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together as if endowed with a rational soul ; their insane gabble being turned to speech, their savage howling to music, so that
" the isle is full of noises, Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight, and hurt not."
Wherein is boldly figured the educating of nature up, so to speak, into intelligent ministries, she lending man hands because he lends her eyes; weaving her forces, as it were, into vital union with bim, to the end that she may rise above herself and attain to a more excellent forin.
This, to be sure, is making the work rather an allegory than a drama, and therein of course misrepresents its quality ; for the connecting links in this strange intercourse of the natural and the supernatural are “ beings individually determined,” and affect us as persons, not as propositions.
Ariel and Caliban are equally preternatural, though in opposite directions. Ariel's very being is spun out of melody and fragrance; at least, if a feeling soul and an intelligent will be the warp, these are the woof of his exquisite texture. He has just enough of human-heartedness to know how he would feel were he human, and a proportionable sense of gratitude, which has been aptly called “the memory of the heart:" hence he needs to be often reminded of his obligations, but does all his spiriting gently while he holds the remembrance of them. Yet his delicacy of nature is nowhere more apparent than in his sympathy with right and good : the instant he comes within their touch he follows them without reserve; and he will suffer any tortures rather than “act the earthy and abhorred commands” that go against his moral grain. And what a merry little personage he is withal! as if his being were cast together in an impulse of play, and he would spend his whole life in one perpetual frolic. But the main ingredients of his zephyr-like constitution are shown in his leading inclinations; for he must needs have most affinity for that of which he is framed. Moral ties are irksome to him ; they are not his proper element : when he enters their sphere he feels them to be holy indeed ; but, were he free, he would keep out of their reach, and follow the circling seasons in their course, and always dwell merrily in the fringes of summer. He is indeed an arrant little epicure of perfume and sweet sounds, and gives forth several songs which “ seem to sound in the air, and as if the person playing them were invisible;” and which, « without conveying any distinct images, seem to recall all the feelings connected with them, like snatches of half-forgotten music heard indistinctly and at intervals.” *
or Ariel's powers and functions as Prospero's prime minister
go logical forms, nothing but art, and perhaps no art bat the poet's, can give any sort of an idea. Gifted with the ubiquity and multiformity of the substance from which he is named, before we can catch and define him in any one shape he has passed into another. All we can say of him on this score is, that through his agency Prospero's thoughts forthwith become things, his volitions events. And yet, strangely and diversely as his nature is elemented and compacted, with touches akin to several orders of being, there is such a self-consistency about him, he is so cut out in individual distinctness and rounded in with personal attributes, that contemplation freely and easily rests upon him as an object.
If Caliban strike us as a more wonderful creation than Ariel, it is probably because he has more in common with us without being in any proper sense human. Perhaps we cannot hit him better than by saying he represents, both in soul and body, a sort of intermediate nature between man and brute, with an infusion of something that belongs to neither : as though one of the transformations, imagined by the author of « Vestiges of Creation," had stuck midway in its course, where a breath or vapour of essential Evil had knit itself vitally into his texture. if he have all the attributes of humanity from the moral downwards, so that his nature touches and borders upon the sphere of moral life; still the result but approves his exclusion from such life, in that it brings him to recognize moral law only as making for self. It is a most singular and significant stroke in the representation, that sleep seems to loosen the fetters of his soul and lift him above himself then indeed, and then only, the “ muddy vesture of decay" doth not so "grossly close him in ” but that
• The clouds, methought, would open, and show riches
as though in his passive state the voice of truth and good vibrated down to his soul, and stopped there, being unable to kindle any answering tones within ; so that in his waking hours they are to him but as the memory of a dream.
Thus Caliban is part man, part demon, part brute, earn being drawn somewhat out of itself by combination with the others, and the union of all preventing his being either ; for which cause language has no generic term that fits him. Yet this strange, uncouth, but life-like confusion of natures Prospero has educated into a sort of poet. This, however, has nowise lamed, it has rather increased his innate malignity and crookedness of disposition ; education having of course but educed what was in him. Even his poetry is for the most part made up of the fascinations of ugliness; a sort of inverted beauty ; the poetry of dissonance and deformity; the proper music of his nature being to curse, its proper laughter to snarl. Schlegel finely compares his nad to a dark cave into which the light of knowledge falling neither illuminates oor warms it, but only serves to put in motion the poisonous vapours generated there.
Of course it is only by exhausting the resources of instruction on such a being that his innate and essential deficiency can be fully shown. For had he the germs of a human soul, they must needs have been drawn forth by the process that has made him a poet. The magical presence of spirits, it is true, hath cast into the caverns of his brain a faint reflection of a better world, but without calling up any answering emotions or aspirations ; hc having indeed no susceptibilities to catch and take in the epipha. nies that throng his whereabout. So that, paradoxical as it may seem, he exemplifies the twofold triumph of art over nature, and of nature over art.
But what is most remarkable of all is the perfect originality of his thoughts and manners. Though framed of grossness and malignity, there is nothing vulgar or common-place about him. His whole character indeed is developed from within, not impressed from without ; the effect of Prospero's instructions having been to make him all the more himself; and there being perhaps no soil in his nature for conventional vices and knaveries to take root and grow in. Hence the almost classic dignity of his behaviour compared with that of the drunken sailors, who are little else than a sort of low, vulgar conventionalities organized, and as such not less true to the life than consistent with themselves. In his simplicity indeed he at first mistakes them for gods who“ bear celestial liquor," and they wax merry enough at the “credulous monster; ” but in his vigour of thought and purpose he soon conceives such a scorn at their childish interest in whatever trinkels and gewgaws meet their eye, as fairly drives off his fit of intoxication ; and the savage of the woods, half-human though he be, seems nobility itself beside the savages of the city.
In short, if Caliban be, as it were, the organized sediment and dregs of the place, from which all the finer spirit has been drawn off to fashion the delicate Ariel, yet having some parts of a human mind strangely interwoven with his structure; every thing about him, all that he does and says, is suitable and correspondent lo such a constitution of nature : so that all the clements and attribuies of his being stand and work together in living coherence, thus rendering him no less substantive and persoual to our apprehension than original and peculiar in himself.
Such are the objects and influences amidst which the clear, placid nature of Miranda has been developed. Or the world whence her father was driven, its crimes and follies and sufferings, she knows nothing, he having studiously kept all such notices from her, to the end, apparently, that nothing might thwart or hinder the plastic efficacies that surround her. And here all the simp'e and original elements of her being, love, light, grace,
aonour, anil innocence, all pure feelings and tender sympathies whatsoever is sweet and gentle and holy in womanhood, seem to have sprung up in her nature as from celestial seed : “ the contagion of the world's slow stain" hath not visited her; the chills and cankers of artificial wisdom have not touched nor coine near her: if there were any fog or breath of evil in the place that might else dim or spot her soul, it has been sponged up by Caliban as being more congenial with his nature ; while he is simply "a villain she does not love to look on." Nor is this all. The aerial music, beneath which her nature has expanded with answering sweetness, seems to rest visibly upon her, linking her, as it were, with some superior order of beings : the spirit and genius of the place, its magic and mystery, have breathed their power into her face; and out of them she has unconsciously woven herself a robe of supernatural grace, in which even her mortal nature seems half hidden, so that we hardly know whether she belongs more to heaven or to earth. Thus both her native virtues and the efficacies of the place seem to have crept and stolen into her unperceived, by mutual attraction and assimilation twining together in one growth, and each diffusing its life and beauty all over and through the other. It would seem as if the great poet of our age must have had Miranda in his eye, (or was he but working in the spirit of that nature which she so rarely exemplifies ?) when he wrote the lines :
" The floating clouds their state shall lend
Nor shall she fail to see
By silent sympathy.
« The stars of midnight shall be dear
In many a secret place
Shall pass into her face."
Yet for all this Miranda not a whit the less touches us as s 'reature of flesh and blood, “ a being breathing thoughtful breath." Nay, she scems all the more so, forasmuch as the character thus coheres with the circumstances, the virtues and poetries of the place being expressed in her visibly; and she would be far less real to our feelings, were not the wonders of her whereabout thus vitally incorporated with her innate and original attributes. This matter has been put so well by Mrs. Jameson that it would he wronging the subject not to quote her words : « If we can
presuppose such a situation, do we not behold in the character of Miranda not only the credible, but the natural, the necessary result? She retains her woman's heart, for that is unalterable and inalienable, as a part of her being ; but her deportment, her looks, her language, her thoughts, from the supernatural and poetical circumstances assume a cast of the pure ideal ; and to us, who are in the secret of her human and pitying nature, nothing can be more charming and consistent than the effect which she produces upon others, who, never having beheld any thing resembling her, approach her as “ a wonder,' as something celestial.”
It is observable that Miranda does not perceive the working of her father's art upon herself; as, when he puts her to sleep, she attributes it to the strangeness of his tale. And, on the other hand, he thinks she is not listening attentively to what he is say. ing, partly, perhaps, because he is not attending to it himself, his thoughts being about the approaching crisis in his fortunes while his speech is of the past, and partly because in her ecstasy of wonder at what he is relating she seems abstracted and self-withdrawn from the matter of his discourse. For indeed to her the supernatural stands in the place of nature, and nothing is so strange and wonderful as what actually passes in the life and heart of man : miracles have been her daily food, her father being the greatest miracle of all; which must needs make the common events and passions and perturbations of the world seem to her miraculous. All which the Poet has wrought out with so much art, and so little appearance of it, that Franz Horn is the only critic, so far as we know, that seems to have thought of it.
We may not dismiss Miranda without remarking upon the sweet union of womanly dignity and childlike simplicity in her character, she not knowing or not caring to disguise the innocent movements of her heart. This, too, is a natural result of her situation. Equally fine is the circumstance, that her father opens to her the story of her life, and lets her into the secret of her noble birth and ancestry, at a time when she is suffering with those that she saw suffer, and when her eyes are jewelled with pity, as if on purpose that the ideas of rank and dignity may sweet. ly blend and coalesce in her mind with the sympathies of the woman.
The strength and delicacy of imagination displayed in these characters are scarce more admirable than the truth and subulety of observation shown in the others.
In the delineation of Antonio and Sebastian, short as it is, there is a volume of wise science, the leading points of which are thus set forth by Coleridge: “In the first scene of the second act Shakespeare has shown the tendency in bad men to indulge in scorn and contemptuous expressions as a mode of getting rid of their own uneasy feelings of inferiority to the good, and also of rendering the transition to wickedness easy, by making the good