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ance of it. Though he has here given “ to airy nothing a local habitation and a name," yet that part which is only the fantastic creation of his mind, has the same palpable texture, and coheres “semblably" with the rest. As the preternatural part has the air of reality, and almost haunts the imagination with a sense of truth, the real characters and events partake of the wildness of a dream. The stately magician, Prospero, driven from his dukedom, but around whom (so potent is his art) airy spirits throng numberless to do his bidding; his daughter Miranda (" worthy of that name"), to whom all the power of his art points, and who seems the goddess of the isle ; the princely Ferdinand, cast by fate upon the haven of his happiness; the delicate Ariel; the savage Caliban, half brute, half demon; the drunken ship's crew-are all connected parts of the story, and could not be spared from the place they fill. Even the local scenery is of a piece and character with the subject. Pros. pero's enchanted island seems to have risen up out of the sea ; the airy music, the tempest-tost vessel, the turbulent waves, all have the effect of the landscape back.ground of some fine picture. Shakspeare's pencil is to use an allusion of his own) "like the dyer's hand, subulued to what it works in.” Every. thing in him, though it partakes " of the liberty of wit," is also subjected to "the law" of the understanding. For instance, even the drunken sailors share, in the disorder of their minds and bodies, in the tumult of the elements, and seem on shore to be as much at the mercy of chance as they were before at the mercy of the winds and waves. These fellows, with their sea-wit, are the least to our taste of any part of the play: but they are as like drunken sailors as they can be, and are an indirect foil to Caliban, whose figure acquires a classical dignity in the comparison.
The character of Caliban is generally thought (and justly so) to be one of the author's masterpieces. It is not indeed pleasant to see this character on the stage way more then it is to see the god Pan personated there. But in itsekin one of the wildest and most abstracted of all the pea.e's she caotets; whose deformity, whether of body or rind, is reden wy the power and truth of the imagination displayed in it. le in the
essence of grossness, but there is not a particle of vulgarity in it. Shakspeare has described the brutal mind of Caliban in contact with the pure and original forms of nature ; the character grows out of the soil where it is rooted, uncontrolled, uncouth, and wild, uncramped by any of the meannesses of custom. It is “of the earth, earthy.” It seems almost to have been dug out of the ground, with a soul instinctively superadded to it, answering to its wants and origin. Vulgarity is not natural coarseness, but conventional coarseness, learnt from others, contrary to, or without an entire conformity of natural power and disposition; as fashion is the common-place affectation of what is elegant and refined without any feeling of the essence of it. Schlegel, the admirable German critic on Shakspeare, observes that Caliban is a poetical character, and “always speaks in blank verse.” He first comes in thus:
* CALIBAN. As wicked dew as e'er my mother brush'd
PROSPERO. For this, be sure, to-night thou shalt have cramps,
CALIBAN. I must eat my dinner.
And again, he promises Trinculo his services thus, if he will free him from his drudgery.
" I'll show thee the best springs; I'll pluck thee berries,
In conducting Stephano and Trinculo to Prospero's cell, Cali. ban shows the superiority of natural capacity over greater knowledge and greater folly; and in a former soene, when Ariel frightens them with his music, Caliban to encourage them accounts for it in the eloquent poetry of the senses.
_** Be not afraid, the isle is full of noises,
This is not more beautiful than it is true. The poet here shows us the savage with the simplicity of a child, and makee the strange monster amiable. Shakspeare had to paint the human animal rude and without choice in its pleasures, but not without the sense of pleasure or some germ of the affections. Master Bamardine, in Measure for Measure, the savage of civilized life, is an admirable philosophical counterpart to Cali. ban.
Shakspeare has, as it were by design, drawn off from Caliban the elements of whatever is ethereal and refined, to compound them in the unearthly mould of Ariel. Nothing was ever more finely conceived than this contrast between the material and the spiritual, the gross and delioate. Ariel is imaginary power, the swiftness of thought personified. When told to make good speed by Prospero, he says, “I drink the air before me." This is something like Puck's boast on a similar occasion, “I'll put a girdle round about the earth in forty minutes.” But Ariel differs from Puck in having a fellow feeling in the interests of those he is employed about. How excellent is the following dialogue between him and Prospero!
“ ARIEL. Your charm so strongly works 'em,
PROSPERO. Dost thou think so, spirit ?
PROSPERO. And mine shall.
It has been observed that there is a peculiar charm in the songs introduced in Shakspeare, which, without conveying any distinct images, seem to recall all the feelings connected with them, like snatches of half-forgotten music heard indistinctly at intervals. There is this effect produced by Ariel's songs, which seem to sound in the air, and as if the person playing them were invisible. We shall give one instance out of many of this general power.
"! "Enter FERDIN AND; and Ariel invisible, playing and singing. 1.
Come unto these yellow sands,
The strain of strutting chanticleer
Full fathom five thy father lies,
or his bones are coral made :
Nothing of him that doth fade,
The courtship between Ferdinand and Miranda is one of the chief beauties of this play. It is the very purity of love. The pretended interference of Prospero with it heightens its interest, and is in character with the magician, whose sense of preternatural power makes him arbitrary, tetchy, and impatient of opposition.
The TEMPEST is a finer play than the Midsummer Night's Dream, which has sometimes been compared with it; but it is not so fine a poem. There are a greater number of beautiful passages in the latter. Two of the most striking in the TEXTEST are spoken by Prospero. The one is that admirable one when the vision which he has conjured up disappears, beginning “The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces," &c., which has been so often quoted, that every school boy knows it by heart: the other is that which Prospero makes in abjuring his art: