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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 Smelliwick, and are to be sold at his shop in St. Dunstan's Churchyard, in Fleet-streel, 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 Trage. dies, and without any marking of the acts and scenes, save that at the beginning we have, “ Actus Primus. Scena Prima." The folio, though omirting 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 from 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 hand 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 Aci v. sc, 3, -as they stand in the quarto of 1597; from which he reader may form some judgment of the difference between the original and amended copies in respect of quality. The same may e said of Juliet's soliloquies in Aci ii. sc. 5, and in Act ii. sc. 2; bich, particularly the latter, are comparatively nothing, as given I the first edition.
The date more commonly assigned for the writing of this trage. pis 1596. This is allowing only a space of about two years itween the writing and rewriting of the play; and we fully agree 'th Knight and Verplanck, that the second edition show's such a kasure of progress in judgment, in the cast of thought, and in amatic power, as would naturally infer a much longer interval. ld the argument derived from this circumstance is strengthened by another piece of internal evidence. The Norse, in reckoning up the age of Juliet, has the following:
« On Lammas-eve at nighi shall she be fourtcen ;
That shall she, marry: I remember it well.
For even the day before she broke her brow." This passage was first pointed out by Tyrwhitt as probably re. ferring to a very memorable event thus spoken of hy 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 sucb amazedness among the people as was wonderful for the time.” There are indeed discrepancies in wbat the Nurse says, that more or less dash the certainty of tbe allusion. First, she says that Juliet was not weaned, then, proud of “bear. ing a brain," gets entangled in her reminiscent garrulity, and at last ties 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 wrillen, 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 Temple 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, lest the galleries should fall : the roof of Christ church near Newgate-market was so shaken, that a stone dropped out of it, killing two persons, it being sermon time : chimneys were imppled down, and houses shattered. All which circumstance were well adapted to keep the event fresh in popular remembrance and it was with this remembrance, most likely, that the Poet mair ly concerned himself. We give the rest of the argument in ih words of Knight: “Shakespeare knew the double world in whia an excited audience lives; the half belief in the world of poety amongst which ibey are placed during a theatrical representatia, and the balf consciousness of the external world of their ordinay life. The ready disposition of every audience to make a tra sition from the scene besc re them to the scene in which they oir
narily move, is perfectly well known to all who are acquainted with the machinery of the drama. In the case before us, even if Shakespeare had not this principle in view, the association of the Englisli earthquake must have been strongly in his mind, when he made the Nurse date from an earthquake. Without reference to the circumstance of Juliet's age, he would naturally, dating from the earthquake, have made the date refer to the period of his writing the passage, insi ad of the period of Juliet's being weaned. But, according to the Nurse's chronology, Juliet had not arrived at that epoch in the lives of children, till she was three years old. The very contradiction shows that Shakespeare l'ad another ob. ject in view than that of making the Nurse's chronology tally with the age of her nursling."
This of course would throw the original writing of the play back to the year 1591, or thereabouts, and so give ample time for the growth of mind indicated by the additions and improvements of ihe second issue. However, we do not regard the argument from the Nurse's speech as conclusive; for, even granting the Poet to have had his thoughts on the particular earthquake in question, it does not follow that he would have made the Nurse perfectly accurate in her reckoning of time. It may be worth observing, in this connection, that there appears some little remembrance, one way or the other, between the play and Daniel's Complaint of Rosamond, published in 1592. The passage from Daniel is given in Aci v. sc. 3, note 7; so that it need not be quoted here. It will be seen, from the preceding note, that, except in one slight particular, the resemblances both of thought and expression are not found in the oldest copy of the play. Nor even in that particular is the resemblance so close as to inser any more acquaintance than might well enough have been formed by the ear; and Daniel was a man of theatrical tastes. So that this does not necessarily make against 1591 as Shakespeare's true date; though whether Daniel first improved upon bim, and then he upon Daniel, or whether the original writing of the play was not till atter the printing of the poem, cannot with certainty be affirmed.
At all events, we are quite satisfied, from many, though for the most part undefinable, tricks of style, that the tragedy in its origibal state was produced somewhere between 1591 and 1595. The cast of bought and imagery, but especially the large infusion, not to sa' preponderance, of the lyrical element, naturally associates it is the same stage of art and authorship which gave us A Mid. summer-Night's Dream. The resemblance of the two plays in these respects is too strong and clear, we think, to escape any studious eye, well-practised in discerning the Poet's different styles. And a diligent comparison of Romeo and Juliet with, for example, the poetical scenes in the First Part of King Henry IV., which was published in 1598, will suffice for the conclusion that the former must have been written several years before the latter
We have seen that nearly all the incidents of the trage iy were borrowed, the Poet's invention herein being confined to the duel of Mercutio and Tybalt, and the meeting of Romeo and Paris at the tomh. In the older English versions of the story, there is a general fight between the partizans of the two houses; when, after many have heen killed and wounded on both sides, Romeo comes in, tries in vain to appease with gentle words the fory of Tybalt, and at last kills him in self-defence. What a vast gain of dramatic life and spirit is made by Shakespeare's change in this point, is too obvious to need insisting on. Much of a certain amiable grace, also, is reflected upon Paris from the circumstances that occasion his death; and the character of the heroine is proportionably raised by the beauty and pathos thus shed around her second lover; there being, in the older versions, a cold and selfish policy in his love-making, which dishonours both himself and the object of it. The; licious bent of the Poet's invention is the more apparent in these particulars, that in the others be did but reproduce what he found in Brooke's poem. Moreover, the inci. dents, throughout, are disposed and worked out with all imagi. nable skill for dramatic effect; so that what was before a compar. atively lymphatic and lazy narrative is made redundant of ani. mation and interest.
In respect of character, too, the play has little of formal originality beyond Mercutio and the Nurse ; though all are indeed set forth with a depth and vigour and clearess of delineation to which the older versions of the tale can make no pretension. It scarce need be said, that the two characters named are, in the Poet's workmanship, as different as can well be conceived from any thing that was done 10 bis hand. But what is most worthy of remark, here, is, that he just inverts the relation between the incidents and the characterisation, using the former merely to suppurt the latter, instead of being supported by it. Before, the persons served but as a sort of frame-work for the story; here, the story is made to serve but as canvas for the portrailure of char. Acter. So that, notwithstanding the large borrowing, of incident and character, the play, as a whole, has eminently the staip of an original work; and, which is more, an acquaintance with the sources drawn upon nowise diminishes our impression of its originality.
Before proceeding further, we must make some abatements from the indiscriminate praise which this drama has of late received. For criticism, in its natural and just reaction from the mechanical methods formerly in vogue, has run to the opposite extreme of unreserved special.pleading, and of buning out of nature after reasons for ungualitied approval; by which course il stultifies itself without really helping the subject. Now, we cannot deny, and care not to disguise, that in several places this play is sally blemished with ingenious and elaborate adiectaticus. We refer not now to the conceits which Romeo indulges in so freely before his meeting with Juliet ; for, in his then state of mind, such self centred and fantastical eddyings of thought may be not altogether without reason, as proceeding not from genuinc passion, but rather from the want of it: he may be excused for playing with these little smoke-wreaths of fancy, forasmuch as the true dame is not yet kindled in his heart. But, surely, this excuse will not serve for those which are vented so profusely by the heroine eren in her most impassioned moments; as, especially, in her dialogue with the Nurse in the second scene of Act iii. Yet Knight boldly justifies these, calling them “the results of strong emotion, seeking to relieve itself by a violent effort of the intellect, that the will may recover its balance.” Which is either a piece of forced and far-fetched attorneyship, or else it is too deep for our comprehension. No, no! these things are plain disfigure. ments and blemishes, and criticism will best serve its proper end by calling them so. And if there be any sufficient apology for them, doubtless it is this, — That they grew from the general custom and conventional pressure of the time, and were written before the Poet had by practice and experience worked himself above these into the original strength aud rectitude of his genius. Aud we submit, that any unsophisticated criticism, however broad and liberal, will naturally regard them as the effects of imitation, not of mental character, because they are pluinly out of keeping with the general style of the piece, and strike against the grain of the sentiment which that style inspires.
Bating certain considerable drawbacks on this score, - and the fault disappears after Act iii., — the play gives the impression of having been all conceived and struck out in the full beat and glow of youthful passion; as if the Poet's genius were for the time thoroughly possessed with the spirit and temper of the subject, so that every thing becomes touched with its efficacy; - while at the same time the passion, though carried to the utmost intensily, is every where so pervaded with the light and grace of imagination, that it kindles but to ennoble and exalt. For richness of poetical colouring, - poured out with lavish band indeed, but yet so managed as not to interfere either with the development of character or the proper dramatic effect, but rather to heighten them both, it may challenge a comparison with any of the Poet's dramas.
It is this intense passion, acting through the imagination, that gives to the play its remarkable unity of effect. On this point, Coleridge has spoken with such rare felicity that his words ought always to go with the subject. «• That law of unity," says he, " which has its foundations, not in the factitious necessity of cus tom, but in nature itself, the unity of seeling, is everywhere and at all times observed by Shakespeare in his plays. Read Romeo and Juliet :- all is youth and spring ; - youth with its follies, its virtues, ils precipitancies ; - spring with its odours, its flowers