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According to an entry in the books of the Steevens turns up his nose aristocratically at Stationers' Company for 1560, the preacher was Shakspere, for imputing “to an Italian noblepaid six shillings and two pence for his labour; man and his lady all the petty solicitudes of a the minstrel twelve shillings; and the cook private house, concerning a provincial entertainfifteen shillings. The relative scale of estima- ment;” and he adds, very grandly, “ To such a tion for theology, poetry, and gastronomy, has bustle our author might- have been witness at not been much altered during two centuries, home; but the like anxieties could not well either in the city generally, or in the Company have occurred in the family of Capulet." Steewhich represents the city's literature. Ben vens had not well read the history of society, Jonson has described a master cook in his gor- either in Italy or in England, to have fallen into geous style :
the mistake of believing that the great were “A master cook! why, he is the man of men.
exempt from such "anxieties." The baron's For a professor; he designs, he draws,
lady overlooked the baron's kitchen from her He paints, he carves, he builds, he fortifies,
private chamber; and the still-room and the Makes citadels of curious fowl and fish.
spicery not unfrequently occupied a large porSome he dry-ditches, some motes round with broths, Mounts marrow-bones, cuts fifty angled custards,
tion of her attention. Rears bulwark pies; and, for his outer works, He raiseth ramparts of immortal crust,
48 SCENE III.—“As in a vault.” And teacheth all the tactics at one dinnerWhat ranks, what files, to put his dishes in,
It has been conjectured that the charnelThe whole art military! Then he knows
house under the church at Stratford, which The influence of the stars upon his meats, And all their seasons, tempers, qualities,
contains a vast collection of human bones, And so to fit his relishes and sauces.
suggested to Shakspere this description of the He has nature in a pot, 'bove all the chemists, "ancient receptacle” of the Capulets. Or bare-breech'd brethren of the rosy cross. He is an architect, an engineer, A soldier, a physician, a philosopher,
49 SCENE IV._"Enter Servants, with spits, logs, A general mathematician."
and baskets." Old Capulet, in his exuberant spirits at his
Vicellio has given us the costume of the daughter's approaching marriage, calls for menial servants and porters of Italy, which we "twenty” of these artists. The critics think here copy. this too large a number. Ritson says, with wonderful simplicity, “Either Capulet had altered his mind strangely, or our author forgot what he had just made him tell us." This is, indeed, to understand a poet with admirable exactness. The passage is entirely in keeping with Shakspere's habit of hitting off a character almost by a word. Capulet is evidently a man of ostentation ; but his ostentation, as is most generally the case, is covered with a thin veil of affected indifference. In the first Act he says to his guests,
“We have a trifling foolish banquet toward.” In the third Act, when he settles the day of Paris' marriage, he just hints,
“We'll keep no great ado-a friend or two." But Shakspere knew that these indications of 50 SCENE V.-"Musicians, 0, musicians." the "pride which apes humility” were not Juliet is held to be dead. Capulet's joys are inconsistent with the "twenty cooks,” the regret buried with his child. The musicians that that
came to accompany her to church remain in the “We shall be much unfurnish'd for this time,” hall. The scene which follows between Peter and the solicitude expressed in
and the musicians, has generally been con“Look to the bak'd meats, good Angelica." sidered ill-placed. Even Coleridge says, As
the audience know that Juliet is not dead, this of grief. Peter and the musicians bandy jokes; scene is, perhaps, excusable.” Rightly under and, although the musicians think Peter a stood, it appears to us that the scene requires “pestilent knave,” perhaps for his inopportune no apology. It was the custom of our ancient sallies, they are ready enough to look after their theatre to introduce, in the irregular pauses of own gratification, even amidst the sorrow which a play that stood in the place of a division into they see around them. A wedding or a burial acts, some short diversion, such as a song, a is the same to them. “Come, we'll in here: dance, or the extempore buffoonery of a clown. tarry for the mourners, and stay dinner.” So At this point of 'Romeo and Juliet' there is a Shakspere read the course of the world—and it natural pause in the action, and at this point is not much changed. The quotation beginningsuch an interlude would, probably, have been “When griping griefs the heart doth wound"presented whether Shakspere had written one is from a short poem in "The Paradise of Dainor not. The stage direction in the second tie Deuises,' by Richard Edwards, master of the quarto puts this matter, as it appears to us, children of the chapel to Queen Elizabeth. beyond a doubt. That direction says, “ Enter This was set as a four-part song, by Adrian BatWill Kempe,” and the dialogue immediately ten, organist of St. Paul's in the reign of begins between Peter and the musicians. Will Charles I., and is thus printed, but without any Kempe was the Liston of his day; and was as name, in Hawkins's 'History of Music,' vol. v. great a popular favourite as Tarleton had been The question of Peter, “Why, silver sound, why, before him. It was wise, therefore, in Shakspere music with her silver sound ?" is happily enough to find some business for Will Kempe, that explained by Percy : “ This ridicule is not so should not be entirely out of harmony with the much levelled at the song itself (which, for the great business of his play. This scene of the time it was written, is not inelegant) as at those musicians is very short, and, regarded as a forced and unnatural explanations often given necessary part of the routine of the ancient by us painful editors and expositors of ancient stage, is excellently managed. Nothing can be authors.”—(Reliques,' vol. i.) Had Shakspere a more naturally exhibited than the indifference of presentiment of what he was to receive at the hirelings, without attachment, to a family-scene hands of his own commentators ?
ACT V. 51 To the poetical traveller it would be difficult | into tedious apostrophes and generalizations, as to say whether Mantua would excite the greater a less skilful artist than Shakspere would have interest as the birth-place of Virgil or as the made him indulge in? From the moment he scene of Romeo's exile. Surely, an Englishman had said, cannot walk through the streets of that city without thinking of the apothecary in whose
"Well, Juliet, I will lie with thee to-night
Let's see for means," -"needy shop a tortoise hung,
the apothecary's shop became to him the object An alligator stuff'd, and other skins of ill-shap'd fishes; and about his shelves of the most intense interest. Great passions, A beggarly account of empty boxes."
when they have shaped themselves into firm Any description of the historical events con- resolves, attach the most distinct importance to nected with Mantua, or any account of its archi- the minutest objects connected with the executectural monuments, would here be out of place. tion of their purpose. He had seen the apothe
cary's shop in his placid moments as an object 52 SCENE I.—“I do remember an apothecary." of common curiosity. He had hastily looked at
The criticism of the French school has not the tortoise and the alligator, the empty boxes, spared this famous passage. Joseph Warton, an and the earthern pots ; and he had looked at elegant scholar, but who belonged to this school, the tattered weeds and the overwhelming brows has the following observations in his Virgil of their needy owner. But he had also said, (1763, vol. i. page 301) :
when he first saw these things, “It may not be improper to produce the “ An if a man did need a poison now, following glaring instance of the absurdity of Whose sale is present death in Mantua, introducing long and minute descriptions into
Here lives a caitiff wretch would sell it him.” tragedy. When Romeo receives the dreadful When he did need a poison, all these documents and unexpected news of Juliet's death, this of the misery that was to serve him came with fond husband, in an agony of grief, immediately a double intensity upon his vision. The shaping resolves to poison himself. But his sorrow is of these things into words was not for the interrupted, while he gives us an exact picture audience. It was not to produce “a long and of the apothecary's shop from whom he intended minute description in tragedy” that had no to purchase the poison.
foundation in the workings of nature. It was *I do remember an apothecary,' &c.
the very cunning of nature which produced this “I appeal to those who know anything of the description. Mischief was, indeed, swift to enter human heart, whether Romeo, in this distressful into the thoughts of the desperate man; but the situation, could have leisure to think of the mind once made up, it took a perverse pleasure alligator, empty boxes, and bladders, and other in going over every item of the circumstances furniture of this beggarly shop, and to point that had suggested the means of mischief. All them out so distinctly to the audience. The other thoughts had passed out of Romeo's mind. description is, indeed, very lively and natural, He had nothing left but to die; and everything but very improperly put into the mouth of a connected with the means of his death was person agitated with such passion as Romeo is seized upon by his imagination with an energy represented to be."
that could only find relief in words. The criticism of Warton, ingenious as it may
Shakspere has exhibited the same knowledge appear, and true as applied to many “long and of nature in his sad and solemn poem of The minute descriptions in tragedy," is here based Rape of Lucrece,' where the injured wife, having upon a wrong principle. He says that Romeo, resolved to wipe out her stain by death, in his distressful situation, had not “ leisure” to
-"calls to mind where hangs a piece think of the furniture of the apothecary's shop.
Of skilful painting, made for Priam's Troy." What then had he leisure to do? Had he leisure She sees in that painting some fancied resemto run off into declamations against fate, and blance to her own position, and spends the
heavy hours till her husband arrives in its con- remarkable exemplification of the difference templation.
between English and continental manners. “So Lucrece set a-work, sad tales doth tell To pencilld pensiveness and colour'd sorrow;
54 SCENE II.—“Going to find a bare-foot She lends them words, and she their looks doth borrow.”
brother out." It was the intense interest in his own resolve In the old poem of 'Romeus and Juliet' we which made Romeo so minutely describe his have the following lines :apothecary. But that stage past, came the “Apace our friar John to Mantua hies; abstraction of his sorrow :
And, for because in Italy it is a wonted guise,
That friars in the town should seldom walk alone, “What said my man, when my betossed soul
But of their convent aye should be accompanied with
of his profession." Juliet was dead; and what mattered it to his Friar Laurence and his associates must be sup"betossed soul” who she should have married ? posed to belong to the Franciscan order of friars. “Well, Juliet, I will lie with thee to-night,"
The good friar of the play, in his kindliness, his was the sole thought that made him remember learning, and his inclination to mix with, and an" apothecary,” and treat what his servant said perhaps control, the affairs of the world, is no as a “dream.” Who but Shakspere could have unapt representative of one of this distinguished given us the key to these subtle and delicate order in their best days. Warton, in his . History Forkings of the human heart?
of English Poetry,' has described the learning,
the magnificence, and the prodigious influence 53 SCENE 1.—“Whose sale is present death in
of this remarkable body. Friar Laurence was Mantua."
able to give to Romeo
“a divine, a ghostly confessor, similar law, if we are rightly informed, pre
A sin absolver, and my friend profess'd;" vailed in Italy. There is no such law in our but he was yet of the world. He married Romeo own statute-book; and the circumstance is a and his mistress, partly to gratify their love, and
partly to secure his influence in the reconciliation nounced nothing else than the constables of the of their families. Warton says the Franciscans night in London, before the new police was “managed the machines of every important established, I can assert that I have seen those operation or event, both in the religious and very officers in Italy.” political world.”
56 SCENE III.—“Some shall be pardon'd,” &c. 55 SCENE III.—“ The watch is coming." The government of the Scaligers, or Scalas, Malone maintains, here and elsewhere, that commenced in 1259, when Mastino de la Scala there is no such establishment as the watch in was elected Podesta of Verona ; and it lasted Italy. Mr. Charles Armitage Brown, who, to an 113 years in the legitimate descendants of the intimate knowledge of Shakspere in general, first Podesta. The engraving in the preceding adds a particular knowledge of Italian customs, page is a representation of the tomb of this illussays, “If Dogberry and Verges should be pro- trious family at Verona, from an original sketch.
ASSUMING that the incidents of this tragedy magisterial or senatorial in their appearance, took place (at least traditionally) at the com- would, perhaps, when composed of rich matemencement of the fourteenth century, the cos- rials, be not unsuitable to the gravity and tume of the personages represented would be station of the elder Montague and Capulet, and that exhibited to us in the paintings of Giotto of the Prince, or Podesta, of Verona himself : and his pupils or contemporaries.
but for the younger and lighter characters, the From a drawing of the former, now in the love-lorn Romeo, the fiery Tybalt, the gallant British Museum (Payne Knight's Collect.), and gay Mercutio, &c., some very different habit presumed to have been executed by him at would be expected by the million, and, indeed, Avignon in 1315, we give the accompanying desired by the artist. Cæsar Vecellio, in his engraving, and our readers will perceive that it 'Habiti Antichi e Moderni,' presents us with a interferes sadly with all popular notions of the dress of this time, which he distinctly describes dress of this play.
as that of a young nobleman in a love-making The long robes of the male personages, so expedition.