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Mer. Farewell, ancient lady; farewell, lady, lady,
lady.25 [Exeunt MERCU. and BENVO. Nurse. Marry, farewell ! — I pray you, sir, what saucy merchant was this, that was so full of his ropery ? 26
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 flirtgills ; I am none of his skains-mates.27 — 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
25 The burthen of an old song. See Twelth Night, Act ii. sc. 3.
26 Ropery appears to have been sometimes used in the sense of roguery ; perhaps meaning tricks deserving the rope, that is, the gallows; as rope-tricks, in The Taming of the Shrew, Act i. sc. 2, note 10. So in The Three Ladies of London, 1584 : “ Thou art very pleasant, and full of thy roperye.” — Merchant was often used as a term of abuse. See 1 Henry VI., Act ii. sc. 3, note 4. - The words, Marry, farewell, are from the quarto of 1597.
H. 27 By skains-mates the Nurse probably means swaggering companions. A skain, or skean, was an Irish knife or dagger, a weapon suitable to the purpose of ruffling fellows. 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.” Mr. Dyce thinks this explanation “cannot be right, because the Nurse is evidently speaking of Mercutio's female companions." We do not quite see how this should be decisive.
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 behaviour, 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; which, as I take it, is a gentleman-like offer.
Rom. Bid her devise some means to come to shrift
Nurse. No, truly, sir ; not a penny.
Nurse. This afternoon, sir ? well, she shall be there. Rom. And stay, good nurse, behind the abbey
wall : Within this hour my man shall be with thee, And bring thee cords made like a tackled stair, 28 Which to the high top-gallant of my joy Must be my convoy in the secret night.
23 That is, like stairs of rope in the tackle of a ship. for a flight of stairs was once common.
Farewell !-- Be trusty, and I'll 'quite thy pains.
you, 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?
Rom. I warrant thee; my man's as true as steel.
Nurse. Well, sir; my mistress is the sweetest lady - Lord, 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?
Rom. Ay, nurse ; what of that? both with an R.
Nurse. Ah, mocker! that's the dog's name. R is for the slag. No; I know it begins with some other letter; and she hath the prettiest sententious
good to hear it.
29 The old copies read, “ R is for the no;" dog having probably dropped out of the text. Tyrwhitt suggested the correction. - Ben Jonson, in his English Grammar, says " R is the dog's leiter, and hirreth in the sound.” And Nashe, in Summer's Last
barke at night against the moone.” And Barclay, in his Ship of Fooles, pleasantly exemplifies it :
6. This man malicious which troubled is with wrath,
Rom. Commend me to thy lady. [Exit.
Defing, and ana e C [Exeunt.
Enter JULIET. Jul. The clock struck nine, when I did send the
nurse ; In half an hour she promis'd to return. Perchance, she cannot meet him : that's not so.0, she is lame! love's heralds should be thoughts, Which ten times faster glide than the sun's beams, Driving back shadows over lowering hills : Therefore do nimble-pinion'd doves draw love, And therefore hath the wind-swift Cupid wings. Now is the sun upon the highmost hill Of this day's journey; and from nine till twelve Is three long hours, — yet she is not come. Had she affections and warm youthful blood, She'd be as swift in motion as a ball ; My words would bandy her to my sweet love, And his to me: But old folks, many feign as they were dead; Unwieldy, slow, heavy and pale as lead.
30 So the first quarto; the later copies have merely, “ Before, and apace," instead of “ Peter, take my fan, and go before."
| The speech is thus continued in the quarto of 1597 :
“And run more swift than hasty powder fir'd
Enter the Nurse and PETER. O God, she comes !-0, honey nurse! what news ? Hast thou met with him ? Send thy man away.
Nurse. Peter, stay at the gate. [Exit PETER.
look'st thou sad ?
Nurse. I am aweary, give me leave awhile. —
news: Nay, come, I pray thee, speak ;-good, good nurse,
speak. Nurse. Jesu, what haste ! can you not stay
awhile ? Do you not see, that I am out of breath? Jul. How art thou out of breath, when thou hast
Nurse. Well, you have made a simple choice; you know not how to choose a man: Romeo! no, not he; though his face be better than any man's, yet his leg excels all men's; and for a hand, and a foot, and a body, — though they be not to be talk'd on, yet they are past compare. He is not the flower of courtesy, - but I'll warrant him as gentle