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got him certain slips, which are counterfeit pieces of money, being brass, and covered over with silver, which the common people call slips."
• SCENE IV.-" The wild-goose chase." Horse-racing, and the wild-goose chase, were amongst the “ disports of great men” in the time of Elizabeth. It is scarcely necessary to describe a sport, if sport it can be called, which is still used amongst us. When the “ wits run the wild-goose chase,” we have a type of its folly; as the “switch and spurs, switch and spurs," is descriptive of its brutality.
10 Scene IV.—“Why, is not this better now than groaning for love?” Coleridge invites us to compare, in this scene, “ Romeo's half-excited and halfreal ease of mind, with his first manner when in love with Rosaline! His will had come to the clenching point.” Romeo had not only recovered the natural tone of his mind, but he had come back to the conventional gaiety—the fives-play of witty words—which was the tone of the best society in Shakspere's time. 66 Now art thou what thou art,” says Mercutio, “ by art as well as by nature.”
11 SCENE IV.—“My fan, Peter." The fan which Peter had to bear was the fan of the time of Elizabeth ; and it does not appear quite so ridiculous, therefore, when we consider the size of the machine, to believe the Nurse should have a servant to bear it. Shakspere has given the same office to Armado in Love's Labour 's Lost :'
« Oh ! a most dainty man,
12 Scene IV.-“ Is it good den ?” According to Mercutio's answer, the time was noon when the evening salutation “good den” began. But Shakspere had here English manners in his eye. The Italian custom of commencing the day half an hour after sunset, and reckoning through the twenty-four hours, is inconsistent with such a division of time as this.
13 Scene IV. -“ Saucy merchant." Steevens pointed out that the term merchant was anciently used in contradistinction to gentleman; as we still use the word chap as an abbreviation of chapman. Douce has quoted a passage from Whetstone’s ‘Mirour for Magestrates of Cyties 1584), in which he speaks of the usurious practices of the citizens of London, which is conclusive upon this point :-“ The extremity of these men's dealings hath been and is so cruell as there is a natural malice generally impressed in the hearts of the gentlemen of England towards the citizens of London, insomuch as, if they odiously name a man, they forth with call him a trimme merchaunt. In like despight the citizen calleth every rascal a joly gentleman."
14 SCENE IV. “ R is for the dog." R was called the dog's letter. In his · English Grammar’ Ben Jonson says, “R is the dog's letter and hirreth in the sound." In our old writers we have a verb formed from the noise of a dog. Thus, in Nashe (1600),
“ They arre and bark at night against the moon;" and in Holland's translation of Plutarch’s ‘Morals,' “ A dog is, by nature, fell and quarrelsome, given to arre and war upon a very small occasion.” Erasmus has a
meaning for R being the dog's letter, which is not derived from the sound :-“ R, litera quæ in Rixando prima est, canina vocatur.”
15 SCENE V.-“ Therefore do nimble-pinion'd doves draw love." The “love” thus drawn was the queen of love; for “ the wind-swift pid” had “wings.” Shakspere had here the same idea which suggested his own beautiful description at the close of the Venus and Adonis :'
“ Thus weary of the world away she hies,
And yokes her silver doves; by whose swift aid,
Holding their course to Paphos, where their queen
SCENE I.-A public Place.
Enter Mercutio, Benvolio, Page, and Servants.
Mer. Thou art like one of those fellows, that, when he enters the confines of a tavern, claps me his sword upon the table, and says, "God send me no need of thee !" and, by the operation of the second cup, draws it on the drawer, when, indeed, there is no need.
Ben. Am I like such a fellow ?
Mer. Come, come, thou art as hot a Jack in thy mood as any in Italy; and as soon moved to be moody, and as soon moody to be moved.
Ben. And what to?
Mer. Nay, an there were two such, we should have none shortly, for one would kill the other. Thou! why thou wilt quarrel with a man that hath a hair more, or a hair less, in his beard, than thou hast. Thou wilt quarrel with a man for cracking nuts, having no other reason but because thou hast hazel eyes. What eye, but such an eye, would spy out such a quarrel? Thy head is as full of quarrels, as an egg is full of meat; and yet thy head hath been beaten as addle as an egg, for quarrelling. Thou hast quarrelled with a man for coughing in the street, because he hath wakened thy dog that hath lain asleep in the sun. Didst thou not fall out with a tailor for wearing his new doublet before Easter? with another, for tying his new shoes with old riband ? and yet thou wilt tutor me from quarrelling!
Ben. An I were so apt to quarrel as thou art, any man should buy the fee-simple of my life for an hour and a quarter.
Mer. The fee-simple? O simple!
Enter TYBALT and others.
Ben. By my head, here come the Capulets.
Tyb. Follow me close, for I will speak to them.
Mer. And but one word with one of us? Couple it with something; make it a word and a blow.
Tyb. You shall find me apt enough to that, sir, an you will give me occasion.
Mer. Could you not take some occasion without giving ? Tyb. Mercutio, thou consortest with Romeo,
Mer. Consort! what, dost thou make us minstrels! an thou make minstrels of us, look to hear nothing but discords : here's my fiddlestick; here's that shall make you dance. Zounds, consort !
Ben. We talk here in the public haunt of men:
Mer. Men’s eyes were made to look, and let them gaze; I will not budge for no man's pleasure, I.
sir! here comes m
Tyb. Romeo, the love I bear thee can afford
Rom. Tybalt, the reason that I have to love thee
Tyb. Boy, this shall not excuse the injuries
Rom. I do protest, I never injur'd thee;
Mer. O calm, dishonourable, vile submission ! Alla stoccatab carries it away.
[Draus. Tybalt, you rat-catcher, will you walk ?
Tyb. What wouldst thou have with me?
Mer. Good king of cats, nothing, but one of your nine lives; that I mean to make bold withal, and, as you shall use me hereafter, dry-beat the rest of the eight. Will you pluck your sword out of his pilchere by the ears ? make haste, lest mine be about your ears ere it be out. Tyb. I am for you.
[Drawing. Rom. Gentle Mercutio, put thy rapier up. Mer. Come, sir, your passado.
[They fight. Rom. Draw, Benvolio. Beat down their weapons. Gentlemen, for shame, forbear this outrage; Tybalt, Mercutio, the prince expressly hath Forbidden bandying in Verona streets. Hold Tybalt-good Mercutio!
[Exeunt TYBALT and his Partisans. Mer. I am hurt.A plague o' both the houses !—I am sped : Is he gone, and hath nothing ? Ben.
What, art thou hurt? Mer. Ay, ay, a scratch, a scratch; marry, 't is enough.Where is my page?-go, villain, fetch a surgeon. [Exit Page.
Rom. Courage, man; the hurt cannot be much.
Mer. No, 't is not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door; but 't is enough, 't will serve: ask for me tomorrow, and
shall find me a grave man. I am peppered, a Love. So (C); the folio, lov’d. b Alla stoccata—the Italian term of art for the thrust with a rapier. c Scabbard.
d We have restored the metrical arrangement of the preceding five lines, from (C) and the folio.