From Romeo and Juliet. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan.
1. Holy Franciscan friar. "Friar Laurence and his associates
must be supposed to belong to the Franciscan order of friars. In
his kindliness, his learning, and his inclination to mix with and,
perhaps, control the affairs of the world he is no unapt representative of one of this distinguished order in its best days...
Warton says the Franciscans 'managed the machines of every
important operation or event, both in the religious and political
world'" (Knight). The Franciscan orders include the three
orders of the Minorites and all the less important associations
who trace their rule to St. Francis of Assisi. The rule originally
prescribed by St. Francis was very strict, and, rigidly enforced,
would have made all the members of the order pious beggars. It
soon became one of the most important of the medieval monastic
orders, and produced a long array of distinguished theologians
3, 4. what says ... letter. The two alternatives, if they had
exactly corresponded in form, would have been either 'tell me
what Romeo says, or, if he has written, let me see what his
letter contains,' or, 'what does Romeo say, or, if he has written,
what does he write? let me see his letter.'
5. a bare-foot brother, a member of our order, who, as our
rules enjoin, goes barefooted in his walks.
6, 7. to associate me ... sick, to accompany me in my visits to
the sick. "Each friar," says Steevens, "has always a companion
assigned him by the Superior [of the Monastery] when he asks
leave to go out; and thus, says Baretti, they are a check upon
each other." Cp. Webster, The Devil's Law-Case, iii. 3, "mischiefs are like the visits of Franciscan friars, They never come to
prey upon us single." Malone, though he afterwards withdrew
the conjecture, wished to transpose 11. 7 and 8. The construction is made sufficiently harsh by the nominative finding him
without any finite verb, but the searchers of the town clearly
goes with suspecting, not with visiting. For the participle used
with a nominative absolute, see Abb. § 376.
8. the searchers of the town, those appointed to find out what
houses were infected by the plague and to prevent all communication with them. Malone points out that in Romeus and Juliet
the plague is represented as raging at Verona, not at Mantua.
9. were in a house, belonged to a convent; house, i.e. religious
11. Seal'd up the doors, put the official seal upon the doors,
thus marking the house as one not to be entered from the outside
or quitted by its inmates.
12. So that ... stay'd, so that the haste I should have made to go to Mantua was prevented by my being confined there.
14. here it is again, I now return it to you.
16. they, the messengers I wished to employ.
17. by my brotherhood, I swear by my holy order.
18. nice, trivial, of slight importance; cp. above, iii. 1. 159: full of charge, of weighty consequence.
19. dear, precious, vital, important.
21. crow, crowbar; to wrench open the tomb; straight, immediately.
25. this three hours, see note on iv. 3. 40.
26. beshrew, reproach; literally 'curse.'
27. accidents, events, sc. the interruption of communication
owing to the plague.
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_2.html >.