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being justified, on such an occasion, chiefly by its poetic beauty. This, however, is a great mistaking of Shakespeare's dramatic spirit. It is in earnest pursuit of his immediate purpose—to procure the means of self-destruction—that Romeo is led to glance rapidly over the picture of that “penury” which lately noting” he had said to himself

An if a man did need a poison now,
Whose sale is present death in Mantua, *

Here lives a caitiff wretch would sell it him. The same steady earnestness of purpose pervades every line of his dialogue with the Apothecary himself. Although,

Being holiday, the beggar's shop is shut, yet he proceeds at once to make his application, confident that the idea of a providential customer must bring the starving shopkeeper forth at his summons:

What, ho! apothecary!
Ap.

Who calls so loud ?
Rom. Come hither, man.—1 see that thou art poor.-
Hold, there is forty ducats.-Let me have
A dram of poison-such soon-speeding geer
As will disperse itself through all the veins,
That the life-weary taker may fall dead;
And that the trunk may be discharg'd of breath
As violently, as hasty powder fir'd
Doth hurry from the fatal cannon's womb.

Ap. Such mortal drugs I have; but Mantua's law
Is death to any he, that utters them.

Rom. Art thou so bare, and full of wretchedness,
And fear'st to die? Famine is in thy cheeks,
Need and oppression stareth in thy eyes,
Upon thy back hangs ragged misery;
The world is not thy friend, nor the world's law;

Not “Whose sale were present death in Mantua,” as it is constantly given in the “acting play.” This is one of those seemingly slight verbal alterations which involve an essential perversion of the meaning of a passage. Romeo is in no state of mind to be idly speculating upon contingent obstacles, as we see that even Coleridge suspects him of doing. It is his knowledge that the sale of poisons is certainly prohibited in Mantua by a standing law, that gives to his descriptive soliloquy that perfect dramatic propriety which has been somewhat idly though very generally contested.

The world affords no law to make thee rich;
Then be not poor, but break it, and take this.

Ap. My poverty, but not my will, consents.
Rom. I pray thy poverty,* and not thy will.

Ap. Put this in any liquid thing you will,
And drink it off; and, if you had the strength
Of twenty men, it would despatch you straight.

Rom. There is thy gold-worse poison to men's souls,
Doing more murders in this loathsome world,
Than these poor compounds that thou mayst not sell;
I sell thee poison, thou hast sold me none.-
Farewell—buy food, and get thyself in flesh.-
Come, cordial, and not poison-go with me

To Juliet's grave, for there must I use thee ! In all this scene, the tenacious clinging to life which mere physical destitution commonly exhibits, throws into more prominent relief that eager longing for death which attends the pure desolation of the heart. To lie in “ Juliet's grave,” we see, is Romeo's one

, unvarying end and purpose, to which every syllable of his well-argued pleading with the apothecary is strictly subservient.

The same determined coolness of a deliberate and inexorable resolve—arguing strength, not weakness, of character—firmness, not rashness—comes out more strikingly and intensely, as the moment of its fulfilment approaches, in the parting scene with his servant Balthasar, at the burial-place of the Capulets :

Give me that mattock, and the wrenching-iron.-
Hold, take this letter; early in the morning
See thou deliver it to my lord and father.
Give me the light.-Upon thy life I charge thee,
Whate'er thou hear'st or seest, stand all aloof,
And do not interrupt me in my course.
Why I descend into this bed of death,

* Not “I pay thy poverty," as we always hear it so emphatically delivered on the stage, -as it is printed in most later editions,-and, we regret to see, is retained by Mr. Collier; while Mr. Knight very properly restores the reading of the second quarto and the first folio. Even without such strong documentary support, the first suggestion of the word pray, in this context, should have procured its adoption by every editor. The relation here is between Romeo's earnestly repeated prayer and the apothecary's consent : the moment for paying him is not yet arrived.

Is, partly, to behold my lady's face;
But chiefly, to take thence from her dead finger
A precious ring—a ring that I must use
In dear employment. -Therefore, hence, begone. —
But if thou, jealous, dost return to pry
In what I further shall intend to do,–
By heaven, I will tear thee joint by joint,
And strew this hungry churchyard with thy limbs :
The time, and my intents, are savage-wild,
More fierce and more inexorable far
Than empty tigers, or the roaring sea !

Bal. I will be gone, sir, and not trouble you.
Rom. So shalt thou shew me friendship.-Take thou

that:
Live, and be prosperous; and farewell, good fellow.

But this fatal fixedness of purpose exhibits itself most intensely of all in the scene that immediately follows with Paris, whom we find again thrusting himself where he has no business. How expressively are the two respective modes contrasted, in which the would-be husband and the real one regard their lady's sepulchre. The self-complacent prettiness of the count's

Sweet flower, with flowers I strew thy bridal bed;
Sweet tomb, that thy circuit dost contain

The perfect model of eternity, &c. sets off most admirably the passionate despair of Romeo's ensuing apostrophe, while breaking open the vault :

Thou détestable maw, thou womb of death,
Gorg'd with the dearest morsel of the earth,
Thus I enforce thy rotten jaws to open,
And, in despite, I'll cram thee with more food!

But most effectively of all is the intensity of this final aspiration shown, in its struggle with and triumph over that inherent tenderness and generosity of the hero's nature which make him so earnestly conjure the intruding youth, whose identity he does not yet recognize, to molest him no further. With what consummate art does the following passage portray to us that impatient strife in his bosom, between the apprehension of being interrupted in his final irrevo

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cable act, and his reluctance to another deed of bloodshed:

Par. Stay thy unhallow'd toil, vile Montague !
Can vengeance be pursued further than death ?-
Condemned villain, I do apprehend thee :
Obey, and go with me; for thou must die.

Rom. I must indeed, and therefore came I hither.
Good gentle youth, tempt not a desperate man!—
Fly hence and leave me.--Think upon these gone-
Let them affright thee.—I beseech thee, youth,
Heap not another sin upon my head,
By urging me to fury --Oh, be gone!
By heaven, I love thee better than myself;
For I came hither arm'd against myself.
Stay not—be gone-live, and hereafter say,
A madman's mercy bade thee run away!

Par. I do defy thy conjurations,
And do attach thee as a felon here.

Rom. Wilt thou provoke me?—then, have at thee, boy!

Par. Oh, I am slain !-If thou be merciful,
Open the tomb, lay me with Juliet.

Rom. In faith, I will.The obtrusive impertinence of this same county Paris, we see, is immortal, since it extends even into the tomb. That is the best that can be said for it. One must at least admire its invincible pertinacity ;-at the same time that we, the auditory, who have witnessed his becoming the heartless instrument of the heroine's extremest torment, cannot but find our irritated feelings consoled by the fact that he receives his punishment at the hand which has the greatest right to inflict it. Romeo, however, has no cognizance of the offensive part which his antagonist has been acting towards his bride; and therefore, conformably to his nature, his exclamations over the corpse of Paris, when he has recognized him, are simply an effusion of the tenderest pity :

Let me peruse this face.
Mercutio's kinsman! noble county Paris !
What said my man, when my betossed soul
Did not attend him as we rode? -I think
He told me, Paris should have married Juliet.

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Said he not so? or did I dream it so ?
Or am I mad, hearing him talk of Juliet,
To think it was so ?- -Oh, give me thy hand,
One writ with me in sour misfortune's book !
I'll bury thee in a triumphant grave-
A grave ?-oh no, a lantern, slaughter'd youth,
For here lies Juliet, and her beauty makes
This vault a feasting presence full of light !-

Death, lie thou there, by a dead man interr'd!

And now, for the first time since the morrow of their nuptials, he turns to gaze on Juliet, whose beauty, he has told us, makes the dark charnel-vault appear to him bright as a lighted banquet-room. On the

a point of her revival

, “the roses in her “lips and cheeks” have already replaced the “paly ashes” which the operation of the sleeping-draughi had substituted for them. This little circumstance gives the crowning pathos to the scene; since it at once announces to the auditor her approaching resurrection, and lures her husband, as it were, the more seductively to his last fatal act:

How oft, when men are at the point of death,
Have they been merry,* which their keepers call
A lightning before death. -Oh, how may I
Call

this a lightning! -Oh, my love, my wife,
Death, that hath suck'd the honey of thy breath,
Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty-
Thou art not conquer'd-Beauty's ensign yet
Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks,

And Death's pale flag is not advanced there! Then comes the crowning instance of the hero's native gentleness and generosity, in his parting words to the corpse of the very man whose brutal malevolence has forced him into all this train of suffering :

Tybalt, liest thou there in thy bloody sheet ?-
Oh, what more favour can I do to thee,
Than, with that hand that cut thy youth in twain,
To sunder his that was thine enemy !-

Forgive me, cousin !
And now, two images alone remain to his contem-

Merry– that is, cheerful.

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