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Spenser, in the dedication of his Wild Man, Fairy Queen, book vi. c. iv. st. 11: [for a special purpose, however, the great poet has given some other tints to his portrait.]
"For other language had he none nor speech,
But a soft murmur and confused sound
Of senselesse words (which Nature did him teach
To expresse his passions) which his reason did empeach.” I may add, that having formed the character of his savage by blending together these several descriptions, and made him the offspring of a devil and Sycorax; he also in its composition availed himself of the current notions prevalent in his own time respecting the Devil and the Powke or Robin Goodfellow, as appears from various passages in this comedy *.
The names of the principal characters in this play are, Alonso, Sebastian, Prospero, Antonio, Ferdinand, Gonzalo, Adrian, Francisco, Caliban, Miranda, and Ariel. I had long entertained a notion that several of these names were suggested to Shakspeare, by some book of voyages, which he had recently read before he sat down to write it. And the perusal of Eden's History of Travaile, 1577, already mentioned, abundantly confirms that opinion; for there are found the names of Alonso, Ferdinand, (which was likewise presented to him by Greene's play,) Sebastian, Gonzales (which he has changed to Gonzalo), and Antonio †; a circumstance that adds some support to what has been already
* Thus Caliban, Act II. Sc. II. :
"I pr'ythee, let me bring thee where crabs grow; "And I with my long nails will dig thee pig-nuts;" &c. The Devil was usually represented with long unpared nails. See a note on the words" Pare thy nails, dad," Twelfth-Night, Act V. Sc. ult. So also, Caliban, when Prospero reproaches him with having attempted to violate the honour of his daughter, replies, Oh ho, oh ho, would it had been done!" where we have the ordinary exclamation both of the devil when introduced speaking exultingly, and of the Powke or Robin Goodfellow. So, in the well known epitaph: Oh ho, quoth the devil, 'tis my John a Combe." See also The Midsummer-Night's Dream, vol. v. p. 284, n. 7.
† But neyther here beyng able to bryng his sute to passe, hee caused the matter to bee moved to the kyng of Portugule, Don Alonzo, the fyfth of that name." Hist. of Travayle, 4to. 1577, p. 2, (b.)
It should be remembered that Alphonsus, Alphonse, Alphonzo, and Alonzo, are used indiscriminately for the same Christian name.
"And thus shortly after, by means of Alonzo of Quintanilia, Colon [Columbus] was brought to the presence and audience of the cardinall Don Pero Gonzales of Mehooza." Ibid. p. 3.
suggested concerning the character of Caliban, being partly formed on some passages in that book.
The name of Adrian, which does not, I think, occur in that work, was probably borrowed from Adrian Gilbert, a great voyager, the brother of Sir Humphrey Gilbert, and the half-brother of Sir Walter Ralegh. That of Ariel was taken from the sacred writings: "Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the city where David dwelt!" Isaiah, xxix. 1. See also the fourth and sixth verses, which may have particularly struck our author, and induced him thus to denominate Prospero's principal ministering spirit: "And thou [Ariel] shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust."-"Thou shalt be visited of the Lord of Hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire."
Caliban, as was long since observed by Dr. Farmer, is merely the metathesis of Canibal. Of the Canibals a long account is given by Eden, ubi supra.
The name of Claribel introduced in this play, though not one of the persons represented, is found in the old History of George Lord Faulconbridge, which was printed in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. She there appears as the concubine of Richard the First, and mother of the Lord Faulconbridge. But in the present instance, the name most probably was taken from Spenser's Faery Queene, book ii. c. iv. where Claribell, the betrothed mistress of Phaon is introduced :
a lady fayre, of great degree, "The which was born of noble parentage, "And sat in highest seat of dignitie."
"The same Franciscus, being partner of the travayles and daungers of Gonzales." Ibid. p. 153.
Gonzales Ferdinandus Oeviedus of the West Indies." Ibid. p. 185.
"When I had said these words, the teares fell from the eyes of Peter Antonia." Ibid. p. 410.
In p. 354, we have-" Of the north-east frostie sea, and lykewise of the viages of that worthie old man Sebastien Cabot, sometymes governour of the companie of the merchantes of Cathaye in the citie of London ;" and his name occurs frequently afterwards.
*The story of Claribell in Spenser's poem is nearly the same as that of Hero in Shakspeare's Much Ado About Nothing, and hence might have particularly attracted our poet's notice, though
The origin of Setebos, who, like Claribel, is only spoken of, has been already pointed out; and an ingenious critick has with great probability shown that the name of Sycorax may have been ormed from a passage in Batman's revised translation of Bartholome de Proprietatibus, edit. 1582, lib. xiii. c. 10*.
Though Greene's play presented the name of Alphonsus (which is the same as Alphonzo or Alonzo,) and Ferdinand, I think it not improbable that our poet may have also had in his thoughts Dent's translation of the History of Philip de Comines, folio, 1596, p. 293; where an account is given of the conduct of Alphonso or Alonzo, the second king of Naples, and his son Ferdinand, (a prince of twenty-four years of age,) when their capital was assailed by Charles the Eighth of France, instigated by Levis Sforza, who wished to wrest the duchy of Milan from his nephew, the reigning Duke. In the opposite page we find these words: "Notwithstanding he [Pope Alexander the Sixth,] held still in prison the Cardinall Ascoigne [Asconius] his ViceChancellor, and brother to the duke of Milan, and Prospero Calonne, some said by their own accord :" and a little lower we have " under the leading of the Lord Rodolph of Mantua, and the Lord Galeot of Mirandala." Did not these personages suggest the names of Prospero and (by contraction,) Miranda? Prospero, however, had before been introduced in the scene in the original representation of Every Man in his Humour, and was indeed the name of a riding master in London in Shakspeare's time, who probably was a Neapolitan.
From these statements it should seem that the sources from which the names of the several characters in this comedy were drawn, were as various as those from which the story of the piece itself was derived.
The three principal incidents of The Tempest, independent of the magick, we have seen, are, the storm, and consequent shipwreck on a desert island; the previous deposition of the Duke of Milan, and the banishment of him and his daughter; and the marriage of the daughter of the King of Naples to the King of Tunis. Having found disjecti membra poeta, the ground and seed-plot of the first of these incidents, in a real fact of the time; of the second, in a dramatick fiction of a writer with whom Shakspeare was well acquainted, and to whom in another instance in the year immediately preceding he was indebted; and the hint, at least, which might have given rise to the third; it is, I conceive, unnecessary, and would be in vain, to seek for any tale or novel comprizing a connected series of circumstances and adven
probably he formed that comedy on Turberville's Tale on the same subject. P. 8.
* See Mr. Douce's Observations on Shakspeare, vol. i.
tures, similar to those which form the subject of this comedy. In uniting two very different events in this play, and connecting that of the storm with the fabricated story of the Duke of Milan, (formed probably, in a certain degree, on some of the circumstances in Greene's Alphonsus,) he has only followed the course which he appears to have pursued in The Merchant of Venice; for the story of the bond, and that of the caskets, are two distinct tales, wholly independent of each other; and no narrative has yet been found in which they were united previously to the appearance of that play. The hints which gave rise to the beautiful comedy before us, are so slight that they leave our author in full possession of the highest praise that the most original and transcendent genius can claim. The character of Prospero considered, not as Duke of Milan, but as the father of Miranda, and a magician; those of Miranda herself, of Ariel, and of Caliban (in a great measure), and all the comick characters, in which our poet took great delight, and of which he had an inexhaustible fund in his mind, are unquestionably all the creatures of his own boundless imagination. MALONE.
However well founded Mr. Malone may be in supposing that many suggestions as to the conduct of the fable in this play were derived from the sources he has pointed out, yet I cannot but still be of opinion that there was some novel which Mr. Collins had seen, such as he described. "His disorder (as Johnson has decribed it in his Lives of the Poets) was not alienation of mind, but general laxity and feebleness, a deficiency rather of his vital than intellectual powers." Such a person was much more likely to have confounded in his memory two books which he had met with nearly at the same time, than to have fancied that he had read what existed only in his own imagination. Nor does it follow, as Mr. Malone objects, that he must have happened to meet with this story just at the very time he wanted it. We may suppose that he had stored up in his memory a variety of such materials, quæ mox depromere possit. Besides, it is not said that the storm made any part of the novel, but that it principally appeared to have suggested the magical part of The Tempest. I have indeed been told by a friend that he had some years ago actually perused an Italian novel which answered to Mr. Collins's description; but as it cannot be now recovered, I shall not venture to say any thing more upon that point. BOSWELL.
PERSONS REPRESENTED *.
ALONSO, King of Naples.
PROSPERO, the rightful Duke of Milan.
ANTONIO, his Brother, the usurping Duke of Milan.
FERDINAND, Son to the King of Naples.
GONZALO, an honest old Counsellor of Naples.
CALIBAN, a savage and deformed Slave.
TRINCULO, a Jester.
STEPHANO, a drunken Butler.
Master of a Ship, Boatswain, and Mariners.
MIRANDA, Daughter to Prospero.
ARIEL, an airy Spirit.
Other Spirits attending on Prospero.
SCENE, the Sea, with a Ship; afterwards an uninhabited Island.
* This enumeration of persons is taken from the folio 1623.