Page images
PDF
EPUB

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 fool13 !
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 !-O my brother's

child ! Unhappy sight! ah me, the blood is spilld Of my dear kinsman!-Prince, as thou art true 14, For blood of ours, shed blood of Montague. () 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 cries aloud,
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.

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 Ay;
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.

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.

SCENE II. A Room in Capulet's House.

Enter Juliet.
Jul. Gallop apace, you fiery-footed steeds ,
Towards Phæbus' mansion; such a waggoner
As Phaeton would whip you to the west,
And bring in cloudy night immediately –
Spread thy close curtain, love-performing night!
That run-away's eyes may wink%; and Romeo

The sentiment here enforced is different from that found in the first edition, 1597. There the Prince concludes his speech with these words:

• Pity sball dwell, and govern with us still;

Mercy to all but murderers,-pardoning none that kill.' 1 The poet probably remembered Marlowe's King Edward II. which was performed before 1593 :-

Gallop apace, bright Phæbus, through the skie,

And duskie night in rusty iron car;
· Between you both, shorten the time, I pray,

That I may see that most desired day.' There is also a passage in Barnabe Riche's Farewell to the Militarie Profession, 1583, which bears some resemblance to this.

2 Here ends this speech in the original quarto. The rest of the scene has likewise received considerable alterations and additions.

3 A great deal of ingenious criticism has been bestowed in endeavouring to ascertain the meaning of this expression. Dr. Warburton thought that the run-away in question was the sun ; but Mr. Heath bas most completely disproved this opinion. Mr. Steevens considers the passage as extremely elliptical, and regards the night as the run-away; making Juliet wish that its eyes, the stars, might retire, to prevent discovery. Mr. Justice Blackstone can perceive nothing optative in the lines, but simply a reason for Juliet's wish for a cloudy night; yet, according to this construction of the passage, the grammar is not very easily to be discovered. Whoever attentively reads over Juliet's speech will be inclined to think, or even to be altogether satisfied, that the whole tenor of it is optative. With respect to the calling night a run-away, one might surely ask how it can possibly be so termed in an abstract point of view ? Is it a greater fugitive than the morning, the noon, or the evening? Mr. Steevens

Leap to these arms, untalk'd of, and unseen !-
Lovers can see to do their.amorous rites
By their own beauties 4 : or, if love be blind,
It best agrees with night.—Come, civil 5 night,
Thou sober-suited matron, all in black,
And learn me how to lose a winning match,
Play'd for a pair of stainless maidenhoods :
Hood my unmann'd blood bating in my cheeks,
With thy black mantle; till strange love, grown bold,
Think true love acted, simple modesty.
Come, night!—Come, Romeo! come, thou day in

night! For thou wilt lie upon the wings of night Whiter than new snow upon a raven's back. — lays great stress on Shakspeare's having before called the night a run-away in The Merchant of Venice :

• For the close night doth play the run-away.' But there it was already far advanced, and might therefore with great propriety be said to play the run-away; bere it was not begun. The same remark will apply to the passage cited from the Fair Maid of the Exchange. Where then is this run-away to be found ? or can it be Juliet herself? She who had just been secretly married to the enemy of her parents might with some propriety be termed a run-away from her duty; but she had not abandoned her native pudency. She therefore invokes the night to veil those rites which she was about to perform, and to bring her Romeo to her arms in darkness and silence. The lines that immediately follow may be thought to favour this interpretation; and the whole scene may possibly bring to the reader's recollection an interesting part in the beautiful story of Cupid and Psyche.-Douce. i So in Marlowe's Hero and Leander :

- dark night is Cupid's day.' Milton, in his Comus, might have been indebted to Shakspeare:

· Virtue can see to do what virtue would
By her own radiant light, though sun and moon

Were in the flat sea sunk.' 5 Civil is grave, solemn.

6 These are terms of falconry. An unmanned hawk is one that is not brought to endure company. Bating is fluttering or beating the wings as striving to fly away.

« PreviousContinue »