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ACT I. SCENE I.
LINE 1. In this naval dialogue, perhaps the first example of sailor's language exhibited on the stage, there are, as I have been told by a skilful navigator, some inaccuracies and contradictory orders.
Line 3. Fall to't yarely,--] i. e. Readily, nimbly. Our author is frequent in his use of this word. STEEVENS.
Line 7. -blow, till thou burst thy wind,-] Perhaps it might read, blow till thou burst, wind, if room enough. JOHNSON.
Perhaps rather, -blow till thou burst thee, wind! if room enough. Beaum. and Fletcher have copied this passage in The Pilgrim.
-Blow, blow west wind,
Line 10. Play the men.] i. e. Act like men. The same expression occurs in scripture, 2 Sam. x. 12. "Be of good courage, "and let us play the men for our people.
Line 29. Gonzalo.] It may be observed of Gonzalo, that, being the only good man that appears with the king, he is the only man that preserves his cheerfulness in the wreck, and his hope on the island. JOHNSON.
Blow till thou rive.
Line 49. -unstanch'd-] i. e. incontinent.
Line 50. Lay her a-hold, a-hold;] To lay a ship a-hold, is to bring her to lie as near the wind as she can, in order to keep clear of the land, and get her out to sea.
Line 51. -set her two courses off to sea again,courses are the main-sail and fore-sail.
-] The JOHNSON.
The passage, as Mr. Holt has observed, should be pointed, Set STEEVENS. her two courses; off, &c.
merely] In this place signifies absolutely. In which sense it is used in Hamlet, Act 1. Sc. 3. -Things rank and gross in nature
"Possess it merely."Line 64. to glut him.] Shakspeare probably wrote, t'englut him, to swallow him; for which I know not that glut is ever used by him. In this signification englut, from engloutir, French, occurs frequently, as in Henry VI.
-Thou art so near the gulf "Thou needs must be englutted."
And again in Timon and Othello. Yet Milton writes glutted offal for swallowed, and therefore perhaps the present text may stand. JOHNSON.
Line 67. Farewell, brother!] All these lines have been hitherto given to Gonzalo, who has no brother in the ship. It is probable that the lines succeeding the confused noise within should be considered as spoken by no determinate characters, but should be printed thus.
1 Sailor. Mercy on us!
We split, we split!
2 Sailor. Farewell, my, &c.
3 Sailor. Farewell, brother, &c.
the erica baccifera.
-] This is the common name for WARBURTON.
ACT I. SCENE II.
or e'er] i. e. before.
Line 91. Pro. No harm.] I know not whether Shakspeare did not make Miranda speak thus:
O, woe the day! no harm?
To which Prospero properly answers:
I have done nothing but in care of thee. Miranda, when she speaks the words, 0, woe the day! supposes, not that the crew had escaped, but that her father thought differently from her, and counted their destruction no harm.
JOHNSON. Line 95. -more better] This is one of those ungrammatical expressions frequently made use of by the oldest writers. Line 96. full poor cell,] i. e. A cell in great poverty: an expression used as a degree of comparison; thus in Henry VIII. - "full surely his greatness is a ripening"-and in Anthony and Cleopatra, Act I. "I am fully sorry."
meddle] i. e. Interfere, mingle.
103. Lie there my art-] a common phrase in the time of queen Elizabeth. Line 106. virtue of compassion- -] Virtue: the most efficacious part, the energetic quality; in a like sense we say, The virtue of a plant is in the extract. JOHNSON.
Line 108. that there is no soul-] Thus the old editions read, but this is apparently defective. Mr. Rowe, and after him Dr. Warburton, read that there is no soul lost, without any notice of the variation. Mr. Theobald substitutes no foil, and Mr. Pope follows him. JOHNSON. -no soul-] Such interrupted sentences are not uncommon to Shakspeare: he sometimes begins a sentence, and before he concludes it, entirely changes the construction because another, more forcible, occurs. STEEVENS.
Line 123. Out three years old.] i. e. Quite three years old. Line 135. abysm] i. e. Abyss. 146. only heir.
-thou his only heir, &c.] Perhaps and thou his JOHNSON.
Perhaps we should read,
-no worse issu’d.
A princess:Line 155.
-teen -] Is sorrow, grief, trouble. So in Romeo and Juliet:
-to my teen be it spoken."
Line 174. To trash for over-topping;--] To trash, as Dr. Warburton observes, is to cut away the superfluities.
Line 177. -the key-] This doubtless is meant of a key HAWKINS. for tuning the harpsichord, spinnet, or virginal.
Line 190. Like a good parent,-] Alluding to the observation, that a father above the common rate of men has commonly JOHNSON. a son below it. Heroum filii noxæ. -like one,
Who having, INTO truth, by telling of it,
To credit his own lie,] The corrupted reading
of the second line has rendered this beautiful similitude quite unintelligible.
I read and point it thus:
Who having, UNTO truth, by telling OFT,
i. e. by often repeating the same story, made his memory such a sinner unto truth, as to give credit to his own lie. A miserable delusion, to which story-tellers are frequently subject. The Oxford Editor having, by this correction, been let into the sense of the passage, gives us this sense in his own words:
Who loving an untruth, and telling't oft,
Line 199. -out of the substitution,] Is the old reading. The modern editors, for the sake of smoother versification, readSTEEVENS. from substitution.
Line 209. So dry he was for sway,-] i. e. Thirsting after. 219. To think but nobly—] But, i. e. otherwise than. 263. deck'd the sea- -] To deck the sea, if explained to honour, adorn, or dignify, is indeed ridiculous: but the original import of the verb deck is, to cover; so in some parts JOHNSON. they yet say deck the table. Line 271. who being then appointed, &c.] Such is the old reading. We might better read,
-he being, &c.
Line 299. tis a good dulness,] Dr. Warburton rightly observes, that this sleepiness, which Prospero by his art had brought upon Miranda, and of which he knew not how soon the
effect would begin, makes him question her so often whether she
is attentive to his story. Line 308.
and all his quality.] i. e. His companions. 310. Perform'd to point- -] i. e. to the minutest arSTEEVENS.
Line 312. -now on the beak,] The beak was a strong pointed body at the head of the ancient gallies; it is used here for the forecastle, or the bolt-sprit. JOHNSON.
Line 313. Now in the waste,- -] The part between the ter-deck and the forecastle.
Line 329. But felt a fever of the mad,—] If it be at all necessary to explain the meaning, it is this: Not a soul but felt such a fever as madmen feel, when the frantic fit is upon them.
STEEVENS. Line 341. -sustaining- -] i. e. Their garments that bore them up and supported them. So K. Lear, Act 4. Sc. 4. "In our sustaining corn." STEEVENS. Line 354. From the still-vex'd Bermoothes.- -] Theobald says Bermoothes is printed by mistake for Bermudas. No. That was the name by which the islands then went, as we may see by the voyages of that time; and by our author's contemporary poets. Fletcher, in his Woman Pleased, says, The devil should think of purchasing that egg-shell to victual out a witch for the Bermoothes. Smith, in his account of these islands, p. 172. says, that the Bermudas were so fearful to the world, that many called them The Isle of Devils.-P. 174.—to all seamen no less terrible than an enchanted den of furies. And no wonder, for the clime was extremely subject to storms and hurricanes; and the islands were surrounded with scattered rocks lying shallowly hid under the surface of the WARBURTON.
The opinion that Bermudas was haunted with evil spirits continued so late as the civil wars. PERCY. the Mediterranean flote,] Flote is wave. Flot. STEEVENS.
Line 384. Dost thou forget] That the character and conduct of Prospero may be understood, something must be known of the system of enchantment, which supplied all the marvellous found