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And thou my loving lord, Romeus, my trusty feere,
These said, her ruthlesse hand through gyrt ber valiant hart:
The newes was by and by throughout the towne dyspred, Both of the taking of the fryer, and of the two found ded. Thether you might have seene whole housholds forth to ronne, For to the tombe where they did heare this wonder straunge was
Have murmured, or faynd there were some waighty cause
The holy fryer now, and reverent by his age,
teares: Whom straight the dredfull judge commaundeth to declare Both, how this murther hath been donne, and who the murther
ers are; For that he nere the tombe was found at howres unfitte, And had with hym those yron tooles for such a purpose fitte. The frier was of lively sprite and free of speche, The judges words appald him not, ne were his wittes to seeche. But with advised heed a whyle fyrst did he stay, And then with bold assured voyce aloud thus gan he say: “ My lordes, there is not one among you, set togyther, So that, affection set aside, by wisdome he consider My former passed lyfe, and this my extreme age, And eke this beavy sight, the wreke of frantike Fortunes rage, But that, amased much, doth wonder at this chaunge, So great, so sodainly befalne, unlooked for, and straunge. For I that in the space of sixty yeres and tenne, Since fyrst I did begin, to soone, to lead my lyfe with men, And with the worldes vaine thinges myselfe I did acquaint, Was never vet, in open place, at any time attaynt With any cryme, in weight as heavy as a rushe, Ne is there any stander by can make me gylty blushe; Although before the face of God I doe confesse Myselfe to be the sinfulst wretch of all this mighty presse. When readiest I am and likeliest to make My great accompt, which no man els for me shall undertake; When wormes, the earth, and death, doe cyte me every howre, Tappeare before the judgment seate of everlasting powre, And falling ripe I steppe upon my graves brinke, Even then, am I, most wretched wight, as eche of you dotla
thinke, Through my most haynous deede, with hedlong sway throwne
downe, In greatest daunger of my lyfe, and damage of renowne. The spring, whence in your head this new conceite doth ryse, (And in your hart increaseth still your vayne and wrong sur
say these present yrons are, and the suspected time :
As though all howres alike had not been made above!
flowe, Ne yet these yron tooles, nor the suspected time, Can justly prove the murther donne, or damne me of the cryme : No one of these hath powre, ne powre have all the three, To make me otber than I am, how so I seeme to be. But sure my conscience, if I so gylt deserve, For an appeacher, witnesse, and a hangman, eke should serves For through mine age, whose heares of long time since were hore, And credyt greate that I was in, with you, in time tofore, And eke the sojorne short that I on earth must make, That every day and howre do loke my journey hence to take, My conscience inwardly should more torment me thrise, Then all the outward deadly payne that all you could devyse. But God I prayse, I feele no worme that knaweth me, And from remorses pricking sting I joy that I am free: I meane, as touching this, wherewith you troubled are, Wherewith you should be troubled still, if I my speche should
spare. But to the end I may set all your hartes at rest, And pluck out all the scrupuls that are rooted in your brest, Which might perhappes henceforth increasing more and more, Within your conscience also increase your curelesse sore, I sweare by yonder heavens, whither I hope to clym, (And for a witnes of my woordes my hart attesteth him, Whose mighty hande doth welde them in theyr violent sway, And on the rolling stormy seas the heavy earth doth stay) That I will make a short and eke a true dyscourse Of this most wofull tragedy, and shew both thend and sourse Of theyr unhappy death, which you perchaunce no lesse Will wonder at then they alas! poore lovers in distresse, Tormented much in mynd, not forcing lively breath, With strong and patient hart dyd yelde them selfe to cruell death: Such was the mutual love wherein they burned both, And of theyr promyst frend shippes fayth so stedy was the troth."
And then the auncient fryer began to make discourse, Even from the first, of Romeus and Juliets amours;
How first by sodayn sight the one the other chose,
good, And all thinges peysed well, it seemed meet to bee (For lyke they were of noblenesse, age, riches, and degree); Hoping that so at length ended might be the stryfe Of Montagewes and Capelets, that led in hate theyr lyfe, Thinking to woorki a voi ke well-pleasing in Gods sight, In secret shrift he wesided them; and they the selfe same night Made up the mariage in house of Capilet, As well doth know (if she be askt) the nurce of Juliet. He told how Romeus fled for reving Tybalts lyfe, And how, the whilst, Paris the earle was offred to his wife; And how the lady dyd so great a wrong dysdayne, And how to shrift unto his church she came to him agayne ; And how she fell flat downe before bis feete aground, And how she sware, her hand and bloody knife should wound Her harmles hart, except that he some meant dyd fynde To dysappoynt the earles attempt: and spotles save her mynde. Wherefore, he doth conclude, although that long before By thought of death and age he had refusde for evermore The hidden artes which he deliglited in, in youth, Yet wonne by her importunenes, and by his inward ruth, And fearing lest she would her cruell vowe dyscharge, His closed conscience he had opened and set at large; And rather did he choose to suffer for one tyme His soule to be spotted somdeale with small and easy cryme, Then that the lady should, wery of lyving breath, Murther her selfe, and daunger much her seely soule by death: Wherefore his auncient artes agayne he puts in ure, A certain powder gave he her, that made her slepe so sure, That they her held for dead; and how that fryer John With letters sent to Romeus to Mantua is gone; Of whom he knoweth not as yet, what is become; And how that dead he found bis frend within her kindreds tombe. He thinkes with poyson strong, for care the yong man stervde,. Supposing Juliet dead; and how that Juliet hath carvde, With Romeus dagger drawne her hart, and yelded breath, Desyrous to accompany her lover after death; And how they could not save her, so they were afeard, And hidde themselfe, dreading the noyse of watchmen, that they
heard. VOL. XII.
And for the proofe of this his tale, he doth desyer
better, He prayeth them depose the nurce of Juliet, And Romeus man, whom at unawares besyde the tombe he met.
Then Peter, not so much, as erst he was, dismayd: My loriles, quoth he, too true is all that fryer Laurence sayd. And when my maister went into my mystres grave, This letter that I offer you, unto me he gave, Which he him selfe dyd write, as I do understand, And charged me to offer them unto his fathers hand. The opened packet doth conteyne in it the same That erst the skilfull fryer said; and eke the wretches name That had at his request the dedly poyson sold, The price of it, and why he bought, his letters plaine have tolde. The case unfolded so and open now it lyes, That they could wish no better proofe, save seeing it with theyr So orderly all thinges were tolde, and tryed out, That in the prease there was not one that stoode at all in doute.
The wyser sort, to counsell called by Escalus, Here geven advice, and Escalus sagely decreeth thus: The nurse of Juliet is banisht in her age, Because that from the parentes she dyd hyde the mariage, Which might have wrought much good had it in time been
knowne, Where now by her concealing it a mischeefe great is growne; And Peter, for he dyd obey bis masters hest, In woonted freedome had good leave to lead his lyfe in rest: Thapothecary high is hanged by the throte, And, for the paynes he tooke with him, the bangman had bis cote. But now what shall betyde of this gray-bearded syre, Of fryer Lawrence thus araynde, that good barefooted fryre? Because that many time he woorthily did serve The common welth, and in his lyfe was never found to swerve, He was discharged quyte, and no mark of defame Did seem to blot or touch at all the honour of his name. But of himselfe he went into an hermitage, Two miles from Veron towne, where he in prayers past forth his
age; Till that from earth to heaven his heavenly sprite dyd flye: Fyve years he lived an hermite, and an hermite dyd he dye. The straungnes of the chaunce, when tryed was the truth, The Montagewes and Capelets bath moved so to ruth, That with tbeir emptyed tears theyr choler and theyr rage Has emptied quite; and they, whose wrath no wisdom could as
swage, Nor threatning of the prince, ne mynde of murthers donne, At length, (so mighty Jove it would) by pitye they are wonne.