I.i.82 (9,7) Give me my long sword] The long sword was the sword used in war, which was sometimes wielded with both hands.
As is the bud bit with an envious worm, Ere he can spread his sweet leaves to the air, Or dedicate his beauty to the same]
I cannot but suspect that some lines are lost, which connected this simile more closely with the foregoing speech; these lines, if such there were, lamented the danger that Romeo will die of his melancholy, before his virtues or abilities were known to the world.
Alas, that love, whose view is muffled still, Should, without eyes, see path-ways to his will.]
Sir T. Hanmer, and after him Dr. Warburton, read, to his ill. The present reading has some obscurity; the meaning may be, that love finds out means to pursue his desire. That the blind should find paths to ill is no great wonder.
I.i.183 (13,4) O brawling love! O loving hate!] Of these lines neither the sense nor occasion is very evident. He is not yet in love with an eneny, and to love one and hate another is no such uncommon state, as can deserve all this toil of antithesis.
I.i.192 (14,5) Why, such is love's transgression] Such is the consequence of unskilful and mistaken kindness. (see 1765, VIII, 12, 2)
1.1.198 (14,6) Being purg'd, a fire sparkling in lovers' eyes] The author may mean being purged of smoke, but it is perhaps a meaning never given to the word in any other place. I would rather read, Being urged, a fire sparkling. Being excited and inforced. To urge the fire is the technical term.
I.i.199 (14,7) Being vex'd, a sea nourish'd with lovers' tears] As this line stands single, it is likely that the foregoing or following line that rhym'd to it, is lost.
I.i.206 (14,8) Tell me in sadness] That is, tell me gravely, tell me in seriousness.
I.i.217 (15,1) in strong proof] In chastity of proof, as we say in armour of proof.
O, she is rich in beauty; only poor That when she dies, with beauty dies her store]
Mr. Theobald reads, "With her dies beauties store;" and is followed by the two succeeding editors. I have replaced the old reading, because I think it at least as plausible as the correction. She is rich, says he, in beauty, and only poor in being subject to the lot of humanity, that her store, or riches, can be destroyed by death, who shall, by the same blow, put an end to beauty.
I.ii.15 (17,2) She is the hopeful lady of my earth] The lady of his earth is an expression not very intelligible, unless he means that she is heir to his estate, and I suppose no man ever called his lands his earth. I will venture to propose a bold change:
She is the hope and stay of my full years.
I.ii.25 (18,3) Earth-treading stars that make dark heaven light] [W: dark even] But why nonsense [Warburton's comment]? Is any thing mere commonly said, than that beauties eclipse the sun? Has not Pope the thought and the word?
"Sol through white curtains shot a tim'rous ray, "And spe'd those eyes that must eclipse the day."
Both the old and the new reading are philosophical nonsense, but they are both, and both equally poetical sense.
I.ii.26 (18,4) Such comfort as do lusty young men feel] To say, and to say in pompous words, that a young man shall feel as much in an assembly of beauties, as young men feel in the month of April, is surely to waste sound upon a very poor sentiment. I read,
Such comfort as do lusty yeomen feel.
You shall feel from the sight and conversation of these ladies, such hopes of happiness and such pleasure, as the farmer receives from the spring, when the plenty of the year begins, and the prospect of the harvest fills him with delight.
Such, amongst view of many, mine, being one. May stand in number, the' in reckoning none]
The first of these lines I do not understand. The old folio gives no help; the passage is there, Which one more view. I can offer nothing better than this:
Within your view of many, mine being one, May stand in number, &c.
I.iii.13 (22,1) to my teen] To my sorrow.
I.iii.66 (24,4) It is an honour] The modern editors all read, it is an honour. I have restored the genuine word ["hour"], which is more seemly from a girl to her mother. Your, fire, and such words as are vulgarly uttered in two syllables, are used as dissyllables by Shakespeare. [The first quarto reads honour; the folio hour. I have chosen the reading of the quarto. STEEVENS.] (rev. 1778, X, 28, 2)
I.iii.92 (25,9) That in gold clasps locks in the golden story] The golden story is perhaps the golden legend, a book in the darker ages of popery much read, and doubtless often exquisitely embellished, but of which Canus, one of the popish doctors, proclaims the author to have been homo ferrei oris, plumbei cordis.
I.iv.6 (27,2) like a crow-keeper] The word crow-keeper is explained in Lear.
I.iv.37 (28,8) for I am proverb'd with a grand-sire phrase] The grandsire phrase is--The black ox has trod upon my foot.
I.iv.42 (30,1) Or (save your reverence) love] The word or obscures the sentence; we ahould read O! for or love. Mercutio having called the affection vith which Romeo was entangled by so disrespectful a word as mire, cries out,
O! save your reverence, love.
I.iv.84 (34,7) Spanish blades] A sword is called a toledo, from the excellence of the Toletan steel. So Gratius,
"--Ensis Toletanus "Unda Tagi non est alie celebranda metallo, Utilis in cives est ibi lamna sues."
I.iv.113 (35,9) Direct my sail:] [I have restored this reading from the elder quarto, as being more congruous to the metaphor in the preceding line. Suit is the reading of the folio. STEEVENS.]
Direct my suit! Guide the sequel of the adventure.
You are welcome, gentlemen. Come musicians, play. A ball! a ball! Give room. And foot it, girls]
These two lines, omitted by the modern editors, I have replaced from the folio.
I.v.32 (37, 6) good cousin Capulet] This cousin Capulet is unkle in the paper of invitation; but as Capulet is described as old, cousin is probably the right word in both places. I know not how Capulet and his lady might agree, their ages were very disproportionate; he has been past masking for thirty years, and her age, as she tells Juliet, is but eight-and-twenty.
II.Prologue (42,3) Enter CHORUS] The use of this chorus is not easily discovered; it conduces nothing to the progress of the play, but relates what is already known, or what the next scenes will shew; and relates it without adding the improvement of any moral sentiment.
II.ii.1 (45,1) He jests at scars] That is, Mercutio jests, whom he overheard.
II.ii.7 (45,2) Be not her maid] Be not a votary to the moon, to Diana.
It is my lady; O! it is my love; O, that she knew we were!]
This line and half I have replaced.
II.ii.39 (47,7) Thou art thyself, though not a Montague] I think the true reading is,
Thou art thyself, then not a Montague.
Thou art a being of peculiar excellence, and hast none of the malignity of the family, from which thou hast thy name.--Hanmer reads,
Thour't not thyself so, though a Montague.
II.iii.15 (53,6) the powerful grace, that lies/In plants] Efficacious virtue.
II.iii.27 (53,7) Two such opposed foes encamp them still] [W: opposed kin] Foes may be the right reading, or kings, but I think kin can hardly be admitted. Two kings are two opposite powers, two contending potentates, in both the natural and moral world. The word encamp is proper to commanders. (see 1765, VIII, 46, 2)
II.iv.20 (57,3) courageous captain of compliments] A complete master of all the laws of ceremony, the principal man in the doctrine of punctilio.
"A man of compliments, whom right and wrong "Have chose as umpire;"
says our author of Don Armado, the Spaniard, in Love's Labour Lost.
II.iv.27 (57,6) the hay!] All the terms of the modern fencing-school were originally Italian; the rapier, or small thrusting sword, being first used in Italy. The hay is the word hai, you have it, used when a thrust reaches the antagonist, from which our fencers, on the same occasion, without knowing, I suppose, any reason for it, cry out, ha!
II.iv.35 (58,9) these pardonnez-moy's] Pardonnez-moi became the language of doubt or hesitation among men of the sword, when the point of honour was grown so delicate, that no other mode of contradiction would be endured.
II.iv.64 (59,3) then is my pump wall flower'd] Here is a vein of wit too thin to be easily found. The fundamental idea is, that Romeo wore pinked pumps, that is, pumps punched with holes in figures.
II.iv.87 (60,7) a wit of cheverel] Cheverel is soft-leather for gloves.
II.iv.138 (62,8) No hare, Sir] Mercutio having roared out, So ho! the cry of the sportsmen when they start a hare; Romeo asks what he has 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.
II.iv.162 (63,1) none of his skains-mates] The word skains-mate, I do not understand, but suppose that skains was some low play, and skains-mate, a companion at such play.
II.iv.200 (64,2) like a tackled stair] Like stairs of rope in the tackle of a ship.
II.iv.222 (65,4) Ah, mocker! that's the dog's name. R is for the nonce; I know it begins with another letter] This passage is thus in the old folio. A mocker, that's the dog's name. R is for the no, I know it begins with some other letter. In this copy the error is but small. I read, Ah, mocker. that's the dog's name. R is for the nonce, I know it begins with another letter. For the nonce, is for some design, for a sly trick.
II.vi.15 (70,2) Too swift arrives as tardy as too slow] He that travels too fast is as long before he comes to the end of his journey, as he that travels slow. Precipitation produces mishap.
III.i.2 (71,1) The day is hot] It is observed, that in Italy almost all assassinations are committed during the heat of summer.
III.i.124 (75,6) This day's black fate on more days does depend] This day's unhappy destiny hangs over the days yet to come. There will yet be more mischief.
III.i.141 (78,7) Oh! I am fortune's fool] I am always running in the way of evil fortune, like the fool in the play. Thou art death's fool, in Measure for Measure. See Dr. Warburton's note.
III.i.153 (77,8) as thou art true] As thou art just and upright.
III.i.159 (77,9) How nice the quarrel] How slight, how unimportant, how petty. So in the last act,
The letter was not nice, but full of charge Of dear import.
III.i.182 (78,2) Affection makes him false] The charge of falshood on Bonvolio, though produced at hazard, is very just. The author, who seems to intend the character of Bonvolio as good, meant perhaps to shew, how the best minds, in a state of faction and discord, are detorted to criminal partiality.
III.i.193 (78,3) I have an interest in your hate's proceeding: Sir Thomas Hanmer saw that this line gave no sense, and therefore put, by a very easy change,
I have an interest in your heat's proceeding!
which is undoubtedly better than the old reading which Dr. Warburton has followed; but the sense yet seems to be weak, and perhaps a more licentious correction is necessary. I read therefore,
I had no interest in your heat's preceding.
This, says the prince, is no quarrel of mine, I had no interest in your former discord; I suffer merely by your private animosity.
III.ii.5 (79,3) Spread thy close curtain, love-performing night,/That run-away's eyes may wink] [Warburton explained the "run-away" as the "sun"] I am not satisfied with this explanation, yet have nothing better to propose.
III.ii.10 (80,4) Come, civil night] Civil is grave, decently solemn.
III.ii.14 (80,5) unmann'd blood] Blood yet unacquainted with man.
III.ii.25 (81,6) the garish sun] Milton had this speech in his thoughts when he wrote Il Penseroso.
"--Civil night, "Thou sober-suited matron."--Shakespeare. "Till civil-suited morn appear."--Milton. "Pay no worship to the gairish sun."--Shakespeare. "Hide me from day's gairish eye."--Milton.
III.ii.46 (82,7) the death-darting eye of cockatrice] [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, Or these eyes shot, that makes thee answer I; If he be slain, say I; or if not, no; Brief sounds determine of my weal or woe.
These lines hardly deserve emendatien; yet it may be proper to observe, that their meanness has not placed them below the malice of fortune, the two first of them being evidently transposed; we should read,
--That one vowel I shall poison more, Than the death-darting eye of cockatrice, Or these eyes shot, that make thee answer, I. I am not I, &c.
III.ii.114 (85,9) Hath slain ten thousand Tybalts] Hath put Tybalt out of my mind, as if out of being.
III.ii.120 (85,1) Which modern lamentation might have mov'd] This line is left out of the later editions, I suppose because the editors did not remember that Shakespeare uses modern for common, or slight: I believe it was in his time confounded in colloquial language with moderate.
Unseemly woman in a seeming man! And ill-beseeming beast in seeming both!]
[W: seeming groth] The old reading is probable. Thou art a beast of ill qualities, under the appearance both of a woman and a man.
III.iii.135 (90,5) And thou dismember'd with thine own defence] And thou torn to pieces with thy own weapons.
III.iii.166-168 (91,6) Go hence. Good night] These three lines are omitted in all the modern editions.
III.iii.166 (91,7) here stands all your state] The whole of your fortune depends on this.
III.iv.12 (92,9) Sir Paris, I will make a desperate tender, Of my child's love] Desperate means only bold, advent'rous, as if he had said in the vulgar phrase, I will speak a bold word, and venture to promise you my daughter.
III.v.20 (94,1) 'Tis but the pale reflex of Cynthia's brow] The appearance of a cloud opposed to the moon.
III.v.23 (94,2) I have more care to stay, than will to go] Would it be better thus, I have more will to stay, than care to go?
III.v.31 (94,3) Some say, the lark and loathed toad chang'd eyes] This tradition of the toad and lark I hare heard expressed in a rustick rhyme,
--to heav'n I'd fly, But the toad beguil'd me of my eye.
Since arm from arm that voice doth us affray, Hunting thee hence with huntaup to the day]
These two lines are omitted in the modern editions, and do not deserve to be replaced, but as they may shew the danger of critical temerity. Dr. Warburton's change of I would to I wot was specious enough, yet it it is evidently erroneous. The sense is this, The lark, they say, has lost her eyes to the toad, and now I would the toad had her voice too, since she uses it to the disturbance of lovers.
Jul. Ay, Madam, from the reach of these my hands: 'Would, none but I might venge my cousin's death.!]
Juliet's equivocations are rather too artful for a mind disturbed by the loss of a new lover.
III.v.91 (98,4) That shall bestow on hin so sure a draught] [Thus the elder quarto, which I have followed in preference to the quarto 1609, and the folio 1623, which read, less intelligibly,
"Shall give him such an unaccustom'd dram." STEEVENS.]
--unaccustomed dram.] In vulgar language, Shall give him a dram which he is not used to. Though I have, if I mistake not, observed, that in old books unaccustomed signifies wonderful, powerful, efficacious.
III.v.112 (98,6) in happy time] A la bonne heure. This phrase was interjected, when the hearer was not quite so well pleased as the speaker.
III.v.227 (103,3) As living here] Sir T. HANMER reads, as living hence; that is, at a dsitance, in banishment; but here may signify, in this world.
IV.i.3 (104,1) And I am nothing alow to slack his haste] His haste shall not be abated by my slowness. It might be read,
And I an nothing slow to back his haste:
that is, I am diligent to abet and enforce his haste.
Par. Happily met, my lady and my wife! Jul. That may be, Sir, when I may be a wife]
As these four first lines seem intended to rhyme, perhaps the author wrote thus:
--my lady and my life!
IV.i.62 (106,3) this bloody knife/Shall play the umpire] That is, this knife shall decide the struggle between me and my distress.
IV.i.64 (106,4) commission of thy years and art] Commission is for authority or power.
Or chain me to some sleepy mountain's top, Where rearing bears and savage lions roam; Or shut me nightly in a charnel house] [Or walk in thievish ways, or bid me lurk Where serpents are; chain me with rearing bears, Or hide me nightly, &c.
It is thus the editions vary. POPE.] my edition has the words which Mr. Pope has omitted; but the old copy seems in this place preferable; only perhaps we might better read,
Where savage bears and rearing lions roam.
IV.i.119 (108,8) If no unconstant toy] If no fickle freak, no light caprice, no change of fancy, hinder the performance.
IV.ii.38 (110,2) We shall be short] That is, we shall be defective.
IV.iii.3 (110,3) For I have need of many orisons] Juliet plays most of her pranks under the appearance of religion: perhaps Shakespeare meant to punish her hypocrisy.
IV.iii.46 (112,6) Alas, alas! it is not like that I] This speech is confused, and inconsequential, according to the disorder of Juliet's mind.
IV.iv.4 (113,1) The curfeu bell] I knew not that the morning-bell is called the curfeu in any other place.
IV.iv.107 (119,9) O, play me some merry dump] This is not in the folio, but the answer plainly requires it.
V.i (121,1) ACT V. SCENE I. MANTUA] The acts are here properly enough divided, nor did any better distribution than the editors have already made, occur to me in the perusal of this play; yet it may not be improper to remark, that in the first folio, and I suppose the foregoing editions are in the same state, there is no division of the acts, and therefore some future editor may try, whether any improvement can be made, by reducing them to a length more equal, or interrupting the action at more proper intervals.
V.i.1 (121,2) If I may trust the flattering truth of sleep] The sense is, If I may only trust the honesty of sleep, which I know however not to be so nice as not often to practise flattery.
My bosom's lord sits lightly on his throne; And all this day an unaccustom'd spirit Lifts me above the ground with chearful thoughts]
These three lines are very gay and pleasing. But why does Shakespeare give Romeo this involuntary cheerfulness just before the extremity of unhappiness? Perhaps to shew the vanity of trusting to these uncertain and casual exaltations or depressions, which many consider as certain foretokens of good and evil.
V.i.45 (123,6) A beggarly account of empty boxes] Dr. Warburton would read, a braggartly account; but beggarly is probably right: if the boxes were empty, the account was more beggarly, as it was more pompous.
V.iii.31 (127,1) a ring that I must use/In dear employment] That is, action of importance. Gems were supposed to have great powers and virtues.
V.iii.86 (129,4) her beauty makes/This vault a feasting presence full of light] A presence is a public room.
V.iii.90 (129,5) O, how may I/Call this a lightning?] I think we should read,
--O, now may I Call this a lightning!--
Raise up the Montagues.--Some others; search:-- We see the ground whereon these woes do lie; But the true ground of all these piteous woes We cannot without circumstance descry]
Here seems to be a rhyme intended, which may be easily restored;
"Raise up the Montagues. Some others, go. "We see the ground whereon these woes do lie, "But the true ground of all this piteous woe "We cannot without circumstance descry."
V.iii.194 (136,2) What fear is this, which startles in our ears?] [Originally your ears] Read,
"What fear is this, which startles in our ears?
V.iii.229 (138,6) Fri. I will be brief] It is much to be lamented, that the poet did not conclude the dialogue with the action, and avoid a narrative of events which the audience already knew.
(141) General Observation. This play is one of the most pleasing of our author's performances. The scenes are busy and various, the incidents numerous and important, the catastrophe irresistibly affecting, and the process of the action carried on with such probability, at least with such congruity to popular opinions, as tragedy requires.
Here is one of the few attempts of Shakespeare to exhibit the conversation of gentlemen, to represent the airy sprightliness of juvenile elegance. Mr. 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 a 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 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.
The Nurse is one of the characters in which the author delighted: he has, with great subtilty of distinction, drawn her at once loquacious and secret, obsequious and insolent, trusty and dishonest.
His comic scenes are happily wrought, but his pathetic strains are always polluted with some unexpected depravations. His persons, however distressed, have a conceit left them in their misery, a miserable conceit.