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In 1554, Bandello published at Lucca a novel on the same subject first glance; every consideration disappears before the invisible influ(tom. ii., nov. 9); and shortly afterwards Boisteau exhibited one in ence of living in one another: they join themselves secretly, under French, founded on the Italian narratives, but varying from them in circumstunces in the highest degree hostile to the union, relying many particulars.
merely on the protection of an irresistible power. By unfriendly From Boisteau's novel the same story was, in 1562, formed into an events following blow upon blow, their heroic constancy is exposed English poem, with considerable alterations and large additions, by to all manner of trials, till, forcibly separated from each other, they Mr. Arthur Brooke.
are united in the grave to meet again in another world. Painter in the second volume of his " PALACE OF PLEASURE” (1567), All this is to be found in the beautiful story which Shakspeare has published a prose translation from the French of Boisteau, which he not invented ; and which, however simply told, will alw entitled “ROMEO AND JULIETTA.” Shakspeare had probably read tender sympathy: but it was reserved for Shakspeare to unite puPainter's novel, having taken one circumstance from it or from some rity of heart and the glow of imagination, sweetness and dignity of other prose translation of Boisteau; but his play was undoubtedly | manners and passionate violence, in one ideal picture. By the manformed on the poem of Arthur Brooke.
ner in which he has handled it, it has become a glorious song of This is proved decisively by the following circumstances :- 1. In praise on that inexpressible feeling which ennobles the soul, and gives the poems, the Prince of Verona is called Escalus: 80 also in the to it its highest sublimity, and which elevates even the senses themplay. In Painter's translation from Boisteau he is named Signor selves into soul; and at the same time is a melancholy elegy on its Escala, and sometimes Lord Bartholomew of Escala-2. In Pain frailty, from its own nature and external circumstances: at once the ter's novel, the family of Romeo are called the Montesches: in the deification and the burial of love. It appears here like a heavenly poem and in the play, the Montagues.-- 3. The messenger employed spark that, descending to the earth, is converted into a flash of lightby Friar Lawrence to carry a letter to Romeo, to inform him when ning, by which mortal creatures are almost in the same moment set Juliet would awake from her trance, is in Painter's translation called | on fire and consumed. Anselme: in the poem and in the play, Friar John is employed in | Whatever is most intoxicating in the odor of a southern spring, this business.- 4. The circumstance of Capulet's writing down the languishing in the song of the nightingale, or voluptuous in the first dames of the guests whom he invites to supper, is found in the poem opening of the rose, is to be found in this poem. But, even more and in the play, but is not mentioned by Painter, nor is it found in rapidly than the first blossoms of youth and beauty decay, it hurries the original Italian novel.-- 5. The residence of the Capulets, in the on from the first timidly-bold declaration of love and modest return, original and in Painter, is called Villa Franca : in the poem and in to the most unlimited passion, to an irrevocable union: then, amidst the play, Freetown.-6. Several passages of Romeo and Juliet ap alternating storms of rapture and despair, to the death of the two pear to have been formed on hints furnished by the poem, of which lovers, who still appear enviable as their love survives them, and as no traces are found either in Painter's novel, or in Boisteau, or the by their death they have obtained a triumph over every separating original.- MALONE.
The sweetest and the bitterest love and hatred, festivity and dark forebodings, tender embraces and sepulchres, the fullness 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 Romco and Juliet is a picture of love and its pitiable fate, in a work, into a unity of impression, that the echo which the whole world whose atmosphere is too rough for this tenderest blossom of leaves behind in the mind resembles a single but endless sigh.human life. Two beings, created for each other, feel mutual love at SCHLEGEL.
BUILDING wisely on legendary tale and simple ballad, — those sure foundations for him who seeks to interest the public heart, — the mighty architect has raised, in “LEAR,” a structure before whose giant beauties Criticism stands rebuked, in silent and boundless admiration : — as the traveler ascending the Peak of Teneriffe intent to measure its height, suspends his scientific labors in spell-bound contemplation of the magnificent scene that on every side lies spread before him.
The story of the aged monarch, self-willed and impetuous, yet still “ more sinned against than sinning,” is told, with various modifications, by many ancient writers; but the narrative of Holinshed was probably the immediate source of the poet's inspiration. There is, moreover, an older play than Shakspeare's on the subject, called “ The true Chronicle History of King Leir and his three Daughters, Gonorill, Ragan, and Cordella.” Of this very inferior, although not meritless effort, he has undoubtedly availed himself, but not to such extent as to impugn the
essential originality of his own great work. It is remarkable that both Holinshed and the older dramatist have given a prosperous termination to the legend, so far at least as Lear himself is implicated. In so doing, they have doubtless fallen in with the general yearning for poetic justice: but whether it were wise to wish that Shakspeare had in this respect adhered to his supposed authorities, may well admit of question. The force and splendor of his execution naturally induce the thought that he has chosen for the best in working out his plot: let us, then, be content to inherit the invaluable legacy on such conditions as the donor has imposed, nor seek to tamper with the genuine document. The profane attempts at emendation, by Tate's berouged and smirking muse, are so amusingly vile, that indignation soon relieves itself in laughter. Lear, as a suitable climax to much previous fustian, is made, in the last Act, to call upon the winds to catch certain joyous sounds, “ and bear them on their rosy wings to heaven.” The love passages, too, between the daring laureate's facetiously “wretched Edgar," and no less comical “ Cordelia, royal fair," betray a master in the school of unconscious burlesque: they are sacrifices dear to Momus, although Melpomene affects them not.
In Percy's “ RELIQUES,” there is a reprint of “A lamentable Song of the Death of King Leir and his three Daughters,” in which the o'er-afflicted father expires with grief for the loss of Cordelia, who is slain in the battle fought to recover his kingdom. This production was originally published without a date, but is, with great probability, thought to have appeared before the play of Shakspeare: and from this popular ballad he may have derived the tragic catastrophe he has deemed it expedient to adopt. The episode of Edmund and Edgar, so skilfully interwoven with the main plot of “LEAR," is founded on the story of the blind King of Paphlagonia, in Sidncy's “ ARCADIA.” The Leonatus of the tale is Edgar in the play.
Shakspeare's “ LEAR” was first published in 1608, with this “full and particular ” title-page : — “Mr. William Shake-speare, his true Chronicle History of the Life and Death of King Lear and his three Daughters. With the unfortunate Life of Edgar, Sonne and Heire to the Earle of Glocester, and his sullen and assumed humor of Tom of Bedlam. As it was plaid before the King's Majesty at White-hall, upon S. Stephens Night, in Christmas Holidaies. By his Majesties Servants playing usually upon the Banck-side. Printed for Nathaniel Butter, and are to be sold at his shop in Paul's Churchyard, at the signe of the Pied Bull, neere St. Austin's Gate, 1608.”. There were two other editions of the play published by the same bookseller, in the same year; but, notwithstanding these indubitable evidences of popularity,“ KING LEAR,” for some inexplicable reason, was not again reprinted till its appearance in the original folio of 1623.