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of matured reading and reflection which are displayed in the augmented edition of 1599, as compared with that of 1597. There is also a scrap of internal evidence which, as proof of an earlier authorship than 1596, is well entitled to consideration. The Nurse, describing Juliet's being weaned, says,-“ On Lammas-eve at night shall she be fourteen ; that shall she ; marry, I remember it well. 'Tis since the earthquake now eleven years." Tyrwhitt was the first to suggest the probable reference of this passage to an earthquake which occurred in 1580, and of which Holinshed has given a striking and minute account:—“On the sixt of Aprill (1580), being wednesdaie in Easter weeke about six of the clocke toward euening, a sudden earthquake happening in London, and almost generallie throughout all England, caused such an amazednesse among the people as was wonderfull for the time, and caused them to make their earnest praiers to almightie God. The great clocke bell in the palace at Westminster strake of it selfe against the hammer with the shaking of the earth, as diverse other clocks and bels in the steeples of the citie of London and elswhere did the like. The gentlemen of the Temple being then at supper, ran from the tables, and out of their hall with their kniues in their hands. The people assembled at the plaie houses in the fields, * * * * were so amazed that doubting the ruine of the galleries, they made hast to be gone. A peece of the temple church fell down, some stones fell from saint Paules church in London : and at Christs church neere to Newgate market, in the sermon while, a stone fell from the top of the same church." Such an event would form a memorable epoch to the class which constituted the staple of a playhouse auditory in the sixteenth century; and if an allusion to it was calculated to awaken interest and fix attention, the anachronism, or the impropriety of its association with an historical incident of some centuries preceding, would hardly have deterred any playwright of that age from turning it to account. On the theory that the Nurse's observation really applied to the earthquake of 1580, we may ascribe the date of this play's composition to the year 1591 ; and, unfortunately, in the absence of everything in the shape of a history of our poet's writings, we can trust only to inferences and conjectures of this description to make even an approximate guess as to the period of its production.
ABRAM, servant to MontagUE.
EscALUS, Prince of VERONA.
servants to CAPULET.
LADY MONTAGUE, wife to MONTAGUE.
Citizens of VERONA; several men and women,
Relations to both Houses; Maskers, Guards,
SCENE, during the greater part of the Play, in VeroNA; once, in the fifth Act, at MANTUA.
Two households, both alike in dignity,
(In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,) From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life; Whose misadventur'd piteous overthrows
Doth, with their death, bury their parents' strife. The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love,
And the continuance of their parents' rage, Which, but their children's end, nought could remove,
Is now the two hours' traffick of our stage ; The which if you with patient ears attend, What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.
a This prologue appeared in its present form, in the first complete edition of “Romeo and Juliet,” the quarto of 1599: it is omitted in the folio. In the incomplete sketch of the play, published in 1597, it stands as under ;
“ Two houshold frends alike in dignitie,
(In faire Verona, where we lay our Scene)
From forth the fatall loynes of these two foes,
Enter SAMPSON and GREGORÝ, armed with
swords and bucklers.
is—to stand; therefore, if thou art moved, thou
Sam. Gregory, o' my word, we'll not carry coals.
GRE. No, for then we should be colliers.
GRE. Ay, while you live, draw your neck out o' the collar,
Sam. I strike quickly, being moved.
Sam. A dog of the house of Montague moves me.
GRE. To move, is—to stir ; and to be valiant,
Sam. A dog of that house shall move me to stand: I will take the wall of any man or maid of Montague's.
GRE. That shows thee a weak slave; for the weakest goes to the wall.
Sam. True; and therefore women, being the weaker vessels, are ever thrust to the wall :therefore I will push Montague's men from the wall, and thrust his maids to the wall.
GRE. The quarrel is between our master's, and us their men.
Sam. 'Tis all one, I will show myself a tyrant:
(*) First folio, if. • We'll not carry coals.] We will not submit to indignities. A favourite expression with the authors of Shakespeare's era, and
which probably originated, as Gifford suggests, in the fact that the meanest and most forlorn dependents of a great household were those employed in the servile drudgery of carrying coals.
when I have fought with the men, I will be cruela
Enter BENVOLIO, at a distance.
GRE. Say—better; here comes one of my maiden-heads ; take it in what sense thou wilt.
[Aside to SAMPSON. GRE. They must take it int sense, that feel it.
SAM. Yes, better, sir. * Sam. Me they shall feel, while I am able to
ABR. You lie. stand: and, 'tis known, I am a pretty piece of
SAM. Draw, if you be men.-Gregory, rememflesh.
ber thy swashingt blow."
[They fight. GRE. 'Tis well, thou art not fish; if thou hadst,
Ben. Part, fools ; put up your swords ; you thou hadst been poor John.” Draw thy tool ; here
know not what you do. [Beats down their swords. comes of the house of the Montagues. (1)
Enter ABRAM and another Servant of
Tyb. What, art thou drawn among these heart
less hinds ? Turn thee, Benvolio, look upon thy death. Ben. I do but keep the peace; put up thy
Sam. My naked weapon is out; quarrel, I will back thee.
GRE. How? turn thy back, and run ?
SAM. Let us take the law of our sides ; let them begin.
Gre. I will frown, as I pass by ; and let them take it as they list. Sam. Nay, as they dare. I
I will bite
thumb at us, sir ?
bite thumb at us, sir ? San. Is the law of our side, if I
[Aside to GREGORY. GRE. No.
Sam. No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir; but I bite my thumb, sir.
GRE. Do you quarrel, sir ?
Sam. But if you do, sir, I am for you ; I serve as good a man as you.
ABR. No better.
Enter several Followers of boih Houses, who join
the fray; then enter Citizens, with clubs. 1 Cir, Clubs, bills, and partizans!' strike ! beat
them down ! Down with the Capulets ! down with the Montagues!
Enter CAPULET, in his gown; and LADY CAPULET.
CAP. What noise is this ?–Give me my long
sword, ho! LA. CAP. A crutch, a crutch !—why call you
for a sword ? Cap. My sword, I say !_Old Montague is come, And flourishes his blade in spite of me.
(*) First folio, and cut off.
(+) F folio omits in. a I will be cruel with the maids ;] The quarto of 1599, that of 1609, and the folio, 1623, which was printed from it, concur in reading civill. The correction appears in a quarto edition without date, published hy John Smethwicke, “at his shop in Sainte Dunstanes Church, in Fleete Street, under the Dyall." Smethwicke also published the quarto, 1609; and the undated edition, which contains several important corrections of previous typographical errors, was probably issuedd soon after.
b Poor John.] The fish called hake, an inferior sort of cod, when dried and salted, was probably the staple fare of servants and the indigent during Lent; and this sorry dish is perpetually ridiculed by the old writers as “poor John."
e I will bite my thumb at them :) This contemptuous action, though obsolete in this country, is still in use both in France and Italy; but Mr. Knight is mistaken in supposing it identical with what is called giving the fico. Biling the thumb is performed by biting the thumb nail; or, as Cotgrave describes it, “by putting the thumbe naile into the mouth, and with a jerke (from the
(*) First folio omits sir. (1) Old copies, except the undated quarto, washing.
(1) First folio, draw. upper teeth) make it to knacke.” The more offensive gesticulation of giving the fico was by thrusting out the thumb betweeu the fore-tingers, or putting it in the mouth so as to swell out the chcek.
d Remember thy swashing blow.) To swash perhaps originally meant, as Barret in his " Alvearie," 1580, describes it, “to make a noise with swords against tergats ;" but swashing blow here, as in Jonson's “Staple of News," Act V. Sc. 2, “I do confess a swashing blow," means evidently a smashing, crushing blow.
Enter several Followers, &c.] A modern direction. The old copies have merely-" Enter three or four citizens with clubs or partysons."
f Clubs, bills, and partizans !-] Shakespeare, whose wont it is to assimilate the customs of all countries to those of his own. puts the ancient call to arms of the London 'prentices in the mouth of the Veronese citizen.
Enter MONTAGUE and LADY MONTAGUE. Right glad am I, he was not at this fray.
BEN. Madam, an hour before the worshipp'd Mon. Thou villain, Capulet,—Hold me not, let
Peer'd forth the golden window of the east, LA. Mon. Thou shalt not stir one* foot to seek
A troubled mind drave me to walk abroad; a foe.(2)
That westward rooteth from this city's side, –
So early walking did I see your son:
Towards him I made; but he was ’ware of me, Prin. Rebellious subjects, enemies to peace, Profaners of this neighbour-stained steel,
And stole into the covert of the wood:
I, measuring his affections by my own,Will they not hear ?—what ho! you men, you
That most are busied when they are most alone," — beasts,That quench the fire of your pernicious rage
Pursued my humour, * not pursuing his, With purple fountains issuing from your veins,
And gladly shunn'd who gladly fled from me.
Mon. Many a morning hath he there been seen, On pain of torture, from those bloody hands Throw your mis-temper'd weapons to the ground,
With tears augmenting the fresh morning's dew, And hear the sentence of your moved prince.
Adding to clouds more clouds with his deep sighs: Three civil brawls,t bred of an airy word,
But all so soon as the all-cheering sun By thee, old Capulet, and Montague,
Should in the farthest east begin to draw Have thrice disturb'd the quiet of our streets ;
The shady curtains from Aurora's bed, And made Verona's ancient citizens
Away from light steals home my heavy son,
And private in his chamber Cast by their grave beseeming ornaments,
Shuts up his windows, locks fair daylight out, To wield old partizans, in hands as old,
And makes himself an artificial night: Canker'd with peace, to part your canker'd hate.
Black and portentous must this humour prove, If ever you disturb our streets again, Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace.
Unless good counsel may the cause remove. For this time, all the rest depart away:
Ben. My noble uncle, do you know the cause ?
Mon. I neither know it, nor can learn of him. You, Capulet, shall go along with me,
Ben. Have you impórtun'd him by any means ? And, Montague, come you this afternoon, To know our farther; pleasure in this case,
Mon. Both by myself, and many othert friends:
But he, his own affections' counsellor, To old Free-town, our common judgment-place.
Is to himself—I will not say, how true Once more, on pain of death, all men depart.
But to himself so secret and so close, [Exeunt Prince and Attendants ; CAPULET, So far from sounding and discovery, LADY CAPULET, TYBALT, Citizens, and Servants. As is the bud bit with an envious worm, Mon. Who set this ancient quarrel new Ere he can spread his sweet leaves to the air, abroach ?
Or dedicate his beauty to the sun.“ Speak, nephew, were you by, when it began?
Could we but learn from whence his sorrows grow, BEN. Here were the servants of your adversary,
We would as willingly give cure, as know.
Enter Romeo, at a distance.
BEN. See, where he comes : so please you, step
Mon. I would, thou wert so happy by thy stay, Came more and more, and fought on part and part,
To hear true shrift.—Come, madam, let's away. Till the prince came, who parted either part.
[Exeunt Montague and Lady. La. Mon. O, where is Romeo !-saw you him
BEN. Good morrow, cousin. to-day?
Is the day so young ?
(*) First folio, a foot.
(+) First folio, broils. (1) Pirst folio, falher's. . That most are busied when they are most alone,-) This is the reading of the quarto, 1597. Subsequent editions, including the folio, 1623, read thus:
** Which then most sought, where most might not be found;
Being cne too many by my weary self,
Pursued my humour," &c. b Many a morning hath he there been seen,-) This, and the
lines following down to
“And makes himself an artificial night,"
“Have you impórtun'd him by any means ?”