« AnteriorContinuar »
passionate violence, in one ideal picture.” The character is indeed one of perfect truth and sweetness. It has nothing forward, nothing coy, nothing affected or coquettish about it;—it is a pure effusion of nature. It is as frank as it is modest, for it has no thought that it wishes to conceal. It reposes in conscious innocence on the strength of its affections. Its delicacy does not consist in coldness and reserve, but in combining warmth of imagination and tenderness of heart with the most voluptuous sensibility. Love is a gentle flame that rarefies and expands her whole being. What an idea of trembling baste and airy grace, borne upon the thoughts of love, does the Friar's exclamation give of her, as she approaches his cell to be 'married
“Here comes the lady. Oh, so light of foot
The tragick part of this character is of a piece with the rest. It is the heroick founded on tenderness and delicacy. Of this kind are her resolution to follow the Friar's advice, and the conflict in her bosom between apprehension and love when she comes to take the sleeping poison. Shakspeare is blamed for the mixture of low characters. If this is a deformity, it is the source of a thousand beauties. One instance is the contrast between the guileless simplicity of Juliet's attachment to her first love, and the convenient policy of the nurse in advising her to marry Paris, which excites such indignation in her mistress. “ Ancient damnation! oh most wicked fiend," &c.
Romeo is Hamlet in love. There is the same rich exuberance of passion and sentiment in the one, that there is of thought and sentiment in the other. Both are absent and self-involved, both live out of themselves in a world of imagination. Hamlet is abstracted from every thing; Romeo is abstracted from every thing but his love, and lost in it. His “ frail thoughts dally with faint surmise," and are fashioned out of the suggestions of hope, “ the flatteries of sleep.” He is himself only in his Juliet ; she is his only reality, his heart's true home and idol. The rest of the world is to him a passing dream. How finely is this character pourtrayed where he recollects himself on seeing Paris slain at the tomb of Juliet !
“ What said my man when my betossed soul
And again, just before he hears the sudden tidings of her death
“ If I may trust the flattery of sleep,
Romeo's passion for Juliet is not a first love: it succeeds and drives out his passion for another mis
tress, Rosaline, as the sun bides the stars. This is perhaps an artifice (not absoluiely necessary) to give us a higher opinion of the lady, while the first ab. solute surrender of her heart to him enhances the richness of the prize. The commencement, progress, and ending of his second passion are however complete in themselves, not injured, if they are not bettered by the first. The outline of the play is taken from an Italian novel; but the dramatick arrangement of the different scenes between the lovers, the more than dramatick interest in the progress of the story, the development of the characters with time and circumstances, just according to the degree and kind of interest excited, are not inferiour to the expression of passion and nature. It has been ingeniously remarked among other proofs of skill in the contrivance of the fable, that the improbability of the main incident in the piece, the administering of the sleeping potion, is softened and obviated from the beginning by the introduction of the Friar on his first appearance culling simples and descanting on their virtues. or the passionate scenes in this tragedy, that between the Friar and Romeo when he is told of his sentence of banishment, that between Juliet and the Nurse when she hears of it, and of the death of her cousin Tybalt, (which bear no proportion in her mind, when passion, after the first shock of surprise, throws its weight into the scale of her affections) and the last scene at the tomb, are añong the most natural and overpowering. In all of these it is not merely the force of any one passion that is given, but the slightest and most unlooked for transitions from one to an
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
Nurse. Will you speak well of him that kill'd your cousin ?
Juliet Shall I speak ill of him that is my husband ?
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 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 i 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-
O, my love ! my wife !