Romeo and Juliet: Act 1, Scene 1


Duelling with sword and buckler.


    Enter SAMPSON and GREGORY, with swords
    and bucklers, of the house of Capulet
.

      SAMPSON
1. carry coals: i.e., endure insults, put up with crap.
  1   Gregory, o' my word, we'll not carry coals.

      GREGORY
2. colliers: coal miners.
  2   No, for then we should be colliers.

      SAMPSON
3. and: if. | in choler: angry. | draw: i.e., draw our swords.
  3   I mean, and we be in choler, we'll draw.

      GREGORY
4-5. Ay, while you live, draw your neck out of collar: i.e., you'll be lucky if you live your life without being hanged. Gregory uses "collar" as slang for "hangman's noose."
  4   Ay, while you live, draw your neck out of
  5   collar.

      SAMPSON
6. mov'd: angered.
  6   I strike quickly, being mov'd.

      GREGORY
7. mov'd: motivated.
  7   But thou art not quickly mov'd to strike.

      SAMPSON
8. A dog of the house of Montague moves me: i.e., just seeing any S.O.B. of the house of Montague angers me.
  8   A dog of the house of Montague moves me.

      GREGORY
9. stand: make a stand. But Gregory then makes a joke out of the fact that "stand" also means "stand still."
  9   To move is to stir; and to be valiant is to stand:
 10   therefore, if thou art moved, thou runn'st away.

      SAMPSON
 11   A dog of that house shall move me to stand! I will
12. take the wall: The part of a street closest to the wall was always cleaner. To force someone else out into the horse dung zone was an insult.
 12   take the wall of any man or maid of Montague's.

      GREGORY
13-14. the weakest goes to the wall: the weakest are always trampled by the powerful (proverbial).
 13   That shows thee a weak slave; for the weakest
 14   goes to the wall.

      SAMPSON
15. weaker vessels:
 15   'Tis true, and therefore women, being the weaker
 16   vessels, are ever thrust to the wall; therefore I
 17   will push Montague's men from the wall, and
 18   thrust his maids to the wall.

      GREGORY
19. The quarrel   . . .   men: i.e., the quarrel is between men only: the masters, supported by their men. Perhaps Gregory is shocked that Sampson would think of attacking women.
 19   The quarrel is between our masters and us their
 20   men.

      SAMPSON
21. one the same.
 21   'Tis all one, I will show myself a tyrant: when I
 22   have fought with the men, I will be civil with the
 23   maids, and cut off their heads.

      GREGORY
 24   The heads of the maids?

      SAMPSON
25. maidenheads: hymens.
 25   Ay, the heads of the maids, or their maidenheads;
26. take it in what sense thou wilt: take it anyway you want.
 26   take it in what sense thou wilt.

      GREGORY
27. take it in sense: feel it with the physical senses.
 27   They must take it in sense that feel it.

      SAMPSON
28. stand: With a pun on the meaning, "have an erection."
 28   Me they shall feel while I am able to stand, and
 29   'tis known I am a pretty piece of flesh.

      GREGORY
30. if thou hadst, thou hadst been poor-John:
31. tool: weapon (with another bawdy pun).
 30   'Tis well thou art not fish; if thou hadst, thou
 31   hadst been poor-John. Draw thy tool! here comes
 32   two of the house of the Montagues.

    Enter two other servingmen
     [ABRAHAM and BALTHASAR].

      SAMPSON
33. naked weapon: unsheathed sword (with yet another bawdy pun). | Quarrel: (If you) quarrel.
 33   My naked weapon is out. Quarrel, I will back
 34   thee.

      GREGORY
 35   How! turn thy back and run?

      SAMPSON
36. Fear me not: have no fears about me.
 36   Fear me not.

      GREGORY
37. marry: indeed. | I fear thee!: I would never be afraid of you! Gregory is deliberately misinterpreting Sampson's previous "Fear me not."
 37   No, marry; I fear thee!

      SAMPSON
38. Let us take the law of our sides: Let's keep the law on our side.
 38   Let us take the law of our sides;
 39   let them begin.

      GREGORY
 40   I will frown as I pass by, and let them take it as
41. list: like.
 41   they list.

      SAMPSON
42. bite my thumb at them: To bite one's thumb at someone was an obscene insult.
 42   Nay, as they dare. I will bite my thumb at them;
 43   which is a disgrace to them, if they bear it.

      ABRAHAM
 44   Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

      SAMPSON
 45   I do bite my thumb, sir.

      ABRAHAM
 46   Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

      SAMPSON   [Aside to Gregory.]
 47   Is the law of our side, if I say
 48   ay?

      GREGORY   [Aside to Sampson.]
 49   No.

      SAMPSON
 50   No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir,
 51   but I bite my thumb, sir.

      GREGORY
 52   Do you quarrel, sir?

      ABRAHAM
 53   Quarrel sir! no, sir.

      SAMPSON
 54   If you do, sir, I am for you: I serve as good
 55   a man as you.

      ABRAHAM
 56   No better?

      SAMPSON
 57   Well, sir.

    Enter BENVOLIO.

      GREGORY
 58   Say "better," here comes one of my master's kinsmen.

      SAMPSON
 60   Yes, better, sir.

      ABRAHAM
 61   You lie.

      SAMPSON
 62   Draw, if you be men. Gregory, remember thy
63. washing blow: swashing, slashing sword-stroke.
 63   washing blow.

           They fight.

      BENVOLIO
 64   Part, fools!
 65   Put up your swords; you know not what you do.

           [Beats down their swords.]
           Enter TYBALT.

      TYBALT
66. heartless hinds: cowardly servants.
 66   What, art thou drawn among these heartless hinds?
 67   Turn thee, Benvolio, look upon thy death.

      BENVOLIO
 68   I do but keep the peace. Put up thy sword,
 69   Or manage it to part these men with me.

      TYBALT
 70   What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word,
 71   As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee.
72. Have at thee: here I come at you.
 72   Have at thee, coward!

           [They fight.]
stage direction: partisans: broad-headed spears.
           Enter three or four CITIZENS with clubs or
           partisans.

      Citizens
73. Clubs ... partisans: rallying cry, calling apprentices into action against gentlemen. Bills and partisans are polearms.

 73   Clubs, bills, and partisans! strike! beat them down!
 74   Down with the Capulets! down with the Montagues!

           Enter old CAPULET in his gown, and his
           wife
[LADY CAPULET].

      CAPULET
 75   What noise is this? Give me my long sword, ho!

      LADY CAPULET
 76   A crutch, a crutch! why call you for a sword?

      CAPULET
 77   My sword, I say! Old Montague is come,
78. spite: defiance.
 78   And flourishes his blade in spite of me.

           Enter old MONTAGUE and his wife
           [LADY MONTAGUE].

      MONTAGUE
 79   Thou villain Capulet!—Hold me not, let me go.

      LADY MONTAGUE
 80   Thou shalt not stir a foot to seek a foe.

    Enter PRINCE ESCALUS with his TRAIN.

      PRINCE
 81   Rebellious subjects, enemies to peace,
82. Profaners of this neighbor-stained steel:
 82   Profaners of this neighbor-stained steel—
 83   Will they not hear? What, ho! you men, you beasts
 84   That quench the fire of your pernicious rage
85. purple: crimson.
 85   With purple fountains issuing from your veins,
 86   On pain of torture, from those bloody hands
87. mistempered:
88. moved: furious.
 87   Throw your mistemper'd weapons to the ground,
 88   And hear the sentence of your moved prince.
89. airy: unsubstantial.
 89   Three civil brawls, bred of an airy word,
 90   By thee, old Capulet, and Montague,
 91   Have thrice disturb'd the quiet of our streets,
92. ancient: elderly.
93. Cast by their grave beseeming ornaments:
95. Canker'd with peace, to part your canker'd hate: rusted with (disuse during) peace, to share your malignant hate.
 92   And made Verona's ancient citizens
 93   Cast by their grave beseeming ornaments,
 94   To wield old partisans, in hands as old,
 95   Canker'd with peace, to part your canker'd hate;
 96   If ever you disturb our streets again,
 97   Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace.
 98   For this time, all the rest depart away:
 99   You Capulet; shall go along with me:
100   And, Montague, come you this afternoon,
101   To know our further pleasure in this case,
102. Free-town: | common: public.
102   To old Free-town, our common judgment-place.
103   Once more, on pain of death, all men depart.

           Exeunt [all but Montague,
           Lady Montague, and Benvolio].

      MONTAGUE
104. abroach: open, fiowing (as of a barrel of liquor).
104   Who set this ancient quarrel new abroach?
105   Speak, nephew, were you by when it began?

      BENVOLIO
106   Here were the servants of your adversary,
107. ere: before.
107   And yours, close fighting ere I did approach:
108   I drew to part them: in the instant came
109   The fiery Tybalt, with his sword prepared,
110   Which, as he breathed defiance to my ears,
111   He swung about his head and cut the winds,
112. nothing: not at all. | withal: by that.
112   Who nothing hurt withal hiss'd him in scorn.
113   While we were interchanging thrusts and blows,
114. on part and part: on one side or the other.
115. either part: both sides.
114   Came more and more and fought on part and part,
115   Till the prince came, who parted either part.

      LADY MONTAGUE
116   O, where is Romeo? saw you him to-day?
117   Right glad I am he was not at this fray.

      BENVOLIO
118   Madam, an hour before the worshipp'd sun
119   Peer'd forth the golden window of the east,
120   A troubled mind drave me to walk abroad;
121. sycamore: associated with melancholy lovers, who are "sick-amour." 122. this city side: the side of this city.
121   Where, underneath the grove of sycamore
122   That westward rooteth from this city side,
123   So early walking did I see your son:
124. ware: (1) aware; (2) wary.
124   Towards him I made, but he was ware of me
125   And stole into the covert of the wood:
126. affections: inclinations.
127. most sought where most might not be found:
126   I, measuring his affections by my own,
127   Which then most sought where most might
          not be found,
128   Being one too many by my weary self,
129. Pursued my humour not pursuing his: indulged my own mood by not following him and inquiring about his mood. 130. who: him who.
129   Pursued my humour not pursuing his,
130   And gladly shunn'd who gladly fled from me.

      MONTAGUE
131   Many a morning hath he there been seen,
132   With tears augmenting the fresh morning dew,
133   Adding to clouds more clouds with his deep sighs;
134. all so: just as.
134   But all so soon as the all-cheering sun
135   Should in the furthest east begin to draw
136. Aurora: 137. heavy: sad, melancholy.
136   The shady curtains from Aurora's bed,
137   Away from the light steals home my heavy son,
138   And private in his chamber pens himself,
139   Shuts up his windows, locks fair daylight out
140   And makes himself an artificial night:
141. Black and portentous must this humor prove: this mood must turn out to be dangerous and full of portent [of something worse to come]. 142. good counsel: good advice, counseling.
141   Black and portentous must this humor prove,
142   Unless good counsel may the cause remove.

      BENVOLIO
143   My noble uncle, do you know the cause?

      MONTAGUE
144   I neither know it nor can learn of him.

      BENVOLIO
145. Have you importuned him by any means?: Have you earnestly requested him [to talk—to reveal his secret] in any way?
145   Have you importuned him by any means?

      MONTAGUE
146   Both by myself and many other friends:
147-153. But he,   . . .   sun:
151. the bud bit with an envious worm
147   But he, his own affections' counsellor,
148   Is to himself—I will not say how true—
149   But to himself so secret and so close,
150   So far from sounding and discovery,
151   As is the bud bit with an envious worm,
152   Ere he can spread his sweet leaves to the air,
153   Or dedicate his beauty to the sun.
154   Could we but learn from whence his sorrows grow.
155   We would as willingly give cure as know.

           Enter ROMEO.

      BENVOLIO
156   See, where he comes: so please you, step aside;
157. I'll know his grievance, or be much denied: I'll find out what is wrong with him, or he will have to refuse to answer the many questions I will ask.
157   I'll know his grievance, or be much denied.

      MONTAGUE
158. I would thou wert so happy by thy stay, / To hear true shrift: I hope that you will be so fortunate, in your staying here and being persistent, as to hear a true confession [of Romeo's state of mind].
158   I would thou wert so happy by thy stay,
159   To hear true shrift. Come, madam, let's away.

           Exeunt MONTAGUE and LADY MONTAGUE.

      BENVOLIO
160   Good-morrow, cousin.

      ROMEO
160                                     Is the day so young?

      BENVOLIO
161   But new struck nine.

      ROMEO
161                                Ay me! sad hours seem long.
162   Was that my father that went hence so fast?

      BENVOLIO
163   It was. What sadness lengthens Romeo's hours?

      ROMEO
164. Not having that, which, having, makes them short: i.e., Not having the love of Rosaline is that which makes the hours seem long, because if I had her love, the hours would seem short.
164   Not having that, which, having, makes them short.

      BENVOLIO
165   In love?

      ROMEO
166   Out—

      BENVOLIO
167   Of love?

      ROMEO
168   Out of her favor, where I am in love.

      BENVOLIO
169. in his view: in its appearance.
170. in proof: being experienced.
169   Alas, that love, so gentle in his view,
170   Should be so tyrannous and rough in proof!

      ROMEO
171. whose view is muffled still: whose eyes are always blindfolded. 172. see pathways to his will: find ways to get what he wants. 173. dine: have lunch. O me! What fray was here?: Apparently Romeo suddenly notices some evidence (dropped swords, clubs, etc.) of the riot. 175. Here's ... love: Here [and everywhere] there is much ado (i.e., conflict, strife) about hate, but there is more conflict in love.
171   Alas, that love, whose view is muffled still,
172   Should, without eyes, see pathways to his will!
173   Where shall we dine? O me! What fray was here?
174   Yet tell me not, for I have heard it all.
175   Here's much to do with hate, but more with love.
176   Why, then, O brawling love! O loving hate!
177. create: created.
177   O any thing, of nothing first create!
178   O heavy lightness! serious vanity!
179   Mis-shapen chaos of well-seeming forms!
180   Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health!
181. Still-waking: constantly awake.
182. that feel no love in this: I am not in love with the paradoxical, tortured, love which I experience.



183. coz: cousin.
181   Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is!
182   This love feel I, that feel no love in this.
183   Dost thou not laugh?

      BENVOLIO
183                               No, coz, I rather weep.

      ROMEO
184   Good heart, at what?

      BENVOLIO
184                                    At thy good heart's oppression.

      ROMEO
185. Why, such is love's transgression:
185   Why, such is love's transgression.
186   Griefs of mine own lie heavy in my breast,
187-188. Which thou wilt propagate, to have it prest / With more of thine: which you will increase, by having it weighed down with more of yours.
187   Which thou wilt propagate, to have it prest
188   With more of thine. This love that thou hast shown
189   Doth add more grief to too much of mine own.
190   Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs;
191. purg'd: i.e., cleared of smoke.
191   Being purg'd, a fire sparkling in lovers' eyes;
192   Being vex'd a sea nourish'd with lovers' tears:
193   What is it else? a madness most discreet,
194   A choking gall and a preserving sweet.
195   Farewell, my coz.

      BENVOLIO
195. Soft: not so fast.
196. And if: if.
195                               Soft! I will go along;
196   And if you leave me so, you do me wrong.

      ROMEO
197   Tut, I have lost myself; I am not here;
198   This is not Romeo, he's some other where.

      BENVOLIO
199. sadness: seriousness. But in his next speech, Romeo speaks as if "sadness" means sadness. | who is that you love: who it is that you love.
199   Tell me in sadness, who is that you love.

      ROMEO
200   What, shall I groan and tell thee?

      BENVOLIO
200                                            Groan! why, no.
201   But sadly tell me who.

      ROMEO
202   Bid a sick man in sadness make his will:
203   Ah, word ill urged to one that is so ill!
204   In sadness, cousin, I do love a woman.

      BENVOLIO
205   I aim'd so near, when I supposed you loved.

      ROMEO
206. mark-man: marksman
206   A right good mark-man! And she's fair I love.

      BENVOLIO

207. mark: target
207   A right fair mark, fair coz, is soonest hit.

      ROMEO
208   Well, in that hit you miss: she'll not be hit
209. Dian's wit: i.e., the good sense to shun love. (Diana was the goddess of chastity.) 210. proof: armor of tested strength.
209   With Cupid's arrow; she hath Dian's wit;
210   And, in strong proof of chastity well arm'd,
211   From love's weak childish bow she lives unharm'd.
212. stay the siege: put up with the assault.
212   
She will not stay the siege of loving terms,
213. bide: abide.
213   Nor bide the encounter of assailing eyes,
214. ope open.
214   Nor ope her lap to saint-seducing gold.
215   O, she is rich in beauty, only poor,
216. when she dies, with beauty dies her store: when she dies, her beauty dies, and with it, her treasury [of beauty]. In other words, since she has vowed to remain a virgin, she will never pass on her beauty to her children.
217. still: always.
216   That when she dies, with beauty dies her store.

      BENVOLIO
217   Then she hath sworn that she will still live chaste?

      ROMEO
218. sparing: frugality.
219. starved: i.e., starved to death. Romeo is again complaining that Rosaline is killing beauty itself by refusing to marry, have children, and so pass on her beauty to future generations. 221-222. She is too fair, too wise, wisely too fair, / To merit bliss by making me despair:
218   She hath, and in that sparing makes huge waste,
219   For beauty starved with her severity
220   Cuts beauty off from all posterity.
221   She is too fair, too wise, wisely too fair,
222   To merit bliss by making me despair:
223   She hath forsworn to love, and in that vow
224   Do I live dead that live to tell it now.

      BENVOLIO
225   Be ruled by me, forget to think of her.

      ROMEO
226   O, teach me how I should forget to think.

      BENVOLIO
227   By giving liberty unto thine eyes;
228   Examine other beauties.

      ROMEO
228. 'Tis  . . .  more: it [examining the beauties of other ladies] is only a way to make me think even more about her beauty.
230. masks . . . Being black: In Shakespeare's time, women often wore black masks to plays, supposedly for modesty, but often for the opposite purpose.
228                                             'Tis the way
229   To call hers (exquisite!) in question more:
230   These happy masks that kiss fair ladies' brows
231   Being black put us in mind they hide the fair;
232   He that is strucken blind cannot forget
233   The precious treasure of his eyesight lost:
234. passing surpassingly.
234   Show me a mistress that is passing fair,
235   What doth her beauty serve, but as a note
236. pass'd surpassed.
236   Where I may read who pass'd that passing fair?
237   Farewell: thou canst not teach me to forget.

      BENVOLIO
238. I'll pay that doctrine, or else die in debt I will make good that theory [that looking on other beauties will cure Romeo's love-sickness], or die trying. —Benvolio has a "debt" to Romeo because he promised to cure Romeo of his love-sickness.
238   I'll pay that doctrine, or else die in debt.

           Exeunt.