Page images
PDF
EPUB

heard the name of Shakspere. To the legend only is the blighted place appropriate. For who that has ever been thoroughly imbued with the story of Juliet, as told by Shakspere,—who that has heard his "glorious song of praise on that inexpressible feeling which ennobles the soul and gives to it its highest sublimity, and which elevates even the senses themselves into soul,” *who that, in our great poet's matchless delineation of Juliet's love, has perceived "whatever is most intoxicating in the odour of a southern spring, languishing in the song of the nightingale, or voluptuous on the first opening of the rose,"†—who, indeed, that looks upon the tomb of the Juliet of Shakspere, can see only a shapeless ruin amidst wildness and desolation?

6

"A grave? O, no: a lantern,

For here lies Juliet, and her beauty makes

This vault a feasting presence full of light.”

In 'Romeo and Juliet' the principle of limiting the pathetic according to the degree in which it is calculated to produce emotions of pleasure, is interwoven with the whole structure and conduct of the play. The tragical part of the story, from the first scene to the last, is held in subjection to the beautiful. It is not only that the beautiful comes to the relief of the tragic, as in "Lear' and Othello,' but here the tragic is only a mode of exhibiting the beautiful under its most striking aspects. Shakspere never intended that the story of Romeo and Juliet' should lacerate the heart. When Mrs. Inchbald, therefore, said, in her preface to the acted play, "Romeo and Juliet' is called a pathetic tragedy, but it is not so in reality-it charms the understanding and + Ibid.

A. W. Schlegel's Lectures.

[ocr errors]

delights the imagination, without melting, though it touches, the heart," she paid the highest compliment to Shakspere's skill as an artist, for he had thoroughly worked out his own idea.

Coleridge has described the homogeneousness-the totality of interest—which is the great characteristic of this play, by one of those beautiful analogies which could only proceed from the pen of a true poet :

"Whence arises the harmony that strikes us in the wildest natural landscapes,—in the relative shapes of rocks, the harmony of colours in the heaths, ferns, and lichens, the leaves of the beech and the oak, the stems and rich brown branches of the birch and other mountain trees, varying from verging autumn to returning spring, compared with the visual effect from the greater number of artificial plantations?-From this, that the natural landscape is effected, as it were, by a single energy modified ab intra in each component part. And as this is the particular excellence of the Shaksperian drama generally, so is it especially characteristic of the 'Romeo and Juliet.'"*

Schlegel carried out the proofs of this assertion in an Essay on 'Romeo and Juliet';† in which, to use his own words, he "went through the whole of the scenes in their order, and demonstrated the inward necessity of each with reference to the whole; showed why such a particular circle of characters and relations was placed around the two lovers; explained the signification of the mirth here and there scattered; and justified the use of the occasional heightening given to the poetical Literary Remains, vol. ii. p. 150. +Charakteristiken und Kritiken.

[ocr errors]

colours." Schlegel wisely did this to exhibit what is more remarkable in Shakspere than in any other poet, "the thorough formation of a work, even in its minutest part, according to a leading idea-the dominion of the animating spirit over all the means of execution." The general criticism of Schlegel upou Romeo and Juliet' is based upon a perfect comprehension of this great principle upon which Shakspere worked. The following is the close of a celebrated passage upon 'Romeo and Juliet,' which has often heen quoted ;-but it is altogether so true and so beautiful, that we cannot resist the pleasure of circulating it still more widely :

"Whatever is most intoxicating in the odour of a southern spring, languishing in the song of the nightingale, or voluptuous on the first opening of the rose, is breathed into this poem. But, even more rapidly than the earliest blossoms of youth and beauty decay, it hur ries on from the first timidly-bold declaration of love and modest return, to the most unlimited passion, to an irrevocable union; then, amidst alternating storms of rapture and despair, to the death of the two lovers, who still appear enviable as their love survives them, and as by their death they have obtained a triumph over every separating power. The sweetest and the bitterest, love and hatred, festivity and dark forebodings, tender embraces and sepulchres, the fulness of life and self-annihilation, are all here brought close to each other; and all these contrasts are so blended in the harmonious and wonderful work into a unity of impression, that the echo which the whole leaves behind in the mind resembles a single but endless sigh."‡

• Lectures.

+ Ibid.

Ibid.

PERSONS REPRESENTED.

ESCALUS, Prince of Verona.

Appears, Act I. sc. 1. Act III. sc. 1. Act V. sc. 3. PARIS, a young nobleman, kinsman to the Prince. Appears, Act I. sc. 2. Act III. sc. 4. Act IV. sc. 1; sc. 5. Act V. sc. 3.

MONTAGUE, head of a house, at variance with the house of Capulet.

Appears, Act III. sc. 1.

Act V. sc. 3.

CAPULET, head of a house, at variance with the
house of Montague.

Appears, Act I. sc. 1; sc. 2; sc. 5. Act III. sc. 1; sc. 4; sc. 3.
Act IV. sc. 2; sc. 4; sc. 5. Act V. sc. 3.
An old Man, uncle to Capulet.
Appears, Act I. sc. 5.

Appears, Act I.

sc. 3; sc. 4; sc. 1; sc. 3.

ROMEO, son to Montague.

sc. 1; sc. 2: sc. 4; sc. 5. Act II. sc. 1; sc. 2. sc. 6. Act III. sc. 1; sc. 3; sc. 5. Act V.

MERCUTIO, kinsman to the Prince, and friend to Romeo.
Appears, Act I. sc. 4. Act II. sc. 1; sc. 4. Act III. sc. 1.
BENVOLIO, nephew to Montague, and friend to Romeo.
Appears, Act I. sc. 1; sc. 2; sc. 4; sc. 5. Act II. sc. 1; sc. 4.
Act III. sc. I.

TYBALT, nephew to Lady Capulet.
Appeurs, Act I. sc. 1; sc. 5. Act III. sc. i.

FRIAR LAURENCE, a Franciscan.

Appears, Act II. sc. 3; sc. 6. Act III. sc. 3. Act IV. sc. 1;

sc. 5. Act V. sc. 2; sc. 3.

FRIAR JOHN, a Franciscan.
Appears, Act V. sc. 2.

BALTHASAR, servant to Romeo.

Appears, Act I. sc. 1. Act V. sc. 1; sc. 3.

SAMPSON, servant to Capulet.
Appears, Act I. sc. 1.

GREGORY, servant to Capulet.
Appears, Act I. sc. 1.

ABRAM, servant to Montague.
Appears, Act I. sc. 1.
An Apothecary.
Appears, Act V. sc. 1.
Three Musicians,
Appear, Act IV. sc. 5.

Chorus.
Appears, Act I.
Boy.

Appears, Act III. sc. 1.
Page to Paris.

Appears, Act V. sc. 3.
PETER.

Appears, Act II. sc. 4; sc. 5. Act IV. sc. 5.
An Officer.

Appears, Act III. sc. 1.

LADY MONTAGUE, wife to Montague.
Appears, Act I. sc. 1. Act III. sc. 2.

LADY CAPULET, wife to Capulet.

Appears Act I. sc. 1; sc. 3. Act III. sc. 4; sc. 5. Act IV. sc. 2; sc. 3; sc. 4; sc. 5. Act V. sc. 3.

JULIET, daughter to Capulet.

Appears, Act I. sc. 3; sc. 5. Act II. sc. 2; sc. 5; sc. 6.
Act III. sc. 2; sc. 5. Act IV. sc. 1; sc. 2; sc. 3.

Nurse to Juliet.

Appears, Act I. sc. 3; sc. 5. Act II. sc. 2; sc. 4; sc. 5. Act III. sc. 2; sc. 3; sc. 5. Act IV. sc. 2; sc. 3; sc. 4; sc. 5. Citizens of Verona; several Men and Women, relations to both houses; Maskers, Guards, Watchmen, and Attendants.

SCENE,

DURING THE GREATER PART OF THE

PLAY, IN VERONA; ONCE (IN THE FIFTH ACT) AT MANTUA.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »