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The Earliest Editions.

The First Edition of Romeo and Juliet was a quarto published in 1597 with the following title-page :"An | EXCELLENT | conceited Tragedie | or | Romeo and Iuliet, | As it hath been often (with great applause) plaid publiquely by the right Honourable the L. of Hunsdon | his Seruants. | LONDON, | Printed by John Danter. | 1597. | "

A second quarto edition appeared in 1599:-"The | Most Ex-| cellent and lamentable | Tragedie, of Romeo | and Iuliet. | Newly corrected, augmented, and | amended: | As it hath bene sundry times publiquely acted, by the | right Honourable the Lord Chamberlaine his Seruants. | LONDON | Printed by Thomas Creede, for Cuthbert Burby, and are to be sold at his shop neare the Exchange. | 1599.”

A third quarto was issued in 1609, as "acted by the King's Maiesties Seruants, at the Globe," and "printed for Iohn Smethwick "; this edition was subsequently reprinted, with an undated title-page, giving us for the first time the name of the author-"written by W. Shakespeare," though this additional information is not found in all the copies. A fifth quarto, identical with the fourth, bears the date of 1637. The text of the First Folio version was taken from the third quarto; many errors therein seem due to the compositors. The second quarto is our best authority for the play, though "it is certain that it was not printed from the author's MS., but from a transcript, the writer of which was not only careless, but thought fit to take unwarrantable liberties with the text." It formed the basis of the third quarto; this again was used for the fourth, and the fourth was reprinted as the fifth edition; all these are therefore often in agreement, and are referred to as Quartos.

Quarto 1, which is nearly one quarter less than Quarto 2 (2232 lines as against 3007), was evidently made up from shorthand notes taken at the theatre, supplemented by copies of portions of the original play, which for the most part appears to have agreed with the authorised version of 1599, though certain essential differences between the two

editions make it probable that many a passage had been revised, rewritten, or augmented (e.g. Act II., Sc. vi., the meeting of Romeo and Juliet at the Friars' cell; Act IV., Sc. v., the lamentations over Juliet; Act V. Sc. iii. 12-17). In spite of its many defects, the First Quarto cannot be altogether neglected in dealing with the text of the play. The theory, however, that it gives us "a fairly accurate version of the play as it was first written" is now held by few scholars.*

Date of Composition.

The evidence seems to point to as early a year as 1591 for the date of the composition of Romeo and Juliet, at least in its first form, though the play, as we know it, may safely be dated circa 1596.

In proof of the early date the following are noteworthy points:—(i) in Weever's Epigrams, written before 1595, Romeo is alluded to as one of Shakespeare's popular characters; (ii) the allusions (I. iii. 23, 25) to the earthquake seem to refer to a famous earthquake felt in London in 1580; (iii) passages in Daniel's Complainte of Rosamunde, 1592, are probably reminiscent of Romeo's speech in presence of Juliet in the tomb †; (iv) there are several striking parallels in Romeo and Juliet and Marlowe's plays and other early dramas (e.g. Dr Dodipoll, written before 1596); certain passages in undoubtedly early plays, e.g. Two Gentlemen of Verona (Act V. ll. 1-10) suggest points of contact with the present play.

But over and above these external points must be placed the internal evidence, which places Romeo and Juliet among the early love-plays :-(i) the frequency of rhyme, much of it in the form of alternate rhymes; (ii) * The First quarto has been reprinted by the Cambridge Editors, and in Mr Furness' Variorum Edition; there is a facsimile edition of Quartos 1, 2, 4, in Shakespere Quarto Facsimiles; there are two valuable critical parallel editions of the First and Second quartos, by Tycho Mommsen (published in 1859, with a full study of the textual problems), and by P. A. Daniel (New Shakespere Society, 1874); a summary of the various theories held by scholars on the relationship of the quartos, etc., is to be found in Furness, pp. 415-424.

† The argument might, of course, work the other way (and it is often taken so), but Daniel was notorious for his conveyance of Shakespearian beauties, and is alluded to, from his point of view, in The Return from Parnassus, where a character, Gallio by name, shows too ready a knowledge of the play, and Ingenioso observes in an "aside":Mark, Romeo and Juliet. O monstrous theft! I think he will run through a book of Samuel Daniell's." The meaning of this comment is clear from the third play of the "Parnassus Trilogy," where the criticism on Daniel is to this effect :"Only let him more sparingly make use

Of others' wit and use his own the more."

(Cf. Preface to Richard II.)

E.g. The first lines of Juliet's "Serena" seem like an echo of a passage in EDWARD II. :-"Gallop apace bright Phæbus thro' the sky," etc.

the conceits, word-play, alliteration, and the like; (iii) the lyrical character of the whole. It is peculiarly striking that the three chief forms of medieval love-poetry are to be found in the play; (i) in the sonnet-form of the first meeting of the lovers; (ii) in the serena, or evening-song, of Juliet (Act III. Sc. ii. 1-33); (iii) in the alba, or dawn-song, of the parting lovers (Act III. Sc. v. 1-36).

To these typical lyrical pieces should be added Paris' highest lyrical expression, the graceful though conventional elegiac sestet (V. iii. 12-18).*

Finally, one must not overlook the close connection of the play with the sonnets, many of which, as we know from Meres, must have been written before 1598; it is a pity we cannot definitely date Sonnet cxvi. :

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Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass comes. . . .'

The Plot. A story having the same features as Romeo and Juliet has been found in a Greek medieval Romance of the fifth century, but whatever its ultimate origin, the story eventually became localised in Italy, the Veronese fixing the date of the tragedy in the year 1303. Dante, reproaching the Emperor Albert for the neglect of Italy (Purg. vi.), alludes thus to the Montagues and Capulets :—

"Vieni, a veder Montechi e Capelletti," etc.†

Although several earlier Italian stories exist recalling that of Romeo and Juliet, these names of the lovers are not found in Italian literature till about 1530, when their history, "historia novellamente retrovata di duo nobili amanti," was first told by Luigi da Porto, who, a love-sick soldier, once heard the story from his favourite archer, the Veronese Peregrino, as they rode along the lonely road from Gradisca and Udine, in the country of Friuli. Peregrino's story was in all probability based on an old tale found among the Novelle of Masuccio Salernitano, printed at Naples in 1476. Da Porto's novel became very popular, and several renderings

* Contrast this with Romeo's blank verse speech, which immediately follows. Nothing could be more significant.

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were made of the story.* Most important is that of Bandello (1554), which was translated into French by Boisteau, and included in his famous Histoires Tragiques (1559), whence were derived two English versions:— (i) Arthur Brooke's poem (1562), and (ii) Paynter's novel (1567), included in the "Palace of Pleasure.”

The Poem and the Play. Shakespeare probably consulted both these versions of the story, but Brooke's poem was his main source. He followed it closely; here and there the play betrays a slight influence upon its diction; conceits and antithesis in the poem may occasionally be paralleled from the play. The plot of the two versions is substantially the same,† but Shakespeare shows his dramatic skill in dealing with the materials-e.g. (i) he compresses the action, which in the story occupies four or five months, into as many days; (ii) he recreates the character of Mercutio, who in the poem is a mere "courtier bold among the bashful maydes"; (iii) he makes Paris die at the grave of Juliet by the hand of Romeo; in the poem nothing is heard of the Count after his disappointment.

But though in subject Shakespeare follows Brooke, it need hardly be said that in its spirit-in its transfiguration of the story-the play altogether transcends the poem; a greater effort than Brooke's wearisome production would pale its uneffectual fire before the glowing warmth of this Song of Songs of Romantic Passion.

Early Plays on "Romeo and Juliet." In his "address to the Reader," Brooke speaks of having seen "the same argument lately set forth on stage with more commendation than I can look for." No trace

* In 1553 Gabriel Giolito published in Venice a poem on the subject; its author was probably Gherardo Boldiero. Ten years previously (1542) Adrian Sevin, the translator of Boccacio's Philocopo, gave the story in French, though the names of the lovers became strangely changed in his version. (The sources are discussed in Simrock's Quellen, Furness' Variorum Edition, etc.; specially valuable is Daniel's Originals and Analogues, Part I. New Shak. Soc.).

† In the versions of Da Porto and Bandello, and in Garrick's acting version of Shakespeare's play, Juliet wakes from her sleep while Romeo still lives; Shakespeare follows Brooke and Paynter in the catastrophe of the play. On the other hand, Shakespeare makes Juliet two years younger than she is in Brooke's poem.

A short specimen will interest the reader :

"At last with trembling voice and shamefast cheer the maid
Unto her Romeus turned herself, and thus to him she said:-
O blessed be the time of thy arrival here:

But ere she could speak forth the rest, to her love drew so near;
And so within her mouth her tongue he glewed fast

That no one word could scape her more, than what already past."

has been discovered of the drama alluded to; it is difficult to imagine a popular Romantic play belonging to this early date (c. 1562), and no doubt Brooke was referring to some such Academic production as "Tancred and Gismunda"; possibly the play in question was an exercise in Latin * verse, acted in a College Hall or at the Inns of Court.

The earliest extant play on the subject of Romeo and Juliet is La Hadriana, by the blind poet and actor, Luigi Groto; its date is 1578. There are some few striking resemblances with Shakespeare's play; the most noteworthy being the parting of the two lovers.†

Shakespeare's great contemporary, the Spanish dramatist, Lope de Vega, used the same subject for one of his bright and graceful "cloak and sword comedies,” under the title of "Castelvines y Monteses." Again, Lope's successor, Francisco de Rojas y Zorrilla, was drawn to the theme, and founded upon it his "Los Bandos de Verona."

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As early as 1626, if not earlier, a version of Shakespeare's play was known in Germany (v. Cohn's "Shakespeare in Germany in the XVIth and XVIIth centuries"). On the many English acting perversions of the tragedy, it is unnecessary to comment.

Duration of Action. Shakespeare's compression of the story has already been referred to; four or five days cover the whole action of the play, the rapidity of events effectively harmonising with the "local colour," with the violent love and violent hate of the impulsive South, "too like the lightning."

The lovers meet on Sunday; they are wedded on Monday; they part at dawn on Tuesday; they are re-united in death on the night of Thursday.


" lyric Love, balf angel and balf bird.

And all a wonder and a wild desire!"

* There exist indeed among the Sloane MSS. the fragments of a Latin version of the story, evidently the exercise of a Cambridge student, but the MS. belongs, I think, to the beginning of the 17th century. It is nevertheless an interesting curiosity.

† J. C. Walker, in his "Historical Memoir on Italian Tragedy," first called attention to the play from this point of view, and translated the passages in question ; e.g.

Latino. If I err not, the lamp of day is nigh.

List to the nightingale, that wakes with us,
With us laments mid thorns; and now the dew,
Like our tears, pearls the grass. Ah me, alas,
Turn towards the east thy face, etc.

Groto's play was certainly known in England; there is an annotated copy among the dramatist Ruggles' books at Clare College.

F. W. Cosens published a translation of both plays in a privately printed edition. A full summary of Lope's drama is to be found in Furness' "Variorum" Romeo and Juliet.


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