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Mon. Alas, my liege, my wife is dead to-night; Grief of my son's exile hath stopp'd her breath: What further woe conspires against mine age? Prince. Look, and thou shalt see.
Mon. O thou untaught! what manners is in this, To press before thy father to a grave?
Prince. Seal up the mouth of outrage for a while, Till we can clear these ambiguities,
And know their spring, their head, their true descent;
And then will I be general of your woes,
And lead you even to death: Mean time forbear,
Fri. I am the greatest, able to do least,
Prince. Then say at once what thou dost know in this.
Fri. I will be brief, for my short date of breath Is not so long as is a tedious tale.
Romeo, there dead, was husband to that Juliet;
Or, in my cell there would she kill herself.
The form of death: meantime I writ to Romeo,
That he should hither come as this dire night,
Came I to take her from her kindred's vault;
Prince. We still have known thee for a holy
Where's Romeo's man? what can he say in this?
To this same place, to this same monument.
Prince. Give me the letter, I will look on it.-
And bid me stand aloof, and so I did:
Anon, comes one with light to ope the tomb;
And then I ran away to call the watch.
Prince. This letter doth make good the friar's
Their course of love, the tidings of her death:
Came to this vault to die, and lie with Juliet.--
Can I demand.
But I can give thee more:
For I will raise her statue in pure gold;
That, while Verona by that name is known,
As that of true and faithful Juliet.
Cap. As rich shall Romeo by his lady lie;
Poor sacrifices of our enmity!
Prince. A glooming peace this morning with it
The sun for sorrow will not show his head:
Some shall be pardon'd, and some punished:
For never was a story of more woe,
Mercutio and Paris.
This play is one of the most pleasing of our author's performances. The scenes are busy and va rious, incidents numerous and important, the catas trophe irresistibly affecting, and the process of the action carried on with such probability, at least
with such congruity to popular opinions, as tragedy requires.
Here is one of the few attempts of Shakspeare to exhibit the conversation of gentlemen, to represent the airy sprightliness of juvenile elegance. Mr. Dryden mentions a tradition, which might easily reach his time, of a declaration made by Shakspeare, that he was obliged to kill Mercutio in the third Act, lest he should have been killed by him. Yet he thinks him no such formidable person, but that he might have lived through the play, and died in his bed, without danger to the poet. Dryden well knew, had he been in quest of truth, in a pointed sentence, that more regard is commonly had to the words than the thought, and that it is very seldom to be rigorously understood. Mercu tio's wit, gaiety, and courage, will always procure him friends that wish him a longer life; but his death is not precipitated, he has lived out the time allotted him in the construction of the play; nor do I doubt the ability of Shakspeare to have continued his existence, though some of his sallies are perhaps out of the reach of Dryden; whose genius, was not very fertile of merriment, nor ductile to humour, but acute, argumentative, comprehensive, and sublime.
The Nurse is one of the characters in which the author delighted: he has, with great subtility of distinction, drawn her at once loquacious and secret, obsequious and insolent, trusty and dishonest.
His comick scenes are happily wrought, but his pathetick strains are always polluted with some unexpected depravations. His persons, however distressed, have a conceit left them in their misery, a miserable conceit.