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For I am all the subjects that you have,
Who first was nine own king; and here you sty me
In this hard rock, whiles you do keep from me
The rest o' th' island.
And again, he promises Trinculo his services thus,
if he will free him from his drudgery.
"I'll shew thee the best springs; I'll pluck thee berries,
I'll fish for thee, and get thee wood enough.
I pr'ythee let me bring thee where crabs grow,
And I, with my long nails, will dig thee pig nuts :
Shew thee a jay's nest, and instruct thee how
To snare the nimble marmozet: I'll bring thee
To clust'ring filberds; and sometimes I'll get thee
In conducting Stephano and Trinculo to Prospero's cell, Caliban shews the superiority of natural capacity over greater knowledge and greater folly; and in a former scene, when Ariel frightens them with his musick, Caliban, to encourage them, accounts for it in the eloquent poetry of the senses.
"Be not afraid, the isle is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Will hum about mine ears, and sometimes voices,
I cried to dream again."
This is not more beautiful than it is true. The poet here shews us the savage with the simplicity of a child, and makes 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 Barnardine in Measure for Measure, the savage of civilized life, is an admirable philosophical counterpart to Caliban.
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 delicate. 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 exquisite is the following dialogue between him and Prospero!
"Ariel. Your charm so strongly works 'em, That if you now bebeld them, your affections Would become tender.
Prospero. Dost thou think so, spirit?
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,
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 musick heard indistinctly and at intervals. There is this effect produced by Ariel's songs, which (as we are told) seem to sound in the air, and as if the person playing them were nvisible. We shall give one instance out of many of this general power.
"Enter FERDINAND; and ARIEL, invisible, playing and singing.
Come unto these yellow sands,
And then take hands;
Curt'sied when you have, and kiss'd,
(The wild waves whist ;)
Foot it featly here and there;
And sweet sprites the burden bear.
Hark, hark! bowgh wowgh: the watch dogs bark,
Ariel. Hark, hark! I hear
The strain of strutting chanticleer
Ferdinand. Where should this musick be? in air or earth?
Full fathom five thy father lies,
Of his bones are coral made:
But doth suffer a sea change,
Ferdinand. The ditty does remember my drown'd father. This is no mortal business, nor no sound
That the earth owns: I hear it now above me."—
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 TEMPEST 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 schoolboy knows it by heart; the other is that which Prospero makes in abjuring
"Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes, and groves,
Whereof the ewe not bites; and you whose pastime
And deeper than did ever plummet sound,
We must not forget to mention, among other things in this play, that Shakspeare has anticipated nearly all the arguments on the Utopian schemes of modern philosophy.
"Gonzalo. Had I the plantation of this isle, my lord
Antonio. He'd sow't with nettle-seed.
Sebastian. Or docks or mallows.
Gonzalo. And were the king on't, what would I do?