other, the mingling currents of every different feeling rising up and prevailing in turn, swayed by the master-mind of the poet, as the waves undulate beneath the gliding storm. Thus, when Juliet has by her complaints encouraged the Nurse to say, “ Shame come to Romeo," she instantly repels the wish, which she had herself occasioned, by answering

“ Blister'd be thy tongue
For such a wish, he was not born to shame.
Upon his brow shame is ashamed to sit,
For 'tis a throne where honour may be crown'd
Sole monarch of the universal earth!
O, what a beast was I to chide him so !

Nurse. Will you speak well of him that kill'd your cousio ?

Juliet. Shall I speak ill of him that is my husband ?
Ah my poor lord, what tongue shall smooth thy name,
When I, thy three-hours' wife, have mangled it?"

And then follows on the neck of her remorse and returning fondness, that. wish_treading almost on the brink of impiety, but still held back by the strength of her devotion to her lord, that

father, mother, pay, or both were dead," rather than Romeo banished. If she requires any other excuse, it is in the manner in which Romeo echoes her frantick grief and disappointment in the next scene at being banished from her.- Perhaps one of the finest pieces of acting that ever' was witnessed on the stage, is Mr. Kean's manner of doing this scene, and his repetition of the word, Banished. He treads close, indeed, upon the genius of his author.

A passage which this celebrated actor and able commentator on Shakspeare (actors are the best commentators on the poets) did not give with equal truth or force of feeling, was the one which Romeo makes at the tomb of Juliet, before he drinks the poison.


[ocr errors]


Let me peruse this face-
Mercutio's kiosman! noble county Paris !
What said my man, when my betossed soul
Did not attend him as we rode! I think,
He told me, Paris should have marry'd Juliet !
Said he not so ? or did I dream it so?
Or am I mad, hearing him talk of Juliet,
To think it was so ? -0, give me thy hand,
One writ with me in sour misfortune's book!
I'll bury thee in a triumphant grave-
For here lies Juliet.

O, my love ! my wife !
Death, that hath suck'd the honey of thy breaib,
Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty :
Thou art not conquer'd; beauty's ensign yet
Is crimson in thý lips, and in thy cheeks,
And Death's pale flag is not advanced there.
Tybalt, ly'st thou there in thy bloody sheet?
O, what more favour can I do to thee,
Than with that hand that cut thy youth in twain,
To sunder his that was thine enemy?
Forgive me, cousin! Ah, dear Juliet,
Why art thou yet so fair! I will believe
That unsubstantial death is amorous ;
And that the lean ahhorred monster keeps
Thee here in dark to be his paramour.
For fear of that, I will stay still with thee;
And never from this palace of dim night
Depart again : here, here will I remain
With worms that are thy chainbermaids; O, here
Will I set up my everlasting rest;
And shake the yoke of inauspicious stars
From this world wearied flesh.-Eyes, look your last !
Arms, take your last embrace ! and lips, O you
The doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss
A dateless bargain to engrossing death !-
Come, bitter conduct, come, unsavoury guide!

Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on
The dashing rocks my sea-sick weary bark !
Here's to my love !—[Drinks.] 0, true apothecary !
Thy drugs are quick. - Thus with a kiss I die.

The lines in this speech describing the loveliness of Juliet, who is supposed to be dead, have been compared to those in which it is said of Cleopatra after her death, that she looked “as she would take another Antony in her strong toil of grace;" and a question has been started which is the finest, that we do not pretend to decide. We can more easily decide between Shakspeare and any other author, than between him and himself. --Shall we quote any more passages to shew his genius or the beauty of ROMEO AND JULIET? At that rate, we might quote the whole. The late Mr. Sheridan, on being shown a volume of the Beauties of Shakspeare, very properly asked—“ But where are the other eleven?” The character of Mercutio in this play the most mercurial and spirited of the productions of Shakspeare's comick muse.

one of


He was

We wish that we could pass this play over, and say nothing about it. All that we can say must fall far short of the subject; or even of what we ourselves conceive of it. To attempt to give a description of

. the play itself, or of its effect upon the mind, is mere impertinence : yet we must say something - It is then the best of all Shakspeare's plays, for it is the one in which he was the most in earnest. here fairly caught in the web of his own imagination. The passion which he has taken as his subject, is that which strikes its root deepest into the human heart; of which the bood is the hardest to be unloosed ; and the cancelling and tearing to pieces of which gives the greatest revulsion to the frame. This depth of nature, this force of passion, this tug and war of the elements of our being, this firm faith in filial piety, and the giddy anarchy and whirling tumult of the thoughts at finding this prop failing it, the contrast between the xed, immovable basis of natural affection, and the rapid, irregular starts of imagination, suddenly wrenched from all its accustomed holds and resting places in the soul, this is what Shak



59 speare has given, and what nobody & give. So we believe.--The mind ol between the weight of attachment movements of passion, is like a tall sl by the winds, buffetted by the furious h still rides above the storm, having its ancnor fixed in the bottom of the sea ; or it is like the sharp rock circled by the eddying whirlpool that foams and beats against it, or like the solid promontory pushed from its basis by the force of an earthquake.

The character of Lear itself is very finely conceiv'ed for the purpose. It is the only ground on which such a story could be built with the greatest truth and effect. It is his rash haste, his violent

solent, imperme tuosity, his blindness to every thing but the dictales of his passions or affections, that produces all his misfortunes, that aggravates his impatience of them, that enforces our pity for him. The part which Cordelia bears in the scene is extremely beautiful : the story is almost told in the first words she utters. We see at once the precipice on which the poor old king stands from his own extravagant and credulous importunity, the indiscreet simplicity of her love (which, to be sure, has a little of her father's obstinacy in it) and the hollowness of her sisters' pretensions. Almost the first burst of that noble tide of passion, which runs through the play, is in the remonstrance of Kent to his royal master on the injustice of his sentence against his youngest daughter-" Be Kent unmannerly, when Lear is mad!” This manly plainness, which draws down on him the displeasure of the upadvised king, is worthy of the fidelity with which he adheres to

« VorigeDoorgaan »