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As what has been now stated has been controverted, (for what may not be controverted?) I should enter more largely into the subject, but that the various passages of the poem which I have quoted in the following notes, furnish such a decisive proof of the play's having been constructed upon it, as not to leave, in my apprehension, a shadow of doubt upon the subject. The question is not, whether Shakspeare had read other novels, or other poetical pieces, founded on this story, but whether the poem written by Arthur Brooke was the basis on which this play was built.
With respect to the name of Romeo, this also Shakspeare might have found in the poem; for in one place that name is given to him: or he might have had it from Painter's novel, from which or from some other prose translation of the same story he has, as I have already said, taken one circumstance not mentioned in the poem. In 1570 was entered on the Stationers' books by Henry Bynneman, The Pitifull Hystory of ij lovyng Italians, which I suspect was a prose narrative of the story on which our author's play is constructed.
Breval says in his travels, that on a strict inquiry into the histories of Verona, he found that Shakspeare had varied very little from the truth, either in the names, characters, or other circumstances of his play. MALONE.
It is plain, from more than one circumstance, that Shakspeare had read this novel, both in its prosaick and metrical form. He might likewise have met with other poetical pieces on the same subject. We are not yet at the end of our discoveries relative to the originals of our author's dramatick pieces. STEEVENS.
Two households, both alike in dignity,
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
Do, with their death, bury their parents' strife. The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love, And the continuance of their parents' rage, Which, but their children's end, nought could
Is now the two hours' traffick of our stage; The which if you with patient ears attend, What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.1
This prologue, after the first copy was published in 1597, received several alterations, both in respect of correctness and versification. In the folio it is omitted. The play was originally performed by the Right Hon. the Lord of Hunsdon his servants.
In the first of King James I. was made an act of parliament for some restraint or limitation of noblemen in the protection of players, or of players under their sanction. STEEVENS.
Under the word PROLOGUE, in the copy of 1599, is printed Chorus, which I suppose meant only that the prologue was to be spoken by the same person who personated the chorus at the end of the first Act.
The original prologue, in the quarto of 1597, stands thus: "Two household frends, alike in dignitie,
"In faire Verona, where we lay our scene,
"From civil broyles broke into enmitie,
"Whose civill warre makes civill handes uncleane.
"(Through the continuing of their fathers' strife,
Escalus, Prince of Verona.
Paris, a young Nobleman, Kinsman to the Prince.
An old Man, Uncle to Capulet.
Mercutio, Kinsman to the Prince, and Friend to
Benvolio, Nephew to Montague, and Friend to
Tybalt, Nephew to Lady Capulet.
Servants to Capulet.
Abram, Servant to Montague.
Chorus. Boy; Page to Paris; Peter; an Officer.
Lady Montague, Wife to Montague.
Lady Capulet, Wife to Capulet.
Nurse to Juliet.
Citizens of Verona; several Men and Women, Relations to both Houses; Maskers, Guards, Watchmen, and Attendants.
SCENE during the greater Part of the Play, in Verona; once in the fifth Act, at Mantua.
ROMEO AND JULIET.
ACT I. SCENE I.
A publick 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.
·we'll not carry coals.] Dr. Warburton very justly observes, 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:
66 You, I say, Julian,
"Wyll you beare no coles?"
Again, Nash, in his Have with you to Saffron Walden, 1595, says: "We will bear no coles, I warrant you."
Again, in Marston's Antonio and Mellida, 2nd part, 1602: "He has had wrong, and if I were he, I would bear 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.
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. But thou art not quickly moved to strike. SAM. A dog of the house of Montague moves me. GRE. To move, is-to stir; and to be valiant, is
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.
Notwithstanding this accumulation of passages in which the phrase itself occurs, the original of it is still left unexplored: "If 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, xii. 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."
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 sentence, that smothered anger is a coal of fire in the bosom: But the word carry seems adverse to such an interpretation.