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Nurse. Is it good den?
Mer. 'Tis no less, I tell you; for the bawdy hand of the dialt is now upon the prick of noon.2
Nurse. Out upon you! what a man are you?
Rom. One, gentiewoman, 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 may find the young Romeo?
Rom. I can tell you; but young 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 say 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 ;3 unless a hare, sir, in a lenten pie, that is something stale and hoar ere it be spent.
these contractions is common among the ancient comick writers. So, in R. Brome's Northern Lass, 1633:
“God you good even, sir.” Steevens.
hand of the dial &c.] In The Puritan Widow, 1607, which has been attributed to our author, is a similar expression:“ – the feskewe of the diall is upon the chrisse-crosse of noon.” Steevens.
the prick of noon.) I marvel much that mine associates in the task of expounding the darker phrases of Shakspeare, should have overlooked this, which also hath already occurred in King Henry VI, Part III, Act I, sc. iv:
“ And made an evening at the noon-tide prick.". Prick meaneth point, i e. punctum, a note of distinction in writ. ing, a stop. So, in Timothy Briglit's Characterie, or an Arte of Shorte &c. writing by Characters, 12mo. 1588: “If the worde, by reason of tence ende in ed, as I loved, then make a prick in the character of the word, on the left side "- Again: “ The present tence wanteth a pricke, and so is knowen from other tences."Again: “A worde of doing, that endeth in ing, as eating, drinking, &c. requireth two prickes under the bodie of the character," &c. Amner.
3 No hare, sir;] Mercutio having roared out, So, ho! the cry of the sportsmen when they start a hare, Romeo asks what he has
An old hare hoar,
And an old hare hoar,
But a hare that is hoar,
Is too much for a score,
When it hoars ere it be spent. Romeo, will you come to your father's? we'll to dinner thither.
Rom. I will follow you.
[Exeunt Mer. and Ben. Nurse. Marry, farewel !6-I pray you, sir, what saucy merchant was this,' that was so full of his ropery? 8
found. And Mercutio answers, No hare, &c. The rest is a series of quibbles unworthy of explanation, which he who does not understand, needs not lament his ignorance. Johnson.
So ho! is the term made use of in the field when the hare is found in her seat, and not when she is started. A.C.
4 A old hare hoar,) Hoar or honry, is often used for mouldy, as things grow white from moulding. So, in Pierce Pennyless's Supplication to the Devil, 1595:"-as hoary as Dutch butter.” Again, in F. Beaumont's Letter to Speght on his edition of Chaucer, 1602: “ Many of Chaucer's words are become as it were vinew'd and hoarie with over long lying.” Again, in Every Man out of his Humour :
mice and rats
“Within the hoary ricks e'en as it stands." Stees These lines appear to have been part of an old song. In the quarto, 1597, we have here this stage-direction; “ He walks between them. [i. e. the Nurse and Peter,] and sings.” Malone.
lady, lady, lady.] The burden of an old song. Steevens. 6 Marry, farewell] These words I have recovered from the quarto, 1597. Malone.
7—what saucy merchant was this, &c.] The term merchant which was, and even now is, frequently applied to the lowest sort of dealers, seems anciently to lave been used on these familiar occasions in contradistinction to gentleman; signifying that the person showed by his behaviour he was a low fellow. So, in Churchyard's Chance, 1580:
“ What sausie merchaunt speaketh now, saied Venus in
The term chap, i.e. chapman, a word of the same import with merchant in its less respectable sense, is still in common use among the vulgar, as a general denomination for any person of whom they mean to speak with freedom or disrespect. Steevens,
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 flirt-gills; I am none of his skains-mates:'-And thou 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 law on my side.
Nurse. Now, afore God, I am so vex'd, 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 beha
of his ropery?] Ropery was anciently used in the same sense as roguery is now. So, in The Three Ladies of London, 1584:
“Thou art very pleasant and full of thy roperye.” Rope-sticks are mentioned in another place. Steevens.
9 - none of his skains-mates. None of his skains-mates means, I apprehend, none of his cut-throat companions. Malone.
A skein or skain was either a knife or a short dagger. By skainsmates the Nurse means none of his loose companions who frequent the fencing-school with him, where we may suppose the exercise of this weapon was taught.
The word is used in the old tragedy of Soliman and Perseda, 1599:
“ Against the light-foot Irish have I servid,
“ And in my skin bare tokens of their skeins." Again, in the comedy called Lingua, &c. 1507. At the opening of the piece Lingua is represented as apparelled in a particular manner, and among other things-having “a little skene tied in a purple scarf.”
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.” Stein is the Irish word for a knife. Steevens.
if ye should lead her into a fool's paradise, as they say,] So, in A Handfull of pleasunt Delightes, containing sundry new Soners, &c. 1584:
“ When they see they may her win,
viour, 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 ;2 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.
Rom. And stay, good nurse, behind the abbey-wall:
“ They prate, and make the matter nice,
- protest ;) Whether the repetition of this word conveyed any idea peculiarly comick to Shakspeare's audience, is not at present to be determined. The use of it, however, is ridiculed in the old comedy of Sir Giles Goosecap, 1606:
“ There is not the best duke's son in France dares say, I protest, till he be one and thirty years old at least; for the inheritance of that word is not to be possessed before.” See Donne's fourth Satire. Steevens.
- Here is for thy pains.] So, in The Tragical Hystory of Romeus and Juliet, 1562:
“Then he vi crowns of gold out of his pocket drew,
so adieu.” Malone. like a tackled stair;] Like stairs of rope in the tackle of a ship. Johnson.
A stair, for a flight of stairs, is still the language of Scotland, and was probably once common to both kingdoms. Malone.
top-gallant of my joy -] The top-gallant is the highest extremity of the mast of a ship.
Must be my convoy in the secret night.
-Hark yoll, sir. Rom. What say'st thou, my dear nurse?
Nurse. Is your man secret? Did you ne'er hear say— Two may keep counsel, putting one away ?6
Rom. I warrant thee;' my man 's as true as steel.
Nurse. Well, sir; my mistress is the sweetest ladyLord, lord !-when 'twas a little prating thing, -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 ? 9
So, in Reynolds's God's Revenge against Murder, B. I, Hist. IV: “ - which so spread the sails of his ambition, and hoysted his fame from top to top-gallant, that” &c.
The expression is common to many writers; among the rest, to Markham, in his English Arcadia, 1607: - beholding in the high top-gallant of his valour.”
Steevens. 6 Tavo may keep counsel, &c.] This proverb, with a slight variation, is introduced in Titus Andronicus. Steevens.
7 I warrant thee; ] 1, which is not in the quartos or first folio, was supplied by the editor of the second folio. Malone.
8 Well, sir; my mistress is the sweetest lady-Lord, lord !-when 'twas a little prating thing, - ) So, in the Poem: “ And how she gave her suck in youth, she leaveth not
to tell. “ A pretty babe, quoth she, it was, when it was young; “ Lord, how it could full prettily have prated with its
tongue,” &c. This dialogue is not found in Painter's Rhomeo and Julietta.
Malone. 9 Doth not rosemary and Romeo begin both with a letter? ] By this question the Nurse means to insinuate that Romeo's image was ever in the mind of Juliet, and that they would be married. Rosemary being conceived to have the power of strengthening the memory, was an emblem of remembrance, and of the affection of lovers, and (for this reason probably) was worn at weddings. So, in A Handfull of pleasant Delites, &c. 1584: