by William Shakespeare
Presented by Paul W. Collins
© Copyright 2005 by Paul W. Collins
By William Shakespeare
Presented by Paul W. Collins
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Note: Spoken lines from Shakespeare’s drama are in the public domain, as is the Globe edition (1864) of his plays, which provided the basic text of the speeches in this new version of The Tempest. But The Tempest, by William Shakespeare: Presented by Paul W. Collins, is a copyrighted work, and is made available for your personal use only, in reading and study.
Student, beware: This is a presentation, not a scholarly work, so you should be sure your teacher, instructor or professor considers it acceptable as a reference before quoting characters’ comments or thoughts from it in your report or term paper.
Lost at Sea
Over the blue Mediterranean, placid since the clear dawn of this long-ago summer morning, the sky makes a sudden, startling change: the upper air darkens, and towering thunder clouds billow forth, swarming to dark gray. Powerful streams of wind rush down, first furiously at odds, then blowing in a continual howl.
The sailors in a fleet of Italian ships carrying the king of Naples home from northern Africa gape, dismayed, as their vessels begin to pitch, roll, and heave. Flashes of lightning bedazzle even the most experienced seamen, and long volleys of rumbling thunder pound their senses.
The old wooden vessels’ canvas sails, bulging, then collapsing, beat fiercely against the square-rigged masts; taut ropes snap as the ships plummet down the sides of huge waves toward a huge, funneling swirl of glassy, deep-green water, then struggle, creaking and groaning, back up to the crest of foam, only to plunge again in a dizzy slide from the rim.
Now a torrent pours down, the waters contending above and below, just as sailors spot, looming ahead, an unknown island—which imperils one of the craft scattered in disarray: the king’s side-slipping galleon, driven by intense wind, is closing fast on the land.
“Boatswain!” calls that ship’s master. The gold whistle of his command dangles from its chain.
“Here, master!” comes the reply from the foremast. “What cheer?”
“Good man, speak to the mariners!” the master yells over the stormy clamor. “Fall to’t yarely, or we run ourselves aground! Bestir, bestir!”
The boatswain calls to his crew, “Heigh, my hearts! Cheerly, cheerly, my hearts!” All of them are on deck, manfully working wet lines and rigging—while struggling just to stay aboard. “Yare, yare! Take in the topsail!” he orders, hoping to slow the hurtling ship. “’Tend to the master’s whistle!”
With one hand clamped on his cap, to secure it against the gale, he glares defiantly upward, into the tempest’s amazing rage. “Blow till thou burst thy wind, if room enough!”
From their quarters below, King Alonso and the five nobles of his travel party emerge, edging unsteadily and fearfully along the slippery, line-strewn deck.
“Good boatswain, have care! Where’s the master?” asks the king. “Play the men!” he calls, to encourage the frantic sailors.
“I pray you now, keep below!” urges the boatswain, watching as the topsail is furled.
“Where is the master, boatswain?” asks Antonio, the Duke of Milan, and the king’s main tributary.
“Do you not hear him?” demands the man gruffly, signaling instructions to two of his crew. “You mar our labour! Keep your cabins!—you do assist the storm!”
“Nay, good man, be patient,” says the king’s counselor, Lord Gonzalo.
“When the sea is!” cries the boatswain over the wind. “Hence! What care these roarers for the name of king? To cabin! Silence! Trouble us not!”
“Good, yet remember whom thou hast aboard,” Gonzalo warns gently.
“None that I love more than myself!” growls the grizzled seaman. “You are a counselor—if you can command elements to silence, and work the peace of these present, we will not trouble a rope more!” He frowns, hands on hips. “Use your authority! If you cannot, give thanks you have lived so long, and make yourself ready in your cabin for the mischance of the hour, if it so hap!”
With an angry shake of the head he turns again to his men. “Cheerly, good hearts!” he calls. “Out of our way, I say,” he insists, pushing past the deck-clumsy noblemen, and heading for the main mast.
“I have great comfort from this fellow,” old Gonzalo tells the other lords. “Methinks he hath no drowning mark upon him—his complexion is perfect gallows!” He looks skyward. “Stand fast, good Fate, to his hanging!—make the rope of his destiny our cable, for our own doth little to advantage! If he be not born to be hanged, our case is miserable!”
With careful steps, the king and his courtly companions head below.
“Down with the topmast!” bellows the boatswain, hoping that the careening ship, without the winds’ driving against its upper sail, will slow, then steady in its way. “Yare! Lower, lower! Bring her to try a ply with the main course!”
The dusky clouds lower still closer, the gusty winds increase, and each lightning-flash produces an engulfing clap of thunder.
Compass and rudder are now both useless; the master directs his men to throw weighty cargo overboard, to lighten the foundering ship.
The boatswain is supervising that when he hears shouts from the passengers, calling to him. “A plague upon this howling!” He lets fly a seaman’s oath. “They are louder than the weather or our office!”
The king and his brother, Sebastian, approach, along with Duke Antonio and Gonzalo.
“Yet again? What do you here?” cries the seaman. “Shall we give o’er and drown? Have you a mind to sink?”
“A pox o’ your throat!” growls Sebastian, “you bawling, blasphemous, incharitable dog!”
“Work you then!”
“Hang, cur! Hang, you whoreson, insolent noisemaker!” cries Antonio. “We are less afraid to be drowned than thou art!”
“I’ll warrant him against drowning,” says Gonzalo, “though the ship were no stronger than a nutshell, and as leaky as an unstanchèd wench!”
The boatswain is not listening. “Lay her a-hold, a-hold!” he calls. “Set her two courses off to sea again!—lay her off!” He watches, hands grasping the rail, to see if shifting the key sails will lessen the vessel’s violent lurching toward the rocks.
Several terrified mariners clamber past him. “All lost! To prayers, to prayers! All’s lost!”
Thinks the boatswain, What, must our mouths be cold?
Gonzalo urges the others to go below. “The king and prince are at prayers—let’s assist them, for our case is as theirs!”
Sebastian snarls at him: “I’m out of patience!”
Duke Antonio is furious. “We are simply cheated of our lives by drunkards! This wide-chapped rascal!—” He addresses the boatswain: “Would thou mightst lie drowning in the washing of ten tides!”—as are gibbeted criminals.
Gonzalo, smiling, nods. “He’ll be hangèd yet, though every drop of water swear against it, and seas gape at widest to glut him!”
Around them sound the sailors’ fearful cries: “Mercy on us!”—“We split, we split!”—“Farewell, my wife and children!”—“Farewell, brother!”—“We split, we split, we split!”
“Let’s all sink with the king,” mutters the duke, starting across the deck.
“Let’s take leave of him!” counters Sebastian.
Thinks Gonzalo, Now would I give a thousand furlongs of sea for an acre of barren ground, long heath, brown furze—anything!
Thy wills above be done—but I would fain die a dry death!
On the island, sheltered at the mouth of their cavern home, well above the surf-pounded shore, Prospero—who has magical powers—and his daughter, Miranda, look out over a grove of lime trees toward the sea.
“If by your art, my dearest father, you have put the wild waters into this roar, allay them!” she pleads. “It seems the sky would pour down stinking pitch but that the sea, mounting to the welkin’s cheek, douses the fire out!
“Oh, I have suffered with those that I saw suffer!—a brave vessel which had, no doubt, some noble creatures in her, dashèd all to pieces!
“Oh, their cries did knock against my very heart! Poor souls, they perished! Had I been any god of power, I would have sunk the sea within the earth before it should the good ship so have swallowed!—and the fraughtened souls within her!”
“Be collected; no more amazement,” says the tall man calmly. “Tell your pitying heart there’s no harm done.”
But Miranda is watching the tempest as it weakens over the now-featureless water. “Oh, woe the day!”
“No harm!” he insists, a gentle hand at her shoulder. He looks into her blue eyes. “I have done nothing but in care of thee—of thee, my dear one, thee my daughter—who art ignorant of what thou art—knowing nought of whence I am—nor that I am more better than Prospero, master of a small, poor cell, and thy no-greater father.”
She has grown up in contentment. “More to know did never meddle with my thoughts.”
“’Tis time I should inform thee further!” He unclasps his black cloak at the neck. “Lend thy hand, and pluck my magic garment from me.
“So,” he says laying the long cape on a rough-hewn table, “lie there, my art.”
He turns to Miranda. “Wipe thou thine eyes—have comfort! The direful spectacle of the wreck, which touched the very virtue of compassion in thee, I have with such provision in mine art so safely ordered that there is no soul—no, not so much as a hair!—fallen to perdition!—nor any creature in the vessel which thou heard’st cry, which thou saw’st sink.
“Sit down; for thou must now know further.”
Says Miranda, sitting on a rustic bench, “You have often begun to tell me what I am, but stopped, and left me to a bootless inquisition, concluding, ‘Stay; not yet.’”
“The hour’s now come!—the very minute bids thee ope thine ear. Obey and be attentive!
“Canst thou remember a time before we came unto this cell? I do not think thou canst, for then thou wast not out five years old….”
“Certainly, sir, I can.”
“By what? By any other house or person? Tell me the image of anything that hath kept within thy remembrance.”
“’Tis far off, and rather more like a dream than an assurance that my memory warrants. Had I not four or five women once, that tended me?”
“Thou hadst, and more, Miranda! But how is it that this lives in thy mind? What seest thou else, in the dark back ward and abysm of time? If thou remember’st aught ere thou cam’st here, how thou cam’st here thou may’st….”
“But that I do not.”
He nods and leans forward. “Twelve year since, Miranda, twelve year since, thy father was the Duke of Milan, and a prince of power!”
A hint of frown touches her lovely brow. “Sir, are not you my father?”
Prospero laughs. “Thy mother was a piece of virtue—and she said thou wast my daughter! And thy father was Duke of Milan,” he says solemnly, “and thou his only heir—and princess, no worse issuèd!”
She stares. “Oh, the heavens! What foul play had we, that we came from thence?—or blessèd, was’t, we did?”
“Both, both, my girl!—by foul play, as thou say’st, were we heavèd thence, but blessedly holp hither.”
“Oh, my heart bleeds to think o’ the cares that I have turned you to, which are beyond my remembrance! Please you, further!”
Prospero quickly summons the tale he’s longed to tell. “My brother, and thine uncle, is called Antonio. I pray thee, mark me, that a brother should be so perfidious!—he whom, next thyself, of all the world I loved!
“Unto him I put the manage of my state”—the Duchy of Milan. “And at that time, among all the signories it was the first—and Prospero the primary duke, being so reputed in dignity—and for the liberal arts without a parallel! Those being all my study, the governing I cast upon my brother, and to my state grew estrangèd, being transported and rapt in studies of secrets!
“Thy false uncle—“ He glances up; as a small child, she sometimes fell asleep during instruction. “Dost thou attend me?”
“Sir, most heedfully!”
“—being once perfected in how to grant suits, how to deny them, whom to advance and whom to trash for over-topping, then created the creatures”—gave nobles titles—“that were mine to say—or changed ’em, or else new-formed ’em!
“Having then the key for both office and officer, he set all hearts in the state to what tune pleased his ear!—such that now he was the ivy which hid my princely trunk, and sucked my verdure out of it!”
The wizard’s tale is painful, but he feels a strong need to hurry. “Thou attend’st not….”
“Oh, good sir, I do!”
“I pray thee, mark me!
“Thus neglecting worldly ends—dedicated all to solitude and the bettering of my mind with that which o’er-prized all of popular rate—by being so retirèd, I in my false brother awaked an evil nature! And my good trust did like a parent beget from him a falsehood!—in its contrariety as great as was my trust, which had indeed no limit, a confidence sans bound.
“He being thus lorded, not only with what my revenue yielded, but what my power might else exact—like one who, halving truth, by telling of it made such a sinner of his memory as to credit his own lie! He did believe he was indeed the duke!
“Out o’ the substitution, in executing the outward face of royalty with all prerogative, hence his ambition grows— Dost thou hear?”
“Your tale, sir, would cure deafness!”
“—to having no screen between this part he played and him who played it!—for he needs will be absolute Milan!
“As for me, poor man, my library was dukedom large enough; of temporal royalties he thinks me now incapable. He confederates, so dry he was for sway, wi’ the King of Naples,”—ruler of all northern Italy, “giving him annual tribute!—doing him homage, subjecting ‘his’ coronet to Naples’ crown!—and bent a dukedom yet unbowèd—alas, poor Milan!—to most ignoble stooping!”
“Oh, the heavens!”
“Mark his condition, and the event,” says Prospero grimly, “then tell me if this might be a brother!”
“I should sin to think but nobly of my grandmother,” says Miranda. “Good wombs have borne bad sons….”
Prospero continues: “Now the condition: the King of Naples, being an enemy inveterate to me, darkens my brother’s suit—so that he, in addition to the promises of homage, and I know not how much in tribute, should immediately extirpate me and mine out of the dukedom! Then he conferrèd fair Milan with all its honours on my brother!
“Whereupon, a treacherous army levied, on a midnight fated to the purpose, Antonio did open the gates of Milan, and i’ the dead of night the ministers of darkness hurried from thence me and thy crying self!”
“Alack, for pity! Not remembering how I cried out then, I will cry it o’er again!—it is a thought that wrings mine eyes to’t!”
He is eager to proceed. “Hear a little further, and then I’ll bring thee to the present business—which now’s upon us!—without the which this story were most impertinent.”
“Wherefore did they not that hour destroy us?”
“Well demanded, wench; my tale provokes that question. My dear, they durst not set a mark so bloody on the business, so great was the love my people bore me!—but with colours fair, painted their foul ends!
“In few, they hurried us aboard a bark, bore us some leagues out to sea! They had prepared a rotten carcass of a butt,”—a small, decrepit ship, “with no rigging nor tackle, sail, nor mast!—the very rats instinctively had quit it! By hoist they set us down, left us to cry to the sea—to sigh into the winds that roared at us!—whose pity, sighing back again, did us but loving wrong!”—pushed them out to sea.
“Alack, what trouble was I then to you?”
“Oh, then thou wast a cherub, that did preserve me!” he tells her tenderly. “Thou didst smile, infusèd with a fortitude from heaven, when I’d have groaned under my burthen—bedewed the sea with drops full of salt! Which raised in me an undergoing firmness to bear up against what should ensue.”
“How came we ashore?”
“By providence divine! Some food we had, and some fresh water, that a noble Neapolitan, Gonzalo, being then appointed master of this design, did out of his charity give us—along with rich garments, linens, stuffs and necessaries, which since have steaded much.”
The displaced duke pauses, tears forming. “So too, in his gentleness, knowing I loved my books, he furnished me from mine own library with volumes that I prized above my dukedom!”
“Would I might but ever see that man!”
“Now,” says Prospero, “I arise!” He pulls on his magical mantle. “Still sit, and hear the last of our sea-sorrow.
“Here on this island we arrived; and here have I, thy schoolmaster, made thee profit more than other princesses, with more time for vainer hours, and tutors not so careful, can have.”
“Heavens thank you for’t! But now, I pray you, sir—for still ’tis beating in my mind—your reason for raising this sea-storm!”
Prospero nods. “Know thus far forth.
“By accident most strange, bountiful Fortune, now my dear lady, hath mine enemies brought to this shore!
“And by my prescience, I find my zenith doth depend upon a most auspicious star, whose influence if now I court not, but omit, my fortunes will ever after droop!
“Here cease more questions. Thou art inclined to sleep,” he says soothingly, with a motion of his hand. “’Tis a good dullness—and give it way. I know thou canst not choose.”
The spell takes effect: Miranda closes her eyes, leans back against the bench, and soon is fast asleep.
Ariel and Caliban
The magician looks skyward. “Come away, servant, come! I am ready now. Approach, my Ariel, come!”
A shimmering form appears and floats down to hover, twinkling, before him—and instantly resolves itself into a luminous fairy with sparkling eyes. “All hail, great master! Grave sir, hail! I come to answer thy best pleasure! Be’t to fly, to swim, to dive into the fire, to ride on the curlèd clouds!—to thy strong bidding, task Ariel and all his quality!”—the other sprites who follow him.
“Hast thou, spirit, performèd, point by point, the tempest that I bade thee?”
“To every article! I boarded the king’s ship, and—now on the beak, now in the waist, the deck!—in every cabin I enflamed amazement! Sometimes I’d divide, and burn in many places!—on the topmast, the yards and bowsprit would I flame distinctly!—then meet and join!
“Jove’s own lightnings, precursors o’ the dreadful thunder-claps, were not more momentary and sight-outrunning! The sulphurous fire and cracks of roaring the most mighty Neptune seemed to besiege, and make his bold waves tremble!—yea, his dread trident shake!”
Prospero beams. “My brave spirit! Who was so firm, so constant, that this coil would not infect his reason?”
“Not a soul but felt the fever of the mad, and played some tricks of desperation! All but mariners plunged into the foaming brine, and quit the vessel then all afire with me! The king’s son, Ferdinand—with hair up-starting, then like reeds, not hair!—was the first man that leaped—cried, ‘Hell is empty, and all the devils are here!’”
Prospero rubs his hands together in satisfaction. “Why that’s my spirit! But was not this nigh shore?”
“Close by, my master.”
“But, Ariel, are they safe?”
“Not a hair perished!—their garments sustaining not a blemish, but fresher than before!
“And, as thou badest me, in troops I have dispersed them ’bout the isle. The king’s son have I landed by himself—whom I left in an odd angle of the isle, cooling the air with sighs, and sitting, his arms in this sad knot.” Bright Ariel tries, comically, to portray dejection.
Prospero nods. “Say how thou hast disposèd the mariners on the king’s ship—and all the rest o’ the fleet.”
“The king’s ship is safely in harbour, in the deep nook where once thou call’dst me up at midnight to fetch dew from the still-vexèd Bermoothes; there she’s hid, the mariners all under hatches stowèd—who, with a charm joined to their suffered labour, I have left asleep.
“And as for the rest o’ the fleet, which I dispersed, they all have met again, and are upon the Mediterranean afloat, bound sadly home for Naples, supposing that they saw the king’s ship wrecked, and his great person perish.”
Prospero is pleased. “Ariel, thy charge exactly is performèd! But there’s more work! What is the time o’ the day?”
“Past the mid season…”
“By at least two glasses! The time ’twixt now and six must by us both be spent most preciously!”
“Is there more toil?” asks Ariel, crestfallen. “Since thou dost give me pains, let me remind thee what thou hast promised me which is not yet performèd.”
Prospero frowns. “How now? Moody? What is’t thou canst demand?”
“Before the time be out?” He shakes his head, annoyed. “No more!”
“I prithee remember I have done thee worthy service!—told thee no lies, made no mistakings, served thee without or grudge or grumblings! Thou didst promise to abate me a full year,” the spirit notes.
In Prospero’s frown, one eyebrow rises. “Dost thou forget from what a torment I did free thee?”
“Thou dost!—and think’st it much to tread the ooze of the salt deep, to run upon the sharp wind of the north, to do me business in the veins o’ the earth when it is caked with frost!”
Says Ariel, eyes averted, “I do not, sir.”
“Thou liest, malignant thing! Hast thou forgot the foul witch Sycorax, who with age and enmity was grown into a hoop?”—stooped to a crouch. “Hast thou forgot her?”
“Thou hast! Where was she born? Speak; tell me!”
“Sir, in Argier.”
Says Prospero, in feigned surprise, “Oh, was she so?” He glares. “I must once in a month recount what thou hast been!—which thou forget’st! This damnèd witch Sycorax, for manifold mischiefs, and sorceries too terrible to enter human hearing, from Argier, thou know’st, was banishèd!—because for one thing she did, they would not take her life. Is not this true?”
“This blue-eyed hag was hither brought with child, and here was left by the sailors! Thou, my ‘slave,’ as thou reportest thyself, wast then her servant; and—for thou wast a spirit too refinèd to carry out her earthy and abhorrèd commands, refused her grand hests—she did confine thee, by help of her more potent ministers and in her most unmitigable rage, into a cloven pine!
“Within which rift thou didst painfully remain imprisonèd a dozen years!—within which time she died and left thee there, where thou didst vent thy groans as fast as mill-wheel paddle strikes!
“Then was this island—save for the son that she did litter here, a freckled, hag-born whelp not honoured with a human shape.”
“Yes. Caliban, her son.”
“Dull thing, I say so!—he, that Caliban whom now I keep in service.
“Thou best know’st what torment I did find thee in—thy groans did make wolves howl, and penetrated the breasts of angry bears! It was a torment to lay upon the damned—one which even Sycorax could not again undo. It was mine art, when I arrived and heard thee, that made the pine gape and let thee out!”
Ariel bows. “I thank thee, master.” His opal glow is muted—but only slightly.
“If thou more murmur’st, I will rend an oak, and peg thee in its knotty entrails till thou hast howled away twelve winters!” warns Prospero sternly—if less than convincingly.
“Pardon, master; I will be correspondent to command, and do my spiriting gently.”
Prospero smiles with affection at the sprite. “Do so, and after two days I will discharge thee,” he promises.
“That’s my noble master! What shall I do? Say what!—what shall I do?”
The magician thinks. “Go make thyself like a nymph o’ the sea; be subject to no sight but thine and mine, invisible to every eyeball else. Go, take that shape, and hither come in’t!
“Go hence with diligence!”
With a pop! Ariel disappears.
“Awake, dear heart, awake! Thou hast slept well. Awake!”
Miranda sits up, yawning and stretching. “The strangeness of your story put heaviness in me!”
“Shake it off,” says he. “Come on, we’ll visit Caliban, my slave who never yields us kind answer.”
Miranda rises. “’Tis a villain, sir, I do not love to look on!”
“Be it as ’tis, we cannot miss him: he does make our fire, fetch in our wood, and serve in offices that profit us.”
They walk down a path through the hillside grass and the grove, then across the sandy shore to an overhang of dark rock; beneath it is the low mouth of a small cave.
“What, ho! Slave! Caliban!” calls Prospero. “Thou earth, thou, speak!”
A surly reply comes from the shadow: “There’s wood enough within.”
“Come forth, I say! There’s other business for thee! Come, thou tortoise!” Prospero is impatient. “When?”
As they wait, a sea nymph appears, unseen by Miranda, at Prospero’s side.
- “Fine apparition! My quaint Ariel, hark in thine ear….” The magician whispers instructions.
- “My lord, it shall be done!” promises the spirit, vanishing again to pursue his tasks.
Prospero steps toward the opening. “Thou poisonous slave, begot by the Devil himself upon thy wicked dam, come forth!”
A crouching, barrel-chested man with powerful, hairy hands scuttles into the light—glowering. “May as wicked a dew as e’er my mother brushed with raven’s feather from unwholesome fen drop on you both! The south wind blow on ye, and blister you all o’er!”
“For that,” says Prospero with grave menace, “be sure that tonight thou shalt have cramps, side-stitches that shall pen up thy breath! Hedgehogs, during all the vast of night when they may work, shall exercise on thee!—thou shalt be nipped as often as honey in combs!—each pinch more stinging than had bees made ’em!”
Caliban shrugs. “I must eat my dinner.” His sunburned face is grimy, his shaggy hair long and tangled; habitually wearing a rough tunic, its sleeves dangling, edges filthy and frayed from dragging on the ground, he exudes animosity.
Indignation seizes him: “By Sycorax my mother, this island’s mine, which thou takest from me!
“When thou first camest, thou strokedst me, and madest much of me—wouldst give me water with berries in’t, and teach me how to name the bigger light, and how the lesser, that burn by day and night. And then I loved thee, and showed thee all the qualities o’ the isle, the fresh springs and brine pits, the barren places and fertile.
“Cursèd be that I did so! May all the charms of Sycorax—toads, beetles, bats!—light upon you! For I, who first was mine own king, am all the subjects you have!
“And here you sty me, in this hard rock, whiles you do keep from me the rest o’ the island!”
But Prospero’s anger is stony. “Thou most lying slave, whom stripes”—marks of whipping—“may move, not kindness! I had treated thee, filth as thou art, with human care, and lodged thee in mine own cell—till thou didst seek to violate the honour of my child!”
Caliban’s laugh is rough. “Oho, oho! Would’t had been done! Thou didst prevent me—else I had peopled this isle with Calibans!”
Now Miranda’s anger bursts forth. “Abhorrent slave—which any print of goodness wilt not take, being capable of only ill!—I pitied thee, took pains to make thee speak, taught thee each hour one thing or other! When thou, savage, didst not know thine own meaning, but wouldst gabble like a thing most brutish, I endowed thy purposes with words that made them known!
“But thy vile breed, though thou didst learn, had that in’t which good natures could not abide to be with! Therefore wast thou confinèd into this rock!—one who hadst deservèd more than prison!”—death.
Caliban sneers. “You taught me language—and my profit on’t is that I know how to curse! The red plague ride you, for my learning your language!”
The magician, disgusted, proceeds to business. “Hag-seed, hence! Fetch us in fuel!—and be quick, thou’rt best, to answer for other business!” His eyes narrow. “Shrug’st thou, malice? If thou neglect’st or dost unwillingly what I command, I’ll rack thee with aging’s cramps—fill all thy bones with aches, make thee so to roar that beasts shall tremble at thy din!”
“No, pray thee!” says Caliban, cowering and backing away.
He thinks: I must obey! His art is of such power, it would control my dam’s god, Setebos, and make a vassal of him!
“So, slave, hence!” demands Prospero—and he is obeyed.
As Prospero and his daughter walk along the narrow strip of shore below the headland, they come around a bluff of dark rock. Ahead, Ariel dances toward them, playing soft music on the delicately carved pipe of wood at his lips.
The spirit is invisible to all but Prospero; but, being lured along by the enchanting melody, in a daze of weariness and amazement, is Ferdinand, handsome young son of the king of Naples. He is looking down, listening as he goes.
Magician and princess stand, unobserved, watching as he passes.
Ferdinand stops to hear the song.
Ariel sings merrily to his crew:
“Come unto these yellow sands,
And take each other by the hands!
When you have courtesied and kissed—
All the wild waves not being missed—
Foot-it featly here and there,
And, sweet sprites, the burthen bear!”—sing out the chorus.
“Hark, hark! The watch-dogs bark!”—a night is passing.
“Hark, hark! Now I can hear
The strain of strutting chanticleer
The prince looks around, puzzled. Where should this music be? I’ the air or the earth?
But now he hears only the sea. It sounds no more; then surely it waits upon some god o’ the island!
He recalls: I was sitting on a bank, weeping again the king my father’s wreck; this music crept to me upon the waters, allaying both their fury and my sorrow with its sweet air! Thence I have followed it—or it hath drawn me, rather! But ’tis gone.
No, it begins again…!
Ariel’s voice is solemn.
“Full fathom five thy father lies.
Of his bones are corals made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange!
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell.
Hark!—now I hear them: ding-dong, bell!”
The ditty does remember my drownèd father! thinks Ferdinand in sad wonder. This is no mortal business, nor no sound that the earth owns! I hear it now above me….
Quietly, Prospero tells his daughter, “The fringèd curtains of thine eyes advance, and say what thou seest yond.” He points with his staff.
But she is already looking up—with great interest. “What is’t? A spirit? Lord, how it looks about! Believe me, sir, it carries a fine form!—but ’tis a spirit.”
“No, wench; it eats, and sleeps, and hath such senses as we have. This gallant which thou seest was in the wreck! And, but that he’s somewhat stained with grief, which is beauty’s canker, thou mightst call him a goodly person. He hath lost his fellows, and strays about to find ’em.”
Ferdinand, now spotting the two, runs toward them.
Miranda, watches, fascinated. “I might call him a thing divine!—for I nothing natural ever saw so noble!”
Thinks Prospero: It goes on, I see, as my soul prompts it! Spirit, fine spirit, I’ll free thee within two days for this!
Ariel claps, silently, with glee.
Ferdinand is breathless, but not from his dash forward; his gaze is fixed on Miranda’s face. Most surely, the goddess on whom these tunes attend! he concludes.
Cautiously, he speaks to her: “Vouchsafe my prayers, that I may know if you remain upon this island, and that you will some good instruction give how I may bear me here! My prime request, which I do last pronounce, is, O you wonder—if you be maid, or no?”
“No wonder, sir; but certainly a maid!”—unmarried. She blushes; it means virgin, too.
“My language, by heavens!” cries the surprised young man. “I am the best of them that speak this speech, were I but where ’tis spoken!” the prince tells Miranda.
“What? The best?” chides Prospero. “What wert thou if the King of Naples heard thee?”
Ferdinand answers: “As lonely a thing as I am now, who wonders at hearing thee speak of Naples!”—the king. “He does hear me—and for that he does, I weep!—for now myself am Naples, who with mine eyes, never since at ebb, beheld the king my father wreckèd!”
“Alack, for mercy!” cries tenderhearted Miranda.
“Yes, in faith, and all his lords!—the Duke of Milan and I, his bereft son, being twain.”
Thinks Prospero, wryly, The Duke of Milan and his more-bereft daughter could condole thee, if now ’twere fit to do’t!
He watches the young people. At the first sight they have exchangèd eyes! Delicate Ariel, I’ll set thee free for this!
Still, the magus says—sternly, “A word, good sir! I fear you have done yourself some wrong! A word….”
Why speaks my father so un-gently? wonders Miranda, alarmed. This is the third man that e’er I saw—the first that e’er I sighed for! O Pity, move my father to be inclined in my way!
Ferdinand’s enchantment with the lady surpasses even Prospero’s hope; he stares, aware of her alone. “Oh, if a virgin, and your affection’s not gone forth, I’ll make you the Queen of Naples!”
But Prospero intrudes. “Soft, sir! One word more!” They are both in either’s powers, he sees, but this swift business I must uneasy make, lest too-light winning make the prize light! “One word more—I charge thee that thou attend me!
“Thou dost here usurp a name thou ownest not!” he says severely, “and hast put thyself upon this island as a spy!—to win it from me, the lord of’t!”
“No, as I am a man!” protests Ferdinand.
“There’s nothing ill can dwell in such a temple!” Miranda tells her father. “If the ill spirit have so fair a house, good things will strive to dwell within’t!”
Prospero, seemingly unmoved, orders Ferdinand, “Follow me.
“Speak not you for him,” he warns Miranda. “He’s a traitor!
“Come, I’ll manacle thy neck and feet together!” Prospero tells the young man harshly, “Sea-water shalt thou drink!—thy food shall be the fresh-brook mussel, withered root, and husk wherein the acorn cradled!”—none fit for man to eat. “Follow!”
“No!” cries the indignant prince. “I will resist such entertainment till mine enemy has more power!” He steps back to draw his sword—and immediately finds himself seized by a magical spell that holds him immobile.
“Oh, dear father, make not too rash a trial of him,” begs Miranda, “for he’s gentle, and not fearsome!”
Prospero glares at the frozen Ferdinand. “What, I say!—my foot my tutor? Put up thy sword, traitor, who makest a show. but darest not strike, thy conscience is so possessèd with guilt! Come from thy ward,”—drop the defensive stance, “for I can here disarm thee with this stick, and make thy weapon drop!”
“Beseech you, Father!”
“Hence!” Prospero tells her, “hang not on my garments!”
“Sir, have pity!—I’ll be his surety!”
“Silence! One word more shall make me chide thee, if not hate thee. What?—an advocate for an imposter! Hush! Thou think’st there is no more such shapes as he, having seen but him and Caliban! Foolish wench! Compared to the most of men, this is a Caliban, and they to him are angels!”
“My affections are then most humble!” says Miranda. “I have no ambition to see a goodlier man!”
“Come on; obey,” Prospero tells Ferdinand. “Thy limbs are in their infancy again, and have no vigour in them.”
So they are! thinks the prince. My spirits, as in a dream, are all bound up!
But he realizes, staring at Miranda, Loss of my father, the weakness which I feel, the wreck of all my friends, and this man’s threats, to which I am subduèd, are but light to me, might I but from my prison once a day behold this maid! All corners else o’ the earth let Liberty make use of!—space enough had I in such a prison! He lowers his sword and sheaths it.
Prospero sees the prince’s fascination. It works. “Come on, follow me,” he tells Ferdinand brusquely. He starts away. Thou hast done well, fine Ariel! Hark what more thou shalt do for me….
Miranda tells Ferdinand softly, “Be of comfort! My father’s of a better nature, sir, than he appears by this unwonted speech which just now came from him!”
Ariel alone can hear Prospero’s words: Thou shalt be free as mountain winds, provided that thou exactly do all points of my command!
The spirit responds: To the syllable!
“Come, follow,” Prospero tells the prince; and he cautions Miranda, “Speak not for him!”
The shipwrecked noblemen of Naples and Milan have fled the boisterous sea, and marched inland, away from the island’s sandy shore.
“Beseech you, sir, be merry,” Lord Gonzalo urges the weary, abject king. “You have cause—so have we all—of joy, for our escape is much beyond our loss! Our dint of woe is common: every day some sailor’s wife, the mariners of some merchant, and the merchant have just our theme! But as for the miracle—I mean our preservation!—few in millions can speak, like us! Then wisely, good sir, weigh our sorrow with our comfort.”
Says the heartsick sovereign, quietly, “Prithee, peace.”
- “He receives comfort like cold porridge,” mutters the king’s brother, the cynical Sebastian, off to one side.
- “The advisor will not give up on him so,” says a like-minded mocker, Duke Antonio, watching Gonzalo—who still hopes to console his king.
- The counselor’s good cheer only annoys Sebastian: “Look—he’s winding up the clock of his wit; by and by it will strike…”
“Sir, …” Gonzalo begins, addressing the ruler.
- “One!” says Sebastian. “Tell!”—sound the time.
“—when every grief that’s offered is entertainèd, there comes to the entertainer—”
“—a dollar,” interrupts Sebastian sourly.
“Dolour comes to him, indeed,” says Gonzalo, replying to the wag. “You have spoken truer than you purposed!”
- “You have taken it wiselier than I meant you should,” grumbles Sebastian.
Gonzalo continues, “Therefore, my lord—”
- “Fie, what a spendthrift is he of his tongue!” says Duke Antonio.
King Alonso lifts a hand. “I prithee, spare,” he tells Gonzalo, not unkindly.
“Well, I have done,” says the counselor. “But, yet, ….”
- “He will be talking!” groans Sebastian.
- Asks Antonio. “For a good wager, which, of he or Adrian, first begins to crow?”
- Sebastian considers. “The old cock.”
- “The cockerel,”—young rooster, says Antonio.
- “Done!” says Sebastian. “The wager?”
- “A laughter.”
- “A match!”
“Though this island seem to be desert—” begins Lord Adrian.
- Sebastian bursts out laughing.
- “So, you’ve paid,” chuckles Antonio.
Adrian continues: “—uninhabitable and almost inaccessible…”
- “‘Yet…’” predicts Sebastian.
“Yet—” says Adrian.
- Antonio laughs, wagging his head. “He could not skip that.”
“—it must needs be of subtle, tender and delicate temperance,” says Adrian.
- “Temperance was a delicate wench,” quips Antonio, of an imaginary woman.
- “Aye, and a subtle,”—devious, adds Sebastian, “as he most learnedly delivered.”
“The air breathes upon us here most sweetly,” Adrian observes.
- “As if it had lungs—and rotten ones!” says Sebastian.
- “Or as ’twere perfumed by a fen,”—a bog, complains Antonio.
But Gonzalo is delighted with the island’s verdure and abundance. “Here is everything advantageous to life!”
- “True—save means to live,” mutters Antonio.
- Sebastian concurs. “Of that there’s none, or little!”
“How lush and lusty the grass looks!” says Gonzalo, gazing around. “How green!”
- Antonio disagrees. “The ground indeed is tawny.”
- “With an eye of green”—envious malice—“in’t,” says Sebastian.
- Antonio watches old Gonzalo, and says, with sarcasm, “He misses not much.”
- Sebastian tops that: “Aye: he doth mistake but the truth—totally!”
Gonzalo begins, happily: “And one rarity of it—which is indeed almost beyond credit—”
- “As many avouchèd rarities are,” Sebastian snipes.
“—is that our garments, being drenched in the sea as they were, hold, notwithstanding, their freshness and gloss!—being rather new-dyèd than stained with salt water!”
- “If but one of his pockets could speak, would it not say he lies?” asks Antonio.
- “Aye, or very falsely pocket-up”—suppress—“his report!” says Sebastian
“Methinks our garments are now as fresh as when we first put them on in Africa,” notes the white-haired advisor, “at the marriage of the king’s fair daughter, Clara, to the King of Tunis!”
- “’Twas a sweet marriage,” mutters Sebastian dourly, “and we prosper well in our return!”
Lord Adrian recalls the wedding. “Tunis was never gracèd before with such a paragon for their queen!”
“Not since widow Dido’s time!” adds the learned Lord Gonzalo.
- “Widow! A pox on that!” says Duke Antonio. “How came that ‘widow’ in? Widow Dido!”
- Sebastian teases his prickly friend. “What if he had said ‘widower Aeneas’ too? Good Lord, how you’d take it!”
“Widow Dido, said you?” asks Adrian. “You make me study on that… she was of Carthage, not of Tunis.”
“This Tunis, sir, was Carthage,” Gonzalo tells him.
“I assure you, Carthage.”
- Carthage, very near Tunis, was long ago destroyed. Sebastian alludes, scornfully, to a myth of restoration: “His word is more than the miraculous harp: he hath raisèd the wall, and houses too!”
- “What impossible matter will he make easy next?” asks Antonio.
- “I think he will carry this island home in his pocket, and give it to his son for an apple!”
- Antonio contributes: “And, sowing the kernels of it in the sea, bring forth more islands!”
Gonzalo begins, “I—”
King Alonso lifts a hand to forestall. “Well, in good time”—later. He craves only solitude and quiet.
“Sir,” says Gonzalo, still hoping to distract him from the loss of Ferdinand, “we were talking that our garments seem now as fresh as when we were at Tunis at the marriage of your daughter, who is now queen!”
- “And the rarest that e’er came there!” sniffs Duke Antonio.
- “Except, I beseech you, Widow Dido,” Sebastian amends.
- “Oh, Widow Dido!” laughs Antonio. “Aye, Widow Dido!”
Gonzalo persists. “Is not, sir, my doublet as fresh as the day when first I wore it?—I mean, of the sort—”
- Antonio jests: “That sort was well fishèd for!”
“—when I wore it at your daughter’s marriage?”
But the king is too upset to listen. “You cram these words into mine ears, against the appetite of their sense!” he moans. “Would I had never married away my daughter there! For, coming thence, my son is lost!—and at any rate she too is so far from Italy removèd that ne’er again shall I see her!”
He pictures Ferdinand. “O thou, mine heir of Naples and of Milan, what strange fish hath made its meal of thee?”
“Sir, he may yet live,” says Lord Francisco. “I saw him beat the surges under him, and ride upon their backs; he trod the water, whose enmity he flung aside, and breasted the most swol’n surge that met him! His bold head ’bove the contentious waves he kept, and oar’d himself with his good arms in lusty strokes toward the shore!—which lowered to its wave-worn base as if stooping to relieve him! I’d not doubt he came to land alive!”
But King Alonso is inconsolable. “No, no, he’s gone.”
“Sir, you may thank yourself for this great loss,” says his callous brother. “You would not bless our Europe with your daughter, but rather lose her to Africa—where she is, at the least, banishèd from your eye, who hath caused the wet grief of’t!”
“Prithee, peace!” says the suffering king.
But Sebastian continues cruelly. “You were kneeled to and importuned otherwise by all of us, and the fair soul herself weighed between loathness and obedience as to which end o’ the beam should bow!
“We have lost your son, I fear, forever! Milan and Naples have more widows in them of this business’s making than we bring men to comfort them! The fault’s your own!”
“So is the dearest of the loss!” sobs the king.
“My lord Sebastian, the truth you speak doth lack some gentleness!—and the time for speaking it in!” chides Gonzalo. “You rub the sore when you should bring a poultice!”
- Duke Antonio commends his companion. “Very well done!”
- “And most surgeonly”—incisively, says Sebastian.
Gonzalo tells the king, “It is foul weather in us all, good sir, when you are cloudy.”
- “Foul weather?” asks Sebastian.
- “Very foul,” says Antonio.
Gonzalo has been musing. “Had I a plantation on this isle, my lord—”
- “He’d sow’t with nettle-seed,” says Antonio.
- “Or burdocks, or mallows!”—other weeds, says Sebastian.
Gonzalo continues, “—and were the king of’t, what would I do?”
- “’Scape being drunk for lack of wine!” snorts Sebastian.
“In that commonwealth I would by contraries execute all things,” proclaims Gonzalo, “for no kind of commerce would I admit; nor name a magistrate; letters should not be known; riches, poverty, and use of servants, none; contract, succession, bourn, bonds of land, tilth, vineyard, none; no sale of metal or wheat, nor wine or oil; no occupations!—all men idle, all!—and women too—but innocent and pure! No sovereignty.”
- “Yet he would be king on’t,” notes Sebastian.
- “The latter end of his commonwealth forgets the beginning!” laughs Antonio.
Lord Gonzalo is a blithe dreamer: “All in common share things Nature produces, without sweat or endeavour! Treason, felony would I not have—nor need of sword, pike, knife, gun, or any engine of war. But Nature should bring forth of its own kind!—all foison, all abundance, to feed my chaste people!”
- “No marrying ’mong his subjects?” asks Sebastian.
- “None, man; all idle—whores and knaves!”
Says Gonzalo wishfully. “I would with such perfection govern, sir, to excel the Golden Age!”
- “God save his majesty!” mutters Sebastian.
- Antonio completes the wry salute: “Long live Gonzalo!”
Gonzalo asks the downcast king, “And…. Do you mark me, sir?”
“Prithee, no more! Thou dost talk nothing to me!” is Alonso’s testy reply.
“Your Highness, I do well perceive it,” says Gonzalo, “and do it to minister occasion to these gentlemen”—he points at the scoffers—“who are of such sensitive and nimble lungs that they always use them to laugh at nothing!”
“’Twas you we laughed at!” gibes Antonio.
Gonzalo retorts, “Who, in this kind of merry fooling am nothing compared to you!—who may continue, and laugh as nothing.”
“What a blow was there given!” gibes Antonio.
“If it had not fallen flat along!”—struck with the width of a sword, not its cutting edge, says Sebastian.
Gonzalo berates them: “You are gentlemen of brave metal!—you could lift the moon out of her orbit—if she would continue in it for five weeks without changing!” She won’t.
“We would so,” laughs Sebastian, “and then go a-bat-fowling!”—hunting by moonlight.
“Nay, good my lord, be not angry!” says Antonio to Gonzalo, feigning concern.
The counselor replies with contempt: “No, I warrant you I will not adventure my discretion so weakly.”
Ariel, still invisible, now floats down among them, and he begins to play soft, lulling music on a lute.
Gonzalo yawns. “Will you laugh me to sleep? For I am very heavy….”
“Go; sleep,” says the duke solicitously. But he thinks, And near us!
Under the spell of Ariel’s mellifluous music, one by one members of the royal party drift gently into slumber.
But not the monarch—or his brother and the duke.
King Alonso looks at the others in their party. “What, all so soon asleep? I wish mine eyes would with themselves shut up my thoughts.” He yawns. “I find they are inclined to do so….”
“Please you, sir, do not omit the heavy offer of it!” urges Sebastian. “Sleep seldom visits sorrow; when it doth, it is a comforter.”
“We two, my lord, will guard your person while you take your rest, and watch for your safety,” says Antonio.
“Thank you,” mumbles the king, stifling another yawn. “…wondrous heavy….” And then he too sleeps.
Ariel, who has other work to do, flies away, silent as a zephyr.
“What a strange drowsiness possesses them!” says Sebastian, looking at the sleepers.
“It is the quality o’ the climate,” opines Antonio.
“Why doth it not then our eyelids sink?” asks Sebastian. “I find not myself disposèd to sleep….”
“Nor I; my spirits are nimble. They fell together all, as if by consent; they dropped as by a thunder-stroke!” That seems to suggest a thought to the duke. “What might worthy Sebastian…? Oh, what might he!” He seems to think better of it. “No more….”
He regards the king’s brother intently. “And yet methinks I see it in thy face—what thou shouldst be! The occasion speaks to thee!—and my strong imagination sees a crown dropping upon thy head!”
“What, art thou waking?”
“Do you not hear me speak?”
“I do, but it is surely a sleepy language thou speak’st, out of thy sleep.” Sebastian frowns and blinks. “This is a strange repose—to be asleep with eyes wide open—standing, speaking, moving, and yet so fast asleep. What is it thou didst say?”
“Noble Sebastian, thou let’st thy fortune sleep!—die, rather, eyes shut whiles thou art waking!” the duke tells him.
“Thou dost snore distinctly: there’s meaning in thy snores.”
“I am more serious than is my custom,” says Antonio. “You must be so too, if heed me—which to do trebles thee o’er!”
“Well, I am standing water”—not ambitious.
“I’ll teach you how to flow!”
“Do so,” he says the king’s brother. “Hereditary sloth instructs me to ebb.”
“Oh, if only you knew how the purpose furnishes you while thus you mock it!—how, in stripping it, you more invest it! Indeed, ebbing men most often, near the bottom, do run past their own fear of sloth!”
Sebastian’s interest is piqued. “Prithee, say on. The setting of thine eye and cheek proclaim a matter from thee—a birth that throes thee much to yield!”
Antonio nods. “Thus, sir.” He points to Francisco. “Although this lord of weak remembrance—who shall be of just as little memory after he is earthèd, for he’s a spirit of persuasion, professes but to persuade—hath almost persuaded this,”—the king, “that his son’s alive, ’tis as impossible that he’s undrownèd as that he who sleeps here is swimming!”
Sebastian shrugs. “I have no hope that he’s not drowned,” he says of his nephew, Ferdinand.
“Oh, but out of that no hope what great hope have you! No hope that way is in another way so high a hope that Ambition cannot pierce even a wink beyond without fearing discovery there!
“Will you grant with me that Ferdinand is drownèd?”
“Then tell me: who’s the next heir of Naples?”
The duke scoffs. “She that is Queen of Tunis?—she that dwells ten leagues beyond man’s life!—she that from Naples can have no note—unless the sun were to post it; the man i’ the moon’s too slow!—’till new-born chins be rough and razorable?
“She from whom we all were sea-swallowed, though some are cast up again—and in that, Destiny performed an act whereof what’s past is prologue!—what’s to come, yours!—and mine to discharge!”
Sebastian frowns “What stuff is this? How say you? ’Tis true my brother’s daughter is queen of Tunis; so is she heir of Naples… ’twixt which regions there is some space….”
“A space whose every cubit seems to cry out, ‘Why should Clara measure it back to Naples? Keep her, Tunis—and let Sebastian awake!’”
Duke Antonio motions toward the sleeping king and counselor. “Say this were death that now hath seized them; why, they were no worse than now they are!” He moves closer to Sebastian. “There be one who can rule Naples as well as he who sleeps—lords that can prate as amply and unnecessarily as this Gonzalo!—I myself could make a chuff with chat as deep!
“Oh, that you bore the mind that I do!—what a sleep were this—for your advancement! Do you understand me?”
“Methinks I do.”
“And how does your perception consider your own good fortune?”
Sebastian thinks, stroking his beard. “I remember you did supplant your brother, Prospero….”
“True!” cries Antonio. “And look how well my garments sit upon me, much feater than before! My brother’s servants were then my fellows!—now they are my men!”
“But, as for your conscience…?”
“Ay, sir, where lies that? If ’twere a kibe,”—a heel blister, “’twould put me to my slipper; but I feel not this deity in my bosom! Twenty consciences that stand ’twixt me and Milan, candied be they, and melt ere they molest!”
He steps toward King Alonso. “Here lies your brother—no better than the earth he lies upon, if he were that which now he’s like: that’s dead.” He touches his sword. “Whom I, with this obedient steel—three inches of it—can lay to bed forever!” He nods toward Gonzalo. “Whiles you doing thus might put this ancient morsel to the perpetual wink, this Sir Prudence, who then should not upbraid our course!
“As for all the rest, they’ll take suggestion as a cat laps milk!—they’ll tell the hour to any business that we say befits the clock!”
Sebastian agrees. “Thy case, dear friend, shall be my precedent! As thou got’st Milan, I’ll come by Naples! Draw thy sword!—one stroke shall free thee from the tribute which thou payest; and I the king shall love thee!”
“Draw together,” says the duke, “and when I rear my hand, do you the like, to fall it on Gonzalo.”
They unsheath blades and creep silently toward their sleeping victims.
But Ariel, unseen, is again watching over Gonzalo. My master through his art foresees the danger that you, his friend, are in, and sends me forth—for else his project dies—to keep thee living! The sprite sings into the nobleman’s ear:
“While you here snoring lie,
Its time doth take!
If of life you keep a care,
Shake off slumber, and beware!
Antonio whispers, “Then let us both be sudden…”
Gonzalo cries out: “Now, good angels, preserve the king!”
The lords awaken, and they too jump up and peer around at the island glade.
“Why, how now?” mumbles King Alonso as Gonzalo tugs at his arm. He yawns. “Ho, awake.” He looks up and sees his fearful brother. “Why are you drawn? Wherefore this ghastly looking?”
“What’s the matter?” asks Gonzalo, looking about for the threat.
Sebastian answers: “Whiles we stood here securing your repose, even now we heard a hollow burst of bellowing like bulls!—or rather lions! Did’t not wake you? It struck mine ear most terribly!”
“I heard nothing,” says Alonso, rising.
“Oh, ’twas a din to fright a monster’s ear, to make an earthquake!” asserts Antonio. “Surely it was the roar of a whole herd of lions!”
“Heard you this, Gonzalo?” asks the king.
The counselor is puzzled. “Upon mine honour, sir, I heard a humming—and that a strange one, too—which did awake me! I shaked you, sir, and cried out. As mine eyes opened, I saw their weapons drawn!” He frowns. “There was a noise, that verily….
“’Tis best we stand upon our guard, or that we quit this place! Let’s draw our weapons!”
“Lead off this ground,” orders the king, “and let’s make further search for my poor son.”
“Heavens keep him from these beasts!” says Gonzalo. “For he is, surely, on the island.”
“Lead away,” says the king.
And so, heading further inland, they renew their quest to find Ferdinand.
Ariel hovers nearby. Prospero my lord shall know what I have done!
So, king, go safely on to seek thy son!
Kiss the Book
Caliban, grunting under a load of firewood, labors near his damp cave. He scowls as deep thunder again rumbles past, a remnant of the dwindling tempest.
“All the infections that the sun sucks up from bogs, fens, flats on Prosper fall, and make him by inch-meal a disease!”
He ducks fearfully, wincing. His spirits hear me! And yet I needs must curse!
They’ll not pinch, fright me with urgent shows, pitch me i’ the mire, nor lead me, like a firebrand in the dark, out of my way, unless he bid ’em!
But for every trifle are they set upon me!—sometimes like apes that make faces and chatter at me, and after bite me; then like hedgehogs which lie in my barefoot way, mount their pricks at my footfall to tumble me! Sometimes am I all wound up in adders who with cloven tongues do hiss me unto madness!
Most such suffering is in fact unknown to Prospero; by attributing every discomfort and affliction to him, Caliban effects punishment for wrongs of which only he is actually aware.
Dumping the branches from his shoulders, he straightens—and is astonished to spot a moving figure, approaching along the shore. It is the shipwrecked Trinculo, a slender man of the royal household who serves as a jester.
“Lo, now, lo!” moans Caliban. Here comes a spirit of his!—come to torment me for bringing wood in slowly! I’ll fall flat!—perchance he will not mind me! He drops, pulls his tattered cloak up over his head, and within it spreads his arms on the sand.
Trinculo has been searching for shelter. Here’s neither bush nor shrub to bear up under any weather at all—and another storm’s brewing!—I hear it sing i’ the wind! Yond same black cloud, yond huge one, looks like a foul bombardier that would shed his liquor!—a smoke-stained artillery soldier about to vomit.
If it should thunder as it did before, I know not where to hide my head! He watches the threatening sky as he walks. Yond same cloud cannot choose but fall by pailfuls!
He trips, stumbling over an odd form. What have we here? A man or a fish? Dead or alive?
A fish! He smells like a fish—a very ancient and fish-like smell; a kind of not-of-the-newest poor-John!—fish, dried and salted—but spoiling.
He crawls back a bit, noting the size. A strange fish! Were I in England now, as once I was, and had but this fish, painted, —on a showman’s sign— not one holiday fool there but would give a piece of silver! There would this monster make a man; any strange beast there makes a man! When they will not give a doit to relieve a lame beggar, they will lay out ten to see a dead Indian!
He looks again. Leggèd like a man, but with fins like arms! He pokes. Warm, o’ my troth! I do now let loose my opinion, hold it no longer: this is no fish, but an islander that hath lately suffered by a thunderbolt!
As if in response, lightning again rends the sky.
Alas, the storm is come again! My best way is to creep under his gabardine; there is no other shelter hereabouts. Misery acquaints a man with strange bed-fellows! I will here shroud till the dregs of the storm be past. Crawling, he backs in under the rough but capacious cape, his head next to Caliban’s shins.
Now along comes Stephano, the king’s wine-steward—singing, and clasping a crudely made flask in his hand.
“I shall no more to sea, to sea!
Here shall I die, ashore—”
He frowns. “This is a very scurvy tune, one to sing at a man’s funeral! Well, here’s my comfort!” he says, and absorbs a swig.
He sings a new song:
“The master, the swabber, the boatswain and I,
The gunner and his mate,
Loved Mall, Meg and Marian, and Margery,
But none of us cared for Kate!
For she had a tongue with a tang—
Would cry to a sailor, ‘Go hang!’
She loved not the savour of tar nor of pitch,
Yet a tailor might scratch her where’er she did itch!
Then to sea, boys, and let her go hang!
Then to sea, boys, and let her go hang!
“This is a scurvy tune, too.” He shrugs. “But here’s my comfort,” he says, summoning spirits—distilled ones.
Caliban is perturbed by the newer voice, and by his too-close companion. “Do not torment me!” he cries, and moans “Oooh!”
“What’s the matter?” demands the well-comforted butler, scuttling back from the wide lump before him. Have we devils here? Eh?—do you put tricks upon’s, with savages and men of Ind? I have not ’scaped drowning to be afeard now of your four legs!—for it hath been said of me, ‘As proper a man as ever went on four legs’—crawled in a drunken stupor—‘cannot make him give ground!’ And it shall be said so again while Stephano breathes at’s nostrils! He prods the form with a boot.
Caliban, hands shielding his hidden head, trembles. The spirit torments me! Ooh!
Stephano ponders, looking at the extended bare feet: This is some monster of the isle with four legs, who hath got, as I take it, an ague. He blinks. Where the devil should he learn our language?
I will give him some relief—if it be but so that I can recover him, and keep him, tame; he’s a present for any emperor that ever trod on neat’s-leather!
“Do not torment me, prithee!” pleads Caliban’s muffled voice. “I’ll bring thy wood home faster!”
He’s in his fit now, and does not talk after the wisest, thinks Stephano. He shall taste from my bottle! If he have never drunk wine afore, it will go near to remove this fit. If I can get to Naples with him, I will not take too much for him.
But, after a moment’s deliberation, he reaches a revised verdict: He shall pay for him that hath him—and that soundly!
Lying next to Trinculo, Caliban whimpers. “Thou dost hurt me but little—yet thou wilt anon!—I know it by my trembling!” He moans to himself, Now Prospero works upon thee!
“Come on your ways,” Stephano tells the form, as he kneels to uncover the monster’s head. Caliban rolls over. “Open thy mouth; here is that which will give language to your cat! Open thy mouth! This will shake your shaking, I can tell you!”
The islander resists the unfamiliar fluid, but to no avail; he gulps down wine. “You cannot tell who’s your friend!” complains the butler, pressing the bottle to Caliban’s mouth. “Open your chaps again!”
Says Trinculo, still covered. “I should know that voice…. It should be— But he is drownèd, and these are devils! Oh, defend me!”
Cries Stephano, “Four legs and two voices!—a most duplicate monster!” He considers. “His forward voice, now, is for speaking well of his friends; his backward voice is for uttering foul speeches, and detracting.” He thinks again of the valuable find. “If all the wine in my bottle will recover him, I will help his ague!” He shoves the flask forward. “Come!” But Caliban, not yet won over to alcohol, turns his head away.
The butler is not put off. “Amen. I will put some in thy other mouth!”
His words stirs Trinculo. “Stephano?”
The hearty imbiber is startled to hear his own name. “Doth thy other mouth call me? Mercy, mercy!—this is a devil, and no monster! I will leave him!—I have no long spoon!”—as is needed, proverbially, to dine with the Devil.
“Stephano? If thou beest Stephano, touch me and speak to me!—for I am Trinculo! Be not afear’d—thy good friend Trinculo!”
“If thou beest Trinculo, come forth! I’ll pull thee by the lesser legs; if any be Trinculo’s legs, these are they.” The man slides forth. “Thou art very Trinculo indeed! How camest thou to be the crap of this moon-calf? Can he fart Trinculos?”
“I took him to be killed with a thunder-stroke,” says the other servant, sitting up and staring. “But art thou not drowned, Stephano? I hope now thou art not drownèd! Is the storm blown over? I hid me under the dead moon-calf’s gabardine for fear of the storm.
“And art thou living, Stephano?” he cries joyfully, rising to grasp his friend by the shoulders. “Oh, Stephano, two Neapolitans ’scapèd!”
“Prithee, do not turn me about; my stomach is not constant!”
Caliban, behind them, finally opens his eyes. These be fine things, an if they be not spirits! The wine is now working: That’s a brave god!—and he bears celestial liquor! I will kneel to him! He crawls forward.
“How didst thou ’scape?” Stephano asks Trinculo. “How camest thou hither? Swear by this bottle how thou camest hither! I escaped upon a butt of sack which the sailors had heaved o’erboard. By this bottle,” he demands, “which I made of the bark of a tree with mine own hands since I was cast ashore.”
Caliban looks up, worshippingly, at Stephano. I’ll swear upon that bottle to be thy true subject!—for the liquor is not earthly!
“Here, swear then how thou escapedst,” Stephano tells Trinculo.
“Swum ashore, man, like a duck!—I can swim like a duck, I’ll be sworn!”
“Here, ‘kiss the book,’” says Stephano handing him the bottle; the other servant drinks. “Though thou canst swim like a duck, thou art made like a goose!”—basted.
Trinculo smiles and smacks his lips. “Oh, Stephano, hast any more of this?”
“The whole butt, man! My ‘cellar’ is in a rock by the seaside, where my wine is hid.” He turns, unsteadily, to Caliban. “How now, moon-calf! How does thine ague?”
“Hast thou not dropped from heaven?” asks Caliban, in awe, and already quite tipsy.
“Out o’ the moon, I do assure thee: I was the man i’ the moon, when time was!”
Caliban is delighted. “I have seen thee in her, and I do adore thee! My mistress showed me thee—and thy dog, and thy bush!”
“Come, swear to that!—kiss the book,” demands the devout drinker. “I will furnish it anon with new contents. Swear.”
“By this good light, this is a very shallow monster!” cries wine-emboldened Trinculo. “I, afeard of him? A very weak monster! The man i’ the moon,” he cackles. “A most poor, credulous monster!” But he must respect Caliban’s latest pull from the bottle: “Well drawn, monster, in good sooth!”
Caliban grows fervent. “I’ll show thee every fertile inch o’ th’ island; and I will kiss thy foot! I prithee, be my god!”
Now Trinculo turns skeptic: “By this light, a most perfidious and drunken monster! When ’s god’s asleep, he’ll rob his bottle!”
“I’ll kiss thy foot,” Caliban tells Stephano. “I’ll swear myself thy subject!”
“Come on then; down, and swear.”
Cries Trinculo in delight, “I shall laugh myself to death at this puppy-headed monster! A most scurvy monster! I could find it in my heart to bear him!”
“Come, kiss!” demands the sacristan of the spirituous.
“But that the poor monster’s in drink, an abominable monster!” laughs Trinculo.
“I’ll show thee the best springs; I’ll pluck thee berries!” pledges Caliban. “I’ll fish for thee, and get thee wood enough! A plague upon the tyrant that I served!—I’ll bear him no more sticks, but follow thee, thou wondrous man!”
Trinculo is highly amused. “A most ridiculous monster, to make a wonder of a poor drunkard!”
Caliban offers island delicacies: “I prithee, let me bring thee where crab-apples grow! And I with my long nails will dig thee pignuts, show thee a jay’s nest, and instruct thee how to snare the nimble marmoset! I’ll bring thee to clustering filberts, and sometimes I’ll get thee young scramblers from the rocks!” He points inland. “Wilt thou go with me?”
“I prithee now, lead the way without any more talking!” cries Stephano, suddenly quite hungry. “Trinculo, the king and all our company else being drowned, we will inherit here!
“Here, bear my bottle,” he tells Caliban. “Follow, Trinculo; we’ll fill it again by and by.”
Caliban, thus doubly inebriated, cries out, “Farewell, master! Farewell, farewell!”
“A howling monster,” laughs Trinculo, “a drunken monster!”
“No more dams I’ll make for fish,
Nor fetch-in firing at requiring,
Nor scrape a trencher—not a dish!
’Ban, ’ban, Ca-Caliban
Has a new master! Get a new man!
Freedom!—hey-day! Hey-day, freedom!
Freedom, hey-day, freedom!”
“O brave monster!” cries imperious Stephano, “lead the way!”
Just outside Prospero’s dwelling, Ferdinand works hard in the sun, stacking firewood neatly. Strangely enough, he is very happy—and he pauses to reflect.
There be some sports are painful, but their labour sets off a delight in them! Some kinds of baseness are nobly undergone; and most-poor matters point to rich ends! This, my mean task, would be as dreary to me as odious but that the mistress whom I serve quickens what’s dead, and makes my labours pleasures!
Oh, she is ten times more gentle than her father is crabbèd—and he’s composed of harshness! I must remove some thousands of these logs and pile them up, upon a sore injunction! My sweet mistress weeps when she sees me work, and says such baseness had never like executor!
He looks around warily. I forget! He bends again to lift heavy limbs of pine—and smiles. But these sweet thoughts do even refresh my labour!—most busiest when I do it!
Miranda comes to him—unaware that Prospero is watching, unseen, from a distance.
“Alas, now, pray you, work not so hard!” she pleads. “I would the lightning had burnt up this log that you are enjoinèd to pile! Pray, set it down and rest you; when this burns, ’twill weep for having wearied you! My father is hard at study; pray now, rest yourself; he’s safe for these three hours.”
But Ferdinand looks at the scattered wood, carelessly dropped by Caliban. “Oh, most dear mistress, the sun will set before I shall discharge what I must strive to do!”
“If you’ll sit down, I’ll bear your logs the while! Pray, give me that; I’ll carry it to the pile!”
“No, precious creature!—I had rather crack my sinews, break my back, than you should such dishonour undergo!—while I sit lazy by!”
“It would become me as well as it does you! And I should do it with much more ease, for my good will is to it, and yours it is against!”
Thinks Prospero, smiling, Poor worm, thou art infected! This visitation shows it!
Miranda, concerned, tells the prince, “You look weary!”
“No, noble mistress!—’tis fresh morning with me when you are by at night! I do beseech you, chiefly that I might set it into my prayers: What is your name?”
“Miranda.” Her fingers fly to her lips: “Oh, my father!—saying so I have broken your behest!”
“Admirèd Miranda!—indeed the top of admiration!—worthy what’s dearest to the world!
“Full many a lady I have eyed with ‘best’ regard, and many a time the harmony of their tongues hath into bondage brought my too-diligent ear,” he confesses. “For several virtues have I liked several women—yet never any with so full a soul but that some defect in her did quarrel with the noblest grace she owned, and put it to the foil.
“But you, O you, so perfect and so peerless, are created of every creature’s best!”
“I do not know one of my sex” Miranda admits, “nor woman’s face remember, save, from my glass, mine own; nor have I seen more that I may call men than you, good friend, and my dear father. How features are, abroad, I am skilless of. But—by my modesty, the jewel in my dower—I would not wish any companion in the world but you!—nor can imagination form a shape besides yourself to like of!
“But I prattle somewhat too wildly, and my father’s precepts I therein do forget.”
“I am, in my condition,”—at home, “a prince, Miranda! Now, I do think—would it were not so!—a king, and would no more endure this wooden slavery than to suffer a fresh fly to blow in my mouth! But herein my soul speaks: the very instant that I saw you, my heart did fly to your service!—there resides, making me slave to it!—and for your sake am I this patient log-man!”
“Do you love me?”
“O heaven, O earth, bear witness to this sound, and crown what I profess with kind event if I speak true; if hollowly, invert what best is boded me into mischief!
“I, beyond all limit of what else i’ the world, do love, prize, honour you!”
Miranda beams—tearfully. “I am a fool to weep at what I am glad of!”
Thinks Prospero. Fair encounter of two most-rare affections! Heavens, rain grace on that which breeds between them!
Ferdinand asks, “Wherefore weep you?”
“At mine unworthiness, that dares not offer what I desire to give, much less take what I shall die to lack!” She looks down, blushing.
She looks up. “But this is trifling”—flirting. “And the more it seeks to hide itself, the bigger bulk it shows! Hence, bashful cunning, and prompt me, plain and holy innocence!”
Clear-eyed and confident, she regards him. “I am your wife, it you will marry me; if not, I’ll die your maid. To be your fellow you may deny me; but I’ll be your servant, whether you will or no!”
Ferdinand beams. “My mistress, dearest!” He kneels. “And I, thus humble ever!”
“My husband, then?”
“Aye!—with a heart as willing as e’er was bondage for freedom! Here’s my hand!”
They shake hands. “And mine, with my heart in’t!” says she. “And now fare well, till half an hour hence!”
“‘Fare well’—a thousand thousand!”
Filled with hope, they return to the hot day: she goes to ponder happily, in the home of her childhood and youth; he resumes his pleasing, if unaccustomed, labor.
Thinks Prospero, So glad of this I cannot be as they who are surprised withal. Yet my rejoicing at it can be nothing less!
But he has no time to savor the young souls’ chaste betrothal.
I’ll to my book! For yet ere supper-time must I perform much business appertaining!
Stephano and Trinculo, deacons of the vine, are decidedly drunk; the acolyte Caliban is glassy-eyed.
Stephano motions to silence his provisioner and finder of streams. “Tell me not! When the butt is out, we will drink water—not a drop before! Therefore Bear up and board ’em!”—the pirate’s credo. “Servant monster, drink to me!”
“Servant monster!” laughs Trinculo. “The folly of this island! Say there’s but five upon this isle—we are three of ’em; if th’ other two be brainèd like us, the state totters!”
“Drink, servant monster, when I bid thee!” commands Stephano. “Thy eyes are almost set in thy head!”—closed.
Blearily, Trinculo considers that. “Where should they be set else? He were a brave monster indeed, if they were set in his tail!”
“My man Monster hath drowned his tongue in wine,” observes Stephano. “As for my part: the sea cannot drown me!—I swam, ere I could recover the shore, five and thirty leagues, off and on!”—about one hundred miles.
He claps an arm almost around Caliban’s broad shoulders. “By this light, thou shalt be my lieutenant, Monster!—or my standard!”—ensign.
“Your lieutenant, if you list,” advises Trinculo. “He’s no standard!”—model.
As Caliban again starts away, motioning for them to hurry after, Stephano insists, “We’ll not run, Monsieur Monster!”
“Nor go neither,” adds Trinculo. “We’ll lie here like dogs—and yet say nothing, neither!”
Lying prompts a question, from Stephano to Caliban: “Moon-calf, speak truly once in thy life, whether thou beest a good moon-calf!”
Caliban blinks, then nods. “How does Thy Honour? Let me lick thy shoe!” But he glares at Trinculo. “I’ll not serve him; he’s not valiant!”
“Thou liest, most ignorant monster!—I am in a state to jostle a constable!” cries bold Trinculo, to defend his daring. “Why, thou deboshèd fish, thou, was there ever man that hath drunk so much sack as I today a coward? Wilt thou tell a monstrous lie, being but half a monster, and half a fish?”
“Lo, how he mocks me!” whines Caliban. “Wilt thou let him, my lord?”
Trinculo laughs: “‘Lord’ quoth he! That a monster should be such a natural!”—simple, silly fellow.
“Lo, lo!—again!” protests Caliban. “Bid him to Death, I prithee!”
“Trinculo, keep a good tongue in your head!” Stephano warns. “If you prove a mutineer—to the next tree! The poor monster’s my subject, and he shall not suffer indignity!”
Caliban bows deeply—and, losing balance, almost falls. “I thank my noble lord! Wilt thou be pleased to hearken once again to the suit I made to thee?”
“Marry, will I. Kneel and repeat it. I will stand—and so,” he says, frowning, “shall Trinculo!”
Ariel glides silently through the air to them, invisible, watching and listening.
“As I told thee before,” Caliban begins, kneeling before Stefano, “I am subject to a tyrant—a sorcerer that by his cunning hath cheated me of the island!”
Ariel speaks—to his hearing only: “Thou liest!”
“Thou liest, thou jesting monkey, thou!” cries Caliban petulantly, glaring—at Trinculo. “I would my valiant master would destroy thee! I do not lie!”
Stephano displays a fist. “Trinculo, if you trouble him any more in’s tale, by this hand, I will supplant some of your teeth!”
“Why, I said nothing!” Trinculo tells him.
“Mum, then, and no more,” says Stephano. He nods to Caliban. “Proceed.”
“I say, by sorcery he got this isle!—from me he got it!” says Caliban. “If Thy Greatness will revenge it on him—for I know thou darest what this thing dare not—”
“That’s most certain.”
“—thou shalt be lord of it, and I’ll serve thee!”
“Now, how, shall this be encompassed?” asks Stephano. “Canst thou bring me to the person?”
“Yes, yes, my lord!—I’ll yield him to thee asleep, when thou mayst knock a nail into his head!”
Ariel speaks—and again, only Caliban hears: “Thou liest! Thou canst not!”
Caliban casts a furious look at Trinculo. He turns, on his knees, to Stephano. “I do beseech Thy Greatness: give him blows, and take his bottle from him! When that’s gone, he shall drink nought but brine, for I’ll not show him where the quick freshets are!”
“What a pièd ninny’s this! Thou scurvy patch!” cries the jester.
“Trinculo, run no further into danger,” warns Stephano. “Interrupt the monster one word further, and, by this hand, I’ll turn my mercy out o’ doors, and make a stock-fish of thee!”
“Why?—what did I? I did nothing!” Trinculo would be even more truculent, if he could stand without wobbling. “I’ll go farther off!”
“Didst thou not say he lied?” asks Stephano.
The reply in Stephano’s ear is Ariel’s: “Thou liest!”
“Do I so?” cries the butler angrily, cuffing Trinculo’ ear. He sweeps off his own hat. “Take thou that!” he cries, battering the other servant with it. “As you like this, give me the lie another time!”
“I did not give the lie! Out o’ your wits, and hearing too?” cries Trinculo in frustration.” A pox o’ your bottle!—this can sack and drinking do!” Sack is a strong, cheap wine. “A murrain on your monster!” he shouts. “And the devil take your fingers!” he mutters, seeing Stephano’s rude gesture.
Caliban laughs loudly with drunken pleasure.
“Now, forward with your tale,” Stephano tells him. He waves Trinculo away. “Prithee, stand farther off.”
“Beat him enough,” says Caliban, “and after a little time I’ll beat him too!”
Stephano motions to Trinculo. “Stand farther.
“Come, proceed!” he tells his new vassal, eager to usurp the island’s rule.
“Well, as I told thee, ’tis a custom with him i’ th’ afternoon to sleep. Then thou mayst brain him!—having first seized his books. Either batter his skull with a log, or paunch him with a stake, or cut his wezand with thy knife!
“But remember first to possess his books, for without them he’s nought but a sot as I am, nor hath not one spirit to command!—they all do hate him as rootedly as I!” So he thinks. “Burn but his books; he has brave utensils, for so he calls them, which, once he had a house, he decked it withal.
“And what’s most deeply to consider is the beauty of his daughter! He himself calls her a nonpareil. I never saw a woman but she and Sycorax, my dam—and she so far surpasseth Sycorax as greatest does least!”
“Is it so special a lass?”
“Aye, lord!—she will become thy bed, I warrant, and bring thee forth brave brood!”
Stephano is convinced. “Monster, I will kill this man! His daughter and I will be king and queen—’ save Our Graces!—and Trinculo and thyself shall be viceroys!
“Dost thou like the plot, Trinculo?”
“Give me thy hand! I am sorry I beat thee. But, while thou livest, keep a good tongue in thy head!”
“Within this half hour will he be asleep,” Caliban advises. “Wilt thou destroy him then?”
“Aye, on mine honour!” says the assassin-to-be.
- Ariel has been listening. This will I tell my master!
Caliban smiles at Stefano, “Thou makest me merry! I am full of pleasure; let us be jocund!” He craves music. “Will you troll the catch”—sing the song—“you taught me but ere a while?”
“At thy request, Monster, I will do reason, any reason. Come on, Trinculo, let us sing!” Stephano exclaims, to the sky:
“Scout ’em and count ’em,
Then flout ’em and rout ’em!—
Thought is turnèd free!”
Caliban frowns. “That’s not the tune….”
Unseen, Ariel beats time on the tabour at his hip, and plays a melody with his pipe—surprising the startled men.
Stephano gapes around him. “What is this same?”
“This is the tune of our catch,” whispers Trinculo, “played by the picture of nobody!”
“If thou beest a man,” calls Stephano, querulously, “show thyself in thy likeness! If thou beest a devil, take’t however thou likest!”
Trinculo is scared. “Oh, forgive me my sins!” he moans.
Stephano mumbles, “He that dies pays all debts.” He tells the spirit, boldly, “I defy thee!” Then, suddenly, his courage fails: “Mercy upon us!” he groans, peering around.
“Art thou afeard?” asks Caliban, disappointed.
“No, monster, not I!” lies the butler, even as he quails.
Caliban looks about calmly, almost in a reverie. “Be not afeard. The isle is full of murmurs, sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.
“Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments will hum about mine ears; and sometimes voices that, even if I have waked after long sleep, will make me sleep again.
“And then, in dreaming, methinks the clouds would open and show such richness ready to drop upon me that, when I wake, I cry to dream again.”
Stephano, though, is easily satisfied; he looks around. “This will prove a fine kingdom to me, where I shall have my music for nothing!”
Caliban is brought back to vengeful thoughts. “When Prospero is destroyed.”
“That shall be, by and by. I remember thy story.”
“The sound is going away,” says Trinculo. “Let’s follow it, and after do our work.”
“Lead, Monster; we’ll follow,” says Stephano. “I would I could see this tabourer; he lays it on!”
The three men stumble away, allured by the soft, steady music.
The party of nobles has searched without success for Prince Ferdinand—by moving, drawn by Ariel, in a shrinking spiral, had they known it. They pause in a grove at the center of the island.
“By’r la’kin, I can go no further, sir!” groans Gonzalo. “My old bones ache! Here’s a maze indeed, trod through forth-rights and meanders! By your patience, I must needs rest me.”
“Old lord, I cannot blame thee,” says the king, “who am myself arrested with weariness, to the dulling of my spirits. Sit down, and rest.” He finds a place on a flat rock. “Even here I will cast off my hope, and keep it no longer as my flatterer. He is drowned, whom thus we stray to find, and the sea mocks our frustrate search on land.
“Well,” he sighs, looking down in despair, “let him go.” Hands pressed to his face, he begins to weep.
Sitting apart from the others, two lords confer quietly.
“I am right glad that he’s so out of hope,” says Duke Antonio. “Do not, after one repulse,”—failed attempt, “forego the purpose that you resolved to effect!”
Sebastian nods. “The next opportunity will we take thoroughy.”
“Let it be tonight!—for, now that they are oppressèd with travail, they will not, nor cannot, use such vigilance as when they are fresh.”
Sebastian agrees—but without enthusiasm “I say tonight. No more.” He has qualms about their scheme to kill the king—his brother.
All of the Neapolitans now become aware of sounds, solemn and strange, rising around them.
“What harmony is this?” asks King Alonso. “My good friends, hark!”
“Marvelous sweet music!” breathes Gonzalo, listening.
They do not see him, but Prospero stands high above, on a branch in the tallest of the trees, watching.
Suddenly to the courtiers appear three peculiar creatures: ape-like servants, bearing with them a sumptuous supper on a small, well-laid table. The beneficent beings dance in an elegant pantomime of greeting and salutation; by courtly gesture they invite the king to dine. Then they bow—and as quickly as they came, they are gone.
“Give us kind keepers, heavens!” murmurs the king, rising to his feet with the others. “What were these?”
“A living drollery!” declares Sebastian, perplexed. “Now I will believe that there are unicorns!—that in Arabia there is one tree, the phoenix’ throne, one phoenix at this hour reigning there!”
“I’ll believe both,” says Antonio, still wide-eyed. “And let whatever else does want credit come to me, and I’ll be sworn ’tis true!—travelers ne’er did lie, though fools at home condemn ’em!”
“If in Naples, I should not report this!” gasps Gonzalo. “Would they believe me if I should say I saw such islanders—for, certes, these are people of the island—who, though they are of monstrous shape, yet note: their manners are more gentle, kinder than among our human generation you shall find many—nay, almost any!”
Thinks Prospero, Honest lord, thou hast said well!—for some of you there present are worse than devils!
“I cannot too much muse such shapes!” says the astonished king, “such gesture and such sound, expressing, although they want the use of tongue, a kind of excellent, silent discourse!”
Prospero, who knows the evening’s full bill of fare, thinks, dryly, Praise while departing.
“They vanished strangely!” notes Francisco.
“No matter, since they have left their viands behind,” says pragmatic Sebastian, “for we have stomachs! Will’t please you taste of what is here?” he asks Alonso.
“Not I….” says the cautious king.
“’Faith, sir, you need not fear,” Gonzalo tells him. “When we were boys, who would believe that there were mountaineers dew-lappèd like bulls—whose throats had hanging at ’em wallets of flesh? Or that there were such men as those whose heads stood in their breasts?—which now we find that of putters-out,”—travelers, “one in each five will bring us good warrant of!”
The sorrowful monarch nods, and he moves toward the table. “I will stand to, and feed; although my last, no matter, since I feel the best is past. Brother, and my lord the duke, stand to; do as we do.”
But the three are to be disappointed. Without warning, lightning cracks, the flashes bringing loud bursts of thunder, and buffeting winds. Down from the darkening sky swoops a harpy—half woman, half sharp-beaked bird of prey—shrieking a vengeful cry. The flying figure’s wide black wings brush the table’s ends, and instantly the food vanishes.
In the spreading gloom, the harpy settles heavily onto a nearby tree’s low branch. Her voice is harsh: “You are three men of sin!—whom Destiny, that hath as instrument this lower world and what is in’t, hath caused the never-surfeited sea to belch up!—and onto this island where man doth not inhabit, you being most unfit to live ’mongst men!
“I have made you mad!—so mad that even men with valour may hang and drown their proper selves!”
Staring up at her, the king, his brother and the duke draw their rapiers in alarm.
“You fools!” cries the termagant. “I and my fellows are ministers of Fate!—the elements of which your harsh swords are tempered may as well wound the loud winds, or with mocked-at stabs kill the still-closing waters, as diminish one feather that’s in my plume! My fellow ministers are alike invulnerable!”
The harpy sneers. “If you could hurt, your swords are now too massive for your strengths, and will not be uplifted!” The noblemen’s swords sag to touch the ground.
Dropping to a lower, nearer branch, and grasping it with cruel talons, the virago glares down. “Only remember—for that’s my business to you—that you three from Milan did supplant good Prospero!—exposed unto the sea—which hath requited it!—him and his innocent child!
“For which foul deed the powers—delaying, not forgetting!—have incensèd the seas and shores—yea, all the creatures!—against your peace!
“Alonso, thee of thy son they have bereft!—and do pronounce by me: lingering perdition, worse than any death can be, at once shall attend you, step by step, on your way!”
The harpy stares down. “To guard you from these wraths, which here in this most desolate isle else fall upon your heads, is nothing but heart’s sorrow!—and a clear life ensuing.”
The massive black wings unfold, creating a brief pall; then the horrible figure rises, and disappears with a boom of thunder.
And now the protean shapes return, to do a pungently mocking dance—with scornful servants’ looks; then they evaporate into a faint mist, finally fading to nothing—along with all traces of the erstwhile feast.
Prospero is delighted. Bravely the figure of this harpy hast thou performèd, my Ariel!—a devouring ‘grace’ it had! Of my instruction hast thou nothing abated in what thou hadst to say!
With such good life in observances strange, my meaner ministers —lesser spirits in his service— their several kinds have done!
My high charms work, and these mine enemies are all knit up in their distractions!
They now are in my power!
And in these fits I leave them, while I visit young Ferdinand, whom they suppose is drownèd, and his belovèd darling and mine. Now he, too, vanishes.
The three lords, who alone could hear the harpy’s warning, stand amazed, left to ruminate about the scathing judgment—and the promised punishment.
As the sunlight resumes, Gonzalo watches the king. “In the name of something holy, sir, why stand you in this strange stare?”
“Oh, it is monstrous, monstrous!” cries Alonso. “Methought the billows spoke and told me of it, the winds did sing it to me, and the thunder, that deep organ-pipe—dreadful, it did so bass my trespass—pronounced the name of Prospero!
“Therefore my son i’ the ooze is bedded,” he wails. “Then I’ll seek him deeper than e’er plummet sounded!—and with him there lie mudded!” He staggers away, heartbroken and alone.
Defiantly, Sebastian raises his blade. “But one fiend at a time, I’ll fight their legions o’er!”
“I’ll be thy second,” says Antonio dryly. They move away, uneasily, from the others, brandishing their weapons against afternoon’s lengthening shadows, as they follow the king.
Gonzalo watches sadly. All three of them are desperate! Their great guilt, like poison given to work a great time after, now ’gins to bite their spirits.
He goes to Adrian, “I do beseech you who are of suppler joints, follow them swiftly, and hinder them from what this delirium may now provoke them to!”
The nobleman nods. “Follow, I pray you!” he says to Francisco, and they begin to track their suffering sovereign toward the sea.
Prince Ferdinand has joined Prospero and Miranda in their cavern dwelling—by invitation, not compulsion.
“If I have too austerely punished you,” the magician tells him, “your compensation makes amends: for I have given you, here, a third of mine own life,”—he is forty-eight, “and that for which I live!—who once again I tender to thy hand. All thy vexations were but my trials of thy love; and thou hast strongly withstood the test!
“Here, afore Heaven, I ratify this my rich gift!
“Ah, Ferdinand, do not smile at me that I boast of her, for thou shalt find she will outstrip all praise, and make it to limp behind her!”
Says the young man, whose expression was one of sheer happiness, “I do believe it, more than any oracle!”
“Then, as my guest, and thine own acquisition worthily purchased, take my daughter.”
Prospero raises an eyebrow. “But if thou dost break her virgin knot before all sanctimonious ceremonies may with full and holy rite be ministered, no sweet sprinkling shall the heavens let fall to make this contract grow, but barren, sour-eyed disdain! And discord shall bestrew the union of your bed with weeds so loathly that you shall hate it, both! Therefore take heed that Hymen’s lamps”—eyes; oversight by the god of marriage—“shall light you!”
Says the prince earnestly, “As I hope for quiet days, fair issue and long life—with such love as ’tis now!—the strongest temptation in our worser mind, the most opportune place, the murkiest den, shall never melt mine honour into lust, to take away the edge of that day’s celebration!—when I shall think Phoebus’ steeds are foundered, or night’s kept chained below!”—the sun too slow to set, dusk to arise.
“Fairly spoken!” says Prospero, a hand on the younger man’s shoulder. “Sit, then, and talk with her; she is thine own.” Ferdinand and Miranda are soon engaged in animated conversation. The magician steps out onto the greensward.
“What, Ariel!” he calls. “My industrious servant, Ariel!”
“What would my potent master? Here I am!” The spirit floats, shimmering, into view.
“Thou and thy lesser fellows your last service did worthily perform!—and I must use you in another such trick. Go bring the rabble o’er whom I give thee power here to this place. Incite them to quick motion!—for I must bestow upon the eyes of this young couple some vanity of mine art; it is my promise, and they expect it from me.”
“Aye—within a twinkle!”
Ariel’s image, already dissolving, sings:
“Before you can say come or go,
Breathe twice—then cry, ‘So, so,’
Each one tripping on his toe
Will be here to move and bow!
Do you love me, master, now?”
“Dearly, my delicate Ariel!” Prospero raises a palm: “Do not approach till thou dost hear me call….”
He can hear the invisible spirit’s fading voice: “Well I conceive!”
Prospero summons the lovers, and smiles at their mutual, hand-holding fascination. “Look thou be true; do not give dalliance too much the rein,” he cautions. “The strongest oaths are straw to the fire i’ the blood! Be more abstemious—or else Goodnight to your vow!”
“I warrant you sir,” says Ferdinand, “the white, cold, virgin snow upon my heart abates the ardour of my desire!”
The father nods, pleased. “Well.”
Now come, my Ariel! Bring a volunteer, rather than lack one spirit! Appear—and pertly!
Prospero regards the young people. “No tongues—all eyes!” Miranda blushes. “Be silent,” he explains gently.
He signals for Ariel to begin the performance of his courtly masque, and sits down beside the pair to watch.
It begins with the soft, beautiful music of a harp, and a visit by the goddess Iris. The rainbowed emissary of Juno—wife of Jupiter, who is king of the gods—addresses another deity:
“Ceres! —most bounteous lady, with thy rich leas
Of wheat, rye, barley, vetches, oats and peas;
Thy turfy mountains, where live thy nibbling sheep,
And flat meads, thatchèd with clover them to keep;
Thy banks with pioned and twillèd brims,
Which spongy April at thy hest betrims,
To make nymphs’ chaste crowns; thy gloomy groves,
Whose shadows the dismissèd bachelor loves,
Being lass-lorn; thy pole-clipt vineyard
And thy sea-marge, sterile and rocky-hard,
Where thou thyself dost stir— Juno, queen o’ the sky,
Whose watery arch and messenger am I,
Bids thee leave those, and with her sovereign grace,
Here on this grassy plot, in this very place,
Come and sport! Her peacocks fly amain!
Approach, rich Ceres, her to entertain!”
Now says Ceres, the earth goddess who protects harvests:
“Hail, many-coloured messenger!—that ne’er
Dost disobey the wife of Jupiter—
Who with thy saffron wings upon my flowers
Diffusest honey-drops, refreshing showers,
And with each end of thy bright ’bow dost crown
My bosky acres and my unshrubbèd down,
Rich scarf to my proud earth!—why hath thy queen
Summoned me hither, to this short-grassèd green?”
“A contract of true love fully to celebrate,
And on the blest lovers some donation to estate!”
But Ceres has a concern:
“Tell me, heavenly ’bow:
Do Venus or her son, if thou dost know,
Now attend the queen? Since they did plot
The means that dusky Dis my daughter got,
Her and her blind boy’s scandaled company
I have forsworn!”
Iris assures her:
“Of her society
Be not afraid; I met her deity
Cutting the clouds towards Paphos, and her son
Dove-drawn with her. Here thought they to have done
Some wanton charm upon this man and maid,
Whose vows are that no bed-right shall be paid
Till Hymen’s torch be lighted. But in vain
Was Mars’s hot minion returned again;
Her waspish-headed son has broken his arrows!—
Swears he’ll shoot no more, but play with sparrows,
And be a boy right out!”
Cupid will make no mischief here; Ceres introduces another guest:
“The highest queen of state,
Great Juno, comes!—I know her by her gait!”
Juno—who is also the goddess of marriage—smiles at Ceres.
“How does my bounteous sister? Go with me
To bless this twain, that they may prosperous be,
And honoured in their issue!”
Ceres makes her benediction to Miranda and Ferdinand:
“Earth’s increase, foison plenty,
Barns and garners never empty,
Vines and clustering bunches growing,
Plants with goodly burthen bowing,
Shall come to you at the farthest
In the very end of harvest!
Scarcity and want shall shun you;
Ceres’ blessing so is on you!”
Says the Queen of the Heavens:
“Honest riches marriage dressing—
Long continuance, and increasing!
Hourly joys be ever upon you!
Juno here sings her blessings too!”
“This is a most majestic vision, and harmoniously charming!” says Ferdinand. “May I be so bold as to think these spirits?”
Prospero nods. “Spirits which by mine art I have from their confines callèd to enact my pre-sent fantasies.”
Ferdinand is amazed and delighted. “Let me live here ever! So rare a wondered father and wife make this place a paradise!”
In the spirits’ playing space, two of them confer, then speak to Iris.
“Sweets, now silence,” says Prospero. “Juno and Ceres whisper seriously; there’s something else to do! Hush and be mute, or else our spell is marred!”
Iris calls for more celebrants:
“You nymphs called naiads of the wand’ring brooks,
With your sedgèd crowns and ever-harmless looks,
Leave your crisp channels, and on this green land
Answer your summons!—Juno does command!
Come, temperate nymphs, and help celebrate
A contract of true love—be not too late!”
Six lovely spirit-women, performing as nymphs, denizens of nature’s forests and streams, have appeared on the green, and they dance gracefully to the sweetly flowing music now in the air.
“You sunburnt sicklemen, of August weary,
Come hither from the furrow and be merry!
Make holiday! Your rye-straw hats put on,
And these fresh nymphs encounter, every one,
In country footing!”
With that, six handsome male spirits dressed as rustic reapers of the crops join the nymphs in an elaborate dance. Miranda and Ferdinand watch, enchanted, as the dozen dancers—
Suddenly, Prospero rises in alarm, much agitated. He raises his hands and the music ends—with a diminishing crash of disharmony, noises strange, hollow, and confused.
I had forgotten that foul conspiracy of the beast Caliban and his confederates against my life! The minute of their plot is almost come!
“Well done! Avoid!—no more!” he tells the spirits. The vaporous company of entertainers disappears forthwith.
Says Ferdinand, now standing, “This is strange! Your father’s in some passion that works him strongly!”
Miranda, too, has been surprised. “Never till this day saw I him touched with anger so distempered!”
But Prospero hastens to calm the prince. “You do look, my son, in a movèd sort, as if you were dismayed! Be cheerful, sir!
“Our revels now are ended. These our actors, as I have told you, were all spirits, and are melted into air, into thin air!
“And alike the baseless fabric of this vision—the cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, the solemn temples, the great globe itself—yea, all which it inherit—shall dissolve, and, the insubstantial pageant faded, leave not a rack of cloud behind.
“We are such stuff as dreams are made of, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.”
But for now, he has much to do. “Sir, I am vexèd! Bear with my weakness; my brain is troubled! Be not disturbèd by my infirmity.
“If you be pleased, retire into my cell, and there repose. A turn or two I’ll walk, to still my beating mind.”
“We wish you peace,” says Miranda, touching his hand.
Ferdinand bows, and the two go inside.
Prospero calls urgently, “Come with a thought, I’ll thank thee, Ariel!—come!”
Ariel appears on the instant. “Thy thoughts I cleave to! What’s thy pleasure?”
“Spirit, we must prepare to meet with Caliban!”
“Aye, my commander! When I presented Ceres, I thought to have told thee of it, but I feared lest I might anger thee—”
“Say again: where didst thou leave those varlets?”
“I told you, sir, they were red-hot with drinking!—so full of valour that they smote the air for breathing in their faces, beat the ground for kissing of their feet!—yet always bending towards their project.
“Then I beat my tabour!—at which like unbackèd colts they pricked their ears, advanced their eyelids, lifted up their noses—as if they smelt music! I so charmed their ears that, calf-like, they followed my lowing”—mooing—“through toothèd briers, sharp furzes, pricking gorse—and thorns which entered their frail shins!
“At last I left them i’ the filthy-mantled pool beyond your cell—therein dancing up to their chins! That foul lake o’erstunk even their feet!”
“This was well done, my bird!” laughs Prospero. “Thy shape invisible retain thou still. The trumpery in my house, go bring it hither—for bait to catch these thieves!”
“I go, I go!” And he’s gone.
Prospero glowers; his thoughts of Caliban are angry. A devil, a born devil, on whose nature nurture can never stick!—on whom my pains, humanely taken, are all lost, quite lost! And as with age his body uglier grows, so his mind cankers!
He pictures the low conspirators who plot his destruction. “I will plague them all, even unto roaring!”
Ariel returns, laden with long-stored apparel: colorful clothes and brightly plumed hats from the high Neapolitan court of a dozen years earlier. “Come, hang them on this line,” says the magician, pointing to a cord, strung between two elms for drying laundry.
The work is quickly done—but hardly too soon. Prospero and Ariel, both now invisible to anyone else, watch as Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo creep from the brush, dripping with green pond-slime.
Intending stealth, they tiptoe with the elaborate, teetering care of drunkards.
Caliban again warns his cohorts, with a finger at his lips: “Pray you, tread so softly that a blind mole may not hear a footfall! We now are near his cell!”
Stephano grumbles: “Monster, your fairy, which you say is a harmless fairy, has done little better than play the Jack with us!”
Trinculo complains, “Monster, I do smell all horse-piss!—at which my nose is in great indignation!” He sits on the ground, and begins wiping scum off his coat sleeves.
“So is mine,” says Stephano angrily. “Do you hear, Monster!—if I should take a displeasure against you, look you—”
“—Thou wert but a lost monster!” finishes Trinculo nastily.
Pleads Caliban, quietly, “Good my lord, give me thy favour still! Be patient—for the prize I’ll bring thee to shall erase this mischance! Therefore speak softly all!—hushèd as midnight!”
Trinculo whines, “Aye, but to lose our bottle in the pool!”
Stephano removes his hat to mourn. “There is not only disgrace and dishonour in that, Monster,” he says sadly, “but an infinite loss!”
Trinculo concurs. “That’s more to me than my wetting!” he says, smacking at the midges that bite his arms, “yet this is your harmless fairy, Monster!”
“I will fetch out my bottle,” vows Stephano, “though I be in o’er ears for my labour!”
Caliban is restless and alarmed. “Prithee, my king, be quiet!” He points. “Seest thou here?—this is the mouth o’ the cell! No noise, but enter!—do that good mischief which may make this island thine own forever, and I, thy Caliban, for aye thy foot-licker!”
“Give me thy hand,” Stephano tells Trinculo, and pulls him to his feet. “I do begin to have bloody thoughts.”
Then Trinculo spots the clothes. “Oh, King Stephano!—oh, peer! O worthy Stephano, look what a wardrobe is here!… for thee!”
Caliban is impatient. “Let it alone, thou fool!—it is but trash!”
Says Trinculo, who has seen the royal court at London, “Oh, no, Monster! We know what belongs to the frippery!” He holds up a high-collared robe of burgundy satin and silk. “Oh, King Stephano!”
“Put off that gown, Trinculo,” commands the butler. “By this hand, I’ll have that robe!”
Trinculo nearly falls during his deep bow, as he enunciates, slowly: “Thy Grace shall have it.”
Caliban hisses, peering around, “The dropsy drown this fool! What do you mean, doting thus on such luggage? Let it alone, and do the murder first! If he awake, from toe to crown he’ll fill our skins with pinches!—make strange stuff of us!”
But Stephano is fingering the finery. “Be you quiet, Monster!” He surveys the hanging clothes. “Mistress Line, is this not my jerkin?” He pulls down the tan garment of hide, and holds it beneath his belt. “Now is the jerkin under the line!”—south of that equator. “Now, jerkin, you are likely to lose your hair,”—through syphilis, “and prove a bald jerkin!”—one of smooth-surfaced leather. He puts it on.
Trinculo encourages him. “Do, do! We’ll steal by line and level,”—a play on those tools, suggesting with skill, “an’t like Your Grace!”
Laughs Stephano, “I thank thee for that jest! Here’s a garment for’t! Wit shall not go unrewarded while I am king of this country! ‘Steal by line and level’ is an excellent pass of pate; there’s another garment for’t!” The wine steward is generous in his regal larceny.
“Monster, come!—put some glue upon your fingers, and away with the rest!” orders Trinculo, as he dons a blue coat with big gold buttons.
But Caliban is growing frantic. “I will have none of’t! We shall lose our time, and all be turned to barnacles!—or to apes with foreheads villainous low!”
King Stephano commands: “Monster, lay to with your fingers! Help to bear this away to where my hogshead of wine is, or I’ll turn you out of my kingdom!” He hands him another fine robe. “Go to, carry this.”
“And this,” adds Trinculo, pulling several more garments from the line.
“Aye, and this,” says Stephano, piling others onto the fretful, soon overburdened Caliban.
As they reach for more, the quiet is shattered by a bugle’s blare, and the ebullient yelps of a pack of hounds. Over the clamor, two hunters’ loud calls can be heard, as spirits in the shapes of hunting dogs surround the miscreants, circling them furiously as if running down a fox.
The unseen huntsmen incite the barking beasts. “Hey, Mountain, hey!” shouts Prospero. “Silver! There it goes, Silver!” cries Ariel.
“Fury, Fury! There, Tyrant, there! Hark! hark!” calls Prospero, as Stephano, Trinculo and Caliban are driven away amid flying tails and flapping ears, all three stumbling quite drunkenly, dismayed by the yowling.
Prospero motions for Ariel to follow, and to harass them further toward remorse—or at least regret. “Go, charge my three goblins so that they grind their joints with dry convulsions!—shorten up their sinews with age’s cramps!—and more pinch-spotted make them than leopard or cat o’ mountain!”
“Hark!—they’ll roar!” laughs Ariel, soaring away in the air after the howling dogs.
Prospero speaks, knowing the spirit can still hear him. “Let them be hunted soundly!
“At this hour lie at my mercy all mine enemies! Shortly shall all my labours end—and thou shalt have the air in freedom!
“For a little, follow and do me service.”
Standing just inside his cavern, Prospero is once again accoutered in wizard’s vestments. With Ariel hovering nearby, he paces. “Now does my project gather to a head. My charms crack not, my spirits obey, and time goes aright with this carriage! How’s the day?”
“On to the sixth hour—at which time, my lord, you said our work should cease.”
“I did say so, when first I raised the tempest. Say, my spirit: how fare the king and’s followers?”
“Confinèd together in the same fashion as you gave it your charge, and just as you left them: all prisoners, sir, in the lime-grove which weather-fends your cell. They cannot budge till your release.
“The king, his brother and yours abide, all three, distracted!—and the remainder mourn over them, brimful of sorrow and dismay—but chiefly him that you termèd, sir, ‘The good old lord Gonzalo.’ His tears run down his beard, like winter’s drops from eaves of reeds!
“Your charm so strongly works ’em that, if you now beheld them, your affections would become tender.”
The magician bridles. “Dost thou think so, spirit?”
“Mine would, sir, were I human.”
The true Duke of Milan starts to reply; but then he sighs. “And mine shall.
“Hast thou, who art but air, a touch, a feeling of their afflictions?—and shall myself—one of their kind, who realizes passions all as sharply as do they—be not kindlier movèd than thou art?
“Though with their high wrongs I am struck to the quick, yet with my nobler reason ’gainst my fury do I take part. The rarer action is in virtue than in vengeance; they being penitent of soul, the drift of my purpose doth extend not a frown further.
“Go release them, Ariel! My charms I’ll break; their senses I’ll restore, and they shall be themselves.”
Ariel smiles. “I’ll fetch them, sir!” He flies.
Prospero steps past the curtained entrance and passes the firewood, now stacked neatly, by magic, on slabs of stone. He walks in a wide circle, marking the sandy soil with the tip of his staff. He moves to the center and looks around, his eyes searching.
He addresses factors unseen, but always near. “Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes and groves; and ye that on the sands with printless foot do chase the ebbing Neptune, then do fly him when he comes back…
“You demi-puppets that by moonshine do make the green, sour ringlets whereof the ewes bite not; and you whose pastime is to make midnight mushrooms, who rejoice to hear the solemn curfew…
“You by whose aid, weak masters though ye be, I have bedimmed the noontide sun, called forth the mutinous winds, and ’twixt the green sea and the azured vault set them at roaring war!
“To the dread, rattling thunder have I given fire, and rifted Jove’s stout oak with his own bolt! The strong-basèd promontory have I made shake, and by the spurs plucked up the pine and cedar!
“Graves, at my command, have waked their sleepers!—oped and let them forth, by my so-potent art!
“But that rough magic I here abjure; and, once I have required some heavenly music—which even now I do, to work mine end upon their senses that this airy charm is for—I’ll break my staff, bury it certain fathoms in the earth. And deeper than did ever plummet sound, I’ll drown my book”—a hand-written volume of spells.
The evening air, fragrant with the scent of flowers, grows heavy and still, and the golden sunlight is shifting to an amber hue, warm and soft. Solemn harmonies floats down, perfectly performed by unseen musicians of the most delicate sensitivity.
Ariel returns. He waits, silent and attentive, watching Prospero.
King Alonso’s party wanders out of the grove. Confused and distracted, the nobles look about with apprehension. Slowly, they follow the king into the magician’s circle. At first, Sebastian and Antonio stand warily, back-to-back there, but soon they lower and sheathe their swords. Lord Gonzalo is attended by Adrian and Francisco.
All within the circle breathe, now, under a charm, unable to see or hear the magician or his chief spirit.
Prospero approaches Gonzalo and smiles kindly. “May the solemn air, and the best comforter to an unsettled fancy,”—music, “cure thy brains, now useless, boiled within thy skull,” says the wizard. “There stand, for you are spell-stopped.”
He notes the nobleman’s tear-stained cheeks. “Holy Gonzalo, honourable man, mine eyes, sociable even to the show of thine, fall fellowly drops!”
The grizzled counselor looks up, as if trying to hear a voice far away.
Thinks Prospero: The charm dissolves apace!—and as the morning steals upon the night, melting the darkness, so their rising senses begin to chase the ignorant fumes that mantle their clearer reason.
O good Gonzalo, my true preserver, and a loyal sir to him you follow’st! I will repay thy graces home, in both word and deed!
He moves among the others, all unaware of him.
Most cruelly didst thou, Alonso, use me and my daughter! Thy brother was a furtherer in the act!
Thou art pinchèd for’t now, Sebastian!
He turns to Antonio. Flesh and blood! You, brother mine, who entertainèd ambition, expelled remorse and nature! You—with Sebastian, whose inward pinches therefore are most strong—would here have killed your king! He shakes his head; but he says, I do forgive thee, unnatural though thou art.
He sees that the courtiers are blinking. Their understanding begins to swell, and the approaching tide will shortly fill the shores of reason, which now lies foul and muddy. Not one of them yet looks on me, or would know me.
“Ariel,” he says, “fetch me the hat and rapier in my cell; I will discase me, and present myself as I sometime was—Milan! Quickly, spirit; ere long thou shalt be free!”
Ariel brings him the emblems of his rank, and helps to attire him as would befit a duke at court.
The spirit, anticipating release, sings as he works:
“Where the bee sucks, there suck I!
In a cowslip’s bell I lie—
There I couch when owls do cry.
On the bat’s back do I fly
After summer merrily! Merrily shall I live now,
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough!”
Prospero laughs. “Why, that’s my dainty Ariel! I shall miss thee! But yet, thou shalt have freedom.
“To the king’s ship, invisible, as thou art; there shalt thou find the mariners asleep under the hatches. The master and the boatswain bring awake, enforce them to this place—and presently, I prithee!”
Cries Ariel, “I drink the air before me, and return or ere your pulse beat twice!”
The noblemen are regaining their faculties. “All torment and trouble, wonder and amazement inhabit here!” murmurs old Gonzalo. “Some heavenly power, guide us out of this fearful country!”
Prospero addresses Alonso: “Behold, Sir King, the wrongèd Duke of Milan, Prospero!
“For more assurance that a living prince does now speak to thee, I embrace thy body!—and to thee and thy company I bid a hearty welcome!”
Alonso, astounded at the presence—and more by the gesture—feels suddenly… free. “Whether thou be’st he or no, or some enchanted trifle to abuse me, as late I have been, I know not!
“Thy pulse beats as of flesh and blood!—and since I saw thee, the affliction of my mind—in which, I fear, a madness held me—mends!
“If it be at all, this story must carve as most strange!”
And then the king, realizing how that story began, is overwhelmed by an epiphany. Tears in his eyes, he bows. “Thy dukedom I resign—and I do entreat thou: pardon me my wrongs!”
Ancient symbols glimmer on Prospero’s cloak—female and male, love and hatred, birth and death, seasons of the year—sun, moon, and stars—infinity. But his own cabala is new. He nods, graciously.
Alonso must ask: “But how should Prospero be living—and be here?”
The restored duke, smiling, turns to Gonzalo. “First, noble friend, let me embrace thine age, whose honour cannot be confinèd or measured!”
The counselor, now well awake, is nevertheless dazed. “Whether this be or be not, I’ll not swear!”
Prospero pats his shoulder and nods. “You do yet taste some… subtleties o’ the isle, that will not let you believe things as certain.”
The wizard opens his arms magnanimously. “Welcome, my friends all!”
As the king and his companions talk together, Prospero speaks privately to Sebastian and Antonio. “But you, my brace of lords!—were I so minded, I here could pluck his highness’ frown upon you, and expose you as traitors!
“At this time I will tell no tales….”
Thinks Sebastian, The Devil speaks in him!
Prospero startles him by contradicting: “No.” He faces Antonio. “As for you, most wicked sir— whom even to call brother would infect my mouth—I do forgive thy rankest faults, all of them!—but require my dukedom of thee!—which I know thou must perforce restore.”
The brothers of the king and duke understand very well how “at this time” is to govern their future conduct.
King Alonso cannot contain his impatient curiosity. “If thou be’st Prospero, give us particulars of thy preservation!—how thou hast met us here, who three hours since were wrecked upon this shore, where I have lost—how sharp is the point of this remembrance!—my dear son Ferdinand!”
“I am in woe for’t, sir,” says Prospero—truthfully: Miranda will soon go to live with her husband.
“Irreparable is the loss,” says the king sadly. “Even Patience says it is past her cure.”
Prospero has spent a dozen years in exile. “I rather think you have not yet sought her help, whose sovereign aid I have had for a like loss—and rest myself content in her soft grace.”
“You a like loss?”
Prospero nods. “As great to me, and as lately: I have lost my daughter! The dear loss is less supportable, for I have means much weaker than you may call upon to comfort you.”
“A daughter… O, heavens!—if only they were living, both in Naples, the king and queen there! That they were, I would wish myself were mudded in that oozy bed where my son lies!
“When did you lose your daughter?”
“In this last tempest.” Prospero regards the royal contingent. “I perceive these lords do so much marvel at this encounter that they despair of reason, and scarce think their eyes do offices of truth, or words are natural breath! But, howsoe’er you have been jostled from your senses, know for certain that I am Prospero, and that very duke who was thrust forth from Milan—who most strangely was landed upon this shore, where you were wreckèd, to be the lord on’t.
“Yet no more of this, for ’tis a chronicle of day by day—not a relation for a breakfast, nor befitting this first meeting.”
Prospero bows to the king. “Welcome, sir!” He motions toward the cavern. “This cell’s my court abroad; here have I few attendants, and subjects none. Pray you, look in.
“Since you have given me my dukedom again, I will requite you with as good a thing—or at least bring forth a wonder to content ye as much as me my dukedom!”
With that, he draws aside the curtain at the entrance, revealing Ferdinand and Miranda, as yet unaware that they are observed—engaged in a game of chess.
- They are lighthearted. “Sweet lord, you play me false!” she teases.
- “No, my dear’st love, I would not for the world!” says he.
- Miranda, still smitten, replies: “If for a score of kingdoms should you wrangle, I would call it fair play!”
Outside, the king gapes, stunned and pale. “If this prove but a vision of the island, one dear son shall I twice lose!”
“A most high miracle!” gasps Sebastian, the sometime cynic.
Ferdinand looks up; overjoyed, he runs to his father and kneels. “Though the seas threaten, they are merciful!—I have cursed them without cause!”
“Now all the blessings of a glad father compass thee about!” cries Alonso, embracing him. He wipes away tears. “Arise, and say how thou camest here!”
Miranda is delighted with the isle’s new supply of nobility. “Oh, wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! Oh, brave new world, that has such people in’t!”
Duke Prospero is renouncing powers, but he retains wisdom. “’Tis new to thee.”
King Alonso asks the prince. “Who is this maid with whom thou wast at play?—your eldest acquaintance here cannot be of three hours! Is she a goddess, that hath severed us and brought us thus together?”
“Sir, she is mortal,” says Ferdinand happily, “but by immortal Providence she’s mine!
“I chose her when I could not ask my father for his advice—nor thought I had one! She is daughter to this famous Duke of Milan, of whom so often I have heard renown, but never saw before—from whom I have received a second life! And second father this lady makes him to me!”
“I am hers!” cries Alonso, already enchanted with Miranda. He lowers his gaze. “But, oh, how oddly will it sound that I must ask my new child’s forgiveness.”
“There, sir, stop,” says Duke Prospero kindly. “Let us not burthen our remembrance with a heaviness that’s gone.”
Lord Gonzalo is elated. “I have inly wept, or should have spoken ere this. Look down, you gods, and on this couple drop a blessèd crown! For it is you that have chalkèd forth the way which brought us hither!”
“I say Amen, Gonzalo!” adds the king heartily.
The counselor muses. “Was Lord Milan thrust from Milan so that his issue should become kings of Naples?
“Oh, rejoice beyond a common joy, and set it down with gold on lasting pillars: in one voyage did Clara her husband find at Tunis, and Ferdinand, her brother, a wife where he himself was lost!
“Prospero found his dukedom on a poor isle—and all of us ourselves, when no man was his own!”
King Alonso tells Ferdinand and Miranda, “Give me your hands! Let grief and sorrow ever embrace his heart who doth not wish you joy!”
“Be it so! Amen!” cries Gonzalo. He spots the seamen—alive and coming toward them in a state of bafflement, with the ship’s master. Shepherding them long, unseen, is Ariel. “Oh, look, sir, look, sir!—here is more of us!
“I prophesied: if the gallows were on land, this fellow could not drown!” He addresses the boatswain: “Now, Blasphemy—who swear’st grace o’erboard!—on shore not an oath? Hast thou no mouth by land?” He laughs. “What is the news?”
“The best news,” says the boatswain, “is that we have safely found our king and company! The next: our ship—which, but three glasses since, we gave up on as split!—is tight and yare, and as bravely rigged as when we first put out to sea!”
Says Ariel, to Prospero alone: Sir, all this service have I done since I went!
Prospero nods, very pleased. My tricksy spirit!
“These are not natural events,” observes King Alonso. “They strengthen from strange to stranger! Say: how came you hither?”
The dazzled boatswain replies, “If I did think, sir, I were well awake, I’d strive to tell you!
“We were dead asleep, and—how we know not—all clappèd under hatches—where but just now, with strange and several noises—of roaring, shrieking, howling!—jingling of chains, and more diversity of sounds, all horrible!—we were awakened!—straightway at liberty!—where we freshly beheld our royal, good and gallant ship, in all her trim!—our master capering to eye her!
“And then in a trice—so please you, even as in a dream—were we divided from them, and brought moping hither!”
Was’t well done? Ariel asks Prospero proudly.
Bravely, my diligence! Thou shalt be free!
“This is as strange a maze as e’er men trod!” says the king. “And there is in this business more than nature was ever conduit of! Some oracle must rectify our knowledge!”
“Sir, my liege,” says Duke Prospero soothingly, “do not infest your mind with beating on the strangeness of this business! At pickèd leisure, which shall be shortly, I’ll resolve you singly of what shall seem probable to you for every one of these happened accidents!
“Till then, be cheerful, and think well of each thing!”
Unheard by the others, Prospero asks Ariel to undo even the spell holding Caliban and his companions. The island sprite searches his face for a moment, then flies away without a word.
“How fares my gracious sir?” Prospero asks the king. “There are yet missing from your company some few odd lads that you remember not….”
The others follow his glance as he turns toward the grove—from which Stephano and Trinculo, clad in their stolen finery, stumble forward, bringing Caliban.
Stephano, a chastened monarch, is helping the lower of his commoners to walk. “Let every man shift for all the rest, and no man take care for only himself. For all is but Fortune’s. Coragio, bully Monster, coragio!”
Trinculo, spotting rescue, stops and rubs his eyes. “If these be true spies which I wear in my head, here’s a goodly sight!”
Caliban, seeing the nobility arrayed around Duke Prospero, remembers his mother’s cruel god. Oh, Setebos, these be brave spirits indeed! How fine my master is! I am afraid! He will chastise me!
Sebastian laughs to see the three ruffians. “What things are these, my Lord Antonio? Will money buy ’em?”
“Very likely.” Prospero’s brother is looking at Caliban. “One of them is a plain fish, and no doubt marketable.”
Prospero tells his guests, “Mark but the badges”—outward signs—“of these men, my lords; then say if they be true.”
He points to Caliban. “This mis-shapen knave: his mother was a witch, and one so strong that she could control the moon, make flows and ebbs—even dole her command beyond her living power!
“These three have robbed me!—and this demi-devil—for he’s a bastard one—has plotted with them to take my life!
“Two of these fellows you must know and own; this thing of darkness I acknowledge mine.” He thinks he has failed Caliban—who cowers, trembling.
I shall be pinched to death!
The king peers at one muddy-faced man. “Is this not Stephano, my drunken butler?”
“He is drunk now!” notes Sebastian, surprised. “Where had he wine?”
“And Trinculo is reeling-ripe,” the king sees. “Where should they find the grand liquor that thus hath gilded ’em?” He asks the jester. “How camest thou into this pickling?”
“I have been in such a pickle since I saw you last, that, I fear me, it will never be out of my bones!” moans the queasy man. “I shall not fear fly-blowing!”—his flesh being preserved too well to feed maggots.
“Why, how now, Stephano?” demands Sebastian, in mock severity as he grasps the man’s shoulder to steady him.
“Oh, touch me not!” pleads the bruised, exhausted butler. “I am not Stephano, but a cramp!”
“You’d be king o’ the isle, sirrah?” demands Prospero.
“I should have been a sore one, then!”
King Alonso stares at crouching Caliban. “This is as strange a thing as e’er I looked on!”
“He is as disproportioned in his manners as in his shape,” says Prospero sadly. He motions to Caliban. “Go, sirrah, to my cell; take your companions with you. As you look to have my pardon, trim it handsomely.”
“Aye, that I will!” says Caliban. He rises, and faces Prospero. “And I’ll be wise hereafter, and seek for grace.” He looks at the stenchful servants. “What a thrice-double ass was I, to take this drunkard for a god, and to worship this dull fool!”
“Go to; away,” says Prospero softly. His effort was not in vain.
“Hence!—and bestow your luggage where you found it!” the king tells his men.
“Or stole it, rather!” amends Sebastian.
The two back away, bowing, glad they have been treated no worse.
“Sir,” says Prospero to Alonso, “I invite Your Highness and your train to my poor cell, where you shall take your rest for this one night, which—part of it—I’ll waste with such discourse as, I do not doubt, shall make it go quickly by: the story of my life, and the particular incidents gone by since I came to this isle.
“And in the morn I’ll bring you to your ship.
“Then go to Naples, where I have hope to see the nuptials of these, our dear belovèd, solemnized, and from thence return me to my Milan—where every third thought shall be of my grave.” He will govern, now, with due consideration for the temporal world.
“I long to hear the story of your life!” the king tells him, “which must take the ear strangely!”
Prospero smiles. “I’ll deliver all—and promise you calm seas, auspicious gales, and sail so expeditious that it shall catch your royal fleet, far off!”
The noblemen chat among themselves, eager for the story and the voyage home, and they enter the cavern.
Prospero tells his lieutenant, My Ariel, that was thy last charge! Then to the elements be free!—and fare thou well!
With a huge smile, Ariel waves, and flies away, soon disappearing into the clear sky.
Prospero turns to those who know his story, and he pleads his case:
“Now are my charms all o’erthrown;
And what strength I have is but mine own—
Which is most faint. And now, ’tis true,
I must be confinèd here by you—
Or sent on toward Naples. Let me not—
Since I have now my dukedom got,
And pardoned the deceiver—dwell
On this bare island by your spell,
But release me from my bands
With the help of your good hands!
Gentle breath of yours must fill my sails,
Else my project—which was to please—fails.”
He looks back at the empty stage.
“Now I lack spirits to enforce, art to enchant;
And so my ending is despair—
Unless I be relieved by prayer
Which pierces so that it assaults
Mercy itself, and frees all faults!
As you from crimes would pardoned be,
Let your indulgence set me free!”