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Nay, in the Interlude of The Repentance of Mary Magdalene, 1567, Mary Magdalen says to one of her attendants:
"Horeson, I beshrowe your heart, are you here?" STEEVENS.
ACT IV. SCENE I.
Line 71. Shall play the umpire;] That is, this knife shall decide the struggle between me and my distresses. JOHNSON. Line 130. If no unconstant toy, &c.] If no fickle freak, no light caprice, no change of fancy, hinder the performance.
ACT IV. SCENE II.
Line 155. from shrift-] i. e. from confession.
ACT IV. SCENE III.
Line 197. For I have need &c.] Juliet plays most of her pranks under the appearance of religion: perhaps Shakspeare meant to punish her hypocrisy. JOHNSON.
Line 238. As in a vault, &c.] This idea was probably suggested to our poet by his native place. The charnel at Stratford upon Avon is a very large one, and perhaps contains a greater number of bones than are to be found in any other repository of the same kind in England. I was furnished with this observation by Mr. Murphy, whose very elegant and spirited defence of Shakspeare against the criticisms of Voltaire, is not one of the least considerable out of many favours which he has conferred on the literary world. STEEVENS. -green in earth,] i. e. fresh in earth, newly STEEVENS.
Line 244. -is it not like, that I,] This speech is confused, and inconsequential, according to the disorder of Juliet's mind.
Line 248. be distraught,] Distraught is distracted.
ACT IV. SCENE V.
Line 342. O son, the night before thy wedding day
Hath death lain with thy bride:] Decker seems rather to have intended to ridicule a former line in this play: -I'll to my wedding bed,
"And Death, not Romeo, take my maidenhead."
confusion's cure-] These violent and confused exclamations, says the Friar, will by no means alleviate that sorrow which at present overwhelms and disturbs your minds. MALONE.
Enter Peter.] From the quarto of 1599, it appears, that the part of Peter was originally performed by William Kempe. Mal.
Line 419.0, play me some merry dump, to comfort me.] A dump anciently signified some kind of dance, as well as sorrow. STEEVENS. Line 427. —the gleek:] To gleek is to scoff. The term is taken from an ancient game at cards called gleek. STEEVENS. Line 445. -Simon Catling?] A catling was a small lute string made of catgut. STEEVENS. Line 448. Hugh Rebeck?] The fidler is so called from an instrument with three strings, which is mentioned by several of the old writers. STEEVENS.
ACT V. SCENE I.
Line 1. If I may trust the flattering eye of sleep,] The sense is, If I may trust the honesty of sleep, which I know however not to be so nice as not often to practise flattery. JOHNSON.
Line 3. My bosom's lord-] These three lines are very gay and pleasing. But why does Shakspeare give Romeo this involuntary cheerfulness just before the extremity of unhappiness? Perhaps to show the vanity of trusting to those uncertain and casual exaltations or depressions, which many consider as certain fore-tokens of good and evil. JOHNSON.
The poet has explained this passage himself a little further on; "How oft, when men are at the point of death,
"Have they been merry? which their keepers call
"A lightning before death."
Line 48. A beggarly account of empty boxes,] Dr. Warburton would read, a braggartly account: but beggarly is probably right; if the boxes were empty, the account was more beggarly, as it was more pompous. JOHNSON.
ACT V. SCENE II.
Line 102. 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. -was not nice,] i. e. was not written on a triSTEEVENS.
Line 114. vial or idle subject.
ACT V. SCENE III.
Line 162.dear employment: ] That is, action of importance. Gems were supposed to have great powers and virtues. JOHNS. Line 201. I do defy thy conjurations,] The obvious interpretation of these words, is, "I refuse to do as thou conjurest me to do, i. e. to depart." MALONE. Line 221. -presence-] A presence is a public room. JOHNS. by a dead man interr'd.] Romeo being now determined to put an end to his life, considers himself as already dead. MALONE.
Line 245. —my everlasting rest;] To set up one's rest, is to be determined to any certain purpose, to rest in perfect confidence and resolution, to make up one's mind. STEEVENS.
-how oft to-night
Have my old feet stumbled at graves?] This accident was reckoned ominous. STEEVENS. Line 283. I dreamt my master and another fought,] This is one of the touches of nature that would have escaped the hand of any painter less attentive to it than Shakspeare. What happens to a person while he is under the manifest influence of fear, will seem to him, when he is recovered from it, like a dream.
Line 299. and unnatural sleep ;] Shakspeare alludes to the sleep of Juliet, which was unnatural, being brought on by drugs. STEEVENS.
Line 396. I will be brief,] It is much to be lamented, that the poet did not conclude the dialogue with the action, and avoid a narrative of events which the audience already knew. JOHNSON. Line 396. my short date of breath
Is not so long as is a tedious tale.] So, in the 91st Psalm: " —when thou art angry, all our days are gone; we bring our years to an end, as it were a tale that is told." MAL.
Line 467. Have lost a brace of kinsmen :] Mercutio and Paris : Mercutio is expressly called the prince's kinsman in Act III. sc. iv. and that Paris also was the prince's kinsman, may be inferred from the following passages. Capulet, speaking of the count in the fourth Act, describes him as " a gentleman of princely parentage," and, after he is killed, Romeo says:
-Let me peruse this face;
"Mercutio's kinsman, noble county Paris."
Line 482. Some shall be pardon'd, and some punished:] This seems to be not a resolution in the prince, but a reflection on the various dispensations of Providence: for who was there that could justly be punished by any human law? EDWARDS'S MSS.
END OF THE ANNOTATIONS ON ROMEO AND JULIET.