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sion of the same import with the French, La nuit tous les chats sont gris : as much as to say, You need not fear, night will make all your complexions alike. And because Romeo had introduced his observations with,
I am proverb'd with a grundsire phrase, Mercutio adds to his reply, the constable's own word: as much as to say, If you are for old proverbs, I'll fit you with one ; 'tis the constable's own word; whose custom was, when he summoned his watch, and assigned them their several stations, to give them what the soldiers call, the word. But this nightguard being distinguished for their pacific character, the constable, as an emblem of their harmless disposition, chose that domestic animal for his word: which, in time, might become proverbial.
A proverbial saying, used by Tho. Heywood, in his play, intitled The Dutchess of Suffolk, act 3.
A rope for Bishop Bonner, Clunce run, “ Call help, a rope, or we are all undone. “ Draw dun out of the ditch." Druw dun out of the mire, seems to have been a game. In an old collection of Satyres, Epigrams, &c. I find it enumerated among other pastimes :
“At shove-groate, venter-point, or crosse and pile, “ At leaping o'er a Midsommer bone-fier, “Or at the drawing dun out of the myer.” 18 — the fairies' midwife ;] The fairies' midwife does not mean the midwife to the fairies, but that she was the person among the fairies, whose department it
was to deliver the fancies of sleeping men of their dreams, those children of an idle brain.
save me a piece of marchpane ;] Marchpane was a confection made of pistacho-nuts, almonds, and sugar, &c. and in high esteem in Shakspeare's time; as appears from the account of Queen Elizabeth's entertainment in Cambridge. It is said that the university presented sir William Cecil their chancellor with two pair of gloves, a march-pane, and two
Peck's Desiderata Curiosa, vol. ii. p. 29. GRAY. 20 A hall! A hall!] Is the same as, give place, make room.
good cousin Capulet ;] This cousin Capulet is uncle in the paper of invitation ; but as Capulet is described as old, cousin is probably the right word in both places. I know not how Capulet and his lady might agree, their ages were very disproportionate; he has been past masking for thirty years, and her age, as she tells Juliet, is but eight-and-twenty.
JOHNSON a princox;] Princox has the same meaning as coxcomb.
23 Enter Chorus.] This Chorus added since the first edition.
24 Young Adam Cupid,] Alluding to the famous archer Adam Bell.
GRAY. 35 When king Cophetua &c.] Alluding to an old ballad.
This ballad is preserved in the first volume of Dr. Percy's Reliques of ancient English Poetry.
26 As maids, &c.] After this line in the quarto, 1597, I find two other verses, containing such ribaldry, that I cannot venture to insert them in the text, though I exhibit them here as a proof that either the poet or his friends knew sometimes how to blot:
O Romeo that she were, O that she were, An open Et cætera, thou a Poprin Pear! This pear is mentioned in the Wise Woman of Hodgson, 1638.
“ What needed I to have grafted in the stock of such a choke-pear, and such a goodly Poprin as this to escape me?" Again, in A woman never ver’d, 1632:
I requested him to pull me “ A Katherine Pear, and had I not look'd to him “ He would have mistook and given me a
Popperin.” In the Atheist's Tragedy, by Cyril Turner, 1611, there is much conceit about this pear. I am unable to explain it, nor does it appear indeed to deserve explanation.
27 He jests at scars,] That is, Mercutio jests, whom he overheard.
28 Be not her maid,] Live not in a state of celibacy like the nymphs of Diana. 29 tassel-gentle-] The tassel or tiercel (for
so it should be spelt) is the male of the gosshawk; so called, because it is a tierce or third less than the female. This is equally true of all birds of the Booke of Falconrye, by George Turberville, gent. printed in 1575, I find a whole chapter on the falcongentle, &c.
30 Two such opposed foes--] This is a modern sophistication. The old books have it-opposed kings. So that it appears, Shakspeare wrote, Two such opposed kin. Why he calls them kin was, because they were qualities residing in one and the same substance. And as the enmity of opposed kin generally rises higher than that between strangers, this circumstance adds a beauty to the expression,
Foes may be the right reading, or kings, but I think kin can hardly be admitted. Two kings are two opposite powers, two contending potentates, in both the natural and moral world. The word encamp is proper to commanders.
Foes is the reading of the oldest copy; kings of that in 1609.
prince of cats,] Tybert, the name given to the cat, in the story-book of Reynard the Fox.
WARBURTON. a gentleman of the very first house, &c.] Is a gentleman of the first rank, of the first eminence among these duellists; 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. The Clown, in As you like it, talks of the seventh cause in the same sense.
the hay !] All the terms of the modern fencing-school 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
Ι reason for it, cry out, ha!
JOHNSON. 34 Why, is not this a lamentable thing, grandsire,] Humorously apostrophising his ancestors, whose sober times were unacquainted with the fopperies here complained of.
35 - 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. my pump well flower'd.] 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. a wit of cheverel,] Cheverel is kid's skin.
38 My fan, Peter.] The business of Peter carrying the Nurse's fan, seems ridiculous according to modern manners; but I find such was formerly the practice. In an old pamphlet, called “ The Serving-man's Comfort,” 1598, we are informed, « The mistress must