From Romeo and Juliet. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan.
3. And I ... haste, and I am in nothing dilatory so as to hinder
his haste in concluding the marriage.
4. the lady's mind, how Juliet is inclined as to the marriage.
5. Uneven is the course, this way of proceeding is far from
regular, is not one that can be commended as the proper one.
The Friar, having married Romeo and Juliet, is of course bound
to put all possible objections in the way of a marriage with Paris.
7. little ... love, said little to her about my passionate love.
8. house, household; probably, from the mention of Venus,
there is also an allusion to the term as used in astrology of that
sign of the Zodiac in which a planet happens to be at a particular
time. So Massinger, The City Madam, ii. 1. 59, "Venus in the
west angle, the house of marriage"; and again, 79, 84, 5, "Venus
... in cazimi of the sun, in her joy, and free from the malevolent
beams of infortunes"; Jonson, The Alchemist, i. 1, "to Mercury
... His house of life being Libra."
9, 10. counts it ... sway, is afraid that if her grief is allowed to
hold such complete possession of her, is not diverted by some
event of importance, it may lead to a disastrous result, i.e. either
by her going out of her mind or by her doing herself some personal
13. too much ... alone, wholly occupying her thoughts so long
as she is left by herself; tears in the line above implies 'grief,'
to which word minded is more applicable.
14. May be ... society, may be removed by her taking part in
16. I would ... slow'd, I only wish I did not know too good
reason why matters should be delayed.
19. That may be ... wife, it will be time enough to say that when
I am a (i.e. your) wife, if ever I am to be so.
20. That may be ... next, what you talk of as a possibility will
be a certainty by Thursday next.
23. To answer that, by answering that, if I were to answer
that; the infinitive used indefinitely.
25. I will ... him, if I cannot admit to him that I love you, at
all events I may admit to you that I love him (which I dare say
will do just as well).
28. spoke. On the curtailed forms of past participles, see
Abb. § 343.
29. abused, ill-treated, i.e. disfigured.
32. than tears, sc. do.
34. to my face. With a play on the phrase in the sense of
openly, not behind the back.
36. It may ... own, it may be that I have slandered it, for it
belongs to another (of course Romeo), and what I might have
said of it without injury to any one so long as it belonged to myself, becomes now injurious.
38. at evening mass. Shakespeare has been supposed to make
a mistake here, mass being said only in the morning when the
priest is fasting; but Simpson has shown (New Shakespeare
Transactions, 1875) that the practice of saying mass in the afternoon was continued at certain places even after it had been
expressly forbidden by Pius the Fifth, and that, at the Cathedral
of Verona, strangely enough, so late as 1824 the prohibition of
evening mass was disregarded.
40. we must ... alone, we must ask you to leave us in private
for the present; an elliptical expression for 'entreat of you to
give us the time alone,' i.e. to ourselves.
41. God shield, heaven forbid! i.e. I would not on any account
disturb, etc.; cp. A. W. i. 3. 174, "God shield you mean it
not!"; M. M. iii. 1. 141, "Heaven shield my mother play'd my
42. rouse ye, come early to your chamber to take you to church.
46. thy grief, your cause of grief, your trouble.
47. It strains ... wits, it is so great that it paralyses my wits to
find a remedy.
48. prorogue, delay, postpone; see note on ii. 2. 78.
53. Do thou but ... wise, all I ask is that you should sanction
with your approval my determination to kill myself.
54. this knife. Dyce quotes Gilford's note on Jonson's The
Staple of News, ii. 1, "Daggers, or, as they were more commonly
called, knives, were worn at all times, by every woman in
England — whether they were so in Italy, Shakspeare, I believe,
never enquired, and I cannot tell": help it, prevent my marriage
57. the label, the attestation; the seals to ancient documents
were attached to them by slips of parchment or 'labels'; cp.
T. N. i. 5. 265, "it shall be inventoried, and every particle and
utensil labelled to my will," i.e. attached by labels as seals were.
59. both, sc. heart and hand.
60. out of ... time, out of the accumulated experience of a long
life-time; out of indicates the heap from which the particular
piece of advice is to be taken.
62. extremes, extremity of suffering: bloody, cruel, ready to
shed blood; not yet stained with blood but which will be so stained by my deed; a somewhat similar prolepsis occurs in
K. J. iv. 2. 210, "To break with in the bloody house of life," i.e.
the house of life which will by the action be made bloody.
63. Shall play the umpire, shall decide between me and my
miseries, decide whether they are to continue to torture me, or
whether I am to overcome them by putting an end to myself.
63-5. arbitrating ... bring, determining that matter which the
authority of your years and knowledge was unable to bring to
any honourable issue; deciding that question to which you with
all the warrant of long years and wide experience were unable to
give a satisfactory answer, not the question whether she is to
live or die, but whether it is possible for her to live with honour.
66. to speak, in speaking: I long, with a play on long in so
long to speak.
67. If what ... remedy, if what you suggest is not of the nature
of a remedy.
69. Which craves ... execution, to carry out which demands
action as desperate.
71. If. ie. if, as you say you have.
74. to chide ... shame, literally to scare away this disgrace by
reproachful words, i.e. to get rid of, escape, this disgrace.
75. That cop'st with death, you who are ready to encounter
death; the original sense of 'to cope' is 'to bargain with,' then
'to vie with.'
78. yonder. The reading of the first quarto, the remaining
copies giving any, which some editors prefer as being more
79. thievish ways, ways in which I am likely to meet with
81. charnel-house, house of the dead, sepulchre; from O. F.
carnel, carnal, Lat. caro, flesh.
82. O'er-cover'd, strewed all over: rattling, sc. in the wind.
83. reeky shanks, legs steaming with putrefaction: chapless,
with their jaws no longer adhering to the rest of the skull, those
jaws being attached only by a cartilage which has been eaten
away by worms.
85. shroud, the garment in which it is customary to wrap the
corpse; closely allied with shred, i.e. a strip, a piece torn or
86. Things ... tremble, which are things that have made me
shudder merely to hear them spoken about.
91. look that ... alone, take care to sleep alone.
92. Let not ... chamber, it being customary for attendants to
sleep in the same chamber; see note on ii. 1. 39.
93. being then in bed, as soon as you have got into bed.
96. A cold ... humour, a feeling of coldness and drowsiness.
96, 7. for no pulse ... surcease, for the pulse throughout your
body shall no longer beat with its usual activity, but shall stop;
his, its, see Abb. § 228; surcease is from F. sursis, the p. p. of
surseoir, to pause, intermit, and has nothing to do with our cease,
though Shakespeare always uses the verb surcease as a synonym
of that word, and the substantive probably as = cessation (to be)
in Macb. i.7.4.
100. paly, palish; the termination -y having a modifying
force: thy eyes' windows, your eyelids; 'window' being used by
Shakespeare in regard to eyes rather as that which shuts out the
light rather than that which admits it; so Cymb ii. 2. 22,
"would under-peep her lids, To see the enclosed lights, now
canopied Under these windows."
101. the day of life, that which gives light to life.
102. deprived ... government, deprived of that control which
renders it supple, pliant; supple really belongs to the effect not
to the cause.
103. stark, rigid.
105. forty. Maginn would read fifty. "Juliet," he remarks,
"retires to bed on Tuesday night at a somewhat early hour.
Her mother says, after she departs, ''Tis now near night.' Say
it is eleven o'clock; forty-two hours from that hour bring us to
five o'clock in the evening of Thursday; and yet we find the
time of her awakening fixed in profound darkness, and not long
before the dawn. We should allow at least ten hours more, and
read 'two and fifty hours,' which would fix her awakening at three
o'clock in the morning, a time which has been marked in a former
scene as the approach of day. In iv. 4. 4, Capulet says, ''tis
three o'clock.' Immediately after he says 'Good faith, 'tis day.'
This observation may appear superfluously minute, but those
who take the pains of reading the play critically will find that it
is dated throughout with a most exact attention to hours. We
can time almost every event." Shakespeare no doubt followed
the story of Rhomeo and Julietta as told in Painter's Palace of
Pleasure, vol. iii. p. 109, Jacob's edn., where the words are "and
you [shall] abide in such extasie the space of 40 hours at the
108. there art thou dead, there they will find you, to all
109-12. Then as the manner ... lie. This custom of carrying
the dead to the grave "uncover'd on the bier" is described
in Brooke's Romeus and Juliet, and still prevails in Italy.
Knight quotes from Roger's Italy, "And lying on her funeral
couch Like one asleep, her eyelids closed, her hands Folded
together on her modest breast As 'twere her nightly posture,
through the crowd She came at last — and richly, gaily clad, As
for a birthday feast."
113. against ... awake, in anticipation of your awaking.
114. our drift, our purpose; literally that which is driven, and
so the course.
116. watch your waking, watch for the moment of your waking.
119. inconstant toy, freak of caprice; cp. Oth. iii. 4. 156,
"Pray heaven it be state-matters, as you think, And no conception nor no jealous toy Concerning you." Malone points out that
the phrase in the text is from the poem, Romeus and Juliet.
121. tell not me of, do not talk to me about fear, do not
imagine that fear will make me shrink.
122. get you gone, see note on iv. 4. 30.
125. help, a remedy for my misery.
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_4_1.html >.