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OF

SHAKESPEARE

EDITED BY

HORACE HOWARD FURNESS

VOL. IX

THE TEMPEST

PHILADELPHIA

J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY
LONDON : 10 HENRIETTA STREET, COVENT GARDEN

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PREFACE

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Of all SHAKESPEARE'S plays, The Tempest is almost the very best in the way of Text that has come down to us; and yet, notwithstanding this general excellence, there is scarcely one of its five Acts which does not contain a word or a phrase that has given rise to eager discussion; in one instance, the controversy assumes such extended proportions that in its presence even Juliet's 'runawayes eyes may wink' and veil their lids in abashed inferiority.

Few plays have afforded in general the material for as voluminous an amount of comment. Whether this material really exist in the Play itself, or whether it be not in a measure due to the position of the Play as the first in the Folio, and hence an example of the proverbial thoroughness of new undertakings, it is impossible to say, but certain it is that with the exception of Hamlet and Julius Cæsar no play has been more liberally annotated than The Tempest.

Unquestionably, a large portion of this attention from editors and critics must be owing to the enduring charm of the Play itself, dominated as it is by two such characters as Prospero and Ariel, whose names have become almost the symbols of an overruling, 'forgiving wisdom, and of an 'embodied joy whose race has just begun.' There is yet a third character that shares with these two my profound wonder, and, as a work of art, my admiration. It is not Miranda, who, lovely as she is, is but a girl, and has taken no single step. in that brave new world just dawning on the fringed curtains of her eyes. ‘To me,' says LADY MARTIN, in a letter which I am kindly permitted to quote, ‘Miranda's life is all to come.' We know, indeed, that to her latest hour she will be the top of admiration, but, as a present object, the present eye sees in her only the exquisite possibilities of her exquisite nature. In Caliban it is that SHAKESPEARE has risen, I think, to the very height of creative power, and, by making what is absolutely unnatural thoroughly natural and consistent, has accomplished the impossible. Merely as a work of art, Caliban takes precedence, I think, even of Ariel.

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