Page images
PDF
EPUB

Cap. O heavens!—0, wife! look how our daugh

ter bleeds!
This dagger hath mista’en,—for lo! his house
Is empty on the back of Montague,-
And is missheathed in my daughter's bosom 18.

La. Cap. O me! this sight of death is as a bell, That warns my

old age to a sepulchre. Enter MONTAGUE and Others. Prince. Come, Montague; for thou art early up, To see thy son and heir more early down.

Mon. Alas, my liege, my wife is dead to-night 19; Grief of my son's exíle hath stopp'd her breath; What further woe conspires against mine age?

Prince. Look, and thou shalt see.

Mon. O thou untaught! what manners is in this, To

press before thy father to a grave Prince. Seal

up

the mouth of outrage for a while, "Till we can clear these ambiguities, And know their spring, their head, their true descent; And then will I be general of your woes,

20?

18 The words, 'for lo ! his house is empty on the back of Montague,' are to be considered parenthetical. It appears that the dagger was anciently worn behind the back. So in Humor's Ordinarie:

See you yon huge bum dagger at his back?' And in The Longer Thou Livest the More Fool Thou Art, 1570 :

Thou must wear thy sword by thy side,

And thy dagger handsumly at thy backe.' 19 After this line the quarto of 1597 adds :

. And young Benvolio is deceased too.' 20 So in The Tragedy of Darius, 1603:

• Ah me! malicious fates have done me wrong:
Who came first to the world, should first depart.
It not becomes the old t'o'er-live the young;

This dealing is preposterous and over-thwart.'
Thus also in Shakspeare's Rape of Lucrece:-

* If children pre-decease progenitors,
We are their offspring, and they none of ours.'

And lead you even to death : Mean time forbear,
And let mischance be slave to patience.-
Bring forth the parties of suspicion.

Fri. I am the greatest, able to do least,
Yet most suspected, as the time and place
Doth make against me, of this direful murder;
And here I stand, both to impeach and purge
Myself condemned and myself excus'd.
Prince. Then say at once what thou dost know

in this. Fri. I will be brief 21, for

my

short date of breath
Is not so long as is a tedious tale.
Romeo, there dead, was husband to that Juliet;
And she, there dead, that Romeo's faithful wife:
I married them; and their stolen marriage-day
Was Tybalt's doomsday, whose untimely death
Banish’d the new made bridegroom from this city;
For whom, and not for Tybalt, Juliet pin’d.
You—to remove that siege of grief from her,-
Betroth’d, and would have married her perforce,
To county Paris :—Then comes she to me;
And, with wild looks, bid me devise some means
To rid her from this second marriage,

in
my

cell there would she kill herself.
Then gave I her, so tutor’d by my art,
A sleeping potion; which so took effect
As I intended, for it wrought on her
The form of death : meantime I writ to Romeo,

21 • It is to be lamented that the poet did not conclude the dialogue with the action, and avoid a narrative of events which the audience already knew.'--Johnson.

Shakspeare was led into this uninteresting narrative by following too closely The Tragical Hystory of Romeus and Juliet. In this poem (which is printed in the Variorum Editions of Shakspeare) the bodies of the dead are removed to a public scaffold; and from that elevation is the Friar's narrative delivered. The same circumstance is introduced in Hamlet near the conclusion.

Or,

That he should hither come as this dire night,
To help to take her from her borrow'd grave,
Being the time the potion's force should cease.
But he which bore my letter, Friar John,
Was staid by accident; and yesternight
Return'd

my

letter back: Then all alone,
At the prefixed hour of her waking,
Came I to take her from her kindred's vault;
Meaning to keep her closely at my cell,
Till I conveniently could send to Romeo:
But, when I came (some minute ere the time
Of her awakening), here untimely lay
The noble Paris, and true Romeo, dead.
She wakes; and I entreated her come forth,
And bear this work of heaven with patience:
But then a noise did scare me from the tomb;
And she, too desperate, would not go with me,
But (as it seems) did violence on herself.
All this I know: and to the marriage
Her nurse is privy: And, if aught in this
Miscarried by my fault,

let
my

old life Be sacrific’d, some hour before his time, Unto the rigour of severest law.

Prince. We still have known thee for a holy man. Where's Romeo's man? what can he say in this?

Bal. I brought my master news of Juliet's death; And then in post he came from Mantua. To this same place, to this same monument. This letter he early bid me give his father; And threaten'd me with death, going in the vault, If I departed not, and left him there.

Prince. Give me the letter, I will look on it.Where is the county's page, that rais'd the watch? Sirrah, what made your master in this place ? Page. He came with flowers to strew his lady's

grave;

And bid me stand aloof, and so I did:
Anon, comes one with light to ope the tomb;
And, by and by, my master drew on him;
And then I ran away to call the watch.
Prince. This letter doth make good the friar's

words,
Their course of love, the tidings of her death :
And here he writes—that he did buy a poison
Of a poor 'pothecary, and therewithal
Came to this vault to die, and lie with Juliet.-
Where be these enemies ? Capulet! Montague !-
See, what a scourge is laid upon your hate,
That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love!
And I, for winking at your discords too,
Have lost a brace of kinsmen 22 :—all are punish’d.

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 his lady lie;
Poor sacrifices of our enmity!
Prince. A glooming 23 peace this morning with it

brings; The sun for sorrow will not show his head: 22 Mercutio and Paris. Mercutio is expressly called the Prince's kinsman in Act iii. Sc. 4; and that Paris was also the Prince's kinsman, may be inferred from the following passages. Capulet, speaking of the count in the fourth act, describes him as ' a gentleman of princely parentage;' and after he is killed, Romeo says:

Let me peruse this face; Mercutio's kinsman, noble county Paris.' 23 The quarto of 1597 reads, ' A gloomy peace. To gloom is an ancient verb, used by Spenser and other old writers.

Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things;

Some shall be pardon’d, and some punished 24: For never was a story of more woe, Than this of Juliet and her Romeo 25. [Exeunt.

24 This line has reference to the poem from which the fable is taken; in which the Nurse is banished for concealing the marriage ; Romeo's servant set at liberty, because he had only acted in obedience to his master's orders; the Apothecary is hanged; while Friar Laurence was permitted to retire to a hermitage near Verona, where he ended his life in penitence and tranquillity.

25 Shakspeare in his revision of this play has not effected the alteration 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.' The concluding lines may have been formed on the last couplet of the old poem :

among the monuments that in Verona been,
There is no monument more worthy of the sight
Than is the tombe of Juliet and Romeus her knight.'

6

« PreviousContinue »