Romeo and Juliet, a Comedy (1770) by Lope de Vega, translated by Anonymous
Act 3
Lope de Vega3899036Romeo and Juliet, a Comedy — Act 31770Anonymous

ACT III.

DURING the interval between the second and third acts, the father of Juliet has importuned her to consent to marry the Count: she has undergone violent persecutions on this account; she has resisted as far as she could; but, at length, forseeing that she must yield to force, in a fit of despair, she resolves rather to devote herself to death, than betray Romeo.

Full of this idea, she sends Celia to Aurelio, the priest who married them privately. He does not appear on the stage, but is frequently mentioned in the course of the piece: profound knowledge, a charity always attentive to the wants of the unfortunate, are the out-lines which form his character.

Juliet implores the assistance of this worthy person; and informs him by a note, that if he does not find some method to save her from the misfortune which she dreads, she will avoid it by a voluntary death.

The commencement of the act supposes every thing to have passed which has been related, and the audience is informed of it with a great deal of address; Juliet and her father appear on the stage; the theatre represents a large saloon in his palace; Antonio presses his daugher again, she refuses her consent; he threatens her with his utmost indignation, and tells her, for the last time, that if she will not give her consent, he will obtain it by force.

This barbarity constrains Juliet to promise that she will obey him: her father leaves her a prey to the painful reflexion which she makes on her situation; Celia soon enters, who is just come from Aurelio, with whose answer she acquaints her mistress.


SCENE III.

Celia.

Madam, I have seen Aurelio, and have given him your note; I was astonished at the agitation and confusion which appeared in his countenance whilst he, read it; he, from time to time, lifted up his eyes towards Heaven, sighed bitterly, and could not help shedding tears.

Juliet.

Well, what has he done, what did he say?

Celia.

He retired to his study, where he remained near two hours; at length, he gave me this phial, and ordered me to tell you to drink the liquor which he sends you, to terminate your misfortunes.

Juliet.

What is his opinion, what effects will this liquor produce? Is this all the assistance which I am to expect from him?

Celia.

You are not ignorant, that he is one of the wisest and most learned men in the world; he asserts that this liquor will ease your sorrows; put confidence in his word.

Juliet.

Aurelio is a great philosopher; the properties of all plants are known to him, and all the secrets of nature. To the most sublime sciences he joins a fund of admirable virtues; he loves me, he loves Romeo, and ever since he married us, he has called us his children; yet, I am afraid lest this liquor should prove a philtre, the effects of which are to make me forget my husband, and constrain me to entertain an inclination for his rival! Ah, Celia! my love for Romeo is precious to me, and I feel that it would be a greater happiness to me to expire with it, than to live in tranquility and change the object of it.

Celia.

Excuse me, Madam, if I presume to tell you, that, in my opinion, your suspicions are unjust. Aurelio is too virtuous to wish to inspire you with a criminal passion; he knows that you are married, and that you neither can nor ought to engage in a second marriage. For my own part, was I in your place, I would shut my eyes and drink the liquor, with a perfect confidence in him.

Juliet.

You are right; my unhappiness is so great, that nothing can augment it; let us resign ourselves entirely to the will of Heaven. Adieu, my dear Celia. [After these last words, she drinks the liquor in the phial.

Celia.

What? My dear mistress, you bid me adieu! Must I see you no more?

Juliet.

What a devouring fire is kindled of a sudden in my breast! Ah, Celia!———What dreadful torture?———I faint.———Ah, Celia!———Just Heavens!———What have you brought me?

Celia.

What Aurelio gave me. Ah! Madam.———Help! she is dying!

Juliet.

Surely he has made a mistake; this liquor is a violent poison; I no longer see you but through a cloudy mist; my bowels are racked.———Ah! great God! you terminate my life and my misfortunes.———Alas!———I cannot breathe.—I feel,———I feel———an insupportable weight on my heart.

Celia.

Horrid treachery! Wretch that I am! Would to Heaven I had never been born, since I am become the instrument of your death! Ah! my dear mistress! compose yourself, I am going to fetch some body to your assistance.

Juliet.

Stay, Celia; do not disturb my last moments; I die satisfied, since I have lived faithful to my dear Romeo. When you see him, tell him that I have not in the least dishonoured the name of his wife; tell him, that I carry my love for him with me to the grave; tell him, that I expire pronouncing his name;—may he remember me; but may he console himself;———may he live many happy years.———Ah! Celia!———Adieu, dear Romeo.[1]

Celia carries off her dying mistress; immediately the scene changes, and represents a street in Ferrara; two cavaliers, named Rutilio and Fernando, are serenading Sylvia. Sylvia is a lady of this city; she makes her appearance but once in the whole piece, and then is only seen at her window.

The characters of this scene are merely episodical, and have no connexion with either the Montagues or Capulets: the author introduces them only to give Romeo an opportunity to revenge himself for the supposed infidelity of Juliet. Nothing can be more poor than this passage.

Aurora begins to break through the shades of night; Romeo arrives; the two cavaliers retire for no reason whatever, except, because the poet pleases they should; Romeo makes love to Sylvia, but with such an air and tone, as prove his heart full of another object, and that Juliet is ever mistress of it. In vain would he pretend to change; his vexation deceives him; his first passion is only the more violent for it.

Anselmo, who is just arrived at Ferrara, seeks Romeo, and meets him in the street; Sylvia shuts her window and retires: Romeo learns from Anselmo the adventure of the phial, which makes him tremble with horror; his eyes are opened, he sees how wrong he was to suspect the fidelity of his mistress; his grief forces him to break out into bitter complaints, when his friend tells him that Juliet is buried.

"Do not distract yourself," continues Anselmo coldly, "Juliet is in her tomb, but you shall have the pleasure to see her again; know that the poison which Aurelio sent her, was only a liquor prepared on purpose to throw her into a lethargic sleep; he revealed this important secret to me himself, and by his order I acquaint you with it. You must this very day set out for Verona, and in the night you shall fetch your wife from the dismal place in which her relations have put her, thinking she was dead."

After this recital, which is drawn out to a great length in the piece, Romeo begins to revive: however, his hope is mixed with uneasiness; he is afraid lest he should arrive too late, or that Juliet awaking should die from the fright; or rather, lest she should expire in the arms of sleep. At length he sets out for Verona; Marino does not take the resolution to attend him without regret; and as to what Anselmo tells him, that there are a great number of bodies in the sepulchre, he maintains reasonably enough, "that, in his opinion, the dead are bad company; that he has no mind to pay them a visit, and that he will content himself with staying at the door."

It is necessary to observe here, in order that the reader may not be surprized at Romeo's learning the adventure of his wife too soon, that the Spanish scenes are often separated from each other by a considerable interval of time, though to consult only the ear and eye, it seems, as if they followed with the same rapidity as on the French stage.

Juliet drinks the sleepy potion in the third scene: three more scenes are hardly elapsed, when her interment is related in Ferrara: this city is, however, no nearer to Verona than a whole day's journey. The French could not fail to find such a circumstance ridiculous, and would readily ask whether Anselmo was in possession of Fortunatus's cap or the arrow of Abaris[2], to be capable of performing such a journey in an instant. The Castillians judge of this matter in a different manner; they suppose between the scenes all the time necessary for the duration of the action: they readily comply with the idea of the author, and the thing seems to them very natural, whilst we seek in vain some shadow of probability.

Behold, then, Romeo departed from Ferrara; the decorations of the stage lead the spectator back to Verona, and represent the inside of duke Maximilian's palace; Count Paris is seen in mourning bewailing his loss of Juliet; the prince in vain endeavours to console him.

Antonio comes; he is sensibly affected with his daughter's misfortune; she was dear to him, and besides, having no heirs, he can't tell to whom he should leave his vast possessions. This consideration induces him to take the resolution to marry Dorothea, his niece, to prevent his great riches from being dispersed among several different families after his death: he asks advice of the duke on this subject, who approves of his intention.

A new scene presents itself to the eyes of the spectator, the burial place of the Capulets, a vast cavern, where nothing but funeral objects are perceived, the sight of which must of course shock in a comedy. Juliet at length awakes; her astonishment, her confusion, her terror and her love, furnish in these dreadful shades a long soliloquy, but which does not want beauty.

Romeo and Marino make their appearance: Marino carries a light; but, as he trembles as he walks, his fear makes him fall down, and the light is extinguished. In this situation his discourse and his action are so comic, that all the horror of the situation vanishes; the audience burst out into loud peals of laughter, though the mournful pomp of death is before their eyes.

At last Romeo joins his dear wife: their reunion is accompanied with the most tender testimonies of love and joy: not knowing where to take refuge, they depart happily from Verona, and go to conceal themselves in a country seat which belongs to the father of Juliet; where the six last scenes lie.

Juliet, Romeo, Anselmo and Marino, are disguised like peasants; their design is to stay two or three days in the country seat, till they have procured the necessary conveniencies to carry them further; but Fortune determines otherways.

Antonio comes to his country seat, in order to celebrate there his nuptials with Dorothea; Theobald, father of this young lady, and several other gentlemen of the Capulet faction, are present at the solemnity: their arrival obliges Romeo and his company to hide themselves in different parts of the house: the countryman has no suspicion who they really are, and they engage him to secrecy by their liberality.

As Juliet is hid in a chamber above that into which her father has retired, she hears him speak, and that nobody is with him; she speaks to him herself, as we may suppose, through a hole, though the author does not take the least notice how: their conversation produces a scene which brings on the catastrophe of the piece.

SCENE XV.

Antonio and Juliet.

Juliet.

Father!

Antonio.

Where am I? Great God! What voice is this which strikes my ear?

Juliet.

Father!

Antonio.

'Tis Juliet, or my fright deceives me!

Juliet.

Cruel father, hear me, if you still possess the least spark of humanity.

Antonio.

Is it you, my daughter? Ah, Heavens! my blood freezes in my veins!

Juliet.

I come from the dark abode of death to reproach thee with thy rigour and injustice.

Antonio.

Alas! my dear Juliet; how hard is it that I can never see you more!

Juliet.

Would have me appear to you under the shape which my destiny has obliged me to assume since our separation?

Antonio.

No, child, I have not courage enough to support thy presence; speak, and be gone.

Juliet.

You have been the occasion of my death.

Antonio.

Me; just Heavens!

Juliet.

Yes, you; was not you obstinately determined to marry me contrary to my own consent?

Antonio.

My intention was to make you happy.

Juliet.

I acknowledge count Paris merited my hand, but love had already in private joined me to another husband.

Antonio.

What do I hear! Why did you not acquaint me of it? I should have forgiven your weakness, and whoever your husband was, should have loved him as my son; the more, because I have reason to think you were incapable of making a bad choice.

Juliet.

My sincerity would only have served to raise your anger to the highest pitch: I have passed two months in the sweets of a marriage which would have rendered my life happy; you have tormented me; you would have made me the victim of your ambition, and I have sacrificed my life to the husband whom Heaven had given me: this is the doing; this is the fruit of your rigour. I now exhort you never to conspire the ruin of thy son-in-law, but to love and cherish him as if he had been your own choice: be assured, that if you treat him ill, I will continually torment thee; you shall hear me, you shall see me every where; my avenging fury shall not leave thee a quiet moment.

Antonio.

Who then is this husband? Tell me his name, my dear child?

Juliet.

He is the conqueror of Octavio, Romeo, the son of the head of the Montague faction: consider that Heaven has formed him to appease the odious discords which have so long desolated our country.

Antonio.

Romeo your husband! Could I have ever thought it? But it does not signify, I consent to make a sacrifice to you of my hatred; I call to witness this day every thing which is most sacred, that Romeo shall in my heart find the real sentiments of a father.


During this scene, Theobald, and the rest of the Capulet party, discover Romeo, Anselmo and Marino, who, doubtless, were not well hid: they bring them all three prisoners on the stage, and consult together what kind of death they shall make them suffer.

In this conjuncture Antonio remembers his oath, embraces Romeo, and afterwards relates what has happened to him. The company at first think he has lost his senfes, but at last he pacifies them; count Paris, who is present, and piques himself on his greatness of soul, contributes greatly thereto.

To render this sudden conversion more affecting, it is resolved (in order to cement the peace) to marry Dorothea to Romeo. Juliet, who overhears all, appears, and opposes this marriage: at the sight of her, the fright of the company gives way to surprize, and joy succeeds their surprize. At length, when they learn that Romeo has taken her from the arms of death, they judge that he has a lawful right to her; their union is ratified, Anselmo espouses the daughter of Theobald, and the brave Marino receives the hand of Celia, with a thousand ducats, which are made him a present of as her marriage portion.



FINIS.


  1. Unless I am mistaken, this passage is sufficient to show that Lopes de Vega was perfectly acquainted with the passions and nature. Juliet attacked with violent pain, utters at first only broken sentences; when on the point of expiring, she loses sight of the pain, which made her cry out, and thinks of nothing but Romeo: her vigour revives in favour of her love, and she speaks with a surprising rapidity: at last, she falls again into a languid oppressed state, because nature has been exhausted by the effort it has made. All this seems, in my opinion, conducted with great delicacy.
  2. Abarus, according to fabulous history, was a famous soothsayer: he celebrated the glory of Apollo, and this god as a recompence, gave him an arrow, which had the same property as Fortunatus's cap: if it was darted towards any place, were it the farthest end of the world, it was there in a moment, and the person himself too.