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As though all howres alike had not been made above!
Did Christ not say, the day had twelve? whereby he sought to
That no respect of howres ought justly to be had;
But at all times men have the choyce of doing good or bad;
As for the yrons that were taken in my hand,
As now I deeme, I nede not seeke to make ye understand
The thing that hurteth is the malice of his will,
That such indifferent thinges is wont to use and order yll,
Thus much I thought to say, to cause you so to know
That neither these my piteous teares, though nere so fast they flowe,
Ne yet these yron tooles, nor the suspected time,
Can justly prove the murther donne, or damne me of the cryme:
But sure my conscience, if I so gylt deserve,
For an appeacher, witnesse, and a hangman, eke should serve ;
But to the end I may set all your hartes at rest,
And pluck out all the scrupuls that are rooted in your brest,
Of this most wofull tragedy, and shew both thend and sourse
With strong and patient hart dyd yelde them selfe to cruell death:
And of theyr promyst frend shippes fayth so stedy was the troth." And then the auncient fryer began to make discourse,
Even from the first, of Romeus and Juliets amours;
How first by sodayn sight the one the other chose,
And twixt themselfe dyd knitte the knotte which onely death might lose;
And how, within a while, with hotter love opprest,
Under confessions cloke, to him themselfe they have addrest;
And all thinges peysed well, it seemed meet to bee
(For lyke they were of noblenesse, age, riches, and degree); Hoping that so at length ended might be the stryfe
Of Montagewes and Capelets, that led in hate theyr lyfe,
In secret shrift he wedded them; and they the selfe same night
As well doth know (if she be askt) the nurce of Juliet.
He told how Romeus fled for reving Tybalts lyfe,
And how, the whilst, Paris the earle was offred to his wife;
And how to shrift unto his church she came to him agayne;
His soule to be spotted somdeale with small and easy cryme,
Murther her selfe, and daunger much her seely soule by death:
A certain powder gave he her, that made her slepe so sure,
With letters sent to Romeus to Mantua is gone;
Of whom he knoweth not as yet, what is become;
And how that dead he found his frend within her kindreds tombe.
And how they could not save her, so they were afeard,
And hidde themselfe, dreading the noyse of watchmen, that they
And for the proofe of this his tale, he doth desyer
The judge to send forthwith to Mantua for the fryer,
To learne his cause of stay, and eke to read his letter;
And, more beside, to thend that they might judge his cause the better,
He prayeth them depose the nurce of Juliet,
And Romeusm at unawares besyde the tombe he met.
My lordes, quoth he, too true is all that fryer Laurence sayd.
The opened packet doth conteyne in it the same
That erst the skilfull fryer said; and eke the wretches name
The price of it, and why he bought, his letters plaine have tolde.
That they could wish no better proofe, save seeing it with theyr
So orderly all thinges were tolde, and tryed out,
That in the prease there was not one that stoode at all in doute. The wyser sort, to counsell called by Escalus,
Here geven advice, and Escalus sagely decreeth thus:
The nurse of Juliet is banisht in her age,
Because that from the parentes she did hyde the mariage, Which might have wrought much good had it in time been
Where now by her concealing it a mischeefe great is growne;
In woonted freedome had good leave to lead his lyfe in rest:
And, for the paynes he tooke with him, the hangman had his cote.
Of fryer Lawrence thus araynde, that good barefooted fryre?
Because that many time he woorthily did serve
The common welth, and in his lyfe was never found to swerve, He was discharged quyte, and no mark of defame
Did seem to blot or touch at all the honour of his name.
But of himselfe he went into an hermitage,
Two miles from Veron towne, where he in prayers past forth his
Till that from earth to heaven his heavenly sprite dyd flye:
Nor threatning of the prince, ne mynde of murthers donne, At length, (so mighty Jove it would) by pitye they are wonne.
And lest that length of time might from our myndes remove
Great store of cunning epitaphes, in honor of theyr death.
¶ Imprinted at London in Fleete Strete within Temble bar, at the signe of the hand and starre, by Richard Tottill the xix day of November, An. do 1562.
* Breval says in his Travels, 1726, that when he was at Verona, his guide shewed him an old building, then converted into a house for orphans, in which the tomb of these unhappy lovers had been; but it was then destroyed. Malone.
END OF VOL. XII.
T. S. Manning, Printer, No. 143, North Third Street.