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Whose sale is present death in Mantua,
Enter Apothecary. i
Who calls so loud ?
poor; Hold, there is forty ducats : let me have A dram of poison; such soon-speeding geer As will disperse itself through all the veins, That the life-weary taker may fall dead; And that the trunk may be discharg'd of breath As violently, as hasty powder fir'd Doth hurry from the fatal cannon's womb. · Ap. Such mortal drugs I have; but Mantua's
law Is death, to any he that utters them. Rom. Art thou so bare, and full of wretched
ness, And fear'st to die? famine is in thy cheeks, Need and oppression starveth in thy eyes,
Need and oppression starveth in thy eyes,] The first quarto reads ;
And starved famine dwelleth in thy cheeks. The quartos, 1599, 1609, and the folio:
Need and oppression starveth in thy eyes. Our modern editors, without authority,
Need and oppression stare within thy eyes. STELVENS. The passage might, perhaps, be better regulated thus :
Need and oppression stareth in thy eyes. .
Upon thy back hangs ragged misery,
Ap. My poverty, but not my will, consents.
those checker though
For they cannot, properly, be said to starve in his eyes; though starved famine may be allowed to dwell in his cheeks. Thy, not thine, is the reading of the folio, and those who are conversant in our author, and especially in the old copies, will scarcely notice the grammatical impropriety of the proposed emendation. Ritson.
The modern reading was introduced by Mr. Pope, and was founded on that of Otway, in whose Caius Marius the line is thus exhibited:
“ Need and oppression stareth in thy eyes.” :, The word starved in the first copy shows that starveth in the text is right. In the quarto of 1597, this speech stands thus :
“ And dost thou fear to violate the law ?
66 And starved famine dwelleth in thy cheeks." The last line is in my opinion preferable to that which has been substituted in its place, but it could not be admitted into the text without omitting the words-famine is in thy cheeks, and leaving an hemistich. MALONE.
? Upon thy back hangs ragged misery,] This is the reading of the oldest copy. I have restored it in preference to the following line, which is found in all the subsequent impressions :
Contempt and beggary hang upon thy back. In The First Part of Jeronimo, 1605, is a passage somewhat resembling this of Shakspeare:
“ Whose famish'd jaws look like the chaps of death, o “ Upon whose eye-brows hang damnation." STEEVENS. Perhaps from Kyd's Cornelia, a tragedy, 1594 :
"Upon thy back where misery doth sit.
66 OʻRome,” &c.
Ap. Put this in any liquid thing you will, And drink it off; and, if you had the strength Of twenty men, it would despatch you straight. Rom. There is thy gold; worse poison to men's
souls, Doing more murders in this loathsome world, Than these poor compounds that thou may'st not
3 Put this in any liquid thing you will,
And drink it off; and, if you had the strength
Of twenty men, it would despatch you straight.] Perhaps, when Shakspeare allotted this speech to the Apothecary, he had not quite forgot the following passage in The Pardoneres Tale of Chaucer, 12,794 :
“ The Potecary answered, thou shalt have
John. Holy Franciscan friar! brother, ho!
Enter Friar LAURENCE.
LAU. This same should be the voice of friar
John.Welcome from Mantua: What says Romeo?. Or, if his mind be writ, give me his letter.
John. Going to find a bare-foot brother out, One of our order, to associate me,
* One of our order, to associate me,] Each friar has always a companion assigned him by the superior when he asks leave to go out; and thus, says Baretti, they are a check upon each other. STEEVENS.
In The Visitatio Notabilis de Seleburne, a curious record printed in The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne, Wykeham enjoins the canons not to go abroad without leave from the prior, who is ordered on such occasions to assign the brother a companion, ne suspicio sinistra vel scandalum oriatur. Append. p. 448. HOLT WHITE.
By the Statutes of Trinity College, Cambridge, ch. 22, it is declared That no batchelor or scholar shall go into the town without a companion as a witness of his honesty, on pain for the first offence to be deprived of a week's commons, with further punishment for the offence if repeated. REED. Going to find a bare-foot brother out, One of our order, to associate me, Here in this city visiting the sick, And finding him, the searchers of the town,
Suspecting, &c.] So, in The Tragicall Hystory of Romeus and Juliet, 1562:
Here in this city visiting the sick,
Lau. Who bare my letter then to Romeo?
John. I could not send it,—here it is again,Nor get a messenger to bring it thee, So fearful were they of infection.
LAU. Unhappy fortune! by my brotherhood, The letter was not nice, but full of charge,
“ Apace our friar John to Mantua him hies; .
“ Of his profession, straight a house he findeth out,
about.” Our author, having occasion for Friar John, has here departed from the poem, and supposed the pestilence to rage at Verona, instead of Mantua.
Friar John sought for a brother merely for the sake of form, to accompany him in his walk, and had no intention of visiting the sick; the words, therefore, to associate me, must be considered as parenthetical, and Here in this city, &c. must refer to the bare-foot brother.
I formerly conjectured that the passage ought to be regulated thus :
Going to find a bare-foot brother out,
Here in this city visiting the sick, &c. But the text is certainly right. The searchers would have had no ground of suspicion, if neither of the Friars had been in an infected house. „MALONE.
5 was not nice,] i. e. was not written on a trivial or idle subject.