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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act II. Scene III.

Romeo and Juliet


Enter FRIAR LAURENCE, with a basket.

Fri. L.The grey-ey’d morn smiles on the frowning night,

Chequering the eastern clouds with streaks of light,

And flecked darkness like a drunkard reels

From forth day’s path and Titan’s fiery wheels:

Now, ere the sun advance his burning eye

The day to cheer and night’s dank dew to dry,

I must up-fill this osier cage of ours

With baleful weeds and precious-juiced flowers.

The earth that’s nature’s mother is her tomb;

What is her burying grave that is her womb,

And from her womb children of divers kind

We sucking on her natural bosom find,

Many for many virtues excellent,

None but for some, and yet all different.

O! mickle is the powerful grace that lies

In herbs, plants, stones, and their true qualities:

For nought so vile that on the earth doth live

But to the earth some special good doth give,

Nor aught so good but strain’d from that fair use

Revolts from true birth, stumbling on abuse:

Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied,

And vice sometime’s by action dignified.

Within the infant rind of this weak flower

Poison hath residence and medicine power:

For this, being smelt, with that part cheers each part;

Being tasted, slays all senses with the heart.

Two such opposed foes encamp them still

In man as well as herbs, grace and rude will;

And where the worser is predominant,

Full soon the canker death eats up that plant.

Enter ROMEO.

Rom.Good morrow, father!

Fri. L.Benedicite!

What early tongue so sweet saluteth me?

Young son, it argues a distemper’d head

So soon to bid good morrow to thy bed:

Care keeps his watch in every old man’s eye,

And where care lodges, sleep will never lie;

But where unbruised youth with unstuff’d brain

Doth couch his limbs, there golden sleep doth reign:

Therefore thy earliness doth me assure

Thou art up-rous’d by some distemperature;

Or if not so, then here I hit it right,

Our Romeo hath not been in bed to-night.

Rom.That last is true; the sweeter rest was mine.

Fri. L.God pardon sin! wast thou with Rosaline?

Rom.With Rosaline, my ghostly father? no;

I have forgot that name, and that name’s woe.

Fri. LThat’s my good son: but where hast thou been, then?

Rom.I’ll tell thee, ere thou ask it me again.

I have been feasting with mine enemy,

Where on a sudden one hath wounded me,

That’s by me wounded: both our remedies

Within thy help and holy physic lies:

I bear no hatred, blessed man; for, lo!

My intercession likewise steads my foe.

Fri. L.Be plain, good son, and homely in thy drift;

Riddling confession finds but riddling shrift.

Rom.Then plainly know my heart’s dear love is set

On the fair daughter of rich Capulet:

As mine on hers, so hers is set on mine;

And all combin’d, save what thou must combine

By holy marriage: when and where and how

We met we woo’d and made exchange of vow,

I’ll tell thee as we pass; but this I pray,

That thou consent to marry us to-day.

Fri. L.Holy Saint Francis! what a change is here;

Is Rosaline, whom thou didst love so dear,

So soon forsaken? young men’s love then lies

Not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes.

Jesu Maria! what a deal of brine

Hath wash’d thy sallow cheeks for Rosaline;

How much salt water thrown away in waste,

To season love, that of it doth not taste!

The sun not yet thy sighs from heaven clears,

Thy old groans ring yet in my ancient ears;

Lo! here upon thy cheek the stain doth sit

Of an old tear that is not wash’d off yet.

If e’er thou wast thyself and these woes thine,

Thou and these woes were all for Rosaline:

And art thou chang’d? pronounce this sentence then:

Women may fall, when there’s no strength in men.

Rom.Thou chidd’st me oft for loving Rosaline.

Fri. L.For doting, not for loving, pupil mine.

Rom.And bad’st me bury love.

Fri. L.Not in a grave,

To lay one in, another out to have.

Rom.I pray thee, chide not; she, whom I love now

Doth grace for grace and love for love allow;

The other did not so.

Fri. L.O! she knew well

Thy love did read by rote and could not spell.

But come, young waverer, come, go with me,

In one respect I’ll thy assistant be;

For this alliance may so happy prove,

To turn your households’ rancour to pure love.

Rom.O! let us hence; I stand on sudden haste.

Fri. L.Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast.[Exeunt.