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ACT II. SCENE IV.
Line 394. -the very pin of his heart cleft with the blind bowboy's butt-shaft;] The allusion is to archery. The clout or white mark at which the arrows are directed, was fastened by a black pin placed in the centre of it. To hit this was the highest ambition of every marksman. MALONE.
Line 398. More than prince of cats,] Tybert, the name given to the cat, in the story-book of Reynard the Fox. WARBURTON. Line 399. courageous captain of compliments.] A complete master of all the laws of ceremony, the principal man in the doctrine of punctilio. JOHNSON. Line 401. -his minim rest,] A minim is a note of slow time in musick, equal to two crotchets. MALONE. Line 402. —the very butcher of a silk button,] So, in The Return from Parnassus, 1606:
"Strikes his poinado at a button's breadth." STEevens. Line 403. —a gentleman of the very first house,-of the first and second cause:] i. e. a gentleman of the first rank, of the first eminence among these duelists; and one who understands the whole science of quarrelling, and will tell you of the first cause, and the second cause, for which a man is to fight. STEEVENS.
Line 406. —the hay!] All the terms of the modern fencingschool were originally Italian; the rapier, or small thrusting sword, being first used in Italy. The hay is the word hai, you have it, used when a thrust reaches the antagonist, from which our fencers, on the same occasion, without knowing, I suppose, any reason for it, cry out, ha! JOHNSON. Line 413. these pardonnez-moy's,] Pardonnez-moi became the language of doubt or hesitation among men of the sword, when the point of honour was grown so delicate, that no other mode of contradiction would be endured. JOHNSON.
Line 416. 0, their bons, their bons!] i. e. how ridiculous they (frenchified coxcombs) make themselves in crying out, good, and being in ecstasies with every trifle.
Line 426. your French slop.] Slops are large loose breeches or trowsers, worn at present only by sailors.
Line 430. What counterfeit &c.?
Mer. The slip, sir, the slip;] To understand this play upon the words counterfeit and slip, it should be observed that in our author's time there was a counterfeit piece of money distinguished by the name of a slip.
Line 443. then is my pump well flowered.] Here is a vein of wit too thin to be easily found. The fundamental idea is, that Romeo wore pinked pumps, that is, punched with holes in figures. JOHNSON.
Line 462. -a very bitter sweeting;] A bitter sweeting, is an apple of that name. STEEVENS. Line 466. -a wit of cheverel,] Cheverel is soft leather for gloves. JOHNSON. Line 475. - -to hide his bauble in a hole.] It has been observed by Sir J. Hawkins, that a bauble was one of the accoutrements of a licensed fool or jester. So again, in Sir William D'Avenant's Albovine, 1629: "For such rich widows there love court fools, and use to play with their baubles." STEEVENS.
Line 478. against the hair.] A contrepoil: Fr. An expression equivalent to one which we now use" against the grain." STEEVENS.
Line 483. -to occupy the argument no longer.] Here we have another wanton allusion. MALONE. Line 494. God ye good den,] i. e. God give you a good even. STEEVENS,
516. No hare, sir ;] Mercutio having roared out, So, ho! the cry of the sportsmen when they start a hare, Romeo asks what he has found. And Mercutio answers, No hare, &c. The rest is a series of quibbles unworthy of explanation, which he who does not understand, needs not lament his ignorance.
JOHNSON, Line 518. lady, lady, lady.] The burthen of an old song. STEEVENS. 531. of his ropery?] Ropery was anciently used in the same sense as roguery is now. STEEVENS. Line 540. -none of his skains-mates.] None of his skainsmates means, I apprehend, none of his cut-throat companions.
Line 579. tackle of a ship.
-like a tackled stair;] Like stairs of rope in the JOHNSON.
ACT II. SCENE VI.
Line 718. Too swift arrives-] He that travels too fast is as long before he comes to the end of his journey, as he that travels slow. Precipitation produces mishap. JOHNSON. Line 721. A lover may bestride the gossomers-] The gossomer is the long white filament which flies in the air in summer. STEEVENS.
Line 2. The day is hot,] It is observed, that, in Italy, almost all assassinations are committed during the heat of summer. JOHNSON.
Line 79. A la stoccata-] Stoccata is the Italian term for a thrust or stab with a rapier. STEEVENS. Line 82. Good king of cats,] Alluding to his name. MAL. 128. This day's black fate on more days doth depend;] This day's unhappy destiny hangs over the days yet to come. There will yet be more mischief. JOHNSON.
Line 149. O! I am fortune's fool!] I am always running in the way of evil fortune, like the Fool in the play. Thou art death's fool, in Measure for Measure. JOHNSON. -as thou art true,] As thou art just and upright. JOHNSON. 171. How nice the quarrel-] How slight, how unimportant, how petty. JOHNSON. Line 197. Affection makes him false,] The charge of falsehood on Benvolio, though produced at hazard, is very just. The author, who seems to intend the character of Benvolio as good, meant perhaps to show, how the best minds, in a state of faction and discord, are detorted to criminal partiality. JOHNSON.
Line 215. Nor tears, nor prayers, shall purchase out abuses,] This was probably designed as a covert stroke at the church of Rome, by which the different prices of murder, incest, and all other crimes, were minutely settled, and as shamelessly received. STEEVENS.
ACT III. SCENE II.
-unmann'd blood-] Blood yet unacquainted JOHNSON.
Line 247. the garish sun,] Garish is gaudy, showy.
352. Hath slain ten thousand Tybults.] Hath put Tybalt out of my mind, as if out of being. JOHNSON.
ACT III. SCENE III.
More honourable state, more courtship lives
In carrion flies, than Romeo:] Validity seems here to mean worth or dignity: and courtship the state of a courtier permitted to approach the highest presence. JOHNSON.
Line 521. Unseemly woman, &c.] Thou art a beast of ill qualities, under the appearance both of a woman and a man. JOHNSON.
Line 542. Like powder in a skill-less soldier's flask, &c.] To understand the force of this allusion, it should be remembered that the ancient English soldiers, using match-locks, instead of locks with flints as at present, were obliged to carry a lighted match hanging at their belts, very near to the wooden flask in which they kept their powder. STEEVENS.
Line 544. And thou dismember'd with thine own defence.] And thou torn to pieces with thine own weapons. JOHNSON. Line 576. here stands all your state;] The whole of your fortune depends on this. JOHNSON.
ACT III. SCENE IV.
Line 599., mew'd up-] This is a phrase from falconry. A mew was a place of confinement for hawks. STEEVENS.
Line 600. Sir Paris, I will make a desperate tender Of my child's love:] Desperate means only bold, adventurous; as if he had said in the vulgar phrase, I will speak a bold word, and venture to promise you my daughter. JOHNSON.
Line 631. Nightly she sings on yon pomegranate tree :] This is not merely a poetical supposition. It is observed of the nightingale, that, if undisturbed, she sits and sings upon the same tree for many weeks together. STEEVENS. Line 647. -the pale reflex—] The appearance of a cloud opposed to the moon. JOHNSON.
the lark and loathed toad change eyes;
Some say, O, now I would they had chang'd voices too!] The toad having very fine eyes, and the lark very ugly ones, was the occasion of a common saying amongst the people, that the toad and lark had changed eyes. To this the speaker alludes.
Line 661. Hunting thee hence with hunts-up to the day.] The hunts-up was the name of the tune anciently played to wake the hunters, and collect them together. STEEVENS.
· Line 685. O God! I have an ill-divining soul: &c.] This miserable prescience of futurity I have always regarded as a circumstance particularly beautiful. STEEVENS.
Line 690. Dry sorrow drinks our blood.] This is an allusion to the proverb-" Sorrow's dry." STEEVENS..
Line 727. Ay, madam, from &c.] Juliet's equivocations are rather too artful for a mind disturbed by the loss of a new lover. JOHNSON.
Line 758. in happy time,] A la bonne heure. This phrase was interjected, when the hearer was not quite so well pleased as the speaker. Line 762. The county Paris,] The county, i. e. the
Line 810. out, you baggage!
You tallow-face!] Such was the indelicacy of the age of Shakspeare, that authors were not contented only to employ. these terms of abuse in their own original performances, but even felt no reluctance to introduce them in their versions of the most chaste and elegant of the Greek or Roman Poets. Stanyhurst, the translator of Virgil, in 1582, makes Dido call Æneas-hedgebrat, cullion, and tar-breech, in the course of one speech.