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ROMEO and JULIET.
PROLOG U E.
This prologue, after the first copy was published in 1597, received several alterations, both in respect of correctness and versification. In the folio it is omitted. The play was originally performed by the Right Honourable the Lord of Hunsdon his servants.
In the first of K. James I. was made an act of para liament for some restraint or limitation of noblemen in the protection of players, or of players under their sanćtion.
ROMEO and JULIET.] Breval says, in his Travels, that, on a strict inquiry into the histories of Verona, he found that Shakspere had varied very little from the truth, either in the names, characters, or other circumstances of his play.
STEEVENS. I believe that Shakspere formed his drama on the poem entitled The Trágical Hystory of Romeus and Juliet, 1562, rather than on Painter's Novel, for these reasons :
1. In the poem the prince of Verona is called Escalus;. so also in the play.--In Painter's translation from Boisteau he is named Signor Escala, and sometimes Lord Bartholomew of Escala. 2. The messenger employed by Friar Lawrence to carry a letter to Romeo, to inform him when Juliet would awake from her trance, is in Painter's translation called Anselme ; in the poem, and in the play, Friar John is employed in this business. 3. The circumstance of Capulet's writing down the names of the guests whom he invites to supper, is found in the poem and in the play, but is not mentioned by Painter. 4. Several pas. sages of Romeo and Juliet appear to have been formed on hints furnished by the poem, and some expressions are borrowed from thence.
With respect to the name of Romeo, this also Shak. spere might have had from the poem; for in one place that name is given to him.
MALONE. It is plain, from many circumstances, that Shakspere had read this novel, both in its prosaick and
metrical form. He might likewise have met with other poetical pieces on the same subject. We are not yet at the end of our discoveries relative to the originals of our author's dramatick pieces.
STEEVENS. This story was well known to the English poets before the time of Shakspere. In an old collection of poems, called, A gorgeous Gallery of gallant Inventions, 1578, I find it mentioned :
“ Sir Romeus' annoy but trifle seems to mine." And again, Romeus and Juliet arę celebrated in A poor Knight his Palace of private Pleasures, 1579.
I quote these passages for the sake of observing, that, if Shakspere had not read Painter's translation, it is not likely that he would have altered the name to Romeo. There was another novel on the subject by L. de Porto; which has been lately printed at Venice.
FARMER. The two entries which I have quoted from the books at Stationers-Hall, may possibly dispose Dr. Farmer to retract his observation concerning Shakspere's changing the names,
Line 1. _We'll not carry coals.] Dr. Warburton very justly observes, that this was a phrase formerly in use to signify the bearing injuries; but, as he has given no instances in support of his declaration, I thought it necessary to subjoin the following:
Nash, in his Have with you to Saffron Walden, 1595, says:
“ We will bear no coles, I warrant you." So, Skelton :
"You, I say, Julian,
“ Wyll you beare no coles ?" So, in Marston's Antonio and Mellida, 2d part, 1602: “ He has had wrong, and if I were he, I would bear no coles."
So, in Law Tricks, or Who would have thought it? a comedy, by John Day, 1608: “ I'll carry coals and you will, no horns." Again, in MayDay, a comedy by Chapman, 1610 :
“ You must swear by no man's beard but your own, for that may breed a quarrel : above all things you must carry no coals.” And again, in the same play :
my ancient being a man of an un-coal-carrying spirit," &c. Again, in Ben Jonson's Every Man out of his Humour : “ Here comes one that will carry coals ; ergo, will hold my dog.” And, lastly, in the poet's own Henry V. “ At Calais they stole a fire-sliovel; I knew by that piece of service the men would carry coals." Again, in the Malcontent, 1604:
“Great slaves fear better than love, born naturally for a coal-basket.”
STEVENS. This phrase continued to be in use down to the middle of the last century. In a little satirical piece of Sir John Birkenhead, entitled, “ Two centuries [of Books] of St. Paul's Church-Yard,” &c. published after the death of K. Charles I. N° 22, p. 50, is inserted “ Fire, Fire! a small manual, dedicated to Sir Arthur Haselridge; in which it is plainly proved by a whole chauldron of scripture, that John Lillburn will not carry coals." By Dr. Gouge.
Percy. But, notwithstanding this accumulation of passages in which the phrase itself occurs, the original of it is still left unexplored." If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink : for thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head,” &c. Prov. xxv. 22.-or as cited in the Epistle to the Romans, xii. 20.
HENLEY. 34. here comes of the house of the Montagues.] I believe the author wrote:
Here comes two of the house of the Montagues. The word two was inadvertently omitted in the quarto of 1599, from which the subsequent impressions were printed; but in the first edition of 1597, the passage stands thus :
“ Here comes two of the Montagueswhich confirms the emendation. The disregard of concord is in character, and was probably intended.