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ROMEO AND JULIET.
ACT I.....SCENE I.
A public Place.
Enter Sampson and GREGORY, armed with Swords
and Bucklers. Sam. Gregory, o' my word, we 'll not carry coals.2 Gre. No, for then we should be colliers.
2 — we'll not carry coals. ) Dr. Warburton very justly ob. serves, that this was a phrase formerly in use to signify the bearing injuries; but, as he has given no instances in support of his declaration, I thought it necessary to subjoin the following. So, Skelton :
You, I say, Julian, “ Wyil you beare no coles ?” Again, Nash, in his Have with you to Saffron Walden, 1595, says: " We will bear no coles, I warrant vou.”
Again, in Marston's Antonio and Mellida, 2nd part, 1602: “He . has had wrong, and if I were he, I would beur no coles.” Again, in Law Tricks, or Who would have thought it? a comedy, by John Day, 1608: “I'll carry coals an you will, no horns.” Again, in May-Day, a comedy, by Chapman, 1610: “You must swear by no man's beard but your own; for that may breed a quarrel: above all things, you must carry no coals." And again, in the same play: “Now my ancient being a man of an un-coal-carrying spirit,” &c. Again, in Ben Jonson's Every Man out of his Humour : “Here comes one that will carry coals; ergo, will hold my dog." And, lastly, in the poet's own King Henry V:“At Calais they stole a fireshovel; I knew by that piece of service the men would carry coals." Again, in The Malcontent, 1604: “ Great slaves fear better than love, born naturally for a coal-basket” Steevens
This phrase continued to be in use down to the middle of the last century. In a little satirical piece of Sir John Birkenhead, intitled, “ Two centuries (of Books] of St. Paui's Churchyard,” &c. published after the death of King Charles I, N° 22, p. 50, is inserted,
Fire, fire! a small manual, dedicated to Sir Arthur Haselridge; in which it is plainly proved by a whole chauldron of scripture, that John Lillburn will not carry coals." By Dr. Gouge. Percy.
Notwithstanding this accumulation of passages in which the phrase itself occurs, the original of it is still left unexplored. “It'
Sam. I mean, and we be in choler, we 'll draw.
Gre. Ay, while you live, draw your neck out of the collar.
Sam. I strike quickly, being moved.
Gre. To move, is—to stir; and to be valiant, is-tQ stand to it: therefore, if thou art moved, thou run'st away.
Sam. A dog of that house shall move me to stand: I will take the wall of any man or maid of 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 mais to the wall.
Gre. The quarrel is between our masters, and us their
Sam. 'Tis all one, I will show myself a tyrant : when I have fought with the men, I will be cruel with the inaids;3 I will cut off their heads.
thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: for thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head,” &c. Proverbs xxv, 22 ;-—or as cited in the Epistle to the Romans, xx, 20. Henley.
The English version of the Bible (exclusive of its nobler use) has proved of infinite service to literary antiquaries; but on the present occasion, I fear, it will do us little good. Collier was a very ancient term of abuse. Hang him, foul Collier !” says Sir Toby Belch, speaking of the Devil, in the fourth Act of Twelfth Night. Any person, therefore, who would bear to be called a collier, was said to carry coals.
It afterwards became descriptive of any one who would endure a gibe or flout. So, in Churchyard's Farewell to the World, 1598:
“He made him laugh, that lookt as he would sweare;
“He carried coales, that could abide no gest.” Steevens. The phrase should seem to mean originally, We'll not submit to servile offices; and thence secondarily, we'll not endure injuries. It has been suggested, that it may mean, we'll not bear resentment burning like a coal of fire in our bosoms, without breaking out into some outrage; with allusion to the proverbial sen-, tence, that smothered anger is a coal of fire in the bosom: But the word carry seeins adverse to such an interpretation. Malone.
3 cruel with the maids;] The first folio reads--civil with the maids. Johnson.
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.5
Enter ABRAM and BALTHASAR.
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.
So does the quarto 1599; but the word is written ciuill. It was manifestly an error of the press. The first copy furnishes no help, the passage there standing thus: “Ile play the tyrant; Ile first begin with the maids, and off with their heads :" but the true reading is found in the undated quarto. Malone. -poor Fohn.) is hake, (a species of fish) dried and salted.
Malone. here comes two of the house of the Montagues.] The word two, which was inadvertently omitted by the compositor in the quarto 1599, and of course in the subsequent impressions, I have restored from the first quarto of 1597, from which, in almost every page, former editors have drawn many valuable emendations in this play. The disregard of concord is in character.
It should be observed, that the partizans 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. This circumstance is mentioned by Gas. coigne, in a Devise of a Masque, written for the Right Honoura. ble Viscount Mountaciite, 1575:
" And for a further proofe, he shewed in hys hat
houses was." Malone I will bite my thumb at them ; which is a disgrace to thens,
thumb at us, sir?
your 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?
Sam. If you do, sir, I am for you; I serve as good a man as you.
Abr. No better.
Enter BENVOL10,7 at a Distance. Gre. Say-better; here comes one of my master's kinsmen. 8
if they bear it ] So it signifies in Randolph's Muses Looking-Glass, Act ill, sc. iii, p. 45:
Orgylus. To bite his thumb at me. “ Argus. Why should not a man bite his thumb?
Orgulus At me? were I scorn'd to see men bite their thumbs;
Rapiers and daggers," &c. Grey. Dr Lodge, in a pamphlet called Wits Miserie &c. 1596, has this passage: Behold next I see Contempt marching forth, giving mee the fico with his thombe in his mouth” In a translation from Stephens's Apology for Herodotus, in 1607, p. 142, 1 meet with these words: “It is said of the Italians, if they once bite their Fingers' ends in a threatning manner, God knows, they set upon their enemie face to face, it is because they cannot assail him behind his backe.” Perhaps Ben Jonson ridicules this scene of Roinco and Juliet, in his New Inn :
Huff. Hou, spill it?
Spill it at me?
Steevens This mode of quarrelling appears to have been common in our author's linie. “What swearing is there, (says Decker, describing the various groupes that daily frequented the walks of St Paul's Church,) what shouldering, what justling, what jeering, what byting of thumbs, to beget quarrels.!” THE DEAD TERM, 1608. Malone
7 Enter Benvolio,! Much of this scene is added since the first edition; but probably by Shakspeare, since we find it in that of the year 1599. Pope.
- here comes one of my master's kinsmen.] Some mistake has happened in this place : Gregory is a servant of the Capulets, and Benvolio was of the Montague faction. Farmer.
Sam. Yes, better, sir.
Sam. Draw, if you be men.-Gregory, remember thy swashing blow.'
[They fight. Ben. Part, fools; put up your swords; you know not what you do.
[Beats down their Swords.
Enter TYBALT. Tyb. What, art thou drawn among these heartless
hinds? Turn thee, Benvolio, look upon thy death.
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 Partizans of both Houses, who join the
Fray; then enter Citizens, with Clubs. i Cit. Clubs, bills, and partizans! strike! beat them
down! Down with the Capulets! down with the Montagues ! Enter CAPULET, in his Gown; and Lady CAPULET. Cap. What noise is this ?-Give me my long sword,
Perhaps there is no mistake. Gregory may mean Tybalt, who enters immediately after Benvolio, but on a different part of the stage. The eyes of the servant may be directed the way he sees Tybalt coming, and in the mean time, Benvolio enters on the opposite side. Steevens.
thy swashing blow.] Ben Jonson uses this expression in his Staple for News: " I do confess a swashing blow.” In The Three Ladies of London, 1584, Fraud says:
" I will flaunt it and brave it after the lusty swash." Again, in As you Like it:
" I'll have a martial and a swashing outside." See Vol. V, p. 32, n. 8.
To swash seems to have meant to be a bully, to be noisily valiant. So, Green, in his Card of Fancy, 1608: " - in spending and spoiling, in swearing and swashing." Barrett, in his Alvearie, 1580, says, that “to swash is to make a noise with swordes against tergats.” Steevens.
1 Clubs, bills, &c.] When an affray arose in the streets, clubs was the usual exclamation. See Vol. V, p. 128, n. 4, and Vol. X; p. 29, n. 6. Malone.