In North’s own copy of his translation of the 1582 edition of The Dial of Princes, the translator adds a marginal note highlighting the “description of sorrow (Fol. 296 in 1582 edition; 475 in 1619 ed.) The passage describes how people act when they are depressed: they crave solitude, hate the day, love the night, and their sighs go upward to the heavens while their tears water the earth below:
“For truly the man which is sorrowful, sigheth in the day, watcheth in the night, delighteth not in company, and with only care he resteth. The light he hateth, the darkness he loveth, with his bitter tears he watereth the earth, with heavy sighs he pierceth the heavens.”
(The “Description of Sorrow” passage marked in North’s Dial)
This passage is similar to one that appears just eight pages later—in which, again, it is stressed that the sorrowful want to be alone (“lock themselves into their own chambers”), and again their tears fall to the earth while sighs move upward:
Still another page in The Dial uses this same imagery:
These are precisely the ideas and images the playwright uses to describe the despondent Romeo, who seems almost to have been crafted as an exemplar of North’s sorrowful man:
The following table lists the correspondences:
|The Dial’s “Description of Sorrow”||The Description of Romeo’s Sorrow|
|to water their plants with tears||With tears augmenting the fresh morning’s dew|
|with his deep sighs he pierceth the heavens||Adding to clouds more clouds with his deep sighs; …|
The sun not yet thy sighs from heavens clears
|to hide and withdraw themselves within their houses |
and to lock themselves into their own chambers …
sigheth in the day, watcheth in the night …
The light he hateth, the darkness he loveth
|Away from light steals home my heavy son |
And private in his chamber pens himself …
locks fair daylight out
And makes himself an artificial night.
|heavy … importune||heavy … importuned|
The parallels are pointed and numerous. Both describe tears falling to the earth, while sighs float upward toward the clouds and heavens. North’s passage even notes that tears water the plants—just as Romeo’s tears are compared to dew (which, of course, waters plants). Both discuss hating the day and light, while preferring darkness and night. And in both cases, the sorrowful “lock themselves into their own chambers”/ “in his chamber pens himself… locks fair daylight out.” (Notice also that in Richard III, the dramatist juxtaposes pierce, clouds, heaven: “Can curses pierce the clouds and enter heaven?” [1.3.195])
Perhaps, most surprisingly, just the word-string with his deep sighs confirms the obligation. This is a fingerprint phrase of North’s, occurring nowhere else in EEBO except for The Dial and Romeo and Juliet.
 Montague refers to sighs reaching clouds rather than piercing the heavens, but elsewhere in the tragedy, Friar Laurence describes Romeo’s sighs as rising to heaven (2.3.73). The same language appears in 1 Henry IV (3.1.9-10).