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Took pains to make thee speak, taught thee each hour
When thou Didst not, savage,
With words to make them known.] The benefit which Prospero here upbraids Caliban with having bestowed, was teaching him language. He shews the greatness of this benefit by marking the inconvenience Caliban lay under for want of it. What was the inconvenience! This, that he did not know bis own meaning. But sure a brute, to which he is compared, doth know its own meaning, that is, knows what it would be at. This, indeed, it cannot do, it cannot fhew its meaning to others. And this certainly is what Prospero would say :
-When thou COULDst not, savage,
Show thy own meaning,
-but wouldft gabble like A thing most brutish, And when once [jkow] was corrupted to know) the transcribers would of course change [coulejl] into [didf] to make it agree with the other false reading. There is indeed a sense, in which Know thy own meaning, may be well applied to a brute. For it may signify the not having any reflex knowledge of the operations of its own mind, which, it would seem, a brute hath not. Though this, I say, may be applied to a brute, and consequently to Caliban, and though to remedy this brutality be a nobler benefit than even the teaching language; yet such a sense would be impertinent and absurd in this place, where only the benefit of language is talked of by an exact and learned speaker. Besides, Prospero exprelly fays, that Caliban had purposes ; which, in other words, is, that he did know his own meaning. WARBURTON.
-When thou didf not, savage,
Know thy orun meaning, By this expreslion, how. ever defective, the poet seems to have meant-When thou did? utter sounds, to which thou had no determinate meaning.
STEEVENS. But thy wild race) Race, in this place, seems to signify original disposition, inborn qualities. In this sente ne ftill say—The race of wine; and Sir W. Temple has somewhere applied it to works of literature, STEEVENS.
(Though thou didît learn) had that in't which good
Cal. You taught me language, and my profit on't Is, I know how to curfe : 7 the red plague rid you, For learning me your language !
Pro. Hag-seed, hence !
Cal. No, 'pray thee !
[Exit Caliban. Enter Ferdinand at the remotest part of the stage, and
Ariel invisible, playing and singing.
ARI E L's SON G.
(The wild waves whist)
[Burden, dispersedly. ! -the red plague-) I suppose from the redness of the body universally infamed. JOHNSON.
* Couri fied when you have, and kisi’d,] As was anciently done at the beginning of some dances.
The wild waves WHIST; i.e. the wild waves being silent (or whist) as in Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. 7. c. 7. 1.59. So was the Titaness put down, and WHIST.
Hark, hark! bowgh waugh: the watch-dogs bark,
The strain of strutting chanticlere
Cry, Cock a-doodle-do.
ARI E L's SON G.
Of bis bones are coral made ;
Nothing of him that doth fade,
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell.
And Milton seems to have had our author in his eye. See ftanza 5. of his Hymn on the Nativity:
The winds with wonder WHIST,
Smoothly the waters kiss’d. So again, Phaër, in his translation of the second book of Virgil:
-Conticuere omnes. They whifted all.” STEEVENS. Full fathom five thy father lies, &c.] Gildon, who has pretended to criticise our author, would give this up as an insuferable and senseless piece of triling. And I believe this is the general opinion concerning it. But a very unjust one. Let us consider the bufiness Ariel is here upon, and his manner of executing it. The commillion Prospero had
Fer. The ditty does remember my drown’d father.This is no mortal business, nor no found "That the earth owes : I hear it now above me,
intrufted to him, in a whisper, was plainly this; to conduct Ferdinand to the fight of Miranda, and to dispose him to the quick sentiments of love, while he, on the other hand, prepared his daughter for the same impressions. Ariel sets about his businefs by acquainting Ferdinand, in an extraordinary manner, with the afflictive news of his father's death. A very odd apparatus, one would think, for a love-fit. And yet, as odd as it appears, the poet has shewn in it the finest conduct for carrying on his plot. Prospero had said,
I find my zenith doth depend upon
Will ever after droop. In consequence of this his prescience, he takes advantage of every favourable circumstance that the occasion offers. The principal affair is the marriage of his daughter with young Ferdinand. But to secure this point, it was necessary they should be contracted before the affair came to Alonzo the father's knowledge. For Profpero was ignorant how this storm and shipwreck, caused by him, would work upon Alonzo's temper. It might either soften him, or increase his aversion for Prospero as the author. On the other hand, to engage Ferdinand, without the consent of his father, was difficult. For, not to speak of his quality, where such engagements are not made without the consent of the fovereign, Ferdinand is represented (to thew it a match worth the seeking) of a most pious temper and disposition, which would prevent his contracting himself without his father's knowledge. The poet therefore, with the utmost address, has made Ariel persuade him of his father's death to remove this remora. WARBURTON.
I know not whether Dr. Warburton has very successfully defended these songs from Gildon's accusation. Ariel's lays, however seasonable and efficacious, mu 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 Ariei 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 fort of diminutive agency, powerful but ludicrous, a humorous and frolick controlment of nature, well expressed by the songs of Ariel. JOHNSON. "That the earth owes :
-) To owe, in this place, as well as many others, fignifies to own. So in Othello :
Pro. The fringed curtains of thine eye advance, And say, what thou seest yond.
Mira. What is't? a spirit ? *Lord, how it looks about ! Believe me, Sir, It carries a brave form :but tis a spirit. Pro. No, wench; it eats, and seeps, and hath
such fenses As we have, such. This gallant, which thou seeft, Was in the wreck; and, but he's something stain'd With grief, that's beauty's canker, thou mightít call
Mira. I might call him
[Afide. As my foul prompts it.---Spirit, fine fpirit, I'll free
thee Within two days for this.
Fer. 2 Moft sure, the goddess On whom these airs attend !--Vouchsafe, my prayer
May that sweet fleep, " Which thou owdf yetterday.". To use the word in this fense is not peculiar to Shakespeare. I meet with it in B. and Fletcher's Beggar's Bush:
“ If now the beard be such, what is the prince,
“ 'That owes the beard ?" STEEVENS. ? Mofi fure, &c.] It seems that Shakespeare, in The Tempeff, hath been fuspected of translating some expressions of Virgil; witness the O Dea certe. I presume we are here directed to the paffage, where Ferdinand says of Miranda, after hearing the fongs of Ariel :
Moft fure, the goddess
On whom these airs attend ! And so very small Latin is fufficient for this formidable tranfdation, that if it be thought any honour to our poet, I am loth to deprive him of it; but his honour is not built on such a sandy foundation. Let us turn to a real translator, and examine whether the idea might not be fully comprehended by an English reader, supposing it necessarily borrowed from Virgil.