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Saint Helen, Saint Elm, Saint Herm, Saint Clare, Saint Peter, and Saint Nicholas. Whenever it appeared as a single flame it was supposed by the ancients to be Helena, the sister of Castor and Pollux, and in this state to bring ill luck, from the calamities which this lady is known to have caused in the Trojan war. When it came double it was called Castor and Pollux, and accounted a good omen. It has been described as a little blaze of fire, sometimes appearing by night on the tops of soldiers' lances, or at sea on masts and sail-yards whirling and leaping in a moment from one place to another. Some have said, but erroneously, that it never appears but after a tempest. It is also supposed to lead people to suicide by drowning.
Further information on the subject may be collected from Plin. Hist. nat. 1. ii. c. 37. Seneca Quæst. nat. c. 1. Erasm. Colloq. in naufragio. Schotti. Physica curiosa, p. 1209. Menage Dict. etym. v. Saint Telme. Cotgrave Dict. v. feu, furole. Trevoux Dict. v. furole. Lettres de Bergerac, p. 45. Eden's Hist. of travayle, fo. 432 b. 433 b. Camerarii Horæ subsecivæ iii. 53. Cambray Voy. dans la Finisterre ii. 296. Swan's Speculum mundi p. 89. Shakspeare seems to have consulted Stephen Batman's Golden books of the leaden goddes, who, speaking of Castor and Pollux, says "they were figured like two lampes or cresset lightes, one on the toppe of a maste, the other on the stemme or foreshippe." He adds that if the light first appears in the stem or foreship and ascends upwards, it is good luck; if either lights begin at the top-mast, bowsprit or foreship, and descend towards the sea, it is a sign of tempest. In taking therefore the latter position, Ariel had fulfilled the commands of Prospero to raise a storm.
SCENE 2. Page 28.
ARI. From the still-vext Bermoothes
The voyage of Sir George Sommers to the Bermudas in the year 1609 has been already noticed with a view of ascertain
ing the time in which The tempest was written; but the important particulars of his shipwreck, from which it is exceedingly probable that the outline of a considerable part of this play was borrowed, has been unaccountably overlooked. Several contemporary narratives of the above event were published, which Shakspeare might have consulted; and the conversation of the time might have furnished, or at least suggested, some particulars that are not to be found in any of the printed accounts. In 1610 Silvester Jourdan, an eyewitness, published A discovery of the Barmudas, otherwise called the ISLE OF DIVELS: By Sir Thomas Gates, Sir Geo. Sommers, and Captayne Newport, with divers others. Next followed Strachey's Proceedings of the English colonie in Virginia 1612, 4to, and some other pamphlets of less moment. From these accounts it appears that the Bermudas had never been inhabited, but regarded as under the influence of inchantment; though an addition to a subsequent edition of Jourdan's work gravely states that they are not inchanted; that Sommers's ship had been split between two rocks; that during his stay on the island several conspiracies had taken place ; and that a sea-monster in shape like a man had been seen, who had been so called after the monstrous tempests that often happened at Bermuda. In Stowe's Annals we have also an account of Sommers's shipwreck, in which this important passage occurs, "Sir George Sommers sitting at the stearne, seeing the ship desperate of reliefe, looking every minute when the ship would sinke, hee espied land, which according to his and Captaine Newport's opinion, they judged it should be that dreadfull coast of the Bermodes, which iland were of all nations said and supposed to bee inchanted and inhabited with witches and devills, which grew by reason of accustomed monstrous thunder, storm, and tempest, neere unto those ilands, also for that the whole coast is so wonderous dangerous of rockes, that few can approach them, but with unspeakable hazard of ship-wrack." Now if some of these circumstances
in the shipwreck of Sir George Sommers be considered, it may possibly turn out that they are "the particular and recent event which determined Shakspeare to call his play The tempest," instead of "the great tempest of 1612," which has already been supposed to have suggested its name, and which might have happened after its composition. If this be the fact the play was written between 1609 and 1614 when it was so illiberally and invidiously alluded to in Ben Jonson's Bartholomew-fair.
The spirits or familiars attending on magicians were always impatient of confinement. Thus we are told that the spirit Balkin is wearied if the action wherein he is employed continue longer than an hour; and therefore the magician must be careful to dismiss him. The form of such a dismission may be seen in Scot's Discovery of witchcraft, edit. 1665, folio, p. 228.
SCENE 2. Page 35.
Quaint here means brisk, spruce, dexterous. From the French cointe.
SCENE 2. Page 35.
CAL. As wicked dew as e'er my mother brush'd
Drop on you both! a south-west blow on you,
The following passage in Batman uppon Bartholome his booke De proprietatibus rerum, 1582, folio, will not only throw considerable light on these lines, but furnish at the same time grounds for a conjecture that Shakspeare was in
* See Malone's Shaksp. vol. i. part i. p. 379.
debted to it, with a slight alteration, for the name of Caliban's
SCENE 2. Page 36.
Shall, for that vast of night that they may work,
Although urchins sometimes means hedge-hogs, it is more probable that in this place they denote fairies or spirits, and that Mr. Malone is right in the explanation which he has given. The present writer's former note must therefore be cancelled, as should, according to his conception, such part of Mr. Steevens's as relates to the hedge-hog. The same term both in the next act, and in the Merry Wives of Windsor, is used in a similar sense.
Mr. Steevens in a note on this word in the last mentioned play has observed that the primitive sense of urchin is a hedgehog, whence it came, says he, to signify any thing dwarfish. There is however good reason for supposing it of Celtic origin. Erch in Welsh, is terrible, and urzen, a superior intelligence. In the Bas Breton language urcha signifies to howl. "Urthinwad Elgin," says Scot in his Discovery of witchcraft, p. 224, edit. 1665, "was a spirit in the days of King Solomon,
came over with Julius Cæsar, and remained many hundred years in Wales, where he got the above name."
The urchin or irchin, in the sense of a hedge-hog, is certainly derived from the Latin ericeus; and whoever is desirous of more information concerning the radical of ericeus may be gratified by consulting Vossius's Etymologicon v. erinaceus. With respect to the application of urchin to any thing dwarfish, for we still say a little urchin, this sense of the word seems to have originated rather from the circumstance of its having once signified a fairy, who is always supposed to be a diminutive being, than from the cause assigned by Mr. Steevens.
It is true that in the ensuing act Caliban speaks of Prospero's spirits as attacking him in the shape of hedge-hogs, for which another reason will be offered presently; and yet the word in question is only one out of many used by Shakspeare, which may be best disposed of by concluding that he designed they should be taken in both or either of their senses.
In a very rare old collection of songs set to music by John Bennett, Edward Piers or Peirce, and Thomas Ravenscroft, composers in the time of Shakspeare, and entitled Hunting, hawking, dauncing, drinking, enamoring, 4to, no date, there are, the fairies dance, the elves dance, and the urchins dance. This is the latter:
By the moone we sport and play,
Two by two, and three by three,
SCENE 2. Page 40.
CAL. It would control my dam's God Setebos.
In Dr. Farmer's note it should have been added that the passage from Eden's History of travayle was part of Magellan's Voyage; or in Mr. Tollet's, that Magellan was included in Eden's collection.