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Lady C. He is a kinsman to the Montague ; Affection makes him false, 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 hate's 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.12
12 Dryden mentions a tradition, which might easily reach his time, of a declaration made by Shakespeare, that he was obliged to kill Mercutio in the third Act, lest he should have been killed by him. Yet he thinks him no such formidable person, but that he might have lived through the play, and died in his bed, without danger to the Poet. Dryden well knew, had he been in quest of truth, that in a pointed sentence, more regard is commonly had to the words than the thought, and that it is very seldom to be rigorously understood. Mercutio's wit, gaiety, and courage, will always procure him friends that wish him a longer life; but his death is not precipitated, he has lived out the time allotted him in the construction of the play; nor do I doubt the ability of Shakespeare to have continued his existence, though some of his sallies
SCENE II. A Room in CAPULET's House.
are perhaps out of the reach of Dryden ; whose genius was not very fertile of merriment, nor ductile to humour, but acute, argumentative, comprehensive, and sublime. - Johnson.
1 So the oldest copy; the later copies having lodging instead of mansion. Only the first four lines of this speech are in the quarto of 1597.
. H. 2 Few passages in Shakespeare, perhaps none, have caused more editorial comment than this. The old copies have runawayes instead of Rumour's, or Rumoures, as the word would then have been printed. Several corrections have been proposed, but Rumour's seems the most satisfactory. Heath was the first to suggest it. Singer, also, without any knowledge, as he assures us, of Heath's thought, recently hit upon rumourers'. The two are so nearly alike, that they may well enough pass for a coincidence of thought. Finally, Mr. White, of New York, tells us be had pitched upon Rumour's, before he was aware that any one else had thought of the word. He discusses the point at much length, in his Shakespeare's Scholar, and, we think, justifies the change as fully, perhaps, as the nature of the case can well admit. The Poet has personified Rumour in the Induction to 2 Henry IV.; and in his time she was supposed, like Virgil's Fama, to have eyes as well as tongues. In support of the change, Mr. White aptly quotes the following, from an Entertainment given to King James, March 15th, 1603, by Dekker: “ Directly under her, in a cart by herselfe, Fame stood upright; a woman in a watchet roabe, thickly set with open eyes and tongues, a payre of large golden winges at her backe, a trumpet in her hand, a mantle of sundry cullours traversing her body: all these ensigns displaying but the propertie of her swiftnesse and aptnesse to disperse Rumoure.” Collier's second folio has “enemies' eyes ;" the objection to which is, that from the nature of the case all eyes, as well of friends as of enemies, are required to be closed, so that Romeo's visit may be absolutely unknown, save to those already privy to it. Of
Leap to these arms, untalk'd-of and unseen!-
night, Give me my Romeo: and, when he shall die,
course the theory of the reading in the text is, that Rumour, personified, represents the power of human observation; and that Juliet longs to have night come, when the eyes of Rumour shall be shut in sleep, so as to take in nothing for her tongues to work with ; because, as things now stand, the lovers can meet and know each other as man and wife, only when the eye of observation is closed or withdrawn. It may be well to add, as lending some support to Rumour's, that Brooke's poem has a similar personification of Report. It is where Juliet is questioning with herself as to whether Romeo's “bent of love be honourable, his purpose marriage : " “So, I defylde, Report shall take her trompe of blacke defame,
Whence she with puffed cheeke shall blowe a blast so shrill Of my disprayse, that with the noyse Verona shall she fill.”
3 Civil is grave, solemn.
4 These are terms of falconry. An unmanned hawk is one that is not brought to endure company. Bating is Auttering or beating the wings as striving to fly away
5 The old copies till the second folio have upon instead of on. Upon overfills the measure; and the undated quarto remedies this by omitting new. 6 So the undated quarto; the other old copies, “ when I shall
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
Enter the Nurse, with Cords. And she brings news; and every tongue, that speaks But Romeo's name, speaks heavenly eloquence.Now, nurse, what news? What hast thou there? the
cords, That Romeo bade thee fetch ?
Nurse. [Throwing them down.] Ay, ay, the cords. Jul. Ah me! what news? why dost thou wring
thy hands? Nurse. Ah well-a-day! he's dead, he's dead, he's
dead! We are undone, lady, we are undone !Alack the day !- he's gone, he's kill'd, he's dead !
Jul. Can Heaven be so envious ?
thus ? This torture should be roar'd in dismal hell. Hath Romeo slain himself ? say thou but 1,8
. Garish is gaudy, glittering.
8 In Shakespeare's time the affirmative particle ay was usually written I, and here it is necessary to retain the old spelling.
And that bare vowel I shall poison more :
Nurse. O, Tybalt, Tybalt! the best friend I had : 0, courteous Tybalt! honest gentleman ! That ever I should live to see thee dead !
Jul. What storm is this that blows so contrary? Is Romeo slaughter'd ? and is Tybalt dead ? My dear-lov’d cousin,"o and my dearer lord ?Then, dreadful trumpet, sound the general doom ! For who is living, if those two are gone ?
Nurse. Tybalt is gone, and Romeo banished :
• The cockatrice is the same as the basilisk. We have already met with the “beast" under the latter name. See 2 Henry VI., Act iii. sc. 2, note 2; and King Richard III., Activ. sc. 1, note 5.
H. 10 So the first quarto; the later copies have dearest instead of dear-lov'd.