Page images
PDF
EPUB

Brimful of sorrow and dismay; but chiefly
Him that you termed the good old lord Gonzalo ;
His tears run down his beard like winter drops
From eaves of reeds : your charms so strongly works them
That if you now behold them, your affections

Would become tender.
PROSPERO. Dost thou think so, Spirit ?
ARIEL. Mine would. sir, were I human.
PROSPERO. And mine shall.

Hast thou which art but air, a touch, a feeling
Of their afflictions? and shall not myself
One of their kind, that relish all as sharply,
Passioned as they, be kindlier moved than thou art?
Though with their high wrongs I am struck to the

quick;
Yet with my nobler reason, 'gainst my fury
Do I take part.

The rarer action is
In virtue than in vengeance. They being penitent,
The sole drift of my purpose doth extend
Not a frown further.

The accomplishment of his designs being nearly realized, Prospero wishes to abjure his potent art, and break those charms, which the powers of his enchantment gave him.

I'll break, says he, my staff,
Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,
And deeper than did ever plummet sound,
I'll drown

my

book.

With these intentions, Prospero introduces that remarkable speech, commencing,

Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes, and groves;

which, from its allusion to the popular stories concerning the power of magicians, conveys to

us, a very high idea of Shakspere's knowledge of the enchantments, which prevailed among the ancients :- this speech, besides possessing great poetical beauty, has given rise to much observation, regarding the learning of Shakspere. In my remarks upon the play of the Merchant of Venice, when alluding to this subject, I was then disposed to believe, from the style and idiom of Shakspere's writings, that he had an intimate acquaintance, with the Latin, and had studied closely, the peculiar construction of that language; various passages, in the Tempest, prove his knowledge of the poetry of Virgil and Ovid; Mr. Holt affirming, that the beginning of the speech, above alluded to, is nearly copied from the last mentioned poet ;the original lines are,

Aureeque, & venti, montesque, amnesque, lacusque,
Diique omnes nemorum, diique omnes noctis adeste.

This opinion of Mr. Holt is supported by Mr. Pope, and a host of other authors, the latest of whom, in our day, is the learned and ingenious Dr. Macginn, who, in an article, which appeared lately in Fraser's Magazine, displays much classical erudition, in behalf of the scholastic learning of Shakspere ; – volumes, however, have been written, with an attempt to prove our author's entire ignorance of the ancient classics, and that he derived his acquaintance with the originals, through translations alone : amongst the number of those, who contend that Shakspere had never perused the Latin authors, and that his knowledge

of Roman events was only obtained through books, then translated into English, are to be found the names of Suckling, Denham, Dryden, the celebrated Dr. Johnson, and more lately the author of that excellent piece of biography, in the second volume of the Cabinet Cyclopædia, conducted by the Rev. Dionysius Lardner, a work, which, though adverse to the question of Shakspere being a learned scholar, nevertheless throws more light, in a condensed form, upon the history of our illustrious bard, than any production, which has yet appeared.

We have now arrived at the denouement, of this beautiful drama, which conveys to our view, a scene of the most pleasing and agreeable kind ; Prospero, with a mind, endowed by all those high and exalted qualities, which render man, in the possession of such attributes, a being truly magnificent, draws from us every feeling of admiration ;-we see in his character, the human heart influenced by every virtuous and noble sentiment; but, when we behold the opposite picture, in the base treachery of Alonzo and his companions, we lament, that such degeneracy, should be found, so prevalent amongst mankind : there is virtue, in the world, but, alas ! vice has ever had the predominance, and to find out truly the cause of such moral evil, has, as yet, baffled the enquiries of philosophy ;-there is one consideration, however, which should not be overlooked ;-man never yet has enjoyed in states, which are called civilized, the full extent of those advantages, that Nature has given to him; the powers of his intellect crippled, and the qualities of his heart obscured, by false and narrow views of education, he has been, in all ages, the victim of corrupt prejudice, combined with low and selfish ignorance, which have greatly been the means of perpetuating those wars, intestine broils, and bitter malignant passions, that have sullied and disgraced his character.

The magic charms of Prospero being about to dissolve, the spirit Ariel re-enters, bringing with him Alonzo, attended by Gonzalo ;-Sebastian and Anthonio, are also seen, accompanied by Adrian and Francisco: they all enter a circle, which Prospero had made, and here Prospero takes the opportunity of paying, to the good Gonzalo, that tribute of praise, which his virtues demanded. To Alonzo and Sebastian, he offers the most severe reproaches for their cruelty to him, and his daughter ; while to Anthonio, his brother, who had, from his mind, expelled remorse and nature, he nobly says,

I do forgive thee,
Unnatural though thou art.

Unable still, however, to discover Prospero, with amazement, they stand, in their guilty condition. Ariel is told by the Magician, to bring from his cell, his hat and rapier, and bidding the spirit quickly visit the king's ship, and bring with him the Mariners, with the Master and Boat

swain, to his presence, Prospero stands before them, undisguised in his true character of the Duke of Milan !

Embracing his noble friend Gonzalo, Prospero bids him and his company, a hearty welcome, whilst Alonzo, under all the feelings of wonder and astonishment, implores pardon, and resigns the dukedom —(") Anthonio and Sebastian are reminded of their treachery ;-amidst the troubles and perplexities of these events, Alonzo seeks from Prospero the particulars of his preservation, how he came to the island, and begs some tidings of his dear son Ferdinand,- Prospero replies,

'Tis not a chronicle of a day,
Nor a relation for a breakfast,
Befitting this first meeting.

and invites Alonzo to the entrance of the cell, where Ferdinand and Miranda are seen playing at chess-the scene becomes deeply interesting, Alonzo discovers his son, whilst Miranda, pleased and amazed, exclaims

O! wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here !
How beauteous mankind is ! 0, brave new world
That has such people in't !

Ferdinand tells his father, that the lovely maid is his, and daughter

To the famous Duke of Milan,
Of whom, so oft, he had heard renown.

« PreviousContinue »