Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

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 briesly, can you like of Paris' love?

Jul. I 'll look to like, if looking liking move:6
But no more deep will I endart mine eye,7
Than your consent gives strength to make it fly.

Enter a Servant. Serv. Madam,8 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.

La. Cap. We follow thee.-Juliet, the county stays. Nurse. Go, girl, seek happy nights to happy days.

[Exeunt. SCENE IV.

A Street.

Enter Romeo, MERCUTIO, 9 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?

7

9

6 I'll look to like, if looking liking move :) Such another jingle of words occur in the second Book of Sidney's Arcadia: “ and seeing to like, and liking to love, and loving straight” &c.

Steevens. - endart mine eye,] The quarto, 1597, reads "engage mine eye.” Steevens.

8 Madam, &c.] To this speech there have been likewise additions since the elder quarto, but they are not of sufficient consequence to be quoted. Steevens.

Mercutio,] Shakspeare appears to have formed this cha. racter on the following slight hint in the original story: “- another gentleman called Mercutio, which was a courtlike gentleman, very wel beloved of all men, and by reason of his pleasant and curteous behaviour was in al companies wel intertained.” Pain. ter's Palace of Pleasure, Tom. II, p. 221. Steevens.

Mercutio is thus described in the poem which Shakspeare fol. lowed:

“At thone side of her chair her lover Romeo,
“ And on the other side there sat one call'd Mercutio;
“ A courtier that each where was highly had in price,
For he was courteous of his speech, and pleasant of de-

vice.

Ben. The date is out of such prolixity:1 We'll have no Cupid hood-wink'd with a scarf, Bearing a Tartar's painted bow of lath,

“ Even as a lion would among the lambs be bold,
“Such was among the bashful maids Mercutio to behold.
“ With friendly gripe he seiz'd fair Juliet's snowish hand;
A gift he had, that nature gave him in his swathing band
“ That frozen mountain ice was never half so cold,
“ As were his hands, though ne'er so near the fire he did

them hold." Perhaps it was this last circumstance which induced our poet to represent Mercutio, as little sensible to the passion of love, and " a jester at wounds which he never felt." See Othello, Act III: sc. iy:

This hand is moist, my lady;-
“ This argues fruitfulness and liberal heart;

Hot, hot, and moist." Malone. 1 The date is out of such prolixity:] i. e. Masks are now out of fashion. That Shakspeare was an enemy to these fooleries, appears from his writing none; and that his plays discredited such entertainments, is more than probable. Warburton.

The diversion going forward at present is not a masque, but a masquerade. In Henry VIII, where the king introduces himself to the entertainment given by Wolsey, he appears, like Romeo and his companions, in a mask, and sends a messenger before, to make 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, I believe Romeo is made to allude.

So, in Histriomastix, 1610, a man expresses his wonder that the maskers enter without any compliment:

“ What come they in so blunt, without device ?In the accounts of many entertainments given in reigns antecedent to that of Elizabeth, I find this custom preserved. Of the same kind of masquerading, see a specimen in Timon, where Cupid precedes a troop of ladies with a speech. Steevens.

Shakspeare has written a masque which the reader will find in. troduced in the 4th Act of The Tempest. It would have been difficult for the reverend annotator to have proved they were discontinued during any period of Shakspeare's life. Percy.

2 Bearing a Tartar's painted bow of lath,] The Tartarian bows, as well as most of those used by the Asiatick nations, resemble in their form the old Roman or Cupid's bow, such as we see on medals and bas reliefs. Shakspeare used the epithet to distinguish it from the English bow, whose shape is the segment of a circle. Douce.

[ocr errors]

Scaring the ladies like a crow-keeper;3
Nor no without-book prologue, faintly spoke
After the prompter, for our entrance:5
But, let them measure us by what they will,
We'll measure them a measure,6 and be gone.

Rom. Give me a torch, 7-I am not for this ambling;
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;& horrow 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 ::

5 enterance.

3 — like a crow-keeper;] The word crow-keeper is explained in King Lear, Act IV, sc. vi. Johnson.

4 Nor no without-book prologue, &c.] The two following lines are inserted from the first edition. Pope.

for our entrance:) Entrance is here used as a trisyllable;

Malone. 6 We'll measure them a measure,) i. e. a dance. See Vol. IV, p. 117, n. 8. Malone.

7 Give me a torch,] The character which Romeo declares his resolution to assume, will be best explained by a passage in Westward Hoe, by Decker and Webster, 1607: “ He is just like a torchbearer to maskers; he wears good cloaths, and is ranked in good company, but he doth nothing." A torch-bearer seems to have been a constant appendage on every troop of masks.

Before the invention of chandeliers, all rooms of state were illuminated by flambeaux which attendants held upright in their hands. This custom is mentioned by Froissart, and other writers who had the merit of describing every thing they saw.

To hold a torch, however, was anciently no degrading office. Queen Elizabeth's Gentlemen-Pensioners attended her to Cam. bridge, and held torches while a play was acted before her in the Chapel of King's College, on a Sunday evening,

At an entertainment also, given by Louis XIV, in 1664, no less than 200 valets-de-pied were thus employed. Steevens.

King Henry VIII, when he went masked to Wolsey's palace, (now Whitehall) had sixteen torch-bearers. See Vol. XI, p. 234.

Malone. 8 Mer. You are a lover ; &c.] The twelve following lines are not to be found in the first edition. Pope.

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.

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 ?2 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;4

3

9

1

2

so bound, I cannot bound &c.] Let Milton's example, on this occasion, keep Shakspeare in countenance:

in contempt “At one slight bound high over-leap'd all bound “Of hill,” &c. Paradise Lost, Book IV, 1. 180. Steevens.

should you burden love ;] i. e. by sinking in it, you should, or would, burden love. Mr. Heath, on whose suggestion a note of interrogation has been placed at the end of this line in the late editions, entirely misunderstood the passage. Had he attended to the first two lines of Merculio's next speech, he would have seen what kind of burdens he was thinking of. See also the concluding lines of Mercutio's long speech in p. 248. Malone.

doth quote deformities?] To quote is to observe. So, in Hamlet:

that with better heed and judgment “I had not quoted him." See note on this passage, and Vol. II, p, 172, n. 6. Steevens.

- let wantons, light of heart, &c.] Middleton has borrowed this thought in his play of Blurt Master Constable, 1602:

bid him, whose heart no sorrow feels, " Tickle the rushes with his wanton heels,

“ I have too much lead at mine.” Steevens. 4 Tickle the senseless rushes with their heels;] It has been al. ready observed, that it was anciently the custom to strew rooms with rushes, before carpets were in use. See Vol. VIII, p. 265, n. 6. So Hentzer, in his Itinerary, speaking of Queen Elizabeth's presence-chamber at Greenwich, says: “ The Hoor, after the English fashion,

was strewed with hay,” meaning rushes. So, in The Dumb Knight, 1633

“ I am sorry,

3

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..

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

[ocr errors]

5

- Thou dancest on my heart, lascivious queen,

“Even as upon these rushes which thou treadest." The stage was anciently strewn with rushes. So, in Decker's Gul's Hornbook, 1609: “ — on the very rushes when the commedy is to daunce.” Steevens.

Shakspeare, it has been observed, gives the manners and customs of his own time to all countries and all ages. It is certainly true; but let it always be remembered that his contemporaries offended against propriety in the same manner. Thus, Marlowe, in his Hero and Leander :

“She, fearing on the rushes to be flung,
“ Striv'd with redoubled strength.-" Malone.

-a grandsire phrase, &c.] The proverb which Romed means, is contained in the line immediately following: To hold the candle, is a very common proverbial expression, for being an idle spectator. Among Ray's proverbial sentences, is this:-"A good candle holder proves a good gamester.” Steevens.

The proverb to which Romeo refers, is rather that alluded to in the next line but one.

It appears from a passage in one of the small collections of Po. etry, entitled Drolleries, of which I have lost the title, that “ Our sport is at the best,” or at the fairest, meant, we have had enough of it. Hence it is that Romeo says, “ I am done."

Dun is the mouse, I know not why, seems to have meant, Peace; be still! and hence it is said to be “the constable's own word;" who may be supposed to be employed in apprehending an offend. er, and afraid of alarming him by any noise. So, in the comedy of Patient Grissel, 1603: - What, Babulo! say you. Heere, master, say I, and then this eye opens; yet don is the mouse, Lie STILL. What Babulo! says Grissel. Anone, say I, and then this eye lookes up; yet doune I snug againe.” Malone. 6 I'll be a candle-holler, and look on,

The game was ne'er so fair, and I am done.) An allusion to an old proverbial saying, which advises to give over when the game is at the fairest. Ritson.

and I am done.] This is equivalent to phrases in common use-I am done for, it is over with me. Done is often used in a kindred sense by our author. Thus, in King Henry VI, Part III:

my mourning weeds are done." Again, in The Rape of Lucrece:

as soon decay'd and done, “ As is the morning's dew.” Steevens. 7 Tut! dun's the mouse, the constable's own word:] This poor ob

« ПредишнаНапред »