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That Romeo bade thee fetch?
Nurse. Ay, ay, the cords. [Throws them down. Jul. Ahme! what news? why dost thou wring thy hands? Nurse. Ah well-a-day! he's dead, he's dead, he's
Jul. Can heaven be so envious ?
Jul. What devil art thou, that dost torment me thus? This torture should be roar'd in dismal hell. Hath Romeo slain himself? say thou but I,? And that bare vowel I shall poison more Than the death-darting eye of cockatrice: 8 I am not I, if there be such an I; Or those eyes shut, that make thee answer, I. If he be slain, say—I; or if not, no: Brief sounds determine of my weal, or woe.
say thou but I,] In Shakspeare's time (as Theobald has observed) the affirmative particle ay was usually written I, and here it is necessary to retain the old spelling. Malone.
death-darting eye of cockatrice:] See Vol. X, p. 196, n. 9, and p. 208, n. 1. Malone.
The strange lines that follow here in the common books, are not in the old edition. Pope. The strange lines are these:
“ I am not I, if there be such an I,
“ Brief sounds determine of my weal or woe.” These lines hardly deserve emendation; yet it may be proper to observe, that their meanness has not placed them below the malice of fortune, the first two of them being evidently transposed; we should read:
that bare vowel I shall poison more,
I am not I, &c. Johnson. I think the transposition recommended may be spared. The second line is corrupted. Read shut instead of shot, and then the meaning will be sufficiently intelligible.
Shot, however, may be the same as shut. So, in Chaucer's Millers Tale, Mr. Tyrwhitt's edit. ver. 3358:
“ And dressed him up by a shot window.” Steevens.
Nurse. I saw the wound, I saw it with mine eyes God save the mark!! here on his manly breast: A piteous corse, a bloody piteous corse; Pale, pale as ashes, all bedawb'd in blood, All in gore blood ;-I swoonded at the sight. Jul. O break, my heart!
-poor bankrupt, break at once ! To prison, eyes! ne'er look on liberty! Vile earth, to earth resign; end motion here; And thou, and Romco, press one heavy bier!
Nurse. O Tybalt, Tybalt, tiie best friend I had!
Jul. What storm is this, that blows so contrary?
Nurse. Tybalt is gone, and Romeo banished;
Jul. O God !-did Romeo's hand shed Tybalt's blood ? Nurse. It did, it did; alas the day! it did. Jul. O serpent heart, hid with a a flow’ring face!? Did ever dragon keep so fair a cave? Beautiful tyrant! fiend angelical !
9 God save the mark!'] This proverbial exclamation occurs again, with equal obscurity, in Othello, Act I, sc. i. See note on that passage. Steevens.
1 My dear-lov'd cousin, and my dearer lord?] The quarto, 1599, and the folio, read
My dearest cousin, and my dearer lord? Mr. Pope introduced the present reading from the original copy of 1597. Malone.
2 O serpent heart, hid with a flow'ring face!'] The same images occur in Macbeth:
- look like the innocent flower,
“ But be the serpent under it.” Henley.
“ Rash, inconsiderate, fiery voluntaries,
' faces and fierce dragons' spleens.” Again, in King Henry VIII:
“ You have angels' faces, but heaven knows your hearts." The line, Did ever dragon, &c. and the following eight lines, are not in the quarto, 1597. Malone.
Dove-feather'd raven !* wolvish-ravening lamb!
There's no trust,
Blister'd be thy tongue,
4 Dove-feather'd raven! &c.] In old editions
Ravenous dove, feather'd raven, &c. The four following lines not in the first edition, as well as some others which I have omitted. Pope.
Ravenous dove, featherd raven, Wolfish-ravening lamb!] This passage Mr. Pope has thrown out of the text, because these two noble hemistichs are inharmonious : but is there no such thing as a crutch for a labouring, halting verse! I'll venture to restore to the poet a line that is in his own mode of thinking, and truly worthy of him. Ravenous was blunderingly coined out of raven and ravening; and if we only throw it out, we gain at once an harmonious verse, and a proper contrast of epithets and images:
Dove-feather'd raven! wolvish-rav'ning lamb! Theobald. The quarto, 1599, and folio, read
Ravenous dove-feather'd raven, wolvish-ravening lamb. The word ravenous, which was written probably in the manuscript by mistake in the latter part of the line, for ravening, and then struck out, crept from thence to the place where it appears. It was properly rejected by Mr. Theobald. Malone.
5 A damned saint, ] The quarto, 1599, for damned, has dimme: the first folio-dimne. The reading of the text is found in the undated quarto. Malone.
6 These griefs, these woes, these sorrows make me old.] So, in our author's Lover's Complaint:
“Not age, but sorrow, over me hath power.” Malone: VOL. XII.
For 'tis a throne where honour may be crown'd
7 Upon his brow shame is asham'd to sit;] So, in Painter's Palace of Pleasure, Tom. II, p. 223:“ Is it possible that under sucha beautie and rare comelinesse, disloyaltie and treason may have their siedge and lodging ?" The image of shame sitting on the brow, is not in the poem. Steevens.
what tongue shall smooth thy name, ] To smooth, in ancient language, is stroke, to caress, to fondle. So, in Perciles, Act I, se. ii: " Seem'd not to strike, but smooth.” Steevens. 9 Back, foolish tears, &c.] So, in Trie Tempest:
- I am a fool "To weep at what I am glad of.” Steevens. “Back," says she, "to your native source, you foolish tears! Properly you ought to flow only on melancholy occasions; but now you erroneously shed your tributary drops for an event (the death of Tybalt and the subsequent escape of my beloved Romeo] which is in fact to me a subject of joy.-Tybalt, if he could, would have slain my husband; but my husband is alive, and has slain Tybalt. This is a source of joy, not of sorrow: wherefore then do I weep?” Malone.
| Hath slain ten thousand Tybalts.] Hath put Tybalt out of my mind, as if out of being. Johnson.
Was woe enough, if it had ended there:
Nurse. Weeping and wailing over Tybalt’s corse :
spent, When theirs are dry, for Romeo's banishment. Take those cords :-Poor ropes, you are beguild, Both you and I; for Romeo is exil'd: He made you for a highway to my bed;
The true meaning is,—I am more affected by Romeo's banishment than I should be by the death of ten thousand such relations as Tybalt. Ritson.
Hath slain ten thousand Tybalts.] That is, is worse than the loss of ten thousand Tybalts. Dr. Johnson's explanation cannot be right; for the passage itself shows that Yybalt was not out of her mind. M Mason.
2sour woe delights in fellowship, ] Thus the Latin hexame. ter: (I know not whence it comes)
“ Solamen miseris socios habuisse doloris.” Steevens. So, in The Rape of Lucrece:
“ And fellowship in woe doth woe assuage,
“ As palmers' chat makes short their pilgrimage." Again, in King Lear:
the mind much sufferance doth o'er-skip,
Malone. 3 Which modern lamentation &c.] This line is left out of the later editions, I suppose because the editors did not remember that Shakspeare uses modern for common, or slight: I believe it was in his time confounded in colloquial language with moderate.
Johnson. It means only trite, common. So, in As you Like it:
" Full of wise saws and modern instances.” Steevens.