The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet (Dowden)/Act 4/Scene 1

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SCENE I.—Verona. Friar Laurence's cell.[C 1]

Enter Friar Laurence and Paris.

Fri. On Thursday, sir? the time is very short.
Par. My father Capulet will have it so;
And I am nothing slow to slack[C 2][E 1] his haste.
Fri. You say you do not know the lady's mind:
Uneven[E 2] is the course; I like it not.5
Par. Immoderately she weeps for Tybalt's death,
And therefore have I little talk'd[C 3][E 3] of love,
For Venus smiles not in a house of tears.
Now, sir, her father counts it dangerous
That she doth[C 4] give her sorrow so much sway,[E 4]10
And in his wisdom hastes our marriage,[E 5]
To stop the inundation of her tears,
Which, too much minded by herself alone,
May be put from her by society:
Now do you know the reason of this haste.[C 5]15
Fri. [Aside.][C 6] I would I knew not why it should be slow'd—[E 6]
Look, sir, here comes the lady towards[C 7] my cell.

Enter Juliet.

Par. Happily met,[C 8] my lady and my wife!
Jul. That may be, sir, when I may be a wife.
Par. That may be must be, love, on Thursday next.20
Jul. What must be shall be.
Fri. That's a certain text.
Par. Come you to make confession to this father?
Jul. To answer that, I should[C 9] confess to you.
Par. Do not deny to him that you love me.
Jul. I will confess to you that I love him.25
Par. So will ye,[C 10] I am sure, that you love me.
Jul. If I do so, it will be of more price
Being spoke behind your back, than to your face.
Par. Poor soul, thy face is much abused with tears.
Jul. The tears have got small victory by that;30
For it was bad enough before their spite.
Par. Thou wrong'st it more than tears with that report.
Jul. That is no slander, sir, which is a truth,[C 11]
And what I spake, I spake it to my[C 12] face.
Par. Thy face is mine, and thou hast slander'd it.35
Jul. It may be so, for it is not mine own.—
Are you at leisure, holy father, now;
Or shall I come to you at evening mass?[E 7]
Fri. My leisure serves me, pensive daughter, now.—
My lord, we[C 13] must entreat[E 8] the time alone.40
Par. God shield I[C 14][E 9] should disturb devotion!—
Juliet, on Thursday early will I rouse ye:[C 15]
Till then, adieu; and keep this holy kiss.[Exit.
Jul. O,[C 16] shut the door, and when thou hast done so,
Come weep with me; past hope, past cure,[C 17][E 10] past help!45
Fri. Ah,[C 18] Juliet, I already know thy grief!
It strains[C 19] me past the compass of my wits:
I hear thou must, and nothing may prorogue[E 11] it,
On Thursday next be married to this county.
Jul. Tell me not, friar, that thou hear'st of this,50
Unless thou tell me how I may prevent it:
If in thy wisdom thou canst give no help,
Do thou but call my resolution wise,
And with this[C 20] knife[E 12] I'll help it presently.
God join'd my heart and Romeo's, thou our hands;55
And ere this hand, by thee to Romeo[C 21] seal'd,
Shall be the label[E 13] to another deed,
Or my true heart with treacherous revolt
Turn to another, this shall slay them both:
Therefore, out of thy long-experienced[C 22] time,60
Give me some present counsel; or, behold,
'Twixt my extremes[E 14] and me this bloody knife
Shall play the umpire, arbitrating that
Which the commission[E 15] of thy years and art
Could to no issue of true honour bring.65
Be not so long to speak; I long to die,[C 23]
Of what thou speak'st speak not of remedy.
Fri. Hold, daughter: I do spy a kind of hope,
Which craves as desperate an execution[E 16]
As that is desperate which we would prevent.70
If, rather than to marry County Paris,
Thou hast the strength of will[C 24] to slay[C 25] thyself,
Then is it likely thou wilt undertake
A thing like death to chide away this shame,
That copest with death himself to scape from[C 26] it;75
And, if[E 17] thou darest, I'll give thee remedy.
Jul. O, bid me leap, rather than marry Paris,
From off the battlements of yonder[C 27][E 18] tower;
Or walk in thievish ways; or bid me lurk[C 28]
Where serpents are; chain me with roaring bears;80
Or shut[C 29] me nightly in a charnel-house,
O'er-cover'd quite with dead men's rattling bones,
With reeky[E 19] shanks, and yellow chapless[C 30] skulls;
Or bid me go into a new-made grave
And hide me with a dead man in his shroud;[C 31]85
Things that, to hear them told,[C 32] have made me tremble;
And I will do it without fear or doubt,
To live an unstain'd wife to my sweet love.
Fri. Hold, then; go home, be merry, give consent
To marry Paris: Wednesday is to-morrow:90
To-morrow night look that thou lie alone,
Let not thy nurse[C 33] lie with thee in thy chamber:
Take thou[E 20] this vial, being then in bed,[E 21]
And this distilled[C 34] liquor drink thou off;
When presently through all thy veins shall run95
A cold and drowsy humour; for no pulse
Shall keep his native progress, but surcease;[E 22]
No warmth, no breath,[C 35] shall testify thou livest;
The roses in thy lips and cheeks shall fade[C 36]
To paly[C 37] ashes; thy[C 38] eyes' windows fall,100
Like death, when he shuts[C 39] up the day of life;
Each part, deprived of supple government,
Shall, stiff and stark and cold, appear like death;
And in this borrow'd likeness of shrunk death
Thou shalt continue two and forty hours,[E 23]105
And then awake as from a pleasant sleep.
Now, when the bridegroom in the morning comes
To rouse thee from thy bed, there art thou dead:
Then, as the manner of our country is,
In thy best robes[E 24] uncover'd on the bier[E 25]110
Thou shalt[C 40] be borne to that same ancient vault
Where all the kindred of the Capulets lie.
In the mean time, against thou shalt awake,
Shall Romeo by my letters know our drift,
And hither shall he come; and he and I115
Will watch thy waking,[C 41] and that very night
Shall Romeo bear thee hence to Mantua.
And this shall free thee from this present shame,
If no inconstant[C 42] toy[E 26] nor womanish fear
Abate thy valour in the acting it.120
Jul. Give me,[E 27] give me! O, tell not me[C 43] of fear![C 44]
Fri. Hold; get you gone: be strong and prosperous
In this resolve. I'll send a friar with speed
To Mantua, with my letters to thy lord.
Jul. Love give me strength! and strength shall help afford.125
Farewell, dear father.[Exeunt.

Critical notes

  1. Friar Laurence's cell] Capell.
  2. 3. slow to slack] Q, F; slacke to slow Q 1.
  3. 7. talk'd] Q 5; talke Q, F.
  4. 10. doth] Q (alone) reads do.
  5. 15. haste.] Q, hast? F.
  6. 16. [Aside]] Theobald.
  7. 17. towards] F, toward Q.
  8. 18. Happily met] Q, F; Welcome my love Q 1.
  9. 23. I should] Q, F; were to Q 1.
  10. 26. ye Q, F; you Capell and others.
  11. 33. slander … a truth] Q, F; wrong sir, that is a truth Q 1 (so Capell, reading but a).
  12. 34. my] Q, thy F.
  13. 40. we] Q 1, Q; you F; I Ff 2–4.
  14. 41. God shield I] Q 5, Godshield, I Q, Godshield: I F.
  15. 42. ye] Q, F; you Theobald and others.
  16. 44. O,] Q, F; Go Q 1.
  17. 45. cure] Q 1, Q 5; care Q, F.
  18. 46. Ah] Q 1; O Q, F.
  19. 47. strains] Q, streames F.
  20. 54. with this] Q, with' his F.
  21. 56. Romeo] F, Romeos Q, Romeo's Q 5 and some editors.
  22. 60. long-experienced] hyphen Pope (F spells expetiens't).
  23. 66. Be … die] Q, F; Speake not, be briefe: for I desire to die Q 1.
  24. 72. of will] Q, F; or will Q 1;
  25. slay] Q 1, Qq 4, 5; stay Q, F; lay F 2.
  26. 75. from] Q, fro F.
  27. 78. yonder] Q 1; any Q, F.
  28. 79, 80. Or walk … bears] Q, F; Or chaine me to some steepie mountaines top. Where roaring Beares and savage Lions are: Q 1.
  29. 81. shut] Q 1; hide Q, F, and many editors.
  30. 83. chapless] Q 4, chapels Q, chappels F.
  31. 85. shroud] Qq. 4, 5; omitted Q; grave F.
  32. 86. told] Q, F; namde Q 1.
  33. 92. thy nurse] F, the Nurse Q.
  34. 94. distilled] Q 1; distilling Q, F.
  35. 98. breath] F, breast Q.
  36. 99. fade] Q 3, F; fade; Q.
  37. 100. To paly] Q 5, Too many Q, To many F, To mealy F 2;
  38. thy] Q, the F.
  39. 101. shuts] Q, shut F.
  40. 111. shalt] F, shall Q.
  41. 115, 116. and … waking] Qq 3–5, an … walking Q, omitted F.
  42. 119. inconstant] Q, F; unconstant Ff 3, 4, and several editors.
  43. 121. not me] Q, F; me not Qq 4, 5;
  44. fear] Q, care F.

Explanatory notes

  1. 3. slow to slack] Malone: "There is nothing of slowness in me, to induce me to slacken or abate his haste." Johnson conjectured back(for slack), i.e. to abet and enforce. Knight: "I am nothing slow (so as) to slack his haste," which seems the right explanation.
  2. 5. Uneven] indirect, not straightforward. See New Eng. Dict., even, 4. Compare "even play of battle," Henry V. IV. viii. 114, and Hamlet, II. ii. 298: "be even and direct with me."
  3. 7. talk'd] Mommsen defends talk Q, F, as referring to Juliet's silence consequent on her grief.
  4. 10. sway] Collier (MS.) way.
  5. 11. marriage] a trisyllable, as occasionally elsewhere in Shakespeare.
  6. 16. slow'd] Steevens cites Gorges' Lucaris Pharsalia, ii.: "will you overflow The fields, thereby my march to slow."
  7. 38. evening mass] See The Religion of Shakespeare, chiefly from the writings of Richard Simpson, by H. S. Bowdon (1899), pp. 271–274; it is there shown that mass was used of various church offices; that, in the stricter sense of mass, there was great latitude in ancient times as to the hour; that Pius V. (1566–72) prohibited evening masses; that the new law was slow in coming into operation in Germany, and perhaps in England; finally, that in Verona the forbidden custom lingered to the nineteenth century.
  8. 40. entreat] Schmidt explains "beg to be left alone." New Eng. Dict. reading with F, "you must entreat," explains beguile, pass (time); but the Dict. gives no other example of this sense.
  9. 41. God shield] Schmidt explains God forbid; a shield may both repel and protect; so, perhaps, equivalent to God defend us! in Midsummer Night's Dream, III. i. 31: "to bring in—God shield us—a lion among ladies."
  10. 45. cure] Some editors prefer care Q, F, on the ground that past cure and past help are substantially the same. In Love's Labour's Lost, V. ii. 28, we have: "past cure is still past care."
  11. 48. prorogue] See II. ii. 78.
  12. 54. knife] White: "The ladies of Shakespeare's day customarily wore knives at their girdles."
  13. 57. label] The seals of deeds, as Malone explains, in Shakespeare's time were appended on slips or labels affixed to the deed. See Richard II. V. ii. 56.
  14. 62. extremes] extremities, straits, sufferings, as in Troilus and Cressida, IV. ii. 108.
  15. 64. commission] authority, warrant, as often in Shakespeare.
  16. 69. an execution] Walker conjectures that an is an interpolation.
  17. 76. And, if] Delius conjectures An if.
  18. 78. yonder] Ulrici considers any Q, F more vigorous—any tower, no matter how high.
  19. 83. reeky] reeking with malodorous vapours; strictly smoky, and hence foul; see note on Hamlet (ed. Dowden), III. iv. 184.
  20. 93. Take thou] Shakespeare in what follows derives much from Brooke's poem.
  21. 89–93. Hold … bed] Q 1 reads:

    "Hold Iuliet, hie thee home, get thee to bed,
    Let not thy Nurse lye with thee in thy Chamber:
    And when thou art alone, take thou this Violl."

  22. 96, 97. A cold … surcease] Q 1 reads:

    "A dull and heavie slumber, which shall seaze
    Each vitall spirit: for no Pulse shall keepe
    His naturall progresse, but surcease to beate:"

  23. 105. two and forty hours] Maginn proposed two and fifty; Marsh (Notes and Queries, 1877) two and thirty, See Introduction.
  24. 110. best robes] Malone notices that the Italian custom of carrying the dead body to the grave richly dressed, and with the face uncovered is described in Brooke's poem. Coryat, Crudities, ii. 27: "For they [in Italy] carry the corse to church with face, hands, and feet all naked, and wearing the same apparel that the person wore lately before it died."
  25. 110. bier] After line 110 Qq, Ff give a line here omitted: "Be borne to burial in thy kindreds grave." It was doubtless, as Daniel observes, an uneffaced variation of line 111 in the "copy" from which Q was printed.
  26. 119. inconstant toy] fickle freak; so "toys of desperation," Hamlet, I. iv. 75. "Inconstant toy" and "womanish dread" occur in Brooke's poem.
  27. 121. Give me] Pope, followed by several editors, reads, "Give me, Oh give me, tell not me," and so Theobald, reading "tell me not." Lettsom's conjecture, "O give 't me, give 't me," is held by Dyce (comparing "'Give me,' quoth I," Macbeth, I. iii. 5) as unnecessary.