« ElőzőTovább »
Printed Complete from the TEXT of
And revised from the last Editions.
when Learning's triumph o'er her barb'rous foes
Lond ON :
on THE jFabit AND Composition of
ROMEO and 7 ULIET.
To . story on which this play is founded, is related as a true one in Girolamo de la Corte's History of Verona. It was originally published by an anonymous Italian novelist in 1549 at Wenice; and again in 1553, at the same place. The first edition of Bandello's work appeared a year later than the last of these already mentioned. Pierre Boisteau copied it with alterations and additions. Belleforest adopted it in the first volume of his colle&tion, 1596; but very probably some edition of it yet more ancient had found its way abroad ; as, in this improved state, it was translated into English, and published in an octavo volume 1562, but without a name. On this occasion it appears in the form of a poem entitled, The tragicall Historie of Romeus and juliet. It was republished in 1587, under the same title: “Contayning in it a rare Example of true Constancie : with the subtill Counsels and Prattices of an old Fryer, and their Event. Imprinted by R. Robinson.” “Among the entries on the Books of the Stationer's Company, I find Feb. 18, 1582. “ M. Tottell] Romeo and juletta.” ‘Again, Aug. 5, 1596: “Edward White] a new ballad of Romeo and juliett.” The same story is found in The Palace of Pleasure: however, Shakspere was not entirely indebted to Painter's epitome; but rather to the poem already mentioned.
A ij Stanyhurst, Stanyhurst, the translator of Virgil in 1582, entimerates Jūlietta among his heroines, in a piece which he calls an Epitaph, or Commune "Defunétorum: and it appears (as Dr. Farmer has observed), from a passage in Ames's Typographical Antiquities, that the story had likewise been translated by another hand. • Captain Breval, in his Travels tells us, that he saw at Verona the tomb of these unhappy lovers. St E evens. This play is one of the most pleasing of our author's performances. The scenes are busy and various, the incidents numerous and important, the catastrophe irresistibly affecting, and the process of the action carried on with such probability, at least with such congruity to popular opinions, as ‘tragedy requires. - ,- Here is one of the few attempts of Shakspere to exhibit the conversation of gentlemen, to represent the airy sprightliness of juvenile elegance. Mr. Dryden mentions a tradition, which might easily reach his time, of a declaration made by Shakspere, that he was obliged to kill Mercutio in the third ači, lest he jhould have been killed by bim. Yet he thinks him no such Jormidable person, but that he might have lived through the play, and died in his bed, without danger to a poet. Dryden well knew, had he been in quest of truth, that, in a pointed sentence, more regard is commonly had to the words than the thought, and that it is very seldom to be rigorously understood. Mercutio’s wit, gaiety, and courage, will always procure him friends that wish him a longer life; but his death is not precipitated: he has lived out the time allotted him in the construction of the play; nor do I doubt the ability of Shakspere to have continued his existence, though some of his sallies are perhaps out of the reach of Dryden; whose genius was not very fertile of merriment, nor dućtile to humour, but acute, argumentative, comprehensive, and sublime. , • - * The The Nurse is one of the chara&ters in which the author delighted : he has, with great subtilty of distinétion, drawn her at once loquacious and secret, obsequious and insolent, trusty and dishonest.
His comic scenes are happily wrought, but his pathetic strains are always polluted with some unexpeated depravations. His persons, however distressed, have a conceit left them is their misery, a miserable conceit. Johnson.
Th; 0 households, both alike in dignity,