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Alon. These are not natural events; they
strengthen, From strange to stranger :-Say, how came you
hither ? Boats. If I did think, sir, I were well awake, I'd strive to tell you. We were dead on sleep And (how, we know not,) all clapp'd under hatches,
invent and seek out
Steevens. Tricksie also signifies neat, elegantly adorned. See Florio's Dictionary, 1593: "Nimfarsi, to trim, to smug, to trixie, to deck, or spruce himself up as a nymph.” The same writer interprets Pargoletta, “quaint, pretty, nimble, trixie, tender, small.” See also Minsheu's Dict. To trick, to trim. MALONE.
Trick, of which tricksy was perhaps the diminutive, was an old adjective, which signified good-looking. So, in The most wonderful and pleasant History of Titus and Gisippus, &c. drawn into English metre by Edward Lewicke, 1562 :
For good cates then he did not sticke,
“ In figure as he was before.” Boswell.
dead or sleep.] Thus the old copy. Modern editors --asleep.
Mr. Malone would substitute-on; but on (in the present instance) is only a vulgar corruption of-of. We still say, that a person dies of such or such a disorder; and why not that he is dead of sleep? Steevens.
« On sleep” was the ancient English phraseology. So, in Gascoigne's Supposes : knock again, I think they be on sleep." Again, in a song said to have been written by Anna Boleyn :
O death, rock me on slepe.” Again, in Campion's History of Ireland, 1633 : “One officer in the house of great men is a tale-teller, who bringeth his lord on sleep with tales vaine and frivolous.” MALONE.
In these instances adduced by Mr. Malone, on sleep, most certainly means asleep; but they do not militate against my explanation of the phrase "dead of sleep.” STEEVENS.
They shew that on sleep was an old English phrase, while Mr. Steevens has produced no instance to justify his explanation.
Where, but even now, with strange and several
Was't well done ?
be free. Alon. This is as strange a maze as e'er men trod: And there is in this business more than nature Was ever conduct of : some oracle Must rectify our knowledge. PRO.
Sir, my liege, Do not infest your mind with beating on The strangeness of this business * ; at pick'd leisure,
- Conduct of:] Conduct, for conductor. So, in Ben Jonson's Every Man out of his Humour :
Come, gentlemen, I will be your conduct.” STEEVENS. So, in Romeo and Juliet : Come, bitter conduct ; come, unsavoury guide.”
MALONE. Again, in The Householder's Philosophie, 4to. 1588, p. 1: “I goe before, not to arrogat anie superioritie, but as your guide, because, perhaps you are not well acquainted with the waie. Fortune (quoth I) doth favour mee with too noble a conduct.”
REED. Conduct is yet used in the same sense : the person at Cambridge who reads prayers in King's and in Trinity College Chapels, is still so styled. Henley.
with BEATING on The strangeness, &c.] A similar expression occurs in The Second Part of King Henry VI. :
thine eyes and thoughts “ Beat on a crown.
Which shall be shortly, single I'll resolve you
[Aside. Set Caliban and his companions free : Untie the spell. [Exit ARIEL.] How fares my gra
cious sir? There are yet missing of your company Some few odd lads, that you remember not. Re-enter Ariel, driving in CALIBAN, STEPHANO,
and Trinculo, in their stolen apparel. Sre. Every man shift for all the rest, and let no man take care for himself; for all is but fortune: Coragio, bully-monster, Coragio !
Beating may mean hammering, working in the mind, dwelling long upon. So, in the preface to Stanyhurst's translation of Virgil, 1582: “ For my part, I purpose not to beat on everye childish tittle that concerneth prosodie.” Again, Miranda, in the second scene of this play, tells her father that the storm is still beating in her mind. “Steevens. A kindred expression occurs in Hamlet :
“ Cudgel thy brains no more about it.” MALONE. s (Which to you SHALL SEEM PROBABLE,)] These words seem, at the first view, to have no use; some lines are perhaps lost with which they were connected. Or we may explain them thus : 'I will resolve you, by yourself, which method, when you hear the story [of Antonio's and Sebastian's plot], shall seem probable ; that is, shall deserve your approbation.' JOHNSON.
Surely Prospero's meaning is : “ I will relate to you the means by which I have been enabled to accomplish these ends; which means, though they now appear strange and improbable, will then appear otherwise.” ANONYMOUS.
I will inform you how all these wonderful accidents have happened; which, though they now appear to you strange, will then seem probable.
An anonymous writer pointed out the true construction of this passage; but I have not adopted his explanation, which is, I think, incorrect. MALONE.
6 - Coragio!) This exclamation of encouragement I find in J. Florio's Translation of Montaigne, 1603 : VOL. XV.
Trin. If these be true spies which I wear in my head, here's a goodly sight.
CAL. O Setebos, these be brave spirits, indeed!
Very like; one of them
lords, Then say, if they be true ® :--This mis-shapen
knave,His mother was a witch; and one so strong That could control the moon, make flows and ebbs,
You often cried Coragio, and called ça, ça." Again, in The Blind Beggar of Alexandria, 1598. STEFvENS. 7 Is a PLAIN FISH] That is, plainly, evidently a fish. So, in Fletcher's Scornful Lady, “that visible beast, the butler," means the butler who is visibly a beast.' M. Mason.
It is not easy to determine the shape which our author designed to bestow on his monster. That he has hands, legs, &c. we gather from the remarks of Trinculo, and other circumstances in the play. How then is he plainly a fish? Perhaps Shakspeare himself had no settled ideas concerning the form of Caliban.
STEEVENS. true:] That is, honest. A true man is, in the language of that time, opposed to a thief. The sense is, ' Mark what these men wear, and say if they are honest.' Johnson. 9 His mother was a witch; and one so STRONG
That could control the moon, &c.] This was the phraseology of the times. After the statute against witches, revenge or ignorance frequently induced people to charge those against whom they harboured resentment, or entertained prejudices, with the crime of witchcraft, which had just then been declared a capital offence. In our ancient reporters are several cases where persons charged in this manner sought redress in the courts of law. And it is remarkable in all of them, to the scandalous imputation of being witches, the term-a strong one, is constantly added. In Michaelmas term, 9 Car. I. the point was settled that no action
And deal in her command, without her power':
I shall be pinch'd to death. Alon. Is not this Stephano, my drunken butler? SEB. He is drunk now: where had he wine? Alon. And Trinculo is reeling ripe: Where
should they could be supported on so general a charge, and that the epithet strong did not inforce the other words. In this instance, I believe, the opinion of the people at large was not in unison with the sages in Westminster-Hall. Several of these cases are collected together in I. Viner, 422. Reed.
“ That could control the moon." From Medea's speech in Ovid, (as translated by Golding,) our author might have learned that this was one of the pretended powers of witchcraft:
and thee, lightsome moon, “ I darken oft, though beaten brass abate thy peril soon."
MALONE. 1 And deal in her command, without her power :] I suppose Prospero means, that Sycorax, with less general power than the moon, could produce the same effects on the sea. STEEVENS.
The objection to this explication (even supposing it illustrated the passage before us) is one that lies to a few of Mr. Steevens's, and to many of Mr. M. Mason's comments, namely, that it deduces a meaning from the words, which by no fair interpretation they will admit: for by what licence of construction can
“ without her power” signify, “ with less general power."
Shakspeare, I conceive, had here in his thoughts vicarious and delegated authorities. He who “ deals in the command,” or, in other words, executes the office of another, is termed his lieutenant or vicegerent; and is usually authorized and commissioned to act by his superior. Prospero therefore, I think, means to say, that Sycorax could control the moon, and act as her vicegerent, without being commissioned, authorized, or empowered by her so to do, Our author might have recollected that a letter executed in due form of law, authorizing B. to act for A. is popularly termed a power of attorney.
If Sycorax was strong enough as by her art to cause the sea to ebb, " when the next star of heaven meditated to make it flow; she in this 66 respect ” might be said to control her. MALONE.