Page images
PDF
EPUB

Ben.

What, art thou hurt? Mer. Ay, ay, a scratch, a scratch ; marry, 'tis

enough.Where is my page ?-go, villain, fetch a surgeon.

[Exit Page. Rom. Courage, man; the hurt cannot be much.

Mer. No, 'tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door ; but 'tis enough, 'twill serve: ask for me to-morrow, and you shall find me a grave man. I am peppered, I warrant, for this world; A plague o’both your houses !-Zounds, a dog, a rat, a mouse, a cat, to scratch a man to death! a braggart, a rogue, a villain, that fights by the book of arithmetick!-Why, the devil, came you between us? I was hurt under your arm.

Rom. I thought all for the best.

Mer. Help me into some house, Benvolio, Or I shall faint.—A plague o’both your

houses! They have made worm's meat of me: I have it, and soundly too :-Your houses !

[Exeunt MERCUTIO and Benvolio. & After this the quarto, 1597, continues Mercutio's speech as follows:

A pox o’both your houses! I shall be fairly mounted upon four men's shoulders for your house of the Montague's and the Capulets : and then some peasantly rogue, some sexton, some base slave, shall write my epitaph, that Tybalt came and broke the prince's laws, and Mercutio was slain for the first and second

Where's the surgeon ? Boy. He's come, sir. Mer. Now he'll keep a mumbling in my guts on the other side.-Come, Benvolio, lend me thy hand: A pox o'both your kouses !'

As for the jest, 'You shall find me a grave man’it was better in old language than it is at present; Lidgate says, in his Elegy upon Chaucer :

My master Chaucer now is grave.' In Sir Thomas Overbury's description of a Sexton, Characters, 1616, we have it again :- At every church-style commonly there's an ale-house ; where let him be found never so idlepated, hee is still a grave drunkard.'

6

cause.

Rom. This gentleman, the prince's near ally,
My very friend, hath got his mortal hurt
In my behalf; my reputation stain'd
With Tybalt's slander, Tybalt, that an hour
Hath been my kinsman:-0 sweet Juliet,
Thy beauty hath made me effeminate,
And in my temper soften'd valour's steel.

Re-enter BENVOLIO. Ben. O Romeo, Romeo, brave Mercutio's dead; That gallant spirit hath aspir’d! the clouds, Which too untimely here did scorn the earth. Rom. This day's black fate on more days doth

depend 10; This but begins the woe, others must end.

Re-enter TYBALT. Ben. Here comes the furious Tybalt back again.

Rom. Alive! in triumph! and Mercutio slain! Away to heaven, respective lenity 11, And fire-ey'd fury be my conduct 12 now ! Now, Tybalt, take the villain back again, That late thou gav’st me; for Mercutio's soul Is but a little way above our heads,

9 We never use the verb aspire, at present, without some particle, as to and after. There are numerous ancient examples of a similar use of it with that in the text: thus Marlowe, in his' Tamburlaine :

• Until our bodies turn to elements,

And both our souls aspire celestial thrones.' So in Chapman's version of the ninth Iliad :

and aspir'd the gods eternal feats.' 10 This day's unhappy destiny hangs over the days yet to come. There will yet be more mischief.

Respective lenity' is 'considerative gentleness.' See vol. iii. p. 97, note 16.

12 Conduct for conductor. VOL. X,

11

I

Staying for thine to keep him company ;
Either thou, or I, or both, must go with him.
Tyb. Thou, wretched boy, that didst consort him

here,
Shalt with him hence.
Rom.

This shall determine that.

[They fight ; TYBALT falls.
Ben. Romeo, away, be gone!
The citizens are up, and Tybalt slain :
Stand not amaz’d:—the prince will doom thee death,
If thou art taken:-hence !-be gone !--away!

Rom. O! I am fortune's fool 13!
Ben.

Why dost thou stay?

[Exit Romeo. Enter Citizens, &c. 1 Cit. Which way ran he, that killd Mercutio ? Tybalt, that murderer, which way ran he?

Ben. There lies that Tybalt. 1 Cit.

Up, sir, go with me; I charge thee in the prince's name, obey.

Enter Prince, attended; MONTAGUE, CAPULET,

their Wives, and Others. Prin. Where are the vile beginners of this fray?

Ben. O noble prince, I can discover all The unlucky manage of this fatal brawl: There lies the man, slain by young Romeo, That slew thy kinsman, brave Mercutio.

13 In the first quarto, 'O! I am fortune's slave.' Shakspeare is very fond of alluding to the mockery of fortune. Thus we have in Lear:- I am the natural fool of fortune.' And in Timon of Athens :— Ye fools of fortune.' In Julius Cæsar the expression is, “ He is but fortune's knave.' Hamlet speaks of the fools of nature.' And in Measure for Measure we have merely thou art death's fool.' See Pericles, Act iii. Sc. 2, p. 315, note 7.

La. Cap. Tybalt, my cousin !~0 my brother's

child ! Unhappy sight! ah me, the blood is spill'd Of

my dear kinsman!—Prince, as thou art true 14, For blood of ours, shed blood of Montague. O cousin, cousin !

Prin. Benvolio, who began this bloody fray ? Ben. Tybalt, here slain, whom Romeo's hand did

slay ; Romeo that spoke him fair, bade him bethink How nice 15 the quarrel was, and urg'd withal Your high displeasure:-All this—uttered With gentle breath, calm look, knees humbly

bow'd,
Could not take truce with the unruly spleen
Of Tybalt deaf to peace, but that he tilts
With piercing steel at bold Mercutio's breast;
Who, all as hot, turns deadly point to point,
And, with a martial scorn, with one hand beats
Cold death aside, and with the other sends
It back to Tybalt, whose dexterity
Retorts it: Romeo he crieskaloud,
Hold, friends! friends, part! and, swifter than his

tongue,
His agile arm beats down their fatal points,
And 'twixt them rushes; underneath whose arm
An envious thrust from Tybalt hit the life
Of stout Mercutio, and then Tybalt fled :

14 As thou art just and upright. So in King Richard III.:' And if King Edward be as true and just.'

15 Nice here means silly, trifling, or wanton. See vol. iii. p. 393, note 6. So in the last Act:

• The letter was not nice, but full of charge

Of dear import.' The rest of this speech was new written after the appearance of the first copy, by the poet, as well as a part of what follows in the same scene.

1

But by and by comes back to Romeo,
Who had but newly entertain’d revenge,
And to’t they go like lightning; for, ere I
Could draw to part them, was stout Tybalt slain;
And, as he fell, did Romeo turn and fly;
This is the truth, or let Benvolio die.

La. Cap. He is a kinsman to the Montague,
Affection makes him false 16 ; he speaks not true :
Some twenty of them fought in this black strife,
And all those twenty could but kill one life:
I beg for justice, which thou, prince, must give;
Romeo slew Tybalt, Romeo must not live. the

Prin. Romeo slew him, he slew Mercutio ; Who now the price of his dear blood doth owe? Mon. Not Romeo, prince, he was Mercutio's."

friend; His fault concludes but, what the law should end, The life of Tybalt. Prin.

And, for that offence,
Immediately we do exile him hence :
I have an interest in your hates' proceeding,
My blood for your rude brawls doth lie a bleeding;
But I'll amerce you with so strong a fine,
That
you

shall all repent the loss of mine :
I will be deaf to pleading and excuses ;
Nor tears, nor prayers, shall purchase out abuses,
Therefore use none : let Romeo hence in haste,
Else, when he's found, that hour is his last.
Bear hence this body, and attend our will:
Mercy but murders, pardoning those that kill 17.

[Exeunt. 16 • The charge of falsehood on Benvolio, though produced at hazard, is very just. The author, who seems to intend the character of Benvolio as good, meant perhaps to show how the best minds, in a state of faction and discord, are distorted to criminal partiality.'--Johnson.

17 See a maxim of Judge Hales, cited in vol. ii. p. 35, note 8.

« PreviousContinue »