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The antecedent to “it,” in this sentence, is not sufficiently obvious, and should rather be “ the world,” than “ law;" both the construction and the argument are better in the first quarto : “And dost thou fear to violate the law ? “ The law is not thy friend, nor the law's friend;
(i. e. neither law nor lawyer) * And therefore make no conscience of the law." “ Need and oppression starveth in thy eyes.”
This line, I confess, appears to me more poetical than that which we find in the first quarto: “ And starved famine dwelleth in thy cheeks.”
“Starveth in thine eyes,” is, “ keepeth his state there, exhibits there his nature and quality." To say that “ need starves," is only saying that “ need continues his existence.” There is no false grammar here, as need and oppression, of which that need is the mere consequence, compose, one mixed or general idea, which would only be split and enfeebled by pluralizing the verb.
236. “ Not nice.”
Not ceremonious or superfluous.
SCENE III. 238.“ — Perfect model of eternity.”
“ Eternity,” I suppose, for “heaven;" a model for angels (not in the first quarto.)
" Perfect model of eternity.”
The perfection and complete nature of eternity, I conceive, is here meant that which contains every thing.
B. STRUTT, 242. “ I do defy thy conjuratións.”
“Defy,” Mr. Steevens, interprets “refuse,” but it is somewhat more-it is, to renounce with vehemence, to abjure; as, in K. Henry IV, Hotspur exclaims, “ All studies, here, I solemnly defy, “ Save how to gall and pinch this Boling broke.” 343.“ In faith, I will :-Let me peruse this
face.” So great a favour should not so prematurely be granted ; indeed, it would be of no value if any stranger might claim and receive it. The first and latter parts of the line should change places, as it is evident that Romeo's motive for complying with Paris's request was, his having recognised the kinsman of Mercutio : "Let me peruse this face:-In faith I will; “ Mercutio's kinsman,” &c.
“ Did not attend him.” Did not mark, attend to him the active for the neuter form. 248. 66
Here “Will I set up my everlasting rest.” In a similar tone of resolute despair, Othello
“Here is my journey's end; here is my butt; “ The very sea-mark of my utmost sail.”
251. " As I did sleep
" I dreamt my master and another fought,
" And that my master slew him.” Mr. Steevens makes a long remark upon this. supposing that Balthazar is honestly reporting, as a dream, what his terrified imagination only had unrealized; this, indeed, might have been the case with Paris's page, who found himself almost afraid to stand alone: but Balthazar, with a steady spirit, resolves to watch his master, and was not of a temper to be so mistaken; his disingenuousness on this occasion is the natural and venial result of his reflecting on the danger he would be exposed to, if he acknowledged himself an unactive spectator of what had passed.
“ As I did sleep,” &c. This passage is not in the first quarto. The servant of Romeo must have been a sot indeed, so soon, at such a crisis, and in such a place, to have fallen asleep; and more so, having dreamt that his master had killed a man, that he did not go to the entrance of the monument to be ascertained of the fact.—I cannot admit the passage to be genuine, although I allow the comment to be judicious. Mr. Steevens chuses to assert, that this belief of Balthazar's is a touch of nature. I cannot discern in it any thing that is natural; nor do I see what Rhesus, in Homer, or the applause of Dacier and Eustathius, has to do with the subject
in the first and third quartos, Paris desires the boy to stay under a yew tree; in the latter, particularly, he is desired to lie “all along on the ground, under the yew trees." If any one slept there it was the boy, and not Romeo's man; yet the boy was placed there to watch the approach of VOL. II.
any one, and fled at the encounter, to call the watch.
B. STRUTT. Mr. Seymour's interpretation of this passage may derive strong support from a recent fact that occured during the civil horrors that have afflicted Ireland.- A deep-laid plot of assassination was revealed by a servant, in a feigned dream, while he was supposed to be sleeping. . CAPEL LOFFT. 363. “ Never was a story of more woe.”
I suppose there are few who read this tragedy, or witness its representation on the stage, that do not lament the fatal 'catastrophe, and wish the poet had not ultimately sacrificed the lovers, whose tenderness, misfortunes, and fidelity deserved a gentler doom ; for this purpose, an expedient was at hand, in the Apothecary, who would readily have been pardoned for deceiving Romeo, with some harmless drug, instead of the poison; but, besides that this might be objectionable, in too much resembling the Friar's device, with Juliet, it was impossible, without violating probability and decorum, to dismiss the pair to happiness, as the prince must have condemned Romeo for not only disregarding the decree of banishment, but adding to his former offence the death of Paris. There is, further, in the moral, a three-fold motive for this conduct of the poet, who meant to exhibit, at once, the destructive effects of feudal animosity, the chastisement of filial disobedience, and, above all, I believe, the misery too often produced by parental despotism. There is observeable, in the dialogue of this drama, a striking dissimilarity, which yet I do not regard as the result of corruption. Nir. Malone, in his conjectural Chronologic List, places Romeo and Juliet pretty high, and I believe he is right: but I think, further, that the play had been sketched out, and only the first act written, long before the time when it was brought upon the stage. The abortive introduction of Rosaline, together with the rhymes, conceits, and clinches occurring in the early scenes, persuade me they were written before our poet had digested his plan, or was possessed of that vigorous and masterly style of composition which he afterwards acquired, and which is abundantly displayed in the sequel and progress of the presept tragedy.