« PreviousContinue »
Line 49. -unstanch'd-] i. e. incontinent.
Line 50. Lay her a-hold, a-hold;] To lay a ship a-hold, is to bring her to lie as near the wind as she can, in order to keep clear of the land, and get her out to sea.
STEEVENS. Line 51.
-set her two courses off to sça again,-) The courses are the main-sail and fore-sail.
JOHNSON. The passage, as Mr. Holt has observed, should be pointed, Set her two courses; off, &c.
SteeVENS. Line 58. merely) In this place signifies absolutely. In which sense it is used in Hamlet, Act 1. Sc. 3.
-Things rank and gross in nature “ Possess it merely.”
STEEVENS. Line 64. to glut him.] Shakspeare probably wrote, t'englut him, to swallow him; for which I know not that glut is ever used by him. In this signification englut, from engloutir, French, occurs frequently, as in Henry VI.
-Thou art so near the gulf “ Thou needs must be englutted." And again in Timon and Othello. Yet Milton writes glutted offal for swallowed, and therefore perhaps the present text may stand.
JOHNSON. Line 67. Farewell, brother!] All these lines have been hitherto given to Gonzalo, who has no brother in the ship. It is probable that the lines succeeding the confused noise within should be considered as spoken by no determinate characters, but should be printed thus.
Sailor. Mercy on us!
2 Sailor. Farewell, my, &c.
JOHNSON Line 72. long heath, -] This is the common name for the erica baccifera.
ACT I. SCENE II.
Line 91. Pro. No harm.) I know not whether Shakspeare did not make Miranda speak thus :
0, woe the day! no harm?
To which Prospero properly answers:
I have done nothing but in care of thee. Miranda, when she speaks the words, 0, woe the day! supposes, not that the crew had escaped, but that her father thought differently from her, and counted their destruction no harm.
JOHNSON. -more better] This is one of those ungrammatical expressions frequently made use of by the oldest writers.
Line 96. -full poor cell,] i. e. A cell in great poverty: an expression used as a degree of comparison ; thus in Henry VIII. -"full surely his greatness is a ripening"--and in Anthony and Cleopatra, Act I. “I am fully sorry.” Line 99. meddle-] i.e. Interfere, mingle.
103. Lie there my art-] a common phrase in the time of queen Elizabeth.
Line 106. - -virtue of compassion Virtue: the most efficacious part, the energetic quality; in a like sense we say, The virtue of a plant is in the extract.
JOHNSON. Line 108. —that there is no soul—] Thus the old editions read, but this is apparently defective. Mr. Rowe, and after him Dr. Warburton, read that there is no soul lost, without
notice of the variation. Mr. Theobald substitutes no foil, and Mr. Pope follows him.
JOHNSON. -] Such interrupted sentences are not uncommon to Shakspeare: he sometimes begins a sentence, and before be concludes it, entirely changes the construction because another, more forcible, occurs.
Steevens. Line 123. Out three years old.] i. e. Quite three years old.
-abysm] i.e. Abyss. 146. thou his only heir, &c.] Perhaps and thou his only heir.
JOHNSON. Perhaps we should read, A princess : -no worse issu'd,
STEEVENS. teen -] Is sorrow, grief, trouble. So in Romeo and Juliet: -to my teen be it spoken."
STEEVENS. Line 174. To trash for over-topping;-] To trash, as Dr. Warburton observes, is to cut away the superfluities,
-the key] This doubtless is meant of a key for tuning the harpsichord, spinnet, or virginal. HAWKINS.
Line 190. Like a good parent,-) Alluding to the observation, that a father above the common rate of men has commonly a son below it. Heroum filii noræ.
JOHNSON. Line 195.
Who haring, INTO truth, by telling of it,
To credit his own lie,-) The corrupted reading of the second line has rendered this beautiful similitude quite unintelligible. I read and point it thus:
To credit his own lie,i.e. by often repeating the same story, made his memory such a sinner unto truth, as to give credit to his own lie. A miserable delusion, to which story-tellers are frequently subject. The Oxford Editor having, by this correction, been let into the sense of the passage, gives us this sense in his own words:
Who loving an untruth, and telling 't oft,
WARBURTON. Line 199.
out of the substitution,] Is the old reading. The modern editors, for the sake of smoother versification, readfrom substitution.
STEEVENS. Line 209. So dry he was for sway,] i.e. Thirsting after.
219. To think but nobly-] But, i. e. otherwise than.
263. deck'd the sea -] To deck the sea, if explained to honour, adorn, or dignify, is indeed ridiculous: but the original import of the verb deck is, to cover; so in some parts they yet say deck the table.
JOHNSON. Line 271. who being then appointed, &c.] Such is the old reading. We might better read, -he being, &c.
STEEVENS. Line 299. 'tis a good dulness,] Dr. Warburton rightly observes, that this sleepiness, which Prospero by his art had brought upon Miranda, and of which he knew not how soon the
Line 341. them
effect would begin, makes him question her so often whether she is attentive to his story.
JOHNSON. Line 308. -and all his quality.] i.e. His companions.
310. . Perform'd to point-] i.e. to the minutest article.
SteeVENS. now on the beak,] The beak was a strong pointed body at the head of the ancient gallies; it is used here for the forecastle, or the bolt-sprit.
Johnson. Line 313. Now in the waste,- -] The part between the quarter-deck and the forecastle.
JOHNSON. Line 329. But felt a fever of the mad,–] If it be at all necessary to explain the meaning, it is this: Not a soul but felt such a fever as madmen feel, when the frantic fit is upon them.
STEEVENS. -sustaining -] i. e. Their garments that bore and supported them. So K. Lear, Act 4. Sc. 4. “In our sustaining corn.”
Steevens. Line 354. From the still-ver'd Bermoothes.- -] Theobald says Bermoothes is printed by mistake for Bermudas. No. That was the name by which the islands then went, as we may see by the voyages of that time; and by our author's contemporary poets. Fletcher, in his Woman Pleased, says, The devil should think of purchasing thal egg-shell to victual out a witch for the Bermoothes. Smith, in his account of these islands, p. 172. says, that the Bermudas were so fearful to the world, that many called them The Isle of Devils.-P. 174.- to all seamen no less terrible than an enchanted den of furies. And no wonder, for the clime was extremely subject to storms and hurricanes ; and the islands were surrounded with scattered rocks lying shallowly hid under the surface of the
WARBURTON. The opinion that Bermudas was haunted with evil spirits conlate as the civil wars.
PERCY. -the Mediterranean flote,] Flote is wave. Flot.
STEEVENS. Line 384. Dost thou forget] That the character and conduct of Prospero may be understood, something must be known of the system of enchantment, which supplied all the marvellous found
in the romances of the middle ages. This system seems to be founded on the opinion that the fallen spirits, having different degrees of guilt, had different habitations allotted them at their expulsion, some being confined in hell, some (as Hooker, who delivers the opinion of our poet's age, expresses it) dispersed in air, some on earth, some in water, others in caves, dens, or minerals under the earth. Of these, some were more malignant and mischievous than others. The earthy spirits seem to have been thought the most depraved, and the aerial the least vitiated. Thus Prospero observes of Ariel :
-Thou wast a spirit too delicate
To act her earthy and abhorr'd commands. Over these spirits a power might be obtained by certain rites performed or charms learned. This power was called The Black Art, or Knowledge of Enchantment. The enchanter being (as king James observes in his Demonology) one who commands the devil, whereas the witch serves him. Those who thought best of this art, the existence of which was, I am afraid, believed very seriously, held, that certain sounds and characters had a physical power over spirits, and compelled their agency; others who condemned the practice, which in reality was surely never practised, were of opinion, with more reason, that the power of charms arose only from compact, and was no more than the spirits voluntary allowed them for the seduction of man. The art was held by all, though not equally criminal, yet unlawful; and therefore Causabon, speaking of one who had commerce with spirits, blames him, though he imagines him one of the best kind who dealt with them by way of command. Thus Prospero repents of his art in the last scene. The spirits were always considered as in some measure enslaved to the enchanter, at least for a time, and as serving with unwillingness, therefore Ariel so often begs for liberty; and Caliban observes, that the spirits serve Prospero with no good will, but hate him rootedly.
JOHNSON. Line 400. in Argier.) i. e. Algiers.
452. The strangeness of your story, &c.] Why should a wonderful story produce sleep? I believe experience will prove, that any violent agitation of the mind easily subsides in slumber,