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Scene 1

Mantua. A street.

(Romeo; Balthasar; Apothecary)

Romeo has had an odd dream that leaves him convinced he is about to receive good news. Instead, his servant Balthasar arrives and tells him that Juliet is dead. Romeo immediately decides to return to Verona, buying a strong poison first from an apothecary. He is resolved to kill himself at Juliet’s grave. (89 lines)

Enter Romeo.


If I may trust the flattering truth of sleep,

My dreams presage some joyful news at hand.

My bosom’s lord sits lightly in his throne,

And all this day an unaccustom’d spirit

Lifts me above the ground with cheerful thoughts.

I dreamt my lady came and found me dead—

Strange dream, that gives a dead man leave to think!—

And breath’d such life with kisses in my lips

That I reviv’d and was an emperor.

Ah me, how sweet is love itself possess’d,

When but love’s shadows are so rich in joy!

Enter Romeo’s man Balthasar, booted.

News from Verona! How now, Balthasar?

Dost thou not bring me letters from the friar?

How doth my lady? Is my father well?

How doth my Juliet? That I ask again,

For nothing can be ill if she be well.


Then she is well and nothing can be ill:

Her body sleeps in Capel’s monument,

And her immortal part with angels lives.

I saw her laid low in her kindred’s vault,

And presently took post to tell it you.

O, pardon me for bringing these ill news,

Since you did leave it for my office, sir.


Is it e’en so? Then I defy you, stars!

Thou knowest my lodging, get me ink and paper,

And hire post-horses; I will hence tonight.


I do beseech you, sir, have patience.

Your looks are pale and wild, and do import

Some misadventure.


Tush, thou art deceiv’d.

Leave me, and do the thing I bid thee do.

Hast thou no letters to me from the friar?


No, my good lord.


No matter, get thee gone,

And hire those horses; I’ll be with thee straight.

Exit Balthasar.

Well, Juliet, I will lie with thee tonight.

Let’s see for means. O mischief, thou art swift

To enter in the thoughts of desperate men!

I do remember an apothecary—

And hereabouts ’a dwells—which late I noted

In tatt’red weeds, with overwhelming brows,

Culling of simples; meagre were his looks,

Sharp misery had worn him to the bones;

And in his needy shop a tortoise hung,

An alligator stuff’d, and other skins

Of ill-shap’d fishes, and about his shelves

A beggarly account of empty boxes,

Green earthen pots, bladders, and musty seeds,

Remnants of packthread, and old cakes of roses

Were thinly scattered, to make up a show.

Noting this penury, to myself I said,

“An’ if a man did need a poison now,

Whose sale is present death in Mantua,

Here lives a caitiff wretch would sell it him.”

O, this same thought did but forerun my need,

And this same needy man must sell it me.

As I remember, this should be the house.

Being holiday, the beggar’s shop is shut.

What ho, apothecary!

Enter Apothecary.


Who calls so loud?


Come hither, man. I see that thou art poor.

Hold, there is forty ducats; let me have

A dram of poison, such soon-speeding gear

As will disperse itself through all the veins

That the life-weary taker may fall dead,

And that the trunk may be discharg’d of breath

As violently as hasty powder fir’d

Doth hurry from the fatal cannon’s womb.


Such mortal drugs I have, but Mantua’s law

Is death to any he that utters them.


Art thou so bare and full of wretchedness,

And fearest to die? Famine is in thy cheeks,

Need and oppression starveth in thy eyes,

Contempt and beggary hangs upon thy back;

The world is not thy friend, nor the world’s law,

The world affords no law to make thee rich;

Then be not poor, but break it, and take this.


My poverty, but not my will, consents.


I pay thy poverty, and not thy will.


Put this in any liquid thing you will

And drink it off, and if you had the strength

Of twenty men, it would dispatch you straight.


There is thy gold, worse poison to men’s souls,

Doing more murder in this loathsome world,

Than these poor compounds that thou mayest not sell.

I sell thee poison, thou hast sold me none.

Farewell! Buy food, and get thyself in flesh.

Exit Apothecary.

Come, cordial and not poison, go with me

To Juliet’s grave, for there must I use thee.



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