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The Tempest

I.i (4,2) [Enter a Ship-master and a Boatswain] 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 narrator, some inaccuracies and contradictory orders.

I.i.8 (4,4) [blow, till thou burst thy wind, if room enough] Perhaps it might be read,--blow till thou burst, wind, if room enough.

I.i.30 (5,5) 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.

I.i.52 (6,7) [set her two courses; off to sea again] The courses are the main-sail and fore-sail. This term is used by Raleigh, in his Discourse on Shipping.

I.i.63 (6,9)

[He'll be hang'd yet; Though every drop of water swear against it, And gape at wid'st to glut him.]

Shakespeare 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.

I.i.65 (7,1) [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. Brother, farewell, &c. (see 1765, I,6,6)

I.ii.15 (8,3) [Mira. O, woe the day! Pro. No harm, I have done nothing but in care of thee] I know not whether Shakespeare 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 he speaks the words, O, woe the day! supposes, not that the crew had escaped, but that her father thought differently from her, and counted their destruction no harm.

I.ii.27 (8,4) [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.

I.ii.29 (8,5)

[I have with such provision in mine art So safely order'd, that there is no soul-- No, not so much perdition as an hair, Betid to any creature in the vessel]

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. To come so near the right, and yet to miss it, is unlucky: the author probably wrote no soil, no stain, no spot: for so Ariel tells,

Not a hair perish'd; On their sustaining garments not a blemish, But fresher than before.

And Gonzalo, The rarity of it is, that our garments being drench'd in the sea, keep notwithstanding their freshness and glosses. Of this emendation I find that the author of notes on The Tempest had a glimpse, but could not keep it.

I.ii.58 (10,7) [and thy father Was duke of Milan, thou his only heir] Perhaps--and thou his only heir.

I.ii.83 (11,1)

[having both the key Of officer and office, set all hearts i' the state To what tune pleas'd his ear]

Key in this place seems to signify the key of a musical instrument, by which he set Hearts to tune.

I.ii.93 (11,2) [and my trust,Like a good parent, did beget of him A falshood] Alluding to the observation, that a father above the common rate of men has commonly a son below it. Heroum filii noxae.

I.ii.155 (14,6) [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 they yet say deck the table. This sense nay be borne, but perhaps the poet wrote fleck'd, which I think is still used in rustic language of drops falling upon water. Dr. Warburton reads mock'd, the Oxford edition brack'd. (see 1765, I,13,5)

I.ii.185 (15,8) [Thou art inclin'd to sleep: '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.

I.ii.196 (16,1) [I boarded the king's ship: 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.

I.ii.197 (16,2) [Now in the waste] The part between the quarter-deck and the forecastle.

I.ii.209 (16,3) [Not a soul But felt a fever of the mad] In all the later editions this is changed to a fever of the mind, without reason or authority, nor is any notice given of an alteration.

I.ii.218 (17,4) [On their sustaining garments not a blemish Thomas Edwards' MSS: sea-stained] This note of Mr. Edwards, with which I suppose no reader is satisfied, shews with how much greater ease critical emendations are destroyed than made, and how willingly every man would be changing the text, if his imagination would furnish alterations. (1773)

I.ii.239 (19,7) [What is the time o' the day?] This passage needs not be disturbed, it being common to ask a question, which the next moment enables us to answer; he that thinks it faulty may easily adjust it thus:

Pro. What is the time o' the day? Past the mid season. Ari. At least two glasses. Pro. The time 'twixt six and now--

I.ii.250 (19,8) [Pro. Dost thou forget From what a torment I did free thee?] 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 in the romances of the middle ages. This system seems to be founded on the opinion that the fallen spirits, having different degrees of guilt, had different habitations allotted them at their expulsion, some being confined in hell, some (as Hooker, who delivers the opinion of our poet's age, expresses it) dispersed in air, some on earth, some in water, others in caves, dens, or minerals under the earth. Of these, some were more malignant and mischievous than others. The earthy spirits seem to have been thought the most depraved, and the aerial the least vitiated. Thus Prospero observes of Ariel:

--Thou wast a spirit too delicate To act her earthy and abhorr'd commands.

Over these spirits a power might be obtained by certain rites performed or charms learned. This power was called The Black Art, or Knowledge of Enchantment. The enchanter being (as king James observes in his Demonology) one who commands the devil, whereas the witch serves him. Those who thought best of this art, the existence of which was, I am afraid, believed very seriously, held, that certain sounds and characters had a physical power over spirits, and compelled their agency; others who condemned the practice, which in reality was surely never practised, were of opinion, with more reason, that the power of charms arose only from compact, and was no more than the spirits voluntary allowed them for the seduction of man. The art was held by all, though not equally criminal, yet unlawful, and therefore Causabon, speaking of one who had commerce with spirits, blames him, though he imagines him one of the best kind who dealt with them by way of command. Thus Prospero repents of his art in the last scene. The spirits were always considered as in some measure enslaved to the enchanter, at least for a time, and as serving with unwillingness, therefore Ariel so often begs for liberty; and Caliban observes, that the spirits serve Prospero with no good will, but hate him rootedly.--Of these trifles enough.

I.ii.306 (22,1) [Mira. The strangeness of your story put Heaviness in me.] Why should a wonderful story produce sleep? I believe experience will prove, that any violent agitation of the mind easily subsides in slumber, especially when, as in Prospero's relation, the last images are pleasing.

I.ii.321 (23,2)

[As wicked dew, as e'er my mother brush'd With raven's feather from unwholsome fen, Drop on you both!]

[Some critics, Bentley among them, had spoken of Caliban's new language.] Whence these critics derived the notion of a new language appropriated to Caliban, I cannot find: they certainly mistook brutality of sentiment for uncouthness of words. Caliban had learned to speak of Prospero and his daughter, he had no names for the sun and moon before their arrival, and could not have invented a language of his own without more understanding than Shakespeare has thought it proper to bestow upon him. His diction is indeed somewhat clouded by the gloominess of his temper, and the malignity of his purposes; but let any other being entertain the same thoughts, and he will find them easily issue in the same expressions.

[As wicked dew,]--Wicked; having baneful qualities. So Spenser says, wicked weed; so, in opposition, we say herbs or medicines have virtues. Bacon mentions virtuous Bezoar, and Dryden virtuous herbs.

I.ii.351 (25,4) [Abhorred slave] This speech, which the old copy gives to Miranda, is very judiciously bestowed by Mr. Theobald on Prospero.

I.ii.364 (27,7) [the red plague] I suppose from the redness of the body universally inflamed.

I.ii.396 (28,9) [Full fathom five thy father lies] [Charles Gildon had criticized the song as trifling, and Warburton had defended its dramatic propriety.] I know not whether Dr. Warburton has very successfully defended these songs from Gildon's accusation. Ariel's lays, however seasonable and efficacious, must be allowed to be of no supernatural dignity or elegance, they express nothing great, nor reveal any thing above mortal discovery.

The reason for which Ariel is introduced thus trifling is, that he and his companions are evidently of the fairy kind, an order of beings to which tradition has always ascribed a sort of diminutive agency, powerful but ludicrous, a humorous and frolick controlment of nature, well expressed by the songs of Ariel.

I.ii.425 (31,3)

[Fer. my prime request, Which I do last pronounce, is, O you wonder! If you be maid, or no? Mira. No wonder, Sir; But, certainly, a maid.]

[Nothing could be more prettily imagined to illustrate the singularity of her character, than this pleasant mistake. W.] Dr. Warburton has here found a beauty, which I think the author never intended. Ferdinand asks her not whether she was a created being, a question which, if he meant it, he has ill expressed, but whether she was unmarried; for after the dialogue which Prospero's interruption produces, he goes on pursuing his former question.

O, if a virgin, I'll make you queen of Naples


I.ii.439 (32,5) [controul thee] Confute thee, unanswerably contradict thee.

I.ii.471 (33,7) [come from thy ward] Desist from any hope of awing me by that posture of defence.

II.i.3 (36,1) [our hint of woe] Hint is that which recals to the memory. The cause that fills our minds with grief is common. Dr. Warburton reads stint of woe.

II.i.11 (36,3) [Ant. The visitor will not give him o'er so] Why Dr. Warburton should change visitor to 'vizer for adviser, I cannot discover. Gonzalo gives not only advice, but comfort, and is therefore properly called The Visitor, like others who visit the sick or distressed to give them consolation. In some of the Protestant churches there is a kind of officers termed consolators for the sick.

II.i.78 (38,6) [Widow Dido!] The name of a widow brings to their minds their own shipwreck, which they consider as having made many widows in Naples.

II.i.132 (39,7)

[Milan and Naples have More widows in them of this business' making, Than we bring men to comfort them]

It does not clearly appear whether the king and these lords thought the ship lost. This passage seems to imply, that they were themselves confident of returning, but imagined part of the fleet destroyed. Why, indeed, should Sebastian plot against his brother in the following scene, unless he knew how to find the kingdom which be was to inherit?

II.i.232 (43,1) [this lord of weak remembrance] This lord, who, being now in his dotage, has outlived his faculty of remembering; and who, once laid in the ground, shall be as little remembered himself, as he can now remember other things.

II.i.235 (43,2)

[For he's a spirit of persuasion, only Professes to persuade the king his son's alive]

Of this entangled sentence I can draw no sense from the present reading, and therefore imagine that the author gave it thus:

For he, a spirit of persuasion, only Professes to persuade


Of which the meaning may be either, that he alone, who is a spirit of persuasion, professes to persuade the king; or that, He only professes to persuade, that is, without being so persuaded himself, he makes a show of persuading the king.

II.i.242 (44,3) [Ambition cannot pierce a wink beyond] That this is the utmost extent of the prospect of ambition, the point where the eye can pass no further, and where objects lose their distinctness, so that what is there discovered, is faint, obscure, and doubtful. (rev. 1778, I,50,4)

II.i.251 (44,5)

[though some cast again; And, by that destiny, to perform an act, Whereof what's past is prologue; what to come, In yours, and my discharge.]

These lines stand in the old edition thus:

--though some cast again; And, by that destiny, to perform an act, Whereof what's past, is prologue; what to come, In your and my discharge


The reading in the later editions is without authority. The old text may very well stand, except that in the last line in should be is. and perhaps we might better say--and that by destiny. It being a common plea of wickedness to call temptation destiny.

II.i.259 (45,6) [Keep in Tunis] There is in this passage a propriety lost, which a slight alteration will restore:

--Sleep in Tunis, And let Sebastian wake!

II.i.278 (45,7) [Twenty consciences, That stand 'twixt me and Milan, candy'd be they, Or melt e'er they molest] I had rather read,

Would melt e'er they molest.

i.e. Twenty consciences, such as stand between me and my hopes, though they were congealed, would melt before they could molest one, or prevent the execution of my purposes. (see 1765, I,40,7)

II.i.286 (46,8) [This ancient morsel] For morsel Dr. Warburton reads ancient moral, very elegantly and judiciously, yet I know not whether the author might not write morsel, as we say a piece of a man.

II.i.288 (46,9) [take suggestion] i.e. Receive any hint of villainy, (1773)

II.i.297 (46,1)

[Ari. My master through his art foresees the danger, That you, his friend, are in; and sends me forth (For else his project dies) to keep them living]

[i.e. Alonzo and Antonio; for it was on their lives that his project depended. Yet the Oxford Editor alters them to you, because in the verse before, it is said--you his friend; as if, because Ariel was sent forth to save his friend, he could not have another purpose in sending him, viz. to save his project too. W.]

I think Dr. Warburton and the Oxford Editor both mistaken. The sense of the passage, as it now stands, is this: He sees your danger, and will therefore save them. Dr. Warburton has mistaken Antonio for Gonzalo. Ariel would certainly not tell Gonzalo, that his master saved him only for his project. He speaks to himself as he approaches,

My master through his art foresees the danger That these his friends are in


These written with a y, according to the old practice, did not much differ from you.

II.i.308 (47,2) [Why are you drawn?] Having your swords drawn. So in Romeo and Juliet:

"What art thou drawn among these heartless hinds?"

II.ii.12 (48,3) [sometime am I All wound with adders] Enwrapped by adders wound or twisted about me.

II.ii.32 (49,5) [make a man] That is, make a man's fortune. So in Midsummer Night's Dream--"we are all made men."

II.ii.176 (54,5) [I'll get thee Young scamels from the rock] This word has puzzled the commentators: Dr. Warburton reads shamois. Mr. Theobald would read any thing rather than scamels. Mr. Holt, who wrote notes upon this play, observes, that limpets are in some places called scams, therefore I have suffered scamels to stand.

III.i.48 (58,8) [Of every creature's best] Alluding to the picture of Venus by Apelles.

III.ii.71 (62,5) [What a py'd ninny's this?] This line should certainly be given to Stephano. Py'd ninny alludes to the striped coat worn by fools, of which Caliban could have no knowledge. Trinculo had before been reprimanded and threatened by Stephano for giving Caliban the lie, he is now supposed to repeat his offence. Upon which Stephano cries out,

What a py'd ninny's this? Thou scurvy patch!--

Caliban, now seeing his master in the mood that he wished, instigates him to vengeance:

I do beseech thy greatness, give him blows.

III.iii.48 (67,2) [Each putter out on five for one] This passage alluding to a forgotten custom is very obscure: the putter out must be a traveller, else how could he give this account? the five for one is money to be received by him at his return, Mr. Theobald has well illustrated this passage by a quotation from Jonson.

III.iii.82 (69,3) [clear life] Pure, blameless, innocent.

III.iii.86 (69,4)

[so with good life, And observation strange, my meaner ministers Their several kinds have done]

This seems a corruption. I know not in what sense life can here be used, unless for alacrity, liveliness, vigour, and in this sense the expression is harsh. Perhaps we may read,--with good lift, with good will, with sincere zeal for my service. I should have proposed,--with good life, in the same sense, but that I cannot find life to be a substantive. With good life may however mean, with exact presentation of their several characters, with observation strange of their particular and distinct parts. So we say, he acted to the life. (see 1765, I,60,4)

III.iii.99 (70,5) [bass my trespass] The deep pipe told it me in a rough bass sound.

IV.i.2 (71,7) [for I Have given you here a third of mine own life] [Theobald had argued that Miranda was at least half of Prospero's life and had emended.] In consequence of this ratiocination Mr. Theobald printed the text, a thread of my own life. I have restored the ancient reading. Prospero, in his reason subjoined why he calls her the third of his life, seems to allude to some logical distinction of causes, making her the final cause.

IV.i.7 (71,8) [strangely stood the test] Strangely is used by way of commendation, merveilleusement, to a wonder; the sense is the same in the foregoing scene, with observation strange.

IV.i.37 (72,1) [the rabble] The crew of meaner spirits.

IV.i.59 (73,4) [No tongue] Those who are present at incantations are obliged to be strictly silent, "else," as we are afterwards told, "the spell is marred."

IV.i.166 (80,4) [We must prepare to meet with Caliban] To meet with is to counteract; to play stratagem against stratagem.--The parson knows the temper of every one in his house, and accordingly either meets with their vices, or advances their virtues.

HERBERT's Country Parson.

IV.i.178 (80,5)

[so I charm'd their ears, That, calf-like, they my loving follow'd through Tooth'd briars, sharp furzes, pricking goss, and thorns, Which enter'd their frail shins]

Thus Drayton, in his Court of Fairie of Hobgoblin caught in a Spell:

"But once the circle got within, "The charms to work do straight begin, "And he was caught as in a gin: "For as be thus was busy, "A pain he in his head-piece feels, "Against a stubbed tree he reels, "And up went poor Hobgoblin's heels: "Alas, his brain was dizzy. "At length upon his feet he gets, "Hobgoblin fumes, Hobgoblin frets; "And as again he forward sets, "And through the bushes scrambles, "A stump doth hit him in his pace, "Down comes poor Hob upon his face, "And lamentably tore his case "Among the briers and brambles."

IV.i.196 (81,7) [your fairy ... has done little better than play'd the Jack with us] Has led us about like an iguis fatuus, by which travellers are decoyed into the mire.

IV.i.246 (83,3) [put some lime] That is, birdlime.

V.i.102 (90,7) [Ari. I drink the air before me] Is an expression of swiftness of the same kind as to devour the way in Henry IV.

V.i.144 (92,1)

[Alon. You the like loss? Pro. As great to me, as late;]

My loss is as great as yours, and has as lately happened to me.

V.i.174 (93,2) [Yes, for a score of kingdoms] I take the sense to be only this: Ferdinand would not, he says, play her false for the world; yes, answers she, I would allow you to do it for something less than the world, for twenty kingdoms, and I wish you well enough to allow you, after a little wrangle, that your play was fair. So likewise Dr. Gray.

V.i.213 (94,3) [When no man was his own] For when perhaps should be read where.

V.i.247 (96,4)

[at pick'd leisure (Which shall be shortly) single I'll resolve you, (Which to you shall seem probable) of every These happen'd accidents]

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 Anthonio's and Sebastian's plot] shall seem probable, that is, shall deserve your approbation.

V.i.267 (97,5)

[Mark but the badges of these men, my lords, Then say, if they be 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.

Epilogue.10 (100,7) With the help of your good hands] By your applause, by clapping hands. (1773)


General Observation (100) It is observed of The Tempest, that its plan is regular; this the author of The Revisal thinks, what I think too, an accidental effect of the story, not intended or regarded by our author. But whatever might be Shakespeare's intention in forming or adopting the plot, he has made it instrumental to the production of many characters, diversified with boundless invention, and preserved with profound skill in nature, extensive knowledge of opinions, and accurate observation of life. In a single drama are here exhibited princes, courtiers, and sailors, all speaking in their real characters. There is the agency of airy spirits, and of an earthly goblin. The operation of magick, the tumults of a storm, the adventures of a desert island, the native effusion of untaught affection, the punishment of guilt, and the final happiness of the pair for whom our passions and reason are equally interested. (1773)

Samuel Johnson