Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

position of the journalist, whether danc-1 Lyndhurst expressed himself thus at the ing on the surface or grovelling in the last anniversary of the Newspaper Printmud, is determined by his own specificers' Benevolent Society, held in July, gravity, instead of his being sunk to the 1839:bottom with a plummet round his neck. We have already alluded to the rooted of the power of this engine, to do his utmost for

• It had become the duty of every man sensible prejudices existing on the subject in this the purpose of adding to the respectability of those country. It is our painful duty to add, who directed it, who ought to be sought rather that they have received the sanction of than avoided as associates, and treated with the very high authority.

courtesy and respect to which their character and We happen to

attainments entitled them. The press had by de. know that distinguished statesmen, at no grees become an important profession; and to those very distant epoch, have declared that who supposed that only a moderate share of ability any regular connection, past or present, was requisite for it, he would say, Try your hands;

and if such a person did attempt to write a leading with a newspaper, must be regarded as a fatal bar to promotion in the higher de article, he would afterwards entertain juster no partments of the state. We happen to know, moreover, that when this resolu The required talent, however, is beyond tion of theirs was incidentally mentioned dispute. Let fops and fools sneer as they to Prince Metternich, he inquired, with will

, the writer who is daily read by thoua look of wonder, if they were mad. He sands must have a consciousness of his might well ask the question. There is, power; and the capacity of bringing certainly, a traditional remark of Mr. widely-scattered information into

one Canning to the purport that no effective lucid focus of drawing just results from service could be rendered out of parlia- well-selected data--of arranging, ampliment; but the remark (if the Anti-jacobin fying, compressing, illustrating a sucever made it, which we doubt) is inappli- cession of important topics—all on the cable to times like the present, when the spur of the occasion, without a moment's chief care of the bulk of our representa- stay to think, to examine, to refer—this tives is to divine the opinions of their surely argues a high degree of intellecconstituents. A single writer capable of tual cultivation—this surely constitutes a showing up the errors of an opposing just title to a fair share of the rewards or party, and giving clear plausible exposi- honours at the disposal of a government. tions of the policy of his own, does more A good example has been set by the to advance their real interests than any Whigs, two or three of whose noble twenty members taken at random; and leaders, as we formerly remarked, have if it were asked who had best executed been uniformly actuated by a real respect Lord Stanley's memorable threat, “Step for intellectual excellence, while others by step, measure by measure, failure have at least had the discretion to desire after failure, we will watch and we will the credit of such views. Lord Palmercheck, and we will control the govern- ston remains Secretary for Foreign ment,' we should say without hesitation, Affairs, despite of his alleged contribunot Colonel Sibthorp, nor Mr. Liddell, tions to the Globe; and several persons nor Sir Robert Peel, nor Lord Stanley of inferior rank, even more extensively himself, but the Morning Post, the Herald, connected with the London papers, have the Standard, and the Times.

received lucrative appointments from Inefficiency, therefore, cannot be the government within the real ground. Those who raise or rely To be sure, what has been done in this on such objections obviously partake the way is not much, but it is something to prejudice, or they are actuated by a pal- establish the principle-to let men of try fear of public opinion founded on it. acquirement know that they may adopt In either case, the prejudice is the root the readiest and often most effective of the evil; and a greater evil it would mode of communicating with the public be no easy matter to conceive than any without compromising their prospects or doctrine, aphorism, or resolution tending, losing caste in society. In fact, our imdirectly or indirectly, to degrade the class mediate demands are extremely humble, who supply the entire mental aliment of as we seek merely to get rid of a factithe larger half of the community. This tious state of public feeling, and place view of the matter has been confirmed by newspapers in this respect on the same one great statesman at all events-a man footing as other periodical works, in always remarkable for his superiority to which it has never been deemed dannarrow notions of expediency. Lord gerous or derogatory to write.

st few years.

or

Art. V.-A Disquisition on the Scene, of his views upon all, has been enabled to

Origin, Dale, &c., of Shakspeare's Tem- concoct an octavo volume of some 200 pest. By the Rev. Joseph Hunter, pages, which a mysterious personage who F.S.A. London. 8vo. 1840.

rejoices in the signature of Gulielmus,

and the device, badge, or cognizance of If there was any one play of Shakspeare's a fish-whether a shark or a gudgeon, which we might reasonably have hoped we are not skilled enough in ichthyology to enjoy in peace, without molestation to determine-has had the temerity to from the commentators, that play was publish, and which several elderly genThe Tempest. It appeared to us that the tlemen, fellow-antiquarians of Mr. Hunter, author had told all that could be known, and co-frequenters of Mr. Thomas Rodd's or that it was necessary to know; that shop, have been kind enough to purchase the text was so generally free from cor- at the rate of about 14s. a copy. ruption as to be sufficiently clear even As a very limited impression of this to the most ordinary reader, and to af- volume has been published-the erudite ford very few opportunities for the editor gentleman having condescended to add the to display his cumbersome ingenuity in prestige of rarity to its intrinsic attracperplexing the difficulties which the igno- tions—it is our intention to give our rance of the printer's devil had originat- readers a brief account of the most intered; and that, in a work of so purely esting portions of its contents. imaginative a character-of which scene, The first point which the Rev. Joseph fable, persons, were all alike the crea- Hunter undertakes to discuss is the lotions of the fancy—there could not by cality of The Tempest. The island, he any accident be discovered the slightest assures us, was not Bermuda.

This ground on which an historical discussion head he argues upon at very considerable

an antiquarian argument could be length-why, we cannot very well underraised. But we were deceived. We, stand, except, to be sure, that all such the humble adorers of the genius of unnecessary discussions constitute the Shakspeare, who are content to forget peculiar delight of all such authors. The ourselves in the enchanting visions of only island in the whole world_which his poetry, and to enrich our minds by Shakspeare expressly informs us Prospegleaning something from the boundless ro's island was not, is the island of Bertreasures of his wisdom, can very little muda. Ariel tells Prospero that he had divine what inventions that parasitic race disposed the king's ship in the deep nook' of writers are capable of, who, without from which his master had once called talent to produce any original work of him up ‘at midnight, to fetch dew from their own, are always on the look out for the still-vex'd Bermoothes. Now, as we an occasion of hitching on their lucubra- do not suppose our readers are of so very tions in the form of notes, or hints, or stupid a description as those whom Mr. suggestions, or inquiries, or illustrations, Hunter seems to anticipate from his Disor disquisitions to the productions of quisition, we shall not go into any lengthauthors of eternal name. Without power ened argument to prove to them that, if of motion in themselves, they collect in Ariel was sent from Prospero's island to bunches, and fasten themselves like the island of Bermuda, the island he was barnacles to the bottom of the vessel, sent to could not be the island he was which is scudding along briskly before sent from. Again, though Shakspeare the gale; and they never seem to en. does not particularise any island; for he counter any difficulty in making good was much too great a poet to fix the lotheir hold. The Rev. Joseph Hunter is cality of a story of such high fancy, and one of this class of literati. He has knew that the sublime of beauty, as well taken The Tempest for his subject: and in as of terror, is to be found in the vague his hands, and according to his peculiar and the undefined-yet he has still given mode of treatment, a most fruitful subject us to understand that the island was someit has proved. Where one, whose mind where in the Mediterranean. The storm was less incapable of entering into the which dispersed the fleet of the king of poetry of Shakspeare, would have found Naples was the affair of a few minutes; nothing to write about; he, on the con- and, at the same time that the king's trary, by supposing one thing, by denying ship is safely harboured in a deep nook' another, by suggesting a third, by argu- of the enchanted island, Ariel informs ing upon each, and by adducing authorities us that the other vessels, from whose from a parcel of old volumes in support company that ship had only just been

some

separated, are upon the Mediterranean ance-I mean Mr. Rodd, the very ingeflote.' It is pretty certain, therefore, that nions, liberal, and respeetable bookseller, it was in the Mediterranean that the storm in Great Newport-street.' (p. 32.) From occurred, and that the sea, on which the the great discovery thus made fleet was dispersed, must also have been years ago by Mr. Thomas Rodd, the the sea of which the waters flowed into bookseller, and subsequently set forth by the nook of Prospero's island where the the Rev. Joseph Hunter, the antiquarian, king's ship was anchored. All this ap- we learn that the scene of The Tempest pears to us sufficiently plain from the is—where do you suppose ? The island text of the play itself. Indeed, we never of Lampedusa !--Lampedusa ! And why? met with any commentator who enter--Oh! it lay between Algiers and Naples, tained a different opinion. To be sure, and the fleet of Alonzo must inevitably Mr. Thomas Moore, in inditing a poetical have passed it. But this is only one of epistle to Lord Strangford, thoughtlessly the cogent arguments which Mr. Hunter scribbled something a note at the bot- has to advance in confirmation of Mr. tom of his page about Bermuda, and Rodd's hypothesis. In Lampedusa a Shakspeare, and Ariel ; but we are con- hermit always lived ; and had not Shakvinced that he is the first and the last speare's island a magician living in it ? person of any authority on such a subject Lampedusa was believed to be haunted ; who ever could, after a moment's con- and was not Shakspeare's island inhabit. sideration, have confounded the island of ed by spirits ? At Lampedusa, accordProspero with an island in the Atlantic. ing to Coronelli, 'repose and quiet are That such is the case is acknowledged banished by formidable apparitions ;' and by Mr. Hunter himself. “I must add,' he was not Shakspeare's island full of says, 'for on this point the commentators' sounds and sweet airs, that charm the appear to have been misunderstood—that sense, and hurt not ?? In Lampedusa, no editor of Shakspeare has ever gone so far the nights are disturbed,' says Crusius, as to represent the island of Bermuda as actu-' with spectres and frightful dreams, ally the scene of the play, but only as which do fatally affright with death-like having suggested the idea of a stormy, terrors whosoever doth remain there so deserted, and enchanted island.' But much as one night ;' and does not Caliban nevertheless, as Bermuda is an island, and tell us that in Shakspeare's island, the the events dramatised in The Tempest dreams created by the melody of a thoutook place on an island, he thought that sand twanging instruments,' were so exsomebody or other might, hereafter, be quisitely beautiful that, when he wakso acute as to identify them, and has ed, he cried to sleep again ?'—Why, therefore considered it no waste of time here are proofs !-And on just such to favour the literary world with an anti- proofs as these-proofs quite as rational, cipative refutation of so sagacious a and almost as conclusive, as those al supposition.

leged by Pompey Bum, in Measure for Having, after the manner of Tom Measure,' in defence of the respectabiliThumb the Great, who is reported to have ty of Mr. Froth-we are to believe, made all the giants he slew, most tri- hereafter, that the scene of Prospero's umphantly refuted an erroneous conjec. exile and enchantments was an island 120 ture respecting the locality of The T'em- miles S. of Sicily, 70 W.S.W. of Malta, pest, which, as he admits, nobody was and 61 distant from the coast of Barbary, ever known to have been guilty of, Mr. long. 12° 24' E., lat. 35° 40' N.!!! BeHunter proceeds to inform us of the sides, in its dimensions,' Mr. Hunter as. great discovery which forms the main sures us, “Lampedusa is what we may argument of his Disquisition.' He has imagine Prospero's island to have been, told us where the events of the drama in a circuit thirteen miles and a half.' did not occur ; he now undertakes to in- (p. 19.) In its dimensions such as we form us where they did take place. But might have imagined Prospero's island this is a discovery so great, that Mr. to have been !' Why, what man in his Hunter's modesty will not allow him to poetic senses ever thought anything assume the merit of it. * I am bound to about the length, and breadth, and ciracknowledge,' he says, and I do so with cumference of Prospero's island ? But great pleasure, that I received many we should have `imagined it to be thiryears ago the first suggestion from one teen miles and a half in circuit!' Why, whose intimate acquaintance with books what can the imagination have to do and their contents is well known to all with land-measuring ?' who have the pleasure of his acquaint.

But the author has another argument It is a clencher. And we feel assured | little time ago, who, in a letter to some that, however much our readers may be magazine or other, pretended to inform us at first astonished by it, they will on re. what the one thing was which Sycorax flection feel and acknowledge its force. did, and on account of which she was Mr. Hunter has made a shrewd guess banished from her country, instead of that Prospero did not merely live by his being killed, as 'her mischiefs and sorwits, as a conjuror, but that he support. ceries terrible' had deserved. She was ed himself and his daughter by following spared, he tells us, by the home office at a very reputable, though not a very dis- Algiers, on account of her being enceinte tinguished, calling. And, as we read with Caliban SA very ingenious con. that it was one of Caliban's daily tasks to jecture certainly ; but we feel assured bring in wood ; as Ferdinand was em- that no such thought ever entered the ployed in piling up logs ; and as, in so mind of Shakspeare. He knew not what warm a climate, such a quantity of fuel that one thing was, nor did he ever give could never have been required for the his imagination the trouble of ascertainhome consumption of so small a family, ing it. He wanted it for the purpose of it is concluded that the ex-Duke of Mi. his play, as an excuse for saving a wretch lan was a hewer and dealer in fagots; who, according to the laws and the opithat he kept a sort of charcoal and fire- nions of his age, was guilty of death ; and wood store ; and that, in fact, he took he left it a deed without A NAME, not to be advantage of the well timbered state of known by any for ever but Hell, and the island of Lampedusa to open that Night, and Setebos. trade in fagots with Malta which has But to return to the · Disquisition. If been continued down to the present day. Messrs. Hunter and Rodd are determined In justice to this ingenious divine, we to fix down Shakspeare's island to a station consider ourselves bound to cite the pas- on the map, why do they not also undersage at length :

take the execution of the same task for There is a coincidence, which would be very Swift and Cervantes? It would be an office extraordinary if it were merely accidental, between well worthy of their talent and their acthe chief occupation of Caliban and the labour im; quirements. Let Mr. Rodd discover for us something which we find belonging to Lampedu. the geographical position of Laputa ; and sa, on the other. Caliban's employment is collect. let Mr. Hunter devote his leisure-hours to ing firewood. It may be but for the use of Pros. the diligent perusal of every globe and pero. But Ferdinand is employed in piling up chart within his reach, till he is enabled thousands of logs of wood. This is not like the in. vention of a poet working at his own free pleasure to inform us between what parallels we I should seek for an archetype, liad I not already are to look for the Island of Barataria. found one in the fact that Malta is supplied with But, if we are to be told which of all the firewood from Lampedusa.

islands in the world was the scene of • That the logs piled up by Ferdinand were des. tined to this and no other use, is apparent from Prospero's banishment, why are we'not what Miranda says, " When this burns," * &c. also to be enlightened on the history and

chronology of his story, as well as its And it really is a fact that a book is grave- geography ? In what year did Prospero ly composed by a gentleman who can spell, return and re-assume his dukedom in and who writes Reverend before his name, Milan ? This is a curious speculation. and F.S. A. after it, stuffed with such argu- It must have been after 1522, in which ments as these, for the purpose of anni- year Bermuda was discovered, for Proshilating that sense of the vague and un- pero speaks of that island. It must have determined, which Shakspeare had left been before 1616, for in that year Shakfloating like a halo of unearthly light speare died. In what part of those ninetyover his work, and through which the four years was there a reigning Duke of imagination of every reader of The Tem- Milan of the name of Prospero? Then, pest -free and unconfined--surveys the again, whom did he succeed ?—who sucscenery of the enchanted island, drawn ceeded him ?-in what wars was he engagin fairer forms, and painted in far livelier ed ?—whom did he marry ?--washe a Con. and more glowing colours, than any reality servative or a Liberal prince ?-when did could present him with, even among the he die ?-where was he buried ?-how lovely islands of the Mediterranean. We manychildren had he? Is the present King detest this system of finding out in poetry of Naples descended from Ferdinand and what everything means, and what every- Miranda ? All these are points of quite as thingis derived from, and what every thing great interest, quite as open to discusalludes to. Why, there was a gentleman, a sion, and quite as capable of a satisfactory

p. 30.

elucidation, as the point which Messrs. sweetest melody and fullest chorus-fitRodd and Hunter have undertaken to settle, ted away, delighted to meet the spirit of in ascertaining the scene of Prospero's ex- the great magician from whose fancy ile and Miranda's love. As to its being they had derived their life and being, and Lampedusa, we know that it was not. We to pour forth their gratulations around have the very best poetical authority for him as he ascended on his upward way refusing our assent to such a supposition. to regions more bright, and pure, and According to the agreeable ballad which etherial, than any to which they, even Mr. Collier has so fortunately recovered in their pride of flight,' could venture to -and which, though there may be some aspire. Since that happy hour, they have reasons for entertaining a contrary opi- all dwelt in harmony together, in one of nion, we are inclined to believe anterior to the fairest and most secluded valleys of the play, and to have afforded the ground-Araby the blest. We know the spot; but, work of the plot-we are informed that for worlds, we would not be wicked no sooner had the ship sailed away with enough to deliver them over, in their Prospero and his gallant company, than merry innocence, to the tender mercies

of the commentators. Were we to let . From that day forth the isle has been By wandering sailors never seen.

fall the slightest hint of the position of Some say 'tis buried deep

their melodious home, we are well aware Beneath the sea, which breaks and roars that Mr. Hunter or Mr. Rodd, or both Above its savage, rocky shores,

those gentlemen together, would start off Nor ere is known to sleep'

to Rotherhithe to-morrow morning, and This account, however, though like engage a steam-hoy, and go paddling the truth, is not exactly it. The island away in a cloud of thick black smoke in exists no longer, but its end was not so the pursuit of them; and, having reached Everybody who has any acquaintance, the spot, they would, without the least however superficial, with such matters, sense of compunction, gather the sweetis perfectly aware of the actual destiny est blossoms that Ariel ever sucked his of Shakspeare's enchanted island, though honey from, and crush them between the they are not so fortunate as to have any hunt down the innocent spirits them

leaves of their hortus siccus ; they would documents in black letter to cite in support of their faith. The facts are these. selves; they would scare them with unThe island was called into existence by earthly sounds; they would shake their a far more potent magician than even grizzled locks at them; they would catch Prospero ; and,“ like the baseless fabric them with bird-limed twigs, and butterfly. of a vision,' it melted away into thin air, nets; run pins through their delicate leaving no rack behind,'with a deep bodies ; fix them to the bottoms of glazed and solemn sound of funereal music, on boxes, and bear them away in triumph to the twenty-third of April, in the year six. be deposited as curiosities among the teen hundred and sixteen, the day when natural history shelves of the British Muthat mighty master died. After the de. seum. parture of Prospero and Miranda, it was

So much for the scene of The Tem. never visited again by any human crea- pest.' We now proceed to the consideture. The unearthly inhabitants possess ration of that part of the Disquisition' ed it altogether till the hour of its dis- which relates to the origin of the play. solution. They were then variously dis- It is generally supposed, by Malone and persed. Caliban, clinging to one of the the elder commentators, that, in composlargest logs which Ferdinand had so in- ing this exquisite poem, Shakspeare had dustriously piled up, but which had never the shipwreck of Sir George Somers on been “burnt,' was floated on it in safety the reefs of Bermuda in his mind. Mr. to the coast of Algiers. There the name Hunter, whose view of the date of the of Sycorax was not yet forgotten; and, play is inconsistent with such an hypothehaving traced out his family, and proved sis, is, necessarily, of a contrary opinion. his consanguinity, he found an asylum in We think Mr. Hunter is wrong, and are the cavern of his maternal uncle, a very rather inclined to agree with Malone. learned wizard, and the arch-priest of his Though we do not believe the greatest dam's god, Setebos.'

poet of this, or perhaps of any other, naAriel, with all his subtile company- tion, to have been so grossly ignorant as the elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes, Dr. Farmer tried to prove, nor so wretchand groves,' clapping their tiny hands, edly stupid and destitute of ideas, as all and singing "Where the bee sucks' in the commentators suppose hite to have

34

[ocr errors]

VOL LIV.

« ForrigeFortsett »