From The Tempest. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan.
1.Boatswain! an officer in a ship who has charge of the sails,
rigging, etc., and who summons the crew to their duties with a
2. master, the commander of a merchant-vessel, who receives
his certificate for sailing under that title; corresponding to the
captain in ships of the royal navy: what cheer? now are things
3. Good, my good fellow; so, again, 11. 16 and 20, and C. E. iv. 4. 22: fall to 't, set to work with a will. yarely, readily,
with activity; both adj. yare and the adv. are frequent in
Shakespeare. In a paper of Lord Mulgrave's, quoted in the
Variorum edition of 1821, the different positions of this vessel
in the storm are explained: First position, land discovered
under the lee [i.e. the side opposite to that from which the wind
is blowing]; the wind blowing too fresh to hawl upon a wind [i.e. to turn thie ship's head towards the point from which the wind is blowing] with the top-sail set.... The first command is... a
notice to be ready to execute any order quickly.
5. my hearts, my brave fellows; 'my hearties,' is still a term
in use among sailors, and 'hearts of oak' is an expression with the same meaning: cheerly, adv. formed from the noun; see Abb. § 447.
6. Tend to, pay attention to; this form of the word, in the
sense of waiting on, is frequent in Shakespeare.
7. Blow... enough, i.e. if there be sea-room enough; cp. Per. iii. 1. 45, "But sea-room, an the brine and cloudy billow kiss the moon, I care not." Steevens would read, "blow till thou burst
thee, wind, if," etc. He compares Per. iii. 1. 54, "Blow and split thyself," and Lear. iii. 2. 1, "Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks." Mason points out that the allusion is to the manner in which the winds are represented in ancient pictures, i.e. with their cheeks puffed out. Second position; the danger in a good
sea-boat is only from being too near the land: this [the order to take in the topsail] is introduced here to account for the next order, "Down with the topmast," 1. 32.
9. Play the men, behave bravely, do not give way to womanish
fears; cp. i. H. VI. i. 6. 16, "When they shall hear how we have played the, men"; for the opposite idea, cp. Macb. iv. 3. 320, "O, I could play the woman with mine eyes"; and H. VII. iii.
2. 430, "Thou hast forced me ... to play the woman," i.e, to weep.
10. keep, stay, remain.
12. You ... labour: you interfere with our efforts to save the
13. you do ... storm, by getting in our way, you only help the
storm to wreck us; cp. Per. iii. 1.9, "Patience, good sir, do not
assist the storm."
15. When .. is, we will be patient when the sea is quiet.
What ... roarers, i.e, the winds and thunder; Wright points out that in the language of Shakespeare's time a blustering bully was called a 'roarer.' For the inflection in -s before a pl. noun, see
Abb. § 335.
16. for ... king, it is no use adjuring us in the name of the
king to save the vessel, the elements care nothing whether we
have a king on board or any one else: To cabin, for the omission
of the article, see Abb. § 90.
18. whom, what persons of importance.
19. None ... myself, i.e. if I do not do my best to save myself,
it is not likely I shall do it to save the King, or any one else.
19, 20. a counsellor, one accustomed to give orders.
21. work ... present, effect the peace of the present moment; Steevens quoted i. Corinthians, xv. 6, "of whom the greater part remain unto this present": hand ... more, handle, touch, a single
rope again, i.e. in our efforts to save the vessel.
24. for the ... hap, for death, which you possibly will soon have
26. I have ... fdllow; for the same thought, cp. T. G. i. 1. 140-2,
"Go, go, be gone, to save your ship from wreck. Which cannot
perish having thee on board. Being destin'd to a drier death on
shore," i.e. by hanging.
27, 8. his ... gallows, he is clearly born to be hanged: complexion, external appearance, as indicative of disposition, character. 'Gallows-bird' is a slang term for a murderer, or one who
has committed a crime deserving of hanging. For perfect in this
sense cp. K. J. i. 1. 90, "Mine eye hath well examined his parts,
And finds them perfect Richard."
28-30. Stand ... advantage. The only sign that we have any
chance of escaping a watery grave is that this fellow is evidently
destined to die on the gallows: Heaven forbid that that destiny
should be altered, and that he should die by drowning: our cable,
that to which we may trust, as usually we trust to the cable of
our anchor, when it is let drop: doth ... advantage, is of small
use to us now; advantage, verb.
32. Down ... topmast! Third position: the gale increasing,
the topmast is struck, to take the weight from aloft, make the
ship drive less to leeward, and bear the mainsail under which the
ship is laid-to. Schmidt here takes lower as a comp. adv.,
but the orders 'lower away,' 'lower the topsail,' etc., are so
common on board ship, that lower is probably a verb.
33. Bring . . . main-course. Bring her to the position of trying
with the mainsail to keep as close as possible to the wind. To
'try with,' and to 'lie at try with,' the main-course, are ancient
nautical phrases. Holt, quoted by Dyce, Gloss., says, "The courses meant in this place are two of the three lowest and largest sails of a ship, which are so called, because, as largest, they contribute most to give her way through the water, and consequently enable her to feel her helm, and steer her course better than when they are not set or spread to the wind."
34, 5. they are ... office, they make more noise than the storm
itself, or the whole crew, whose duties, as Knight points out, are
essentially noisy ones, shouting as they handle the ropes, etc., etc. our office, equivalent to 'us in the performance of our duties.'
36. Yet again! are you here again?
36, 7. Shall we ... drown? Do you wish to frustrate our efforts to save the ship? a mind, a desire.
39. incharitable, on in-, in comp. for un-, see Abb. § 442.
40. Work ... then. If you are not satisfied with what we are
doing, and only make our efforts a subject for your abuse, you
had better set to work yourselves in our stead.
43. for drowning, in regard to, and, so, against drowning; see
Abb. § 154.
46. Lay ... a-hold, "To lay a ship a-hold, is to bring her to lie
as near the wind as she can, in order to keep clear of the land,
and get her out to sea" (Steevens): a-hold, i.e. on hold, so that
she may hold to the wind. Fourth position: the ship having driven near the shore, the mainsail is hauled up; the ship wore [to 'wear' a ship is to 'veer' it, turn or back it], and the two courses set on the other tack, to endeavour to clear the land that way.
47. lay ... off, steer her away from the shore.
49. must ... cold? Must we drown?
50. assist them, join with them in prayer.
52. merely. "Merely (from the Latin merus and mere) means
purely, only. It separates that which it designates or qualifies
from everything else. But in so doing the chief or most emphatic reference may be made either to that which is included, or to that which is excluded. In modern English it is always to the latter; by 'merely upon myself' [J. C. i. 2. 39] we should now mean upon nothing else except myself; the nothing else is
that which makes the merely prominent. In Shakespeare's day the other reference was the more common, that namely to what was included; and 'merely upon myself' meant upon myself altogether, or without regard to anything else. Myself was that
which the merely made prominent. So when Hamlet [Haml. i
2. 137], speaking of the world, says, 'Things rank and gross in nature possess it merely,' he by the merely brings the possession
before the mind and characterizes it as complete and absolute; but by the same term now the prominence would be given to something else from which the possession might be conceived to be separable; 'possess it merely' would mean have nothing beyond simply the possession of it (have, it might be, no right to it, or no enjoyment of it). It is not necessary that that which is included, though thus emphasized, should therefore be more definitely conceived than that with which it is contrasted"... (Craik, Eng. of Shakespeare, § 45).
53. This ... rascal. Antonio breaks off from speaking of him, and turns to curse him to his face: the washing ... tides, during the period it would take the tide to flow and ebb ten times; cp.
Oth. iv. 1. 188, "I would have him nine years a-killing."
54-6. He'll ... him. Don't vex yourself as to his fate, he is
certain to be hanged even though every drop in the ocean should
swear to the contrary and should open its mouth as wide as
possible to swallow him down. For to glut, Johnson would read
57-9. Mercy ... split! The Camb. Edd. point out that the
earlier editors printed these exclamations as a part of Gonzalo's
speech, and that Capell was the first to give the true arrangement. We split! we are going to pieces. Fifth position: the ship not able to weather a point [i.e. to get a point nearer to the
wind] is driven on shore.
61. take ... him, bid him good-bye before we perish.
62. ling .. broom, this is Hanmer's correction for 'long heath,
brown furze.' Farmer quotes from Harrison's Description of
Britain, "Brome, heth, firze, brakes, whinnes, ling, etc." By
statute 4 and 5 of William and Mary "to burn on any waste between Candlemas and Midsummer any ling, heath, furze, gorse or fern" is punished by whipping and confinement in the House of Correction. ling, probably the heather or common ling, though Ellacombe thinks that no particular plant was necessarity
meant, but any rough, wild vegetation, especially of open moors
and heaths: heath, of this plant there are in Britain five species, which "clothe the hill-sides with a rich garment of purple"... one of which "is called Long Heath" (Ellacombe): broom, a
plant with large yellow flowers, which under its former Latin name of Planta genista, gave its name to the Plantagenet family: furze, now called also 'gorse' and 'whin,' a plant which "with
its golden blossoms and richly scented flowers is the glory of our wilder hill-sides" (id.).
63. The wills ... death. I am of course ready to submit myself to God's will; but if I had my choice, I should prefer to die on shore, not by drowning in the sea.
How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan, 1890. Shakespeare Online. 15 Dec. 2013. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/temp_1_1.html >.
Action in The Tempest ... "It is three-fold. In the first place, there is the expulsion of Prospero by the rulers in the ship, who have now come into his power; this is the wrong done to Prospero, and constitutes the pre-supposition of the drama. Next follows the punishment of this wrong in the island, the realm of Prospero, through his spirit-powers. Lastly, the reconciliation of the two sides by the repentance of the guilty and forgiveness of the injured, when we have the final harmony resulting from the conflict. It, therefore, is connected with that class of Shakespeare's plays in which wrong is atoned for by repentance, and the criminal escapes by "heart's sorrow" the punishment of death, the legitimate consequence of his deed." J. D. Snider. Read on...