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have one to carry her cloake and hood, another her fanne."
39 No hare, sir ;] Mercutio having roared out, So ho! the cry of the sportsmen when they start a hare, Romeo asks What he has found; and Mercutio answers, No hare, &c. The rest is a series of quibbles unworthy of explanation, which he who does not understand, needs not lament his ignorance.
Dr. Johnson is mistaken, So ho!-or See ho! in some counties—is the sportsman's term when he sees a hare sitting, not when he starts her.
what saucy merchant was this, that was so full of his ropery?] The term merchant, which was, and even now is, frequently applied to the lowest sort of dealers, seems anciently to have been used on these familiar occasions in contradistinction to gentleman; signifying that the person shewed by his behaviour he was a low fellow. The term chap, i. e. chapman, a word of the same import with merchant in its less respectable sense, is still in common use among the vulgar, as a general denomination for any person of whom they mean to speak with freedom or disrespect. Ropery was anciently used in the same sense as roguery is now. So, in the Three Ladies of London, 1584:
"Thou art very pleasant and full of thy roperye." Rope-tricks are mentioned in another place. STEEV. 41 Skains-mates.] A skein or skain was either a knife or a short dagger. By skains-mates the nurse
means none of his loose companions who frequent the fencing-school with him, where we may suppose the exercise of this weapon was taught. STEEVENS. Swift has the word in his description of an Irish feast:
"A cubit at least the length of their skains."
42 A lover may bestride the gossomers-] The gossomer is the long white filament which flies in the air in summer.
43 The day is hot, the Capulets abroad-] It is observed, that in Italy almost all assassinations are committed during the heat of summer.
44 A la stoccata-] That is, a stab or thrust with a
out of his pilcher by the ears?] We should read pilche, which signifies a cloke or coat of skins, meaning the scabbard.
46 Spread thy close curtain, love-performing night, That run-away's eyes may wink;] What run-aways are these, whose eyes Juliet is wishing to have stopt? Macbeth, we may remember, makes an invocation to night much in the same strain:
Scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day," &c.
So Juliet would have night's darkness obscure the great eye of the day, the sun; whom considering in a poetical light as Phœbus, drawn in his car with fieryfooted steeds, and posting through the heavens, she very properly calls him, with regard to the swiftness
of his course, the run-away. In the like manner our poet speaks of the night in the Merchant of Venice: "For the close night doth play the run-away."
I am not satisfied with this explanation, yet have nothing better to propose. 47 Hath slain ten thousand Tybalts.] Hath put Tybalt out of my mind, as if out of being. JOHNS. More validity,
More honourable state, more courtship lives
In carrion flies, than Romeo:] Validity seems here to mean worth or dignity: and courtship the state of a courtier permitted to approach the highest presence.
I will make a desperate tender
Of my child's love:] Desperate means only bold, adventurous; as if he had said, in the vulgar phrase, I will speak a bold word, and venture to promise you my daughter.
50 Hunting thee hence with hunts-up to the day.] The hunts-up was the name of the tune anciently played to wake the hunters, and collect them together.
51 Faith, here 'tis: Romeo
Is banished; &c.] Sir John Vanbrugh in the Relapse has copied the character of his nurse from Shakspeare.
52 Shall play the umpire;] That is, this knife shall decide the struggle between me and my distresses.
53 If no inconstant toy,-] If no fickle freak, no light caprice, no change of fancy, hinder the performance.
54 from shrift-] From confession.
55 For I have need &c.] Juliet plays most of her pranks under the appearance of religion. "Perhaps," says Dr. Johnson, “ Shakspeare meant to punish her hypocrisy."
distraught,] Distraught is distracted.
a mouse-hunt in your time;] It appears from a passage in Hamlet, that mouse was once a term of endearment applied to a woman:
"Pinch wanton on your cheek, call you his mouse."
The animal called the mouse-hunt, is the martin.
Cat after kinde, good mouse hunt, is a proverb in Heywood's Dialogue, 1598. 1st. pt. c. 2.
set up his rest,] This expression, which is frequently employed by the old dramatic writers, is taken from the manner of firing the harquebuss. This was so heavy a gun, that the soldiers were obliged to carry a supporter called a rest, which they fixed in the ground before they levelled to take aim. Decker uses it in his comedy of Old Fortunatus, 1600: "-set your heart at rest, for I have set up my rest, that unless you can run swifter than a hart, home you go not." The same expression occurs in Beaumont and Fletcher's Elder Brother :
the gleek:] So, in the Midsummer Night's
Nay, I can gleek upon occasion."
To gleek is to scoff. The term is taken from an ancient game at cards called gleek.
The game is mentioned in the beginning of the présent century by Dr. King of the Commons, in his Art of Love:
"But whether we diversion seek
"In these, in comet, or in gleek,
"Or ombre, &c."
60 Hugh Rebeck?] The fidler is so called from an instrument with three strings, which is mentioned by several of the old writers. Rebec, rebecquin.
61 If I may trust the flattering eye of sleep, My dreams presage some joyful news at hand: My bosom's lord sits lightly in his throne ;]-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 shew the vanity of trusting to those uncertain and casual exaltations or depressions, which many consider as certain foretokens of good and evil.
By my bosom's lord, Romeo means, Cupid who reigns in my breast.