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rising in her breast, but disappointment which she had not yet felt? As are the desires and hopes of youthful passion, such is the keenness of its disappointments, and their baleful effect. Such is the transition in this play from the highest bliss to the lowest despair, from the nuptial couch to an untimely grave. The only evil that even in apprehension befalls the two lovers is the loss of the greatest possible felicity; yet this loss is fatal to both, for they had rather part with life than bear the thought of surviving all that had made life dear to them. In all this, Shakspeare has but followed nature, which existed in his time, as well as now. The modern philosophy, which reduces the whole theory of the mind to habitual impressions, and leaves the natural impulses of passion and imagination out of the account, had not then been discovered; or, if it had, would have been little calculated for the uses of .
It is the inadequacy of the same false system of philosophy to account for the strength of our earliest attachments, which has led Mr. Wordsworth to indulge in the mystical visions of Platonism in his Ode on the Progress of Life. He has very admi. rably described the vividness of our impressions in youth and childhood, and how “they fade by degrees into the light of common day," and he ascribes the change to the supposition of a pre-existent state, as if our early thoughts were nearer heaven, reflections of former trails of glory, shadows of our past being. This is idle. It is not from the knowledge of the past that the first impressions of things derive their gloss and splendor, but from our ignorance of the future, which fills the void to come with the warmth of our desires, with our gayest hopes and brightest fancies. It is the obscurity spread before it that colors the prospect of life with hope, as it is the cloud which reflects the rainbow. There is no occasion to resort to any mystical union and transmission of feeling, through different states of being, to account for the romantic enthusiasm of youth ; nor to plant the root of hope in the grave, nôr to derive it from the skies. Its root is in the heart of man: it lifts its head above the stars. Desire and imagination are inmates of the human breast: The heaven “ that lies about us in our infancy” is only a new world, of which we know nothing but what we wish it to be,
and believe it all that we wish. In youth and boyhood, the world we live in is the world of desire, and of fancy: it is expe. rience that brings us down to the world of reality. What is it that in youth sheds a dewey light round the evening star! That makes the daisy look so bright? That perfumes the hyacinth ? That embalms the first kiss of love? It is the delight of novelty, and the seeing no end to the pleasure that we fondly believe is still in store for us. The heart revels in the luxury of its own thoughts, and is unable to sustain the weight of hope and love that presses upon it. The effects of the passion of love alone might have dissipated Mr. Wordsworth's theory, if he means anything more by it than an ingenious and poetical allegory. That at least is not a link in the chain let down from other worlds ; " the purple light of love" is not a dim reflection of the smiles of celestial bliss. It does not appear till the middle of life, and then seems like “ another morn risen on mid-day." In this respect the soul comes into the world in utter nakedness. Love waits for the ripening of the youthful blood. The sense of pleasure precedes the love of pleasure, but with the sense of pleasure, as soon as it is felt, come thronging infinite desires and hopes of pleasure, and love is mature as soon as born. It withers and it dies almost as soon !
This play presents a beautiful coup d'ail of the progress of human life. In thought it occupies years, and embraces the circle of the affections from childhood to old age. Juliet bas become a great girl, a young woman, since we first remember her a little thing in the idle prattle of the nurse. Lady Capulet was about her age when she became a mother, and old Capulet somewhat impatiently tells his younger visitors,
" I've seen the day
Thus one period of life raakes way for the following, and one generation pushes another of the stage. One of the most striking passages to show the intense feeling of youth in this play is Capulet's invitation to Paris to visit his entertainment.
“At my poor house, look to behold this night
The feelings of youth and of the spring are here blended together like the breath of opening flowers. Images of vernal beauty appear to have floated before the author's mind, in writing this poem, in profusion. Here is another of exquisite beauty, brought in more by accident than by necessity. Montague declares of his son smit with a hopeless passion, which he will not reveal
“ But he, his own affection's counsellor,
This casual description is as full of passionate beauty as when Romeo dwells in frantic fondness on the white wonder of his Juliet's hand.” The reader may, if he pleases, contrast the exquisite pastoral simplicity of the above lines with the gorgeous description of Juliet when Romeo first sees her at her father's house, surrounded by company and artificial splendor.
« What lady's that which doth enrich the hand
It would be hard to say which of the two garden scenes is the finest, that where he first converses with his love, or takes leave of her the morning after their marriage. Both are like a heaven upon earth; the blissful bowers of Paradise let down upon this lower world. We will give only one passage of these well. known scenes to show the perfect refinement and delicacy of
Shakspeare's conception of the female character. It is wonder. ful how Collins, who was a critic and a poet of great sensibility, should have encouraged the common error on this subject by saying—"But stronger Shakspeare felt for man alone."
The passage we mean is Juliet's apology for her maiden boldness.
* Thou knowost the mask of night is on my face;
In this and all the rest her heart, fluttering between pleasure, hope, and fear, seems to have dictated to her tongue, and "calls true love spoken, simple modesty." Of the same sort, but bolder in virgin innocence, is her soliloquy after her marriage with Romeo.
* Gallop space, you fiery-footed steeds,
By their own beauties: or if love be blind,
We the rather insert this passage here, inasmuch as we have Do doubt it has been expunged from the family Shakspeare. Such critics do not perceive that the feelings of the heart sanctify, without disguising, the impulses of nature. Without refinement themselves, they confound modesty with hypocrisy. Not so the German critic, Schlegel. Speaking of ROMEO AND JULIET, he says, " It was reserved for Shakspeare to unite purity of heart and the glow of imagination, sweetness and dignity of manners and passionate violence, in one ideal picture.” The character is indeed one of perfect truth and sweetness. It has nothing forward, nothing coy, nothing affected or coquettish about it ;-it is a pure effusion of nature. It is as frank as it is modest, for it has no thought that it wishes to conceal. It reposes in conscious innocence on the strength of its affections. lis delicacy does not consist in coldness and reserve, but in combining warmth of imagination and tenderness of heart with the most voluptuous sensibility. Love is a gentle flame that rarefies and expands her whole being. What an idea of trem.