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popular ; but the character of Thersites, of which it makes no mention, is a proof that this play was written after Chapman had published his version of Homer.
ROMEO AND JULIET. Act I. SCENE Ü. (1. i. 181 foll.)
W by then, O brawling love! O loving bate! &c. Of these lines neither the sense nor occasion is very evident. He is not yet in love with an enemy, and to love one and hate another is no such uncommon state, as can deserve all this toil of antithesis. Act I. SCENE Ü. (1. ii. 25.)
Earth-treading stars that make dark Heaven's ligbr.
WARBURTON. But why nonsense? Is anything more commonly said, than that beauties eclipse the sun? Has not Pope the thought and the word?
Sol through white curtains shot a tim'rous ray,
And ope'd those eyes that must eclipse the day. Both the old and the new reading are philosophical nonsense, but they are both, and both equally poetical
Act I. SCENE iii. (1. ii. 26-8.)
Such comfort as do lusty young men feel,
Of limping Winter treads. To say, and to say in pompous words, that a young man shall feel as much in an assembly of beauties, as young men feel in the month of April, is surely to waste sound upon a very poor sentiment. I read,
Such comfort as do lusty yeomen feel.
You shall feel from the sight and conversation of these ladies, such hopes of happiness and such pleasure, as the farmer receives from the spring, when the plenty of the year begins, and the prospect of the harvest fills him with delight. Act I. SCENE IV. (1. iii. 92.)
That in gold clasps locks in the golden Story. The golden story is perhaps the golden legend, a book in the darker ages of popery much read, and doubtless often exquisitely embellished, but of which Canus, one of the popish doctors, proclaims the author to have been homo ferrei oris, plumbei cordis.
Act I. SCENE vi. (1. V. 34.) Good cousin Capulet.
This cousin Capulet is unkle in the paper of invitation, but as Capulet is described as old, cousin is probably the right word in both places. I know not how Capulet and his lady might agree, their ages were very disproportionate; he has been past masking for thirty years, and her age, as she tells Juliet, is but eight and twenty.
Act I. CHORUS. (11. PROLOGUE.)
The use of this chorus is not easily discovered, it conduces nothing to the progress of the play, but relates what is already known, or what the next scenes will shew; and relates it without adding the improve- . ment of any moral sentiment.
Act II. SCENE vi. (1. vi. 15.)
Too swift arrives as tardy as too slow. He that travels too fast is as long before he comes to the end of his journey, as he that travels slow. Precipitation produces mishap.
Act III. SCENE i. (. i. 2.) The day is bot.
It is observed that in Italy almost all assassinations are committed during the heat of summer. Act III. SCENE Ü. (II. i. 183.) Affection makes bim false.
The charge of falshood on Bentivolio, though produced at hazard, is very just. The authour, who seems to intend the character of Bentivolio as good, meant perhaps to shew, how the best minds, in a state of faction and discord, are detorted to criminal partiality. Act III. SCENE Vüü. (ur. v. 84.)
And, yet, no Man like be dotb grieve my beart. Juliet's equivocations are rather too artful for a mind disturbed by the loss of a new lover. Act IV. SCENE Ü. (iv. iii. 2–3.)
Leave me to myself to-night ; For I bave need of many orisons. Juliet plays most of her pranks under the appearance of religion : perhaps Shakespeare meant to punish her hypocrisy. Act V. SCENE i. (v. i. 3.)
My bosom's Lord sits lightly on bis tbrone, &c. These three lines are very gay and pleasing: But why does Shakespeare give Romeo this involuntary cheerfulness just before the extremity of unhappiness? Perhaps to shew the vanity of trusting to those uncertain and casual exaltations or depressions, which many consider as certain foretokens of good and evil. Act V. SCENE V. (v. üi. 229.)
FRIAR. 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.
This play is one of the most pleasing of our Author's performances. 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 Shakespeare 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 Shakespeare, that he was obliged to kill Mercutio in the third act, lest be 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 a poet. Dryden well knew, had he been in quest of truth, that, in a pointed sentence, 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 Shakespeare 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 Authour 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.
Act I. SCENI i. (1. i. 63.)
He smote the sleaded Polack on the ice. Polack was, in that age, the term for an inhabitant of Poland : Polaque, French. As in a translation of Passeratius's epitaph on Henry III. of France, published by Camden:
Whether thy chance or choice thee hither brings,
Go, passenger, and wail the hap of kings.
The speech of Horatio to the spectre is very elegant and noble, and congruous to the common traditions of the causes of apparitions. Act I. SCENE I. (1. i. 153 foll.) Whether in sea or fire, &c.
According to the pneumatology of that time, every element was inhabited by its peculiar order of spirits, who had dispositions different, according to their various places of abode. The meaning therefore is, that all spirits extravagant, wandering out of their element, whether aerial spirits visiting earth, or earthly spirits ranging the air, return to their station, to their proper limits in which they are confined.