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The story of Romeo and Juliet is considered to be historically true; the Veronese fix the date of this tragedy as 1303.

"The history of the fair Capulet and her loved Montague," furnished themes for novelists, and had inspired the muse of the Poets, previous to Shakspeare's time: He has availed himself of these labors to construct his exquisite Drama; the inimitable character of Mercutio, however, is an entirely original creation of the Dramatist.


ESCALUS, Prince of Verona.

PARIS, a young nobleman, kinsman to the Prince.


heads of two houses, at variance with each other.

An old man, uncle to Capulet.

ROMEO, son to Montague.

MERCUTIO, kinsman to the Prince, and friend to Romeo.
BENVOLIO, nephew to Montague, and friend to Romeo.

TYBALT, nephew to Lady Capulet.

Friar LAURENCE, a Franciscan.

Friar JOHN, of the same order.

BALTHAZAR, servant to Romeo.

SAMPSON, GREGORY, servants to Capulet.

ABRAM, servant to Montague.

An Apothecary. Three Musicians.

Chorus. Boy. Page to Paris.

PETER. An Officer.

Lady MONTAGUE, wife to Montague.

Lady CAPULET, wife to Capulet.

JULIET, daughter to Capulet.

Nurse to Juliet.

Citizens of Verona; several Men and Women, relations to both houses; Maskers, Guards, Watchmen, and Attendants.

SCENE, during the greater part of the Play, in VERONA ; once, in the Fifth Act, at MANTUA.

The rival Houses of Capulet and Montague were two of the most distinguished Families in Verona: An "ancient grudge" existed between these Houses, and "civil brawls" were constantly occurring between them, in which the connections and retainers of the opposing heads took part. The Play opens with one of these outbreaks: In the midst of the fray, the Prince of Verona appears, separates the combatants, and declares to Ca pulet and Montague

"If ever you disturb our streets again,

Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace."

Montague and his kinsman Benvolio discourse on the late fray. Romeo joins them.



Mon. Who set this ancient quarrel now abroach ?—
Speak, nephew, were you by, when it began?

Ben. Here were the servants of your adversary,
And yours, close fighting ere I did approach:
I drew to part them; in the instant came
The fiery Tybalt, with his sword prepar'd;
Which, as he breath'd defiance to my ears,
He swung about his head, and cut the winds:
While we were interchanging thrusts and blows,
Came more and more, and fought on part and part,
Till the prince came, who parted either part.

La. Mon. O, where is Romeo!-saw you him to-day?

Right glad I am, he was not at this fray.

Ben. Madam, an hour before the worshipp'd sun
Peer'd forth the golden window of the east,
A troubled mind drave me to walk abroad;
Where, underneath the grove of sycamore,
That westward rooteth from the city's side,-
So early walking did I see your son:
Towards him I made; but he was 'ware of me,
And stole into the covert of the wood:
I, measuring his affections by my own,-
That most are busied when they are most alone,—
Pursu'd my humor, not pursuing his,

And gladly shunn'd who gladly fled from me.

Mon. Many a morning hath he there been seen,
With tears augmenting the fresh morning's dew,
Adding to clouds more clouds with his deep sighs:
But all so soon as the all-cheering sun
Should in the further east begin to draw
The shady curtains from Aurora's bed,
Away from light steals home my heavy son,
And private in his chamber pens himself;
Shuts up his windows, locks fair daylight out,

And makes himself an artificial night :
Black and portentous must this humor prove,
Unless good counsel may the cause remove.

Ben. My noble uncle, do you know the cause?
Mon. I neither know it, nor can learn of him.
Ben. Have you importun'd him by any means?
Mon. Both by myself, and many other friends;
But he, his own affections' counsellor,
Is to himself-I will not say, how true-
But to himself so secret and so close,
So far from sounding and discovery,
As is the bud bit with an envious worm,

Ere he can spread his sweet leaves to the air,
Or dedicate his beauty to the sun.

Could we but learn from whence his sorrows grow,
We would as willingly give cure, as know.

Enter ROMEO, at a distance.

Ben. See, where he comes: So please you, step aside; I'll know his grievance, or be much denied.

Mon. I would, thou wert so happy by thy stay, To hear true shrift.-Come, madam, let's away.

Ben. Good morrow, cousin.

Ben. But new struck nine.

[Exeunt MONTAGUE, and Lady.

Is the day so young?

Ah me! sad hours seem long.

Was that my father that went hence so fast?

Ben. It was:-What sadness lengthens Romeo's hours?
Rom. Not having that, which, having, makes them short.
Ben. In love; meseems!

Alas, that love, so gentle in his view,

Should be so tyrannous and rough in proof!

Rom. Alas, that love, whose view is muffled still,

Should, without eyes, see pathways to his will!

Where shall we dine?-O me !-What fray was here?

Yet tell me not, for I have heard it all.

Here's much to do with hate, but more with love :-
O heavy lightness! serious vanity!

Mis-shapen chaos of well-seeming forms!

This love feel I, that feel no love in this.

Dost thou not laugh?


No, coz, I rather weep.

Rom. Good heart, at what?

At thy good heart's oppression.

Rom. Why, such is love's transgression.-
Griefs of mine own lie heavy in my breast;
Which thou wilt propagate, to have it prest
With more of thine: this love, that thou hast shown,
Doth add more grief to too much of mine own.

Love is a smoke rais'd with the fume of sighs;
Being purg'd, a fire sparkling in lovers' eyes;
Being vex'd, a sea nourish'd with lovers' tears:
What is it else? a madness most discreet,
A choking gall, and a preserving sweet.
Farewell, my coz.

Soft, I will go along;
An if you leave me so, you do me wrong.

Rom. Tut, I have lost myself; I am not here;
This is not Romeo, he's some other where.

Ben. Tell me in sadness, who she is you love.
Rom. In sadness, cousin, I do love a woman.
Ben. I aim'd so near, when I suppos'd you lov'd.

Rom. A right good marksman !And she's fair I love.
Ben. A right fair mark, fair coz, is soonest hit.
Rom. Well, in that hit, you miss: she'll not be hit
With Cupid's arrow. She hath Dian's wit;
And, in strong proof of chastity well arm'd,

From love's weak childish bow she lives unharm'd.
She will not stay the siege of loving terms,
Nor bide the encounter of assailing eyes,
Nor ope her lap to saint-seducing gold:
O! she is rich in beauty; only poor,

That when she dies, with beauty dies her store.
She is too fair, too wise; wisely too fair,
To merit bliss by making me despair:

She hath forsworn to love; and, in that vow,

Do I live dead, that live to tell it now.

Ben. Be rul'd by me, forget to think of her.
Rom. O teach me how I should forget to think.
Ben. By giving liberty unto thine eyes;
Examine other beauties.

"Tis the way
To call hers, exquisite, in question more:
These happy masks, that kiss fair ladies' brows,
Being black, put us in mind they hide the fair;
He, that is stricken blind, cannot forget
The precious treasure of his eyesight lost:
Show me a mistress that is passing fair,
What doth her beauty serve, but as a note
Where I may read, who pass'd that passing fair?
Farewell; thou canst not teach me to forget.

Ben. I'll pay that doctrine, or else die in debt.



The "County Paris" loves the lady Juliet, and receives her father's permission to pre fer his suit.-Capulet gives an entertainment, to which he invites young Paris: At this feast the fair Rosaline is also to be a guest, and Romeo is persuaded by his cousin Benvolio, to attend, that he may

"Compare her face with some that I shall show,
And I will make thee think thy swan a crow."

SCENE III.—A Room in Capulet's House.

Enter Lady CAPULET, and Nurse.

La. Cap. Nurse, where's my daughter? call her forth to me.
Nurse. Now, by my faith, at twelve year old,

I bade her come.-What, lamb! what, lady-bird!
Heaven forbid! where's this girl ?-what, Juliet!

Jul. How now, who calls?



What is your will?


Your mother.

Madam, I am here.

La. Cap. This is the matter :-Nurse, give leave awhile, We must talk in secret.-Nurse, come back again;

I have remember'd me, thou shalt hear our counsel.

Thou know'st, my daughter's of a pretty age.
Nurse. 'Faith, I can tell her age unto an hour.
La. Cap. She's not fourteen.


I'll lay fourteen of my teeth,
And yet, to my teen be it spoken, I have but four,-
She is not fourteen.-How long is it now

To Lammas-tide ?

La. Cap.

A fortnight, and odd days.
Nurse. Even or odd, of all days in the year,
Come Lammas-eve at night, shall she be eighteen.
Heaven mark thee to its grace!

Thou wast the prettiest babe that e'er I nurs❜d.
An I might live to see thee married once,
I have my wish.

La. Cap. Marry, that marry is the very theme
I came to talk of :-Tell me, daughter Juliet,
How stands your disposition to be married?

Jul. It is an honor that I dream not of. La. Cap. Well, think of marriage now. Thus then, in brief;

The valiant Paris seeks you for his love.

Nurse. A man, young lady! lady, such a man,

As all the world-Why, he's a man of wax.

La. Cap. Verona's summer hath not such a flower.
Nurse. Nay, he's a flower; in faith, a very flower.
La. Cap. What say you? can you love the gentleman ?
This night you shall behold him at our feast:
Speak briefly, can you like of Paris' love?

Jul. I'll look to like, if looking liking move:
But no more deep will I endart mine eye,
Than your consent gives strength to make it fly.

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