Page images
[merged small][ocr errors]

And then the auncient frier, that greatly stood in feare
Left if they lingred over long they should be taken theare,


dead!—and, pointing to him, fhe recounted all that had paffed. The friar, hearing these things, ftood as one bereft of sense, and gazing upon the young man, then ready to pafs from this into another life, bitterly weeping, he called to him, saying, O, Romeo, what hard hap has torn you from me? fpeak to me at leaft! caft your eyes a moment upon me! O, Romeo, behold your deareft Julietta, who befeeches you to look at her. Why at the leaft will you not answer her in whofe dear bofom you lie ? At the beloved name of his mistress, Romeo raised a little his languid eyes, weighed down by the near approach of death, and, looking at her, reclofed them; and, immediately after, death thrilling through his whole frame, all convulfed, and heaving a short figh, he expired.

"The miferable lover being now dead in the manner I have related, as the day was already approaching, after much lamentation the friar thus addreffed the young damfel:-And you Julietta, what do you mean to do?-to which the inftantly replied,-here inclofed will I die. Say not fo, daughter, faid he; come forth from hence; for, though I know not well how to difpofe of you, the means can not be wanting of fhutting yourself up in fome holy monaftery, where you may continually offer your fupplications to God, as well for yourself as for your deceased husband, if he should need your prayers. Father, replied the lady, one favour alone I entreat of you, which for the love you bear to the memory of him, and fo faying the pointed to Romeo, you will willingly grant me, and that is, that you will never make known our death, that fo our bodies may for ever remain united in this fepulcher: and if, by any accident, the manner of our dying fhould be difcovered, by the love already mentioned I conjure you, that in both our names you would implore our miferable parents that they should make no difficulty of fuffering those whom love has confumed in one fire, and conducted to one death, to remain in one and the fame tomb;-then turning to the proftrate body of Romeo, whofe head the had placed on a pillow which had been left with her in the vault, having carefully closed his eyes, and bathing his cold vifage with tears,-lord of my heart, faid the, without you what should I do with life? and what more remains to be done by me toward you but to follow you in death? certainly nothing more! in order that death itself, which alone could poffibly have feparated you from me, fhould not now be able to part us! -and having thus spoken, reflecting upon the horrour of her destiny, and calling to mind the lofs of her dear lover, determined no longer to live, the fuppreffed her refpiration, and for a long space holding in her breath, at length fent it forth with a loud cry, and fell dead upon the dead body."

For the foregoing faithful and elegant tranflation, as well as that in a former page, I am indebted to a moft dear and valued friend, whose

M m 3

In few plaine woordes the whole that was betyde, he tolde,
And with his fingar fhewd his corps out-stretched, stiffe, and colde;
And then purfuaded her with pacience to abyde

This fodain great mifchaunce; and fayth, that he will foone provyde
In fome religious house for her a quiet place,

Where the may spend the rest of lyfe, and where in time percafe
She may with wifdomes meane measure her mourning breft,
And unto her tormented foule call back exiled reft.

But loe, as foon as she had caft her ruthfull eye

On Romeus face, that pale and wan faft by her fide dyd lye,
Straight way the dyd unftop the conduites of her teares,

And out they gufhe;-with cruell hand the tare her golden heares,
But when the neither could her fwelling forow fwage,
Ne yet her tender hart abyde her fickenes furious rage,
Falne on his corps the lay long panting on his face,

And then with all her force and ftrength the ded corps did embrace,
As though with fighes, with fobs, with force, and bufy payne,
She would him rayfe, and him reftore from death to lyfe agayne;
A thousand times the kift his mouth, as cold as ftone,
And it unkist againe as oft; then gan fhe thus to mone:
"Ah pleasant prop of all my thoughts, ah onely grounde
Of all the sweete delightes that yet in all my lyfe I founde,

Did fuch affured truft within thy hart repofe,

That in this place and at this time, thy church-yard thou haft chofe, Betwixt the armes of me, thy perfect loving make,

And thus by meanes of me to ende thy life, and for my fake?

Even in the flowring of thy youth, when unto thee

Thy lyfe moft deare (as to the most) and pleasant ought to bee,

How could this tender corps withstand the cruell fight

Of furious death, that wonts to fray the ftouteft with his fight?
How could thy dainty youth agree with willing hart

In this fo fowle infected place to dwell, where now thou art?
Where spitefull Fortune hath appoynted thee to bee

The dainty foode of greedy wormes, unworthy fure of thee.

Alas, alas, alas, what neded now anew

My wonted forowes, doubled twife, againe thus to renewe:

Which both the time and eke my patient long abode

Should now at length have quenched quite, and under foote have trode ?

Ah wretch and caytive that I am, even when I thought

To fynd my painfull paffions falve, I myft the thing I fought;

And to my mortall harme the fatal knife I grounde,

That gave to me fo depe, fo wide, fo cruell dedly wounde.
Ah thou, most fortunate and most unhappy tombe!

For thou shalt beare, from age to age, witnes in time to comme

[ocr errors]

whofe knowledge of the Italian language is fo much fuperior to any that I can pretend to, that I am confident no reader will regret that the task has been executed by another. MALONE.


Of the most perfect leage betwixt a payre of lovers,

That were the most unfortunate and fortunate of others;

Receave the latter figh, receave the latter pang,

Of the most cruell of cruell flaves that wrath and death ay wrang,"
And when our Juliet would continue ftill her mone,

The fryer and the fervant fled, and left her there alone;

For they a fodayne noyse faft by the place did heare,

And left they might be taken there, greatly they ftoode in feare.
When Juliet faw herselfe left in the vaulte alone,

That freely the might woorke her will, for let or stay was none,
Then once for all the tooke the cause of all her harmes,
The body dead of Romeus, and clafped it in her armes;
Then the with earneft kifle fufficiently did prove,

That more then by the feare of death, fhe was attaint by love;
And then, paft deadly feare, (for lyfe ne had she care)
With hafty hand fhe did draw out the dagger that he ware.
"O welcome death, quoth fhe, end of unhappines,
That alío art beginning of aflured happines,

Feare not to dart me nowe, thy ftripe no longer ftay,
Prolong no longer now my lyfe, I hate this long delaye;
For ftraight my parting fprite, out of this carkas fled,
At eafe fhall finde my Romeus fprite emong fo many ded.
And thou my loving lord, Romeus, my trusty feere,

If knowledge yet doe reft in thee, if thou thefe woordes doft heer,
Receve thou her, whom thou didst love fo lawfully,

That caufd alas! thy violent death, although unwillingly;

And therefore willingly offers to thee her goft,

To thend that no wight els but thou might have juft cause to boste
Thinjoying of my love, which ay I have referved

Free from the rest, bound unto thee, that haft it well deserved:
That fo our parted fprites from light that we see here,

In place of endleffe light and bliffe may ever live y-fere."

Thefe faid, her ruthleffe hand through gyrt her valiant hart: Ah, ladies, helpe with teares to wayle the ladies dedly smart! She grones, the stretcheth out her limmes, the fhuttes her eyes, And from her corps the fprite doth flye;-what fhould I say? she dyes. The watchmen of the towne the whilst are paffed by,

And through the gates the candle light within the tombe they spye; Whereby they did suppose inchaunters to be comme,

That with prepared inftruments had opend wide the tombe,

In purpose to abufe the bodies of the ded,

Which, by their science ayde abufde, do stand them oft in sted.

Theyr curious harts defyre the truth hereof to know;

Then they by certaine fteppes defcend, where they do fynd below,

In clafped armes y-wrapt the husband and the wyfe,

In whom as yet they feemd to fee fomme certaine markes of lyfe.

But when more curiously with leyfure they did vew,

The certainty of both theyr deathes affuredly they knew:

M m 4


Then here and there fo long with carefull eye they fought,

That at the length hidden they found the murtherers ;-fo they thought.

In dungeon depe that night they lodgde them under grounde;
The next day do they tell the prince the mischiefe that they found.
The news was by and by throughout the towne dyfpred,
Both of the taking of the fryer, and of the two found ded.
Thether you might have feene whole houfholds forth to ronne,
For to the tombe where they did heare this wonder ftraunge was donne,
The great, the small, the riche, the poore, the yong, the olde,
With hafty pace do ronne to fee, but rew when they beholde.
And that the murtherers to all men might be knowne,

(Like as the murders brute abrode through all the towne was blowne)
The prince did ftraight ordaine, the corfes that wer founde
Should be fet forth upon a stage hye rayfed from the grounde,
Right in the felfe fame fourme, fhewde forth to all mens fight,
That in the hollow valt they had been found that other night;
And eke that Romeus man and fryer Lawrence should
Be openly examined; for els the people would
Have murmured, or faynd there were fome waighty cause
Why openly they were not calde, and fo convict by lawes.
The holy fryer now, and reverent by his age,

In great reproche fet to the fhew upon the open stage,
(A thing that ill befeemde a man of filver heares)

His beard as whyte as mylke he bathes with great faft-falling teares:
Whom ftraight the dred full judge commaundeth to declare

Both, how this murther hath been donne, and who the murtherers are;
For that he nere the tombe was found at howres unfitte,
And had with hym thofe yron tooles for fuch a purpose fitte.

The frier was of lively fprite and free of fpeche,

The judges woords appald him not, ne were his wittes to feeche.
But with advifed heed a while fyrst did he stay,

And then with bold affured voyce aloud thus gan he say:
"My lordes, there is not one among you, fet togyther,

So that, affection fet afide, by wifdome he confider

My former paffed lyfe, and this my extreme age,

And eke this heavy fight, the wreke of frantike Fortunes rage,
But that, amafed much, doth wonder at this chaunge,

So great, fo fodainly befalne, unlooked for, and ftraunge.

For I that in the space of fixty yeres and tenne.

Since fyrst I did begin, to foone, to lead my lyfe with men,
And with the worldes vaine thinges myfelfe I did acquaint,
Was never yet, in open place, at any time attaynt
With any cryme, in weight as heavy as a rufhe,
Ne is there any ftander by can make me gylty blufhe;
Although before the face of God I doe confefle

Myfelie to be the finfulft wretch of all this mighty preffe.


[ocr errors][merged small]

When readieft I am and likelieft to make

My great accompt, which no man els for me fhall undertake;
When wormes, the earth, and death, doe cyte me every howre,
Tappeare before the judgment seate of everlafting powre,

And falling ripe I fteppe upon my graves brinke,

Even then, am I, moft wretched wight, as eche of you doth thinke,
Through my moft haynous deede, with hedlong fway throwne downe,
In greatest daunger of my lyfe, and damage of renowne,

The fpring, whence in your head this new conceite doth ryfe,
(And in your hart increaseth ftill your vayne and wrong furmife)
May be the hugenes of thefe teares of myne, percafe,
That fo abundantly downe fall by eyther fyde my face;

As though the memory in fcriptures were not kept

That Chrift our Saviour himfelfe for ruth and pitie wept:
And more, who fo will reade, y-written fhall he fynde,
That teares are as true meflengers of mans ungylty mynde.
Or els, a liker proofe that I am in the cryme,

You fay these present yrons are, and the fufpected time:
As though all howres alike had not been made above!

Did Christ not fay, the day had twelve? wherby he fought to prove,

That no refpect of howres ought justly to be had,

But at all times men have the choyce of doing good or bad;

Even as the fprite of God the harts of men doth guyde,

Or as it leaveth them to ftray from vertues path afyde.

As for the yrons that were taken in my hand,

As now I deeme, I nede not feeke to make ye understand
To what ufe yron firft was made, when it began;
How of it felfe it helpeth not, ne yet can hurt a man

The thing that hurteth is the malice of his will,

That fuch indifferent thinges is wont to use and order yll.

Thus much I thought to say, to caufe you fo to know

That neither these my piteous teares, though nere fo faft they flowe,

Ne yet thefe yron tooles, nor the fufpected time,

Can justly prove the murther donne, or damne me of the cryme:

No one of these hath powre, ne power have all the three,

To make me other than I am, how fo I feeme to be.

But fure my conscience, if I fo gylt deserve,

For an appeacher, witneffe, and a hangman, eke should ferve;

For through mine age, whofe heares of long time fince were hore,
And credyt greate that I was in, with you, in time tofore,

And eke the fojorne short that I on earth must make,

That every day and howre do loke my journey hence to take,
My confcience inwardly should more torment me thrife,

Then all the outward deadly payne that all you could devyfe.
But God I prayfe, I feele no worme that gnaweth me,
And from remories pricking fting I joy that I am free:
I meane, as touching this, wherewith you troubled are,

Wherewith you should be troubled ftill, if I my speche should spare.


« PreviousContinue »