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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.'
Rom. This gentleman, the prince's near ally,
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,
Staying for thine to keep him company ;
This shall determine that.
[They fight ; TYBALT falls.
Rom. O! I am fortune's fool 13!
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
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.
But by and by comes back to Romeo,
La. Cap. He is a kinsman to the Montague,
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,
shall all repent the loss of mine :
[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.