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Ben. Nay, he will answer the letter's master, how he dares, being dared.
Mer. Alas, poor Romeo, he is already dead! stabbed with a white wench's black eye; shot thorough the ear with a love-song; the very pin of his heart cleft with the blind bow-boy's butt-shaft;3 And is he a man to encounter Tybalt?
Ben. Why, what is Tybalt?
Mer. More than prince of cats, I can tell you. 0, he is the courageous captain of compliments. He fights
3- the very pin of his heart cleft with the blind bow-boy's butt. shaft;] So, in Love's Labour's Lost:
“ Then she will get the upshot, by cleaving of the pin." See note on the word-pin, Vol. IV, p. 63. I butt-shaft was the kind of arrow used in shooting at butts. Steevens.
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 center of it. To hit this was the highest ambition of every marksman. So, in No Wit like a Woman's, a comedy, by Middleton, 1657:
“ They have shot two arrows without heads,
“And I'll cleave the black pin i’ the midst of the white." Again, in Marlowe's Tamburlaine, 1590:
“For kings are clouts that every man shoots at,
Malone. 4 More than prince of cats,] Tybert, the name given to the cat, in the story book of Reynard the Fox. Warburton. So, in Decker's Satiromastix, 1602:
" tho' you were Tybert, the long-tail'd prince of rats." Again, in Have with you to Saffron Walden, &c. 1598:
"— not Tibalt prince of cats,” &c. Steevens. It appears to me that these speeches are improperly divided, and that they ought to run thus:
Ben. Why, what is Tybalt more than prince of cats?
M. Mason. 5. I can tell you.] So the first quarto. These words are omitted in all the subsequent ancient copies. Malone.
0 -courageous captain of compliments.] A complete master of all the laws of ceremony, the principal man in the doctrine of
“ A man of compliments, whom right and wrong
“ Have chose as (impire,” says our author, of Don Armado, the Spaniard, in Love's Labour's Lost. Johnson.
as you sing prick-song, keeps time, distance, and proportion ;? rests me his minim rest,& one, two, and the third in your bosom : the very butcher of a silk button, a duellist, a duellist; a gentleman of the very first house, -of the first and second cause:1 Ah, the immortal passado! the punto reverso! the hay !
Ben. The what?
Mer. The pox of such antick, lisping, affecting fan-, tasticoes;3 these new tuners of accents! By Jesu, a
keeps time, distance, and proportion;] So Ben Jonson's Bobadil: “Note your distance, keep your due proportion of time."
Steevens. 8 his minim rest,] A minim is a note of slow time in musick, equal to two crotchets. Malone.
e — the very butcher of a silk button,] So, in The Return from Parnassus, 1606:
« Strikes his poinado at a button's breadth." This phrase also occurs in the Fantaisies de Bruscambille, 1612, p. 181: “- un coup de mousquet sans fourchette dans le sixies. me bouton --.” Steevens.
I- a gentleman of the very first house,-of the first and second cause :) i. e. one who pretends to be at the head of his family, and quarrels by the book. See a note on As you Like it, Act V, sc. iv.
Warburton. Tybalt cannot pretend to be at the head of his family, as both. Capulet and Romeo barred his claim to that elevation. “ A gen. tleman of the first house ;-of the first and second cause,” is a gentleman of the first rank, of the first eminence among these duel. lists; 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. Steevens.
We find the first of these expressions in Fletcher's Women Pleas'd:
" a gentleman 's gone then;
Malone. 2- the hay!) All the terms of the modern fencing-school were originally Italian; the rapier, or small thrusting sword, be. ing 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! Fohnson.
3 affecting fantasticoes; 1 Thus the oldest copy, and rightly. Modern editors, with the folios, &c. read-phantasies. Nash, in his Have with you to Saffron Walden, 1596, says " Follow some
· very good blade ! a very tall man!-a very good whore!
-Why, is not this a lamentable thing, grandsire, that we should be thus afflicted with these strange flies, these fashion-mongers, these pardonnez-moy's, 5 who stand so much on the new form, that they cannot sit at ease on the old bench?0 V, their bons, their bons!?
of these new-fangled Galiardo's and Signor Fantastico's,” &c. Again, in Decker's comedy of Old Fortunatus, 1600:-"I have danc'd with queens, dallied with ladies, worn strange attires, seen fantasticoes, convers'd with humorists,” &c. Steevens.
Fantasticoes is the reading of the first quarto, 1597; all the subsequent ancient copies read arbitrarily and corruptly-phantacies.
Malone 4 Why, is this not a lamentable thing, grandsire,) Humorously apostrophising his ancestors, whose sober times were unacquainted with the fopperies here complained of. Warburton.
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 con. tradiction would be endured. Johnson.
The old copies have—these pardon-mees, not, these pardon nez-mois. Theobald first substituted the French word, without any necessity. Malone. . If the French phrase be not substituted for the English one, wbere lies the ridicule designed by Mercutio ? " Their bons their buns,” immediately following, shows that Gallick phraseology was in our poet's view. So, in King Richard II:
“ Speak it in French, king; say, pardonnez-moy.” Steevens. 6 stand so much on the new form, that they cannot sit at ease on the olul bench.?] This conceit is lost, if the double meaning of the word foron be not attended to. Farmer.
A quibble on the two meanings of the word form occurs in Love's Labour's Lost, Act I, sc. i:- sitting with her on the form, and taken following her into the park; which, put together, is, in manner and form following." Steevens.
70, their bons, their bons !) Mercutio is here ridiculing those frenchified fantastical coxcombs whom he calls pardonnez-moi's: and therefore, I suspect here he meant to write French too.
O their bon's! their bon's ! i. e. how ridiculous they make themselves in crying out, good, and being in extacies with every trifle; as he had just described them before:
" a very good blade!" &c. Theobald. The old copies read-0, their bones, their bones! Mr. Theobald's emendation is confirmed by a passage in Green's Tu Quoque, from which we learn that bon jour was the common salutation of those who affected to appear fine gentlemen in our author's time: “No, I want the bon jour and the tu qiloque, which yonder gentleman has." Malone.
Mer. Without his roe, like a dried herring :-( flesh, flesh, how art thou fishified !-Now is he for the numbers that Petrarch flowed in : Laura, to his lady, was but a kitchen-wench ;-marry, she had a better love to berhyme her: Dido, a dowdy; Cleopatra, a gipsy; Helen, and Hero, hildings and harlots; Thisbé, a grey eye or so, 8 but not to the purpose.-Signior Romeo, bon jour! there 's a French salutation to your French slop. 9 You gave us the counterfeit fairly last night.
Rom. Good morrow to you both. What counterfeit did I give you?
Mer. The slip, sir, the slip; Can you not conceive?
8 Thisbé a grey eye or so,] He means to allow that Thisbé bad a very fine eye; for from various passages it appears that a grey eye was in our author's time thought eminently beautiful. This may seem strange to those who are not conversant with ancient phraseology; but a grey eye undoubtedly meant what we now denominate a blue eye. Thus, in Venus and Adonis:
“Her two blue windows faintly she upheaveth,”— i. e, the windows or lids of her blue eyes. In the very same poen the eyes of Venus are termed grey:
" Mine eyes are grey and bright, and quick in turning.” Again, in Cymbeline :
“To see the inclosed lights, now canopy'd
- With blue of heaven's own tinct.” In Twelfth Night, Olivia says, “I will give out divers schedules of my beauty ;-as item, two lips, indifferent red; item, two grey eyes, with lids to them,” &c. So Julia, in The Two Gentleinen of Verona, speaking of her rival's eyes, as eminently beautiful, says.com
“Her eyes are grey as glass, and so are mine.” And Chaucer has the same comparison:
"- hire eyes gray as glas." This comparison proves decisively what I have asserted; for clear and transparent glass is not what we call grey, but blue or azure. Malone.
If grey eyes signified blue eyes, how happened it that our au. thor, in The Tempest, should have styled Sycorax a-blue-eyed hag, instead of a grey-eyed one? See Vol. II, p. 31; and note in Titus Andronicus, Act II, sc. ii, Vol. XVII. Steevens.
9 — your French slop.] Slops are large loose breeches or trouw sers, worn at preset only by sailors. Steevens.
See Vol. IV, p. 78, n. 1. Malone. 1 What counterfeit &C..? Mer. The slip, sir, the slip;] To understand this play upoil. Rom. Pardon, good Mercutio, my business was great; and, in such a case as mine, a man may strain courtesy.
Mer. That's as much as to say-such a case as yours constrains a man to bow in the hams.
Rom. Meaning to court'sy.
the words counterfeit and slip, it should be observed that in our author's time there was a counterfeit piece of money distin. guished by the name of a slip. This will appear in the following instances : “ And therefore he went and got him certain slips, which are counterfeit pieces of money, being brasse, and covered over with silver, which the common people call slips.” Thieves falling out, True Men come by their Goods, by Robert Greene.
56 I had like thave been
“ A counterfeit.” Magnetick Lady, Act III, sc. vi. Other instances may be seen in Dodsley's Old Plays, Vol. V, p. 396, edit. 1780. Reed. Again, in Skialetheia, a collection of epigrams, satires, &c. 1598:
" Is not he fond then which a slip receives
“ With copper guilt, is but a slip ." It appears from a passage in Gascoigne's Adventures of Master 7. I. no date, that a slip was “ a piece of money which was then fallen to three halfpence, and they called them slippes." P. 281.
Steevens. pink of courtesy,] This appears to have been an ancient formulary mode of encomium; for in a ballad written in the time of Edward II, (MS. Harl. No. 2253,) we have the following lines:
“ Heo is lilie of largesse,
“Heo is solsecle of suetnesse.” &c. Steevens. 3 then is my pump well flower'd.) Here is a vein of wit 400 thin to be easily found. The fundamental idea is, that Romeo wore pinked pumps, that is, punched with holes in figures. Johnson.
It was the custom to wear ribbons in the shoes formed into the shape of roses, or of any other flowers. So, in The Masque of Flowers, acted by the Gentlemen of Gray's-Inn, 1614:-"Every masker's puinp was fastened with a fiower suitable to his cap.” Steedens.
4 Well said:] So the original copy. The quarto of 1599, and