Immagini della pagina

instance of ii. 6. 16-37,-the meeting of Romeo and Juliet at the Friar's cell,-though they know of no other passage of equal length where the same can be affirmed with certainty.' The divergence here is indeed startling. Here are a few lines from the dialogue of the lovers in Q, :

Jul. Romeo.

Rom. My Juliet welcome. As do waking eyes
Closed in Night's mists attend the frolick Day,
So Romeo hath expected Juliet,

[blocks in formation]

Come to my Sun: shine forth and make me fair.

Rom. All beauteous fairness dwelleth in thine eyes.
Jul. Romeo, from thine all brightness doth arise.

Fri. Come, wantons, come, the stealing hours do pass,
Defer embracements till some fitter time.

Part for a while, you shall not be alone

Till holy Church have joined ye both in one.

Rom. Lead, holy Father, all delay seems long.

Jul. Make haste, make haste, this lingering doth us wrong. Compare this with the later dialogue :

Jul. Good even to my ghostly confessor.

Fri. L. Romeo shall thank thee, daughter, for us both.
Jul. As much to him, else is his thanks too much.
Rom. Ah, Juliet, if the measure of thy joy

Be heap'd like mine and that thy skill be more

To blazon it, then sweeten with thy breath

This neighbour air, and let rich music's tongue
Unfold the imagined happiness that both
Receive in either by this dear encounter.

Jul. Conceit, more rich in matter than in words,
Brags of his substance, not of ornament:

They are but beggars that can count their worth;

But my true love is grown to such excess

I cannot sum up sum of half my wealth.

Fri. L. Come, come with me, and we will make short work;

For, by your leaves, you shall not stay alone

Till holy church incorporate two in one.

The two dialogues do not differ merely in expres

[blocks in formation]

siveness and effect; they embody different conceptions of the lovers' character, and even of the psychology of love. In the first they fling to and fro light lyric phrases of love-longing; in the second they thrill with a passion too deep for utterance.

A few passages in the final text have perhaps survived from a 'Romeo and Juliet' conceived throughout in the slighter and more conventional manner of the first passage: e.g. Juliet's antithetical see-saw in iii. 2. 75

Beautiful tyrant! fiend angelical !

Dove-feather'd raven! wolvish-ravening lamb !

and Romeo's extravagance in iii. 3.

But it is futile to attempt to distinguish these by a comparison of the two Quartos.1

On the other hand, it is impossible to attribute to Shakespeare the rude travesty offered by the First Quarto of the lamentations over Juliet (iv. 5.). Even in the Qq and Ff the naïve iterativeness of simple mourners is carried to the verge of the grotesque ; in Q, the writer rings the changes on a few stock phrases of the tragic stage, themselves ignorantly mutilated. 'Cruel, unjust, impartial destinies' is the burden of Capulet's cry.

The theory of an earlier form of the play receives no support from the German version acted by the English players, under the title 'Von Romeo undth

1 How futile is apparent from the expedients to which Brandes finds himself reduced in his bold revival of the 'first sketch' theory (Shakespeare, E. T. p. 91). Another passage in this antithetic style (i. 1. 184 f.) is omitted in Q; while that just quoted (iii. 2. 75, 76) is retained. Brandes is


equal to the emergency.
little did it jar upon Shake-
speare,' he explains, 'that Romeo
in the original text should thus
apostrophise love [i. 1. 184 f.],
that in the course of revision he
must needs place in Juliet's
mouth these quite analogous
ejaculations [iii. 2. 75].'

Julitha,' at Nördlingen, 1604, as 'Tragoedia von Romeo und Julia,' at Dresden, 1626, and elsewhere in Germany. The extant version is, according to Creizenach, obviously of the latter half of the seventeenth century, and local allusions indicate Austria. ... It was clearly not taken from the First Quarto of 1597, but from the current text; cf. esp. iii. 1.' (Die Schauspiele der englischen Comoedianten, Einl. xli.).i


The probability that the play underwent some Date of kind of revision between 1597 and 1599 gives us tion. little help in approaching the difficult problem of its original date. The most definite datum we have is the sonnet Ad Gulielmum Shakespeare' in which John Weever, probably in 1595, enumerated, among Shakespeare's famous characters

Romeo, Richard, more whose names I know not,
Their sugred tongues and power attractive beuty.

Certain straws of evidence point towards an earlier date. The Nurse's allusion to the earthquake (i. 3. 23) suggests 1591; and Daniel possibly caught a phrase or two of his description of the dead Rosamond 2_

Decayed roses of discolour'd cheeks

Do yet retain dear notes of former grace,
And ugly death sits fair within her face-

from Romeo's wonderful dying hymn to Juliet; which

1 Mr. Fleay, however, knows that the German play was 'founded on Shakespeare's play of 1591' (Life and Work of Shakespeare, p. 308).

Complaint of Rosamond, 1592. A still clearer parallelism is Rom. and Jul. v. 3. 94beauty's ensign yet Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks,

And death's pale flag is not ad-
vanced there,

with Ros. 773

And nought-respecting death.
Plac'd his pale colours (th' ensigne
of his might)
Upon his new-got spoil.

Also Rom. and Jul. v. 3. 112,
103, 92, 93, 108, with Ros. 834-
840, 841, 845, 851, respectively.

would place the play before 1592. But the arithmetic of the Nurse is an insecure trust, and if it were surer, it is very doubtful whether it has any bearing upon the date of the play. Grant that Juliet's age was to be fourteen, and that the story of her weaning and the earthquake had been independently imagined, the number of years which had passed since the earthquake would in any case be eleven or thereabouts. And though Daniel had the reputation of making undue use of others' (and notably of Shakespeare's) wit, it is to be considered that the fine trait of the lingering 'roses' in the cheeks of the dead Rosamond lay pretty near at hand for a poet prone to play choicely with his heroine's name :—

Rose of the world, that sweeten'd so the same.

On the other hand, many indications point to a date nearer to that of Weever's sonnet. Weever himself associates it with the Lucrece and the Venus, as well as with Richard '-alone of all the dramas. It is in fact linked both with the poems and with Richard II., as well as with the Midsummer-Night's Dream, by the lyric style and the lyric conception of character, as well as by many striking echoes of phrase and motive.1

The characteristic speech of Romeo and Juliet is a lyric speech, exhausting the last possibilities of expression, but not yet, like the speech of Hamlet,

1 Sarrazin has compared Juliet's appeal to the Friar

out of thy long-experienced time, Give me some present counsel, or, behold,

"Twixt my extremes and me this
bloody knife
Shall play the umpire-

with Lucrece, l. 1840, '... by this
bloody knife' (in which Lucrece
has stabbed herself)

We will revenge the death of this true wife.


Where it is to be noted that
Juliet's intention to stab herself
is not taken from Brooke.
this have been suggested by the
Lucrece story? (J. B. xxix. 103).
Parallels to the sonnets have
been pointed out by Isaac, J. B.
xix. 187.

opening up mysterious vistas of the unexpressed, or responsive to the finer nuances of souls. At exalted times it even assumes lyric form; and Gervinus has pointed out that the lovers exchange their first greetings in a sonnet, that Juliet utters her own epithalamium or marriage hymn (iii. 2.), and that the lyric dialogue of the lovers as they part at dawn echoes in everything but its unique splendour of poetry the 'dawn song' (alba, Tagelied) of medieval poetry.1 The evidence thus points to 1594-5 as the time at which Romeo and Juliet was substantially composed, though it is tolerably certain that some parts of our present text were written as late as 1596-8, and possible that others are as early as 1591.

The story of Romeo and Juliet, as Shakespeare Source of found it, was already a work of art, refined and the Plot. elaborated by the shaping fancy of several generations. Particular features in it have far-reaching parallels : the legendary poison which produces apparent death; the love between children of hostile houses. The so-called 'Neapolitan Boccaccio,' Massuccio, in his Novellino, 1476, used the device of the poison to deliver his heroine from a peril like that which threatens Juliet; but his lovers have other names, live in Siena, and are embarrassed by no family feuds. Luigi da Porto was the first to localise the romance in Verona, to call the lovers Romeo and Giulietta, and to entangle their destinies in the conflicts of noble families.2 Da Porto's novel was widely read 1 How did Shakespeare be- in his Shakespeare und das Tagecome acquainted with this mediæval lyric form, whose home was among the Troubadours and Minnesänger? The problem

has keenly exercised German scholars, and is discussed with profuse learning but without very definite result by Ludwig Fränkel

lied. Fränkel supposes Shake-
speare to have been introduced
to the German Tagelied by the
Hanseatic merchants of London.

2 That the story is not histori-
cal is now recognised. The
historian of Verona, Girolamo
de la Corte (1594), who relates

« IndietroContinua »