home contact
Romeo and Juliet Glossary
carry coals (1.1)

    Gregory, o' my word, we'll not carry coals. (1)

carry coals, put up with insults. A phrase very common in the old dramatists and owing its origin to the fact that the carriers of coals were the lowest of menials. Cp. e.g. H.V. iii.2.49, "Nym and Bardolph are sworn brothers in filching, and in Calais they stole a fire-shovel: I knew by that piece of service the men would carry coals"; Jonson, Every Man Out of His Humour, v.1.18,9, "here comes one that will carry coals, ergo, will hold my dog"; Chapman, May Day, iii., speaks of "an uncole-carrying spirit." From the same source we have the word blackguard as a term of abuse, it being originally applied to "the smutty regiment," as Gifford calls them, "who attended the [sovereign's] progresses, and rode with the pots and kettles, which, with every other article of furniture, were then moved from palace to palace" ... .

Back to Romeo and Juliet (1.1)


Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. Ed. K. Deighton. New York: MacMillan and Co., 1903. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < >.


Related Articles

 Themes in Romeo and Juliet
 Annotated Balcony Scene, Act 2
 Blank Verse and Rhyme in Romeo and Juliet
 Sources for Romeo and Juliet

 Romeo and Juliet Plot Summary (Acts 1 and 2)
 Romeo and Juliet Plot Summary (Acts 3, 4 and 5)
 Romeo and Juliet: Teacher's Notes and Classroom Discussion
 The Five Stages of Plot Development in Romeo and Juliet

 How to Pronounce the Names in Romeo and Juliet
 Introduction to Romeo
 Introduction to Juliet
 Introduction to Mercutio
 Introduction to The Nurse

 Shakespeare on Fate
 Famous Quotations from Romeo and Juliet
 Stage History of Romeo and Juliet
 Romeo and Juliet Essay Topics
 Romeo and Juliet: Q & A
 All About Queen Mab
 Quotations About William Shakespeare
 Shakespeare's Boss