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WILLIAM ALDIS WRIGHT, M. A.
Bursar of Trinity College, Cambridge
AT THE CLARENDON PRESS
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THE Tempest was printed for the first time, so far as we know, in the folio of 1623, where it stands first in the volụme. It is divided into acts and scenes, and the locality of the play is indicated at the end, “The Scene, an uninhabited Island,' followed by the ‘Names of the Actors,' or dramatis, personæ, which are substantially the same as those given in modern editions.
The date at which The Tempest was written is still uncertain, and can be only approximately determined. Among the ' Extracts from the Accounts of the Revels at Court in the reigns of Queen Elizabeth and King James I,' edited for the Shakespeare Society in 1842 by the late Mr. Peter Cunningham, appeared the following from the book for the years 1611, 1612:41
By the Kings Hallowmas nyght was presented att Whithall
before yo Kinges Matie A play Called the
Tempest. It is now ascertained that this entry, and all the others of a similar kind contained in the books of the Revels numbered xii and xiii, are undoubted forgeries. The books themselves disappeared for many years, but were restored in 1868 to their proper place in the Record Office by the authorities of the British Museum, to whom they were offered for sale. The date, 1611, assigned to the performance of the play in this spurious entry, agrees however with that given by Malone in his ‘ Account of the Incidents, from which the Title and part of the Story of Shakespeare's Tempest were derived; and its true date ascertained' (Shakespeare, ed. Boswell, 1821 ; vol. xv. pp. 377-434). The conclusion at which Malone arrived, that the circumstances attending the storm by which Sir George Somers was shipwrecked on the island of Bermuda, in the year 1609, unquestionably gave rise to Shakespeare's Tempest, and suggested to him the title, as well as some of the incidents, of that admirable comedy,' was put forward independently by Douce in his Illustrations of Shakespeare. If The Tempest, as is not improbable, be hinted at in the Induction to Ben Jonson's Bartholomew Fair, this fact supplies an ultimate limit for the date of the play. The passage in which it is supposed to be referred to was pointed out by Theobald, and is as follows: 'If there bee never a Servant-monster i’ the Fayre, who can helpe it, he sayes; nor a nest of Antiques ? Hee is loth to make Nature afraid in his Playes, like those that beget Tales, Tempests, and such like Drolleries. Bartholomew Fair was acted at the Hope Theatre, Bankside, on 31st October, 1614, by the Lady Elizabeth's servants. The Winter's Tale, to which the extract just given appears also to allude, was undoubtedly among the latest of Shakespeare's plays, and was acted at court in May 1613. Malone conjectures that it was licensed about the end of 1610 or beginning of 1611; and, according to Dr. Simon Forman’s diary, it was put on the stage at least as early as May 15, 1611, when he witnessed the performance of it at the Globe Theatre. Mr. Collier argues that The Tempest was written before The Winter's Tale, from the fact that whereas in the latter Shakespeare closely follows the story of Greene's Pandosto, he departs from it in one important particular, namely the manner in which Perdita is exposed in the deserts of Bohemia. In Greene's tale the child is cast adrift at sea in a sailless and rudderless boat, and Mr. Collier's suggestion is that Shakespeare purposely varied this incident in The Winter's Tale because he had already made use of it in The Tempest. In seeking for a superior limit to the