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ON THE FABLE AND COMPOSITION OF
THE Tempeft and The Midfummer's Night's Dream, are the nobleft efforts of that fublime and amazing imagination peculiar to Shakespeare, which foars above the bounds of nature without forfaking fenfe: or more properly, carries nature along with him beyond her eftablished limits. Fletcher feems particularly to have admired these two plays, and hath wrote two in imitation of them, The Sea Voyage, and The Faithfull Shepberdefs. After him, Sir John Suckling and Milton catched the brightest fire of their imagination from these two plays; which shines fantastically indeed, in The Goblins, but much more nobly and ferenely in The Mafk at Ludlow Caftle. WARBURTON.
No one has been hitherto lucky enough to discover the romance on which Shakespeare may be fuppofed to have founded this play, the beauties of which could not fecure it from the criticism of Ben Jonfon, whofe malignity appears to have been more than equal to his wit. In the Induction to Bartholomew Fair, he says: "If there be never a fervant monster in the fair who "can help it, nor a neft of antiques? He is loth to "make nature afraid in his plays, like thofe that beget "Tales, Tempefts, and fuch like drolleries."
It is obferved of The Tempeft, that its plan is regular; this, the author of the Revifal thinks, what I think too, an accidental effect of the ftory, not intended or regarded by our author. But whatever might be Shakespeare's intention in forming or adopting the plot, he hath made it inftrumental to the production of many characters, diverfified with profound skill in nature, extenfive
knowledge of opinions, and accurate observation of life. In a single drama are here exhibited princes, courtiers, and sailors, all speaking in their real characters. Here is the agency of airy spirits, and of an earthly goblin. The operations of magick, the tumults of a ftorm, the adventures of a defart island, the native effusion of untaught affection, the punishment of guilt, and the final happiness of the pair for whom our parfions and reafon are equally interested. JOHNSON.