From Romeo and Juliet. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan.
2. abroad, out in the town.
4. For now, ... stirring, for in these hot days men's passion
bursts out into fury. According to Johnson, it is observed that
in Italy almost all assassinations take place in the summer.
6. claps me, see Abb. § 220.
7, 8. by the operation ... cup, by the time his second draught
has begun to work upon him: the drawer, the waiter who draws
the wine from the casks.
11. a Jack, see note on ii. 4. 121.
12, 3. and as soon ... be moved, and as soon provoked to be ill-tempered, and as soon in the mood to be provoked.
15. two such, Mercutio pretends to take Benvolio's 'what to'
for 'which two.'
20. hazel eyes, eyes of the colour of the hazel-nut, light brown.
22. beaten as addle, beaten till it becomes as addled; addle more properly addled, is literally diseased, from A.S. adl, disease, but used of an egg when it will not hatch.
30. the fee-simple, the most absolute property; an estate in
fee-simple is the greatest estate or interest which the law of
England allows any person to possess in landed property, cp.
A. W. iv. 3. 312, "Sir, for a quart d'ecu he will sell the fee-simple
of his salvation, the inheritance of it."
32. O simple! foolish fellow.
37. And but one ... us? and is that all you want with us?
38. make it ... blow, couple the 'word' with a 'blow'; a
reference to the phrase "a word and a blow," i.e. readiness to
follow up an angry word by a blow.
41. Could you not ... giving? could you not find occasion for a
quarrel without waiting for some provocation?
42. consort'st with, are a friend, companion of.
43. Consort, an old term for a company of musicians; cp. T. G.
iii. 2. 84, "Visit by night your lady's chamber-window With
some sweet consort."
45. my fiddlestick, i.e. his sword with which he will play a
tune on them that will make them dance to get out of its way.
Cp. Faulconbridge's scornful use of "toasting-fork" for "sword."
K. J. iv. 3. 99.
46. 'Zounds, a corruption of "God's wounds," i.e. the wounds
of Christ when crucified, often spelled 'sounds; so 'sblood for
"God's blood," 'sbody for "God's body," etc.
49. And reason ... grievances, and discuss in temperate language
the matter in dispute, the cause of complaint you have against
each other. The old copies give "Or reason," the word being
probably caught from the line below; and is Capell's emendation.
50. depart, part, separate; cp. Cymb. i. 1. 108, "The loathness to depart would grow."
52. budge, stir a step; F. bouger, to stir; for the emphatic
double negative, see Abb. § 406.
53. my man, he whom I am in search of.
54. But I'll ... livery, but assuredly he does not belong to the
same household with you; pretending to take man in the sense
of 'servant,' as two lines below.
55. Marry, ... follower, I'll swear he will be ready enough to
follow you to the field of combat, if you care to show him the
way; for the definite article omitted in adverbial phrases, see
Abb. § 90.
56. Your worship, said ironically.
57. the hate. This is the reading of the first quarto; the remaining quartos and the folios give "the love," which some
editors prefer. But an antithesis to Romeo's emphatic "love,"
two lines lower, seems to be plainly intended.
57, 8. can afford ... this, will not allow me to use any better
60, 1. the appertaining ... greeting, the rage which would
otherwise belong to, be the necessary consequence of, such an
insolent address; for other instances of transposition of adjectival phrases, see Abb. § 419a.
63. Boy, used as a term of contempt, and not necessarily indicating seniority in the speaker; the injuries, the insult you
have put upon me (in coming uninvited to Capulet's feast); for
injuries, in this sense, cp. iii. H. VI. iv. 1. 107, "But what said
Warwick to these injuries?" i.e. the insulting words used by the
66. devise, imagine, conceive.
68. tender, hold dearly, cherish; F. tendre, adjective, tender.
71. Alla ... away, an appeal to the sword wins the day; stoccata
is the Italian term for a thrust of a sword, and Alla means 'to
the,' the phrase being equivalent to our 'Come on,' said as a
challenge. I take the line to refer to Romeo's declining the
combat, as though Mercutio had said 'See, a challenge is enough
to cow Romeo,' not to refer to what Mercutio himself is going to
do, i.e. fight with Tybalt. The stage direction in the margin,
Draws, is not found in the old copies, but was first inserted by
Capell, and is perhaps not necessary. For carries it away, cp.
Haml. ii. 2, 377, "Do the boys carry it away?" i.e. get the
better in the contest, win the day.
72. rat-catcher. See note on ii. 4. 18: will you walk? will you
go with me to a spot where we can decide our differences by the
74. your nine lives, in allusion to the nine lives that a cat is
said to have.
75. to make bold withal, to take the liberty of ending.
75, 6. and, as you shall ... eight, and according as opportunity
serves, to cudgel soundly the remaining eight; as you shall use
me, according as you treat me when I have put an end to one of
your nine lives, i.e. unless I find you more than a match for me,
which I have no fear of; for dry-beat, cp. below, iv. 5. 126, "I
will dry-beat you with an iron wit"; and C. E. ii. 2. 63, "Lest
it make you choleric and purchase me another dry basting"; the
idea being that of beating something moist until all the moisture
is expelled from it.
77. pilcher, scabbard; probably for pilch, a leathern garment,
a garment made of skins; Lat. pelliceus, made of skins. The
word is not found elsewhere in this sense, and it has been conjectured that the final -er is a printer's addition, or a mistake for
pilch, sir; so Dekker, Satiromastix, "how thou amblest in
leather pilch by a play-waggon": ears, hilts, which stood out
from the blade as ears do from the head; used also for the
handles of a jug, as in T. S. iv. 4. 52, "Pitchers have ears," with
77, 8. lest mine ... out, lest you find mine a good deal too close
to your head before you have drawn your sword.
79. I am for you, I am ready to meet you.
81. your passado, let me see you make a thrust, a pass; see
above, ii. 4. 26.
83. for shame, you ought to be ashamed of yourselves.
85. bandying, exchanging of blows, fighting; see note on
ii. 5. 14.
Stage Direction, under Romeo's arm, i.e. Romeo having
rushed between them to part them. Tybalt aims a blow at
Mercutio, the sword passing under Romeo's arm.
87. I am sped, I am done for, my business is settled: cp. M. V.
ii. 9. 72, "So be gone: you are sped," i.e. you have got your dismissal. The original sense of 'speed' is 'success,' then 'a hasty
88. and hath nothing, without any hurt.
90. villain, not used in the same strong sense as at present;
the original meaning being 'a farm-servant'; here = 'you rogue,'
said good humouredly.
94. a grave man. With a pun on 'grave' = tomb, a pun which
Marston borrows in The Insatiate Countess, v. 2. 65: tomorrow.
In Italy, as in all hot climates, the funeral follows closely upon
death: I am peppered, ... world, as regards this world I am
finished off; cp. i. H. IV. ii. 4. 212, "I have peppered two of
them; two I am sure I have paid, two rogues in buckram suits."
96, 7. a dog ... death! to think that I should meet my death
at the hands of a wretched fellow like Tybalt!
97, 8. that fights ... arithmetic, that is a mere calculating
assassin; referring to the fact that Tybalt had taken the opportunity of Romeo's being between them to aim a cowardly blow
at him and then to fly.
98, 9. Why the devil ... arm, i.e. if you had not so officiously
interfered, I should have killed him instead of his killing me.
100. I thought ... best, I did what I thought was for the best.
103. I have it, I am done for; like the Lat. habet, he has it,
said when a fatal blow was given in the gladiatorial shows at
Rome; see note on ii. 4. 24.
104. your houses! curse your families, and their quarrels
which have brought me to this pass! On Merciitio's death
Hallam remarks, "It seems to have been necessary to keep down
the other characters that they might not overpower the principal
one; and though we can by no means agree with Dryden, that if
Shakespeare had not killed Mercutio, Mercutio would have
killed him, there might have been some danger of his killing
Romeo. His brilliant vivacity shows the softness of the other a
little to a disadvantage." For more information please click here.
105. near ally, near relation; in the dramatis personae he is
described as a "kinsman of the prince."
106. My very friend, my true, close, friend.
108. Tybalt's slander. His slanderous accusation in 1.59 above.
108, 9. that an hour ... kinsman, who, by my marriage with
Juliet, has only just become my kinsman.
111. And in my ... steel, and melted the courage of my temperament. Though here the result is that of softening, there is in
my temper probably an allusion to the tempering of steel, i.e.
hardening by cooling it.
113. hath aspired the clouds, has been wafted to heaven; for
aspire without a preposition, Malone quotes Marlowe's Tamberlaine, "And both our souls asipire celestial thrones." So Faire Em, i. 68, "And to aspire that bliss ... Thyself and I will travel
in disguise"; for prepositions omitted after verbs of motion,
see Abb. § 198.
114. Which too ... earth, prematurely scorning to remain on
115. doth depend, hangs over like an ominous cloud, and presages other evils to come.
116. others, other calamities.
119. respective lenity, gentleness that pays any respect to, has
any regard for, considerations of kinsmanship; for respective,
cp. K. J. i. 1. 188, "'Tis too respective and too sociable for your
120. my conduct, my guiding principle; cp. below, v. 3. 116,
"Come, bitter conduct, come unsavoury guide," said of the
poison Romeo is about to drink.
121. take ... again, I hurl back in your teeth the word 'villain'
with which just now you slandered me.
122-4. for Mercutio's soul ... company. Cp. H. V. iv. 6. 15-7,
"Tarry, dear cousin Suffolk! My soul shall thine keep company
to heaven; Tarry, sweet soul, for mine, then fly abreast," said by
York on Suffolk's death in battle.
126. consort, accompany.
127. Shalt with him, shall accompany him.
129. are up, are in a state of commotion.
130. will doom thee death, will condemn you to death.
132. fortune's fool, the sport of fortune; cp. i. H. IV. v. 4. 81,
"But thought's the slave of life, and life's time's fool. "
135. Up, sir, come along, make haste; cp. M. W. iii. 3. 179,
"Up, gentlemen, you shall see some sport anon: follow me,
136. obey, to obey; dependent on I charge thee.
138. discover, show, relate.
139. manage, course and conduct.
144. as thou art true, I call upon you in the name of your
149. spoke him fair, used fair words to him, tried to turn away
his wrath by conciliatory words.
150. nice, trivial, petty; R. III. iii. 7. 175, "But the respects
thereof are nice, and trivial."
150, 1. urged withal ... displeasure, and further pointed out
how by quarrelling they would incur your deep displeasure.
153. take truce with, obtain peace; cp. K. J. iii. 1. 17, "With
my vex'd spirits I cannot take a truce."
154. but that he tilts, and prevent him from tilting.
156. all as hot, equally passionate.
157, 8. beats ... aside, put aside, foils, the deadly thrust of
159, 60. whose dexterity ... it, who dexterously turns it back
upon him: Romeo he, for the redundant pronoun after a proper
name, see Abb. § 243.
164. envious, malignant: hit the life ... Mercutio, mortally
167. Who had ... revenge, into whose breast the thought of
revenge had only just entered, i.e. on hearing of Mercutio's death.
173. Affection makes him false, his love for Romeo and his
friend Mercutio makes him partial in his story.
174, 5. Some twenty ... life, i.e. it was no fair fight as Benvolio
would make out, but a treacherous attack made upon Tybalt by
a number of Romeo's followers.
179. Who now ... owe? who must be made to pay the price of his
181. His fault ... end, his fault (in taking upon him to avenge
Mercutio's death instead of leaving punishment to the law) has
merely ended that life which would have been cut short by the
ordinary course of justice.
184. I have ... proceeding, the course which the hatred between
you has taken has affected me personally.
185. My blood, he who was my blood relation; cp. J. C. i. 1. 56,
"And do you now strew flowers in his way That comes in triumph
over Pompey's blood?" i.e. Pompey's sons: a-bleeding, the prefix
is the preposition on, i.e. in the act of bleeding; as in Oth. iv. 1. 188,
"I would have him nine years a-killing." See Abb. § 24.
186. amerce, fine, mulct, punish; Lat. merces, reward, used in
the sense of punishment: strong, heavy, powerful in the effect it
187. the loss. Allen conjectures 'this loss.'
189. purchase out, buy out, redeem; so K. J. iii. 1. 164,
"Dreading the curse that money may buy out"; out having the
intensive force of doing a thing completely.
192. attend our will, be observant of our decision.
193. pardoning, when it pardons.
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_3_1.html >.