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SUBSEQUENTLY to the original announcement of this Edition of Shakspere, the Publisher has become anxious to give the works of the poet, in that more worthy and highly approved form in which they are presented by Mr. Macready, at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden. In hitherto adhering to this plan, the publication has been inevitably subjected to great delay and irregularity, owing to the slow production of the Plays at the above theatre, a circumstance arising from the long continued favor afforded to Mr. Macready's enlightened mode of presenting them. Notwithstanding this objection, however, the proprietor, deeply conscious of the superiority and worth of the new style, believing from the high regard paid to it that it will be generally adopted, and there being no other edition of Shakspere in conformity with it, has resolved to adhere to this planusing every means to present the Plays as soon as possible after their first appearance on the stage.

This edition of Shakspere will also appear in Six elegant Pocket Volumes, each embellished with a finely executed Portrait on steel. Vol. I. is now ready, with a neat Portrait of Shakspere.

The Portraits will be presented gratis to Subscribers for the work in Parts.

Part VII. will be the Play of Macbeth, as last performed at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden.

JUNE 2, 1920




THE play of Romeo and Juliet is founded on a passage of great interest in the History of Verona—a famous city in Austrian Italy. About the commencement of the 14th century, this city was distracted by the violent feuds of the rival houses of the Capulets and Montagues. Romeo was the only son of Montague, and Juliet the heiress of the house of Capulet; and, notwithstanding the civil discords and jealousies which divided their families, a strong and mutual attachment was formed between them. Like real lovers, no considerations of public or outward differences, nor even the present clashing of their family interests, could weaken the bond which united their hearts, or induce them to fit those fondly cherished hopes which they had in each other's love; and with which, no other anticipations would bear comparison. A worthy example to lovers in all ages. They resolved upon a secret marriage, which accordingly took place, and seemed to realise their fond hopes of felicity; when Tybalt, a nephew of Capulet, rouses the indignation of the young bridegroom by the murder of his friend Mercutio, and falls a sacrifice to his resentment in single combat. This outrage subjects Romeo to a sentence of banishment by the prince; while the unsuspecting relatives of Juliet, attributing her grief to the loss of her cousin, resolve to divert her melancholy by an


immediate marriage with Count Paris. her parents inexorable to every entreaty of delay, the unfortunate lady repairs to the cell of Friar Laurence, who had married her; and receives from his hands a powerful soporific, causing a temporary suspension of the vital functions for two and forty hours. On the day appointed for the nuptials, Juliet is discovered stiff and cold, and is conveyed, amidst the tears of her family, to the cemetery of her ancestors. The good friar, in the mean time, despatches a messenger to the residence of Romeo at Mantua, arranging his secret return to his native city before the expiration of Juliet's sleep. But the destiny of the lovers is misfortune: the letter of Friar Laurence never reaches its destination; and the distracted husband, learning from another source the death of his mistress, hastens to Verona; and whilst endeavoring to force an entrance, in the obscurity of night, to the monument of the Capulets, is stayed by Paris, who had been crossed, by Romeo's arrival, in his "obsequies, and true love's rights." The indignation of the Count is aroused, and he refuses to be gone at the request of Romeo, who engages with him in single combat, and terminates his existence after which, the desperate lover enters the vault, takes poison, and expires. Immediately after, the friar arrives to await the recovery of Juliet from her trance, who, reviving to a sense of her hopeless woe, and seeing the dead body of Romeo stretched before her, finds means to end her career by plunging her husband's dagger into her heart. The rival families now too late bewail their infatuation, and, at the intercession of the prince, bury their animosities in a treaty of peace and alliance.


Shakspere possessed ample materials for his drama: several novels having previously appeared, founded upon the same facts.

The first edition of Romeo and Juliet was printed in the year 1597; and about two years after, another appeared, "newly corrected, augmented, and amended," by the author. On the stage, this tragedy at

tained great popularity, and has always been a favorite piece.

"This play," says Dr Johnson, "is one of the most pleasing of our author's performances. The scenes are busy and various, the incidents numerous and important, the catastrophe 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 Shakspere to exhibit the conversation of gentlemen, to represent the airy sprightliness of juvenile elegance. Dryden mentions a tradition, which might easily reach his time, of a declaration made by Shakspere, 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 sense, that more regard is commonly had to the words than to thought, and that it is very seldom to be rigorously understood. Mercutio'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 Shakspere 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 humor; 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 comic scenes are happily wrought, but his pathetic strains are always polluted with some unexpected depravations. His persons, however distressed, have a conceit left them in their misery; a miserable conceit."


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