Imagens da página

CAP. O, brother Montague, give me thy hand : This is my daughter's jointure, for no more Can I demand.

Mon. But I can give thee more: For I will raise her statue in pure gold; That, while Verona by that name is known, There shall no figure at such rate be set, As that of true and faithful Juliet. * CAP. As rich shall Romeo by h Poor sacrifices of our enmity! PRINCE. A glooming peace? this morning with brings ; ."

The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head : Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things;

Some shall be pardon'd, and some punished :3

Tady lie:
ady lie.

A brace of kinsmen :-] The sportsman's térm brace, which on the present occasion is seriously employed, is in general applied to men in contempt. Thus, Prospero in The Tempest, addressing himself to Sebastian and Antonio, says:

“ But you, my brace of lords, were I so minded, . .

“ I here &c.—Steevens. ? A glooming peace &c.] The modern editions read-gloomy : but glooming, which is an old reading, may be the true one. So, in The Spanish Tragedy, 1603 : · “ Through dreadful shades of ever-glooming night.”

To gloom is an ancient verb used by Spenser; and I meet with it likewise in the play of Tom Tyler and his Wife, 1661 :

" If either he gaspeth or gloometh.STEEVENS. Gloomy is the reading of the old copy in 1597; for which glooming was substituted in that of 1599. MALONE.

3 Some shall be. pardon'd, and some punished:] This seems to be not a resolution in the prince, but a reflection on the va. rious dispensations of Providence; for who was there that could justly be punished by any human law? EDWARDS'S MSS.

This line has reference to the novel from which the fable is taken. Here we read that Juliet's female attendant was banished for concealing the marriage; Romeo's servant set at liberty because he had only acted in obedience to his master's orders ;

For never was a story of more woe,
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.*' rExeunt."

the apothecary taken, tortured, condemned, and hanged; while friar Laurence was permitted to retire to a hermitage in the neighbourhood of Verona, where he ended his life in penitence ånd tranquillity. STEEVENS.

_ Juliet and her Romeo.] Shakspeare has not effected the alteration of this play by introducing any new incidents, but merely by adding to the length of the scenes. : The piece appears to have been always a very popular one. Marston, in his Satires, 1598, says:

“ Luscus, what's play'd to-day?-faith, now I know

“I set, thy lips abroach, from whence doth flow ... “ Nought but pure Juliet and Romeo.” STEEVENS.

For never was a story of more woe,

Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.] These lines seem to have been formed on the concluding couplet of the poem of Romeus and Juliet:

“ - among the monuments that in Verona been,
“ There is no monument more worthy of the sight,
“ Than is the tomb of Juliet, and Romeus her knight.”

Malone. 5 This play is one of the most pleasing of our author's performances. The scenes are busy and various, the incidents numerous and important, the catastrophe irresistibly affecting, and the process of the action carried on with such probability, at least with such congruity to popular opinions, as tragedy requires.

Here is one of the few attempts of Shakspeare to exhibit the conversation of gentlemen, to represent the airy sprightliness of juvenile elegance. Mr. Dryden mentions a tradition, which might easily reach his time, of a declaration made by Shakspeare, that he was obliged to kill Mercutio in the third Act, lest he should have been killed by him. Yet he thinks him no such formidable person, but that he might have lived through the play, and died in his bed, without danger to the poet. Dryden well knew, had he been in quest of truth, in a pointed sentence, that more regard is commonly had to the words than the thought, and that it is very seldom to be rigorously understood. Mercutio’s wit, gaiety, and courage, will always procure him friends that wish him a longer life; but his death is not precipitated, he has lived out the time allotted him in the construction of the play; nor do I doubt the ability of Shakspeare to have continued his existence, though some of his sallies are perhaps out of the reach of Dryden ; whose genius was not very fertile of merriment, nor ductile to humour, but acute, argumentative, comprehensive, and sublime.

The Nurse is one of the characters in which the author delighted: he has, with great subtilty of distinction, drawn her at once loquacious and secret, obsequious and insolent, trusty and dishonest.

His comick scenes are happily wrought, but his pathetick strains are always polluted with some unexpected depravations. His persons, however distressed, have a conceit left them in their misery, a miserable conceit.* JOHNSON.

* This quotation is also found in the Preface to Dryden's Fables : “ Just John Littlewit in Bartholomew Fair, who had a conceit (as he tells you) left him in his misery; a miserable conceit,” STEEVENS,

q The Tragicall His-
torye of Romeus and Iuliet, writ-
ten first in Italian by Bandell,
and nowe in Englishe by

Ar. Br.
In ædibus Richardi Tottelli.

Cum Priuilegio.

[In the Second Edition, printed 1587, the Title was varied to



· Of







To the Reader.*_ The God of all glorye created vniuersallye all creatures, to sette forth his prayse, both those whiche we esteme profitable in vse and pleasure, and also those, whiche we accompte noysome, and lothsome. But principally, he hath appointed man, the chiefest instrument of his honour, not onely, for ministryng matter thereof in man himselfe ; but aswell in gatheryng out of other, the occasions of publishing Gods goodnes, wisdome, & power. And in like sort, euerye dooyng of man hath by Goddes dyspensacion some thynge, whereby God may, and ought to be honored. So the good doynges of the good, & the euill actes of the wicked, the happy successe of the blessed, and the wofull procedinges of the miserable, doe in diuers sorte sound one prayse of God. And as eche flower yeldeth hony to the bee, so euery exaumple ministreth good lessons to the well disposed mynde. The glorious triumphe of the continent man vpon the lustes of wanton fleshe, incourageth men to honest restraynt of wyld affections, the shamefull and wretched endes of such, as haue yelded their libertie thrall to fowle desires, teache men to withholde them selues from the hedlong fall of loose dishonestie. So, to lyke effect, by sundry meanes, the good mans exaumple byddeth men to be good, and the euill mans mischefe, warneth men not to be euyd. To this good ende, serue all ill endes, of yll begynnynges. And to this ende (good Reader) is this tragicall matter written, to describe vnto thee a coople of vnfortunate louers, thralling themselues to vnhonest desire, neglecting the authoritie and aduise of parents and frendes, conferring their principall counsels with dronken gossyppes, and superstitious friers (the naturally fitte instrumentes of vnchastitie) attemptyng all aduentures of peryll, for thattaynyng of their wished lust, vsyng auriculer confession (the kay of whoredome, and treason) for furtheraunce of theyr purpose, abusyng the honorable name of lawefull mariage, to cloke the shame of stolne contractes, finallye, by all meanes of vnhonest lyfe, hastyng to most vnhappye deathe. This president (good Reader) shalbe to thee, as the slaues of Lacedemon, oppressed with excesse of drinke, deformed and altered from likenes of men, both in mynde, and vse of body, were to the free borne children, so shewed to them by their parentes, to thintent to rayse in them an hatefull lothyng of so filthy beastlynes. Hereunto if you applye it, ye shall deliuer my dooing from offence, and profit yourselues. Though I saw the same argument

* This address is from the first edition, printed in 1562, and inserted in the second volume of the British Bibliographer, by Mr. Haslewood, who has collated the whole poem with a copy of that edition, and by him obligingly conimunicated for the present edition, HARRIS.

« AnteriorContinuar »