From Romeo and Juliet. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan.
1. If I may ... sleep, if I may take for truth the encouraging
vision that sleep has shown me, a vision that, however, may be
merely illusive. A great deal has been written as to the contradiction of terms in flattering truth; but Romeo seems to
mean nothing more than that he hardly dares to trust a dream
so unexpectedly favourable to his hopes, just as, in ii. 2. 139-41,
Juliet says, "I am afraid, Being in night, all this is but a dream,
Too flattering-sweet to be substantial." The first quarto gives
'flattering eye,' which many editors adopt, explaining "the
visions with which my eye flattered me during sleep," or taking
'eye' for view, prospect. The conjectures are as numerous as
they generally are when there is no need for them, and include
'soother,' 'sooth of,' 'signs of,' 'toys of,' 'breath of,' 'birth of,'
'vouch of,' and, most monstrous of all, 'death of,' due to Collier's
3. My bosom's lord, my love; cp. T. N. ii. 4. 22, "It gives a
very echo to the seat Where Love is throned": in; on, as
4. an unaccustom'd spirit, a frame of mind different to that
which had been his ever since he began to love, and especially
different from that in which, i. 4. 106-11, he had presaged the
terrible consequences that actually follow.
5. Lifts me ... ground, makes me 'tread on air,' as we say.
6. I dreamt ... dead, cp. Juliet's foreboding, iii. 5. 55, 6.
7. that gives ... think, in which it is possible for a dead man to
8. in, within, into.
9. an emperor, not, I think, literally, but in the sense of the
happiest and most glorious of mortals.
10. possess'd, when actually enjoyed.
17. is well, is at peace in death; a frequent euphemism; cp.
ii. H. IV. V. 2.3, A. C. ii. 5. 33.
18. in Capel's monument, in the family vault of the Capulets;
for monument in this sense, cp. above, iii. 5. 203. As Malone
points out, Shakespeare found Capel and Capulet used indiscriminately in Romeus and Juliet.
21. took post, hurried off; literally mounted a post-horse.
"Post originally signified a fixed place, as a military post;
then, a fixed place on a line of road where horses are kept for
travelling, a stage, or station; thence it was transferred to the
person who travelled in this way, using relays of horses, and
finally to any quick traveller; Eastwood and Wright, Bible
Wordbook" (Skeat, Ety. Dict.). For the word = a post-horse,
cp. ii. H. IV. iv. 3. 40, "I have foundered (i.e. exhausted) nine
score and odd posts."
23. it, the task of bringing you news.
24. defy, renounce, reject, refuse to believe in you any longer.
Cp. K. J. iii. 4. 23, "I defy all counsel, all redress." The later
quartos and the folios give deny, the meaning of which would be
much the same.
27. have patience, compose yourself.
28, 9. do import ... misadventure, indicate some terrible purpose in your mind.
32. No matter, it does not matter, signify: get thee gone, see
note on iv. 1. 122.
33. those horses, sc. that I just now spoke of.
35. Let's see for means, let me consider how to find means to
effect my purpose.
38. a', see note on ii. 4. 120: noted, marked, noticed.
39. weeds, clothes; from "A.S. waede, neut., also waid, fem.,
a garment ... literally something which is wound or wrapped
round, exactly as 'weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in,' Shakespeare, M. N. D. ii. 1. 256" (Skeat, Ety. Dict.): overwhelming
brows, bushy, hanging, eyebrows; see note on "beetle-brows,"
above, i. 4. 32.
40. Culling of. For 'of' following a verbal noun, see Abb.
§ 178: meagre, thin and pinched.
41. to the bones, so that there was nothing left of him but
skin and bones; to expressing the result.
42. needy, scantily furnished: a tortoise, like the "alligator"
and "ill-shaped fishes," symbols of his profession formerly hung up in an apothecary's shop, just as nowadays we see the huge
bottles of coloured water in the windows of a chemist's shop.
43. alligator, the sharp-nosed crocodile, the magar of Indian
rivers as contrasted with the naryal, or snub-nosed crocodile;
literally 'the lizard,' i.e. the lizard par excellence, from Span, el,
the, Ar. al, and lagarto, lizard, Lat. lacerta.
44. ill-shaped, strange-shaped, and therefore more attractive
of notice: about his shelves, here and there on his shelves.
45. A beggarly account, a poor and scanty store.
47. old cakes of roses, dried petals of roses (sold for scenting
clothes, etc.) which had become caked together from so long
50. An if, see Abb. § 103.
51. Whose sale ... Mantua, the sale of which is in Mantua
punished with immediate death.
52. a caitiff wretch, a miserable creature; caitiff, from Lat.
captivus, a captive, prisoner, then a mean-looking, miserable,
being; now used as a substantive only: would, the relative
53. this same ... need, this thought of mine, as I now see, did
but anticipate the need in which I stand at this moment.
54. must, is destined to.
55. As I remember, if my memory is right: should be, ought
56. Being holiday, it being a holiday.
59. Hold, here, take: there is forty ducats, for the singular
inflection preceding a plural subject, see Abb. § 335; ducats, a
coin so called from the inscription it bore, "Sit tibi, Christe,
datus Quem tu regis iste Ducatus," Ducatus meaning a Duchy,
and thence a coin struck by a Duke. Its value seems to have
varied at different times from three shillings and fourpence to
four shillings and twopence.
60. A dram, here probably the amount in weight, i.e. the eighth part of an ounce; see note on iii. 5. 91; such ... gear,
such quickly operative stuff; for gear, see note on ii. 4. 89.
63. the trunk, the body; literally a piece cut off, from Lat.
truncus, maimed, mutilated; hence often for the body without
the limbs: discharged, freed, liberated; for the sake of the
simile from a cannon.
64. hasty, that blazes up eagerly on a spark being applied to
it. In J. C. iii. 4. 112, Shakespeare uses the epithet of fire
struck out of a flint and immediately vanishing; "O Cassius,
you are yoked with a lamb That carries anger as the flint bears
fire; Who, much enforced, shows a hasty spark, And straight is
66. mortal, fatal.
67. to any he, so he for him, Haml. i. 2. 104, "From the first
corse till he that died to-day," where till is a proposition: utters,
sells; "is a regular frequentative form of the M. E. outen, to put
out, and means to keep on putting out" ... (Skeat, Ety. Dict.);
so to 'utter' (i.e. circulate) spurious coin.
68. bare, sc, of all comforts.
69. And fear'st, and yet fear.
70. Need ... eyes, the hungry look in your eyes declares only
too plainly that want and oppression have brought you close to
starvation; stareth, stare in, and starteth have been conjectured
for starveth, but are immeasurably less forcible; Need and
oppression is little more than a hendiadys = oppressive need, and
the compound idea hence has a singular verb. See also Abb.
71. Contempt ... back, beggary, that subject of men's scorn,
shows itself in your tattered clothes. Here again the idea is
72. is not thy friend, does nothing to befriend you.
73. affords, furnishes.
76. I pay ... will, then consider that it is your poverty and not
your will that accepts this payment, and so satisfy your conscientious scruples; consider that your will is no free agent, it
being so completely under the constraint of poverty.
77. you will, you choose.
79. dispatch, a euphemism for 'kill.'
80. thy gold, the gold I offered you.
80-2. worse poison ... sell, cp. Timon's language when coming
upon gold as he digs for roots, Tim. iv. 3. 30 et seqq.
83. I sell thee ... none, compared to the gold you receive in
exchange, your drug is nothing of a poison.
84. get thyself in flesh, set yourself into good condition of
body, eat heartily and put on flesh.
85. cordial, used of anything that comforts and gladdens the
heart; Lat. cordi-, from cor, heart, with suffix -alis: go with me,
as if he were addressing some familiar friend.
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_5_1.html >.