Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

A C T I. SCENE I.
A publick Place.

Enter SAMPSON and GREGORY, armed with fwords and
bucklers.

Sam. Gregory, o' my word, we'll not carry coals3,
Gre. No, for then we should be colliers.

Sam.

2 The original relater of the ftory on which this play is formed, was Luigi da Porto, a gentleman of Vicenza, who died in 1529. His novel did not appear till fome years after his death; being first printed at Venice in 1535, under the title of La Giulietta. A fecond edition was published in 1539: and it was again reprinted at the fame place in 1553, (without the authour's name,) with the following title: Hiftoria nuovamente ritrovata di due nobili Amanti, con la loro pietofa morte; intervenuta gia nella citta di Verona, nell tempo del Signor Bartolomeo dalla Scala. Nuovamente ftampata. Of the authour lome account may be found prefixed to the poem of Romeus and Juliet, in Vol. X.

In 1554 Bandello published, at Lucca, a novel on the same subject; [Tom. II. Nov. ix.] and fhortly afterwards Boifteau exhibited one in French, founded on the Italian narratives, but varying from them in many particulars. From Boifteau's novel the fame ftory was, in 1562, formed into an English poem, with confiderable alterations and large additions, by Mr. Arthur Brooke. This piece, which the reader may find in the tenth volume, was printed by Richard Tottel with the following title, written probably, according to the fashion of that time, by the bookfeller: The tragical Hyflory of Romeus and Juliet, containing a rare example of true conftancie; with the fubtill counfels, and practices of an old Fryer, and their ill event. It was again published by the fame bookfeller in 1582. Painter in the fecond volume of bis Palace of Pleafure, 1567, published a profe tranflation from the French of Boilteau, which he entitled Rbomeo and Julietta. Shakspeare had probably read Painter's novel, having taken one circumftance from it or fome other profe tranflation of Boifteau; but his play was undoubtedly formed on the poem of Arthur Brooke. This is proved decifively by the following circumstances. 1. In the poem the prince of Verona is called Ecales; fo alfo in the play.-in Painter's tranflation from Boifteau he is named Signor Efcala, and fometimes Lord Bartbolomew of Efcala. 2. In Painter's novel the family of Romeo are called the Montefches; in the poem and in the play, the Montagues. 3. The meffenger employed by friar Lawrence to carry a letter to Romeo to inform him when Juliet would awake from her trance, is in Painter's tranflation called Anfelme: in the poem, and in the play, B 3

friar

Sam. I mean, an we be in choler, we'll draw.

Gre. Ay, while you live, draw your neck out of the collar. Sam.

friar John is employed in this bufinefs. 4 The circumftance of Capulet's writing down the names of the guests whom he invites to fupper, is found in the poem and in the play, but is not mentioned by Painter, nor is it found in the original Italian novel. 5. The refidence of the Capulets, in the original, and in Painter, is called Villa Franca ; in the poem and in the play Freetown. 6. Several pallages of Romeo and Juliet appear to have been formed on hints furnished by the poem, of which no traces are found either in Painter's novel, or in Boifteau, or the original; ard feveral expreffions are borrowed from thence, which will be found in their proper places.

As what has been now ftated has been controverted, (for what may not be controverted?) 1 should enter more largely into the fubject, but that the various paffages of the poem which I have quoted in the following notes, furnish such a decifive proof of the play's having been conftructed upon it, as not to leave, in my apprehenfion, a fhadow of doubt upon the fubject. The queftion is not, whether Shakspeare had read other novels, or other poetical pieces, founded on this ftory, but whether the poem written by Arthur Brooke was the bafis on which his play was built.

With respect to the name of Romeo, this alfo Shakspeare might have found in the poem; tor in one place that name is given to him: or he might have had it from Painter's novel, from which or from fome other profe tranflation of the fame story he has, as I have already faid, taken one circumftance not mentioned in the poem. In 1570 was entered on the Stationer's books by Henry Bynneman, The pitifull Hiftory of ij lovyng Italians, which I fufpect was a profe narrative of the tory on which our authour's play is constructed.

"

Brevall fays in his travels, that on a strict inquiry into the hiftories of Verona, he found that Shakspeare had varied very little from the truth, either in the names, characters, or other circumftances of his play. "The story on which this play is founded," fays Mr. Steevens, is related as a true one in Girolama de la Corte's Hiftory of Verona. Among the entries on the books of the Stationers' Company, I find,” (adds the fame gent'eman,) M. Tottell, Feb. 18, 1582: Romeo and letta. Again, Aug. 5, 1596: Edward White, A new ballad of Romeo and Juliett.' Staryhurst, the tranflator of Virgil in 1582, enumerates Julietta among his heroines, in a piece which he calls an epitaph or Commune defun&orum; and it appears, as Dr. Farmer has obferved from a paflage in Ames's typographical antiquities, that the ftory had likewife been tranflated by another hand. Captain Breval in his travels tells us that he faw at Vienna the tomb of these unhappy lovers." This is only an extract from Mr. Steevens's note. MALONE.

This ftery was well known to the English poets before the time of Shakspeare. In an old collection of poems, called A gorgeous gallery of gallant Inventions, 1578, I find it mentioned:

Sam. I ftrike quickly, being moved.

Gre. But thou art not quickly moved to strike. Sam. A dog of the houfe of Montague moves me. Gre. To move, is-to ftir; and to be valiant, is-to ftand to it: therefore, if thou art moved, thou run'ft away.

Sam. A dog of that houfe fhall move me to ftand: I will take the wall of any man or maid of Montague's. Gre. That fhews thee a weak flave; for the weakest goes to the wall.

Sam. True; and therefore women, being the weaker veffels, are ever thruft to the wall:- therefore I will push Montague's men from the wall, and thrust his maids to the wall.

Gre. The quarrel is between our mafters, and us their

men.

"Sir Romeus' annoy but trifle feems to mine."

And again, Romeus and Juliet are celebrated in "A poor Knight bis Palace of private Pleafure, 1579." FARMER.

3

we'll not carry coals.] Dr. Warburton very juftly obferves, that this was a phrafe formerly in ufe to fignify the bearing injuries z but, as he has given no inftances in fupport of his declaration, I thought it neceffary to fubjoin the following:

Nash, in his Have with you to Saffron Walden, 1595, fays: "We will bear no coals, I warrant you." So, in Marfton's Antonio and Melida, 2nd part, 1602: "He has had wrong, and if I were he, I would bear no coles." Again, in B. Jonfon's Every Man out of bis Humour : "Here comes one that will carry coals; ergo will hold my dog." And, laftly, in the Poet's own Henry V: "At Calais they stole a firefhovel; I knew by that piece of fervice the men would carry coals." STEEV. The phrafe fhould feem to mean originally, We'll not fubmit to fervile offices; and thence fecondarily, we'il not endure injuries. It has been fuggefted, that it may mean, "we'll not bear refentment burning like a coal of fire in our bofoms, without breaking out into fome outrage;" with allufion to the proverbial fentence, that fmothered anger is a coal of fire in the bofom: But the word carry feems adverfe to fuch an interpretation. MALONE.

This phrafe continued to be in ufe down to the middle of the last century. In a little fatirical piece of Sir John Birkenhead, intitled, "Two centuries [of Books] of St. Paul's Church-yard, &c." published after the death of King Charles I. N° 22, page 50, is inferted "Fire, Fire! a small manual, dedicated to Sir Arthur Hafelridge; in which it is plainly proved by a whole chauldron of fcripture, that Jobn Lilburn will not carry coals. By Dr. Gouge." PERCY,

Sam.

B 4

Sam. 'Tis all one, I will fhew myself a tyrant: when I have fought with the men, I will be cruel with the maids; I will cut off their heads.

Gre. The heads of the maids ?

Sam. Ay, the heads of the maids, or their maidenheads; take it in what sense thou wilt.

Gre. They must take it in fenfe, that feel it.

Sam. Me they fhall feel, while I am able to stand: and, 'tis known, I am a pretty piece of flesh.

Gre. 'Tis well, thou art not fish; if thou hadft, thou hadft been Poor John. Draw thy tool; here comes two of the houfe of the Montagues".

Enter ABRAM, and BALTHASAR.

Sam. My naked weapon is out; quarrel, I will back thee.

Gre. How? turn thy back, and run?

Sam. Fear me not.

Gre. No, marry: I fear thee!

4-cruel with the maids ;] The first folio reads-civil with the maids. JOHNSON.

So does the quarto 1599; but the word is written ciuil. It was manifeftly an error of the prefs. The firft copy furnishes no help, the paffage there ftanding thus: "Ile play the tyrant; Ile first begin with the maids, and off with their heads:" but the true reading is found in the undated quarto. MALONE.

-Poor John.] is hake, dried, and falted.

MALONE.

5 bere comes two of the boufe of the Montagues.] The word truo, which was inadvertently omitted by the compofitor in the quarto 1599, and of course in the fubfequent impreflions, I have restored from the first quarto of 1597, from which, in almost every page, former editors have drawn many valuable emendations in this play. The disregard of concord is in character.

It should be obferved, that the partizans of the Montague family wore a token in their hats, in order to distinguish them from their enemies, the Capulets. Hence throughout this play, they are known at a distance. This circumftance is mentioned by Gafcoigne, in a Devife of a Mafque, written for the right honourable vilcount Mountacute, 1575:

And for a further proofe, he fhewed in hys hat

Thys token which the Mountacutes did beare alwaies, for
that

They covet to be knowne from Capels, where they pass,
For ancient grutch whych long ago 'tweene these two houfes
was." MALONE.

Sam.

[ocr errors]

Sam. Let us take the law of our fides; let them begin.
Gre. I will frown, as I pass by; and let them take it
as they lift.

Sam. Nay, as they dare. I will bite my thumb at
them; which is a difgrace to them, if they bear it.
fir?
Abr. Do bite your thumb at us,
you
Sam. I do bite my thumb, fir.
Abr. Do you bite your thumb at us, fir?
Sam. Is the law on our fide, if I say—ay ?
Gre. No.

thumb at you, fir; but

Sam. No, fir, I do not bite my
I bite my thumb, fir.

Gre. Do you quarrel, fir?

Abr. Quarrel, fir? no, fir.

Sam. If you do, fir, I am for you; I ferve as good a

[blocks in formation]

Enter BENVOLI07, at a distance.

Gre. Say-better; here comes one of my master's kinfmen.

Sam.

6 I will bite my thumb at them; which is a disgrace to them, if they bear it.] This mode of quarreling appears to have been common in our "What fwearing is there, (fays Decker, defcribing authour's time. the various groupes that daily frequented the walks of St. Paul's Church,) what shouldering, what juftling, what jeering, what byting of thumbs, to beget quarrels !" THE DEAD TERM, 1608. MALONE.

Dr. Lodge, in a pamphlet called Wits Miferie, &c. 1596, has this paffage. Behold next I fee contempt marching forth, giving mee In a tranflation from Stethe fico with bis thombe in his mouth." phens's Apology for Herodotus, in 1607, page 142, "I meet with If once they [the Italians,] bite their fingers' ends in threatning manner, God knows, if they fet upon their enemie face to face, it is because they cannot affail him behind his backe." Perhaps Ben Jonfon ridicules this fcene of Romeo and Juliet,

these words:

in his New Inn:

"Huff. How, fpill it?

"6

Spill it at me?

"Tip. I reck not, but I fpill it." STEEVENS.

7 Enter Benvolio.] Much of this fcene is added fince the first edition; but probably by Shakspeare, fince we find it in that of the year

$599.

POPE.

-bere comes one of my master's kinfmen.] Some mistake has hap

pened

« AnteriorContinua »