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The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet

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Act II, Scene 4

A street.



  • Mercutio. Where the devil should this Romeo be?
    Came he not home to-night? 1160
  • 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. 1165
  • Mercutio. Any man that can write may answer a letter.
  • Benvolio. Nay, he will answer the letter's master, how he
    dares, being dared. 1170
  • 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? 1175
  • 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 1180
    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
    hai! 1185
  • 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, 1190
    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! 1195

[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 1200
    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 1205
    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 1210
    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. 1215
  • Romeo. A most courteous exposition.
  • Mercutio. Nay, I am the very pink of courtesy.
  • Romeo. Why, then is my pump well flowered. 1220
  • 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
    singleness. 1225
  • 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: 1230
    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. 1235
  • 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! 1240
  • 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: 1245
    for this drivelling love is like a great natural,
    that runs lolling up and down to hide his bauble in a hole.
  • Mercutio. Thou desirest me to stop in my tale against the hair.
  • Benvolio. Thou wouldst else have made thy tale large. 1250
  • 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]

  • Benvolio. Two, two; a shirt and a smock.
  • Nurse. My fan, Peter. 1260
  • 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? 1265
  • 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
    mar. 1270
  • 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: 1275
    I am the youngest of that name, for fault of a worse.
  • Mercutio. Yea, is the worst well? very well took, i' faith;
    wisely, wisely.
  • Nurse. if you be he, sir, I desire some confidence with 1280
  • 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, 1285
    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 1290
    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. 1295
  • 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. 1305
  • 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 1310
    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. 1315
  • 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 1320
    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. 1325
  • 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. 1330
  • 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 1335
    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: 1340
    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: 1345
    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? 1350
  • 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 1355
    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? 1360
  • 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 1365
    to hear it.
  • Romeo. Commend me to thy lady.
  • Nurse. Ay, a thousand times.
    [Exit Romeo]
    Peter! 1370
  • Nurse. Peter, take my fan, and go before and apace.