Romeo and Juliet: Act 5, Scene 1


Enter ROMEO.

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 breathed such life with kisses in my lips,
That I revived, and was an emperor.
Ah me! how sweet is love itself possess'd,        [10]
When but love's shadows are so rich in joy!

Enter 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 fares my Juliet? that I ask again;
For nothing can be ill, if she be well.

BALTHASAR: 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,        [20]
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.

ROMEO: Is it even so? then I defy you, stars!
Thou know'st my lodging: get me ink and paper,
And hire post-horses; I will hence to-night.

BALTHASAR: I do beseech you, sir, have patience:
Your looks are pale and wild, and do import
Some misadventure.

ROMEO:            Tush, thou art deceived:        [30]
Leave me, and do the thing I bid thee do.
Hast thou no letters to me from the friar?

BALTHASAR: No, my good lord.

ROMEO:            No matter: get thee gone,
And hire those horses; I'll be with thee straight.

[Exit BALTHASAR.]

Well, Juliet, I will lie with thee to-night.
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 he dwells,--which late I noted        [40]
In tatter'd 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-shaped 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 scatter'd, to make up a show.        [50]
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.

Apothecary:               Who calls so loud?

ROMEO: Come hither, man. I see that thou art poor:        [60]
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 discharged of breath
As violently as hasty powder fired
Doth hurry from the fatal cannon's womb.

Apothecary: Such mortal drugs I have; but Mantua's law
Is death to any he that utters them.

ROMEO: Art thou so bare and full of wretchedness,        [70]
And fear'st to die? famine is in thy cheeks,
Need and oppression starveth in thine 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.

Apothecary: My poverty, but not my will, consents.

ROMEO: I pay thy poverty, and not thy will.

Apothecary: Put this in any liquid thing you will,
And drink it off; and, if you had the strength        [80]
Of twenty men, it would dispatch you straight.

ROMEO: There's thy gold, worse poison to men's souls,
Doing more murders in this loathsome world,
Than these poor compounds that thou mayst not sell.
I sell thee poison; thou hast sold me none.
Farewell: buy food, and get thyself in flesh.
Come, cordial and not poison, go with me
To Juliet's grave; for there must I use thee.

[Exeunt.]


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This page last updated April 24, 1997. Enquiries to Michael Best, mbest1@uvic.ca.