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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. This circumstance is mentioned by Gas. coigne, 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 Mountacutes did beare
alwaies, for that “ They covet to be known from Capels, where
they pass, “ For ancient grutch whych long ago 'tweene these houses was.
MALONE. 44. -I' will bite my thumb at them; which is a disgrace to them, if they bear it.] So it signifies in Ran. dolph's Muses Looking Glass, act iii. sc. 3. p. 45.
Orgylus. To bite his thumb at me. " Argus. Why should not a man bite his thumb ? “ Orgylus. At me? were I scorn'd to see men bite
Rapiers and daggers,” &c. Dr. Grey. 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 jeering, what byting of thumbs to beget quarrels!” The Dead Term, 1608,
59. Enter Benvolio.] Much of this scene is added since the first edition; but probably by Shakspere, 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. 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. 64. thy swashing blow.] Ben Jonson uses this expression in his Staple for News : “ I do confess à swashing blow." In the Three Ladies of London, 1984, Fraud says: “ I will faunt it and brave it after the lusty
Swash.” 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 spailing, in swearing and swashing," Barrett, in his Alvearie, 1580, says, that " to swash is to make a noise with swordes against tergats."
STEEVENS. Give me my long sword, -] The long sword was the sword used in war, which was sometimes wielded with both hands.
JOHNSON. This long sword is mentioned in The Coxcomb, a
comedy by Beaumont and Fletcher, where the justice says:
6. Take their confessions, and my long sword;
“ I cannot tell what danger we may meet withi.” It appears that it was once the fashion to wear two swords of different sizes at the same time. So, in Decker's Satiromastix: “ Peter Salamander, tie up your great and your little sword.”
STEEVENS. 91. -mis-temper'd weapons-] are angry weapons. So, in King John : “ This inundation of mis-temper'd humour," &c.
STEEVENS. 106. To old Freetown, our common judgment-place,] This name the poet found in The Tragicall History of Romeus and Juliet, 1562. It is there' said to be the castle of the Capulets.
MALONE. 123. Peer'd forth the golden window of the east.] The same thought occurs in Spenser's Faery Queen, B. II. C. 10.
Early before the morn with cremosin ray
“ The window: of bright heaven opened had, “ Through which into the world the dawning day “ Might looke,” &c.
STEEVENS. 131. That most are busied, &c.] Edition 1597. Instead of which it is in the other edition thus :
by my own, Which then most sought, where most might not be found,
Being one too many by my weary self,
Pope. 133. And gladly shunn'd, &c.] The ten lines following, not in edition 1597, but in the next of 1599.
Pope. 148. Ben. Have you importun'd, &c.] These two speeches also omitted in edition 1597, but inserted in 1599
РОРЕ. . 156. Or dedicate his beauty to the same.] When we come to consider, that there is some power else besides balmy air, that brings forth, and makes the ten-der buds spread themselves, I do not think it impro. bable that the poet wrote,
Or dedicate his beauty to the Sun. Or, according to the more obsolete spelling, Sunne ; which brings it nearer to the traces of the corrupted text.
THEOBALD. The same expression occurs in Timon, act iv.
“ A dedicated beggar to the air.” SreeVENS. 164. Is the day so young?] i. c. is it so early in the day. The same expression (which might once have been popular) I meet with in Acolastus, a comedy, 1540 : “ It is yet young nyghte, or there is yet moche of the nyghte to come.
Sreevens. The same expression, in reference to the tide, is still in use; nothing being more common than to speak of young flood.
177 to his will!] Sir T. Hanmer, and after him Dr. Warburton, read, to his ill. The present reading has some obscurity; the meaning may be,
that love finds out means to pursue his desire. That the blind should find paths to ill is no great wonder.
JOHNSON. I see no obscurity in the text. It is not unusual for those who are blinded by love to overlook
difficulty that opposes their pursuit.
NICHOLS. The quarto, 1597, reads ;
Should, without laws, give pathways to our will! This reading is the most intelligible. STEEVENS.
181. Why then, O brawling love ! &c.] Every son. netteer characterises Love by contrarieties,
FARMER. 192. Why, such is love's transgression. -] Such is the consequence of unskilful and mistaken kindness.
JOHNSON 198. Being purg'd, a fire sparkling in lovers' eyes ;] The author may mean, being purged of smoke, but it is perhaps a meaning never given to the word in any other place. I would rather read, Being urg'd, a fire sparkling. Being excited, and enforced. To urge the fire is the technical term.
JOHNSON, 207. Tell me in sadness, -+] That is, tell me gravely, tell me in seriousness.
JOHNSON. 219. And, in strong proof, &c.] As this play was written in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, I cannot help regarding these speeches of Romeo as an oblique compliment to her majesty, who was not liable to be displeased at hearing her chastity praised after she was suspected to have lost it, or her beauty commended in the sixty-seventh year of her age, though