« 前へ次へ »
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 abhorred 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. -Of these Trifles enough.
ĄCT I. SCENE IV.
It was a tradition, it seems, that Lord Falkland, Lord C. J. Vaughan, and Mr. Seldon concurred in observing, that Shakespear had not only found out a new character in his Caliban, but had also devised and adapted a new manner of language for that character.-WARBURTON.
Whence these criticks derived the notion of a new language appropriated to Caliban I cannot find : They certainly mistook brutality of sentiment for uncouthness of words. Caliban had learned to speak of Prospero and his daughter, he had no names for the sun and moon before their arrival, and could not have invented a language of his own without more understanding than Shakespear has thought it proper to bestow
him. His diction is indeed somewhat clouded by the gloominess of his temper and the malignity of his purposes ; but let any other being entertain the same thoughts and he will find them easily issue in the same expressions. Act I. SCENE V. (1. ii. 375, 394.) On Ariel's songs : Come unto these yellow sands,
and Full farbom five iby father lies. I know not whether Dr. Warburton has
very successfully defended these Songs from Gildon's accusation. Ariel's lays, however seasonable and efficacious, must be allowed to be of no supernatural dignity or elegance, they express nothing great, nor reveal any thing above mortal discovery.
The reason for which Ariel is introduced thus trifling is, that he and his companions are evidently of the fairy kind, an order of Beings to which tradition has always ascribed a sort of diminutive agency, powerful but ludicrous, a humorous and frolick controlment of nature, well expressed by the Songs of Ariel.
A MIDSUMMER-NIGHT'S DREAM. ACT I. SCENE iv.
In this Scene Shakespeare takes advantage of his knowledge of the theatre, to ridicule the prejudices and competitions of the Players. Bottom, who is generally acknowledged the principal Actor, declares his inclination to be for a tyrant, for a part of fury, tumult, and noise, such as every young man pants to perform when he first steps upon the Stage. The same Bottom, who seems bred in a tiring-room, has another histrionical passion. He is for engrossing every part, and would exclude his inferiors from ali possibility of distinction. He is therefore desirous to play Pyramus, Thisbe and the Lyon at the same time.
Act I. SCENE IV. (1. ii. 50-3).
FLUTE. Nay, faib, la me not play a woman; I bave a beard coming.
QUINCE. That's all one ; you sball play it in a masque.
shews how the want of women on the old Stage was supplied. If they had not a young man who could perform the part with a face that might pass for feminine, the character was acted in a mask, which was at that time a part of a Lady's dress so much in use that it did not give any unusual appearance to the Scene; and he that could modulate his voice in a female tone might play the woman very successfully. It is observed in Downes's Memoirs of the Playhouse, that one of these counterfeit heroines moved the passions more strongly than the women that have since been brought upon the stage. Some of the catastrophes of the old comedies, which make Lovers marry the wrong women, are, by recollection of the common use of masks, brought nearer to probability.
Act I. SCENE iv. (1. ü. 96-9.)
BOTTOM. I will discharge it in either your straw-colourd beard, your orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain beard, or your French crown-colour'd beard; your perfect yellow.
Here Bottom again discovers a true genius for the Stage by his solicitude for propriety of dress, and his deliberation which beard to chuse among many beards, all unnatural.
Act II. SCENE I. (11. i. 42-57.) Puck.
He meeteth Puck, which most men call
Of purpose to deceive us ;
He doth with laughter leave us. It will be apparent to him that shall compare Drayton's Poem with this play, that either one of the poets copied the other, or, as I rather believe, that there was then some system of the fairy empire generally received, which they both represented as accurately as they could. Whether Drayton or Shakespeare wrote first, I cannot discover.
Act II. SCENE Ü. (11. i. 82–114.)
And never since the middle Summer's spring, &c. There are not many passages in Shakespear which one can be certain he has borrowed from the Ancients
; but this is one of the few that, I think, will admit of no dispute. Our Author's admirable description of the miseries of the Country being plainly an imitation of that which Ovid draws, as consequent on the grief of Ceres, for the loss of her daughter.
Nescit adhuc ubi sit : terras tamen increpat omnes : Ingratasque vocat, nec frugum munere dignas.
-Ergo illic sava vertentia glebas Fregit aratra manu parilique irata colonos Ruricolasque boves leiho dedit: arvaque jussit Fallere depositum vitiataque semina fecit. Fertilitas terræ latum vulgata per orbem Sparsa jacet. Primis segetes moriuntur in herbis. Et modo sol nimius, nimius modo corripit imber :
Sideraque ventique nocent. Act II. SCENE Ü. (11. i. 101.)
The buman mortals want their winter bere, After all the endeavours of the Editors this passage still remains to me unintelligible. I cannot see why Winter is, in the general confusion of the year now described, more wanted than
Dr. Warburton observes that he alludes to our practice of singing carols in December ; but though Shakespear is no great chronologer in his dramas, "I think he has never so mingled true and false religion, as to give us reason for believing that he would make the moon incensed for the omission of our carols. I therefore imagine him to have meant heathen rites of adoration. This is not all the difficulty. Titania's account of this calamity is not sufficiently consequential. Men find no winter, therefore they sing no hymns, the moon provoked by this omission alters the seasons.
That is, the alteration of the seasons produces the alteration of the seasons. I am far from supposing that Shakespear might not sometimes think confusedly, and therefore am not sure that the passage is corrupted. If we should read,
And human mortals want their wonted year,