Page images
PDF
EPUB

After the prompter, for our entrance:1
But, let them measure us by what they will,
We'll measure them a measure, 2 and be

gone. Rom. Give me a torch, 3 – I am not for this ambling;+ Being but heavy,5 I will bear the light.

MER. Nay, gentle Romeo, we must have you dance.

Rom. Not I, believe me: you have dancing shoes,
With nimble soles: I have a soul of lead,
So stakes 6 me to the ground, I cannot move.

MER. You are a lover; borrow Cupid's wings,
And soar? with them above a common bound.

Rom. I am too sore 8 enpierced with his shaft
To soar with his light feathers; and so bound,
I cannot bound a pitch above dull woe:9
Under love's heavy burden do I sink.

MER. And, to sink in it, should you burden love; 10 Too great oppression for a tender thing.

ROM. Is love a tender thing? it is too rough.

MER. If love be rough with you, be rough with love. Give me a case to put my visage in; (Putting on a Mask. A visor 11 for a visor!

what care 1, What curious eye doth quote 12 deformities? Here are the beetle brows, 13 shall blush for me.

BEN. Come, knock, and enter; and no sooner in, But every man betake him to his legs.

1) The person who aids a public 5) Sad, sorrowful. speaker when at a loss, by suggest 6) To fasten, to fix.

I have a ing the next words of his piece, is soul of lead, which so stakes me to called a prompter. - Entrance is here the ground, that etc. used as a trisyllable, enterance. Ma

7) To fly aloft, to rise high; in lone.

French essorer, from the Latin aura, 2) A measure, a dance.

air. 3) Before the invention of chan

8) Sorely, violently, deeply. deliers, all rooms of state were illu

9) To bound, to leap, to jump; the minated by flambeaux which attend- French bondir. A pitch, a point, ants held upright in their hands. hence any point or degree of elevaTo hold a torch, however, was an- tion. ciently no degrading office. Queen Elizabeth's Gentlemen - Pensioners

10) That is, by sinking in it, you attended her to Cambridge, and held should, or would, load love. torches while a play was acted be

11) A mask used to disfigure and fore her in the Chapel of King's Col- disguise. lege, on a Sunday evening. Steevens. 12) To quote is to observe.

4) To amble, from the Latin ambu 13) The prominent brows, that lare, to pace, to move, employed is, the mask I wear, shall blush with respect to the dance.

for me.

Rom. A torch for me: let wantons, light of heart,
Tickle the senseless rushes 1 with their heels;
For I am proverb'd with a grandsire phrase,
I'll be a candle-holder, and look on, -
The game was ne'er so fair, and I am done. 2

MER. Tut! dun's the mouse, the constable's own word: 3
If thou art dun, we'll draw thee from the mire 4
Of this (save reverence) 5 love, wherein thou stick'st
Up to the ears. Come, we burn day-light, ho.

Rom. Nay, that's not so.
MER,

I mean, sir, in delay.
We waste our lights in vain, like lamps by day.
Take our good meaning: for our judgment sits
Five times in that, ere once in our five wits.?

1) It was anciently the custom to racter, the constable, as an emblem strew rushes on the foors, before the of their harmless disposition, chose luxury of carpets was introduced. that domestic animal for his word,

2) This is the proverb to which which, in time, might become proRomeo refers. “Our sport is at the verbial. Warburton. Nares adds, best,” or at the fairest, is the old that this proverbial saying is of proverbial saying, which advises to rather vague signification, alluding give over, when the game is at the to the colour of the mouse, but frefairest, meaning, we have had enough quently employed with no other inof it. Hence it is that Romeo says, tention than that of quibbling on the “I am done,” I am done for, it is word done. over with me.

4) To draw Dun out of the mire, was 3) Mercutio catches at the word a rural pastime, in which Dun meant done, and quibbles with it, as if Ro- a dun horse, supposed to be stuck in meo had said, The ladies indeed are the mire, and sometimes represented fair, but I am dun, i. e. of a dark by one of the persons who played. complexion. And so replies, Tut! 5) Mercutio having called the afdun's the mouse; a proverbial expres- fection with which Romeo was ension of the same import with the tangled by so disrespectful a word French, La nuit tous les chats sont as mire, adds, save reverence, the Lagris: as much as to say, You need tin salva reverentia, which by misnot fear, night will make all your understanding or negligent contraccomplexions alike, And because Ro- tion has also been spelled surrevemeo had introduced his observations rence and sirreverence. with, I am proverb'd with a grandsire 6) To burn daylight is a proverbial phrase, Mercutio adds to his reply, expression, used when candles, etc. the constable's own word: as much as are lighted in the day time. to say, If you are for old proverbs, 7) Shakspeare has again mentionI'll fit you with one; 'tis the consta- ed the five wits in this play (Act IV. ble's own word; whose custom was, sc. 2): “Thou hast more of the wildwhen he summoned his watch, and goose in one of thy wits, than, I am assigned them their several stations, sure, I have in my whole five." Merto give them what the soldiers call, cutio is here also the speaker. the word. But this night-guard being The five wits apparently in the meandistinguished for their pacific cha-ling of the five or senses.

Rom. And we mean well, in going to this mask;'
"But 'tis no wit to go.
MER.

Why, may one ask?
Rom. I dreamt a dream to - night.
MER.

And so did I.
Rom. Well, what was yours?
MER.

That dreamers often lie.
Rom. In bed, asleep, while they do dream things true.

MER. O, then, I see, queen Mab hath been with you.
She is the fairies' midwife; 2 and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate - stone
On the fore-finger of an alderman, 3
Drawn with a team of little atomies 4
Athwart5 men's noses as they lie asleep:
Her waggon-spokes made of long spinner's legs;
The cover, of the wings of grasshoppers;
The traces, of the smallest spider's web;
The collars, of the moonshine's watery beams :
Her whip, of cricket's bone: the lash, of film:
Her waggoner, a small grey-coated gnat,
Not half so big as a round little worm
Prick'd from the lazy finger of a maid: 6
Her chariot is an empty hazel - nut,
Made by the joiner squirrel, or old grub,
Time out of mind 7 the fairies' coach-makers.

1) Masquerade.

pranks performed on sleepers; but 2) Steevens is of opinion, that queen denominates her from the most noMab is called the fairies' midwife, i. e. torious one, of her personating the the midwife among the fairies, be- drowsy midwife, who was insensibly cause it was her department to deli- carried away into some distant waver the fancies of sleeping men ofter, and substituting a new birth in the their dreams; to which others op bed or cradle. It would clear the appose, that she is so called, because pellation to read the fairy midwife.” it was her peculiar employment to 3) In the pictures of dignitaries steal the new born babe in the night, the ring was generally placed on the and to leave another in its place. fore - finger, whilst other persons The poet here uses her general appel- wore this ornament on the thumb. lation and character, which yet has 4) Atomy is an obsolete substitute so far a proper reference to the pre- for atom. sent train of fiction, as that her illu 5) Across, tranverse to any thing. sions were practised on persons in 6) To prick, properly to pierce with bed or asleep; for she not only a small puncture; here, to catch with haunted women in childbed, but was pricked up fingers, with the tip of likewise the incubus or nightmare: the fingers. From, often used for Shakspeare, by employing her here, with, by. - He alludes tó a flea. alludes at large to her midnight 7) From time immemorial.

And in this state she gallops night by night
Through lovers' brains, and then they dream of love:
On courtiers' knees, that dream on court'sies straight:
O'er lawyers' fingers, who straight dream on fees:1
O'er ladies' lips, who straight on kisses dream;
Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues,
Because their breath with sweet-meats ? tainted are.
Sometime she gallops o'er a courtier's nose,
And then dreams he of smelling out a suit;3
And sometimes comes she with a tithe-pig's 4 tail,
Tickling a parson's nose as 'a5 lies asleep,
Then dreams he of another benefice: 6
Sometime she driveth o'er a soldier's neck,
And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats,
Of breaches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades,"
Of healths five fathom deep;& and then anon
Drums in his ear; at which he starts, and wakes;
And, being thus frighted, swears a prayer or two,
And sleeps again. This is that very Mab.
This, this is she
ROM.

Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace;
Thou talk'st of nothing.
MER.

True, I talk of dreams;
Which are the children of an idle brain,
Begot of nothing but vain fantasy;
Which is as thin of substance as the air;
And more inconstant than the wind,

who wooes
Even now the frozen bosom of the north,
And, being anger'd, puffs away from thence,
Turning his face to the dew-dropping south.

BEN. This wind you talk of, blows us from ourselves; Supper is done, and we shall come too late.

Rom. I fear, too early: for my mind misgives,

truth,

1) Fee, reward paid to lawyers. 7) A sword is called a toledo, from

2) Kissing.comfits, artificial aids to the excellence of the Toledo steel. perfume the breath. Their breath is 8) So, in Westward Hoe, by Decker tainted, i.e.corrupted in consequence and Webster, 1607: “

sir, of eating too many sweet-meats. my master and sir Goffin are guz3) A place in court.

zling; they are dabbling together 4) A pig assigned, in payment of fathom deep. The knight has drunk tithes, for the maintenance of the so much health to the gentleman clergy.

yonder, on his knees, that he hath 5) He.

almost lost the use of his legs.Ma6) An ecclesiastical living.

lone,

Some consequence, yet hanging in the stars,
Shall bitterly begin his fearful date
With this night's revels; and expire the term
Of a despised life, clos'd in my breast,
By, some vile forfeit of untimely death :
But He, that hath the steerage of my course,
Direct my sail! - On, gentlemen.

BEN. Strike, drum.

[Exeunt.

SCENE V. A Hall in Capulet's House.

Musicians waiting. Enter Servants. 1 SERV. Where's Potpan, that he helps not to take away? he shift a trencher!1 he scrape a trencher!?

2 SERV. When good manners shall lie all in one or two men's hands, and they unwashed too, 'tis a foul thing.

1 SERV. Away with the jointstools, remove the courtcupboard, 4 look to the plate: good thou, save me a piece of march-pane;5 and, as thou lovest me, let the porter let in Susan Grindstone, and Nell. - Antony! and Potpan!

2 Serv. Ay, boy; ready.

1 SERV. You are looked for, and called for, asked for, and sought for, in the great chamber.

2 SERv. We cannot be here and there too. Cheerly, boys; be brisk a while, and the longer liver take all.

[They retire behind.
Enter CAPULET, &c. with the Guests and the Maskers.
CAP. Gentlemen, welcome! ladies, that have their toes
Unplagu'd with corns, will have a bout? with you:
Ah ha, my mistresses! which of you all
Will now deny to dance ? she that makes dainty, she

hath
corns;
Am I come near you

now?
You are welcome, gentlemen! I have seen the day,
That I have worn a visor; and could tell
A whispering tale in a fair lady's ear,

I'll swear,

1) To shift, to change; a trencher, I almond-cake, the Italian marzapane, a wooden plate.

the French massepain. 2) To scrape, the primitive way of cleaning it.

6) This phrase did not appear in3) A stool or seat consisting of delicate to the audience of Shak

speare's time, though perhaps it parts inserted in each other.

4) A sideboard on which the plate would not be endured at this day. was placed.

7) A turn, an opportunity of danc5) À kind of sweet bread or biscuit, ing.

« PreviousContinue »