Page images
[ocr errors]

That where such perfet shape with pleasant bewty restes,
There crooked craft and trayson blacke should be appoynted

Sage writers say, the thoughts are dwelling in the eyne;
Then sure I am, as Cupid raignes, that Romeus is myne.
The tong the messenger eke call they of the mynd;
So that I see he loveth me:-shall I then be unkynd ?
His faces rosy hew I saw full oft to seeke;
And straight again it flashed foorth, and spred in eyther cheeke.
His fixed heavenly eyne that through me quyte did perce
His thoughts unto my hart, my thoughts thei semed to rehearce.
What ment his foltring tunge in telling of his tale ?
The trimbling of his joynts, and eke his cooler waxen pale?
And whilst I talke with him, himself he hath exylde
Out of himself, as seemed me; ne was I súre begylde.
Those arguments of love Craft wrate not on his face,
But Natures hand, when all deceyte was banishd out of place.
What other certayn signes seke I of his good wil?
These doo suffice; and stedfast I will love and serve him styll,
Till Attropos shall cut my fatall thread of lyfe,
So that he mynde to make of me his lawful wedded wyfe.
For so perchaunce this new alliance may procure
Unto our houses such a peace as ever shall indure."

Oh how we can perswade ourself to what we like!
And how we can diswade our mynd, if ought our mind mislyke!
Weake arguments are stronge, our fansies streight to frame
To pleasing things, and eke to shonne, if we mislyke the same.
The mayde had scarcely yet ended the wery warre,
Kept in her heart by striving thoughts, when every shining starre
Had payd his borrowed light, and Phæbus spred in skies
His golden rayes, which seemd to say, now time it is to rise.
And Romeus had by this forsaken his wery bed,
Where restles he a thousand thoughts had forged in his hed.
And while with lingring step by Juliets house he past,
And upwards to her windowes high his greedy eyes did cast,
His love that lookd for him there gan he straight espye.
With pleasant cheere eche greeted is; she followeth with her eye
His parting steppes, and he oft looketh backe againe,
But not so oft as he desyres; warely he doth refrayne.
What life were like to love, if dread of jeopardy
Y-sowered not the sweete; if love were free from jelosy!
But she more sure within, unseene of any wight,
When so he comes, lookes after him till he be out of sight.
In often passing so, his busy eyes he threw,
That every pane and tooting hole the wily lover knew.
In happy houre he doth a garden plot espye,
From which, except he warely walke, men may his love descrye ;
For lo! it fronted full upon her leaning place,
Where she is wont to shew her heart by cheerefull frendly face.
And lest the arbors might theyr secret love bewraye,
He doth keepe backe his forward foote from passing there by daye;


But when on earth the Night her mantel blacke hath spred,
Well-armde he walketh foorth alone, ne dreadful foes doth dred.
Whom maketh Love not bold, naye whom makes he not blinde ?
He driveth daungers dread oft times out of the lovers minde.
By night he passeth here a weeke or two in vayne ;
And for the missing of his marke his greefe bath hym nye slaine.
And Juliet that now doth lacke her hearts releefe,-
Her Romeus pleasant eyen I mean is almost dead for greefe.
Eche daye sbe chaungeth howres, for lovers keepe an howre
When they are sure to see theyr love, in passing by their bowre.
Impacient of her woe, she hapt to leane one night
Within her windowe, and anon the moone did shine so bright
That she espyde her loove; her hart revived sprang;
And now for joy she claps her handes, which erst for wo she

Eke Romeus, when he sawe his long desyred sight,
His moorning cloke of mone cast of, hath clad him with delight.
Yet dare I say, of both that she rejoyced more:
His care was great, hers twise as great was, all the time before;
For whilst she knew not why he did himselfe absent,
In douting both bis health and life, his death she did lament.
For love is fearful oft where is no cause of feare,
And what love feares, that love laments, as though it chaunced
Of greater cause alway is greater woorke y-bred;
While he nought douteth of her helth, she dreads lest he be ded.
When onely absence is the cause of Romeus smart,
By happy hope of sight againe be feedes his fainting hart.
What wonder then if he were wrapt in lesse annoye ?
What marvel if by sodain sight she fed of greater joy?
His smaller greefe or joy no smaller love doo prove;
Ne, for she passed him in both, did she him passe in love :
But eche of them alike dyd burne in equall flame,
The wel-beloving knight and eke the wel-beloved dame.
Now whilst with bitter teares her eyes as fountaines ronne,
With whispering voice, y-broke with sobs, thus is her tale be-

gonne : « Oh Romeus, of your life too lavas sure you are, That in this place, and at this tyme, to hazard it you dare. What if your dedly foes, my kinsmen, saw you here? Lyke lyons wylde, your tender partes asonder would they teare. In ruth and in disdayne, I, wery of my life, With cruell hand my moorning hart would perce with bloudy

knyfe. For you, myne own, once dead, what joy should I have heare? And eke my honor staynd, which I then lyfe do holde more deare."

“ Fayre lady myne, dame Juliet, my lyfe (quod hee)
Even from my byrth committed was to fátall sisters three.
They may in spyte of foes draw foorth my lively threed;
And they also (who so sayth nay) asonder may it shreed.
But who, to reave my life, his rage and force would bende,
Perhaps should trye unto his payne how I it coulde defende.

Ne yet I love it so, but alwayes, for your sake,
A sacrifice to death I would my wounded corps betake.
If my mishappe were such, that here, before your sight,
I should restore agayn to death, of lyfe my borrowed light,
This one thing and no more my parting sprite would rewe,
That part he should before that you by certain trial knew
The love I owe to you, the thrall I languish in,
And how I dread to loose the gayne which I do hope to win;
And how I wish for lyfe, not for my proper ease,
But that in it you might I love, you honor, serve and please,
Till dedly pangs the sprite out of the corps shall send :"
And thereupon he sware an othe, and so his tale had ende.

Now love and pitty boyle in Juliets ruthfull brest;
In windowe on her leaning arme her weary head doth rest :
Her bosome bathd in teares (to witnes inward payne),
With dreary chere to Romeus thus aunswered she agayne:
“ Ah my deere Romeus, kepe in these words, (quod she)
For lo, the thought of such mischaunce already maketh me
For pity and for dred well nigh to veld up breath;
In even ballance peysed are my life and eke my death.
For so my heart is knit, vea made one selfe with yours,
That sure there is no greefe so small, by which your mynd en-

dures, But as you suffer payne, so I doo beare in part (Although it lessens not your greefe) the halfe of all your smart. But these thinges overpast, if of your health and myne You have respect, or pity ought my teer-y-weeping eyen, In few unfained woords your bidden mynd unfolde, That as I see your pleasant face, your heart I may beholde. For if you do intende my honor to defile, In error shall you wander still, as you have done this while: But if your thought be chaste, and have on vertue ground, If wedlocke be the end and marke which your desyre hath found, Obedience set asyde, unto my parents dewe, The quarrel eke that long agoe betwene our housholdes grewe, Both me and mine I will all whole to you betake, And following vou where so you goe, my fathers house forsake. But if by wanton love and by unlawfull sute You thinke in rypest yeres to plucke my maydenhoods dainty

frute, You are begylde ; and now your Juliet you beseekes To cease your sute, and suffer her to live among her likes.” Then Romeus, whose thought was free from fowle desyre, And to the the top of vertues haight did worthely aspyre, Was fild with greater joy then can my pen expresse, Or, tyll they have enjoyd the like, the hearers hart can gesse.*

the hearers hart can gesse.] From these words it should seem that this poem was formerly sung or recited to casual passengers in the streets. See also p. 407, 1. 25:

And then with joyned hands, heavd up into the skies,
He thankes the Gods, and from the heavens for vengeance down

he cries,
If he have other thought but as his Lady spake;
And then his looke he toornd to her, and thus did answere make:
“ Since, lady, that you like to honor me so much
As to accept me for your spouse, I yeeld myself for such.
In true witnes whereof, because I must depart,
Till that my deede do prove my woord, I leave in pawne my hart.
Tomorrow eke betimes, before the sunne arise,
To Fryer Lawrence will I wende, to learne his sage advise.
He is my gostly syre, and oft he hath me taught
What I should doe in things of waight, when I his ayde have

And at this self same houre, I plyte you here my faith,
I will be here, if you think good, to tell you what he sayth."
She was contented well; els favour found he none
That night, at lady Juliets hand, save pleasant woords alone.

This barefoote fryer gyrt with cord his grayish weede,
For he of Francis order was a fryer, as I reede.
Not as the most was he, a grosse unlearned foole,
But doctor of divinetie proceded he in schoole.
The secrets eke he knew in Natures woorks that loorke;
By magicks arte most men supposed that he could wonders

woorke. Ne doth it ill beseeme devines those skils to know, If on no harmeful deede they do such skilfulnes bestow; For justly of no arte can men condemne the use, But right and reasons lore crye out agaynst the lewd abuse. The bounty of the fryer and wisdom hath so wonne The townes folks harts, that wel nigh all to fryer Lawrence ronne, To shrive themselfe; the olde, the young, the great and small, Of all he is beloved well, and honord much of all. And, for he did the rest in wisdom farre exceede, The prince by him (his counsell cravde) was holpe at time of

neede. Betwixt the Capilets and him great frendship grew, A secret and assured friend unto the Montague.

If any man be here, whom love hath clad with care,
To him I speak; if thou wilt speed,&c.

Malone. In former days, when the faculty of reading was by no means 80 general as at present, it must have been no unfrequent practice for those who did not possess this accomplishment to gratify their curi. osity by listening while some better educated person read aloud. It is, I think, scarcely probable, that a poem of the length of this ragicall History should be sung or recited in the streets : And Sir John Maundevile, at the close of his work, intreats alle the Rederes and HERERES of his boke, zif it plese hem that thei wolde preyen te God,” &c.-P.383, 8vo. edit. 1727. By hereres of his boke he un. questionably intended hearers in the sense I have suggested. H. White.


Lovd of this yong man more than any other geste,
The fryer eke of Verone youth aye liked Romeus best;
For whom he ever hath in time of his distres,
As earst you heard, by skilful love found out his harmes redresse
To him is Romeus gonne, ne stayeth he till the morrowe;
To him he painteth all his case, his passed joy and sorrow.
How he hath her espide with other dames in daunce,
And how that fyrst to talke with her him selfe he dyd advaunce ;
Their talke and change of lookes he gan to him declare,
And how so fast by fayth and troth they both y-coupled are,
That neyther hope of ivfe, nor dread of cruel death,
Shall make him false his fayth to her, while lyfe shall lend him

And then with weping eyes he prayes his gostly syre
To further and accomplish all their honest hartes desyre.
A thousand doutes and moe in thold mans hed arose,
A thousand daungers like to comme the old man doth disclose,
And from the spousall rites he readeth him refrayne,
Perhaps be shall be bet advisde within a weeke or twayne.
Advise is banisht quite from those that folowe love,
Except advise to what they like theyr bending mynd do move.
As well the father might have counseld him to stay
That from a mountaines top thrown downe is falling halfe the
As warne bis frend to stop amid his race begonne,
Whom Cupid with his smarting whip enforceth foorth to ronne.
Part wonne by earnest sute, the frier doth graunt at last ;
And part, because he thinkes the stormes, so lately overpast,
Of both the housholds wrath, this marriage might appease;
So that they should not rage agayne, but quite for ever cease.
The respite of a day he asketh to devise
What way were best, imknown, to ende so great an enterprise.
The wounded man that now doth dedly pavnes endure,
Scarce patient tarieth whilst his leche doth make the salve to cure:
So Romeus hardly graunts a short day and a night,
Yet nedes he must, els must he want his onely hartes delight.

You see that Romeus no time or payne doth spare;
Thinke, that the whilst fayre Juliet is not devoy de of care.
Yong Romeus powreth foorth his hap and his mishap
Into the friers brest;-but where shall Juliet unwrap
The secrets of her hart? to whom shall she unfolde
Her hidden burning love, and eke her thought and care so colde.
The nurse of whom I spake, within her chamber laye,
Upon the mayde she wayteth still; to her she doth bewray
Her new-received wound, and then her ayde doth crave,
In her, she saith, it lves to spill, in her, lier life to save.
Not easily she made the froward nurce to bowe,
But wonne at length with promest hyre, she made a solemne vowe
To do what she commaundes, as handmayd of her hest;
Her mistres secrets hide she will, within her covert brest.

To Romeus she goes, of him she doth desyre
To know the meane of marriage, by counsell of the fryre.

H 1


« PreviousContinue »