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ON THE FABLE AND COMPOSITION C2
The Tempest and The Midsummer's Night's Dream, are the noblest efforts of that sublime and amazing imagination peculiar to Shakespeare, which foars above the bounds of nature without forsaking fenfe: or more properly, carries nature along with him beyond her established limits. Fletcher seems particularly to have admired these two plays, and hath wrote two in imitation of them, The Sea Voyage, and The Faithfull Shepberdefs. After him, Sir John Suckling and Milton catched the brightest fire of their imagination from thefe two plays ; which shines fantastically indeed, in The Goblins, but much more nobly and serenely in The Mask at Ludlow.Castle. WARBURTON.
No one has been hitherto lucky enough to discover the romance on which Shakespeare may be supposed to have founded this play, the beauties of which could not secure it from the criticism of Ben Jonson, whose malignity appears to have been more than equal to his wit. In the Induction to Bartholomew Fair, he says: “ If there be never a servant monster in the fair who “ can help it, nor a neft of antiques ? He is loth to “ make nature afraid in his plays, like those that beget “ Tales, Tempests, and such like drolleries.”
STEEVENS. It is observed of The Tempeft, that its plan is regular ; this, the author of the Revisal thinks, what I think too, an accidental effe&t of the story, not intended or regarded by our author. But whatever might be Shakespeare's intention in forming or adopting the plot, he hath made it inftrumental to the production of many characters, diversified with profound skill in nature, extensive knowledge of opinions, and accurate observation of life. In a single drama are here exhibited princes, courtiers, and sailors, all speaking in their real characters. Here is the agency of airy spirits, and of an earthly goblin. The operations of magick, the tumults of a ftorm, the adventures of a defart island, the native effusion of untaught affection, the punishment of guilt, and the final happiness of the pair for whom our parfions and reafon are equally interested. JOHNSON.