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Lo, here upon thy cheek the stain doth sit
Thou and these woes were all for Rosaline.
Ah, that same pale hard-hearted wench, that Rosaline, torments him so, that he will sure run mad ;and again,
Alas, poor Romeo, he is already dead !-stabbed with a white wench's black eye-shot through the ear with a love-song-the very pin of his heart cleft with the blind bow-boy's butt-shaft. -And is he a man to encounter Tybalt ?
From all this we gather that Romeo is suffering from the kind of rejection most tormenting to a nature like his—proceeding not from any preference on the part of his mistress for another, or any aversion to himself—but simply from her own passionless character—very different, it must be owned, from that other Rosaline, of the Love's Labour's Lost,' whom Biron describes as
A whitely wanton, with a velvet brow, &c. Romeo's Rosaline, too, according to Mercutio's testimony, is “a white wench,” black-eyed: but “she hath forsworn to love.” This is, naturally, the last species of determination that any lover can bring himself to consider final in his mistress; and is precisely that most calculated to drive to madness a lover at once so exquisitely and so intensely sensitive and imaginative as Romeo. It is the same, for example, which, in Cervantes's beautiful and well-known story of the shepherdess Marcella, drives the enamoured Chrysostom, a character of Romeo's temperament, to despair and suicide. It is when the flow of imaginative passion, neither checked by aversion in its object, nor diverted by jealousy of a rival, is simply turned
back upon itself by indifference, that it exhibits the phenomena which, while they are wildest to the apprehension of the observer, are most torturing and most perilous to the subject of them.
This it is—this violent recoil of the feelings and the fancy-not the mere love of “descanting to his companions in pretty phrases," as Mrs. Jameson rather strangely supposes—that wrings from Romeo's breast those antithetical exclamations
O heavy lightness ! serious vanity!
Still-waking sleep, &c. This state of his mind is no subject of jocularity to any one of his friends, excepting that same Mercutio whom we find incapable of gravity even under the consciousness of his own mortal wound. Romeo, indeed, asks Benvolio, at the end of the passage last cited, “ Dost thou not laugh ?”—but Benvolio answers him, “No, coz, I rather weep.” And to Romeo's reply, Good heart, at what?” his kind-hearted cousin rejoins, “ At thy good heart's oppression.”
Benvolio, indeed, sees the matter perfectly right; and accordingly persists in administering that species of “good counsel," to repeat the words of the elder Montague, which alone, under the peculiar circumstances, may the cause remove. And so, in his second colloquy with his enamoured cousin, he resumes the strain wherewith he had closed the former:
Ben. Tut, man! one fire burns out another's burning,
Rom. Your plantain leaf is excellent for that.
your broken shin.
Rom. Not mad, but bound more than a madman is ;
you read ?
Whipp’d, and tormented, and -Good e'en, good fellow.
Capulets Servant. God gi' good e’en. I pray, sir, can
Ben. At this same ancient feast of Capulet's
Rom. When the devout religion of mine eye
Ben. Tut! you saw her fair, none else being by,
Rom. I'll go along, no such sight to be shown,
But to rejoice in splendour of mine own !that is, to gaze at leisure on the charms of the inaccessible Rosaline, whose name he finds among those of the guests invited to Capulet's entertainment.
Having now brought Romeo to the threshold of the scene which changes and decides his destiny, it is time for us to consider the character and position of Juliet as indicated in the scenes preceding that of the masquerade.
3.-JULIET.—HER MEETING WITH ROMEO.
In accordance with his leading dramatic object in this play, its author has assigned to its heroine the most youthful age that would admit of his exhibiting the
perfect moral development of the girl into the woman, and of the maid into the wife, by the agency of that passion which is here his principal theme:
My child is yet a stranger in the world,
She hath not seen the change of fourteen years, says
her father, in his first dialogue with her accepted suitor Paris—this particular number of years being evidently chosen by the dramatist with a proper regard to the early maturity belonging to a southern clime.
As we find Romeo to be an only son, so Juliet, we learn also from her father, is an only surviving child
The earth hath swallow'd all my hopes but she,
She is the hopeful lady of my earth.
The following scene, between herself, her lady mother, and her foster-nurse, distinctly sets before us the nature of the moral relations existing between the youthful heroine and the only two beings of her own sex with whom she has been brought up in habitual intimacy. Lady Capulet seems the very type of a cold, authoritative, aristocratic matron, who, so far from being in the confidence of any one feeling in her daughter's breast, has not once entertained the notion that this daughter may by possibility have feelings, and so be capable of preferences, of her own. In the affair of marriage, it is plain that no such considerations have ever troubled the elder lady in her own particular case; and so, arguing directly from herself to her daughter, she sums up the whole business to her own entire satisfaction in the following words to Juliet :
Younger than you,
That you are now a maid. The Nurse, then, may well be excused for having little solicitude in the matter, beyond that of seeing
her latest and favourite foster-child married to somebody :
Thou wast the prettiest babe that e'er I nurs’d :
I have my wish. We see that, in spite of all other differences, the essential vulgarity of view regarding the affair of marriage in the abstract, is precisely the same in the dignified and decorous, but stern and heartless mother of quality, as it is in the humble and illiterate fosternurse, with her coarse but sincere fondness, and her low, garrulous humour. Lady Capulet, accordingly, calls in the Nurse as her most appropriate seconder in giving her daughter to understand what a delightful thing it must be, in any case, for a young lady to get a husband :
Nurse, give leave awhile,
Thou knowst, my daughter's of a pretty age, &c.
To see, now, how a jest shall come about, &c.her ladyship, in a truly business-like spirit, loses no time in coming to the point :
Thus then, in brief-
Nurse. A man, young lady !--lady, such a man
Lady Cap. Verona's summer hath not such a flower.
Lady Cap. What say you? can you love the gentleman? No matter that her daughter has yet no personal knowledge whatever of this same exquisite Count Paris. Her lady mother evidently expects already a categorical answer to this last question; but receiving none, condescends to particularise a little more :