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Mer. 'Pr’ythee, do, good Peter, to hide her face; for her fan's the fairer of the two.
Nurse. God ye good morrow, gentlemen.
Mer. 'Tis no less, I tell you; for the bawdy hand of the dial is now upon the prick 20 of noon.
Nurse. Out upon you! what a man are you?
Rom. One, gentlewoman, that God hath made himself to mar.
Nurse. By my troth, it is well said ;-For himself to mar, quoth’a ? Gentlemen, can any of you tell me where I
Romeo will be older when you have found him, than he was when you sought him: I am the youngest of that name, for 'fault of a worse. Nurse. You
well. Mer. Yea, is the worst well? very well took, i’faith ; wisely, wisely.
Nurse. If you be he, sir, I desire some confidence
Ben. She will indite him to some supper.
Mer. No hare, sir; unless a hare, sir, in a lenten pie, that is something stale and hoar ere it be spent. mistresse must have one to carry her cloake and hood, another her fanne. So in Love's Labour's Lost :
-To see him walk before a lady, and to bear her fan.'
19 i. e. God give you a good even.' The first of these contractions is common in our old dramas. So in Brome's Northern Lass :— God you good even, sir.' 20 So in King Henry VI. Part III. Act i. Sc. 4:
• And made an evening at the noontide prick.' i. e. the point of noon. A prick is a point, a note of distinction in writing, a stop. So in Bright's Charactery, or Arte of Short Writing, 1588:-- If the worde end in ed, as I loved, then make a pricke in the character of the word on the left side.
An old hare hoar
very good meat in lent :
Is too much for a score,
When it hoars ere it be spent.-
Rom. I will follow you.
[Exeunt Mercurio and Benvolio. Nurse. Marry, farewell !—I pray you, sir, what saucy merchant 23 was this, that was so full of his
ropery 24 ?
Rom. A gentleman, nurse, that loves to hear himself talk; and will speak more in a minute, than he will stand to in a month.
Nurse. An ’a speak any thing against me, I'll take him down an 'a were lustier than he is, and twenty such Jacks; and if I cannot, I'll find those that shall
. Scurvy knave! I am none of his flirtgills ; I am none of his skains-mates 25.–And thou
21 Hoar, or hoary, is often used for mouldy, as things grow wbite from moulding. These lines seem to have been part of an old song. In the quarto, 1597, we have this stage direction : • He walks by them [i. e. the Nurse and Peter) and sings.'
22 The burthen of an old song. See Twelfth Night, Act ii. Sc. 3.
23 See vol. vi. p. 41, note 6.
So in The Three Ladies of London, 1584:
• Thou art very pleasant, and full of thy roperye.' See vol. iii. p. 268, pote 10.
By skains-mates the old lady probably means swaggering companions. A skain, or skean, was an Irish knife or dagger, a weapon suitable to the purpose of ruftling fellows. Green, in his Quip for an Upstart Courtier, describes · an ill favoured knave, who wore by his side a skeine, like a brewer's bung knife.'
law on my
must stand by too, and suffer every knave to use me at his pleasure ?
Pet. I saw no man use you at his pleasure; if I had, my weapon should quickly have been out, I warrant you: I dare draw as soon as another man, if I see occasion in a good quarrel, and the
side. Nurse. Now, afore God, I am so vexed, that every part about me quivers. Scurvy knave !: 'Pray you, sir, a word : and as I told you, my young lady bade me inquire you out; what she bade me say, I will keep to myself: but first let me tell ye, if ye should lead her into a fool's paradise, as they say, it were a very gross kind of behaviour, as they say: for the gentlewoman is young; and, therefore, if you should deal double with her, truly, it were an ill thing to be offered to any gentlewoman, and very weak dealing
Rom. Nurse, commend me to thy lady and mistress. I protest unto thee,
Nurse. Good heart! and, i'faith, I will tell her as much : Lord, lord, she will be a joyful woman.
Rom. What wilt thou tell her, nurse ? thou, dost not mark me.
Nurse. I will tell her, sir,—that you do protest; which, as I take it, is a gentlemanlike offer.
Rom. Bid her devise some means to come to shrift
Nurse. No, truly, sir; not a penny.
shall. Nurse. This afternoon, sir? well, she shall be there. Rom. And stay, good nurse, behind the abbeywall:
Within this hour my man shall be with thee;
Nurse. Now God in heaven bless thee!-Hark
Rom. What say’st thou, my dear nurse ?
Rom. I warrant thee; my man's as true as steel.
Nurse. Well, sir; my mistress is the sweetest lady,— lord, lord !-when 'twas a little prating thing 27,-0,—there's a nobleman in town, one Paris, that would fain lay knife aboard : but she, good soul, had as lieve see a toad, a very toad, as see him. I anger her sometimes, and tell her that Paris is the properer man : but, I'll warrant you, when I say so, she looks as pale as any clout in the varsal world. Doth not rosemary and Romeo begin both with a letter 28 ?
Rom. Ay, nurse; What of that? both with an R.
26 i. e. like stairs of rope in the tackle of a ship. A stair, for a flight of stairs, is still the language of Scotland, and was once common to both kingdoms. 27 So in Arthur Brooke's poem :
• A pretty babe, quoth she, it was, when it was young,
Lord, how it could full prettily have prated with its tongue.' 28 The Nurse is represented as a prating, silly creature ; she says that she will tell Romeo a good joke about his mistress, and asks him whether rosemary and Romeo do not both begin with a letter : he says, Yes, an R. She, whom we must suppose could not read, thought be mocked her, and says, No, sure I know better, R is the dog's name, your's begins with some other letter. This is natural enough, and in character. R put her in mind of that sound which dogs make when they snarl. Ben
Nurse. Ah, mocker! that's the dog's name. R is for the dog. No; I know it begins with some other letter: and she hath the prettiest sententious of it, of you and rosemary, that it would do you good to hear it.
Rom. Commend me to thy lady. [Erit.
SCENE V. Capulet's Garden.
Enter JULIET. Jul. The clock struck nine, when I did send the
nurse ; In half an hour she promis’d to return. Perchance, she cannot meet him: that's not so.0, she is lame! love's heralds should be thoughts', Jonson, in his English Grammar, says 'R is the dog's letter, and hirreth in the sound.' • Irritata canis quod R. R. quam plurima dicat.'
Lucil, Nasbe, in Summer's Last Will and Testament, 1600, speaking of dogs, says :
• They arre and barke at night against the moone.' And Barclay, in his Ship of Fooles, pleasantly exemplifies it:
• This man malicious which troubled is with wrath,
Save the dogges letter glowming with nar, nar.' Erasmus, in explaining the adage · Canina facundia,' says, ' R, litera quæ in rixando prima est, canina vocatur. It is used more than once in this sense in Rabelais. And in the Alchemist, Sabtle says, in making out Abel Drugger's name, And right apenst him a dog snarling er.' 1 The speech is thus continued in the quarto, 1597 :
should be thoughts,
says my love ? The greatest part of this scene is likewise added since that