From Romeo and Juliet. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan.
*Line numbers have been adjusted.
1, 2. Now old desire ... heir, Romeo's passing fancy for Rosaline is now at its last gasp, and his newly-conceived love for
Juliet is hastening to take its place in his heart. The desire for something of the nature of a toy, something that merely captivates the fancy, is giving way to real passion; mere desire has
had its day and is now succeeded by a warmer, truer, feeling.
Cp. Tennyson, The Gardener's Daughter, 13-20.
3. fair, beauty; frequently of old used in this sense, whether
in the abstract or the concrete sense: for ... for, on the doubled
preposition, see Abb. § 407: would die, determined to die.
4. With tender ... fair, Benvolio's prophesy, i. 2. 94-9, has now
6. Alike bewitched, i.e. both equally bewitched.
7. his foe supposed, her whom, as belonging to the Capulet
family, he would naturally regard as an enemy: complain, pour forth his plaints of love; cp. T. G. v. 4. 5, "The nightingale's
8. And she steal ... hooks, and she only by stealth pluck the
tempting fruits which love displays with such dangerous lure.
11. And she ... less, while to her, equally love-stricken, the
means are much less...
14. Tempering ... sweet, mingling with the keen dangers delights [just] as keen; correcting the sharp taste of danger by the
sweetness which followed upon its being braved.
1, 2. Can I go ... out, can I leave the place and return home
when she, who is the fountain of my life, is here? turn back,
gross, earthy body, and find in her the pivot on which you revolve; for earth, in the sense of what is gross or dull, cp.
Temp. "What ho! slave! Caliban? Thou earth thou!" R. II. iii. 4. 78, "Darest thou, thou little better thing than earth
Divine his downfall?" For the simile Delius compares T. C. iii.
2. 186, "As true as steel, as plantage to the moon, As sun to
day, as turtle to her mate, As iron to adamant, as earth to the
3. wise, sc. in betaking himself to bed.
5. on my life, I will stake my life: stol'n him, we should now
omit the reflexive pronoun.
6. orchard, garden, as always in Shakespeare; properly a yard
of orts or worts, i. e. vegetables; now used only for a garden or
enclosure of fruit-trees.
8. I'll conjure too, I will not only call, but also conjure him
in the terms suitable to one in love; as he does in the following
9. humours, "amorous fancies" (Clarke). The various words
are in imitation of those used by conjurers in their invocations.
10. Appear thou ... sigh. He calls upon him to appear in the
form of a sigh (a form appropriate to lovers) as conjurers and
witches invoked spirits in any form suitable to their ends.
11. Speak ... satisfied, utter but a single rhyme, the language in
which lovers speak, and I shall know that all is well with you,
that you have not broken your neck in the leap you took.
13. my gossip Venus, my dear old crony Venus. A gossip is
literally a god-relative, a sponsor in baptism, and as these
sponsors were frequently talkative old women, it came to mean
an idle, chattering person, and lastly idle talk, the modern
14. nick-name. Properly an eke-name, a name used to eke out
a name, an additional name, frequently with a familiar or
endearing or contemptuous sense; cp. newt = an ewt, and conversely an auger = a nauger: purblind, originally, as here, pureblind, wholly blind; so again in T. C. i. 2. 31, "purblind Argus,
all eyes and no sight"; though Shakespeare also uses the word
in its more modern and less correct sense of partly blind, short
sighted, V. A. 679, i. H. VI. ii. 4. 21.
15. Adam Cupid. The old copies give Abraham Cupid; Upton
conjectured Adam, which has been adopted by most modern
editors, the allusion being to Adam Bell, a notable archer, said
to be meant in M. A. i. 1. 261, "If I do, hang me in a bottle and
shoot at me; and he that hits me let him be clapped on the
shoulder, and called Adam." Dyce conjectured that Abraham
was a corruption of abron, i.e. auburn, and this reading has
been accepted by Grant White and Hudson. Schmidt explains
the old reading as being "in derision of the eternal boyhood of
Cupid, though, in fact, he was at least as old as Abraham" — a
very far-fetched explanation, as it seems to me. Others, again,
take Abraham as an allusion to the Abraham, or Abram, men, as
cheats and begging impostors were formerly called, Cupid's
roguery in love matters being the point of the raillery: he that
shot so trim, from the ballad of 'King Cophetua and the beggar
maid,' once so popular, of which Malone quotes the following
stanza, "The blinded boy that shoots so trim, From heaven down
did hie, And drew a dart and shot at him, In place where he
18. The ape, "an expression of tenderness, like poor fool"
[Lear, v. 3. 305] (Malone); so "poor monkey," Macb. iv. 2. 59.
20. high forehead. Formerly considered a great beauty, as a
broad forehead is nowadays; so in Temp. iv. 1. 250, A. C. iii. 3. 35,
low foreheads are disparaged, though nowadays, if broad also,
they are admired by many. As Grant White says, "There are
fashions even in beauty."
22. [demesnes, territory.]
* Lines 21-22 were removed from K. Deighton's original work due to the suggestive content.
23. in thy likeness, in your own form and shape; not as in the
case of conjurers' invocations in some transformed shape.
24. An if, see Abb. § 103: thou wilt anger him, sc. by venturing to make use of his mistress's name.
31. only but, one of the two words is superfluous.
33. To be consorted ... night, to hold communion with the dewy
night; but with a quibble upon humorous. Steevens quotes
several instances from old writers of the word used in a literal
sense, e.g. Chapman's translation of Homer's Iliad, bk. ii., "The
other gods and knights at arms slept all the humourous night."
35. cannot hit the mark, cp. above, i. 1. 213-7.
38. [medlars, small fruits; slang for the female anatomy.]
40. [poperin pear, French pear; slang for the male anatomy.]
* Lines 36-40 were removed from K. Deighton's original work due to the suggestive content.
41. truckle-bed, properly a bed on wheels (Lat. troclea, a wheel)
which was used by attendants, and in the daytime wheeled under
the 'standing bed'; cp. M. W. iv. 5. 7; sometimes called a
'trundle-bed,' as the first quarto reads. In speaking of his bed
as a truckle bed, Mercutio probably means that any bed, even a
truckle-bed, would be better than a "field-bed," i.e. lying upon
the cold ground.
42. to sleep, sc. in.
44. Go, then, yes, let us go.
45. that means ... found, that is determined not to be found;
that 'means not-to-be found,' not that 'means-not to be found.'
How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan, 1916. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/romeo_2_1.html >.