Verona. A room in Capulet’s house.
(Lady Capulet; Nurse; Juliet; First Servingman)
The rather flustered Lady Capulet talks with Juliet and her Nurse, a gossipy old thing with a taste for endless, vaguely indecent anecdotes. Lady Capulet finally brings herself to ask Juliet whether she thinks herself ready for marriage. She praises Paris, as does the Nurse, and instructs the girl to have a good look at him at the party that night. The obedient girl dutifully replies that she will do as her parents say. A servingman announces the arrival of the guests. (106 lines)
Enter Capulet’s Wife, and Nurse.
Nurse, where’s my daughter? Call her forth to me.
Now by my maidenhead at twelve year old,
I bade her come. What, lamb! What, ladybird!
God forbid! Where’s this girl? What, Juliet!
How now, who calls?
Madam, I am here,
What is your will?
This is the matter. Nurse, give leave a while,
We must talk in secret. Nurse, come back again,
I have rememb’red me, thou s’ hear our counsel.
Thou knowest my daughter’s of a pretty age.
Faith, I can tell her age unto an hour.
She’s not fourteen.
I’ll lay fourteen of my teeth—
And yet, to my teen be it spoken, I have but four—
She’s not fourteen. How long is it now
A fortnight and odd days.
Even or odd, of all days in the year,
Come Lammas-eve at night shall she be fourteen.
Susan and she—God rest all Christian souls!—
Were of an age. Well, Susan is with God,
She was too good for me. But as I said,
On Lammas-eve at night shall she be fourteen,
That shall she, marry, I remember it well.
’Tis since the earthquake now eleven years,
And she was wean’d—I never shall forget it—
Of all the days of the year, upon that day;
For I had then laid wormwood to my dug,
Sitting in the sun under the dove-house wall.
My lord and you were then at Mantua—
Nay, I do bear a brain—but as I said,
When it did taste the wormwood on the nipple
Of my dug and felt it bitter, pretty fool,
To see it tetchy and fall out wi’ th’ dug!
Shake, quoth the dove-house; ’twas no need, I trow,
To bid me trudge.
And since that time it is eleven years,
For then she could stand high-lone; nay, by th’ rood,
She could have run and waddled all about;
For even the day before, she broke her brow,
And then my husband—God be with his soul!
’A was a merry man—took up the child.
“Yea,” quoth he, “dost thou fall upon thy face?
Thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wit,
Wilt thou not, Jule?” and by my holidam,
The pretty wretch left crying and said, “Ay.”
To see now how a jest shall come about!
I warrant, and I should live a thousand years,
I never should forget it: “Wilt thou not, Jule?” quoth he;
And, pretty fool, it stinted and said, “Ay.”
Enough of this, I pray thee hold thy peace.
Yes, madam, yet I cannot choose but laugh
To think it should leave crying and say, “Ay.”
And yet I warrant it had upon it brow
A bump as big as a young cock’rel’s stone—
A perilous knock—and it cried bitterly.
“Yea,” quoth my husband, “fall’st upon thy face?
Thou wilt fall backward when thou comest to age,
Wilt thou not, Jule?” It stinted and said, “Ay.”
And stint thou too, I pray thee, nurse, say I.
Peace, I have done. God mark thee to his grace!
Thou wast the prettiest babe that e’er I nurs’d.
And I might live to see thee married once,
I have my wish.
Marry, that “marry” is the very theme
I came to talk of. Tell me, daughter Juliet,
How stands your dispositions to be married?
It is an honor that I dream not of.
An honor! Were not I thine only nurse,
I would say thou hadst suck’d wisdom from thy teat.
Well, think of marriage now; younger than you,
Here in Verona, ladies of esteem,
Are made already mothers. By my count,
I was your mother much upon these years
That you are now a maid. Thus then in brief:
The valiant Paris seeks you for his love.
A man, young lady! Lady, such a man
As all the world—why, he’s a man of wax.
Verona’s summer hath not such a flower.
Nay, he’s a flower, in faith, a very flower.
What say you? Can you love the gentleman?
This night you shall behold him at our feast;
Read o’er the volume of young Paris’ face,
And find delight writ there with beauty’s pen;
Examine every married lineament,
And see how one another lends content;
And what obscur’d in this fair volume lies
Find written in the margent of his eyes.
This precious book of love, this unbound lover,
To beautify him, only lacks a cover.
The fish lives in the sea, and ’tis much pride
For fair without the fair within to hide.
That book in many’s eyes doth share the glory,
That in gold clasps locks in the golden story;
So shall you share all that he doth possess,
By having him, making yourself no less.
No less! Nay, bigger: women grow by men.
Speak briefly, can you like of Paris’ love?
I’ll look to like, if looking liking move;
But no more deep will I endart mine eye
Than your consent gives strength to make it fly.
Enter First Servingman.
Madam, the guests are come, supper serv’d up, you call’d, my young lady ask’d for, the nurse curs’d in the pantry, and every thing in extremity. I must hence to wait; I beseech you follow straight.
We follow thee. Juliet, the County stays.
Go, girl, seek happy nights to happy days.