« PreviousContinue »
To think these spirits?
Spirits which by mine art
Let me live here ever;
Sweet now, filence:
your crisp channels, and on this green land Answer your summons; Juno does command : Come, temperate nymphs and help to celebrate A contract of true love; be not too late.
charm of sound was added to that of visible grandeur.
- a wonder'd father,] i. e. a father able '10 perform or produce such wonders. STEEVENS.
3 – wandring brooks,] The modern editors readinding brooks. The old copy-windring. I suppose we should readwandrig, it is here printed. STEEVENS.
4 Leave your crisp channels;] Crisp, i. c. curling, winding, Lat. crispus. So Henry IV. Part I. A&. I. sc. iv. Hotspur speaking of the river Severn:
" And hid his crisped head in the hollow bank." Crisp, however, may allude to the little wave or curl (as it is commonly called) that the gentleft wind occasions on the surface of
Enter certain Nymphs. You fun-burn'd ficklemen, of August weary Come hither from the furrow and be merry; Make holy-day; your rye-straw bats put on, And these fresh nymphs encounter every one In country footing. Enter certain Reapers, properly habited; they join with
the Nymphs in a graceful dance ; towards the end whereof PROSPERO starts suddenly, and speaks; after which, to a strange, hollow, and confused noise, they heavily vanish.
Pro. (afidc.] I had forgot that foul conspiracy Of the beast Caliban and his confederates, Against my life; the minute of their plot Is almost come.-[To the spirits.} Well done;
avoid ;-10 inore. Fer. This is most strange:4 your father's in
fome paffion That works him strongly. MIRA.
Never till this day, Saw I him touch'd with ånger so distemper’d.
Pro. You do look, my fon, in a mov'd sort, As if you were dismay'd; be cheerful, fir: Our revels now are ended: thefe our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits, and Are melted into air, into tliin air: And like the baseless fabrick of this vision,
4 This is most strange :) I have introduced the wordmoft, on account of the metre, which otherwise is defe&ive.--In the first line of Prospero's next speech there is likewise an omiftion, but I have not ventured to supply it. STEEVENS
s And, like the baseless fabrick of this vifon. &c.] The exa& period at which this play was produced is unknown: it was not,
The cloud-capt towers, the gorgeous palaces,
however, published before 1623. In the year 1603, the Tragedy of Darius, by Lord Sterline, made its appearance, and there I find the following paflage:
" Let greatness of her glasfy fcepters vaunt,
6. Not scepters, no, but reeds, soon bruis'd, soon broken;
Those golden palaces, those gorgeous halls,
1. Evanish all like vapours in the air.” Lord Sterline's play must 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 should seek for this passage (as here quoted from the 4to, 1603) in the folio edition, 1637, will be disappointed as Lord Sierline made considerable changes in all his plays, after their first publication. Steevens.
6 --all which it inherit,] i. e. all who possess, who dwell upon it. So, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona :
This, or else nothing, will inherit her." MALONE. 1 And like this infubftaniial pageant faced,] Faded means herco having vanished; from the Latin, vado. So, in Hamlet:
" It faded on the crowing of the cock." To feel the justice of this comparison, and the propriety of the epithel, the nature of these exhibitions should be reinembered. The ancient English pageants were shows exhibited on the reception of a prince, or any other solemnity of a limilar kind. They were presented on Occasional stages ereded in the streets. Originally ihey appear to have been nothing more than dumb shows; but before the time of our author, they had been enlivened by the introduâion of speaking personages, who were characteristically habited. The speeches were sometimes in verse; and as the procession moved forward, the speakers, who conftanily bore some allusion to the ceremony, either conversed tegether in the form of a dialogue, or addressed the noble person whose presence occafioned the celebrity. On these allegorical spedacles very coftly ornaments were bestowed. See Fabian, II, 382. Warton's Hift. of Peet. II. 199. 202.
Lcave not a rack behind:8 We are such stuff
The well-known lines before us may receive some illusration 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. pafling triumphantly from the Tower to Weitminster; on which occasion seven Gates or Arches were erected in different places through which the procession passed.-Over the first gate es was represented the true likeness of all the notable houles, 56 Towers and feeples, within the citie of London."- '--" The “ fixt arche or gate of triumph was ereded above the Conduit in 56 Fleete-Streete, whereon the GLOBE of the world was seen to
At Temple-bar a seaventh arche or gate was ered"ed, the forefront whereof was proportioned in every refpe& like " a TEMPLE, being dedicated to Janus, &c.—The citie of Weste minfter, and dutchy of Lancaster, at the Strand had erected " the invention of a Rainbow the moone, funne, and starres, si advanced between two Pyramides,” &c. ANNALS, p. 1429. edit. 1605. MALONE.
$ Leave not a rack behind : ] 6. The winds (says lord Bacon) which move the clouds above, which we call the rack, and are not perceived below, pass without noise." I should explain the word racke fomewhat differently, by calling it the last fleeting vefiige of the highest clouds, scarce perceptible on account of their disiance and tenuity. What was anciently called the rack, is now termed by failors--the foud.
The word is common to many authors contemporary with Shakspeare. So, in the Faithful Shepherdess, by Fletcher :
shall I ftray
" The sailing rack.”
Beating the clouds into their swiftest rack."
“ We list not ride the rolling rack that dims the chrystal skies." Again, in Shakspeare's 33d Sonnet:
Anon permits the baseít clouds to ride
" With ugly rack on his celestial face." Mr. Pennant in his Tour in Scotland observes, there is a fish called a rack-rider, because it appears in winter or bad weather; Pack, in the English of our author's days fignifying the driving of the clouds by tempesls.
Sir T. Hanmer inftead of rack, reads irack, which may be countenanced by the following pallage in the first scene of Timon of Athens :
As dreams are made of,' and our little life
be pleas'd, retire into my cell, And there repose ; a turn or two I'll walk, To still my beating mind.
" But flies an eagle flight, bold, and forth on,
Leaving no traft behind the STEEVENS. Rack is generally used for a body of clouds, or rather for the course of clouds in motion; so, in Antony and Cleopatra :
6. That which is now a horse, even with a thought,
6. The rack diilimns. » But no instance has yet been produced where it is used to signify a single small fleeting cloud, in which sense only it can be figuratively applied here. I incline, therefore, to Sir Thomas Hanmer's emendation.
I am now inclined to think that rack is a mis-spelling 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 suddenly,
snatch him up by parcels, like a sea-rack.us It has been urged,, that is obje&s which have only a visionary and insubstantial existence, can, when the 'vision is faded, leave nothing real, and consequently no wreck behind them. But the objeâion is founded on misapprehension. The words 5 Leave not a rack (or wreck) behind, relate uot to the baseless fabrick of this vision, » but to the final deftru&ion of the world, of which the towers, temples, and palaces, shall (like a vifion, or a pageant,) be diffolved, and leave no veftige behind.
MALONE. 9 As dreams are made of, j The old copy reads - on. But this is a mere colloquial vitiation ; of, among the vulgar, being still pronounced ----on. STEEVENS.
The stanza which immediately precedes the lines quoted by Mr. Steevens from Lord Sterline's Darius, may serve still further to confirm the conje&ure that one of these poets imitated the other. Our author was, I believe, the imitator.
And when the eclipse comes of our glory's light,
" Then what avails the adoring of a name ? « A meer illusion made to mock the sight,
" Whose best was but the shadow of a dream. ;, MALONE, VOL. IV.