previous next

carry coals, to put up with insults, to submit to any degradation ( “Il a du feu en la teste. Hee is very chollericke, furious, or couragious; he will carrie no coales. Cotgrave's Fr. and Engl. Dict. sub “Teste” ): “the men would carry coals,” HENRY V., iii. 2. 45 ; “we'll not carry coals,” ROMEO AND JULIET, i. 1. 1. “From the mean nature of this occupation, it seems to have been somewhat hastily concluded, that a man who would carry coals would submit to any indignity. Hence, to carry coals, in the sense of tamely putting up with an affront, occurs perpetually in our old writers, both serious and comic.” . . . “In all great houses, but particularly in the royal residences, there were a number of mean and dirty dependents, whose office it was to attend the wood-yard, sculleries, etc. Of these (for in the lowest deep there was a lower still) the most forlorn wretches seem to have been selected to carry coals to the kitchens, halls, etc. To this smutty regiment, who attended the progresses, and rode in the carts with the pots and kettles, which, with every other article of furniture, were then moved from palace to palace, the people, in derision, gave the name of black guards, a term since become sufficiently familiar, and never properly explained.” Gifford's notes on Jonson's Works, vol. ii. pp. 169, 179. (In Lyly's Midas mention is made of “one of the Cole house,” sig. F 4, ed. 1592, that is, one of the drudges about the palace of King Midas.)

hide Dictionary Entry Lookup
Use this tool to search for dictionary entries in all lexica.
Search for in
hide References (1 total)
  • Cross-references in text-specific dictionaries from this page (1):
    • William Shakespeare, Henry V, 3.2
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: