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Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life; Whose misadventur'd piteous overthrows
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 re
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 mend1.
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 civill broyles broke into enmitie,
"Whose civill warre makes civill handes uncleane. "From forth the fatall loynes of these two foes
"A paire of starre-crost lovers tooke their life; "Whose misadventures, piteous ouerthrowes,
"(Through the continuing of their fathers' strife, "And death-markt passage of their parents' rage,)
"Is now the two howres traffique of our stage. "The which if you with patient eares attend,
"What here we want, wee'll studie to amend,” MALONE,
ESCALUS, Prince of Verona.
PARIS, a young Nobleman, Kinsman to the Prince.
An old Man, Uncle to Capulet.
ROMEO, Son to Montague.
MERCUTIO, Kinsman to the Prince, and Friend to
BENVOLIO, Nephew to Montague, and Friend to
TYBALT, Nephew to Lady Capulet.
SAMPSON, 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.
JULIET, Daughter to Capulet.
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
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 coals2 *. GRE. No, for then we should be colliers.
* Quarto A, Ile carrie no coales; and Quarto A, No, for if you doe you should be a collier.
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:
You, I say, Julian,
Wyll you beare no coles?"
Again, Nash, in his Have With You to Saffron Walden, 1595, "We will bear no coles, I warrant you." says:
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
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 -to stand to it: therefore, if thou art moved, thou run'st away.
SAM. A dog of that house shall move me to stand! I will take the wall of any man or maid of Montague's.
GRE. That shows thee a weak slave; for the weakest goes to the wall.
SAM. True; and therefore women, being the weaker vessels, are ever thrust to the wall :-therefore I will push Montague's men from the wall, and thrust his maids to the wall.
* Quarto A, If I be in choler Ile draw.
Malcontent, 1604: "Great slaves fear better than love, born naturally for a coal-basket." STEEVENS.
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. N°. 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.
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." STEEVENS. The phrase should seem to mean originally, We'll not submit to servile offices; and thence secondarily, We'll not endure injuries.
GRE. The quarrel is between our masters, and us their men.
SAM. 'Tis all one, I will show myself a tyrant: when I have fought with the men, I will be cruel with the maids 3; I will cut off their heads.
GRE. The heads of the maids ?
SAM. Ay, the heads of the maids, or their * maidenheads; take it in what sense thou wilt.
GRE. They must take it in sense, that feel it. SAM. Me they shall feel, while I am able to stand : and, 'tis known, I am a pretty piece of flesh.
GRE. 'Tis well, thou art not fish; if thou hadst, thou hadst been poor John 1. Draw thy tool; here comes two of the house of the Montagues 3.
* Quarto A, the. † Quarto A, Thou shalt see I am a bull. 3 - CRUEL with the maids ;] The first folio reads-civil with the maids. JOHNSON.
So does the quarto 1599; but the word is written ciuill. It was manifestly an error of the press. The first copy furnishes no help, the passage there standing thus: "Ile play the tyrant; Ile first begin with the maids, and off with their heads:" but the true reading is found in the undated quarto. MALONE.
poor John.] Is hake, dried, and salted. MALONE.
here comes Two of the house of the Montagues.] The word two, which was inadvertently omitted by the compositor in the quarto 1599, and of course in the subsequent impressions, I have restored from the first quarto of 1597, from which, in almost every page, former editors have drawn many valuable emendations in this play. The disregard of concord is in cha
It should be obverved, that the partizans 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 Gascoigne, 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 knowne from Capels, where they pass, "For ancient grutch whych long ago 'tweene these two houses MALONE.