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Romeo and Juliet

MERCUTIOWhere the devil should this Romeo be?
Came he not home to-night?
BENVOLIONot to his father’s; I spoke with his man.
MERCUTIOAh, that same pale hard-hearted wench, that Rosaline.
Torments him so, that he will sure run mad.
BENVOLIOTybalt, the kinsman of old Capulet,
Hath sent a letter to his father’s house.
MERCUTIOA challenge, on my life.
BENVOLIORomeo will answer it.
MERCUTIOAny man that can write may answer a letter.10
BENVOLIONay, he will answer the letter’s master, how he
dares, being dared.
MERCUTIOAlas poor Romeo! he is already dead; stabbed with a
white wench’s black eye; shot through the ear with a
love-song; the very pin of his heart cleft with the
blind bow-boy’s butt-shaft: and is he a man to
encounter Tybalt?
BENVOLIOWhy, what is Tybalt?
MERCUTIOMore than prince of cats, I can tell you. O, he is
the courageous captain of compliments. He fights as20
you sing prick-song, keeps time, distance, and
proportion; rests me his minim rest, one, two, and
the third in your bosom: the very butcher of a silk
button, a duellist, a duellist; a gentleman of the
very first house, of the first and second cause:
ah, the immortal passado! the punto reverso! the
MERCUTIOThe pox of such antic, lisping, affecting
fantasticoes; these new tuners of accents! ‘By Jesu,
a very good blade! a very tall man! a very good
whore!’ Why, is not this a lamentable thing,
grandsire, that we should be thus afflicted with
these strange flies, these fashionmongers, these
perdonnez-moys, who stand so much on the new form,
that they cannot at ease on the old bench? O, their
bons, their bons!32
[Enter ROMEO]
BENVOLIOHere comes Romeo, here comes Romeo.
MERCUTIOWithout his roe, like a dried herring: O flesh, flesh,
how art thou fishified! Now is he for the numbers
that Petrarch flowed in: Laura to his lady was but a
kitchen-wench; marry, she had a better love to
be-rhyme her; Dido a dowdy; Cleopatra a gipsy;
Helen and Hero hildings and harlots; Thisbe a grey
eye or so, but not to the purpose. Signior
Romeo, bon jour! there’s a French salutation
to your French slop. You gave us the counterfeit
fairly last night.
ROMEOGood morrow to you both. What counterfeit did I give you?
MERCUTIOThe slip, sir, the slip; can you not conceive?
ROMEOPardon, good Mercutio, my business was great; and in
such a case as mine a man may strain courtesy.
MERCUTIOThat’s as much as to say, such a case as yours
constrains a man to bow in the hams.
ROMEOMeaning, to court’sy.49
MERCUTIOThou hast most kindly hit it.
ROMEOA most courteous exposition.
MERCUTIONay, I am the very pink of courtesy.
ROMEOPink for flower.
ROMEOWhy, then is my pump well flowered.
MERCUTIOWell said: follow me this jest now till thou hast
worn out thy pump, that when the single sole of it
is worn, the jest may remain after the wearing, sole singular.
ROMEOO single-soled jest, solely singular for the
MERCUTIOCome between us, good Benvolio; my wits faint.60
ROMEOSwitch and spurs, switch and spurs; or I’ll cry a match.
MERCUTIONay, if thy wits run the wild-goose chase, I have
done, for thou hast more of the wild-goose in one of
thy wits than, I am sure, I have in my whole five:
was I with you there for the goose?
ROMEOThou wast never with me for any thing when thou wast
not there for the goose.
MERCUTIOI will bite thee by the ear for that jest.
ROMEONay, good goose, bite not.70
MERCUTIOThy wit is a very bitter sweeting; it is a most
sharp sauce.
ROMEOAnd is it not well served in to a sweet goose?
MERCUTIOO here’s a wit of cheveril, that stretches from an
inch narrow to an ell broad!
ROMEOI stretch it out for that word ‘broad;’ which added
to the goose, proves thee far and wide a broad goose.
MERCUTIOWhy, is not this better now than groaning for love?
now art thou sociable, now art thou Romeo; now art
thou what thou art, by art as well as by nature:
for this drivelling love is like a great natural,
that runs lolling up and down to hide his bauble in a hole.
BENVOLIOStop there, stop there.
MERCUTIOThou desirest me to stop in my tale against the hair.
BENVOLIOThou wouldst else have made thy tale large.
MERCUTIOO, thou art deceived; I would have made it short:
for I was come to the whole depth of my tale; and
meant, indeed, to occupy the argument no longer.
ROMEOHere’s goodly gear!
[Enter Nurse and PETER]
MERCUTIOA sail, a sail!90
BENVOLIOTwo, two; a shirt and a smock.
NurseMy fan, Peter.
MERCUTIOGood Peter, to hide her face; for her fan’s the
fairer face.
NurseGod ye good morrow, gentlemen.
MERCUTIOGod ye good den, fair gentlewoman.
NurseIs it good den?
MERCUTIO‘Tis no less, I tell you, for the bawdy hand of the
dial is now upon the prick of noon.
NurseOut upon you! what a man are you!
ROMEOOne, gentlewoman, that God hath made for himself to
NurseBy my troth, it is well said; ‘for himself to mar,’
quoth a’? Gentlemen, can any of you tell me where I
may find the young Romeo?
ROMEOI can tell you; but young Romeo will be older when
you have found him than he was when you sought him:
I am the youngest of that name, for fault of a worse.
NurseYou say well.
MERCUTIOYea, is the worst well? very well took, i’ faith;
wisely, wisely.
Nurseif you be he, sir, I desire some confidence with
BENVOLIOShe will indite him to some supper.
MERCUTIOA bawd, a bawd, a bawd! so ho!
ROMEOWhat hast thou found?
MERCUTIONo hare, sir; unless a hare, sir, in a lenten pie,
that is something stale and hoar ere it be spent.
An old hare hoar,
And an old hare hoar,
Is very good meat in lent
But a hare that is hoar
Is too much for a score,
When it hoars ere it be spent.
Romeo, will you come to your father’s? we’ll
to dinner, thither.
ROMEOI will follow you.
MERCUTIOFarewell, ancient lady; farewell,
‘lady, lady, lady.’
NurseMarry, farewell! I pray you, sir, what saucy
merchant was this, that was so full of his ropery?
ROMEOA gentleman, nurse, that loves to hear himself talk,
and will speak more in a minute than he will stand
to in a month.119
NurseAn 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 flirt-gills; I am
none of his skains-mates. And thou must stand by
too, and suffer every knave to use me at his pleasure?
PETERI saw no man use you a 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.
NurseNow, afore God, I am so vexed, that every part about
me quivers. Scurvy knave! Pray you, sir, a word:
and as I told you, my young lady bade me inquire you132
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 behavior, 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.
ROMEONurse, commend me to thy lady and mistress. I
protest unto thee–
NurseGood heart, and, i’ faith, I will tell her as much:
Lord, Lord, she will be a joyful woman.
ROMEOWhat wilt thou tell her, nurse? thou dost not mark me.
NurseI will tell her, sir, that you do protest; which, as
I take it, is a gentlemanlike offer.
ROMEOBid her devise
Some means to come to shrift this afternoon;
And there she shall at Friar Laurence’ cell
Be shrived and married. Here is for thy pains.150
NurseNo truly sir; not a penny.
ROMEOGo to; I say you shall.
NurseThis afternoon, sir? well, she shall be there.
ROMEOAnd 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;
Which to the high top-gallant of my joy
Must be my convoy in the secret night.
Farewell; be trusty, and I’ll quit thy pains:
Farewell; commend me to thy mistress.160
NurseNow God in heaven bless thee! Hark you, sir.
ROMEOWhat say’st thou, my dear nurse?
NurseIs your man secret? Did you ne’er hear say,
Two may keep counsel, putting one away?
ROMEOI warrant thee, my man’s as true as steel.
NURSEWell, sir; my mistress is the sweetest lady–Lord,
Lord! when ’twas a little prating thing:–O, there
is 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 versal world. Doth not
rosemary and Romeo begin both with a letter?
ROMEOAy, nurse; what of that? both with an R.
NurseAh. mocker! that’s the dog’s name; R is for
the–No; I know it begins with some other
letter:–and she hath the prettiest sententious of
it, of you and rosemary, that it would do you good
to hear it.
ROMEOCommend me to thy lady.
NurseAy, a thousand times.180
[Exit Romeo]
NursePeter, take my fan, and go before and apace.

Next: Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 5