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Romeo & Juliet :: Scenes :: Romeo & Juliet: Act I, Scene 1

Scene 1

Verona. A public place.

(Sampson; Gregory; Abram; Balthasar; Benvolio; Tybalt; Citizens; Montague; Lady Montague; Prince Escalus; Romeo)

Capulet’s servants pick a quarrel with Montague’s, which degenerates into a general brawl. Obedient to the Prince’s ruling against brawling, Benvolio tries to part them, but he is attacked by Tybalt, who calls him a coward for speaking of peace. Infuriated citizens begin hitting at the brawlers on both sides, as Capulet and Montague themselves enter the fray. The anarchy only ceases when the Prince himself arrives and orders an end to the fighting, threatening both Capulet and Montague with death if another battle erupts. Montague, his wife and Benvolio are left alone as the others depart. Benvolio explains how the fight began, and is able to reassure his aunt that Romeo was not present. Romeo’s parents are concerned about his melancholy, and Benvolio promises to find to what’s going on. Seeing Romeo arrive, his parents leave to give Benvolio a clear field. It quickly becomes apparent from Romeo’s hackneyed phrases that he believes himself to be deeply in love with a lady who has sworn to be chaste. Benvolio advises him to find some better-looking women to run after, but Romeo insists there are none. ( line)

Enter Sampson and Gregory, with swords and bucklers, of the house of Capulet.

SAM.

Gregory, on my word, we’ll not carry coals.

GRE.

No, for then we should be colliers.

SAM.

I mean, and we be in choler, we’ll draw.

GRE.

Ay, while you live, draw your neck out of collar.

SAM.

I strike quickly, being mov’d.

GRE.

But thou art not quickly mov’d to strike.

SAM.

A dog of the house of Montague moves me.

GRE.

To move is to stir, and to be valiant is to stand; therefore, if thou art mov’d, thou run’st away.

SAM.

A dog of that house shall move me to stand! I will take the wall of any man or maid of Montague’s.

GRE.

That shows thee a weak slave, for the weakest goes to the wall.

SAM.

’Tis true, and therefore women, being the weaker vessels, are ever thrust to the wall; therefore I will push Montague’s men from the wall, and thrust his maids to the wall.

GRE.

The quarrel is between our masters, and us their men.

SAM.

’Tis all one; I will show myself a tyrant: when I have fought with the men, I will be civil with the maids; I will cut off their heads.

GRE.

The heads of the maids?

SAM.

Ay, the heads of the maids, or their maidenheads, take it in what sense thou wilt.

GRE.

They must take it in sense that feel it.

SAM.

Me they shall feel while I am able to stand, and ’tis known I am a pretty piece of flesh.

GRE.

’Tis well thou art not fish; if thou hadst, thou hadst been poor-John. Draw thy tool, here comes two of the house of Montagues.

Enter two other servingmen: Abram and Balthasar.

SAM.

My naked weapon is out. Quarrel, I will back thee.

GRE.

How, turn thy back and run?

SAM.

Fear me not.

GRE.

No, marry, I fear thee!

SAM.

Let us take the law of our sides, let them begin.

GRE.

I will frown as I pass by, and let them take it as they list.

SAM.

Nay, as they dare. I will bite my thumb at them, which is disgrace to them if they bear it.

ABR.

Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

SAM.

I do bite my thumb, sir.

ABR.

Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

SAM.

Aside to GregorySAM.GRE.

Is the law of our side if I say ay?

GRE.

Aside to SampsonGRE.SAM.

No.

SAM.

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

GRE.

Do you quarrel, sir?

ABR.

Quarrel, sir? No, sir.

SAM.

But if you do, sir, I am for you. I serve as good a man as you.

ABR.

No better?

SAM.

Well, sir.

Enter Benvolio.

GRE.

Say “better,” here comes one of my master’s kinsmen.

SAM.

Yes, better, sir.

ABR.

You lie.

SAM.

Draw, if you be men. Gregory, remember thy washing blow.

They fight.

BEN.

Part, fools!

Put up your swords, you know not what you do.

Beats down their swords.

Enter Tybalt.

TYB.

What, art thou drawn among these heartless hinds?

Turn thee, Benvolio, look upon thy death.

BEN.

I do but keep the peace. Put up thy sword,

Or manage it to part these men with me.

TYB.

What, drawn and talk of peace? I hate the word

As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee.

Have at thee, coward!

They fight.

Enter three or four Citizens with clubs or partisans.

CITIZENS.

Clubs, bills, and partisans! Strike! Beat them down!

Down with the Capulets! Down with the Montagues!

Enter old Capulet in his gown, and his wife, Lady Capulet.

CAP.

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

LA. CAP.

A crutch, a crutch! Why call you for a sword?

CAP.

My sword, I say! Old Montague is come,

And flourishes his blade in spite of me.

Enter old Montague and his wife, Lady Montague.

MON.

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

LA. MON.

Thou shalt not stir one foot to seek a foe.

Enter Prince Escalus with his Train.

PRIN.

Rebellious subjects, enemies to peace,

Profaners of this neighbor-stained steel—

Will they not hear?—What ho, you men, you beasts!

That quench the fire of your pernicious rage

With purple fountains issuing from your veins—

On pain of torture, from those bloody hands

Throw your mistempered weapons to the ground,

And hear the sentence of your moved prince.

Three civil brawls, bred of an airy word,

By thee, old Capulet, and Montague,

Have thrice disturb’d the quiet of our streets,

And made Verona’s ancient citizens

Cast by their grave beseeming ornaments

To wield old partisans, in hands as old,

Cank’red with peace, to part your cank’red hate;

If ever you disturb our streets again

Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace.

For this time all the rest depart away.

You, Capulet, shall go along with me,

And, Montague, come you this afternoon,

To know our farther pleasure in this case,

To old Free-town, our common judgment-place.

Once more, on pain of death, all men depart.

Exeunt all but Montague, Lady Montague, and Benvolio.

MON.

Who set this ancient quarrel new abroach?

Speak, nephew, were you by when it began?

BEN.

Here were the servants of your adversary,

And yours, close fighting ere I did approach.

I drew to part them. In the instant came

The fiery Tybalt, with his sword prepar’d,

Which, as he breath’d defiance to my ears,

He swung about his head and cut the winds,

Who, nothing hurt withal, hiss’d him in scorn.

While we were interchanging thrusts and blows,

Came more and more, and fought on part and part,

Till the Prince came, who parted either part.

LA. MON.

O, where is Romeo? Saw you him today?

Right glad I am he was not at this fray.

BEN.

Madam, an hour before the worshipp’d sun

Peer’d forth the golden window of the east,

A troubled mind drive me to walk abroad,

Where, underneath the grove of sycamore

That westward rooteth from this city side,

So early walking did I see your son.

Towards him I made, but he was ware of me,

And stole into the covert of the wood.

I, measuring his affections by my own,

Which then most sought where most might not be found,

Being one too many by my weary self,

Pursued my humor not pursuing his,

And gladly shunn’d who gladly fled from me.

MON.

Many a morning hath he there been seen,

With tears augmenting the fresh morning’s dew,

Adding to clouds more clouds with his deep sighs,

But all so soon as the all-cheering sun

Should in the farthest east begin to draw

The shady curtains from Aurora’s bed,

Away from light steals home my heavy son,

And private in his chamber pens himself,

Shuts up his windows, locks fair daylight out,

And makes himself an artificial night.

Black and portendous must this humor prove,

Unless good counsel may the cause remove.

BEN.

My noble uncle, do you know the cause?

MON.

I neither know it, nor can learn of him.

BEN.

Have you importun’d him by any means?

MON.

Both by myself and many other friends,

But he, his own affections’ counsellor,

Is to himself (I will not say how true)

But to himself so secret and so close,

So far from sounding and discovery,

As is the bud bit with an envious worm,

Ere he can spread his sweet leaves to the air

Or dedicate his beauty to the sun.

Could we but learn from whence his sorrows grow,

We would as willingly give cure as know.

Enter Romeo.

BEN.

See where he comes. So please you step aside,

I’ll know his grievance, or be much denied.

MON.

I would thou wert so happy by thy stay

To hear true shrift. Come, madam, let’s away.

Exeunt Montague and Lady.

BEN.

Good morrow, cousin.

ROM.

Is the day so young?

BEN.

But new strook nine.

ROM.

Ay me, sad hours seem long.

Was that my father that went hence so fast?

BEN.

It was. What sadness lengthens Romeo’s hours?

ROM.

Not having that which, having, makes them short.

BEN.

In love?

ROM.

Out—

BEN.

Of love?

ROM.

Out of her favor where I am in love.

BEN.

Alas that love, so gentle in his view,

Should be so tyrannous and rough in proof!

ROM.

Alas that love, whose view is muffled still,

Should, without eyes, see pathways to his will!

Where shall we dine? O me! What fray was here?

Yet tell me not, for I have heard it all:

Here’s much to do with hate, but more with love.

Why then, O brawling love! O loving hate!

O any thing, of nothing first create!

O heavy lightness, serious vanity,

Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms,

Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health,

Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is!

This love feel I, that feel no love in this.

Dost thou not laugh?

BEN.

No, coz, I rather weep.

ROM.

Good heart, at what?

BEN.

At thy good heart’s oppression.

ROM.

Why, such is love’s transgression.

Griefs of mine own lie heavy in my breast,

Which thou wilt propagate to have it press’d

With more of thine. This love that thou hast shown

Doth add more grief to too much of mine own.

Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs,

Being purg’d, a fire sparkling in lovers’ eyes,

Being vex’d, a sea nourish’d with loving tears.

What is it else? A madness most discreet,

A choking gall, and a preserving sweet.

Farewell, my coz.

BEN.

Soft, I will go along;

And if you leave me so, you do me wrong.

ROM.

Tut, I have lost myself, I am not here:

This is not Romeo, he’s some other where.

BEN.

Tell me in sadness, who is that you love?

ROM.

What, shall I groan and tell thee?

BEN.

Groan? Why, no;

But sadly tell me, who?

ROM.

Bid a sick man in sadness make his will—

A word ill urg’d to one that is so ill!

In sadness, cousin, I do love a woman.

BEN.

I aim’d so near when I suppos’d you lov’d.

ROM.

A right good mark-man! And she’s fair I love.

BEN.

A right fair mark, fair coz, is soonest hit.

ROM.

Well, in that hit you miss: she’ll not be hit

With Cupid’s arrow, she hath Dian’s wit;

And in strong proof of chastity well arm’d,

From Love’s weak childish bow she lives uncharm’d.

She will not stay the siege of loving terms,

Nor bide th’ encounter of assailing eyes,

Nor ope her lap to saint-seducing gold.

O, she is rich in beauty, only poor

That, when she dies, with beauty dies her store.

BEN.

Then she hath sworn that she will still live chaste?

ROM.

She hath, and in that sparing makes huge waste;

For beauty starv’d with her severity

Cuts beauty off from all posterity.

She is too fair, too wise, wisely too fair,

To merit bliss by making me despair.

She hath forsworn to love, and in that vow

Do I live dead that live to tell it now.

BEN.

Be rul’d by me, forget to think of her.

ROM.

O, teach me how I should forget to think.

BEN.

By giving liberty unto thine eyes:

Examine other beauties.

ROM.

’Tis the way

To call hers (exquisite) in question more.

These happy masks that kiss fair ladies’ brows,

Being black, puts us in mind they hide the fair.

He that is strooken blind cannot forget

The precious treasure of his eyesight lost.

Show me a mistress that is passing fair,

What doth her beauty serve but as a note

Where I may read who pass’d that passing fair?

Farewell, thou canst not teach me to forget.

BEN.

I’ll pay that doctrine, or else die in debt.

Exeunt.

 
 
 
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