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heart ; whereas Boisteau has it the same in this respect as we fiu it in the play. The earliest English version of the story, that has come down
is a poen entitled “ The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet," written ny Arthur Brooke, and published in 1562. This purports to be from the Italian of Bandello, hut the French of Boisteau was evidently made use of by Brooke, as his version agrees with the French in making the heroine's trance continue till after the death of her lover. In some respects, however, the poem is entitled to the rank of an original work; the author not tying himself strictly to any known authority, but giving something of freedom to his own invention. We say known authority, because in his prose introduction Brooke informs us that the tale had al. ready been put to work on the English stage. His words are as follows : « Though I saw the same argument lately set forth on the stage with more commendation than I can look for, yet the same matter, penned as it is, may serve to like good effect, if the readers do bring with them like good minds to consider it ; which bath the more encouraged me to publish it, such as it is."
The only ancient reprint of Brooke's poem known to us was made in 1587; though it was entered a second time at the Stationers' in 1582. Malone set forth an edition of it in 1780; and in our own time Mr. Collier has given a very careful and accurate reprint of it in his Shakespeare's Library. In sentiment, imagery, and versification, the poem has very considerable merit. It is written in rhyme, the lines consisting, alternately, of twelve and fourteen syllables. On the whole, it may rank among the best specimens we have of the popular English literature of that period; being not so remarkable for reproducing the faults of the time, as for rising above them.
Of Brooke himself very little is known. In a poetical adiress “ to the Reader,” prefixed to the Tragical History, he speaks of this as “my youthful work," and informs us that he had written other works in divers kinds of style.” We learn, also, from the body of the poem, that he was unmarried ; and in 1563 there came out « An Agreement of sundry Places of Scripture," by Arthur Brooke, with some verses prefixed by Thomas Brooke, informing us that the author had perished by shipwreck. George Turber. ville, also, in his Epitaphs and Epigrams, 1567, has one « On the Death of Master Arthur Brooke, drowned in passing to Newha. ven ;” and mentions the story of Romeus and Juliet as proving that he “ for metre did excel."
In 1567, five years after the date of Brooke's poem, a prose version of the same tale was published by William Paynter, in his Palace of Pleasure, a collection of stories made from divers sources, ancient and modern. Paynter calls it “ The goodly History of the true and constant love between Rbomeo and Julietta.” It is merely a lite al translation from the French of Boisteau, and by nu means skilfully done, at that; though even here the interesı of the tale is such as to triumph over the bungling rudeness of the translator. This version, also, has been lately reprinted by Mr. Collier in the work mentioned above.
These two are the only English forms, of an earlier date than the tragedy, in which the story has reached us. But the contemporary references to it are such and so many as to show ibat it must have stood very high in popular favour. For instance, a brief argument of the tale is given by Thomas Delapeend in his Pleasant Fable of Hermaphroditus and Salmacis, 1565 ; and Base nabe Rich, in bis Dialogue between Mercury and a Soldier, 1571, says that the story was so well known as to be represented on tapestry. Allusions to it are also found in The Gorgeous Gallery of Gallant Inventions, 1578; in A Poor Knight's Palace of Pri. vate Pleasure, 1579; and in Austin Saker's Narbonus, 1580. After this time, such notices become still more frequent and partic. ular; and the Stationers' books show an entry of “ A new Ballad of Romeo and Juliet,” by Edward White, in 1596 ; of which, how ever, nothing has been discovered in modern times.
This popularity was doubtless owing in a large measure to the use of the story in dramatic form. We have already found that Brooke had seen it on the stage before 1562. That so great and general a favourite should have been suffered to leave the boards after having once tried its strength there, is nowise probable : so that we may presume it to have been kept at hoine on the stage in one shape or another, till Shakespeare took it in hand, and so far eclipsed all who had touched it before, that their labours were left to perish.
Whether Shakespeare availed himself of any preceding drama on the subject, we are of course without the means of knowing. Nor, in fact, can we trace a connection between the tragedy and any other work except Brooke's poem. That he made considerable use of this, is abundantly certain, as may be seen from divers verbal resemblances set forth in our notes. That he was acquainted with Paynter's version, is indeed more than probable ; but we can discover no sign of bis having resorted to it for the maller of bis scenes, as the play has nothing in common with this, but what this also has in common with the poem. On the other hand, be. sides the verbal resemblances set forth in our notes, the play agrees with Brooke in divers particulars where Brooke differs from Payn
The strongest instance, perhaps, of this is in the part of the Nurse, which is considerably extended in the poem : especially, she there endeavours, as in the play, to persuade Juliet into the marriage with Paris; of which there is no trace in the prose version. Moreover, the character of the Nurse has in the poem a dash of original humour, approaching somewhat, though not much, towards the Poet's representation of her. As regards the inci. dents, the only differences worth noting between the poem and the play are in the death of Mercutio, and in the meeting of Romeu and Paris, and the death of the latter, at the tomb of Juliet.
The play was first printed in 1597, with a title-page reading as follows : “An excellent-conceited Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet : As it hat! been often. with great applause, played publicly, by the Right Honourable the Lord of Hunsdon his Servants. London : Printed by John Danter. 1597." Here we have one point worth special noting. Until the accession of James, the company to which Shakespeare belonged were, as we have repeatedly seen, called “the Lord Chamberlain's Servants.” Henry Lord HunsJon, Lori Chamberlain, died on the 22d of July, 1596. George, the successor to his title, did not immediately succeed to the office : this was conferred on Lord Cobham, who held it till his death, in March, 1597; and the new Lord Hunsdon did not become Lord Chamberlain till the 17th of April. It was only during this interval that the company in question were known as the Lord Hunsdon's Servants. Malone hence concludes that the play was first performed between July, 1596, and April, 1597 ; but this is by no means certain ; merely proves that the play was printed during that period : for, however the company may have been designated! at the first acting of the play, they would naturally have been spoken of in the title-page as the Lord Hunsdon's Servants, if they were so known at the time of the printing.
Another question, that may as well be disposed of here, is, whether the first issue of Romeo and Juliet was authentic and complete, as the play then stood; which question is best answered by Mr. Collier. « This edition," says he, “is in two different types, and was probably executed in haste by two different printers. It has been generally treated as an authorised impression from an authentic manuscript. Such, after the most careful examination, is not our opinion. We think that the manuscript used by the printer or printers was made up, partly from portions of the play as it was acted, but unduly obtained, and partly from notes taken at the theatre during representation. Our principal ground for this notion is, that there is such great inequality in different scenes and speeches, and in some places precisely that degree and kind of imperfectness, which would belong to manuscript prepared from defective short-hand notes. We do not of course go the length of contending that Shakespeare did not alter and improve the play, subsequent to its earliest production on the stage ; but merely that the quarto of 1597 does not contain the tragedy as it was originally represented.”
The next issue of the play was in a quarto pamphlet of 46 leaves, the title-page reading thus : “The most excellent and lam. entable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, newly corrected, augment. ed, and amended : As it hath been sundry times publicly acted by the Right Honourable the Lord Chamberlain his Servants. Loon. don : Printed by Thomas Creede for Cuthbert Burby, and are to be sold at his shop near the Exchange. 1599." There was a third quarto issue in 1609, which was merely a reprint of the foregoing. save that in the title-page we have, “acted by the King's Majesty's Servants at the Globe," and, “ Printed for John Smethwick, and are to be sold at his shop in St. Dunstau's Churchyard, in Fleet-street, under the Dial.” There was also a fourth edition in quarto, undated, but probably issued between 1609 and 1623. The folio of 1623 gives it as the fourth in the division of Tragedies, and without any marking of the acts and scenes, save that at the beginning we have, « Actus Primus. Scæna Prima." The folio, though omitting several passages found in the quarto of 1609, is shown, by the repetition of certain typographical errors, to have been printed from that copy. In our text, as in that of most modern editions, the quarto of 1599 is taken as the basis, and the other old copies drawn upon for the correction of errors, and sometimes for a choice of readings ; in both which respects the quarto of 1597 is of great value. Our variations from the second quarto are duly specified in the notes.
As may well be supposed, the second issue evinces a consider. ably stronger and riper authorship than the first; for of course the Poet would hardly proceed to rewrite the play until he thought that he could make important changes for the better. How much the play was “augmented” may be judged f•om the fact that in Steevens' reprint of the editions of 1597 and 1609, both of which are in the same volume and the same type, the first occupies only 73 pages, the other 99. The augmentations are much more im portant in quality than in quantity; and both these and the corrections show a degree of judgment and tact hardly consistent with the old notion of the Poet having been a careless writer ; though it is indeed much to be regretted that he did not carry his older and severer band into some parts of the play, which he left in their original state. In our notes will be found a few passages - especially Juliet's speech on taking the sleeping-draught, in Act iv. sc. 3, and Romeo's speech just before he swallows the poison, in Act v. sc. 3,- - as they stand in the quarto of 1597; from which the reader may form some judgment of the difference between the original and amended copies in respect of quality. The same may be said of Juliet's soliloquies in Act ii. sc. 5, and in Act iii. sc. 2; wbicb, particularly the latter, are comparatively nothing, as given in the first edition.
The date more commonly assigned for the writing of this tragedy is 1596. This is allowing only a space of about two years between the writing and rewriting of the play; and we fully agree with Knight and Verplanck, that the second edition shows such a measure of progress in judgment, in the cast of thought, and in dramatic power, as would naturally infer a much longer interval. And the argument derived from this circumstance is strengthened by another piece of internal evidence. The Nurse, in reckoning up the age of Juliet, has the following:
« On Lammas-eve at night shall she be fourtcen;
That shall she, marry: I remember it well.
For even the day before she broke ber brow." This passage was first pointed out by Tyrwhitt as probably re ferring to a very memorable event thus spoken of by the English chronicler of that period : “On the 6th of April, 1580, being Wednes. day in Easter week, about 6 o'clock toward evening, a sudden earthquake happening in London, and almost generally throughout all England, caused such amazedness among the people as was wonderful for the time.” There are indeed discrepancies in what the Nurse says, that more or less dash the certainty of the allusion. First, she says that Juliet was not weaned, then, proud of “bear. ing a brain,” gets entangled in her reminiscent garrulity, and at Jast lies up in the remembrance that she could talk and “ waddle all about;" but yet she sticks to the “ eleven years." It is not so much, therefore, to what was in ber thoughts, as to what was in theirs for whom the speech was written, that we must look for the bearing of the allusion.
Now, at the time of the event in question, the great clock at Westminster, and divers other clocks and bells struck of themselves with the shaking of the earth : the lawyers supping in the Teinple ran from their tables and out of the halls, with the knives in their hands : the people assembled at the theatres rushed forth into the fields, Jest the galleries should fall : the roof of Christ church near Newgate-market was so shaken, that a stone dropped out of it, killi two persons, it being sermon time : chimneys were toppled down, and houses shattered. All which circumstances were well adapted to keep the event fresh in popular remembrance; and it was with this remembrance, most likely, that the Poet main ly concerned himself. We give the rest of the argument in the words of Knight: “Shakespeare knew the double world in which an excited audience lives; the balf belief in the world of poetry amongst which they are placed during a theatrical representation, and the half consciousness of the external world of their ordinary life. The ready disposition of every audience to make a tran. sition from the scene befcre them to the scene in which they ordi