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a similar incident in King John) a sly allusion in Brooke's description of the friar's secret cell :
"Where he was wont in youth his fair friends to bestow,
There now he hideth Romeus.' The loquacious time-serving nurse, equally open to bribes from Romeo and County Paris, the starved apothecary, and generally the plot or action, are the same in the poem and the play. In Luigi da Porto's novel the conclusion is different. Juliet awakes from her trance in the tomb before Romeo's death ; she receives his dying blessing, and then, uttering a shriek, falls dead upon the corpse of Romeo. In following the English versions, though the friar's recapitulation of the events which had previously been represented may be considered superfluous, Shakespeare somewhat softens the awful distress of the last scene, and deduces the affecting and solemn moral :
'Capulet! Montague ! See what a scourge is laid upon your hate,
That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love.' Of the depth of passion--pure amidst all its youthful transports and intensity—or of the beauty and grace of the language and imagery in this play, no reader requires to be told. It is the most exquisite of all love poems or romances.
Romeo and Juliet was first printed in 1597. A second edition appeared in 1599, 'newly corrected, augmented, and amended;' and a reprint of this second edition was issued in 1609. The first edition has lines not in the subsequent impressions, and the folio of 1623, which is reprinted from the quarto of 1609, omits several passages. Mr Dyce says: “When we compare the imperfect text of that quarto'—the original edition of 1597—' (nor are its imperfections merely those of a piratical edition) with the corrected, augmented, and amended text of the second quarto, 1599, we cannot doubt that the author greatly improved and amplified the play subsequently to its original appearance on the stage.' He could not, however, have superintended its publication, for there are palpable errors in the printed copy that no author could have
passed over. Its publication was most likely unauthorised. A passage in one of the speeches of the nurse— 'Tis since the earthquake now eleven years' (Act I. sc. 3)—is supposed to refer to the great earthquake of 1580, which would give the date of composition 1591 ; but this is a vague conjecture, and it is scarcely probable that so popular a play, if produced in 1591, should have remained unprinted till 1597.
"When Dante reproaches the Emperor Albert for neglect of Italy,
“Thy sire and thou have suffer'd thus, Through greediness of yonder realms detain’d,
The garden of the empire to run waste"he adds :
“ Come, see the Capulets and Montagues,
With dire suspicion rack’d.” The Capulets and Montagues were amongst the fierce spirits who, according to the poet, had rendered Italy savage and unmanageable. The Emperor Albert was murdered in 1308 ; and the Veronese, who believe the story of Romeo and Juliet to be historically true, fix the date of this tragedy as 1303.-C. KNIGHT.
“ The enmity of the two families is the hinge on which everything turns: very appropriately, therefore, the representation commences with it. The spectator must have seen its outbreaks himself, in order to know what an insuperable obstacle it is to the union of the lovers. The animosity of the masters has rather rude representatives ; we see how far the matter must have gone when these foolish fellows cannot meet without forthwith falling into a quarrel. Romeo's love to Rosaline makes up the other half of the argument. This has been to many a stumbling-block, and Garrick rejected it in his alteration of the play.
To me it appears indispensable ; it is like the overture to the musical sequence of moments, which all unfold themselves out of that first when Romeo beholds Juliet. Lyrically taken, though not in respect of the action (and its whole charm surely rests on the tender enthusiasm which it breathes), the piece would be imperfect if it did not contain within itself the rise of his passion. But ought we to see him at first in a state of indifference? How is his first appearance exalted through this, that, already removed from the circumstances of cold reality, he walks on the consecrated ground of fancy. The tender solicitude of his parents, his restless pinings, his determined melancholy, his fanatical inclination for loneliness, everything in him announces the chosen one and the victim of love. His youth is like a thunderous day in spring, when sultry air surrounds the loveliest, most voluptuous flowers. Shall his quick change of mind deprive him of sympathy ?-or do we not argue from the instantaneous vanquishment of his first inclination, which in the beginning appeared so strong, the omnipotence of the new impression ?
Whatever is most intoxicating in the odour of a southern spring, languishing in the song of the nightingale, or voluptuous on the first opening of the rose, is breathed into this poem. But even more rapidly than the earliest blossoms of youth and beauty decay, it hurries on from the first timidly-bold declaration of love and modest return, to the most unlimited passion, to an irrevocable union : then amidst alternating storms of rapture and despair, to the death of the two lovers, who still appear enviable as their love survives them, and as by their death they have obtained a triumph over every separating power. The sweetest and the bitterest, love and hatred, festivity and dark forebodings, tender embraces and sepulchres, the fulness of life and self-annihilation, are all here brought close to each other : and all these contrasts are so blended in the harmonious and wonderful work, into a unity of impression, that the echo which the whole leaves behind in the mind resembles a single but endless sigh.'—SCHLEGEL.
Whence arises the harmony that strikes us in the wildest natural landscapes—in the relative shapes of rocks, the harmony
of colours in the heaths, ferns, and lichens, the leaves of the beech and the oak, the stems and rich brown branches of the birch and other mountain trees, varying from verging autumn to returning spring—compared with the visual effect from the greater number of artificial plantations? From this, that the natural landscape is effected, as it were, by a single energy, modified ab intra in each component part. And as this is the particular excellence of the Shakespearian drama generally, so it is especially characteristic of the Romeo and Juliet?COLERIDGE.
EscaLUS, prince of Verona.
MONTAGUE,} heads of two houses at variance with each other.
servants to Capulet.
PETER, servant to Juliet's nurse.
LADY MONTAGUE, wife to Montague.
Citizens of Verona ; several Men and Women, relations to both houses;
Maskers, Guards, Watchmen, and Attendants.
SCENE.-DURING THE GREATER PART OF THE PLAY IN VERONA ;
ONCE (IN THE FIFTH ACT) AT MANTUA.