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In the first editions of Percy were the following lines,
To doubt her virtue were suspecting heaven,
I tremble. Why does terror shake
A. III. Which are thus altered in the edition in Mrs. More's Works, 1801.
Away! nor doubt a virtue so consummate.
D. p. 28. I feel no small degree of apprehension at entering upon this part of my subject, as I shall have to censure that, which hath given pleasure to so many persons from their earliest to which habit hath reconciled them, perhaps, without sufficient, or any consideration.
If it be allowable to represent any of the inhabitants of the invisible world, I am clear that it ought to be only according to those ideas which are founded in truth, and not according to those which are fictitious. Scripture hath certainly revealed to us much upon the subject of Angels, but it appears to me still to be wrong to embody them on the Stage. Mrs. More mentions The Masque of Comus as "an exquisite piece" to read; but I do not exactly understand whether she would allow it to be represented even in an Eutopian Theatre. I must confess I would not, even were the subject better treated than I consider it to be. : For, though the Attendant Spirit is intended to represent one of the ministering Spirits (Heb. i. 14.) or Guardian Angels of Scripture, for The Lady says,
He, the Supreme Good, t whom all things ill
1. 217. Yet the Spirit, at his first entrance, says,
Before the starry threshold of Jove's court
Among'st the enthron’d Gods on sainted seats.
tributary gods, blue-hair'd deities, Bacchus, Circe, and Comus. His sky robes are of Iris woof. He says to the Brothers,
'Tis not vain or fabulous,
Dr. Johnson says, in praise of Shakspeare, that he
Prologue on the opening of Drury-Lane Theatre, 1747. But Shakspeare, in his imagining, has borrowed from heathenism and the superstitions of later times, and decked them with spoils from the Scriptures of Truth,* with which he certainly was very conversant. The Tempest is a very remarkable proof of this.
The general idea of the Tempest, the Shipwreck, and the Island, is taken from the account of St. Paul's Shipwreck on the Island of Melita, mentioned in Acts, ch. xxvii. and xxviii. Prospero says to Miranda, respecting the wreck,
* In the Tragedy of Osway, when he is led away to prison, Dorna says,
All gracious Heaven! upon this land look down,
A. I. This is evidently an allusion to the miraculous deliverance of St. Peter from prison, mentioned, Acts xvi. 26. It is presumptuous to expect such an interference now. There is likewise a doubt expressed, whether Providence will do him right, and there is likewise a prayer offered to Angels. The author embraces this opportunity of censuring his own performances, where he sees occasion, equally with those of others,
I have with such provision in mine art
A. II. S. 1. • There shall not an hair fall from the head of
you. · Acts xxvii. 34.
We were in all in the ship, two hundred three-score and sixteen souls." v. 37.
In the conversation between Prospero and Miranda, respecting their preservation in the “ rotten carcase of a boat,” in which they had been turn'd adrift, she asks,
How came we ashore ? he answers,
“The centurion-commanded that they which could swim, should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land: And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship: and so it came to pass, that they all escaped safe to land.” (43, 44.)
The Sacred Historian proceeds to inform us, that “the bar-
though they are of monstrous shape,
A, III, S. 3.
He has preserved also the idea of gathering sticks :
Caliban. I'll bear him no more sticks. A. II. S. 2.
Caliban talks of adders, A. II. S. 2. and says of Trinculo and Stephano, “These be fine things, an if they be not sprights. That's a brave god.” Miranda also says of Ferdinand,
What is't? a Spirit?
A thing divine.
A. I. S. 2. Prospero is represented as an old man, with a long beard, wear. ing a mantle, which is endowed with supernatural virtue,
Lend thy hand,
[Lays down his mantle.
A. I. S. 2. which, I suppose, is borrowed from Elijah's. 1 Kings six. and 2 Kings ii. He has also a rod, (A. I. S. 2. A. V. $. 1.) with which he
performs miracles, and controls the waters, which is undoubtedly taken from that of Moses; for, besides the general idea, there are passages, which incontestibly shew, that he had the history of the Israelites in the wilderness, in his mind; namely, that of the miraculous preservation of their garments (see Deut. viii. 4. xxix, 5. Nehemiah ix. 21.) which is mentioned no less than four times.
On their sustaining garments not a blemish,
A. I. S, 2. Though this island seems to be desert, -uninhabitable, and almost inaccessible, Yet-it must needs be of subtile, tender, and delicate temperance. - Here is every thing advantageous to life. But the rarity of it is (which is, indeed, almost beyond credit)—That our garments, being, as they were, drench'd in the sea, hold notwithstanding their fressness and glosses ; being rather new. dy'd, than stain'd with salt water. A. II. S. J.
Methinks our garments are now as fresh as when we put them on in Africk, &c. Ditto.
Sir, we were talking, that our garments seem now as fresh, as when, &c. Ditto.
The name of Ariel is taken from Isaiah xxix. ). and Ezra viii. 16,
This Spirit had formerly been servant to the witch Sycorax, and as Prospero says to bim, on account of his being
a spirit too delicate
A. I. S. 2, Of the same race with this tricksy Spirit are the Fairies of the MIDSUMMER Night's DREAM. But I find even an adversary of the Stage partly defending these; I say partly, because, though, in one sentence, he seems to defend, in another he appears 'to condemn them. The writer to which I allude, is the Reviewer of The Family Shukspeare, in The Christian Observer for May 1808, vol. vii. p. 328. He says,
“ Had the creative fancy of the poets merely summoned into being, Elves, Fairies, and other denizens of their ideal world, not the most marble-hearted moralist would have interdicted the perusal of the Drama. Oberon, Titania, Cobweb, and Peaseblossom, as far as our recollection goes, are very
The other passage is at p. 333 of the same volume :
“ It is one of the triumphs of Christianity, when it has persuaded such as combine with a religious profession, a high taste for the literature of poetry, romance, and the drama, to renounce their once cherished familiarity with the auxiliaries of vice. The self-denial here called into action can be estimated by those, and only by those, who have such a taste. But it is the practical character of the religion we endeavour to inculcate, to exercise a sacred violence on the mind, by bringing all its faculties under the controul of a new and