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Nurse. Is it good den?
Mer. 'Tis no less, I tell you; for the bawdy hand of the dial is now upon the prick of noon.
Nurse. Out upon you ! what a man are you?
Rom. One, gentlewoman, that God hath made himself to mar.
Nurse. By 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 ? Rom. I 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.
Nurse. You say well.
Mer. Yea, is the worst well? Very well took, i’ faith ; wisely, wisely.
Nurse. If you be he, sir, I desire some confidence
Ben. She will indite him to some supper.
Mer. No 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,
But a hare that is hoar,
Is too much for a score,
When it hoars ere it be spent. —
Rom. I will follow you.
lady. [Exeunt Mercurio and Benvolio.
1 Hoar or hoary is often used for mouldy, as things grow white from moulding. These lines seem to have been part of an old song. In the quarto, 1597, we have this stage direction : “ He walks by them [i. e. the nurse and Peter), and sings.”
2 The burden of an old song. See Twelfth Night, Act ii. Sc. 3.
Nurse. Marry, farewell !—I pray you, sir, what saucy merchant was this, that was so full of his ropery? 1
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 flirt-gills; I am none of his skains-mates.2—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 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 you out; what she bade me say, I will keep to myself; but first let me tell
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.
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 gentlemanlike offer.
Rom. Bid her devise some means to come to shrift This afternoon;
1 Ropery was anciently used in the same sense as roguery is now.
2 By skains-mates the old lady probably means swaggering companions. A skain, or skein, was an Irish knife or dagger, a weapon suitable to the purpose of ruffling fellows.
And there she shall, at friar Laurence' cell,
Nurse. No, truly, sir; not a penny.
sir. Rom. What say'st thou, my dear nurse? Nurse. Is your man secret? Did you ne'er hear
sayTwo 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 dog. No; I know it begins with some other
1 i. e. like stairs of rope in the tackle of a ship. A stair, for a fight of stairs, is still the language of Scotland, and was once common to both kingdoms.
2 The nurse is represented as a prating, silly creature; she says that she will tell Romeo a good joke about his mistress, and asks him whether rosemary and Romeo do not both begin with a letter: he says yes, an R. She, who, we must suppose, could not read, thought he mocked her, and says, No, sure I know better, R is the dog's name; yours begins with some other letter. This is natural enough, and in character. Ben Jonson, in his English Grammar, says, “ R is the dog's letter, and hirreth in the sound."
letter; and she hath the prettiest sententious of it, of you and rosemary, that it would do you good to hear it. Rom. Commend me to thy lady.
[Exit. Nurse. Ay, a thousand times.-Peter! Pet. Anon ! Nurse. Peter, take my fan, and go before.
[Exeunt. SCENE V. Capulet's Garden.
i The speech is thus continued in the quarto, 1597 :
should be thoughts,
What says my love ? " The greatest part of this scene is likewise added since that edition. Shakspeare, however, seems to have thought one of the ideas comprised in the foregoing quotation, from the earliest quarto, too valuable to be lost. He has, therefore, inserted it in Romeo's first speech to the apothecary, in Act v.:
“ As violently as hasty powder fired
Enter Nurse and PETER.
Nurse. Peter, stay at the gate. [Exit PETER.
look'st thou sad ?
Nurse. I am weary; give me leave awhile ;-
Jul. I would thou had'st my bones, and I thy 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 talked on, yet they are past compare. He is not the flower of courtesy,– but, I'll warrant him, as gentle as a lamb.—Go thy ways, wench ; serve God.—What, have you dined at home? Jul. No, no.
But all this I did know before; What says he of our marriage? what of that? Nurse. Lord, how my head aches! what a head
have I ! It beats as it would fall in twenty pieces. My back o’t’other side,-0, my back, my back!