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Gre. To move, is—to stir; and to be valiant, is -to stand to it: therefore, if thou art mov'd, thou
Sam. A dog of that house shall move me to stand: I will take the wall of any man or maid o Montague's.
Gre. That shows thee a weak slave; for the weakest goes to the wall.
Sam. True; and therefore women, being the weaker vessels, are ever thrust to the wall :-therefore I will push Montague's men from the wall, and thrust his maids to the wall.
Gre. The quarrel is between our masters, and us
Sam. 'Tis all one, I will show myself a tyrant: when I have fought with the men, I will be cruel with the maids; I will cut off their heads.
Gre. The heads of the maids ?
Sam. Ay, the heads of the maids, or their maidenheads; take it in what sense thou wilt.
Gre. They must take it in sense, that feel it.
Sam. Me they shall feel, while I am able to stand: and, 'tis known, I am a pretty piece of flesh.
Gre. 'Tis well, thou art not fish; if thou hadst, thou hadst been
poor John?. Draw thy tool; here comes two of the house of the Montagues 3.
2 Poor John is hake, dried and salted.
3 The disregard of concord is in character. It should be observed that the partisans of the Montague family wore a token in their hats in order to distinguish them from their enemies the Capulets. Hence throughout this play they are known at a distance. Gascoigne adverts to this circumstance in a Masque written for Viscount Montacute, in 1575:
* And for a further proofe, he shewed in hys hat
Enter ABRAM and BALTHASAR. Sam. My naked weapon is out; quarrel, I will back thee.
Gre. How? turn thy back, and run ?
Sam. Let us take the law of our sides ; let them begin.
Gre. I will frown, as I pass by; and let them take it as they list. Sam. Nay, as they dare. I will bite my
thumb at them; which is a disgrace to them, if they bear it. Abr. Do
thumb at us, sir ?
thumb, sir. Abr. Do
thumb at us, sir? Sam. Is the law on our side, if I
say-ay? Gre. No.
Sam. No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir; but I bite my thumb, sir.
Gre. Do you quarrel, sir ? 4 This mode of insult, in order to begin a quarrel, seems to have been common in Sbakspeare's time. Decker, in bis Dead Term, 1608, describing the various groups that daily frequented St. Paul's Church, says, 'What swearing is there, what shouldering, what justling, what jeering, what byting of thumbs, to beget quarrels !' And Lodge, in his Wits Miserie, 1596 :• Behold, next I see Contempt marching forth, giving me the fico with his thumbe in his mouthe.' "The mode in which this contemptuous action was performed is thus described by Cotgrave, in a passage which has escaped the industry of all the commentators : Faire la nique: to mocke by nodding or lifting up of the chinne; or more properly, to threaten or defie, by putting the thumbe naile into the mouth, and with a jerke (from the upper teeth) make it to knacke. So in Randolph's Muses' Looking Glass :
Dogs and pistols!
Wear 1 a sword
Abr. Quarrel, sir? no, sir.
Sam. If you do, sir, I am for you: I serve as good a man as you.
Abr. No better.
Enter BENVOLIO, at a distance. Gre. Say—better; here comes one of my master's kinsmen 5.
Sam. Yes, better, sir.
Sam. Draw, if you bé men.—Gregory, remember thy swashing blow.
[They fight. Ben. Part, fools; put up your swords; you know not what you
[Beats down their Swords.
Ben. I do but keep the peace; put up thy sword, Or manage it to part these men with me. Tyb. What, drawn, and talk of peace? I hate
the word, As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee: Have at thee, coward.
[They fight. Enter several Partisans of both Houses, who join the
Fray; then enter Citizens, with Clubs. 1 Cit. Clubs, bills, and partizans! strike! beat
them down! Down with the Capulets ! down with the Montagues !
5 Gregory is a servant of the Capulets: he must therefore mean Tybalt, who enters immediately after Benvolio.
6 i. e. swaggering or dashing. 7 See vol. iii. p. 201, note 4.
Enter CAPULET, in his Gown; and LADY
sword , ho!
for a sword ? Cap. My sword, I say!-Old Montague is come, And flourishes his blade in spite of me.
Enter MONTAGUE and LADY MONTAGUE.
La. Mon. Thou shalt not stir one foot to seek a foe.
Enter Prince, with Attendants. Prin. Rebellious subjects, enemies to peace, Profaners of this neighbour-stained steel, Will they not hear!—what ho! you men, you
beasts,That quench the fire of your pernicious rage With purple fountains issuing from your veins, On pain of torture, from those bloody hands Throw your mistemper'd weapons to the ground, And hear the sentence of your moved prince.Three civil brawls, bred of an airy word, By thee, old Capulet and Montague, Have thrice disturb’d the quiet of our streets; And made Verona's ancient citizens Cast by their grave beseeming ornaments, To wield old partisans, in hands as old, Canker'd with peace, to part your canker'd hate:
8 See vol. i. p. 214, note 14. The long sword was the weapon used in active warfare; a lighter, shorter, and less desperate weapon was worn for ornament, to which we have other allusions.
No sword worn, but one to dance with.' 9 i. e. angry weapons. So in King John:
• This inundation of mistemper’d humour,' &c.
If ever you
disturb our streets again, Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace. For this time, all the rest depart away: You, Capulet, shall go along with me; And, Montague, come you this afternoon, To know our further pleasure in this case, To old Free-town 10, our common judgment-place. Once more, on pain of death, all men depart.
[Exeunt Prince, and Attendants; CAPULET,
'LA. CAP. TYBALT, Citizens, and Servants. Mon. Wbo set this ancient quarrel new abroach ?Speak, nephew, were you by, when it began?
Ben. Here were the servants of your adversary, And yours, close fighting ere I did approach: I drew to part them; in the instant came The fiery Tybalt, with his sword prepar’d; Which, as he breath'd defiance to my ears, He
swung about his head, and cut the winds, Who, nothing hurt withal, hiss'd him in scorn: While we were interchanging thrusts and blows, Came more and more, and fought on part and part, Till the prince came, who parted either part. La. Mon. 0, where is Romeo !-saw you him
to-day? Right glad I am, he was not at this fray.
Ben. Madam, an hour before the worshipp'd sun Peer'd forth the golden window of the east 11,
10 The poet found the name of this place in Brooke's Tragicall History of Romeus and Juliet, 1562. It is there said to be the castle of the Capulets.
11 The same thought occurs in Spenser's Faerie Queene, b. ii. c. 10:
Early before the morn with cremosin ray
The windows of bright heaven opened had,
Might looke,' &c.
* Now heaven's bright eye (awake by Vesper's shrine)