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of its expression, unerringly, towards the one end which absorbs her—to draw promptly from the Friar some means of avoiding the odious nuptials :

Jul. Oh, shut the door! and when thou hast done so,
Come weep with me-past hope, past cure, past help!

Fri. Ah, Juliet, I already know thy grief;
It strains me past the compass of my wits;
I hear thou must, and nothing must prorogue it,
On Thursday next be married to this County.

Jul. Tell me not, friar, that thou hear'st of this,
Unless thou tell me how I may prevent it:
If, in thy wisdom, thou canst give no help,
Do thou but call my resolution wise,
And with this knife I'll help it presently.
God join'd my heart and Romeo's, thou our hands;
And ere this hand, by thee to Romeo seal’d,
Shall be the label to another deed,
Or my true heart with treacherous revolt
Turn to another, this shall slay them both :
Therefore, out of thy long-experienc'd time,
Give me some present counsel; or, behold,
"Twixt my extremes and me this bloody knife
Shall play the umpire, arbitrating that
Which the commission of thy years and art
Could to no issue of true honour bring.-
Be not so long to speak— I long to die,

If what thou speak'st speak not of remedy. The forcible expression thus given to her courageous firmness of resolve, has immediately the effect which she is seeking: it encourages the Friar to hint at the one desperate, yet, as he esteems it, sure expedient which alone presents itself to his mind:

Hold, daughter; I do spy a kind of hope,
Which craves as desperate an execution
As that is desperate which we would prevent.
If, rather than to marry county Paris,
Thou hast the strength of will to slay thyself,
Then is it likely thou wilt undertake
A thing like death to chide away this shame,
That cop'st with death himself to 'scape from it;

And, if thou dar’st, I'll give thee remedy. It is quite a mistake to suppose, with Mrs. Jameson, that, in Juliet's instant reply, her " shaping spirit of imagination” merely “ heaps together all

"images of

marry Paris,



horror that ever hung upon a troubled dream."* The Friar, still trying her courage, has here offered her the dismal suggestion that his proposed “remedy” would require her to “undertake a thing like death ;” and it is her perfectly rational eagerness to make him disclose this remedy, how terrible soever, that prompts her to conceive and express one fearful mode of escape after another, each one more horrible than the former, until she reaches that very climax of horror-despising resolution which the expedient he has to propose to her demands :

O bid me leap, rather than
From off the battlements of yonder tower;
Or walk in thievish ways; or bid me lurk
Where serpents are; chain me with roaring bears;
Or shut me nightly in a charnel-house,
O’er-cover'd quite with dead men's rattling bones,
With reeky shanks, and yellow chapless skulls;
Or bid me go into a new-made grave,
And hide me with a dead man in his shroud;
Things that, to hear them told, have made me tremble ;
And I will do it without fear or doubt,

To live an unstain’d wife to my sweet love ! Thus finding her resolution terror-proof, he ventures at once to subject her to the further trial of listening to the chilling detail of that simulated death and actual sepulture which she must consent to undergo :

Hold, then-go home, be merry, give consent
To marry Paris : Wednesday is to-morrow;
To-morrow night look that thou lie alone,
Let not thy nurse lie with thee in thy chamber :
Take thou this phial, being then in bed,
And this distilled liquor drink thou off:
When, presently, through all thy veins shall run
A cold and drowsy humour, which shall seize
Each vital spirit; for no pulse shall keep
His natural progress, but surcease to beat;
No warmth, no breath, shall testify thou liv’st;
The roses in thy lips and cheeks shall fade
To paly ashes ; thy eyes' windows fall,
Like death when he shuts up the day of life;

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* 'Characteristics,' &c., vol. i, p. 194.


Each part, depriv'd of supple government,
Shall stiff, and stark, and cold, appear like death:
And in this borrow'd likeness of shrunk death
Thou shalt remain full two-and-forty hours,
And then awake as from a pleasant sleep.
Now, when the bridegroom in the morning comes
To rouse thee from thy bed, there art thou dead :
Then (as the manner of our country is),
In thy best robes uncover'd on the bier,
Thou shalt be borne to that same ancient vault
Where all the kindred of the Capulets lie.
In the mean time, against thou shalt awake,
Shall Romeo by my letters know our drift;
And hither shall he come; and he and I
Will watch thy waking, and that very night
Shall Romeo bear thee hence to Mantua.
And this shall free thee from this present shame,
If no unconstant toy, nor womanish fear,
Abate thy valour in the acting it.

Jul. Give me, O give me tell me not of fear.

Fri. Hold-get you gone, be strong and prosperous
In this resolve: I'll send a friar with speed
To Mantua, with my letters to thy lord.
Jul. Love, give me strength! and strength shall help

Farewell, dear father!


off to use the means of her deliverance from the threatened marriage, with no less buoyant ardour than she had exclaimed “ Hie to high fortune!" when hastening to her chosen nuptials

. Escape from Paris to reunion with Romeo !—The intervening charnel-house may well appear to her as nothing!

But when after the brief scene of simulation with her parents, which she enacts with such perfect selfpossession, instructed by her confessor and inspired by that power of Love which she has invoked-she comes to find herself alone in her chamber, in the silence of night, and in presence only of the fearful act which she has to perform,-the very clearness and completeness with which her mind embraces her present position, make her pass in lucid review, and in the most natural and logical sequence, the several dismal contingencies that may await her. This being

so, she


one of the passages most constantly misinterpreted to the disparagement of the heroine and the poet, it behoves us to expound it very particularly-exhibiting as it does her powers of imagination, of judgment, and of will, operating each in the utmost vigour, and all in perfect harmony:

Farewell !—God knows when we shall meet again !-
I have a faint cold fear thrills through my veins,
That almost freezes up the heat of life.-
I'll call them back again to comfort me.-
Nurse! -What should she do here?
My dismal scene I needs must act alone !-

Come, phial.
And first, she considers-

What if this mixture do not work at all ?

Must I of force be married to the County? This possibility is instantly provided for, and finally disposed of, as she grasps the dagger

No, no—this shall forbid it-lie thou there.
Next presents itself the very natural conception-

What if it be a poison, which the friar
Subtly hath minister'd to have me dead,
Lest in this marriage he should be dishonour'd,
Because he married me before to Romeo ?

I fear, it is. This suspicion, however, she dismisses immediately, for a reason clear and adequate, as the whole tenour of the drama shews us—

And yet, methinks, it should not,
For he hath still been tried a holy man;

I will not entertain so bad a thought. One other contingency alone remains for her contemplation, but that one is the most fearful of all

How if, when I am laid into the tomb,
I wake before the time that Romeo

Come to redeemn me ?—there's a fearful point! Here it is most important to be on our guard against the ordinary critical notion that, in her following series of horrid anticipations, it is quite arbitrarily that “her vivid fancy conjures up,” Mrs. Jameson says, “one terrible apprehension after another."* The more we examine them, the more we find them to have the strictest logical relation to the circumstances of the case. What more rational, for instance, than the first of these suppositions ?

Shall I not then be stifled in the vault,
To whose foul mouth no healthsome air breathes in,

And so die strangled ere my Romeo comes ?
Then, putting the other possible case-

Or, if I live, &c.what can be more consequentially made out than the whole following train of inference, and succession of horrible anticipations—wherein there is not the smallest circumstance “conjured up” by the arbitrary power of fancy, but every one belongs of strict necessity, either to the actual interior of the particular charnel-house to which she is consigning herself, or to the firmly-rooted faith regarding its preternatural concomitants:

Is it not very like,
The horrible conceit of death and night,
Together with the terror of the place, -
As in a vault, an ancient réceptacle,
Where, for these many hundred years, the bones
Of all my buried ancestors are pack'd, -
Where bloody Tybalt, yet but green in earth,
Lies fest'ring in his shroud, -where, as they say,
At some hours in the night, spirits resort ;-
Alack, alack! is it not like, that I,
So early waking,—what with loathsome smells,
And shrieks like mandrakes' torn out of the earth,
That living mortals, hearing them, run mad ;-
Oh, if I wake, shall I not be distraught,
Environed with all these hideous fears ?-
And madly play with my forefathers' joints ?-
And pluck the mangled Tybalt from his shroud ?-
And, in this rage, with some great kinsman's bone,

As with a club, dash out my desperate brains ? In all this, Mrs. Jameson sees only that, “gradually, and most naturally, in such a mind once thrown off

* Characteristics,' &c., 3rd edit., vol. i. p. 195.

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