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To think thefe fpirits?
Spirits which by mine art
I have from their confines call'd to enact
My present fancies.
Let me live here ever;
So rare a wonder'd father, and a wife,
[Juno and Ceres whisper, and fend IRIS on employment.]
Sweet now, filence:
There's fomething else to do: hush, and be mute,
IRIS. You nymphs, call'd Naiads, of the wan-
With your fedg'd crowns and ever-harmless looks,
charm of found was added to that of vifible grandeur.
1 a wonder'd father,] i. e. a father able to perform or produce fuch wonders. STEEVENS.
3-wandring brooks,] The modern editors read-winding brooks. The old copy-windring. I fuppofe we should read-wandrig, it is here printed. STEEVENS.
4 Leave your crifp channels,] Crifp, i. e. curling, winding, Lat. crifpus. So Henry IV. Part I. A&. I. fc. iv. Hotspur fpeaking of
the river Severn:
"And hid his crifped head in the hollow bank."
Crifp, however, may allude to the little wave or curl (as it is commonly called) that the gentleft wind occafions on the furface of waters. STEEVENS.
Enter certain Nymphs.
You fun-burn'd ficklemen, of Auguft weary
Enter certain Reapers, properly habited; they join with the Nymphs in a graceful dance; towards the end whereof PROSPERO ftarts fuddenly, and speaks; after which, to a ftrange, hollow, and confufed noife, they heavily vanish.
PRO. [afide.] I had forgot that foul confpiracy Of the beaft Caliban and his confederates, Against my life; the minute of their plot Is almoft come.-[To the fpirits.] Well done;avoid; no more.
FER. This is moft ftrange: 4 your father's in fome paffion
That works him ftrongly.
Never till this day,
Saw I him touch'd with anger fo diftemper'd.
PRO. You do look, my fon, in a mov'd fort, As if you were difmay'd; be cheerful, fir: Our revels now are ended: thefe our actors, As I foretold you, were all fpirits, and Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the bafelefs fabrick of this vifion,'
4 This is moft Strange: 1 have introduced the word-moft, on account of the metre, which otherwife is defective.-In the firft line of Profpero's next fpeech there is likewife an omiffion, but I have not ventured to fupply it. STEEVENS
s And, like the bafeless fabrick of this vifion. &c.] The exact period at which this play was produced is unknown: it was not,
The cloud-capt towers, the gorgeous palaces,
however, publifhed before 1623. In the year 1603, the Tragedy of Darius, by Lord Sterline, made its appearance, and there I find the following paffage:
"Let greatnefs of her glaffy fcepters vaunt,
"Not fcepters, no, but reeds, foon bruis'd, foon broken;
"Thofe ftately courts, thofe fky-encount'ring walls,
Lord Sterline's play muft have been written before the death of queen Elizabeth, (which happen'd on the 24th of March 1603) as it is dedicated to James VI. King of Scots.
Whoever fhould feek for this paffage (as here quoted from the 4to, 1603) in the folio edition, 1637, will be difappointed as Lord Sterline made confiderable changes in all his plays, after their first publication. STEEVens.
6 —all which it inherit,] i. e. all who poffefs, who dwell upon it. So, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona:
"This, or else nothing, will inherit her."
7 And like this infubftantial pageant faded,] Faded means herehaving vanished; from the Latin, vado. So, in Hamlet:
"It faded on the crowing of the cock."
To feel the juftice of this comparifon, and the propriety of the epithet, the nature of these exhibitions fhould be remembered. The ancient English pageants were fhows exhibited on the recep tion of a prince, or any other folemnity of a fimilar kind. They were prefented on occafional ftages erected in the streets. Originally they appear to have been nothing more than dumb fhows; but before the time of our author, they had been enlivened by the introduction of fpeaking perfonages, who were characteristically habited. The fpeeches were fometimes in veife; and as the pro ceffion moved forward, the speakers, who conftantly bore fome allufion to the ceremony, either converfed tegether in the form of a dialogue, or addreffed the noble perfon whofe prefence occafioned the celebrity. On these allegorical fpectacles very coftly ornaments were beftowed. See Fabian, II. 382. Warton's Hift. of Peet. II. 199. 202.
Leave not a rack behind: We are fuch stuff
The well-known lines before us may receive fome illuftration from Stowe's account of the pageants exhibited in the year 1604, (not very long before this play was written,) on King James, his Queen &c. paffing triumphantly from the Tower to Westminster; on which occafion feven Gates or Arches were erected in different places through which the proceffion paffed.--Over the first gate
was reprefented the true likeness of all the notable houles, "TOWERS and feeples, within the citie of London."-" The "fixt arche or gate of triumph was erected above the Conduit in "Fleete-Streete, whereon the GLOBE of the world was feen to "move, &c. At Temple-bar a feaventh arche or gate was ereded, the forefront whereof was proportioned in every refpe& like "a TEMPLE, being dedicated to Janus, &c.-The citie of Weftminfter, and dutchy of Lancaster, at the Strand had erected "the invention of a Rainbow the moone, funne, and ftarres, advanced between two Pyramides," &c. ANNALS, p. 1429.
edit. 1605. MALONE.
`8 Leave not a rack behind :] "The winds (fays lord Bacon) which move the clouds above, which we call the rack, and are not perceived below, pafs without noife." I fhould explain the word rack fomewhat differently, by calling it the last fleeting veftige of the highest clouds, Scarce perceptible on account of their diflance. and tenuity. What was anciently called the rack, is now termed by failors-the feud.
The word is common to many authors contemporary with Shakspeare. So, in the Faithful Shepherdefs, by Fletcher: fhall I ftray
"In the middle air, and ftay
"The failing rack."
Again, in David and Bethfabe, 1599:
"Beating the clouds into their fwifteft rack."
Again, in the prologue to the Three Ladies of London, 1584: "We lift not ride the rolling rack that dims the chrystal skies.” Again, in Shakspeare's 33d Sonnet:
"Anon permits the bafeft clouds to ride
"With ugly rack on his celeftial face."
Mr. Pennant in his Tour in Scotland obferves, there is a fifh called a rack-rider, because it appears in winter or bad weather; Rack, in the English of our author's days fignifying the driving of the clouds by tempefls.
Sir T. Hanmer inftead of rack, reads track, which may be countenanced by the following paffage in the first scene of Timon of Athens:
As dreams are made of, and our little life
Bear with my weaknefs; my old brain is troubled. Be not difturb'd with my infirmity:
If you be pleas'd, retire into my cell,
And there repofe; a turn or two I'll walk,
"But flies an eagle flight, bold, and forth on,
Rack is generally used for a body of clouds, or rather for the courfe of clouds in motion; fo, in Antony and Cleopatra:
"That which is now a horfe, even with a thought,
"The rack diflimus. "
But no inftance has yet been produced where it is fufed to fignify a fingle fmall fleeting cloud, in which fenfe only it can be figuratively applied here. I incline, therefore, to Sir Thomas Hanmer's
I am now inclined to think that rack is a mis-fpelling for wrack, i. e. wreck, which Fletcher likewife has used for a minute broken fragment. See his Wife for a Month, where we find the word mis-fpelt as it is in The Tempest :
"He will bulge fo fubtilly and fuddenly,
You may fnatch him up by parcels, like a fea-rack. "
It has been urged,, that obje&s which have only a vifionary and infubftantial exiftence, can, when the 'vifion is faded, leave nothing real, and confequently no wreck behind them." But the objection is founded on mifapprehenfion. The words
Leave not a rack (or wreck) behind, " relate not to the bafelefs fabrick of this vifion," but to the final deftruction of the world, of which the towers, temples, and palaces, fhall (like a vifion, or a pageant,) be diffolved, and leave no veftige behind. MALONE.
As dreams are made of, ) The old copy reads on. But this is a mere colloquial vitiation; of, among the vulgar, being ftill pronounced on. STEEVENS.
The ftanza which immediately precedes the lines quoted by Mr. Steevens from Lord Sterline's Darius, may ferve ftill further to confirm the conje&ure that one of these poets imitated the other. Our author was, I believe, the imitator.
"And when the eclipfe comes of our glory's light,
« Then what avails the adoring of a name ?
"A meer illufion made to mock the fight,
Whófe beft was but the fhadow of a dream. " MALONE.