Romeus and Juliet: Lines 2173-2336



  When of his skilful tale the friar had made an end,
To which our Juliet well her ear and wits did bend,
That she hath heard it all and hath forgotten nought,
Her fainting heart was comforted with hope and pleasant thought,
And then to him she said: "Doubt not but that I will
With stout and unappalléd heart your happy hest fulfil.
Yea, if I wist it were a venomous deadly drink,
2180
Rather would I that through my throat the certain bane should sink,
Than I, not drinking it, into his hands should fall,
That hath no part of me as yet, ne ought to have at all.
Much more I ought with bold and with a willing heart
To greatest danger yield myself, and to the deadly smart,
To come to him on whom my life doth wholly stay,
That is my only heart's delight, and so he shall be aye."
"Then go," quoth he, "my child, I pray that God on high
Direct thy foot, and by thy hand upon the way thee guie.
God grant he so confirm in thee thy present will,
2190
That no inconstant toy thee let thy promise to fulfil."
  A thousand thanks and more our Juliet gave the friar,
And homeward to her father's house joyful she doth retire;
And as with stately gait she passéd through the street,
She saw her mother in the door, that with her there would meet,
In mind to ask if she her purpose yet did hold,
In mind also, apart 'twixt them, her duty to have told;
Wherefore with pleasant face, and with unwonted cheer,
As soon as she was unto her approachéd somewhat near,
Before the mother spake, thus did she first begin:
2200
"Madam, at Saint Francis' church have I this morning bin,
Where I did make abode a longer while, percase,
Than duty would; yet have I not been absent from this place
So long a while, without a great and just cause why;
This fruit have I receivéd there -- my heart, erst like to die,
Is now revived again, and my afflicted breast,
Releaséd from affliction, restoréd is to rest!
For lo, my troubled ghost, alas, too sore dis-eased,
By ghostly counsel and advice hath Friar Laurence eased;
To whom I did at large discourse my former life,
2210
And in confession did I tell of all our passéd strife;
Of County Paris' suit, and how my lord, my sire,
By my ungrate and stubborn strife I stirréd unto ire;
But lo, the holy friar hath by his ghostly lore
Made me another woman now than I had been before.
By strength of arguments he chargéd so my mind,
That, though I sought, no sure defence my searching thought could find.
So forced I was at length to yield up witless will,
And promised to be ordered by the friar's praiséd skill.
Wherefore, albeit I had rashly, long before,
2220
The bed and rites of marriage for many years forswore,
Yet mother, now behold your daughter at your will,
Ready, if you command her aught, your pleasure to fulfil.
Wherefore in humble wise, dear madam, I you pray,
To go unto my lord and sire, withouten long delay;
Of him first pardon crave of faults already past,
And show him, if it pleaseth you, his child is now at last
Obedient to his just and to his skilful hest,
And that I will, God lending life, on Wednesday next be prest
To wait on him and you, unto th'appointed place,
2230
Where I will, in your hearing, and before my father's face,
Unto the County give my faith and whole assent,
And take him for my lord and spouse; thus fully am I bent;
And that out of your mind I may remove all doubt,
Unto my closet fare I now, to search and to choose out
The bravest garments and the richest jewels there,
Which, better him to please, I mind on Wednesday next to wear;
For if I did excel the famous Grecian rape,
Yet might attire help to amend my beauty and my shape."
  The simple mother was rapt into great delight;
2240
Not half a word could she bring forth, but in this joyful plight
With nimble foot she ran, and with unwonted pace,
Unto her pensive husband, and to him with pleasant face
She told what she had heard, and praiseth much the friar,
And joyful tears ran down the cheeks of this gray-bearded sire.
With hands and eyes heaved up he thanks God in his heart,
And then he saith: "This is not, wife, the friar's first desert;
Oft hath he showed to us great friendship heretofore,
By helping us at needful times with wisdom's precious lore.
In all our commonweal scarce one is to be found
2250
But is, for some good turn, unto this holy father bound.
Oh that the third part of my goods -- I do not feign --
But twenty of his passéd years might purchase him again!
So much in recompense of friendship would I give,
So much, in faith, his extreme age my friendly heart doth grieve."
  These said, the glad old man from home go'th straight abroad
And to the stately palace hieth where Paris made abode;
Whom he desires to be on Wednesday next his geast,
At Freetown, where he minds to make for him a costly feast.
But lo, the earl saith, such feasting were but lost,
2260
And counsels him till marriage-time to spare so great a cost,
For then he knoweth well the charges will be great;
The whilst, his heart desireth still her sight, and not his meat.
He craves of Capulet that he may straight go see
Fair Juliet; whereto he doth right willingly agree.
The mother, warned before, her daughter doth prepare;
She warneth and she chargeth her that in no wise she spare
Her courteous speech, her pleasant looks, and comely grace,
But liberally to give them forth when Paris comes in place:
Which she as cunningly could set forth to the show,
2270
As cunning craftsmen to the sale do set their wares on row;
That ere the County did out of her sight depart,
So secretly unwares to him she stale away his heart,
That of his life and death the wily wench had power.
And now his longing heart thinks long for their appointed hour,
And with importune suit the parents doth he pray
The wedlock knot to knit soon up, and haste the marriage day.
  The wooer hath passed forth the first day in this sort,
And many other more than this, in pleasure and disport.
At length the wishéd time of long hopéd delight,
2280
As Paris thought, drew near; but near approachéd heavy plight.
Against the bridal day the parents did prepare
Such rich attire, such furniture, such store of dainty fare,
That they which did behold the same the night before
Did think and say, a man could scarcely wish for any more.
Nothing did seem too dear; the dearest things were bought;
And, as the written story saith, indeed there wanted nought
That 'longed to his degree, and honour of his stock;
But Juliet, the whilst, her thoughts within her breast did lock;
Even from the trusty nurse, whose secretness was tried,
2290
The secret counsel of her heart the nurse-child seeks to hide.
For sith, to mock her Dame, she did not stick to lie,
She thought no sin with show of truth to blear her nurse's eye.
In chamber secretly the tale she 'gan renew,
That at the door she told her dame, as though it had been true.
The flatt'ring nurse did praise the friar for his skill,
And said that she had done right well by wit to order will.
She setteth forth at large the father's furious rage,
And eke she praiseth much to her the second marriage;
And County Paris now she praiseth ten times more,
2300
By wrong, than she herself, by right, had Romeus praised before.
Paris shall dwell there still, Romeus shall not return;
What shall it boot her life to languish still and mourn?
The pleasures past before she must account as gain;
But if he do return, what then? -- for one she shall have twain.
The one shall use her as his lawful wedded wife,
In wanton love with equal joy the other lead his life;
And best shall she be sped of any townish dame,
Of husband and of paramour to find her change of game.
These words and like the nurse did speak, in hope to please,
2310
But greatly did these wicked words the lady's mind dis-ease;
But aye she hid her wrath, and seeméd well content,
When daily did the naughty nurse new arguments invent.
But when the bride perceived her hour approachéd near,
She sought, the best she could, to feign, and tempered so her cheer,
That by her outward look no living wight could guess
Her inward woe; and yet anew renewed is her distress.
Unto her chamber doth the pensive wight repair,
And in her hand a percher light the nurse bears up the stair.
In Juliet's chamber was her wonted use to lie;
2320
Wherefore her mistress, dreading that she should her work descry,
As soon as she began her pallet to unfold,
Thinking to lie that night where she was wont to lie of old,
Doth gently pray her seek her lodging somewhere else;
And, lest she, crafty, should suspect, a ready reason tells.
"Dear friend," quoth she, "you know to-morrow is the day
Of new contract; wherefore, this night, my purpose is to pray
Unto the heavenly minds that dwell above the skies,
And order all the course of things as they can best devise,
That they so smile upon the doings of to-morrow,
2330
That all the remnant of my life may be exempt from sorrow:
Wherefore, I pray you, leave me here alone this night,
But see that you to-morrow come before the dawning light,
For you must curl my hair, and set on my attire."
And easily the loving nurse did yield to her desire,
For she within her head did cast before no doubt;
She little knew the close attempt her nurse-child went about.