Imágenes de páginas

Nurse. An honour! were not I thine only nurse, I'd say, thou hadst suck'd wisdom from thy teat. La. Cap. Well, think of marriage now; younger than you,

Here in Verona, ladies of esteem,

Are made already mothers: by my count,
I was your mother much upon these years
That you are now a maid. Thus then, in brief;-
The valiant Paris seeks you for his love.

Nurse. A man, young lady! lady, such a man, As all the world-Why, he's a man of wax7.

La. Cap. Verona's summer hath not such a flower.
Nurse. Nay, he's a flower; in faith, a very flower8.
La. Cap. What say you? can you love the gen-

This night you shall behold him at our feast;
Read o'er the volume of young Paris' face,
And find delight writ there with beauty's pen;
Examine every married 9 lineament,

And see how one another lends content;


7 i. e. as well made as if he had been modelled in wax. in Wily Beguiled:- Why, he is a man as one should picture him in wax.' So Horace uses Cerea brachia,' waxen arms, for arms well shaped.—Od. xiii. 1. 1. Which Dacier explains:'Des bras faits au tour comme nous disons d'un bras rond, qu'il est comme de cire.'

8 After this speech of the Nurse, Lady Capulet, in the old quarto, says only :

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Well, Juliet, how like you of Paris' love?'

She answers, 'I'll look to like,' &c; and so concludes the scene, without the intervention of that stuff to be found in the later quartos and the folio.

9 Thus the quarto of 1599. read, 'several lineaments.' calm of states,' in Troilus Sonnet:

The quarto of 1609 and the folio We have, 'The unity and married and Cressida. And in his eighth

'If the true concord of well-tuned sounds, By unions married, do offend thine ear. See vol. vii. p. 338, note 13.

And what obscur'd in this fair volume lies,
Find written in the margin of his eyes 10.
This precious book of love, this unbound lover,
To beautify him, only lacks a cover:

The fish lives in the sea 11; and 'tis much pride,
For fair without the fair within to hide:

That book in many's eyes doth share the glory,
That in gold clasps locks in the golden story;
So shall you share all that he doth possess,
By having him, making yourself no less.

Nurse. No less? nay, bigger; women grow by men. La. Cap. Speak briefly, can you like of Paris' love? Jul. I'll look to like, if looking liking move: But no more deep will I endart 12 mine eye, Than your consent gives strength to make it fly.

Enter a Servant.

Serv. Madam, the guests are come, supper served up, you called, my young lady asked for, the nurse cursed in the pantry, and every thing in extremity. I must hence to wait; I beseech you, follow straight.

10 The comments on ancient books were generally printed in the margin. Horatio says, in Hamlet, I knew you must be edified by the margent,' &c. So in The Rape of Lucrece :'But she that never cop'd with stranger eyes

Could pick no meaning from their parling looks,
Nor read the subtle shining secrecies

Writ in the glassy margent of such books.'

This speech is full of quibbles. The unbound lover is a quibble on the binding of a book, and the binding in marriage; and the word cover is a quibble on the law phrase for a married woman, femme couverte.

11 Dr. Farmer explains this, 'The fish is not yet caught.' Mason thinks that we should read, 'The fish lives in the shell; for the sea cannot be said to be a beautiful cover to a fish, though a shell may.' The poet may mean nothing more than that those books are most esteemed by the world where valuable contents are embellished by as valuable binding.

12 The quarto of 1597 reads, engage mine eye.

La. Cap. We follow thee.-Juliet, the county


Nurse. Go, girl, seek happy nights to happy days.

SCENE IV. A Street.


Enter ROMEO, MERCUTIO1, BENVOLIO, with five or six Maskers, Torch-Bearers, and Others. Rom. What, shall this speech be spoke for our excuse?

Or shall we on without apology?

Ben. The date is out of such prolixity 2.

1 Shakspeare appears to have formed this character on the following slight hint: Another gentleman, called Mercutio, which was a courtlike gentleman, very well beloved of all men, and by reason of his pleasant and courteous behaviour was in al companies wel intertained.'-Painter's Palace of Pleasure, tom. ii. p. 221.

He is described in similar terms in Arthur Brooke's poem ; and it is added:·

A gift he had, which nature gave him in his swathing


That frozen mountain's ice was never half so cold

As were his hands, though ne'er so near the fire he did

them hold.'

Hence the poet makes him little sensible to the passion of love, anda jester at wounds which he never felt.'

2 In King Henry VIII. where the king introduces himself at the entertainment given by Wolsey, he appears, like Romeo and his companions, in a mask, and sends a messenger before with an apology for his intrusion. This was a custom observed by those who came uninvited, with a desire to conceal themselves, for the sake of intrigue, or to enjoy the greater freedom of conversation. Their entry on these occasions was always prefaced by some speech in praise of the beauty of the ladies, or the generosity of the entertainer; and to the prolixity of such introductions it is probable Romeo is made to allude. In Histriomastix, 1610, a man expresses his wonder that the maskers enter without any compliment:-'What, come they in so blunt, without device?' Of this kind of masquerading there is a specimen in Timon, where Cupid precedes a troop of ladies with a speech.

We'll have no cupid hood-wink'd with a scarf,
Bearing a Tartar's painted bow of lath 3,
Scaring the ladies like a crow-keeper *;
Nor no without-book prologue, faintly spoke
After the prompter, for our entrance:

But, let them measure us by what they will,
We'll measure them a measure, and be gone.
Rom. Give me a torch 5,-I am not for this am-

Being but heavy, 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 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 enpierced with his shaft, To soar with his light feathers; and so bound, I cannot bound a pitch above dull woe:


Under love's heavy burden do I sink.

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

Rom. Is love a tender thing? it is too rough, Too rude, too boist'rous; and it pricks like thorn.

3 The Tartarian bows resemble in their form the old Roman or Cupid's bow, such as we see on medals and bas-relief. Shakspeare uses the epithet to distinguish it from the English bow, whose shape is the segment of a circle.

4 See King Lear, Act iv. Sc. 6, p. 509, note 18.

5 A torch-bearer was a constant appendage to every troop of maskers. To hold a torch was anciently no degrading office. Queen Elizabeth's gentlemen pensioners attended her to Cambridge, and held torches while a play was acted before her in the Chapel of King's College on a Sunday evening.

6 Let Milton on this occasion keep Shakspeare in countePar. Lost, book iv. l. 180:


in contempt

At one slight bound high over-leap'd all bound.'

[blocks in formation]

Mer. If love be rough with you, be rough with love; Prick love for pricking, and you beat love down.Give me a case to put my visage in:

[Putting on a Mask.

A visor for a visor!-what care I,


What curious eye doth quote deformities?
Here are the beetle-brows, shall blush for me.
Ben. Come, knock, and enter: and no sooner in,
But every man betake him to his legs.

Rom. A torch for me: let wantons, light of heart,
Tickle the senseless rushes 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 9.

Mer. Tut! dun's the mouse, the constable's own


If thou art dun, we'll draw thee from the mire 10

7 To quote is to note, to mark. See Hamlet, Act ii. Sc. 1,

note 10.

8 Middleton (the author of The Witch) has borrowed this thought in his play of Blurt Master Constable, 1602 :—

[ocr errors]

bid him, whose heart no sorrow feels,

Tickle the rushes with his wanton heels,

I have too much lead at mine.'

It has been before observed that the apartments of our ancestors were strewed with rushes, and so it seems was the ancient stage. 'On the very rushes when the Comedy is to dance.'-Decker's Gull's Hornbook, 1609. Shakspeare does not stand alone in giving the manners and customs of his own times to all countries and ages. Marlowe, in his Hero and Leander, describes Hero as fearing on the rushes to be flung.'


9 To hold the candle is a common proverbial expression for being an idle spectator. Among Ray's proverbial sentences we have, 'A good candle-holder proves a good gamester.' This is the 'grandsire phrase' with which Romeo is proverbed. There is another old prudential maxim subsequently alluded to, which advises to give over when the game is at the fairest.

10 Tut! dun's the mouse, the constable's own word: If thou art dun, we'll draw thee from the mire.'

Dun is the mouse is a proverbial saying to us of vague signification, alluding to the colour of the mouse; but frequently

« AnteriorContinuar »