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IN FIVE ACTS;
BY WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE.
AS PERFORMED AT THE THEATRES ROYAL,
DRURY LANE AND COVENT GARDEN.
PRINTED UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF THE MANAGERS
FROM THE PROMPT BOOK.
BY MRS. INCHBALD.
PRINTED FOR LONGMAN, HURST, REES, AND ORME,
The fable of this admired tragedy, however romantic it may appear, is founded on real events, which took place in Verona, at the beginning of the fourteenth century.
Mr. Malone says, that " Breval, in his travels, on a strict inquiry into the histories of Verona, found, that Shakspeare had varied very little from the truth, either in the names, characters, or other circumstances of this play."
Such an extraordinary and affecting story as that of Romeo and Juliet soon became the subject of poems, novels, and other literary works, all over Italy, and from thence found its way into other countries.
A poem, from this little Italian history, by Mr. Arthur Brooke, is supposed to have been the production from whence Shakspeare formed the present drama.
The following title, according to the fashion of those distant days, was affixed to that poem :
"The tragical History of Romeus and Juliet, containing a rare Example of true Constancie: with the subtill Counsels and Practices of an old Fryer, and their ill Event."
Shakspeare has produced, from this "Tragical History," one of his most admirable plays: Yet, had the subject fallen to Otway's pen, though he would have treated it less excellently, he would haye rendered it more affecting.
"Romeo and Juliet" is called a pathetic tragedy, but it is not so in reality. It charms the understanding, and delights the imagination, without melting, though it touches, the heart.
The reason that an auditor or reader cannot feel a powerful sympathy in the sorrows of these fervent lovers is, because they have witnessed the growth of their passion from its birth to its maturity, and do not honour it with that warmth of sentiment as if they had conceived it to have been of longer duration; fixed by time, and rendered more tender by familiarity.
The ardour of the youthful pair, like the fervency of children, gives high amusement, without much anxiety that their wishes should be accomplished— they have been so suddenly enamoured of each other, that it seems matter of doubt whether they would not as quickly have fallen in love a second time, or as soon have become languid through satiety, if all obstacles to their bliss had been removed. Shakspeare has shown himself versed in the passion of love beyond other dramatists, by giving it this wild, vehement, yet childish tendency.
The illustrious author of this drama well knew, that the passion of love, in the young, is seldom constant, as poets describe it, but fickle as violent. In his just