Imágenes de páginas



1 SCENE I.-" Boatswain," &c. UPON this scene Dr. Johnson has the following remark:-"In this naval dialogue, perhaps the first example of sailors' language exhibited on the stage, there are, as I have been told by a skilful navigator, some inaccuracies and contradictory orders." Malone, in reply to this, very properly pointed out that the orders should be considered as given not at once, but successively, as the emergency required. In Boswell's edition we have a highly valuable communication from the second Lord Mulgrave, showing most conclusively that Shakspere's technical knowledge of seamanship must have been the result of the most accurate personal observation, or, what is perhaps more difficult, of the power of combining and applying the information derived from others. Lord Mulgrave supposes Shakspere must have acquired this technical knowledge "by conversation with some of the most skilful seamen of that time." He adds, "no books had then been published on the subject." Lord Mulgrave then exhibits the ship in five positions, showing how strictly the We words of the dialogue represent these. transcribe the general observations by which these technical illustrations are introduced :

"The succession of events is strictly observed in the natural progress of the distress described; the expedients adopted are the most proper that could have been devised for a chance of safety; and it is neither to the want of skill of the seamen nor the bad qualities of the ship, but solely to the power of Prospero, that the shipwreck is to be attributed.

"The words of command are not only strictly proper, but are only such as point the object to be attained, and no superfluous ones of detail. Shakspeare's ship was too well manned to make it necessary to tell the seamen how they were to do it, as well as what they were to do.

"He has shown a knowledge of the new improvements, as well as the doubtful points of seamanship: one of the latter he has intro

duced under the only circumstances in which it was indisputable."

Mr. Campbell gives the testimony of Captain Glascock, R.N., to the correctness of Shakspere in nautical matters :-"The Boatswain in 'The Tempest' delivers himself in the true vernacular style of the forecastle."

2 SCENE I.-"Down with the topmast." Lord Mulgrave has the following note on this direction:-"The striking the topmasts was a new invention in Shakspeare's time, which he here very properly introduces. Sir Henry Manwaring says, 'It is not yet agreed amongst all seamen whether it is better for a ship to hull with her topmast up or down.' In the Postscript to the Dictionary he afterwards gives his own opinion:-'If you have sea-room it is never good to strike the topmast.' Shakspeare

has placed his ship in the situation in which it was indisputably right to strike the topmastwhere he had not sea-room."


"I'll manacle thy neck and feet together." We subjoin an engraving which explains this threat better than any description.

[ocr errors]


SCENE I.-"No kind of traffic," &c. OUR readers are aware that there is in the British Museum a copy of the Essays of Montaigne' translated by Florio, having the autograph WILLM SHAKSPERE. We subjoin a passage from that volume which shows how familiar Shakspere was with its contents. It is an extract from the thirtieth chapter of the first book, describing an imaginary nation of canni


"Me seemeth that what in those nations we see by experience doth not only exceed all the pictures wherewith licentious hath proudly poesy embellished the golden age, and all her quaint inventions to fain a happy condition of man, but also the conception and desire of philosophy. They could not imagine a genuitie so pure and simple as we see it by experience; nor ever believe our society might be maintained with so little art and human combination. It is a nation, would I answer Plato, that hath no

kind of traffic, no knowledge of letters, no intelligence of numbers, no name of magistrate, nor of politic superiority; no use of service, of riches, or of poverty; no contracts, no successions, no dividences; no occupation, but idle; no respect of kindred, but common; no apparel, but natural; no manuring of lands; no use of wine, corn, or metal. The very words that import lying, falsehood, treason, dissimulation, covetousness, envy, detraction, and pardon, were never heard amongst them. How dissonant would he find his imaginary commonwealth from this perfection!"

5 SCENE II." Were I in England now," &c. It was usual for the Master of the Revels to license all public shows; and in 1632 there is an entry in the office-book of Sir Henry Herbert, "to James Seale to show a strange fish for half a year." The engraving below represents a show of the same period.

[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic]
[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic]


10 SCENE I.-"Come, hang them on this line." MR. HUNTER, in his 'Disquisition on The Tempest,' has a special heading, "the linegrove." He invites the friend to whom he addresses the Disquisition to accompany him to the "cell of Prospero, and to the grove or berry of line-trees by which it was enclosed or protected from the weather." He adds, "if you look for the very word line-grove in any verbal index to Shakespeare you will not find it: for the modern editors, in their discretion, have chosen to alter the line in which it occurs, and we now read

'In the lime-grove which weather-fends your cell.'" The editors, then, have substituted the more recent name of the tree for the more ancient:

but the change had taken place earlier than the days of the commentators. In Dryden's alteration of 'The Tempest' (edit. of 1676) we have the above passage, with lime-grove. The effect of the change, Mr. Hunter says, is this:—

italics. On the contrary, the tree, in connection with a grove, is printed thus,-Line-grove.

2nd. Mr. Hunter furnishes no example of the word line, as applied to a tree, being used without the adjunct of tree or grove-line-tree, linegrove. The quotation which he gives from Elisha Cole is clear in this matter:-" Linetree (tilia), a tall tree, with broad leaves and fine flowers." The other quotation which he gives from Gerard would, if correctly printed, exhibit the same thing:-"The female line,' says Gerard, 'or linden-tree, waxeth very great,' &c. But Gerard wrote, "The female line or linden tree waxeth," &c.; and the word tree as much belongs to line as to linden.

3rd. Mr. Hunter quotes "some clumsy joking about the line, among the clowns as they steal through the line-grove with the murderous intent;" and he quotes as follows, omitting certain words, which we shall presently give :"Ste. Mistress line, is not this my jerkin? Now is the jerkin under the line.

Trin. We steal by line and level," &c.

"When Prospero says to Ariel, who comes in bringing the glittering apparel, 'Come hang Now the passage really stands thus :—

them on this line,' he means on one of the line-trees near his cell, which could hardly have been mistaken if the word of the original copies, line-grove, had been allowed to keep its place. But the ear having long been familiar with lime-grove, the word suggested not the branches of a tree so called, but a cord-line, and accordingly, when the play is represented, such a line is actually drawn across the stage, and the glittering apparel is hung upon it. Anything more remote from poetry than this can scarcely be imagined."

This, we admit, is exceedingly ingenious; and we were at first disposed, with many others, to receive the theory with an implicit belief. A careful examination of the matter has, however, convinced us that the poet had no such intention of hanging the clothes on a line-tree; that a clothes-line was destined to this office; and that the players are right in stretching up a clothes line. Our reasons are as follow:

1st. When Prospero says "hang them on this line," when Stephano gives his jokes of "mistress line," and "now is the jerkin under the line," the word "line" has no characteristic mode of printing, neither with a capital, nor in


"Ste. Mistress line, is not this my jerkin? Now is the jerkin under the line: now, jerkin, you are like to lose your hair, and prove a bald jerkin.

Trin. We steal by line and level," &c.

Is not the "clumsy joking" about lose your hair, and bald jerkin, of some importance in getting at the meaning? Steevens has observed that "the lines on which clothes are hung are usually made of twisted horse-hair." But they were especially so made in Shakspere's day. In a woodcut of twelve distinct figures of trades and callings of the time of James I. (see Smith's 'Cries of London,' p. 15), and of which there is a copy in the British Museum, we have the cry of "Buy a hair-line!" The "clumsy joking” would be intelligible to an audience accustomed to a hair-line. It is not intelligible according to Mr. Hunter's assertion that the word suggested a "cord-line."

4th. Is it likely that Shakspere would have made these drunken fellows so knowing in the peculiarities of trees as to distinguish a line-tree from an elm-tree, or a plane-tree? Is it conceivable that the trees in Prospero's island were so young that clothes could be hung upon their lower branches? Are the branches of a line

« AnteriorContinuar »