Page images
PDF
EPUB

The wretch by covetise is wonne, and doth assent
To sell the thing, whose sale ere long, too late, he doth repent.
In haste he poyson sought, and closely he it bounde,
And then began with whispering voyce thus in his eare to

rounde: “ Fayr syr, quoth he, be sure this is the speding gere, And more there is than you shall nede; for haife of that is there Will serve, I undertake, in lesse than halte an howre To kill the strongest man alive; such is the poysons power.”

Then Romeus, som what easd of one part of his care, Within his bosome putteth up his dere unthrifty ware. Retoorning home agayne, he sent bis man away, To Verone towne, and chargeth him that he, without delay, Provyde both instruments to open wide the toombe, And lightes to shew him Juliet; and stay, till he shall comme, Nere to the place whereas his loving wife doth rest, And chargeih him not to bewray the dolours of his brest. Peter, these heard, bis leave doth of his master take; Betimes he commes to towne, such hast the painfull man dyd

make: And then with busy care be seeketh to fulfill, But doth disclose unto no wight his wofull masters will. Would God, he had herein broken his masters hest! Would God, that to the frier he had disclosed all his brest! But Romeus the while with many a dedly thought Provoked much, hath caused inke and paper to be brought, And in few lines he did of all his love dyscoorse, How by the friers helpe, and by the knowledge of the noorse, The wedlocke knot was knit, and by what meane that night And many moe he did enjoy his happy harts delight; Where he the poyson bought, and how his lyfe should ende; And so bis wailefull tragedy the wretched man hath pend.

The letters closd and seald, directed to his syre,
He locketh in his purse, and then a post-hors doth he hyre.
When he approched nere, he warely lighted downe,
And even with the shade of night he entred Verone towne;
Where he hath found his man, wayting when he should comme,
With lanterne, and with instruments to open Juliets toomme.
Helpe Peter, helpe, quod he, helpe to remove the stone,
And straight when I am gone fro thee, my Juliet to bemone,
See that thou get thee hence, and on the payne of death
I charge thee that thou comine not nere while I abyde beneath,
Ne seeke thou not to let thy masters enterprise,
Which he hath fully purposed to doe, in any wise.
Take there a letter, which, as soon as he shall ryse,
Present it in the morning to my loving fathers eyes;
Which unto him perhaps farre pleasanter shall seeme,
Than eyther I do mynd to say, or thy grose head can deeme.

Now Peter, that knew not the purpose of bis hart,
Obediently a little way withdrewe himselfe apart;
And then our Romeus, the vault stone set up upright,
Descended downe, and in his hand he bare the candle light.

And then with piteous eye the body of his wyfe
He gan behold, who surely was the organ of his lyfe;
Por whom unhappy now he is, but erst was blyst;
He watred her with teares, and then a hundred times her kyst;
And in his folded armes full straightly he her plight,
But no way could his greedy eyes be filled with her sight:
His fearfull handes he layde upon her stomach colde,
And them on diverse parts besyde the wofull wight did hold.
But when he could not fynd the signes of lyfe he sought,
Out of his cursed box he drewe the poyson that he bought;
Whereof he gredely devowrde the greater part,
And then he cryde, with dedly sigh fetcht from his mourning

hart-
“Oh Juliet, of whom the world unworthy was,
From which, for worldes unworthines thy worthy gost did passe,
What death more pleasant could my hart wish to abyde
Then that which here it suffreth now, so nere thy frendly syde?
Or els so glorious tombe how could my youth have craved,
As in one selfe same vaulte with thee haply to be ingraved ?
What epitaph more worth, or halfe so excellent,
To consecrate my memorye, could any man invent,
As this our mutual and our piteous sacrifice
Of lyfe, set light for love?”—but while he talketh in this wise,
And thought as yet a while his dolours to enforce,
His tender hart began to faynt, prest with the venoms force;
Which little and little gan to overcomme his hart,
And whilst his busy evne he threwe about to every part,
He saw, hard by the corce of sleping Juliet,
Bold Tybalts carkas dead, which was not all consumed yet.
To whom, as having life, in this sort speaketh he:
“Ah cosin dere, Tybalt, where so thy restles sprite now be,
With stretched bandes to thee for mercy now I crye,
For that before thy kindly howre I forced thee to dye.
But if with quenched lyfe not quenched be thine yre,
But with revengeing lust as vet thy hart be set on fyre,
What more amendes, or cruell wreake desyrest thou
To see on me, then this wbich here is shewd forth to thee now?
Who reft by force of armes from thee thy loving breath,
The same with his owne hand, thou seest, dost poyson himselfe

to death And for he caused thee in tombe too soone to lye Too soone also, yonger then thou, himselfe he layeth by.These sayd, when he gan feele the poysons force prevayle, And little and little mastred lyfe for aye began to fayle, Kneeling upon his knees, he said with voyce full lowe, “ Lord Christ, that so to raunsome me descendedst long agoe Out of thy fathers bosome, and in the virgins wombe Didst put on feshe, oh let my plaint out of this hollow toombe, Perce through the ayre, and graunt my sute may favour finde; Take pity on my sinneful and my poore affected mynde! For well enough I know, this body is but clay, Nought but a masse of sinne, to frayle, and subject to decay.”

corse.

Then pressed with extreme greefe he threw with so great force
His overpressed parts upon his ladies wayled corse,
That now his weakened hart, weakened with tormentes past,
Unable to abyde this pang, the sharpest and the last,
Remayned quite deprived of sense and kindly strength,
And so the long imprisoned soule hath freedome wonne at length.
Ah cruell death, too soone, 100 soone was this devorce,
Twixt youthfull Romeus heavenly sprite, and his fayre earthy

The fryer that knew what time the powder had been taken,
Knew eke the very instant when the sleper should awaken;
But wondring that he could no kinde of aunswer heare,
Of letters which to Romeus his fellow fryer did beare,
Out of Saint Frauncis church hymselfe alone dvd fare,
And for the opening of the tombe meete instrumentes he bare.
Approching nigh the place, and seeing there the light,
Great horror felt hie in his hart, by straunge and sodaine sight;
Till Peter, Romeus man, his coward hart made bolde,
When of his mas:ers being there the certain newes he tolde:
There bath he been, quoth he, this halfe howre at the least,
And in this time, I dare well say, his plaint hath still increast.”
Then both the entered in, where they alas ! dyd fynde
The bretheles corps of Romeus, forsaken of the mynde;
Where they have made such mone, as they may best conceve,
That have with perfect frendship loved, whose frend feerce death

dvd reve But whilst with piteous playnt they Romeus fate bewepe, An howre too late fayre Juliet awaked out of slepe ;*

* In the original Italian Novel Juliet awakes from her trance before the death of Romeo. Shakspeare has been arraigned for departing from it, and losing so happy an opportunity of introducing an affecting scene. He was misled, we see, by the piece now before us. The curious reader may perhaps not be displeased to compare the conclusion of this celebrated story as it stands in the Giulietta of Luigi da Porto, with the present poem. It is as follows:

“So favourable was fortune to this his last purpose, that on the evening of the day subsequent to the lady's funeral, undiscovered by any, he entered Verona, and there awaited the coming of night; and now perceiving that all was silent, he betook himself to the monastery of the Minor Friars, where was the vault. The church, where these monks then dwelt, was in the citadel, though since, for what reason I know not, they have transferred their ha. bitation to the Borgo di S. Zeno, in that place which is now called Santo Bernardino; yet is it certain that their former mansion had been inhabited by Saint Francis himself. Near the walls of this church, on the outside, were at that time certain buildings, such as we usually see adjoining to churches, one of which was the ancient sepulcher of the Capelletti family, and in this the fair damsel had been deposited. At this place, about four hours after mid

And much amasde to see in tombe so great a light,
She wist not if she saw a dreame, or sprite that walkd by night.

night, Romeo being arrived, and having, as a man of superior strength, by force raised the stone which covered the vault, and, with certain wedges, which he had brought with him for that purpose, having so prop'd it that it could not be fastened down con. trary to his desire, he entered, and reclosed the entrance.

“The unhappy youth, that he might behold his lady, had brought with him a dark lantern, which, after closing the vault, he drew forth, and opened; and there, amidst the bones and fragments of many dead bodies, he beheld the fair Julietta lying as if dead. Whence suddenly breaking out into a flood of tears, he thus began: O eyes, which, while it pleased the Heavens, were to my eyes the brightest lights! O lips, by me a thousand times so sweetly kissed, and from whence were heard the words of wisdom! O beauteous breast, in which my heart rejoiced to dwell! where do I now find you, blind, mute, and cold? how without you do I see, do I speak, do I live? Alas, my miserable lady, whither hast thou been conducted by that love, whose will it now is that this narrow space shall both destroy and lodge two wretched lo. vers! Ah me! an end like this my hope promised not, nor that desire which first inflamed me with love for you! O unfortunate life, why do I support you ? and so saying, he covered with kisses her eyes, her lips, her breast, bursting every instant into more abundant lamentation; in the midst of which he cried, O, ye walls, which hang over me, why do you not render my life still more short by crushing me in your ruin? But since death is at all times in our power, it is dastardly to desire it, and not to snatch it: and, with these words, he drew forth from his sleeve the vial of deadly poison, which he had there concealed, and thus proceed. ed: I know not what destiny conducts me to die in the midst of my enemies, of those by me slain, and in their sepulcher; but since, O my soul, thus near my love it delights us to die, here let us die! and, approaching to his lips the mortal draught, he re. ceived it entire into his bosom; when embracing the beloved Maid, and strongly straining her to his breast, he cried, -O thou beauteous body, the utmost limit of all my desires, if, after the soul is departed, any sentiment yet remains in you, or, if that soul now beholds my cruel fate, let it not be displeasing to you, that, unable to live with you joyfully and openly, at the least I should die with you sadly and secretly;—and holding the body straitly embraced, he awaited death.

“The hour was now arrived, when by the natural heat of the damsel the cold and powerful effects of the powder should have been overcome, and when she should awake; and accordinglya embraced and violently agitated by Romeo, she awoke in his arms, and, starting into life, after a heavy sigh, she cried, Alas, where am I? who is it thus embraces me? by whom am. I thus kissed? and, believing it was the Frier Lorenzo, she exclaimed, Do you thus, friar, keep your faith with Romeo? is is thws you

s

But cumming to her selfe she knew them, and said thus :
“ What, fryer Lawrence, is it you? where is my Romeus?”

safely conduct me to him? Romeo, perceiving the lady to be alive, wondered exceedingly, and thinking perhaps on Pigmalion, he said, Do you not know me, O my sweet lady? see you not that I am your wretched spouse, secretly and alone come from Mantua to perish by you? Julietta seeing herself in the monument, and perceiving that she was in the arms of one who called himself Romeo, was well nigh out of her senses, and pushing him a little from her, and gazing on his face, she instantly knew him, and embracing gave him a thousand kisses, saying, What folly has excited you, 'with suchı imminent danger, to enter here? Was it not suffi. cient to have understood by my letters how I had contrived, with the help of Friar Lorenzo, to feign death, and that I should shortly have been with you? The unhappy youth, then perceiving his fatal mistake, thus began: O miserable lot! O wretched Romeo! 0, by far the most afflicted of all lovers! On this subject never have I received your letters! and he then proceeded to inform her how Pietro had given him intelligence of her pretended death, as if it had been real, whence, believing her dead, he had, in or. der to accompany her, in death, even there close by her, taken the poison, which, as most subtile, he already felt, had sent forth death through all his limbs.

“ The unfortunate damsel hearing this, remained so overpowered with grief, that she could do nothing but tear her lovely locks, and beat and bruise her innocent breast; and at length to Romeo, who already lay supine, kissing him ofien, and pouring over him a flood of tears, more pale than ashes, and trembling all over, she thus spoke: Must you then, 0, lord of my heart, must you tben die in my presence, and through my means! and will the heavens permit that I should survive you, though but for a moment? Wretched me! O, that I could at least transfer my life to you, and die alone!-- to which, with a languid voice, the youth replied: If ever my faith and my love were dear to you, live, ( my best hope! by these I conjure you, that after my death, life should not be displeasing to you, if for no other reason, at least that you may think on him, who, penetrated with passion, for your sake, and before your dear eyes, now perishes! To this the damsel answered: If for my pretended death you now die, what ought / to do for yours which is real? It only grieves me that here, in your presence, I have not the means of death, and, inasmuch as I survive you, I detest myself! yet still will I hope that ere long, as I have been the cause, so shall I be the companion of your death: And, baving with difficulty spoken these words, she fainted, and, again returning to life, busied herself in sad endeavours to gather with her sweet lips the extreme breath of her dearest lover, who now hastily approached his end.

“ In this interval Friar Lorenzo had been informed how and when the dams I had drimk the potion, as alse that mpen a supe

« PreviousContinue »