« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
PRO. Why, that's my dainty Ariel: I fhall mifs
(6 Quoth he, is that fair cowflip flower
The date of this poem not being ascertained, we know not whether our author was indebted to it, or was himself copied by Drayton. I believe, the latter was the imitator. Nymphidia was not written, I imagine, till after the English Don Quixote had appeared in 1612. MALONE.
when owls do cry.) i. e. at night. As this paffage is now printed, Ariel fays that he reposes in a cowflip's bell during the night. Perhaps, however, a full point ought to be placed after the word couch, and a comma at the end of the line. If the paffage fhould be thus regulated, Ariel will then take his departure by night, the proper feason for the bat to fet out upon the expedition.
7 After fummer, merrily) This is the reading of all the editions. Yet Mr. Theobald has fubftitued fun-fet, because Ariel talks of riding on the bat in this expedition. An idle fancy. That circumftance is given only to defign the time of night in which fairies travel. One would think the confideration of the circumftances fhould have fet him right. Ariel was a spirit of great delicacy, bound by the charms of Profpero to a conftant attendance on his occafions. So that he was confined to the ifland winter and fummer. But the roughnefs of winter is reprefented by Shakspeare as difagreeable to fairies, and fuch like delicate fpirits, who, on this account conftantly follow fummer. Was not this then the moft agreeable circumftance of Ariel's new-recovered 'liberty, that he could now avoid winter, and follow fummer quite round globe? But to put the matter quite out of question, let us confider the meaning of this line:
"There I couch when owls do cry."
Where in the cowflip's bell, and where the bee fucks, he tells us : his muft needs be in fummer. When? when owls cry, and this is in winter:
"When blood is nipp'd, and ways be foul,
The Song of Winter in Love's Labour's Loft. The confequence is, that Ariel flies after fummer. Yet the Oxford Editor has adopted this judicious emendation of Mr. Theobald. WARBURTON.
Ariel does not appear to have been confined to the island fum mer and winter, as he was fometimes fent on fo long an errand as to the Bermoothes. When he says, On the bat's back I do fly, &c. L
But yet thou fhalt have freedom: fo, fo, fo.
he fpeaks of his prefent fituation only; nor triumphs in the idea of his future liberty, till the laft couplet :
Merrily, merrily, "&c.
The bat is no bird of paffage, and the expreffion is therefore probably used to signify, not that be purfues fummer, but that, after Summer is paft, he rides upon the warm down of a bat's back, which fuits not improperly with the delicacy of his airy being. After Summer is a phrafe in K. Henry VI. P. II. A& II. fc. iv.
Shakspeare, who, in his Midfummer Night's Dream, has placed the light of a glow-worm in its eyes, might, through the fame ignorance of natural hiftory, have fuppofed the bat to be a bird of paffage. Owls cry not only in winter. It is well known that they are to the full as clamorous in fummer; and as a proof of it, Titania, in A Midfummer Night's Dream, the time of which is fuppofed to be May, commands her fairies to
"The clamorous owl, that nightly hoots." STEEVENS.
Our author is feldom folicitous that every part of his imagery should correspond. I therefore, think, that though the bat is "no bird of paffage," Shakspeare probably meant to exprefs what Dr. Warburton fuppofes. A short account, however, of this winged animal may perhaps prove the beft illuftration of the paffage before us :
The bat (fays Dr. Goldfmith, in his entertaining and in-"ftru&ive Natural hiftory,) makes its appearance in fummer, and begins its flight in the dusk of the evening. It appears only in the moft pleafant evenings; at other times is continues in its retreat; "the chink of a ruined building, or the hollow of a tree. Thus the little animal even in fummer fleeps the greatest part of his "time, never venturing out by day-light, nor in rainy weather. But its fhort life is fill more abridged by continuing in a torpid "ftate during the winter. At the approach of the cold season, the bat prepares for its ftate of lifelefs inactivity, and feems " rather to choose a place where it may continue fafe from interruption, than where it may be warmly or commodiously "lodged."
When Shakspeare had determined to fend Ariel in pursuit of fummer, wherever it could be found, as moft congenial to fuch an airy being, is it then furprifing that he should have made the bat, rather than the wind, his post-horse; an animal thus delighting in that feaíon, and reduced by winter to a state of lifeless ina&ivity? MALONE.
There fhalt thou find the mariners afleep
ARI. I drink the air before me, and return Or e'er your pulfe twice beat.
GON. All torment, trouble, wonder, and amaze
Inhabits here; Some heavenly power guide us
Behold, fir king,
For more affurance that a living prince
A hearty welcome.
Whe'r thou beeft he, or no,a
8 -fhall I live now,
Under the bloom that hangs on the bough.) This thought is not thrown out at random. It compofed a part of the magical fyftem of thefe days. In Tao's Godfrey of Bulloigne, by Fairfax, B. IV. ft. 18:
The goblins, fairies, feends, and furiés mad, Ranged in flowrie dales, and mountaines hore, "And under everie trembling leafe they fit.'
The idea was probably firft fuggefted by the defcription of the venerable elm which Virgil planted at the entrance of the infernal fhades. En. vi. v. 282:
"Ulmus opaca, ingens; quam fedem fomnia vulgò
9 I drink the air -)To drink the air is an expreflion of fwift. nefs of the fame kind as to devour the way in K. Henry IV. JOHNSON. 2 Whe'r thou best he, or ro,) Whe'r for whether, is an abbreviation frequently ufed both by Shakspeare and Jonfon. So, in Julius Cafar?
Or fome inchanted trifle to abuse me,
As late I have been, I not know thy pulfe
Beats, as of flesh and blood; and, fince I faw thee,
Thou pardon me my wrongs :-But how fhould
Be living, and be here?
Let me embrace thine age; whofe honour cannot
Be meafur'd or confin'd.
Or be not, I'll not fwear.
First, noble friend,
Whether this be,
You do yet tafte
Some fubtilties o' the ifle, that will not let
Again, in the Comedy of Errors :
"Good fir, fay whe'r you'll anfwer me, or not.
Thy dukedom I refign; ) The duchy of Milan being through the treachery of Antonio made feudatory to the crown of Naples, Alonso promifes to refign his claim of fovereignty for the future. STEEVENS,
4 You do yet tafte
Some fubtilties o' the ifle,) This is a phrafe adopted from ancient cookery and confectionary. When a difh was fo contrived as to appear unlike what it really was, they called it a fubtilty. Dragons, cafles, trees, &c. made out of fugar, had the like denomination. See Mr. Pegge's gloffary to the Form of Cury, &c. Article Sotiltees.
Froiffard complains much of this pra&ice, which often led him into miftakes at dinner. Defcribing one of the feafts of his time, he fays there was "grant planté de mefiz fi etranges & fi defguifer. qu'on ne les pouvait devifer ; and L'Etoile fpeaking of a similar entertainment in 1597, adds "Tous les poiffons efloient fort dextrement defguifez en viande de chair, qui eftoient monftres marins pour la plafpart, qu'on avait fait venir exprès de tous les coftez." STEEVENS.
Believe things certain :- Welcome, my friends
But you, my braçe of lords, were I fo minded,
(Afide to SEB, and ANT. I here could pluck his highnefs' frown upon you, And justify you traitors; at this time
I'll tell no tales.
SEB. The devil speaks in him.
For you, moft wicked fir, whom to call brother
If thou beeft Profpero,
Give us particulars of thy preservation :
How thou haft met us here, who three hours fince'
I am woe for't, fir.
s who three hours fince. ) The unity of time is moft rigidly obferved in this piece. The fable fcarcely takes up a greater number of hours than are employed in the reprefentation; and from the very particular care which our author takes to point out this circumftance in fo many other paffages, as well as here, it should feem as if it were not accidental, but purpofely defigned to thew the admirers of Ben Jonfon's art, and the cavillers of the time, that he too could write a play within all the ftrideft laws of regularity, when he chofe to load himfelf with the critick's fetters.
The boatfwain marks the progrefs of the day again which but three glaffes fince, &c. and at the beginning of this act the duration of the time employed on the flage is particularly afcertained; and it refers to a paffage in the first act, of the fame tendency. The ftorm was raifed at least two glaffes after mid day, and Ariel was promised that the work should cease at the fixth hour. STEEVENS. woe for't, fir.) i. e. I am sorry for it. To be woe, is often ufcd by old writers to fignify, to be forry,
6 I am