The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet (1594-5)

Title Variant: The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet
Online Critical Edition in Progress - Version 1.b.
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Act II, Scene 4

A street.


Mercutio Where the devil should this Romeo be?
Came he not home to-night?

Benvolio Not to his father's; I spoke with his man.

Mercutio Ah, that same pale hard-hearted wench, that Rosaline.
Torments him so, that he will sure run mad.

Benvolio Tybalt, the kinsman of old Capulet,
Hath sent a letter to his father's house.

Mercutio A challenge, on my life.

Benvolio Romeo will answer it.

Mercutio Any man that can write may answer a letter.

Benvolio Nay, he will answer the letter's master, how he
dares, being dared.

Mercutio Alas 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?

Benvolio Why, what is Tybalt?

Mercutio More than prince of cats, I can tell you. O, he is
the courageous captain of compliments. He fights as
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

Benvolio The what?

Mercutio The 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 fashion-mongers, these
perdona-mi's, who stand so much on the new form,
that they cannot at ease on the old bench? O, their
bones, their bones!

[Enter ROMEO]

Benvolio Here comes Romeo, here comes Romeo.

Mercutio Without his roe, like a dried herring: 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.

Romeo Good morrow to you both. What counterfeit did I give you?

Mercutio The ship, sir, the slip; can you not conceive?

Romeo Pardon, good Mercutio, my business was great; and in
such a case as mine a man may strain courtesy.

Mercutio That's as much as to say, such a case as yours
constrains a man to bow in the hams.

Romeo Meaning, to court'sy.

Mercutio Thou hast most kindly hit it.

Romeo A most courteous exposition.

Mercutio Nay, I am the very pink of courtesy.

Romeo Pink for flower.

Romeo Why, then is my pump well flowered.

Mercutio Well 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.

Romeo O single-soled jest, solely singular for the

Mercutio Come between us, good Benvolio; my wits faint.

Romeo Switch and spurs, switch and spurs; or I'll cry a match.

Mercutio Nay, 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?

Romeo Thou wast never with me for any thing when thou wast
not there for the goose.

Mercutio I will bite thee by the ear for that jest.

Romeo Nay, good goose, bite not.

Mercutio Thy wit is a very bitter sweeting; it is a most
sharp sauce.

Romeo And is it not well served in to a sweet goose?

Mercutio O here's a wit of cheveril, that stretches from an
inch narrow to an ell broad!

Romeo I stretch it out for that word 'broad;' which added
to the goose, proves thee far and wide a broad goose.

Mercutio Why, 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.

Benvolio Stop there, stop there.

Mercutio Thou desirest me to stop in my tale against the hair.

Benvolio Thou wouldst else have made thy tale large.

Mercutio O, 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.

Romeo Here's goodly gear!

[Enter Nurse and PETER]

Mercutio A sail, a sail!

Benvolio Two, two; a shirt and a smock.

Nurse Peter!

Nurse My fan, Peter.

Mercutio Good Peter, to hide her face; for her fan's the
fairer face.

Nurse God ye good morrow, gentlemen.

Mercutio God ye good den, fair gentlewoman.

Nurse Is it good den?

Mercutio '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!

Romeo One, gentlewoman, that God hath made for himself to

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?

Romeo 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.

Mercutio Yea, is the worst well? very well took, i' faith;
wisely, wisely.

Nurse if you be he, sir, I desire some confidence with

Benvolio She will indite him to some supper.

Mercutio A bawd, a bawd, a bawd! so ho!

Romeo What hast thou found?

Mercutio 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,
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.

Romeo I will follow you.

Mercutio Farewell, ancient lady; farewell,
'lady, lady, lady.'


Nurse Marry, farewell! I pray you, sir, what saucy
merchant was this, that was so full of his ropery?

Romeo 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. And thou must stand by
too, and suffer every knave to use me at his pleasure?

Peter I 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.

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, 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.

Romeo 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.

Romeo 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.

Romeo Bid 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.

Nurse No truly sir; not a penny.

Romeo Go to; I say you shall.

Nurse This afternoon, sir? well, she shall be there.

Romeo And 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.

Nurse Now God in heaven bless thee! Hark you, sir.

Romeo What say'st thou, my dear nurse?

Nurse Is your man secret? Did you ne'er hear say,
Two may keep counsel, putting one away?

Romeo 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:--O, there
is a nobleman in town, one Paris, that would fain
lay knife aboard; but she, good soul, had as lief
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?

Romeo Ay, nurse; what of that? both with an R.

Nurse Ah. 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.

Romeo Commend me to thy lady.

Nurse Ay, a thousand times.
[Exit Romeo]

Nurse Peter, take my fan, and go before and apace.


© Copyright 2017-2021 Shakespeare Network - Maximianno Cobra - All rights reserved.


© Copyright 2017-2021 Shakespeare Network - Maximianno Cobra - All rights reserved.