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our opinion, that as editors they were rash, | All this particularity with reference to the and as critics they were cold and unimagi- earthquakenative; and we hold it to be the highest
“I never shall forget it,duty to attempt to undo what they have
Of all the days of the year"done, when they approach their author, as in their manufacture of a text for ‘Romeo was for the audience. The poet had to exand Juliet,' “ without reverence.” We be- hibit the minuteness with which unlettered lieve, as they did not,“ that his own judg- people, and old people in particular, establish ment is entitled to more respect than that a date, by reference to some circumstance of any or all his critics;"* and we shall which has made a particular impression upon attempt to vindicate that judgment on every their imagination ; but in this case he chose occasion, upon the great principle laid down a circumstance which would be familiar to by Bentley :-“ The point is not what he his audience, and would have produced a might have done, but what he has done.” corresponding impression upon themselves.
In attempting to settle the Chronology Tyrwhitt was the first to point out that this of Shakspere's plays, there are, as in every passage had, in all probability, a reference other case of literary history, two species to the great earthquake which happened in of evidence to be regarded—the extrinsic England in 1580, Stow has described this and the intrinsic. Of the former species of earthquake minutely in his Chronicle, and so evidence we have the one important fact has Holinshed. “ On the 6th of April, 1580, that a “Romeo and Juliet,' by Shakspere, being Wednesday in Easter week, about six however wanting in the completeness of the o'clock toward evening, a sudden earthquake “Romeo and Juliet' which we now possess, happened in London, and almost generally was published in 1597. The enumeration of throughout all England, caused such an this play, therefore, in the list by Francis amazedness among the people as was wonMeres, in 1598, adds nothing to our previous derful for the time, and caused them to make information. In the same manner, the men their earnest prayers to Almighty God!” tion of this play by Marston, in his tenth The circumstances attendant upon this earthsatire, first published in 1599, only shows us quake show that the remembrance of it would how popular it was:
not have easily passed away from the minds “Luscus, what's play'd to-day? i' faith, now I of the people. The great clock in the palace know;
at Westminster, and divers other clocks and I see thy lips abroach, from whence doth flow bells, struck of themselves against the hamNought but pure Juliet and Romeo.”
mers with the shaking of the earth. The
lawyers supping in the Temple "ran from Of the positive intrinsic evidence of the the tables, and out of their halls, with their date of “Romeo and Juliet,' the play, as it | knives in their hands.” The people asappears to us, only furnishes one passage. sembled at the theatres rushed forth into The Nurse, describing the time when Juliet the fields, lost the galicries should fall. was weaned, says,
The roof of Christ Church, near to Newgate “On Lammas-eve at night shall she be fourteen; Market, was so shaken, that a large stone
That shall she, marry; I remember it well. dropped out of it, killing one person, and "T is since the earthquake now eleven years ; mortally wounding another, it being sermon
time. Chimneys toppled down, houses were Sitting in the sun under the dove-house wall,
shattered. Shakspere, therefore, could not
have mentioned an earthquake with the miShake, quoth the dove-house : 't was no need,
nuteness of the passage in the Nurse's speech I trow,
without immediately calling up some assoTo bid me trudge.
ciations in the minds of his audience. He And since that time it is eleven years."
knew the double world in which an excited * Southey (speaking of Cowper).
audience lives,-the half belief in the world
of poetry amongst which they are placed | audience, the play was produced, as well as during a theatrical representation, and the written, in 1591. half consciousness of the external world of Reasoning such as this would, we acknowtheir ordinary life. The ready disposition ledge, be very weak if it were unsupported of every audience to make a transition from by evidence deduced from the general chathe scene before them to the scene in which racter of the performance, with reference they ordinarily move,—to assimilate what is to the maturity of the author's powers. shadowy and distant with what is distinct | But, taken in connection with that evidence, and at hand,—is perfectly well known to all | it becomes important. Now, we have no who are acquainted with the machinery of hesitation in believing, although it would the drama. Actors seize upon the principle be exceedingly difficult to communicate the to perpetrate the grossest violations of good grounds of our belief fully to our readers, taste ; and authors who write for present that the alterations made by Shakspere upon applause invariably do the same when they his first copy of “Romeo and Juliet,' as offer us, in their dialogue, a passing allu- printed in 1597 (which alterations are shown sion, which is technically called a clap-trap. in the second copy as printed in 1599), exIn the case before us, even if Shakspere had hibit differences as to the quality of his mind not this principle in view, the association -differences in judgment—differences in the of the English earthquake must have been cast of thought-differences in poetical power strongly in his mind when he made the —which cannot be accounted for by the Nurse date from an earthquake. Without growth of his mind during two years only. reference to the circumstance of Juliet's If the first “Romeo and Juliet' were proage,
duced in 1591, and the second in 1.599, we “Even or odd, of all days in the year,
have an interval of eight years, in which Come Lammas-eve at night, shall she be four
some of his most finished works had been teen,"—
given to the world. During this period his he would naturally, dating from the earth- richness, as well as his sweetness, had been
developed ; and it is this development which quake, have made the date refer to the
is so remarkable in the superadded passages period of his writing the passage instead
in “Romeo and Juliet.' We almost fancy of the period of Juliet's being weaned :6. Then she could stand alone.” But, ac
that the “Queen Mab" speech will of itself
furnish an example of what we mean. cording to the Nurse's chronology, Juliet had not arrived at that epoch in the lives “ Her chariot is an empty hazel-nut, of children till she was three years old.
Made by the joiner squirrel, or old grub, The very contradiction shows that Shak
Time out of mind the fairies' coach-makers." spere had another object in view than that These lines are not in the first copy; but of making the Nurse's chronology tally with how beautifully they fit in after the descripthe age of her nursling. Had he written,
tion of the spokes—the cover-the traces“ 'T is since the earthquake now just thirteen
the collars—the whip—and the waggoner ; years,"
while, in their peculiarly rich and picwe should not have been so ready to believe turesque effect, they stand out before all that 'Romeo and Juliet' was written in 1593;
the rest of the passage! Then, the “I have but as he has written,
seen the day—* * * * 't is
’t is gone," of old Capulet seems to speak “ 'T is since the earthquake now eleven years," more of the middle-aged than of the youthin defiance of a very obvious calculation on
ful poet, of whom all the passages by which the part of the Nurse, we have little doubt it is surrounded are characteristic. Again, that he wrote the passage eleven years after the lines in the friar's soliloquy, beginning the earthquake of 1580, and that, the passage “ The earth, that's Nature's mother, is her being also meant to fix the attention of an
't is gone,
look like the work of one who had been same thing," said Marlowe, “the same words reading and thinking more deeply of na were whispered to me by my base envy, ture's mysteries than in his first delineation when I observed the universal delight, the of the benevolent philosophy of this good deep emotion, of every spectator.
I enold man. But, as we advance in the play, deavoured to comfort myself therewith, and the development of the writer's powers is again to recover my lost honours in this more and more displayed in his additions. miserable manner. I fled from the company; The critical reader may trace what has been and the house-steward, who had acted as an added by the foot-notes in the ' Pictorial' assistant, gave me the manuscript of the and ‘Library' editions.
play. In my lonely chamber I sat and read Tieck, who, as a translator of Shakspere, the whole night, and read again,,and each and as a profound and beautiful critic, has time admired the more ; for much that had done very much for cultivating the know- appeared to me episodical or superfluous ledge, built upon love, which the Germans acquired, on more exact examination, a sigpossess of our poet, has not been trammelled nificancy and needful fulness. The good by Malone and Chalmers, but has placed house-steward gave me also another poem, * Romeo and Juliet' amongst Shakspere’s which the author has not yet quite comearly plays. We have no exact statements pleted, “Venus and Adonis,' that I might on this subject by Tieck ; but, in a very read it in my nightly leisure. My friend, delightful imaginary scene between Marlowe even here, even in this sweet narrative, and Greene, he has made Marlowe describe even in this soft speech and voluptuous to his brother dramatist the first performance imagery,—in this intoxicating realm, where of “Romeo and Juliet' of which he had been I, till now, only looked upon likenesses of witness*. Tieck has made this imaginary myself,—I am completely, completely beaten. conversation a vehicle for the most enthu- O this man, this more than mortal! to him siastic praise of this play. Marlowe de- (I feel as if my life depends on it) I must scribes the performance as taking place at
become the most intimate friend or the most the palace of the Lord Hunsdon. He had bitter enemy. Either I will yet find my expected, he says, that one of his own plays way to him, or I will succumb to this Apollo, would have been performed; but he found and he may then speak over my outstretched that it was “ that old poem, which we have corpse the last words of praise or blame.” all long known, worked up into a tragedy.” Tieck has thus decidedly placed the date of After Marlowe has run through the general the performance of 'Romeo and Juliet' becharacteristics of the play, with an eloquent fore 1592,—for Greene died in that year, and admiration, mingled with deep regret that Marlowe in the year following. The · Venus he himself had been able to approach so and Adonis,' which is here mentioned as not distantly the excellence of that “out-sound- quite completed, was published in 1593. ing mouth, which a godlike muse has herself Tieck built his opinion, no doubt, upon ininspired with the sweetest of her kisses,” he ternal evidence; and upon this evidence we thus replies to Greene's inquiry as to who must be content to let the question rest. was the poet :-“Wilt thou believe ?-one of Henslowe's common comedians, who has
When Dante reproaches the Emperor Albert already served him many years on very low
for neglect of Italy,– wages.” “And now, if thy fever has passed,” said Greene, “let us look on this thing in “ Thy sire and thou have suffer'd thus, the broad light. This is merely such a Through greediness of yonder realms detain'd, passing apparition as we have seen many of The garden of the empire to run waste," — before-admired, gaped at, praised without limit-but full of faults and imperfections,
he adds,and soon to be altogether forgotten.” “The “Come, see the Capulets and Montagues, * Dichterleben,' von Tieck: Berlin, 1828, p. 128, &c. The Filippeschi and Monaldi, man
Who carist for nought ! those sunk in grief, to be found in these sources were embodied and these
in a French novel by Pierre Boisteau, a With dire suspicion rack'd."*
translation of which was published by
Painter in his · Palace of Pleasure,' in 1567; The Capulets and Montagues were amongst and upon this French story was founded the the fierce spirits who, according to the poet, English poem by Arthur Brooke, published had rendered Italy - savage and unmanage
in 1562, under the title of “The tragicall able.” The Emperor Albert was murdered in 1308: and the Veronese, who believe the Historye of Romeus and Juliet, written first
in Italian by Bandell, and nowe in Englishe story of 'Romeo and Juliet' to be his
by Ar. Br.' It appears highly probable that torically true, fix the date of this tragedy as
an English play upon the same subject had 1303. At that period the Scalas, or Scaligers,
appeared previous to Brooke's poem ; for a ruled over Verona.
If the records of history tell us little of copy of that poem, which was in the posthe fair Capulet and her loved Montague, session of the Rev. H. White, of Lichfield,
contains the following passage, in an address whom Shakspere has made immortal, the
to the reader:-“ Though I saw the same novelists have seized upon the subject, as might be expected from its interest and its argument lately set forth on the stage with
more commendation than I can look for, obscurity. Massuccio, a Neapolitan, who lived about 1470, was, it is supposed, the being there much better set forth than i
have or can do, yet the same matter, penned writer who first gave a somewhat similar
as it is, may serve to like good effect, story the clothing of a connected fiction.
if the readers do bring with them like He places the scene at Sienna, and, of course; good minds to consider it, which hath the there is no mention of the Montagues and
more encouraged me to publish it, such as Capulets. The story, too, of Massuccio varies in its catastrophe; the bride recovering materials enough to work upon. But, in
it is.” We thus see that Shakspere had from her lethargy, produced by the same
addition to these sources, there is a play by means as in the case of Juliet, and the hus- Lope de Vega in which the incidents are band being executed for a murder which had caused him to flee from his country: by Luigi Groto, which Mr. Walker, in his
very similar ; and an Italian tragedy also Mr. Douce has endeavoured to trace back historical memoir of Italian tragedy, thinks the groundwork of the tale to a Greek romance by Xenophon Ephesius. Luigi da Walker gives us passages in support of his
that the English bard read with profit. Mr. Porto, of Vicenza, gave a connected form to the legend of Romeo and Juliet, in a novel, assertion, such as a description of a nightin
gale when the lovers are parting, which under the title of · La Giulietta,' which was published after his death in 1535. Luigi, in appear to confirm this opinion. an epistle which is prefixed to this work, tempted, what Shakspere took from the
To attempt to show, as many have atstates that the story was told him by “ archer of mine, whose name was Peregrino, Painter's Palace of Pleasure'-how he was
of Romeus and Juliet,' and what from a man about fifty years old, well practised « wretchedly misled in his catastrophe,” as in the military art, a pleasant companion, Mr. Dunlop has it, because he had not read and, like almost all his countrymen of
Luigi da Porto—and how he invented only Verona, a great talker.” Bandello, in 1554,
one incident throughout the play, that of published a novel on the same subject, the ninth of his second collection. It begins, character, that of Mercutio, according to the
the death of Paris, and created only one " When the Scaligers were lords of Verona,'
sagacious Mrs. Lenox-appears to us someand goes on to say that these events hap
what idle work. pened“ under Bartholomew Scaliger” (Bar
The slight foundation of historical truth tolomeo della Scala). The various materials
which can be established in the legend of * Purgatory,' Canto 6: Cary's Translation. * Romeo and Juliet'--that of the “civil
broils” of the two rival houses of Verona- | Moore, as he saw it at the close of autumn, would place the period of the action about when withered leaves had dropped into the the time of Dante. But this one circum- decayed sarcophagus, and the vines that stance ought not, as it appears to us, very are trailed above it had been stripped of strictly to limit this period. The legend is their fruit. His letter to Moore, in which so obscure, that we may be justified in car this passage occurs, is dated the 7th Novemrying its date forward or backward, to the ber*. But this wild and desolate garden extent even of a century, if anything may only struck Byron as appropriate to the be gained by such a freedom. In this case, legend-to that simple tale of fierce hatreds we may venture to associate the story with and fatal loves which tradition has still prethe period which followed the times of served, amongst those who may never have Petrarch and Boccaccio—verging towards read Luigi da Porto or Bandello, and who, the close of the fourteenth century—a period perhaps, never heard the name of Shakspere. full of rich associations. Then, the literary To the legend only is the blighted place treasures of the ancient world had been appropriate. For who that has ever been rescued out of the dust and darkness of ages, thoroughly imbued with the story of Juliet, -the language of Italy had been formed, in as told by Shakspere,—who that has heard great part, by the marvellous Visions' of his "glorious song of praise on that inher greatest poet; painting had been revived expressible feeling which ennobles the soul by Giotto and Cimabue ; architecture had and gives to it its highest sublimity, and put on a character of beauty and majesty, which elevates even the senses themselves and the first necessities of shelter and de- into soul,” +—who that, in our great poet's fence had been associated with the higher matchless delineation of Juliet's love, has demands of comfort and taste ; sculpture perceived “whatever is most intoxicating in had displayed itself in many beautiful produc- the odour of a southern spring, languishing tions, both in marble and bronze; and music in the song of the nightingale, or voluptuous had been cultivated as a science. All these on the first opening of the rose,” I-who, were the growth of the freedom which pre- indeed, that looks upon the tomb of the vailed in the Italian republics, and of the Juliet of Shakspere, can see only a shapeless wealth which had been acquired by com- ruin amidst wildness and desolation ? mercial enterprise, under the impulses of
“A grave? Oh, no; a lantern, freedom. To date the period of the action For here lies Juliet, and her beauty makes of Romeo and Juliet' before this revival of
This vault a feasting presence full of light.” learning and the arts, would be to make its
Wordsworth has a philosophical remark accessories out of harmony with the exceeding beauty of Sbakspere's drama. Even his tragedies:– “Shakspere's writings, in
upon Shakspere which is applicable to all if a slight portion of historical accuracy be the most pathetic scenes, never act upon us sacrificed, his poetry must be surrounded with an appropriate atmosphere of grace Wordsworth adds, that this effect, “ in a
as pathetic beyond the bounds of pleasure.” and richness. “Of the truth of Juliet's story, they (the imagined, is to be ascribed to small, but
much greater degree than might at first be Veronese) seem tenacious to a degree,–in- continual and regular, impulses of pleasisting on the fact, giving a date (1303), and surable surprise from the metrical arrangeshowing a tomb. It is a plain, open, and ment.” Ş In Romeo and Juliet the principle partly decayed sarcophagus, with withered of limiting the pathetic according to the leaves in it, in a wild and desolate conventual garden, once a cemetery, now ruined degree in which it is calculated to produce
* Moore's . Life of Byron,' 8vo. : 1838, p. 327. to the very graves. The situation struck
† A. W. Schlegel's Lectures,'Black's translation, vol. ii., me as very appropriate to the legend, being p. 187. blighted as their love." Byron thus de
$ Observations prefixed to the second edition of Lyrical scribed the tomb of Juliet to his friend