Imatges de pÓgina

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 honor 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 killed your cousin?
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, nay, or both were dead," rather than Romeo banished. If she requires any other excuse, it is in the manner in which Romeo echoes her frantic 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.

"Let me peruse this face—
Mercutio's kinsman! noble county Paris!
What said my man when my betoss'd 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 ?- -O, 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 breath,
Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty:
Thou art not conquer'd; beauty's ensign yet
Is crimson in thy 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 favor 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 abhorred 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 chamber-maids; 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, 0 you

The doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss,

A dateless bargain to engrossing death !-
Come, bitter conduct, come, unsavory guide!

Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on

The dashing rocks, my sea-sick weary bark!
Here's to my love !—[Drinks.] O, 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 into 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 show 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 is one of the most mercurial and spirited of the productions of Shakspeare's comic muse.


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 effects 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. He was 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 bond 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 fixed, 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 Shakspeare has given, and what nobody else but he could give. So we believe. The mind of Lear, staggering between the weight of attachment and the hurried movements of passion, is like a tall ship driven about by the winds, buffeted by the furious waves, but that still rides above the storm, having its anchor 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 conceived 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 hate, his violent impetuosity, his blindness to everything but the dictates 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 impostunity, 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 this 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 unadvised king, is worthy of the fidelity with which he adheres to his fallen fortunes. The true character of the two eldest daughters, Regan and Goneril (they are so thoroughly hateful that we do not even like to repeat their names), breaks out in their answer to Cordelia, who desires them to treat their father well— Prescribe not us our duties "—their hatred of advice being in proportion to their determination to do wrong, and to their hypocritical pretensions to do right. Their deliberate affectation of virtue adds the last finishing to the odiousness of their characters. It is the absence of this detestable quality that is the only relief in the character of Edmund the Bastard, and that at times reconciles us to him. We are not tempted to exaggerate the guilt of his conduct, when he himself gives it up as a bad business, and writes himself down "plain villain." Nothing more can be said about it. His religious honesty in this respect is admirable. One speech of his is worth a million. His father, Gloster, whom he has just deluded with a forged story of his brother Edgar's designs against his life, accounts for his unnatural behavior, and the strange depravity of the times, from the late eclipses in the sun and moon. Edmund, who is in the secret, says when he is gone—"This is the excellent foppery of the world, that when we are sick in fortune (often the surfeits of our own behavior) we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the


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