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Prospero shows his great human wisdom | warded. He is the son of a witch, Sycorax, particularly in the manner with which he, as who, though long since dead, continues to the spiritual centre, knows how to conduct work even from the grave.
* * * * In his intercourse with friends and foes. First, Caliban there is a curious mixture of devil, with his daughter. Miranda is his highest, man, and beast, descending even to the fish his one, his all ; nevertheless there is visible species. He desires evil, not for the sake of a certain elevation, a solemnity, in his be- evil or from mere wickedness, but because it haviour towards her,-peculiarities which, is piquant, and because he feels himself even with the deepest love, the severely tried oppressed. He is convinced that gross inand aged man easily assumes. Indeed, much justice has been done him, and thus he does as the pure sense of his daughter must have not rightly feel that what he desires may be long cheered him, he deems it good to relate wicked. He knows perfectly well how to her now for the first time the history of powerful Prospero is, whose art may perhaps. his earlier sufferings, when he has mastery even subdue his maternal god Setebos, and over, and the power to punish, his adver- that he himself is unfortunately nothing but saries. That his narration should have the a slave. Nevertheless, he cannot cease to effect of sending Miranda to sleep (at least curse, and certainly with the gusto of a his repeated inquiries as to whether she virtuoso in this more than liberal art. Whatattends show that he fears it) has given ever he can find most base and disgusting he occasion to many explanations, into the worth surrounds almost artistically with the most or worthlessness of which we shall not here inharmonious murmuring and hissing words, inquire. Perhaps the following idea may and then wishes them to fall upon Prospero give some light :—The wonderful acts occa- and his lovely daughter. He knows very sionally like the music upon Jessica in the fifth well that all this will help him nothing, but act of The Merchant of Venice:' the ex- that at night he will have 'cramps,' and ternal miracles of Nature scarcely affect 'side-stitches,' and be 'pinched by urchins,' Miranda upon an island where Nature herself but still he continues to pour out new curses. has become a wonder, and the wonders be- He has acquired one fixed idea—that the come Nature. But for her, even on that island belonged to his mother, and, conaccount, there are only so many greater sequently, now to himself, the crown prince. wonders in the heart and life of man. She The greatest horrors are pleasant to him, for has certainly seen untamed wildness and he feels them only as jests which break the perverseness in Caliban ; but he appears to monotony of his slavery. He laments that her not as á man, but only as a foolish he had been prevented from completing a swearing monster, whom she does not fear, frightful sin,— would it had been done,' &c.; because he is the bond-slave of her powerful and the thought of a murder gives him a father, in whose quiet wisdom she continually real enjoyment, perhaps chiefly on account confides. But the checkered course of the of the noise and confusion that it would world, its wild passions, are to her wholly produce. strange; and the relation of such wonders “Recognising all this, yet our feelings might well affect her in the manner her towards him never rise to a thorough hatred. father fears."
We find him only laughably horrible, and as Caliban, who, in spite of his imperfect, a marvellous though at bottom a feeble brutish, and half-human nature, as the son monster highly interesting, for we foresee of a witch, is something marvellously ex- from the first that none of his threats will citing, and as pretender to the sovereignty be fulfilled. Caliban could scarcely at any of the island something ridiculously sublime, time have been made out more in detail, but has been considered by every one as an we are well enabled to seize upon the idea inimitable character of the most powerful of his inner physiognomy from the naked poetic fancy; and, the more the character is sketch of his external form. He is, with all investigated, the more is our attention re- his foolish rage and wickedness, not entirely
vulgar; and though he allows himself to be has once in his own gentle way led us to imposed upon, even by his miserable com- believe that Prospero, through his high art, rades, (perhaps only because they are men, is able to overrule Nature—and how wiland, if ugly, yet handsomer than himself,) lingly do we believe in these higher powers he everywhere shows more prudence, which of man!-how completely natural and, to a is ouly checked because he considers himself certain degree, what merely pleasant trifles, more powerful than he really is. Indeed, he are all the wonders which we see playing stands far higher than Trinculo and Ste- around us ! These higher powers, also, are not
confined to Prospero alone ; Ferdinand and "Opposed to him stands Ariel, by no Miranda have, without any enchanted wand means an ethereal, featureless angel, but as or any prolix instruction, full superiority a real airy and frolicsome spirit, agreeable over the wonders of Nature, and they allow and open, but also capricious, roguish, and, them to pass around them merely as a de with his other qualities, somewhat mis- lightful drama ; for the highest wonder is in chievous. He is thankful to Prospero for his their own breasts-love, the pure human, release from the most confined of all confined and even on that account holy, love. situations, but his gratitude is not a natural “Even the pure mind and the firm heart, virtue (we might almost add not an airy as they are shown in old Gonzalo, are armed virtue); therefore he must (like man) be with an almost similar power. With our sometimes reminded of his debt, and held in poet, a truly moral man is always amiable, check. Only the promise of his freedom in powerful, agreeable, and quietly wards off two days restores him again to his amiability, the snares laid for him. This old Gonzalo is and he then finds pleasure in executing the so entirely occupied with his duty, in which plans of his master with a delightful activity. alone he finds his pleasure, that he scarcely
“We noticed in passing the featureless notices the gnat-stings of wit with which angel,' and it requires no further indication his opponents persecute him; or, if he where to find such beings; for no one will observes, easily and firmly repels them. What deny that these immortal winged children wit indeed has he to fear, who, in a sinking (so charming in many old German pictures), ship, has power remaining to sustain himself with their somewhat dull immortal harps, and others with genuine humour ? Shakspere and, if possible, their still more dull and seems scarcely to recognise & powerless immortal anthems, cause a not less immortal virtue, and he depicts it only in cases of tediousness in the works of many poets. need ; so everything closes satisfactorily. Shakspere did not fall into this error, and it The pure poetry of nature and genius is in the highest degree attractive to observe inspires us; and when we hear Prospero the various and safe modes in which he recite his far too modest epilogue, after manages the marvellous. In the storm he laying down his enchanted wand, we have achieves bis object by the simplest means, no wish to turn our minds to any frivolous while, as has been already indicated, he thoughts, for the magic we have experienced represents Nature herself, and certainly was too charming and too mighty not to be justly, as the greatest miracle. When he enduring."
TROILUS AND CRESSIDA.
6 As it
The original quarto edition of 'Troilus and their height of pleasure) to be born in that sea Cressida,' printed in 1609, bears the following that brought forth Venus. Amongst all there title : The famous Historie of Troylus and is none more witty than this : and had I time I Cresseid. Excellently expressing the Begin- would comment upon it, though I know it needs ning of their Loues, with the Conceited
not (for so much as will make you think your Wooing of Pandarus Prince of Licia. Written
testern well bestowed), but for so much worth by Williara Shakespeare. London, Imprinted deserves such a labour, as well as the best
as even poor I know to be stuffed in it. It by G. Eld, for R. Bonian and H. Walley, and are to be sold at the Spred Eagle in Paules this, that when he is gone, and his comedies
comedy in Terence or Plautus. And believe Churchyeard, ouer against the great North
out of sale, you will scramble for them, and set Doore, 1609.' In the same year a second edition was put forth by the same publishers, warning, and at the peril of your pleasures’ loss
up a new English Inquisition. 'Take this for a in the title-page of which appears, and judgments, refuse not, nor like this the less was acted by the King's Majesty's Servants for not being sullied with the smoky breath of at the Globe.” No other edition of the play the multitude; but thank fortune for the scape was published until it appeared in the folio it hath made amongst you, since by the grand collection of 1623.
possessors' wills I believe you should have The first quarto edition of 1609 contains prayed for them rather than been prayed. And the following very extraordinary preface :- so I leave all such to be prayed for (for the states
of their wit's healths) that will not praise it. “A never writer to an ever reader.
Vale." “ Eternal reader, you have here a new play, In 1609, then, the reader is told, “ You have never staled with the stage, never clapper-clawed here a new play, never staled with the stage, with the palms of the vulgar, and yet passing
never clapper-clawed with the palms of the full of the palm comical ; for it is a birth of your vulgar;" and he is further exhorted—“refuse brain, that never undertook anything comical not, nor like this the less for not being sullied vainly; and were but the vain names of comedies with the smoky breath of the multitude." changed for the titles of commodities, or of The reader is also invited to spend a sixpence plays for pleas, you should see all those grand upon this play :- “ Had I time I would censors, that now style them such vanities, flock
comment upon it, though I know it needs to them for the main grace of their gravities; | not, for so much as will make you think your especially this author's comedies, that are so
testern well bestowed.” Never was one of framed to the life, that they serve for the most Shakspere's plays set forth during his life common commentaries of all the actions of our
with such commendation as here abounds. lives, showing such a dexterity and power of His Comedies “are so framed to the life, wit, that the most displeased with plays are
that they serve for the most common compleased with his comedies
. And all such dull mentaries of all the actions of our lives." and heavy-witted worldlings as were capable of the wit of a comedy, coming by re
The passage towards the conclusion is the
most remarkable :-" Thank Fortune for the port of them to his representations, have found that wit there that they never found in them
scape it hath made amongst you, since by selves, and have parted better witted than they
the grand possessors' wills I believe you came; feeling an edge of wit set upon them should have prayed for them rather than more than ever they dreamed they had brain to been prayed.” We have here, then, first, a grind it on. So much and such favoured salt most distinct assertion that, in 1609, "Troilus of wit is in his comedies, that they seem (for I and Cressida' was a new play, never staled
with the stage. This, one might think, | the name, it is sufficient to know that for would be decisive as to the chronology of this person, and not for the public, Shakspere this play ; but in the Stationers' books is wrote this wonderful comedy." The prothe following entry :-“Feb. 7, 1602. Mr. prietors of the Globe Theatre were clearly Roberts. The booke of Troilus and Cresseda, hostile to the publication of Shakspere's as yt is acted by my Lo. Chamberlen's men.” later plays; and, in fact, with the exception Malone assumes that the * Troilus and of‘Lear,' and ` Troilus and Cressida,' no play Cressida’ thus acted by the Lord Chamber- was published between 1603 and Shakspere's lain's men (the players at the Globe during death. Now, in the title-page of the original the reign of Elizabeth) was the same as that Lear,' published in 1608, there is the published in 1609. Yet there were other following minute particularity :-“As it was authors at work upon the subject besides played before the King's Majesty at WhiteShakspere. In Henslowe's manuscripts there hall upon St. Stephen's night in Christmas are several entries of monies lent, in 1599, holidays, by his Majesty's Servants playing to Dekker and Chettle, in earnest of a book usually at the Globe, on the Bank's side.” called "Troilus and Cressida.' This play, From this statement it appears to us highly thus bargained for by Henslowe, appears probable that, in the instances both of Lear' to have been subsequently called 'Aga- and “Troilus and Cressida,' the plays were memnon.' The probability is, that the rival performed, for the first time, before the King ; company at the Globe had, about the same that the copies so used were out of the period, brought out their own “Troilus and control of the players who represented these Cressida ;' and that this is the play referred dramas; and that some one, authorized or to in the entry by Roberts in 1602; for if not, printed each play from the copy used that entry had applied to the “Troilus and on these occasions. Let us look again at Cressida' of Shakspere, first published in the passage in the preface to "Troilus and 1609, how are we to account for the sub- Cressida' under this impression :-"Thank sequent entry in the same registers made Fortune for the scape it hath made amongst previously to the publication of that edition? you, since by the grand possessors' wills I Altogether the evidence of the date of the believe you should have prayed for them play, derived from the entry of 1602, appears rather than been prayed.” There is an to us worth very little.
obscurity in this passage. “I believe you And here arises the question, whether the should have prayed for them rather than expressions in the preface“ never staled with been prayed” is quite unintelligible, if "the the stage ”—“never clapper-clawed with the grand possessors” had been the proprietors palms of the vulgar,”—“not sullied with of the Globe Theatre. But suppose the grand the smoky breath of the multitude,” mean possessors to be, as Tieck has conjectured, that the play had not been acted at all, or some great personage, probably the King that it had not been acted on the public himself, for whom the play was expressly stage. There is a good deal of probability written, and a great deal of the obscurity of in the conjecture Tieck upon this subject: the preface vanishes. By the grand pos—“In the palace of some great personage, sessors’ wills you should have prayed for for whom it was probably expressly written, them (as subjects publicly pray for their it was first represented; according to my rulers) rather than been prayed (as you are belief for the King himself, who, weak as he by players who solicit your indulgence in was, contemptible as he sometimes showed prologues and epilogues). himself, and pedantic as his wisdom and short-sighted as his politics were, yet must “The original story," says Dryden, have had a certain fine sense of poetry, wit, written by one Lollius, a Lombard, in Latin and talent, beyond what his historians have verse, and translated by Chaucer into ascribed to bim. But whether the King, or English ; intended, I suppose, as a satire on some one else of whom we have not received the inconstancy of women. I find nothing
he says, —
of it among the ancients, not so much as the consideration of Chaucer's poem of “Troilus name Cressida once mentioned. Shakspeare and Creseide' without noticing the high (as I hinted), in the apprenticeship of his honour it has received in having been made writing, modelled it into that play which is the foundation of one of the plays of Shakenow called by the name of Troilus and spear. There seems to have been in this Cressida.?” Chaucer himself speaks of “Myne respect a sort of conspiracy in the commenAuctor Lollius ;” and in his address to the tators upon Shakespear against the glory of Muse, in the beginning of the second book, our old English bard. In what they have
written concerning this play, they make a “To every lover I me excuse
very slight mention of Chaucer; they have That of no sentiment I this endite,
not consulted his poem for the purpose of But out of Latin in my tongue it write." illustrating this admirable drama ; and they Without entering into the question who have agreed, as far as possible, to transfer to Lollius was, or believing more than that another author the honour of having supplied “Lollius, if a writer of that name existed at materials to the tragic artist. Dr. Jobnson all, was a somewhat somewhere," * we at says, 'Shakspeare has in his story followed, once receive the “Troilus and Creseide' of for the greater part, the old book of Caxton, Chaucer as the foundation of Shakspere's which was then very popular; but the chaplay. Of his perfect acquaintance with that racter of Thersites, of which it makes no poem there can be no doubt. Chaucer, of all mention, is a proof that this play was written English writers, was the one who would have after Chapman had published his version of the greatest charm for Shakspere. •The Homer.' Mr. Steevens asserts that “ShakRape of Lucrece’ is written precisely in the speare received the greatest part of his same versification as Chaucer's "Troilus and materials for the structure of this play from Creseide.' When Lorenzo, in 'The Merchant the Troye Boke of Lydgate.' And Mr. Malone of Venice,' exclaims,
repeatedly treats the ‘History of the De“In such a night,
struction of Troy, translated by Caxton,' as Troilus, methinks, mounted the Trojan walls, Shakspeare's authority' in the composition And sigh'd his soul toward the Grecian tents, of this drama.. . . The fact is, that Where Cressid lay that night," —
the play of Shakespear we are here conwe may be sure that Shakspere had in his sidering has for its main foundation the mind the following passages of Chaucer :- poem of Chaucer, and is indebted for many Upon the wallés fast eke would he walk,
accessory helps to the books mentioned by And on the Greekés host he would ysee,
the commentators. And to himself right thus he would ytalk:
“We are not, however, left to probability ‘Lo! yonder is mine owné lady free,
and conjecture as to the use made by ShakeOr ellés yonder there the tentés be,
spear of the poem of Chaucer. His other And thence cometh this air that is so sote, sources were Chapman's translation of Homer, That in my soul I feel it doth me bote.' the “Troye Boke' of Lydgate, and Caxton's
· History of the Destruction of Troy.' It is The day go'th fast, and after that came eve, well known that there is no trace of the And yet came not to Troilus Crescid :
particu'ar story of Troilus and Creseide' He looketh forth by hedge, by tree, by grove,
among the ancients. It occurs, indeed, in And far his head over the wall he laid.”
Lydgate and Caxton; but the name and Mr. Godwin has justly observed that the actions of Pandarus, a very essential perShaksperean commentators have done in
sonage in the tale as related by Shakespear justice to Chaucer in not more distinctly and Chaucer, are entirely wanting, except associating his poem with this remarkable
a single mention of him by Lydgate, and play S
that with an express reference to Chaucer as " It would be extremely unjust to quit the his authority. Shakespear has taken the * Coleridge's Literary Remains,' vol. ii.
story of Chaucer with all its imperfections