From Romeo and Juliet. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan.
3. that's not so, it is impossible that that should be the case.
4. O, she is lame, not literally, but in comparison with what a
messenger of love should be.
6. Driving ... hills. It is perhaps doubtful whether this means
'when they drive back shadows beyond frowning hills and so
cause them to disappear'; or 'when they drive back shadows
that rest upon the frowning hills'; lour is said to be connected
with leer, M. E. lere, A.S. hleor, the cheek, hence the face, look.
7. doves, sacred to Venus; cp. M. N. D. i. 1. 171, "By the
simplicity of Venus' doves"; M. V. ii. 6. 5, "O, ten times faster
Venus' pigeons fly To seal love's bonds new-made"; also V. A.
8. wind-swift, swift as the wind; cp. T. C. iv. 2. 14, "wings
more momentary-swift than thought."
9, 10. upon the highmost ... journey, at its zenith; journey, is
in itself literally a day's travel.
12. affections, passions; the warm feelings which youth and
14. bandy. A metaphor very common in Shakespeare and the
old dramatists from the game of tennis in which the ball is banded
or bandied, i.e. struck forwards and backwards, from each end of
the court; the origin of the word is obscure: love, the concrete,
lover, while in the next line the word is used in the abstract.
16. But old ... dead, but old folks, like my Nurse, do many of
them behave as if they had no life at all in their limbs. The
reading of the old copies is fain or faine; feign is Johnson's conjecture. After old folks there is a slight aposiopesis, Juliet qualifying her statement by the word many, and there seems
no difficulty in feign ... dead in the sense of 'pretend they
have no life, no strength in them for the duty they have to do.'
Dyce conjectured that the 'copy' of the printer of the second
quarto had more yfaith and was corrupted by him into many
17. pale as lead. Here it is objected that lead is not pale,
and dull has been suggested in its place; but lead in its original
state is of an ashy colour, and the epithet pale is applied to it by
18. honey, sweet, darling; also used as a substantive in this
sense, Oth. ii. 1. 206.
22. news, frequently used by Shakespeare as a plural noun,
like the F. nouvelles, of which it is a translation; so Lat. nova,
new things, i.e. news.
24. By playing ... face, by giving voice to it with the accompaniment of so sour a face.
25. a-weary. The a- represents a corruption of the A.S. intensive of, thoroughly, as in 'afeard,' 'an-hungered,' etc.: give me
leave, excuse me.
26. what a jaunce ... had! what a hunt I have had to find him!
cp. below 1. 53, and R. II. v. 5. 94, "Spurr'd, gall'd and tired by
jauncing (i.e. hard riding) Bolingbroke." The word is from the
F. jancer; Cotgrave gives "Jancer un cheval. To stir an horse
in the stables till he sweat withal"; connected with our jaunt.
34. Is longer ... excuse, takes longer to tell than the tale would
which you make excuses for not telling.
36. I'll stay the circumstance, I will wait for the details.
38. you have made ... choice, this is a pretty choice you have
made in choosing Romeo for a husband; simple, foolish.
39. no, not he, he's not the sort of man you ought to have
39, 40. though his face ... men's. The Nurse pretending or intending to qualify her complimentary estimate by some detraction, only intensifies her praise.
41, 2. not to be talked on, not worth speaking about; on for
of, as frequently in colloquial language: compare, comparison;
frequent in Shakespeare as a substantive.
43. flower of courtesy, as in ii. 4. 56 we had "pink of courtesy."
44. Go thy ways, here ways is not the plural, but the old
genitive used adverbially, on your way.
44, 5. have you ... home? is dinner over?
48. what a head, i.e. aching head.
50. My back ... side, perhaps means 'and my back, too, how it
51. Beshrew, a mild form of imprecation, to shrew meaning to
52. jaunting, see above, 1. 26.
59. Where should she be? where else do you expect her to be?
61. O God's lady dear, O, by the blessed Virgin!
62. so hot, so eager, so impatient; marry, come up, a vulgar
phrase of reproof or impatience: I trow, literally 'I trust,'
'believe,' but often used to express surprise or indignation.
63. Is this ... bones? Is this how you reward me for all my
65. Here's such a coil! what a fuss you make of the matter!
coil is frequently used by Shakespeare in the sense of bustle, stir,
turmoil. "Like nmny half-slang words," says Skeat, "it is
Celtic. Gaelic goil, boiling, fume, battle, rage, fury"... .
68. hie you, hasten.
71. They'll be ... news, you have such a guilty conscience (sc.
as to having given your love to Romeo) that anything is enough
to call up a blush into your cheek.
75. in your delight, in order that you may reap the benefit,
that you may enjoy happiness, while I profit nothing by my pains.
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_5.html >.