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Accurately printed from the Text of the corrected Copyleft by the late
GEORGE STEEVENS, Esq.
A. AND A sklecTion
OF EXPLANATORY AND HISTORICAL NOTES,
From the most eminent Commentators;
A History of the Stage, a Life of Shakspeare, &c.
BY ALEXANDER CHALMERS, A.M.
* RoMeo AND JULIET.] The original relater of the story on which this play is formed, was Luigi da Porto, a gentleman of Wicenza, who died in 1529. His novel did not appear till some years after his death; being first printed at Venice in 1535, under the title of La Giulietta. A second edition was published in 1539; and it was again reprinted at the same place in 1553, (without the author's name,) with the following title: Historia nuovamente ritrovata di due nobili Amanti, con la loro pietosa morte ; intervenuta gia nella citta di Verona, nell tempo del Signor Bartolomeo della Scala. Nuovamente stampata.
In 1554 Bandello published, at Lucca, a novel on the same subject; [Tom. II. Nov. ix.] and o afterwards Boisteau exhibited one in French, founded on the Italian narratives, but varying from them in many particulars. From Boisteau's novel the same story was, in 1562, formed into an English poem, with considerable alterations and large additions, by Mr. Arthur Brooke. This piece was printed by Richard Tottle with the following title, written probably, according to the fashion of that time, É. the bookseller: The Tragicall Hystory of Romeus and Juliet, containing a rare Example of true Constancies with the subtill Counsels, and Practices of an old Fryer, and their ill event. It was again pub. lished by the same bookseller in 1582. Painter in the second volume of his Palace of Pleasure, 1567, published a prose translation from the French of Boisteau, which he entitled Rhomeo and Julietta. Shakspeare had probably read Painter's novel, having taken one circumstance from it or some other prose translation of Boisteau; but his play was undoubtedly formed on the poem of Arthur Brooke. This is proved decisively by the following circumstance. 1. In the poem the prince of Verona is called Escalus; so also in the play.—In Painter's translation from Boisteau he is named Signor #. ; and sometimes Lord Bartholomew of Escala. 2. In Painter's novel the family of Romeo are called the Montesches ; in the poem and in the play, the Montagues. 3. The messenger employed by friar Lawrence to carry a letter to Romeo to inform him when Juliet would awake from her trance, is in Painter's translation called Anselme : in the poem, and in the play, friar John is employed in this business. 4. The circumstance of Capulet’s writing down the names of the guests whom he invites to supper, is found in the poem and in the play, but is not mentioned by Painter, nor is it found in the original Italian novel. 5. The residence of the Capulets, in the original, and in Painter, is called Willa Franca : in the poem and in the play Freetown. 6. Several passages of Romeo and Juliet appear to have been formed on hints furnished by the poem, of which no traces are found either in Painter's novel, or in Boisteau, or the original; and several expressions are borrowed from thence, which will be found in their proper places.