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Sam. I mean, an 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 --to stand to it: therefore, if thou art moved, thou run'st away t.
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 maids to the wall.
* Quarto A, If I be in choler Ile draw.
+ Quarto A, Thou't run away. 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. Paul's Churchyard, &c. published after the death of King Charles I. No. 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.
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,
GRE. The quarrel is between our masters, and us their men.
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 up 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'.
* Quarto A, the. + Quarto A, Thou shalt see I am a ball.
- Cruel with the maids ;] The first folio reads-civil with the maids. Johnson.
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; lle first begin with the maids, and off with their heads :" but the true reading is found in the undated quarto. Malone.
- poor John.] Is hake, dried, and salted. Malone. s — 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 obverved, 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 Gascoigne, in a Devise of a Masque, written for the Right Honourable Viscount Mountacute, 1575: “ And for a further proofe, he shewed in hys hat
Thys token which the Mountacules did beare alwaies, for that " They covet to be knowne from Capels, where they pass, “For ancient grutch whych long ago 'tweene these two houses
Enter Abram and BALTHASAR. (1) Sam. My naked weapon is out ; quarrel, I will back thee.
GRE. How? turn thy back, and run ? (ID
San. 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 o.
* Quarto A, I fear them no more than thou; but draw.
I will bite my thumb at them ; which is a disgrace to them, if they bear it. So it signifies in Randolph's Muses' Looking-Glass, Act III. Sc. III. p. 45 :
Orgylus. To bite his thumb at me.
Dr. Lodge, in a pamphlet called Wits Miserie, &c. 1596, has this passage : “Behold next I see Contempt marching forth, giving me the fico with his thombe in his mouth.” In a translation from Stephens's Apology for Herodotus, in 1607, P:
142, I meet with these words: It is said of the Italians, if they once bite their fingers' ends in a threatening manner, God knows, if 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 Romeo and Juliet, in his New Inn :
" Huff. How, spill it?
Spill it at me
Tip. I reck not, but I spill it.” Steevens. This mode of quarrelling appears to have been common in our author's time. “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 jcering, what byting of thumbs, to beget quarrels!” The Dead Term, 1608. Malone.
These speeches are thus given in quarto A : “1. lle tell thee what lle do; as I go by, lle bite my thumb,
thumb at us, sir?
Sam. No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir ; but I bite my thumb, sir.
(ID GRE. Do you quarrel, sir ? 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 BENVOL10, at a Distance. GRE. Say—better * ; here comes one of my master's kinsmens.
(ID) Sam. Yes, better, sir . ABR. You lie.
Sam. Draw, if you be men.-Gregory, remember thy swashing | blow'.
* Quarto A, say I. + Folio omits sir.
Folio, and quarto A, B, washing. which is disgrace enough if they suffer it. 2. Content ; go thou by and bite thy thumb, and Ile come after and frown." Boswell.
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.
8- 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.
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.
9 — 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 and brave it after the lusty swash.”
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 heart
less 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. 1 Cır. Clubs, bills ', and partizans! strike ! beat
them down ! Down with the Capulets ! down with the Monta
Enter CAPULET, in his Gown; and Lady Capulet. CAP. What noise is this ?-Give me my long
sword?, ho !
* Folio, draw. Again, in As You Like It:
“ I'll have a martial and a swashing outside.” 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.
Clubs, bills, &c.] When an affray arose in the streets, clubs was the usual exclamation. See As You Like It, Act V. Sc. II,
Malone 2 Give me my Long SWORD,] The long sword was the sword used in war, which was sometimes wielded with both hands.
JOHNSON See Merry Wives of Windsor, Act. II. Sc. I. MALONE.