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say at once what thou dost know in this. Fri. I will be brief, for my short date of breath Is not so long as is a tedious tale. Romeo, there dead, was husband to that Juliet; And she, there dead, that Romeo's faithful wife : I married them; and their stolen marriage-day Was Tybalt's dooms-day, whose untimely death Banish'd the new-made bridegroom from this city ; For whom, and not for Tybalt, Juliet pin’d. You-to remove that siege of grief from her, Betroth'd, and would have married her perforce, To county Paris :--Then comes she to me; And, with wild looks, bid me devise some means To rid her from this second marriage, Or, in my cell there would she kill herself. Then gave I her, so tutor’d by my art, A sleeping potion; which so took effect As I intended, for it wrought on her The form of death : meantime I writ to Romeo, That he should hither come as this dire night, To help to take her from her borrow'd grave, Being the time the potion's force should cease. But he which bore my letter, friar John, Was staid by accident; and yesternight Return'd my letter back: Then all alone, At the prefixed hour of her waking, Came I to take her from her kindred's vault; Meaning to keep her closely at my cell, Till I conveniently could send to Romeo: But, when I came, (some minute ere the time Of her awakening,) here untimely lay The noble Paris, and true Romeo, dead. She wakes; and I entreated her come forth,
? I will be brief.] It is much to be lamented, that the poet did not conclude the dialogue with the action, and avoid a narrative of events which the audience already knew. JOHNSON.
And bear this work of heaven with patience :
Bal. I brought my master news of Juliet's death; And then in post he came from Mantua, To this same place, to this same monument. This letter he early bid me give his father ; And threaten'd me with death, going in the vault, If I departed not, and left him there,
Prince. Give me the letter, I will look on it. Where is the county's page, that rais'd the watch?-Sirrah, what made your master in this place? Page. He came with flowers to strew his lady's
grave; And bid me stand aloof, and so I did : Anon, comes one with light to ope the tomb; And, by and by, my master drew on him ; And then I ran away to call the watch. Prince. This letter doth make good the friar's
words, Their course of love, the tidings of her death : And here he writes--that he did buy a poison Of a poor 'pothecary, and therewithal Came to this vault to die, and lie with Juliet.Where be these enemies ? Capulet! Montague See, what a scourge is laid upon your hate, That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love! And I, for winking at your
Have lost a brace of kinsmen :-all are punish'd.
Cap. O, brother Montague, give me thy hand:
But I can give thee more:
Cap. As rich shall Romeo by his lady lie;
brings; The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head : Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things;
Some shall be pardon'd, and some punished :o For never was a story of more woe Than this of Juliet and her Romeo. [Exeunt.
8 Have lost a brace of kinsmen :] Mercutio and Paris: Mercutio is expressly called the prince's kinsman in Act III. sc. iv. and that Paris also was the prince's kinsman, may be inferred from other passages.
9 Some shall be pardon'd, and some punished:] This line has reference to the novel from which the fable is taken. Here we read that Juliet's female attendant was banished for concealing the marriage; Romeo's servant set at liberty because he had only acted in obedience to his master's orders; the apothecary taken, tortured, condemned, and hanged; while friar Laurence was permitted to retire to a hermitage in the neighbourhood of Verona, where he ended his life in penitence and tranquillity. STEEVENS. * This play is one of the most pleasing of our author's perform
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 Shakspeare 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 Shakspeare, that he was obliged to kill Mercutio in the third Act, lest he should have been killed by him. Yet he thinks him no such formidable person,
but that he might have lived through the play, and died in his bed, without danger to the poet. Dryden well knew, had he been in quest of truth, in a pointed sentence, that 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 Shakspeare 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 ductile to humour, but acute, argumentative, comprehensive, and sublime.
The Nurse is one of the characters in which the author delighted : he has, with great subtilty of distinction, drawn her at once loquacious and secret, obsequious and insolent, trusty and dishonest.
His comick scenes are happily wrought, but his pathetick strains are always polluted with some unexpected depravations. His persons, however distressed, have a conceit left them in their misery, a miserable conceit. * Johnson.
* This quotation is also found in the Preface to Dryden's Fables : “ Just John Littlewit in Bartholomew Fair, who had a conceit (as he tells you) left him in his misery; a miserable conceit.” STEEVENS.