. To every article. “ I boarded the KING'S SHIP; now on the beak, “ Now in the waist, the deck, in every cabin, " I flamed amazement.

Why, that's my spirit. “ But was not this NIGH SHORE ?

ARI. CLOSE BY, my master.
“ Pro. But ARE THEY, Ariel, SAFE?

ARI. NOT A HAIR PERISH'D; On their sustaining garments not a blemish, “ But fresher than before ; and, as thou bad'st me,

In troops I have dispers’d them 'bout the isle.

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66 PRO.

Of THE KING'S SHIP, “ The mariners, say, how thou hast dispos’d, " And all the rest o' the fleet ?

SAFELY IN HARBOUR IS THE KING'S SHIP; in the DEEP NOOK -,

THERE SHE'S HID; VOL. XV.

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66 ARI.

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“ The mariners all under hatches stow'd;
“ Whom with a charm, join'd to their suffer'd

labour,
I have left asleep: and for the rest o' the fleet,
Which I dispers’d, they all have met again,
And are upon the Mediterranean flote
Bound sadly home for Naples;
• SUPPOSING THAT THEY SAW THE KING'S SHIP

WRECK'D, " AND HIS GREAT PERSON PERISH."

It is obvious, that we have here a covert allusion to several circumstances minutely described in the papers quoted in the preceding pages; to the circumstance of the Admiral-ship being separated from the rest of Somers's fleet, and after a tremendous tempest, being jammed between two of the Bermuda rocks, and “fast lodged and lock'd Jourdan expresses it, “ for further budging * ;" to the disaster happening very near the shore, and not a single person having perished up; to the mariners having fallen asleep from excessive fatigue *; to the dispersion of the other ships ; to the greater part of them meeting again, as the Council of the Virginia Company have it, “in consort ;” and to all those who were thus dispersed and thus met again, being “bound sadly” for Virginia, supposing that the vessel which carried their Governour was lost, and that his «

great person had perished ||.” In various other passages in the second Act,-where the preservation of Alonzo and his companions is termed “miraculous ;” where Stephano asks,

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* See p. 406. + pp. 406 and 412. I p. 406. § p. 398. 11 p. 396.

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“ have we DEVILS here?"-where the same person makes a very free use of his bottle, and liberally imparts it to Caliban and Trinculo * ;--where it is said, “ though this island seem to be DESERT, UNINHABITABLE, and almost INACCESSIBLE, it must needs be of subtle, tender, and delicate TEMPERANCE;" that “ the air breathes most swEETLY, and that “ here is every thing ADVANTAGEOUS TO LIFE;" we find evident allusions to the extraordinary escape of Somers and his associates, and to Jourdan's and Gates's descriptions of Bermuda f; as, in the first scene of the play, the circumstance of the sailors and passengers taking leave of each other, and bidding farewell to their wives and children, was manifestly suggested by the earlier of those narratives .

* In the original, indeed, strong waters are drunk on shipboard by those who conceived that the ship was sinking; in the play, Stephano's liquor is sack, and it is drunk on the island after his escape. But Shakspeare, when he borrowed hints from others, often made such slight changes. Here, the change is easily accounted for: that pleasantry in which he delighted, could not with any propriety have been introduced among men, who supposed themselves at the point of death.

In like manner, in the original, the mariners fall asleep from excessive labour, and the hatches are shut down, during the storm ; but in the play, no mention is made of these circumstances in the first scene, where the ship is represented as sinking ; but after the storm has ceased, and Alonzo and several of his associates are safely landed, Ariel informs Prospero that the mariners are safely stowed.

+ Temperance, as Mr. Steevens has observed, is here used for temperature.

pp. 407, 412.
VOL. XV.

& p. 406.

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Having thus, I hope decisively, ascertained the date of this comedy, it is unnecessary to consider any other of the notes of time, which it may furnish. In this light the Masque, in the fourth Act, has been represented; having been supposed to refer to the consummation (in 1610) of the marriage of the young Earl of Essex with Lady Frances Howard *, to whom he had been betrothed in 1606 : but, not to insist on their cohabitation having taken place in the year 1609, as appears from the depositions in the suit for a divorce instituted by the Countess some years afterwards, this masque may be more justly as well as more obviously accounted for, by the prevailing fashion of the period when I have shewn it was written; a fashion which gave birth to a similar exhibition in the play of TIMON OF ATHENS, produced not long before. Equally inconclusive is the circumstance of the exhibition of the dead Indian, alluded to in the second Act, which, as I have already observed, proves nothing precisely; for it might have taken place at any time between 1605 and 1611.

Dryden, probably on the authority of Sir William D'Avenant, tells us, that The TEMPEST was a very popular and successful play ; which may well be believed, when it is considered, that, in addition to its own intrinsick excellence, it had also the adventitious merit of temporary allusion and reference to

* Observations on the TEMPEST, [by Mr. Holt] 8vo. 1749, p. 17. That writer, erroneously supposing this consummation to have taken place in 1610, seems here to ascribe this play to that year : afterwards (p. 67) he places it in 1614.

interesting circumstances, which had been the subject of discourse during an entire year preceding its representation; topicks so embellished by poesy, and so blended with fictions of the happiest kind, that a single disastrous event appears to have been converted by the magical hand of Shakspeare almost into a Fairy Tale.

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