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Two households, both alike in dignity,

(In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,)
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,

Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes

A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life ;
Whose misadventur'd piteous overthrows

Doth, with their death, bury their parents' strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love,

And the continuance of their parents' rage,
Which, but their children's end, nought could remove,

Is now the two hours' traffick of our stage ;
The which if you with patient ear's attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.

à This prologue appeared in its present form, in the first complete edition of “Romeo and Juliet," the quarto of 1599: it is omitted in the folio. In the incomplete sketch of the play, published in 1597, it stands as

"Two houshold frends alike in dignitie,

(In faire Verona, where we lay our Scene)
From ciuill broyles broke into enjuitie,
Whose ciuill warre makes ciuill hands vncleane.


From forth the fatall loynes of these two foes,
A paire of starre-crost louers tooke their life:
Whose misaduentures. piteous ouerthrowes,
(Through the continuing of their fathers strife,
And death-markt passage of their parents rage)
Is noy the two how res traffique of our stage.
The which if you with patient eares attend,
What here we want wec'l studie to amend."

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Enter SAMPSON and GREGORY, armed with

swords and bucklers.

is—to stand: therefore, if thou art moved, thou

run'st away.

SAM. Gregory, o' my word, we'll not carry coals.

GRE. No, for then we should be colliers.
Sam. I mean, an* we be in choler, we'll draw.

GRE. Ay, while you live, draw your neck out o'the collar.

Sam. I strike quickly, being moved.
GRE. But thou art not quickly moved to strike.
Sam. A dog of the house of Montague moves

SAM. A dog of that house shall move me to stand: I will take the wall of any man or maid of Montague's.

GRE. That shows thee a weak slave ; for the weakest goes to the wall.

Sam. True; and therefore women, being the weaker vessels, are ever thrust to the wall :therefore I will push Montague's men from the wall, and thrust his maids to the wall.

GRE. The quarrel is between our master's, and us their men.

Sam. 'Tis all one, I will show myself a tyrant:


GRE. To move, is—to stir; and to be valiant,

(*) First folio, if. a We'll not carry coals.] We will not submit to indignities. A favourite expression with the authors of Shakespeare's era, and

which probably originated, as Gifford suggests, in the fact that the meanest and most forlorn dependents of a great household were those employed in the servile drudgery of carrying coals.


of my

when I have fought with the men, I will be cruel
with the maids ; I will* cut off their heads.

Enter BENVOLIO, at a distance.
GRE. The heads of the maids ?
Sam. Ay, the heads of the maids, or their

GRE. Say—better; here comes maiden-heads ; take it in what sense thou wilt.

master's kinsmen.

[A side to Sampson. GRE. They must take it int sense, that feel it.

Sam. Yes, better, sir. * Sam. Me they shall feel, while I am able to

ABR. You lie. stand: and, 'tis known, I am a pretty piece of

Sam. Draw, if you be men.-Gregory, rememflesh.

ber thy swashingt blow.d

[They fight. GRE. "Tis well, thou art not fish; if thou hadst,

BEN. Part, fools ; put up your swords ; you thou hadst been poor John." Draw thy tool ; here comes of the house of the Montagues. (1)

know not what you do. [Beats down their swords.


Enter ABRAM and another Servant of


Tyb. What, art thou drawn among these heart

less hinds ? Turn thee, Benvolio, look upon thy death. BEN. I do but keep the peace; put up thy.

Or manage it to part these men with me.
TYB. What, drawn, and talk of peace ? I hate

the word,
As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee :
Have at thee, coward !

[They fight.

Sam. My naked weapon is out ; quarrel, I will back thee.

GRE. How? turn thy back, and run ?
Sam. Fear me not.
GRE. No, marry ; I fear thee !

Sam. Let us take the law of our sides ; let them begin.

Gre. I will frown, as I pass by; and let them take it as they list. Sam. Nay, as they dare. I will bite


thumb at them ;c which is a disgrace to them, if they bear it. ABR. Do

Enter several Followers of both Houses,e who join

the fray; then enter Citizens, with clubs.


thumb at us, sir ?
Sam. I do bite my thumb, sir.

thumb at us,

sir ? Sam. Is the law of our side, if I say—ay ?

Aside to GREGORY. GRE. No.

Sam. No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir; but I bite my thumb, sir.

GRE. Do you quarrel, sir ?
ABR. Quarrel, sir ? no, sir.

Sam. But if you do, sir, I am for you ; I serve as good a man as you.

ABR. No better.
Sam. Well, sir.

1 Cır. Clubs, bills, and partizans !' strike! beat

them down ! Down with the Capulets ! down with the Montagues!

Enter CAPULET, in his gown; and Lady CAPULET.

CAP. What noise is this ?-Give me my long

sword, ho! LA, CAP. A crutch, a crutch !—why call you

for a sword ? CAP. My sword, I say !-Old Montague is come, And flourishes his blade in spite of me.

(*) First folio, and cut off. (+) First folio omits in.

a I will be cruel with the maids ;] The quarto of 1599, that of 1609, and the folio, 1623, which was printed from it, concur in reading civill. The correction appears in a quarto edition without date, published hy John Smethwicke, “at his shop in Sainte Dunstanes Church, in Fleete Street, under the Dyall." Smethwicke also published the quarto, 1609; and the undated edition, which contains several important corrections of previous typographical errors, was probably issued soon after.

b Poor John.] The fish called hake, an inferior sort of cod, when dried and salted, was probably the staple fare of servants and the indigent during Lent; and ihis sorry dish is perpetually ridiculed by the old writers as “

c I will bite my thumb at them :) This contemptuous action, though obsolete in this country, is still in use both in France and Italy; but Mr. Knight is mistaken in supposing it identical with what is called giving the fico. Biling the thumb is performed by biting the thumb nail; or, as Cotgrave describes it, " by putting the thumbe naile into the mouth, and with a jerke (from the

(*) First folio omits sir. (1) Old copies, except the undated quarto, washing.

(1) First folio, draw. upper teeth) make it to knacke." The more offensive gesticula tion of giving the fico was by thrusting out the thuin between the fore-tingers, or putting it in the mouth so as to swell out the cheek.

d Remember thy swashing blow.) To swash perhaps originally meant, as Barret in his “ Alvearie," 1580, describes it, “to make a noise with swords against tergats;” but swashing blow here, as in Jon zon's "Staple of News," Act V. Sc. 2, “I do confess a swashing blow," means evidently a smashing, crushing blow.

e Enter sereral Followers, &c.] A modern direction. The old copies have inerely-"Enter three or four citizens with clubs or partysons."

i Clubs, bills, and partizans !-) Shakespeare, whose wont it is to assimilate the customs of all countries to those of his own, puls the ancient call to arms of the London 'prentices in the mouth of the Veronese citizen.

poor John."


me go.

Enter MONTAGUE and Lady MONTAGUE. Right glad am I, he was not at this fray.

BEN. Madam, an hour before the worshipp'd Mon. Thou villain, Capulet,—Hold me not, let

Peer'd forth the golden window of the east, LA. Mox. Thou shalt not stir one* foot to seek

A troubled mind drave me to walk abroad ; a foe.(2)

Where,-underneath the grove of sycamore,

That westward rooteth from this city's side,
Enter PRINCE, with Attendants.

So early walking did I see your son:
Prin. Rebellious subjects, enemies to peace,

Towards him I made; but he was ’ware of me,

And stole into the covert of the wood :
Profaners of this neighbour-stained steel,
Will they not hear?—what ho! you men, you

I, measuring his affections by my own,

That most are busied when they are most alone,"– beasts, That quench the fire of your pernicious rage

Pursued my humour,* not pursuing his,

And gladly shunn’d who gladly fled from me. With purple fountains issuing from your veins,On pain of torture, from those bloody hands

Mon. Many a morning hath he there been seen,

With tears augmenting the fresh morning's dew, Throw your mis-temper'd weapons to the ground, And hear the sentence of your moved prince.

Adding to clouds more clouds with his deep sighs: Three civil brawls,t bred of an airy word,

But all so soon as the all-cheering sun

Should in the farthest east begin to draw
By thee, old Capulet, and Montague,
Have thrice disturb’d the quiet of our streets ;

The shady curtains from Aurora's bed,

Away from light steals home my heavy son,
And made Verona's ancient citizens
Cast by their grave beseeming ornaments,

And private in his chamber pens himself,

Shuts up his windows, locks fair daylight out, To wield old partizans, in hands as old,

And makes himself an artificial night: Canker'd with peace, to part your canker’d hate.

Black and portentous must this humour prove, If ever you disturb our streets again, Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace.

Unless good counsel may the cause remove. For this time, all the rest depart away :

Ben. My noble uncle, do you know the cause ?

Mon. I neither know it, nor can learn of him. You, Capulet, shall go along with me,

Ben. Have you importund him by any means ? And, Montague, come you this afternoon,

Mon. Both by myself, and many other friends: To know our fartherpleasure in this case,

But he, his own affections' counsellor, To old Free-town, our common judgment-place.

Is to himself-I will not say, how true Once more, on pain of death, all men depart.

But to himself so secret and so close, [Exeunt PRINCE and Attendants ; CAPULET, So far from sounding and discovery, LADY CAPULET, TYBALT, Citizens, and Servants. As is the bud bit with an envious worm, Mon. Who set this ancient quarrel new Ere he can spread his sweet leaves to the air, abroach ?

Or dedicate his beauty to the sun.o
Speak, nephew, were you by, when it began ? Could we but learn from whence his sorrows grow,

Ben. Here were the servants of your adversary, We would as willingly give cure, as know.
And yours, close fighting ere I did approach:
I drew to part them; in the instant came

Enter Romeo, at a distance.
The fiery Tybalt, with his sword prepar'd ;
Which, as he breath'd defiance to my ears,

Ben. See, where he comes : so please you, step He swung about his head, and cut the winds,

aside ; Who, nothing hurt withal, hiss’d him in scorn : I'll know his grievance, or be much denied. While we were interchanging thrusts and blows, Mon. I would, thou wert so happy by thy stay, Came more and more, and fought on part and part, To hear true shrift.--Come, madam, let's away. Till the prince came, who parted either part.

[E.reunt MONTAGUE and Lady. La. Mon. 0, where is Romeo !-saw you him Ben. Good morrow, cousin. to-day?


Is the day so young ?

(*) First folio, a fnot.

(+) First folio, broils. (1) First folio, father's. a That most are busied when they are most alone,-) This is the reading of the quarto, 1597. Subsequent editions, including the folio, 1623, read thus :" Which then most sought, where most might not be found;

Being cne too many by my weary self,

Pursued my humour,'' &c. b Many a moring hath he there been seen,----] This, and the

(*) First folio, honour.

(1) First folio, others. lines following down to

" And makes himself an artificial night,"
are first found in the quarto of 1599. Benvolio's inquiry,

“ Have you impórtun'd him by any means?"
and the reply, are likewise wanting in the first quarto.

c His beauty to the sun.] The old editions have same. emendation was made by Theobald.


will :


BEN. But new struck nine.

Ben. Tell me in sadness, who is that you love? Rom.

Ay me! sad hours seem long. Rom. What, shall I groan, and tell thee ? Was that my father that went hence so fast ?


Groan ? why, no; Ben. It was. What sadness lengthens Romeo's But sadly tell me, who. hours?

Rom. Bid* a sick man in sadness maket his Rom. Not having that, which, having, makes them short.

A word ill urg'd to one that is so ill ! Ben. In love?

In sadness, cousin, I do love a woman. Rom. Out

Ben. I aim'd so near, when I suppos’d


lov'd. BEN. Of love?

Rom. A right good mark-man - And she's Rom. Out of her favour, where I am in love.(3)

fair I love. Ben. Alas, that love, so gentle in his view, Ben. A right fair mark, fair coz, is roonest hit. Should be so tyrannous and rough in proof!

Rom. Well, in that hit, you miss: she'll not be hit Rom. Alas, that love, whose view is muffled still, With Cupid's arrow, she hath Dian's wit; Should, without eyes, see pathways to his will !" And, in strong proof of chastity well arm’d, Where shall we dine ?-0 me : What fray was From love's weak childish bow she lives unharm’d. here?

She will not stay the siege of loving terms, Yet tell me not, for I have heard it all.

Nor bide the encounter of assailing eyes, Here's much to-do with hate, but more with Nor ope her lap to saint-seducing gold:

O, she is rich in beauty; only poor, Why then, O brawling love ! O loving hate ! That, when she dies, with beautyd dies her store.(4) O any thing, of nothing first created;

Ben. Then she hath sworn, that she will still O heavy lightness ! serious vanity!

live chaste ? Mis-shapen chaos of well-seeming forms !

Rom. She hath, and in that sparing makes huge Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health!

waste; Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is ! - For beauty, starv'd with her severity, This love feel I, that feel no love in this.

Cuts beauty off from all posterity.
Dost thou not laugh ?

She is too fair, too wise; wisely too fair,
No, coz, I rather weep.

To merit bliss by making me despair :
Rom. Good heart, at what ?

She hath forsworn to love ; and, in that vow, Ben.

At thy good heart's oppression. Do I live dead, that live to tell it now. Rom. Why, such is love's transgression.

Ben. Be ruld by me, forget to think of her. Griefs of mine own lie heavy in my breast,

Rom. O, teach me how I should forget to think. Which thou wilt propagate, to have it prest

Ben. By giving liberty unto thine eyes ; With more of thine : this love, that thou hast Examine other beauties.(5) shown,

Rom. Doth add more grief to too much of mine own. To call hers, exquisite, in question more : Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs ; These happy masks, that kiss fair ladies' brows, Being purg'd, a fire sparkling in lovers' eyes ; Being black, put us in mind they hide the fair ; Being vex’d, a sea nourish'd with loving tears : He, that is strucken blind, cannot forget What is it else ? a madness most discreet,

The precious treasure of his eyesight lost : A choking gall, and a preserving sweet.

Show me a mistress that is passing fair, Farewell, my coz.


What doth her beauty serve, but as a note,
Soft, I will go along;

Where I may read, who pass'd that passing fair ? An if you leave me so, you do me wrong.

Farewell, thou canst not teach me to forget. Rom. Tut, I have lost myself ; I am not here; BEN. I'll pay that doctrine, or else die in debt. This is not Romeo, he's some otherwhere.


'Tis the way

(*) First folio, well seeing. a See pathways to his will!] This is obscure. The earliest quarto, that of 1597, has,

“Should without lawe3 give path-waies to our will." And this may help us to the true reading, which very probably was :

“Should without eyes set pathways to our will;" in other words, “ Make us walk in any direction he chooses to appoint."

b Being purg'd,-] Johnson suggested, and not without reason, that purg'd might be a misprint for urg'd. To urge the fire,” he observes, “is the technical term.' Mr. Collier's corrector, with equal plausibility, changes purg'd to puf'd.


(*) First folio omits bid. (1) First folio, makes.

(1) First folio, bid. c She lives unharm'd.) So the quarto of 1597. The subsequent quartos and the folio, 1623, read * uncharm'd."

d With beauty dies her store.] The reading of all the ancient copies, which Theobald altered to “— with her dies beauty's

To call hers, exquisite, in question more:) This is generally conceived to refer to the beauty of Rosaline. It may mean, however, " that is only the way to throw doubt upon any other beauty I may see;" an interpretation countenanced the after nes :

"Show me a mistress that is passing fair,

What doth her beauty serve, but as a note,
Where I may read, who pass'd that passing fair?"


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