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Among fresh female buds shall you this night
My house and welcome on their pleasure stay.
Enter BENVOLIO and ROMEO.
Ben. Tut, man! one fire burns out another's burning,
"Among a number one is reckon'd none;
4 To inherit, in the language of Shakespeare, is to possess. 5 Which is here used for who, referring to her. was common, as the Bible will show. By a perverse adherence to the quarto of 1597, which reads, "Such amongst view of many," this passage has been made unintelligible. The quarto of 1599 reads as in the text; evidently meaning, "Hear all, see all, and like her most who has the most merit; her, which, after regarding attentively the many, my daughter being oue, may stand unique in merit, though she may be reckoned nothing, or held in no estimation." The allusion, as Malone has shown, is to the old proverbial expression," One is no number." Thus in Shakespeare's 136th Sonnet:
6 The quarto of 1597 adds, “And yet know not who are written here; I must to the learned to learn of them that's as much as to say, the tailor," &c.
One pain is lessen'd by another's anguish ;
Rom. Your plantain leaf is excellent for that."
Rom. Not mad, but bound more than a madman is:
Shut up in prison, kept without my food, Whipp'd, and tormented, and -Good-den, good fellow.
Serv. God gi' good den.—I pray, sir, can you read?
Rom. Ay, mine own fortune in my misery. Serv. Perhaps you have learn'd it without book; but, I pray, can you read any thing you see?
Rom. Ay, if I know the letters, and the language.
[Reads.] Signior Martino, and his wife and daughters; County Anselme, and his beauteous sisters; The lady widow of Vitruvio; Signior Placentio, and his lovely nieces; Mercutio, and his brother Valentine; Mine uncle Capulet, his wife and daughters; My fair niece Rosaline; Livia; Signior Valentio, and his cousin Tybalt; Lucio, and the lively Helena.
A fair assembly! whither should they come?
7 The plantain leaf is a blood-stancher, and was formerly applied to green wounds. See Love's Labour's Lost, Act iii. sc. 1,
So in Albumazar:
"Help, Armellina, help! I'm fallen i'the cellar :
Rom. Whither? to supper?
Serv. To our house.
Rom. Whose house?
Serv. My master's.
Rom. Indeed, I should have ask'd you that before. Serv. Now I'll tell you without asking: My master is the great rich Capulet; and if you be not of the house of Montagues, I pray, come and crush a cup of wine.8 Rest you merry. [Exit.
Ben. At this same ancient feast of Capulet's
Rom. When the devout religion of mine eye
Ben. Tut! you saw her fair, none else being by, Herself pois'd with herself in either eye:
But, in that crystal scales, let there be weigh'd
8 This expression often occurs in old plays. We have one still in use of similar import: "To crack a bottle."
9 So in all the old copies. Rowe changed that to those, and is followed in modern editions, except Knight's. Scales is here used in the singular number; that's all. 10 Heath says, Your lady's love is the love you bear to your lady, which, in our language, is commonly used for the lady herself." Perhaps we should read, "Your lady-love."
Rom. I'll go along, no such sight to be shown, But to rejoice in splendour of mine own. [Exeunt.
SCENE III. A Room in CAPULET'S House.
Enter Lady CAPULET and the Nurse. Lady C. Nurse, where's my daughter? call her forth to me.
Nurse. Now, by my maidenhead at twelve year old,
I bade her come. What, lamb! what, lady-bird! God forbid!-where's this girl? — what, Juliet!
Jul. How now! who calls?
Nurse. Your mother.
Jul. Madam, I am here: What is your will? Lady C. This is the matter.- Nurse, give leave
We must talk in secret. Nurse, come back again : I have remember'd me, thou shalt hear our counsel. Thou know'st my daughter's of a pretty age.
Nurse. 'Faith, I can tell her age unto an hour. Lady C. She's not fourteen.
Nurse. I'll lay fourteen of my teeth, And yet, to my teen' be it spoken, I have but four,
1 Teen is an old word for sorrow, and is here used as a sort of play upon four and fourteen. — In the old copies the speeches of the Nurse in this scene are printed as prose. Capell has the great merit of arranging them into verse.-"The character of the Nurse," says Coleridge, "is the nearest of any thing in Shakespeare to a direct borrowing from mere observation; and the reason is, that as in infancy and childhood the individual in nature is a representative of a class, just as in describing one larch tree you generalise a grove of them,- -so it is nearly as much so in old age. The generalisation is done to the Poet's hand. Here you have
She is not fourteen.
A fortnight, and odd days.
Nurse. Even or odd, of all days in the year, Come Lammas-eve at night shall she be fourteen. Susan and she-God rest all Christian souls!Were of an age. Well, Susan is with God; She was too good for me. But, as I said, On Lammas-eve at night shall she be fourteen ; That shall she, marry: I remember it well. "Tis since the earthquake now eleven years; And she was wean'd, —I never shall forget it, Of all the days of the year, upon that day; For I had then laid wormwood to my dug, Sitting in the sun under the dove-house wall: My lord and you were then at Mantua. Nay, I do bear a brain:— but, as I said, When it did taste the wormwood on the nipple Of my dug, and felt it bitter, pretty fool,
To see it tetchy, and fall out with the dug!
And since that time it is eleven years;
How long is it now
For then she could stand alone; nay, by the rood,
the garrulity of age strengthened by the feelings of a long-trusted servant, whose sympathy with the mother's affections gives her privileges and rank in the household. And observe the mode of connection by accident of time and place, and the childlike fondness of repetition in a second childhood, and also that happy, humble ducking under, yet constant resurgence against, the check of her superiors."
2 The nurse means to boast of her retentive faculty. To bear a brain was to possess much mental capacity. Thus in Marston's Dutch Courtezan: " My silly husband, alas! knows nothing of it; 'tis I that must beare a braine for all."