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and the rest of his observations are naturally called forth by Juliet's as natural actions. The remainder of the soliloquy peculiarly illustrates what I have said respecting Shakspeare's art in conjuring up the scene; and though this tragedy is not amongst his highest, I consider it as one of his most extraordinary and beautiful efforts. I think it is Aristotle who says, , that when we are thinking of what is past, we look downwards, and when of what is to come, upwards. I suppose Juliet to enter the balcony with downcast look, in deep thought on what had passed between herself and Romeo. At length, with some exclamation dying on her lip, she slowly raises her eyes, as if to read in the stars her future fate; on all of which Romeo, who is intently watching her, minutely comments as follows:
She speaks-yet she says nothing. What of that?
I am too bold, 'tis not to me she speaks. When her eye moves upwards to his level, he is on the point of advancing; but when it reaches the stars, he checks himself with a lover's diffidence, and then breaks out into a lover's rhapsody :
Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven,
That birds would sing, and think it were not night. In her inquietude of mind, Juliet here changes her position, which calls forth from Romeo the well-known gallant passage,
See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand !
At length Juliet, seeing no end to her perplexity, exclaims in despair, “ Ah me!” on which Romeo waits all attentive, and then falls into another rhapsody.
And sails upon the bosom of the air. Here, interrupted by Juliet's exclamations, ends this famous soliloquy, to the mangled, and as it seems to me only half understood beauties of which I have endeavoured to render justice. If I have succeeded where so many others have failed, it is entirely owing to the spirit I imbibed from so frequently witnessing the performances of the accomplished actress I have already mentioned. She illuminated her author with her loveliness, and gave a purer taste and more accurate perception to her auditors—at least to those who had taste and perception capable of improvement. It is a curious fact with respect to the passages immediately following the soliloquy, that the impassioned fancies of a love-sick girl should have furnished part of the common currency of our language. “ O Romeo, Romeo ! wherefore art thou Romeo?" and “ What's in a name ?” are phrases of every day use. Through. out the scene Juliet's character is full of beautiful touches. Her anxiety, in the first instance, for Romeo's safety whilst in her father's garden, her curiosity to know how he found out the place, her full and ingenuous confession in return for his avowal of love, her protest that she should have been more strange, but that he overheard, ere she was aware, her true love's passion, her repugnance to any oath, her misgiving as to so sudden and unadvised a contract, her hope that it might prove fortunate, her expression of conscious innocence, her profession of boundless attachment, follow each other beautifully and suc
cinctly. But the poet's most artful touch is the causing her at this juncture to be summoned down to her mother, which must be supposed to be for the purpose of saying something to her respecting her intended marriage ; and this introduces the decisive step—as the only means of preventing her fate-of stealing back, and thus addressing her lover:
If that thy bent of love be honourable,
This passage was exquisitely delivered by Miss O'Neill, as well as the pathetic appeal, which follows amidst the interruption of another summons
But if thou mean'st not well, I do beseech
Her second return, and lingering artless fondness close the scene with the same truth and beauty which pervade the whole, and stand unrivalled.
I have entered into this detailed criticism principally with a view to endeavour to rescue the lovely Juliet from the disfayour with which she is looked upon by ladies. They seem to consider her as a traitress to the dignity and delicacy of their sex, and speak of her almost as they would of a girl who should ask a gentleman at Almack's or a race-ball, whom she had never seen or heard of before, to marry her the next morning. But Shakspeare was no such bungler, either in choosing his groundwork, or in filling it up. He took an extreme case, and he has treated it with that extreme art, which requires study of the author himself, instead of a garbled representation, to comprehend and appreciate. Juliet, with a mind prepared, was addressed by Romeo with the energy of a ripened passion. When she discovered who he was, his reputation was already known to her, and she found in a fancied object of hatred one worthy of all her devotion. Chance discovered her secret, which she was not overstepping the bounds of delicacy in uttering to herself in darkness and imagined solitude, and it was not till Romeo had responded to her passion, that she made a full confession. Necessity urged her at a critical moment to take that decisive step, which, under any other circumstances, would have been revolting, and “the mask of night," and the security of her situation, gave a tone of delicacy to her interview with Romeo, which would have been wanting in any other combination of time and place. It is singular that among the many repre- . sentations on canvass of Juliet in the balcony, there is not one ihat is successful. The late Mr. Dawe, the royal academician, painted Miss O'Neill in this scene, but with no adequate expression, and with so little understanding of his sub. ject, as to introduce a lamp suspended over her head. In my thirteenth number it is mentioned, in the letters from the continent, that I prolonged my stay at Florence to attend a ball at an Italian villa, for the purpose of better understanding Romeo and Juliet, by which the reader will perceive that I have omitted no means of enabling myself to speak from knowledge of my subject.
Since writing the above, I am more convinced than before that Juliet is to be supposed to be summoned by the nurse to her mother respecting her proposed marriage with Paris, who had been a guest at the ball, and that she is also to be supposed to have contrived an excuse to return for a moment, her
previous joyousness changed into haste and trepidation, for the purpose of communicating her sudden resolve, as her only resource in her extremity. Her second return seems to be in consequence of her having unexpectedly got rid of further interruption ; and her mind being restored to ease, her playfulness is beautifully contrasted with her preceding agitation.
I apprehend the whole scene admits of much more scope for acting than has ever been supposed, and I am not aware of any other instance of such a variety of feeling being displayed in the same space.
EQUALITY OF STYLE.
I was once passing some time alone with a bachelor friend of mine at his country house. After dinner he always drank claret, being the wine he preferred. On one occasion he had a large party of the neighbouring gentry to dine with him, and the following day, when claret was produced as usual, he asked me if I had not thought it strange that he had not set any before his guests. On my answering that I had certainly observed the fact, he informed me it would have been his wish to have done so, and that formerly it had been his practice on such occasions, but that he had thought right to discontinue it, because among the party there were some who had families to provide for from means inferior to his own, but who, he had learned from observation, scrupulously made a point of entertaining him as he had entertained them, though he knew it was neither convenient to them, nor in accordance with their usual style. Of course I approved of his consideration. Here was a case of a gentleman being restrained in his hospitality, and himself and his friends curtailed in their enjoyment, from a most absurd, though very common, species of pride. In bringing my experience to bear upon this subject, it seems to me that pride of this kind is altogether confined to those who have lived in a contracted circle, whether as to space, or as to the different classes of society. I cannot call to mind any instances of those who have mixed much with the world being at all infected with it, whereas the high-minded and the liberal on other points are often weak on