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6 The grey
The third is, where the critic, from a super- soliloquy while she is waiting for the abundance of the power of detecting what Nurse, appears the ridiculous side of things (which
“Oh, she is lame! love's heralds should be results from a deficiency of imagination), thoughts,”— takes a caricaturist's view of the highest and the scene with Romeo, Juliet, and the exercises of the intellect, and asserts his own cleverness by presenting a travestie. The first Friar, again bring us back to the high region system, though it may be the most difficult
, elaborated after the first draft.
of poetry. The latter scene was greatly is the most safe ; the third, though it appears the most insidious, is the least injurious ; of the rival houses of Verona.-We see only
We have almost lost sight of the quarrels the second is, at once, easy and debasing ; it
the two lovers, who cannot sum up “half may begin in Steevens and end in Amner.
their sum of wealth," and have forgotten The silver-sweet" sound of " lovers'
their names of Montague and Capulet as tongues by night” is hushed. eyed morn” sees the Friar in his cell, bearing proaching. The brawl with which the drama
names of strife. But an evil hour is aphis “osier-cage" of
opened is to be renewed“ Balcful weeds, and precious juiced flowers." “ The day is hot, the Capulets abroad."
The “fiery Tybalt" and the “bold Mercutio" Here is a new link in the conduct of the
are the first victims of this factious hatestory. And what a beautiful transition have and Romeo is banished. The action does we made from the elevated poetry of passion not move laggingly—all is heat and preto the scarcely less elevated poetry of phi- cipitation. Juliet sits alone in her bower, losophy! The old man, whose pious thoughts unconscious of all but her impassioned shape themselves into sweet and solemn imaginings. She thinks aloud in the solicadences, stands as the antagonist principle tude which is around her, with a characof the passionate conflicts that are going on teristic vehemence of temperament; but in around him. He is to be a great agent in this soliloquy " there is something so almost the workings of the drama. He would close infantine in her perfect simplicity, so playful up the dissensions of the rival houses—he ( and fantastic in the imagery and language, would make the new lovers blessed in their that the charm of sentiment and innocence union - he would assuage the misery of is thrown over the whole."* The scene in Romeo's exile—he would save his lady from which the Nurse tells her disjointed story of an unholy marriage—he would join them Tybalt's death is a masterpiece. We have again in life, although the tomb appears to here to encounter the often-repeated obhave separated them. The good old man jection, that Shakspere uses conceits when will rely too much upon his philosophy, and he ought to be expressing the language of his skilful dealing with human actions; as
vehement passion. The conceits are not in the lovers have already relied too much accordance with the general taste of our own upon the integrity of their passion as a age, though they were so with that of Shakshield against calamity. The half-surprise, spere's. But they have a much higher the half-gladness of the Friar, when Romeo justification. They are the results of strong tells him where his “heart's dear love is emotion, seeking to relieve itself by a violent set,” are delightful. The reproof that is effort of the intellect, that the will may meant for a commendation—the “come, young recover its balance. Immediately after the waverer”-the “ wisely and slow,”— ?-are all lines in which we have that play upon words true to nature. But Romeo has secured his whose climax ispurpose, and his heart is at ease. Then is
“I am not I, if there be such an 1," he fit to play a part in the comic scenes that succeed,—to bandy words with Mercutio
• Mrs. Jameson's · Characteristics of Women, third to be pleasant with the Nurse. But Juliet's
edition, vol. i. p. 193.
we come at once to an exclamation of the the verge of madness. But from this moment deepest pathos and simplicity :
her love has become heroism. She sees “Oh, break my heart !--poor bankrout;"–
No pity sitting in the clouds" and then, when Juliet knows that Romeo is she rejects her Nurse—she resolves to deceive not dead, but that Tybalt has fallen by the her parents. This scene brings out her hand of her husband, what a natural revulsion character in its strongest and most beautiful of feeling succeeds!
relief. The Nurse, in the grossness of her “Oh, that deceit should dwell
nature, bas dared to talk to the wife of In such a gorgeous palace!"
Romeo—the all-loving and devoted wife
the The transition from her reproach of Tybalt's the one passion of Juliet—the sense raised
green eye of Paris ! The Nurse mistook murderer, to a glorious trust in the integrity into soul--for a grovelling quality that her of her lord, is surpassingly beautiful. Not
lofty imagination would utterly despise. “O less beautiful is the passion which Romeo
most wicked fiend!” Not so Juliet's other exhibits in the Friar's cell. Each of the
counsellor. The Friar estimated her conlovers in these scenes shows the intensity of their abandonment to an overmastering will. stancy, and he did “spy a kind of hope”
that it might be rewarded. He saw that “ They see only themselves in the universe.” That is the true moral of their fate. But, shame” of marrying Paris. Well had the
Juliet would, at all hazards, put away " the even under the direst calamity, they catch at the one joy which is left—the short The scene in his cell, and the subsequent
Friar reckoned upon her “strength of will.” meeting before the parting. And what a
scene when she swallows the draught, are parting that is! Here, again, comes the
amongst the most powerful in the play; and triumph of the beautiful over the merely tragic. They are once more calm. Their yet we never lose sight of the highest poetry, love again breathes of all the sweet sights tiful. When Juliet is supposed to be dead,
mingling what is grand with what is beauand sounds in a world of beauty. They are parting—but the almost happy Juliet says tetchy and absolute father, and the mother
nature again asserts her empire over the “ It is not yet near day :
weeps over the Believe me, love, it was the nightingale."
“One, poor one, one poor and loving child." Romeo, who sees the danger of delay, is not deceived :
Here, again, the gentle poetry of common
feelings comes to the relief of the scene; “It was the lark, the herald of the morn."
and the Friar brings in a higher poetry in Then what a burst of poetry follows ! the consolations of divine truth. “ Night's candles are burnt out, and jocund day
As we approach the catastrophe, the poetiStands tiptoe on the misty mountains' tops."
cal cast of Romeo's mind becomes even more The scene closes with that exquisite display It was first fanciful, then imaginative, then
clearly defined than in the earlier scenes. of womanly tenderness in Juliet, which hurries from the forgetfulness of joy in her impassioned—but when deep sorrow has been husband's presence to apprehension for his
added to his love, and he treads upon the
threshold of the world of shadows, it puts on safety. After this scene we are almost content to think, as Romeo fancied he thought,
even a higher character of beauty. As to
the celebrated speech of the Apothecary,' come what sorrow can, we refuse to believe that it forms an exIt cannot countervail the exchange of joy."
ception to the general character of the The sorrow does come upon poor Juliet beauty that throws its rich evening light with redoubled force. The absolute father, over the closing scenes. the unyielding mother, the treacherous The criticism of the French school has not Nurse, — all hurrying her into a loathed spared this famous passage. Joseph Warton, marriage,-might drive one less resolved to an elegant scholar, but who belonged to this
school, has the following observations in his earthen pots; and he had looked at the Virgil' (1763, vol. i. p. 301) :
tattered weeds and overwhelming brows of " It may not be improper to produce the their needy owner. But he had also said, following glaring instance of the absurdity when he first saw these things, of introducing long and minute descriptions
“An if a man did need a poison now, into tragedy. When Romeo receives the
Whose sale is present death in Mantua, dreadful and unexpected news of Juliet’s
Here lives a caitiff wretch would sell it him.” death, this fond husband, in an agony of grief, immediately resolves to poison himself. When he did need a poison, all these docuBut his sorrow is interrupted, while he gives ments of the misery that was to serve him us an exact picture of the apothecary's shop came with a double intensity upon his vision. from whom he intended to purchase the The shaping of these things into words was poison :
not for the audience. It was not to produce
a long and minute description in tragedy” 'I do remember an apothecary,' &c.
that had no foundation in the workings of I appeal to those who know anything of the nature. It was the very cunning of nature human heart, whether Romeo, in this dis- which produced this description. Mischief tressful situation, could have leisure to think was, indeed, swift to enter into the thoughts of the alligator, empty boxes, and bladders, of the desperate man; but, the mind once and other furniture, of this beggarly shop, made up, it took a perverse pleasure in going and to point them out so distinctly to the
over every item of the circumstances that audience. The description is, indeed, very
had suggested the means of mischief. All lively and natural, but very improperly put other thoughts had passed out of Romeo's into the mouth of a person agitated with mind. He had nothing left but to die ; and such passion as Romeo is represented to be.” everything connected with the means of his
The criticism of Warton, ingenious as it death was seized upon by his imagination may appear, and true as applied to many
with an energy that could only find relief in “ long and minute descriptions in tragedy,”
words. is here based upon a wrong principle. He
Shakspere has exhibited the same knowsays that Romeo, in his distressful situation, ledge of nature in his sad and solemn poem had not “ leisure” to think of the furniture of The Rape of Lucrece,' where the injured of the apothecary's shop. What then had he wife, having resolved to wipe out her stain leisure to do? Had he leisure to run off into by death, declamations against fate, and into tedious
“calls to mind where hangs a piece apostrophes and generalizations, as a less Of skilful painting, made for Priam's Troy.” skilful artist than Shakspere would have She sees in that painting some fancied remade bim indulge in ? From the moment he semblance to her own position, and spends had said,
the heavy hours till her husband arrives in “Well, Juliet, I will lie with thee to-night.
its contemplation. Let's see for mcans,"
“So Lucrece set a-work sad tales doth tell the apothecary's shop became to him the
To pencill'd pensiveness and colour'd sorrow;
She lends them words, and she their looks object of the most intense interest. Great
doth borrow.” passions, when they have shaped themselves into firm resolves, attach the most distinct
It was the intense interest in his own importance to the minutest objects connected resolve which made Romeo so minutely dewith the execution of their purpose. He had scribe his apothecary. But, that stage past, seen the apothecary's shop in his placid came the abstraction of his sorrow:moments as an object of common curiosity. “What said my man, when my betossed soul He had hastily looked at the tortoise and Did not attend him as we rode? I think the alligator, the empty boxes, and the He told me Paris should have married Juliet.”
Juliet was dead; and what mattered it to elegy on the frailty of love, from its own his “betossed soul" whom she should have nature and external circumstances,' married ?
Romeo sings before his last sleep. And how “Well, Juliet, I will lie with thee to-night,"
beautifully is the corresponding part sung
by the waking and dying Juliet was the sole thought that made him remember an apothecary,” and treat what
“What's here? a cup, closed in my true love's his servant said as a “ dream."
hand? The gentleness of Romeo is apparent, even
Poison, I see, hath been his timeless end :while he says
O churl! drink all; and left no friendly drop,
To help me after?-I will kiss thy lips; “The time and my intents are savage-wild;"
Haply, some poison yet doth hang on them, for he adds, with a strong effort, to his
To make me die with a restorative.” faithful Balthasar,
They have paid the penalty of the fierce “Live, and be prosperous ; and farewell, good hatreds that were engendered around them, fellow."
and of their own precipitancy. But their His entreaties to Paris—“Oh, be
misfortunes and their loves have healed the full of the same tenderness. He is constrained enmities of which they were the victims. to fight with him-he slays him—but he
“ Poor sacrifices !” Capulet may now say, almost weeps over him, as
“Oh, brother Montague, give me thy hand.” “ One writ with me in sour misfortune's book.” They have left a peace behind them which The remainder of Romeo's speech in the they could not taste themselves. But their tomb is, as Coleridge has put it, “the master first “rash and unadvised ” contract was example, how beauty can at once increase elevated into all that was pure and beauand modify passion.”
tiful, by their after sorrows and their con“Oh, here
stancy; and in happier regions their afWill I set up my everlasting rest ;
fections may put on that calmness of And shake the yoke of inauspicious stars
immortality which the ancients typified in From this world-wearied flesh.”
their allegory of 'Love and the Soul.' This is the one portion of the “melancholy
* A. W. Schlegel.
THE MERCHANT OF VENICE.
"The MERCHANT OF VENICE,' like 'A Mid- plays of Shakspere mentioned by Francis summer-Night's Dream,' was first printed in Meres in 1598, and it is the last mentioned 1600; and it had a further similarity to in his list. From the original entry at that play from the circumstance of two Stationers' Hall, in 1598, providing that it editions appearing in the same year—the be not printed without licence first had of one bearing the name of a publisher, Thomas the Lord Chamberlain, it may be assumed Heyes, the other that of a printer, J. Roberts. that it had not then been acted by the Lord The play was not reprinted till it appeared Chamberlain's servants. We know, however, in the folio of 1623. In that edition there so little about the formalities of licence that are only a few variations from the quartos. we cannot regard this point as certain.
The Merchant of Venice' is one of the Stephen Gosson, who, in 1579, was moved
to publish a tract called “The School of | This curious production is printed in Percy's Abuse, containing a pleasant invective against Reliques.' poets, pipers, players, jesters, and such like Warton's opinion of the priority of this caterpillars of the commonwealth, thus ballad to “The Merchant of Venice' is thus describes a play of his time :-“The Jew, expressed :—" It may be objected that this shown at the Bull, representing the greedy- ballad might have been written after, and ness of worldly choosers, and the bloody copied from, Shakespeare's play. But, if that minds of usurers." Mr. Skottowe somewhat had been the case, it is most likely that the leaps to a conclusion that this play contains author would have preserved Shakespeare's the same plot as “The Merchant of Venice::— name of Shylock for the Jew; and nothing “ The loss of this performance is justly a is more likely than that Shakespeare, in subject of regret, for, as it combined within copying from this ballad, should alter the its plot the two incidents of the bond and name from Gernutus to one more Jewish ... the caskets, it would, in all probability, have Our ballad has the air of a narrative written thrown much additional light on Shakspeare's before Shakespeare's play; I mean, that, if progress in the composition of his highly it had been written after the play, it would finished comedy."* As all we know of this have been much more full and circumstantial. play is told us by Gosson, it is rather bold to At present, it has too much the nakedness of assume that it combined the two incidents an original.” * The reasoning of Warton is of the bond and the caskets. The com scarcely borne out by a new fact, for which bination of these incidents is perhaps one of we are indebted to the researches of Mr. the most remarkable examples of Shakspere's Collier. Thomas Jordan, in 1664, printed a dramatic skill. “In the management of the ballad, or romance, called “The Forfeiture;' plot,” says Mr. Hallam, “which is sufficiently and Mr. Collier says—“So much does Shakecomplex without the slightest confusion or speare's production seem to have been forgotincoherence, I do not conceive that it has ten in 1664, that Thomas Jordan made a ballad been surpassed in the annals of any theatre.” of it, and printed it as an original story (at The rude dramatists of 1579 were not re least without any acknowledgment), in his markable for the combination of incidents. * Royal Arbor of Loyal Poesie,' in that year. It was probably reserved for the skill of In the same scarce little volume he also uses Shakspere to bring the caskets and the bond the plot of the serious part of Much Ado in juxtaposition. He found the incidents about Nothing,' and of “The Winter's Tale,' far apart, but it was for him to fuse them both of which had been similarly laid by for together.' We cannot absolutely deny Mr. a series of years, partly, perhaps, on account Douce's conjecture that the play mentioned of the silencing of the theatres from and after by Gosson might have furnished our poet | 1642. The circumstance has hitherto escaped with the whole of the plot; but it is certainly observation; and Jordan felt authorized to an abuse of language to say that it did take such liberties with the story of The furnish him, because the Jew shown at the Merchant of Venice,' that he has represented Bull deals with “worldly choosers," and the the Jew's daughter, instead of Portia, as “ bloody minds of usurers.” We admit that assuming the office of assessor to the Duke the coincidence is curious.
of Venice in the trial-scene, for the sake of Warton first drew attention to a ballad saving the life of the Merchant, with whom which he considers was written before The she was in love." + Now, it is remarkable Merchant of Venice,'' A new Song, shewing that this ballad by Jordan, which was unthe cruelty of Germutus, a Jew, who, lending questionably written after the play, is much to a merchant án hundred crowns, would less full and circumstantial than the old have a pound of his flesh because he could ballad of "Gernutus ;' so that Warton's not pay him at the time appointed.?
*Observations on the Fairy Queen,' 1807, vol. i. p. 182.
† New Particulars regarding the Works of Shake**Life of Shakspeare,' vol. i. p. 330.
speare,' p. 36.