« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
At the commencement of this volume, I have inadvertently retained Mr. Malone's reference to his Essay on the Chronological Order of Shakspeare's Plays, for a full exposition of the theory contained in the following pages. But, upon further consideration, it appeared to me, that it would be more for the convenience of the reader, if this Essay, like the Dissertation on the Three Parts of Henry VI. should be found in the same volume with the play, of which it not only is intended to fix the date; but which in other respects it is calculated to illustrate. It was drawn up some years ago, by Mr. Malone; and at that time he printed a limited number of copies, which he presented to his friends, and literary acquaintance. One of them, under circumstances which were by no means honourable to its possessor, who has since made himself too well known by a posthumous publication full of falsehood and malignity, but whom the grave shall shelter from further reproach, was sold at an auction, and purchased by Mr. George Chalmers. This gentleman, of whom it may be said, as by Johnson of Jeremy Collier, (I write it without the slightest disrespect) that "contest is his delight," lost no time in putting together the arguments by which
he thought Mr. Malone's theory might be controverted. I cannot think he was successful in his efforts; but as his pamphlet was privately printed, and bore on its title-page that it was "not published, nor intended to be;" I should not think myself justified in making it the subject of discussion. BOSWELL.
MR. MALONE'S ADVERTISEMENT.
THE following Account of the circumstances attending the storm by which Sir George Somers was shipwrecked on the island of Bermuda, in the year 1609, which unquestionably gave rise to Shakspeare's TEMPEST, and suggested to him the title, as well as some incidents, of that admirable comedy, was written some years ago, and shown to a highly valued friend *, whose literary attainments and love of curious inquiry always incline him to lend a favourable ear to the researches of others.
The immediate connexion between Shakspeare's play and the tempest above alluded to, not having been noticed by any preceding editor or commentator, I conceived this discovery, which forms the subject of the following pages, to be exclusively my own; but the Observations on this poet by a learned and ingenious critick †, which have been
* James Bindley, Esq. of the Stamp Office, one of Mr. Malone's most intimate and most valued friends. His zeal for literature, his indefatigable spirit of inquiry, his accurate knowledge, his amenity of temper, and benevolence of heart, made him the delight of all who knew him. He died at the advanced age of eighty. Sepember 11th, 1818. Boswell.
† Mr. Douce. I subjoin this gentleman's observations on this subject from his valuable work, ILLUSTRATIONS OF SHAKSPEARE: &c.
"The Voyage of Sir George Sommers to the Bermudas in the year 1609 has been already noticed with a view of ascertaining
published within these few days, have shown me my mistake in this respect, the same notion having also struck the author of that valuable and entertaining work. That gentleman, however, whose remarks abundantly evince that his candour is equal to his learning and judgment, I doubt not, will be pleased to find his statement on this subject strengthened and confirmed by authentick evidence, and the true date of this delightful comedy indisputably ascertained.
FOLEY PLACE, January 12, 1808.
the time in which The Tempest was written; but the important particulars of his shipwreck, from which it is exceedingly probable that the outline of a considerable part of this play was borrowed, has been unaccountably overlooked. Several contemporary narratives of the above event were published, which Shakspeare might have consulted; and the conversation of the time might have furnished, or at least suggested, some particulars that are not to be found in any of the printed accounts. In 1610 Silvester Jourdan, an eye-witness, published A Discovery of the Barmudas, otherwise called the Isle of Divels: By Sir Thomas Gates, Sir Geo. Sommers, and Captayne Newport, with divers others. Next followed Strachey's Proceedings of the English Colonie in Virginia, 1612, 4to. and some other pamphlets of less moment. From these accounts it appears that the Bermudas had never been inhabited, but regarded as under the influence of inchantment; though an addition to a subsequent edition of Jourdan's work gravely states that they are not inchanted; that Sommers's ship had been split between two rocks; that during his stay on the island several conspiracies had taken place; and that a sea-monster in shape like a man had been seen, who had been so called after the monstrous tempests that often happened at Bermuda. In Stowe's
Annals we have also an account of Sommers's shipwreck, in which this important passage occurs, 'Sir George Sommers sitting at the stearne, seeing the ship desperate of reliefe, looking every minute when the ship would sinke, hee espied land, which according to his and Captaine Newport's opinion, they judged it should be that dreadfull coast of the Bermodes, which iland were of all nations said and supposed to bee inchanted and inhabited with witches and devills, which grew by reason of accustomed monstrous thunder, storm, and tempest, neere unto those ilands, also for that the whole coast is so wonderous dangerous of rockes, that few can approach them, but with unspeakable hazard of ship-wrack." Now if some of these circumstances in the shipwreck of Sir George Sommers be considered, it may possibly turn out that they are "the particular and recent event which determined Shakspeare to call his play The Tempest," instead of "the great tempest of 1612," which has already been supposed to have suggested its name, and which might have happened after its composition. If this be the fact, the play was written between 1609 and 1614, when it was so illiberally and invidiously alluded to in Ben Jonson's Bartholomew-Fair."