Page images

all the feelings connected with them, like snatches of half-forgotten musick heard indistinctly and at intervals. There is this effect produced by Ariel's songs, which (as we are told) seem to sound in the air, and as if the person playing them were invisible. We shall give one instance out of many of this general power.

" Enter FERDINAND; and ARIEL, invisible, playing and singing.


Come unto these yellow sands,
And then take hands;
Curt’sied when you have, and kiss'd,
(The wild waves whist ;)
Foot it featly here and there ;
And sweet sprites the burden bear.

[Burden dispersedly.

Hark, hark ! bowgh wowgh: the watch dogs bark,

Bowg wowgh.
Ariel. Hark, hark! I hear

The strain of strutting chanticleer

Cry cock-a doodle doo.

Ferdinand. Where should this musick be? in air or earth?
It sounds no more: and sure it waits upon
Some god o'th' island. Sitting on a bank
Weeping against the king my fatber's wreck,
This musick crept by me upon the waters,
Allaying both their fury and my passion
With its sweet air; thence I have follow'd it,
Or it bath drawn me rather :-but 'tis gone.--
No, it begins again.

Full fathom five thy father lies,

Of his bones are coral made :
Those are pearls that were his eyes,

Nothing of him tliat doth fade,

But doth soffer a sea change,
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell-
Hark! now I hear them, ding dong bell.

(Burden ding-dong.

Ferdinand. The ditty does remember my drown'd father.
This is no mortal business, nor no sound
That the earth owns : I hear it now above me.”—

The courtship between Ferdinand and Miranda is one of the chief beauties of this play. It is the very purity of love. The pretended interference of Prospero with it heightens its interest, and is in character with the magician, whose sense of preternatural power makes him arbitrary, tetchy, and impatient of opposition.

The TEMPEST is a finer play than the Midsummer Night's Dream, which has sometimes been compared with it; but it is not so fine a poem. There are a greater number of beautiful passages in the latter. Two of the most striking in the TEMPEST are spoken by Prospero. The one is that admirable one when the vision which he has conjured up disappears, beginning “ 'The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,” &c. which has been so often quoted, that every schoolboy knows it by heart; the other is that which Prospero makes in abjuring his art.

" Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes, and groves,
And ye that on the sands with printless foot
Do chase the ebbing Neptune, and do fly him
When he comes back; you demi-puppets, that
By moonshine do the green sour rioglets make,

[ocr errors]

Whereof the ewe not bites; and you whose pastime
Is to make midnight mushrooms, that rejoice
To hear the solemn curfew, by whose aid
(Weak masters tho' ye be) I have bedimm'd
The noontide sun, callid forth the mutinous winds,
And 'twixt the green sea and the azur'd vault
Set roaring war; to the dread rattling thunder
Have I giv'o fire, and rifted Jove's stout oak
With his own holt; the strong bas'd promontory
Have I made shake, and by the spurs pluck'd up
The pine and cedar : graves at my command
Have wak'd their sleepers ; op'd, and let 'em forth
By ray so potent art. But this rough magick
I here abjure ; and when I have requir'd
Some heav'nly musiek, which ev'n now I do,
('To work mine end upon their senses that
This airy charm is for) I'll break my staff,
Bury it certain fadoms in the earth,
And deeper than did ever plummet sound,
I'll drown my book."...

We must not forget to mention, among other things in this play, that Shakspeare has anticipated nearly all the arguments on the Utopian schemes of modern philosophy.

Gonzalo. Had I the plantation of this isle, my lord-
Antonio. He'd sow't with nettle-seed.
Sebastian. Or docks or mallows.
Gonzalo. And were the king on't, what would I do?
Sebastian. 'Scape being drunk, for want of wine.

Gonzalo. ['th' commonwealth I would by contraries
Execute all things : for no kind of traffick
Would I admit; no name of magistrate;
Letters should not be known; wealth, poverty,
And use of service, none; contract, succession,
Bourn, bound of land, tilth, vineyard, none;
No use of metal, corn, or wine, or oil;
No occupation, all men idle, all,

And women too; but innocent and pure:
No sov'reignty.

Sebastian. And yet he would be king on't.
Antonio. The latter end of his commonwealth forgets the

Gonzalo. All things in common nature should produce
Without sweat or endeavour. Treason, felony,
Sword, pike, knife, gun, or need of any engine
Would I not have; but nature should bring forth,
Of its own kind, all foizon, all abundance
To feed my innocent people !

Sebastian. No marrying 'mong his subjects ?
Antonio. None, man; all idle; whores and knaves.

Gonzalo. I would with such perfection govern, sir,
T'excel the golden age.

Sebastian. Save his majesty !"




Bottom the Weaver is a character that has not had justice done him. He is the most romantick of mechanicks. And what a list of companions he has Quince the Carpenter, Snug the Joiner, Flute the Bellows-mender, Snout the Tinker, Starveling the Tailor; and then again, what a group of fairy attendants, Puck, Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth, and Mustardseed ! It has been observed that Shakspeare's characters are constructed upon deep physiological principles ; and there is something in this play which looks very like it. Bottom the Weaver, who takes the lead of

This crew of patches, rude mechanicals,
That work for bread upon Athenian stalls,"

follows a sedentary trade, and he is accordingly represented as conceited, serious, and fantastical. He is ready to undertake any thing and every thing, as if it was as much a matter of course as the motion of his loom and shuttle. He is for playing the tyrant, the lover, the lady, the lion. “He will roar that it

« PreviousContinue »