Contents

Previous Next  

 

Romeo and Juliet

by William Shakespeare

Act 2, Scene 4 Easiest-to-Read Edition

 

 

 



Romeo and Juliet Act 2, Scene 4



A street

Romeo and Juliet Act 2, Scene 4

Enter BENVOLIO and MERCUTIO

Enter BENVOLIO and MERCUTIO

MERCUTIO

Where the devil should this Romeo be?

Came he not home tonight?

 

MERCUTIO

Where the devil should this Romeo be?

Came he not home tonight?

 

BENVOLIO

Not to his father’s. I spoke with his man.

 

BENVOLIO

Not to his father’s. I spoke with his man.

 

MERCUTIO

Why, that same pale hard-hearted wench, that Rosaline,

Torments him so that he will sure run mad.

 

MERCUTIO

Why, that same pale hard-hearted wench, that Rosaline,

Torments him so that he will sure run mad.

 

BENVOLIO

Tybalt, the kinsman to old Capulet,

Hath sent a letter to his father’s house.

his=Romeo’s

 

BENVOLIO

Tybalt, the kinsman to old Capulet,

Hath sent a letter to his father’s house.

 

MERCUTIO

A challenge, on my life.

 

MERCUTIO

A challenge, on my life.

 

BENVOLIO

Romeo will answer it.

 

BENVOLIO

Romeo will answer it.

 

MERCUTIO

Any man that can write may answer a letter.

 

MERCUTIO

Any man that can write may answer a letter.

 

BENVOLIO

Nay, he will answer the letter’s master, how he dares, being dared (challenges, being challenged).

 

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 (peg in the center of an archery target) of his heart cleft with the blind bow-boy’s (Cupid’s) butt shaft (blunt arrow). And is he a man to encounter Tybalt?

 

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?

 

BENVOLIO

Why, what is Tybalt?

 

MERCUTIO

More than Prince of Cats (In Reynard the Fox the Prince of Cats is named Tibalt). Oh, he’s the courageous captain of compliments. He fights as (in the way that) you sing prick-song (sing printed music), keeps time, distance, and proportion. He rests his minim (tiny) rests (carefully observes musical notation)—one, two, and the third in your bosom. The very butcher of a silk button, a duelist, a duelist, a gentleman of the very first house (best fencing school) of the first and second cause (causes for taking offense). Ah, the immortal passado (forward thrust), the punto reverse (backhanded thrust), the hai (home thrust)!

 

MERCUTIO

More than Prince of Cats. Oh, he’s the courageous captain of compliments. He fights as you sing prick-song, keeps time, distance, and proportion. He rests his minim rests—one, two, and the third in your bosom. The very butcher of a silk button, a duelist, a duelist, a gentleman of the very first house of the first and second cause. Ah, the immortal passado, the punto reverso, the hai!

 

BENVOLIO

The what?

 

BENVOLIO

The what?

 

MERCUTIO

The pox of (plague take) such antic (foolishness), lisping, affecting fantasmines (coxcombs - fools with a crest on their caps like a cock's crest), these new tuners of accents (utterers of newfangled phrases)! (Mercutio mocking the fools:) “By Jesu, a very good blade! A very tall (brave) man! A very good whore!” Why, is not this a lamentable thing, grandsire (jokingly calling Benvolio an old man), that we should be thus afflicted with these strange flies (parasites), these fashion-mongers, these “pardon me’s,” who stand so much on the new form, that they cannot sit at ease on the old bench (the old place of honor)? Oh, their bones (a pun on French bons), their bones!

 

MERCUTIO

The pox of such antic, lisping, affecting fantasmines, 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 “pardon me’s,” who stand so much on the new form, that they cannot sit at ease on the old bench? Oh, their bones, their bones!

 

Enter ROMEO

Enter ROMEO

BENVOLIO

Here comes Ro-meo, here comes Ro-meo.

 

BENVOLIO

Here comes Romeo, here comes Romeo.

 

MERCUTIO

Without his roe (word play on Ro), like a dried herring. O flesh, flesh, how art thou fishified! Now is he for the numbers (rhymes) that Petrarch flowed in. Laura to his lady was but a kitchen-wench— marry, she had a better love to berhyme her (write rhymes about her)—Dido a dowdy, Cleopatra a gypsy, Helen and Hero hildings (good-for-nothings) and harlots, Thisbe a grey eye or so, but not to the purpose (but irrelevant).— Signior Romeo, bonjour! There’s a French salutation to your French slop (baggy trousers). You gave us the counterfeit fairly last night.

 

MERCUTIO

Without his roe, like a dried herring. O 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 berhyme her—Dido a dowdy, Cleopatra a gypsy, Helen and Hero hildings and harlots, Thisbe a grey eye or so, but not to the purpose.— Signior Romeo, bonjour! 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?

 

ROMEO

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

 

MERCUTIO

The slip, sir, the slip. Can you not conceive (understand)?

 

MERCUTIO

The slip, 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.

 

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 (be crippled by venereal disease).

 

MERCUTIO

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

 

ROMEO

Meaning “to curtsy”?

 

ROMEO

Meaning “to curtsy”?

 

MERCUTIO

Thou hast most kindly hit it.

 

MERCUTIO

Thou hast most kindly hit it.

 

ROMEO

A most courteous exposition.

 

ROMEO

A most courteous exposition.

 

MERCUTIO

Nay, I am the very pink of courtesy.

 

MERCUTIO

Nay, I am the very pink of courtesy.

 

ROMEO

Pink for flower.

 

ROMEO

Pink for flower.

 

MERCUTIO

Right.

 

MERCUTIO

Right.

 

ROMEO

Why, then is my pump (shoe) well flowered (well decorated).

 

ROMEO

Why, then is my pump well flowered.

 

MERCUTIO

Sure wit, 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 solely singular (single-soled=weak).

 

MERCUTIO

Sure wit, 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 solely singular.

 

ROMEO

O single-soled jest, solely singular for the singleness (in a class by itself for silliness).

 

ROMEO

O single-soled jest, solely singular for the singleness.

 

MERCUTIO

Come between us, good Benvolio. My wits faints.

 

MERCUTIO

Come between us, good Benvolio. My wits faints.

 

ROMEO

Switch and spurs, switch and spurs (prod yourself on), or I’ll cry a match (claim a victory).

 

ROMEO

Switch and spurs, switch and spurs, or I’ll cry a match.

 

MERCUTIO

Nay, if our wits run the wild-goose chase (a follow-the-leader kind of game), I am done, for thou hast more of the wild-goose in one of thy wits than, I am sure, I have in my whole five (five senses). Was I with you there for the goose (slang term for prostitute)?

 

MERCUTIO

Nay, if our wits run the wild-goose chase, I am 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 anything when thou wast not there for the goose.

 

ROMEO

Thou wast never with me for anything when thou wast not there for the goose.

 

MERCUTIO

I will bite thee by the ear for that jest.

 

MERCUTIO

I will bite thee by the ear for that jest.

 

ROMEO

Nay, good goose, bite not.

 

ROMEO

Nay, good goose, bite not.

 

MERCUTIO

Thy wit is a very bitter sweeting (apple). It is a most sharp sauce.

 

MERCUTIO

Thy wit is a very bitter sweeting. It is a most sharp sauce.

 

ROMEO

And is it not well served into a sweet goose?

 

ROMEO

And is it not well served into a sweet goose?

 

MERCUTIO

Oh, here’s a wit of cheveril (kid leather, easily stretched), that stretches from an inch narrow to an ell (forty-five inches) broad!

 

MERCUTIO

Oh, 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.

 

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 driveling love is like a great natural (idiot) that runs lolling up and down to hide his bauble in a hole.

 

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 driveling love is like a great natural that runs lolling up and down to hide his bauble in a hole.

 

BENVOLIO

Stop there, stop there.

 

BENVOLIO

Stop there, stop there.

 

MERCUTIO

Thou desirest me to stop in my tale against the hair (against the grain).

 

MERCUTIO

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

 

BENVOLIO

Thou wouldst else have made thy tale large (gross, indecent).

 

BENVOLIO

Thou wouldst else have made thy tale large.

 

MERCUTIO

Oh, 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.

 

MERCUTIO

Oh, 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.

 

Enter NURSE and her man PETER

Enter NURSE and her man PETER

ROMEO

Here’s goodly gear (attractive stuff).

 

ROMEO

Here’s goodly gear.

 

BENVOLIO

A sail, a sail!

(a ship has been sighted)

 

BENVOLIO

A sail, a sail!

 

MERCUTIO

Two, two—a shirt and a smock.

 

MERCUTIO

Two, two—a shirt and a smock.

 

NURSE

Peter!

 

NURSE

Peter!

 

PETER

Anon!

 

PETER

Anon!

 

NURSE

My fan, Peter.

 

NURSE

My fan, Peter.

 

MERCUTIO

Good Peter, to hide her face, for her fan’s the fairer face.

 

MERCUTIO

Good Peter, to hide her face, for her fan’s the fairer face.

 

NURSE

God ye good morrow (morning), gentlemen.

 

NURSE

God ye good morrow, gentlemen.

 

MERCUTIO

God ye good den (afternoon), fair gentlewoman.

 

MERCUTIO

God ye good den, fair gentlewoman.

 

NURSE

Is it good den?

 

NURSE

Is it good den?

 

MERCUTIO

'Tis no less, I tell you, for the bawdy hand of the dial is now upon the prick (mark on a sundial or clock) of noon.

 

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?

 

NURSE

Out upon you! What a man are you?

 

MERCUTIO

One, gentlewoman, that God hath made, himself to mar.

 

MERCUTIO

One, gentlewoman, that God hath made, himself to mar.

 

NURSE

By my troth, it is well said. “For himself to mar,” quoth he? Gentlemen, can any of you tell me where I may find the young Romeo?

 

NURSE

By my troth, it is well said. “For himself to mar,” quoth he? 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 (lack) of a worse.

 

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.

 

NURSE

You say well.

 

MERCUTIO

Yea, is the worst well? Very well took, i' faith, wisely, wisely.

 

MERCUTIO

Yea, is the worst well? Very well took, i' faith, wisely, wisely.

 

NURSE

If you be he, sir, I desire some confidence with you.

(malapropism -  she means conference)

 

NURSE

If you be he, sir, I desire some confidence with you.

 

BENVOLIO

She will indite him to some supper.

(indite – intentional malapropism)

 

BENVOLIO

She will indite him to some supper.

 

MERCUTIO

A bawd (a procurer and, also, in some parts of England, a hare), a bawd, a bawd! So ho (cry when sighting a hare)!

 

MERCUTIO

A bawd, a bawd, a bawd! So ho!

 

ROMEO

What hast thou found?

 

ROMEO

What hast thou found?

 

MERCUTIO

No hare, sir, unless a hare, sir, in a Lenten pie—that is, something stale and hoar (rotten) ere it be spent (used up).

(sings)

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.

hoars=spoils

(speaks)

 

MERCUTIO

No hare, sir, unless a hare, sir, in a Lenten pie—that is, something stale and hoar ere it be spent.

(sings)

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.

(speaks)

 

 

Romeo, will you come to your father’s? We’ll to dinner, thither.

Romeo, will you come to your father’s? We’ll to dinner, thither.

ROMEO

I will follow you.

 

ROMEO

I will follow you.

 

MERCUTIO

Farewell, ancient lady. Farewell, lady, lady, lady.

 

MERCUTIO

Farewell, ancient lady. Farewell, lady, lady, lady.

 

Exeunt MERCUTIO and BENVOLIO

Exeunt MERCUTIO and BENVOLIO

NURSE

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

ropery=roguish ways

NURSE

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.

stand to=listen patiently

 

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 he speak anything against me, I’ll take him down, an he 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 (loose women). I am none of his skains-mates (outlaw? word occurs nowhere else). (to PETER) And thou must stand by, too, and suffer every knave to use me at his pleasure?

 

NURSE

An he speak anything against me, I’ll take him down, an he 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. (to PETER) And thou must stand by, too, and suffer every knave to use me at his pleasure?

 

PETER

I saw no man use you at his 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.

 

PETER

I saw no man use you at his 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 (worthless) knave!

(to ROMEO) Pray you, sir, a word. And as I told you, my young lady bid 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.

 

NURSE

Now, afore God, I am so vexed that every part about me quivers. Scurvy knave!

(to ROMEO) Pray you, sir, a word. And as I told you, my young lady bid 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—

 

ROMEO

Nurse, commend me to thy lady and mistress. I protest unto thee—

 

NURSE

[You have a] Good heart, and i' faith, I will tell her as much. Lord, Lord, she will be a joyful woman.

 

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 (pay attention to) me.

 

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.

 

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.

shrift=religious confession

And there she shall at Friar Lawrence' cell

Be shrived and married. (gives her coins) Here is for thy pains.

shrived=forgiven of sins

 

ROMEO

Bid her devise

Some means to come to shrift this afternoon.

And there she shall at Friar Lawrence' cell

Be shrived and married. (gives her coins) Here is for thy pains.

 

NURSE

No, truly, sir. Not a penny.

 

NURSE

No, truly, sir. Not a penny.

 

ROMEO

Go to. I say you shall.

 

ROMEO

Go to. I say you shall.

 

NURSE

(takes the money) This afternoon, sir? Well, she shall be there.

 

NURSE

(takes the money) 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,

cords . . . =rope ladder

Which to the high top-gallant of my joy

top-gallant=platform atop the highest mast of a ship

Must be my convoy in the secret night.

Farewell. Be trusty, and I’ll quit thy pains.

quit thy pains=reward you for your trouble

Farewell. Commend me to thy mistress.

 

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.

hark you=listen

 

NURSE

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

 

ROMEO

What sayst thou, my dear Nurse?

 

ROMEO

What sayst thou, my dear Nurse?

 

NURSE

Is your man secret (trustworthy)? Did you ne'er hear say,

“Two may keep counsel, putting one away”?

 

NURSE

Is your man secret? Did you ne'er hear say,

“Two may keep counsel, putting one away”?

 

ROMEO

Warrant thee, my man’s as true as steel.

 

ROMEO

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 (chattering) thing.—Oh, there is a nobleman in town, one Paris, that would fain (gladly) lay knife aboard, but she, good soul, had as life (willingly) 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 (handkerchief) in the versal (universal) world. Doth not rosemary and Romeo begin both with a letter?

 

NURSE

Well, sir, my mistress is the sweetest lady.—Lord, Lord! when ’twas a little prating thing.—Oh, 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.

 

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.

(The nurse is illiterate and thinks that Romeo is teasing her.)

(The letter R was called “the dog’s letter” because the sound was thought to resemble a dog’s growl.)

sententious=another of the Nurse’s blunders

 

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.

 

ROMEO

Commend me to thy lady.

 

NURSE

Ay, a thousand times.—Peter!

 

NURSE

Ay, a thousand times.—Peter!

 

PETER

Anon!

 

PETER

Anon!

 

NURSE

Before and apace.

 

NURSE

Before and apace.

 

Exeunt

Exeunt

 

Next