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we have our heads are some brown, some black, some Abram.' Middleton's Master Constable, 1602, we find
'A goodly, long, thick Abram-coloured beard.'
In support of his emendation of auburn, Mr Dyce refers also to the Italian poets, who term Cupid as well as Apollo 'Il biondo Dio;' and in Thomas's Italian Grammar, 1567, he gives the definition, 'Biondo, the aberne [auburn] colour; that is, between white and yellow.'
2 No let to me; that is, no hindrance.
3 To lure this tassel-gentle back again. The tassel,' or tiercel, is the male of the goss-hawk. It was easily tamed, and hence was called gentle. Taylor, the water-poet, has the same expression: 'By casting out the lure, she makes the tassel-gentle come to her fist.'
4 The very pin of his heart cleft. The 'pin,' in archery, was the peg to which the white mark or clout was fastened. To hit or cleave the pin was the highest triumph of the archer.
more than prince of cats. Tybert or Tybalt is the name given to the cat in the old story of Reynard the Fox. Nash, in his Have with you to Saffron Walden, 1596, has Tybalt, prince of cats.'
6 The immortal passado! the puncto reverso! the hay! Terms of the fencing-school, derived from the Italian.
7 Bon jour! there's a French salutation to your French slop. The 'slop' was a loose dress then fashionable, something like the Knickerbockers of the present day.
8 What counterfeit did I give you? . . . . The slip. The 'slip' was a counterfeit piece of money-brass silvered over.
9 A wit of cheveril, that stretches. The term 'cheveril,' or kid-skin, is a common illustration of the poet's. The cheveril was then, as now, used for gloves.
10 I am none of his skains-mates; probably, as Collier suggests, knifecompanions, or cut-throats, from the term skain or skene, a knife. The skeen-dubh, or black knife, is common in Ireland and the Highlands.
11 R is for the dog; this is Tyrrwhit's reading. The old copies have 'R is for the no, I know,' &c. The letter 'R' was called the dog's letter, because, as Ben Jonson says, it 'hirreth in the sound,' like a dog snarling.
The 'pilcher,' or
1 Will you pluck your sword out of his pilcher? pilche, was the skin-covering, or outer garment of leather. In the first edition we have scabbard.
2 That rude day's eyes may wink. In the old editions, "That runnawayes eyes,' and 'That run-awayes eyes.' Accepting 'runaway' as the
poet's expression, Warburton conceived that the term signified the sun; Steevens, that it meant the night; and Douce, that it was Cupid! Rumour's eyes, unaware's eyes, Luna's eyes, Cynthia's eyes, and enemies' eyes, have all been suggested. Mr Eugene J. Brady proposes (in Notes and Queries) to read That sun-awake's eyes,' &c. The emendation we have adopted is that of Mr Dyce and an anonymous correspondent of Notes and Queries (September 1853). Mr Grant White, in his Shakespeare's Scholar, conceives that all the suggestions, except rumour's, fail to meet the demands of the context, "untalk'd of and unseen." But (adds Mr Dyce) I do not allow that such is the case with 'rude day's eyes;' for poetry represents Day as an officious intelligencer; and when once her eyes were closed, Romeo would come to Juliet, untalk'd of, as well as unseen, by the citizens of Verona. In the same speech, four lines afterwards, we have civil night, as if contrasted with rude day.
3 Hood my unmann'd blood bating in my cheeks. Terms employed from the favourite sport of hawking. An unmanned hawk was one that was untrained-not brought to endure company. Thus Ben Jonson, ‘A hawk yet half so haggard and unmann'd.' 'Bating,' according to Steevens, is fluttering with the wings, as striving to fly away. Coleridge says: "The whole of this speech is imagination strained to the highest; and observe the blessed effect on the purity of the mind. What would Dryden have made of it?' We may conceive from his treatment of The Tempest.
4 Gallery to Juliet's Chamber. The first edition has this stage direction, "Enter Romeo and Juliet at the window.' Later editions say, 'Enter Romeo and Juliet aloft.' Malone conjectured that they appeared in the balcony at the back of the stage.
5 Some say, the lark and loathed toad change eyes;
O, now I would they had chang'd voices too!
The toad's eyes are very fine, the lark's ugly; hence an old saying, that the toad and lark had changed eyes. Juliet wishes they had changed voices too, because the toad's voice would have been no 'herald of the morn.'
6 Hunts-up to the day. Though derived from the chase, the term 'hunts-up' appears to have been applied to any morning music. In the Scottish Gude and Godly Ballates, 1578, we have:
'With huntis up, with huntis up,
It is now perfite day.'
Hilding. Sax. hyldan, to crouch; in common language, a low, worthless, spiritless person.
8 Good den; that is, good even or day. They were confounded, as Collier remarks, because even began immediately after noon.
9 In the first quarto, 1597, we have the stage direction, 'She looks after Nurse'-a glimpse, as Mr Staunton says, of the stage business of this play in Shakespeare's time.
1 Mandrakes. The plant which was fabulously endowed with animal life. Shakespeare refers to it in King Henry IV. and King Henry VI., and allusions to it are frequent with the old dramatists.
2 In the pastry; that is, the pastry-room.
3 The curfew-bell hath rung, 'tis three o'clock. We give Ritson's note on this passage: "The curfew-bell is universally rung at eight or nine o'clock at night; generally according to the season. used with peculiar impropriety, as it is not believed that any bell was The term is here ever rung so early as three in the morning. The derivation of curfew is well known, but it is a mere vulgar error that the institution was a badge of slavery imposed by the Norman conqueror. To put out the fire became necessary only because it was time to go to bed. And if the curfew commanded all fires to be extinguished, the morning bell ordered them to be lighted again. In short, the ringing of those two bells was a manifest and essential service to people who had scarcely any other means of measuring their time.'
4 Mouse-hunt; a term for a weasel. The intrigues of this animal,' says Steevens, 'like those of the cat-kind, are usually carried on during the night. This circumstance will account for the appellation which Lady Capulet allows her husband to have formerly deserved.'
5 Heart's Ease. My Heart is full of Woe. These are the names of popular tunes. The first, Mr Collier tells us, is mentioned in a manuscript play, Misogonus, by Thomas Rychardes, written before 1570. The second seems to have had words set to it, preserved in the Pepys collection, the refrain of which is 'Heigh ho! my heart is full of woe.' In the same scene, Peter asks for 'a merry dump'-a touch of humour, for a dump was a slow melancholy tune.
6 The gleek; that is, jeering or scoffing.
7 When griping griefs the heart doth wound. This quotation is from a song by Richard Edwards in The Paradise of Dainty Devices, 1576.
1 If I may trust the flattering eye of sleep. This is the reading of the first edition. All the subsequent impressions have 'flattering truth of sleep.'
2 I do remember an apothecary. In the first edition we have the
substance of this celebrated speech, with a few of the reporter's errorsas aligarta for alligator :
'As I do remember,
Here dwells a 'pothicary, whom oft I noted
Did but forerun my need; and hereabout he dwells.'
Brooke supplied the first sketch :
'An apothecary sat unbusied at his door,
Who, by his heavy countenance, he guessed to be poor;
And in his shop he saw his boxes were but few,
And in his window of his wares there was so small a shew ;
Wherefore our Romeus assuredly hath thought,
What by no friendship could be got, with money could be bought.'
And for 'fifty crowns of gold' the apothecary is tempted to sell the poison. In Paynter's prose version, the bribe is fifty ducats, which Shakespeare reduces to forty ducats.
3 Need and oppression starveth in thy eyes,
Contempt and beggary hang upon thy back.
In the first edition, instead of these two lines, we have the following, which certainly are not inferior to those substituted:
"Upon thy back hangs ragged misery,
And starved famine dwelleth in thy cheeks.'
In the first of the above lines stareth is sometimes inserted for 'starveth." 4 One of our order, to associate me. Each friar has always a companion assigned him by the superior whenever he asks leave to go out; and thus, says Baretti, they are a check upon each other.-STEEVENS.
5 How oft when men are at the point of death,
Have they been merry! which their keepers call
A lightning before death.
On this observation (common with our old dramatists, as it is in ordinary life) we may note Byron's remark, that even the scaffold echoes with jests: 'In Sir Thomas More, for instance, on the scaffold, and Anne
Boleyn in the Tower, when grasping her neck, she remarked that it 'was too slender to trouble the headsman much." During one part of the French revolution it became a fashion to leave some mot as a legacy; and the quantity of facetious last words spoken during that period would form a melancholy jest-book of a considerable size.'-Note to the Corsair. 6 This dagger hath mista’en-for, lo! his house
Is empty on the back of Montague.
The dagger was then worn at the back of the person.
7 For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.
Byron, in one of his letters to Moore, says: Of the truth of Juliet's story they (the Veronese) seem tenacious to a degree-insisting on the fact, giving a date (1303), and shewing a tomb. It is a plain, open, and partly decayed sarcophagus, with withered leaves in it, in a wild and desolate conventual garden, once a cemetery, now ruined to the very graves. The situation struck me as very appropriate to the legend, being blighted as their love.'