Gambar halaman

young English travellers in our author's time." Knight says, "Authors are not much in the habit of satirizing themselves; and yet, according to Farmer and his school, Shakespeare knew 'neither Latin, French, nor Italian.""

"What think you of the ScoTTISH lord, his neighbour"-"Portia's reply could not be palatable to King James, and the Scotch who came to England on his accession: therefore, in the folio, 1623, other is substituted for Scottish;' whereas the quartos, which were printed more than two years before James I. came to the throne, preserve the original reading."—Collier.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


SQUANDERED abroad"-In a letter in Woodfall's "Theatrical Repertory," 1801, it is stated that " 'Macklin, mistakenly, spoke the word with a tone of reprobation, implying that Antonio had, as we say of prodigals, unthriftly squandered his wealth." The meaning is simply, scattered; of which we find an example in "Howell's Letters:"-" The Jews, once an elect people, but now grown contemptible, and strangely squandered up and down the world." In Dryden's" Annus Mirabilis,” we have the same expression applied to ships :

They drive, they squander, the huge Belgian fleet.

"What news on the RIALTO?"-The Rialto spoken of throughout this play is, in all probability, not the bridge to which belong our present associations with the name. The bridge was built in 1591.

Knight says "The Rialto of ancient commerce is an island,- -one of the largest of those on which Venice is built. Its name is derived from riva alta,-high shore, and its being larger, and somewhat more elevated than the others, accounts for its being the first inhabited. The most ancient church of the city is there; and there were erected the buildings for the magistracy and commerce of the infant settlement. The arcades used for these purposes were burned down in the great fire of 1513, and rebuilt on the same spot in 1555, as they now stand.

concede the general immorality of any such return for the use of money, so far as private conscience is concerned, and is content to treat the subject merely as permitted by positive law. In old English, use, usance, and usury, all alike meant interest for the use of money. Bacon so employs the words. After the legal rate was established, usury gradually acquired its present distinct meaning, first in the courts and then in common language. The popular argument in Lord Bacon's time, was, as we find it stated by Meares, that "it is against nature for money to beget money," which is what the Poet alludes to in his phrase of "a breed of barren metal," etc. Aristotle had long the credit, if such it be, of inventing this argument, but his later commentators have shown that it does not belong to him.

"the RIPE wants of my friend"-" Ripe wants are wants come to a height, wants that can have no longer delay. Perhaps we might read-rife wants, wants that come thick upon him."--JOHNSON.

[blocks in formation]


"shall we be BEHOLDING to you"-Generally printed according to modern use, beholden;" but in the age of Elizabeth the active was frequently used for the pas sive participle, and as all the old editions so print it, it was doubtless thus written, and should not be altered unless we choose to obliterate all the obsolete forms of speech from an author's page.

"SPET on me"-This is generally modernized into spit, or spate, but is here retained as it is printed in every old edition; because it is the ancient preterite, Pegge's Anecdotes,") which we ought not to change if we wish to retain the language in which the Poet wrote.


"A breed FOR barren metal"-The folio reads, as it is more generally quoted, "of barren metal."

(see Rialto Island is situated at the bend of the Grand Canal, by which it is bounded on two sides, while the Rio delle Beccarie and another small canal bound it on the other two. There is a vegetable market there daily; and, though the great squares by St. Mark's are now the places where merchants most do congregate,' the old rendezvous is still so thronged, and has yet so much the character of a 'mart,' as to justify now, as formerly, the question, What news on the Rialto ?'"

[ocr errors]

"He lends out money gratis, and brings down The rate of usance here with us in Venice." "It is almost incredyhle what gaine the Venetians receive by the usurie of the Jewes, both privately and in common. For in everie citie the Jews kepe open shops of usurie, taking gaiges of ordinarie for xv in the hundred by the yere; and if, at the yere's end, the gaige be not redeemed, it is forfeite, or at least dooen away to a great disadvantage, by reason whereof the Jewes are out of measure wealthie in those parts."-THOMAS'S "History of Italy," 1561.

"once UPON THE HIP"-Thus, in OTHELLO:

I'll have our Michael Cassio on the hip. The expression is taken from the terms of wrestling.

"and my well-won thrift,

Which he calls interest."

In order to understand this, and to enter into the feeling of the play, it must be borne in mind that the moral distinction between interest, as allowed by law, and usury, or excess extorted beyond the legal rates, was not then so distinctly marked as at present, and was rather a distinction in the law than in popular feeling or language. The old moral and religious objection was to any interest or payment for the use of money at all. This continued for a long time, and is not yet extinct. That acute and enlightened lawyer, Pothier, in the middle of the last century, more than once appears to

"FEARFUL guard"-A guard that is the cause of fear, because not to be trusted. Fearful was anciently often used for exciting fear, and is not yet quite obsolete. To fear is used in the next scene for to fright.


"the Prince of Morocco"-" The stage-direction in the folios and quartos is, 'Enter Morochus a tawnie Moore, all in white, and three or foure followers accordingly,' etc. This is curious, as it shows the manner in which Moors were usually dressed on the stage in Shakespeare's time. Doubtless, Othello was 'all in white,' unless, indeed, he wore the military uniform of the Venetian state."-COLLIER.

"And let us make incision for your love,

To prove whose blood is reddest, his, or mine." "Red blood is a traditionary sign of courage. Macbeth calls one of his frighted soldiers a lily-livered boy' again, in this play, cowards are said to have livers as white as milk; and an effeminate and timorous man is termed a milksop."-Illust. Shak.

"It was customary in the east for lovers to testify the violence of their passion by cutting themselves in the sight of their mistresses; and the fashion seems to have been considered as a mark of gallantry in Shakespeare's time, when young men frequently stabbed their arms with daggers, and, mingling the blood with wine, drank it off to the healths of their mistresses."SINGER.

"And hedg'd me by his wIT"-" Wit" is here used in its ancient sense of mental power in general. To wite, from the Anglo-Saxon witan, is, to know.

"I would OUT-STARE the sternest eyes that look"This reading is that of Roberts's quarto, and sustained by the sense, and by the antithesis of the next line, "out-brave." The other quarto, and the folio, have o're-stare a word not known, and giving no clear sense, though preferred in some late editions.

"beaten by his PAGE"-This is Theobald's happy emendation; adopted in all editions since his time, The old copies have "beaten by his rage," Lichas was the servant of Hercules.


"Enter LAUNCELOT GOBBO"-The old copies read, "Enter the Clown alone;" and throughout the play Launcelot Gobbo is called the Clown at most of his entrances, or exits.

"LAUNCELOT GOBBO."-"My notion of Launcelot, as I have seen him, has not been reflected from the stage. The patch is kind enough;' yet he is amazingly wrapped up in self, and his soliloquies are intense on that darling subject, An obtrusive feature in his character, is the conceit in his skull that he is better than he should be. Having been called by one who did not see him, 'master,' and 'young gentleman,' he insists, over and over again, on his being 'young master Launcelot,' and at last styles himself the young gentleman,' All this, like every thing he says, is a mixture of vanity and drollery; on the latter he stakes his fame as a wit. Nature never formed a more egregious coxcomb; he is Lord Foppington in low life, as far as his imbecility can reach. In the same strain he talks of his manly spirit,' and of the Jew's having done him wrong;' as if he and his master were on an equality, No doubt his solace as a servant was, that he must, sooner or later, owing to his intrinsic merit, come to excellent fortune. He spells his fate on his palm; where, though neither coronet nor mastership offers itself to his imagination, there is something of equal value to the young animal-eleven widows, and nine maids, is a simple coming-in for one man.' His jokes are generally failures; but, coming from him, they are laughable. When suddenly reproached with his conduct towards the Moorish woman, his answer isIt is much that the Moor should be more than reason; but if she be less than an honest woman, she is, indeed, more than I took her for. This elaborate nonsense, this grasp at a pun without catching it, uttered in confusion, and in eagerness to shuffle out of the accusation, is as natural as it is ridiculous, It gives occasion to Lorenzo's observing How every fool can play upon the word!' which, together with what follows, may be mistaken for a self-condemnation, made at hazard, on the part of Shakespeare. By no means: the difficulty is to play well upon a word; besides, as Launcelot then and afterwards proves, the poverty of a jest may be enriched in a fool's mouth, owing to the complacency with which he deals it out; and because there are few things which provoke laughter more than feebleness in a great attempt at a small matter."-C. A. BROWs, Shak. Autobiog. P. —SCORN running with thy HEELS"-Stevens suggests the following marvellous emendation-Do not run : scorn running; withe thy heels, i, e, connect them with a withe, (a band made of osiers,) as the legs of cattle are hampered in some countries, But, in fact, "to scorn with heels" was a figurative phrase for thorough contempt. It is found also in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, as well as in other books of the age, It is here humorously applied to the running away.


"-away!' says the fiend; for the heavens,' " etc.-Some of the editors think that the line needs correction because it is not likely that the Poet would make the devil conjure Launcelot for heaven's sake, Singer observes, with better taste, that—

"For the heavens' was merely a petty oath. To make the fiend conjure Lanncelot to do a thing for 'heaven's sake' is a specimen of that 'acute nonsense' which Barrow makes one of the species of wit, and which Shakespeare was sometimes very fond of.”

"-being more than SAND-BLIND"-i. e. "Having an imperfect sight, as if there was sand in the eye. Gravelblind, a coinage of Launcelot's, is the exaggeration of sand-blind. Pur-blind, or pore-blind, if we may judge from a sentence of Latimer's, is something less than sand-blind:-They be pur-blind and sand-blind.' ".


"which is the way to master Jew's" It does not appear that the Jews (hardly used everywhere) had more need of patience in Venice than in other states. The same traditional reports against them exist there as elsewhere, testifying to the popular hatred and prejudice; but they were too valuable a part of a commercial population not to be more or less considered aud taken care of. An island was appropriated to them; but they long ago overflowed into other parts of the city, Many who have grown extremely rich by moneylending have now fine palaces in various quarters; and of these, some are among the most respectable and enlightened of the citizens. The Jews who people their quarter are such as are unable to rise out of it. Its buildings are ancient and lofty, but ugly and sordid. 'Our synagogue' is, of course, there. It is situated on the canal which leads to Mestre. There are houses old enough to have been Shylock's, with balconies from which Jessica might have talked; and ground enough beneath, between the house and the water, for her lover to stand, hidden in the shadow, or a 'penthouse.' Hence, too, her gondola might at once start for the main land, without having to traverse any part of the city."-KNIGHT.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]


"Your worship's friend, and Launcelot"―The same form of expression occurs in LOVE'S LABOUR LOST"Your servant, and Costard." It would seem, from the context, that the old man's name was Launcelot. beseech you, talk you of young master Launcelot," says the clown, when the old man has named himself. Dobbin, my PHILL-HORSE"-Phill-horse, or fillhorse, is the shaft-horse; the horse that goes between the shafts, or fills: in more moderu use, the thill-horse.

[ocr errors]

"I have here a dish of doves"-Ch. A. Brown has expressed his decided conviction that some of the dramas of Shakespeare exhibit the most striking proofs that our Poet had visited Italy, The passage before us is cited by Mr. Brown as one of these proofs;-"Where did he obtain his numerous graphic touches of national manners? where did he learn of an old villager's coming into the city with 'a dish of doves' as a present to his son's master? A present thus given, and in our days too, and of doves, is not uncommon in Italy, I myself have partaken there, with due relish, in memory of poor old Gobbo, of a dish of doves, presented by the father of a servant."-Shak, Autoblog, Poems..

"More GUARDED"-i, e. More laced, or fringed; the gold-livery binding being, as Malone explains the donation, the guards of the cloth.

"Well if any man in Italy have a fairer table, which doth offer to swear upon a book, I shall have good fortune."

The best explanation of this passage is given by Mr. Tyrwhitt:-" Launcelot, applauding himself for his success with Bassanio, and looking into the palm of his hand, (which, by fortune-tellers, is called the table,) breaks out into the following reflection-Well, if any man in Italy have a fairer table, which doth offer to swear upon a book I shall have good fortune: that is, a table which doth not only promise, but offers to swear upon a book that I shall have good fortune."

"Go to; here's a simple LINE OF LIFE!"-"Palmistry, or chiromancy, had once its learned professors as well as astrology. The printing-press consigned the delusion to the gypsies. Chiromancy and physiognomy were quce

kindred sciences. The one has passed away among other credulities belonging to ages which we call ignorant and superstitious. The other, although fashionable half a century ago, professed by none, but, more or less, has its influence upon all. In the Pictorial edition there is a woodcut, copied from a book with which Shakespeare must have been familiar:- Briefe introductions, both natural, pleasaunte, and also delectable, unto the Art of Chiromancy, or manuel divination, and Phisiognomy: with circumstances upon the faces of the Signes. Also certain Canons or Rules upon Diseases and Sicknesses, &c. Written in ye Latin tongue by Jhon Indagine, Prieste, and now lately translated into Englishe, by Fabian Withers. For Richard Jugge, 1558.' Launcelot, as well as his betters, were diligent students of the mysteries interpreted by Jhon Indagine, Prieste;' and a simple or complex line of life were indications that made even some of the wise exult or tremble."KNIGHT.

"sad OSTENT"-i. e. Ostentation; not, as now, confined to the show of vanity, but for any external show, as here, of grief or gravity.


"If a Christian Do not play the knave, and get thee, I am much deceived"-The three original authorities agree in this reading, and the meaning is clearly, "if a Christian do not play the knave and obtain thee," etc. Instead of the fellow's shrewd guess at Jessica's inclinations, the editors have generally preferred the later reading of did for "do," intimating a doubt as to her birth, which the poor joke it conveys has made the popular reading.



"Enter SHYLOCK and LAUNCELOT"-The old stagedirection is, Enter Jew and his man, that was the Clowne." In a portion of this edition the stage-direction, to which this note refers, was unintentionally omitted.

"— on BLACK MONDAY last"-Stowe, the Chronicler, thus describes the origin of this name:-"Black-Monday is Easter-Monday, and was so called on this occasion: in the 34th of Edward III., (1360,) the 14th of April, and the morrow after Easter-day, King Edward, with his host, lay before the city of Paris: which day was full dark of mist and hail, and so bitter cold, that many men died on their horses' backs with the cold. Wherefore unto this day it hath been call Black-Monday."

"And the vile SQUEALING of the wry-neck'd fife" — Two out of the three original editions read thus. One quarto has squaling. In Shylock's mouth the former is more expressive of disgust.

[ocr errors]

"the wry-neck'd FIFE"-Commentators differ as to whether the fife" is here the instrument or the musician. Boswell has given a quotation from "Barnaby Rich's Aphorisms," 1618, which to me seems decisive. "A fife is a wry-neckt musician, for he always looks away from his instrument." But Knight still maintains that Shakespeare intended the instrument, principally from the circumstance that the passage is an imitation of Horace, in which the instrument is decidedly meant:

Prima nocte domum claude; neque in vias,

Sub cantu querulæ despice tibiæ.-(Carm, lib. iii. 7.) Knight adds that "Independent of the internal evidence derived from the imitation, the form of the old English flute-the fife being a small flute-justifies, we think, the epithet wry-neck'd.' This flute was called the flute à bec, the upper part or mouth-piece resembling the beak of a bird. And this form was as old as the Pan of antiquity."

But "fife," for fifer, was undoubtedly the old phrase. "Wry-neck'd," as applied to the musician, is far more graphically descriptive, and therefore, more Shakespearian; and I have no belief in any intended imitation of Horace, for the thought was equally obvious to both poets.

"Will be worth a JEWEss' eye"--"The play upon this word alludes to the common proverbial expression, 'worth a Jew's eye.' That worth was the price which the persecuted Jews paid to avoid mutilation and death. When the rapacious King John extorted an enormous sum from the Jew of Bristol by drawing his teeth, the threat of putting out an eye would have the like effect upon other Jews. The former prevalence of the saying is proved from the fact that we still retain it, although its meaning is now little known."--KNIGHT.


"How like a YOUNKER"-So all the old copies. It is the same word as younger and youngling.

Johnson says "Gray (dropping the allusion to the prodigal) caught from this passage the imagery of the following:"

Fair laughs the morn, and soft the zephyr blows,
While proudly riding o'er the azure realm

In gallant trim the gilded vessel goes;

Youth on the prow, and pleasure at the helm;
Regardless of the sweeping whirlwind's sway,

That, hush'd in grim repose, expects his evening prey.

"The SCARFED bark"-The vessel that is gay with

[blocks in formation]

"The Prince of Arragon intends to say-By that 'many' may be meant the foolish multitude. The fourth folio first introduced a phraseology more agreeable to our ears at present-Of the fool multitude. But change, merely for the sake of elegance, is dangerous. Many modes of speech were familiar in Shakespeare's age that are now no longer used. I have met with many examples of this kind of phraseology. So in Plutarch's 'Life of Cæsar,' as translated by North, (1575,) He answered that these fair long-haired men made him not afraid, but the lean and whitely-faced fellows; meaning that by Brutus and Cassius.'"-MALONE.

"So begone: you are sped"-Capell misprints this line, "So farewell, sir, you are sped;" and from whence he derived the corruption it is difficult to say. Malone and others interpolate sir after "begone," although there is no warrant for it in any of the oldest editions. It first found its way into the second folio, and certainly lessens the force of the line.

"Patiently to bear my WROTH"-Stevens says that "wroth" is here put for ruth, or misfortune; and it is thus spelled in Chapman's "Homer," and other old poets.

"Enter a MESSENGER"-"This is the stage-direction in all the old copies, for which modern editors have substituted Enter a Servant.' It is clear that he was not a mere servant, not only from the language put into his mouth, but because, when he asks, Where is my lady?' Portia replies, 'Here; what would my lord?' The messenger was a person of rank attending on Portia."— COLLIER.


"KNAPPED ginger"-i. e. Snapped or broke ginger. "Thou torturest me, Tubal: it was my turquoise," etc.

"The turquoise is a well-known precious stone, found in the veins of the mountains on the confines of Persia to the east. In old times its value was much enhanced by the magic properties attributed to it in common with other precious stones, one of which was that it faded or brightened its hue as the health of the wearer increased or grew less. This is alluded to by Ben Jonson in his 'Sejanus:'

And true as turkise in my dear lord's ring,
Look well or ill with him.

Other virtues were also imputed to it, all of which were either monitory or preservative to the wearer. Thomas Nicols, in his translation of Anselm de Boot's 'Lapidary,' says, this stone is likewise said to take away all enmity, and to reconcile man and wife.' This quality may have moved Leah to present it to Shylock. It is evident that he valued it more for its imaginary virtues, or as a memorial of his wife, than for its pecuniary worth." STEVENS.

"a wilderness of monkeys"-"What a fine Hebraism (says Hazlitt) is implied in this expression!"


"Beshrew your eyes, They have O'ER-LOOK'D me.'

"O'er-look'd me" is here used in the sense of enchanted me, taken from the old popular notion of the influence of the looks of witches or fairies. So, in the MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR :

Vile worm, thou wast o'er-look'd even from thy birth.

- Prove it so,

Let fortune go to hell for it, not I." The meaning here is "If the worst I fear should hapand it should prove in the event that I, who am pen, justly yours by the free donation I have made you of myself, should yet not be yours in consequence of an unlucky choice, let fortune go to hell for robbing you of your just due, not I for violating my oath."-HEATH.

but 'tis to PEIZE the time"-To peize is to poise, weigh, or balance; and figuratively, to keep in suspense, or to delay. Marlowe uses the word in the sense of weighed:

For from the earth to heaven is Cupid raised, Where fancy is in equal balance peized. "Fancy" here, as often in SHAKESPEARE, is synonymous with love.

"Reply, reply"-These words, which in this edition, as in those of Knight and that of Collier, are printed as part of the song, were considered by Johnson to stand in the old copies as a marginal direction; and thus, from Johnson's time, in most of the editions the line has been suppressed. In all the old copies the passage is printed thus, in Italic type

How begot, how nourished. Replie, replie The reply is then made; and, probably, by a second voice. We agree with Knight that "The mutilation of the song, in the belief that the words were a stage

direction, is one of the most tasteless corruptions of the many for which the editors of SHAKESPEARE are answerable."

"whose hearts are all as false

As stairs of sand," etc.

The comparison refers to the difficult ascent of any sandy elevation giving way under the feet, and like other transient colloquial comparisons, is not meant to be carried out into particulars. The old spelling of stairs was staiers, as in the quartos, or stayers, as in the folio. Knight retains the folio spelling in his text, as giving the meaning of "bulwarks of sand"-an assumption of strength without reality.

"And these assume but valour's EXCREMENT"-The last word is used, as in HAMLET, WINTER'S TALE, and the COMEDY OF ERRORS, in its derivative sense, from excresco, for every thing growing or proceeding from the body.

"Thus ornament is but the GUILED shore"-For

Thus we

guileful, the participle used adjectively, as was frequent in the poetic language of Elizabeth's age. find, in OTHELLO, "delighted beauty" for delightful beauty.

"Thy PALENESS moves me more than eloquence”— Many of the later editors, adopting Warburton's conjecture, read, "thy plainness;" but the early editions all read "paleness," and this epithet is considered as peculiarly appropriate to lead, in the writers of the sixteenth century. "Paleness like lead," and similar phrases, may be found in Skelton and others.

The chief recommendation to the proposed change is that silver has just been called “pale," and some other epithet seems now required. It is probably merely the carelessness of rapid composition-such repetitions of words being one of the most frequent blemishes in all writings, which subsequent revisions generally remove. Yet if, as Malone suggests, a strong emphasis is laid on thy, so as to contrast the paleness of lead with that of silver, no amendment will be wanted. But if an amendment be required, I prefer Farmer's alteration— leaving "paleness" to stand, and changing "pale and common drudge" to stale and common, as applied to silver.

"In measure RAIN thy joy"-It may be doubted whether we ought to read “rain,” or rein: the old spelling, raine, having either meaning.

"And leave itself UNFURNISH'D"-i. e. "Unfurnished with a companion or fellow. In Fletcher's Lover's Progress, Alcidon says to Clarangé, on delivering Lidian's challenge, which Clarangé accepts:

-you are a noble gentleman,

Will't please you bring a friend; we are two of us, And pity, either of us should be unfurnish’d. The hint for this passage appears to have been taken from Greene's History of Faire Bellora;' afterwards published under the title of A Paire of Turtle Doves:" If Apelles had beene tasked to have drawne her counterfeit, her two bright burning lampes would have so dazzled his quick-seeing sences, that quite dispairing to expresse with his cunning pensill so admirable a worke of nature, he had been inforced to have staid his hand, and left this earthly Venus unfinished.' A preceding passage in Bassanio's speech might have been suggested by the same novel: What are our curled and crisped lockes, but snares and nets to catch and entangle the hearts of gazers,' etc."-MALONE AND STEVENS.

"--sum of NOTHING"-So the folio. Both quartos read "sum of something;" which is the ordinary text. We agree with Mason, Knight, and Collier in preferring the reading of the folio, as it is Portia's intention in this speech to undervalue herself in comparison with what she would wish to be for Bassanio's sake.

"-and SALERIO"-"A Messenger from Venice" is added in the stage-direction of the quartos. Knight thinks this should be Salanio. But in the scenes just be

fore and just after he is at Venice-while the name of Salarino will not agree with the metre. It may have been a slip of the author's memory, by which the name was altered without intending a new character.

"I bid my VERY friends and countrymen"-True and real friends a common sense, anciently, of very, now retained only in a few phrases, as, "He is the very man for it"-i. e. the true man for it.


"Consisteth of all nations"-The sense of these lines is clear, though the construction is not a little involved: Antonio says, that the duke cannot deny the course of law, because if the commodity, or advantage, which strangers enjoy in Venice be denied, that denial will much impeach the justice of the state, which derives its profit from all nations. No change of the ancient text seems necessary, though Capel, and Knight after him, print the lines thus altered:

Ant. The duke cannot deny the course of law,
For the commodity that strangers have
With us in Venice; if it be denied,

"Twill much impeach the justide of the state.


"Unto the TRANECT"-"Shakespeare most likely ob tained this word from some novel to which he resorted for his plot. It is supposed to be derived from the Italian tranare, (to draw,) owing to the passage-boat on the Brenta being drawn over a dam by a crane, at a place about five miles from Venice."-COLLIER.

"I could not do WITHAL"-An idiom of the time for I could not help it. See Gifford's " Ben Jonson," note on "Silent Woman."


"A Court of Justice"-"The whole of the final scene is a master-piece of dramatic skill. The legal acuteness, the passionate declamation, the sound maxims of jurisprudence, the wit and irony interspersed in it, the fluctuations of hope and fear in the different persons, and the completeness and suddenness of the catastrophe, cannot be paralleled. Shylock, who is his own counsel, defends himself well, and is triumphant on all the general topics that are urged against him, and only fails through a legal flaw. The keenness of his revenge awakens all his faculties, and he beats back all opposition to his purpose, whether grave or gay, whether of art or argument, with an equal degree of earnestness and self-possession.”—Hazlitt.

"his ENVY's reach"-Envy, of old, was often used in the sense of hatred, malice; a sense often found in our English Bible.

"Thoul't show thy mercy and REMORSE"-Remorse here means pity, as in MEASURE FOR MEASURE, and elsewhere.

"Thou wilt not only LOOSE the forfeiture"-All the copies have "loose the forfeiture," which, as it gives an appropriate meaning, taking loose in the sense of release, is retained in this edition, though generally altered to lose.

[ocr errors]

•Enow to press a ROYAL MERCHANT down," etc. Warburton and Johnson remark that "royal merchant" is not merely a ranting epithet as applied to merchants, for such were to be found at Venice in the Sanudos, the Giustiniani, the Grimaldi, etc. This epithet was striking, and well understood in Shakespeare's time, when Gresham was dignified with the title of the royal merchant, both from his wealth and because he constantly transacted the mercantile business of Queen Elizabeth.

"But, say, it is my HUMOUR-"The worthy Corporal Nym hath this apology usually at his fingers' ends, and Shylock condescends to excuse his extravagant cruelty

as a humour, or irresistible propensity of the mind. The word 'humour' is not used in its modern signification, but for a peculiar quality which sways and masters the individual through all his actions."-WALTER SCOTT. In Rowland's "Epigrams," No. 27 amply illustrates this phrase:

Aske Humors, why a fether he doth weare?
It is his humour (by the Lord) heele sweare, etc.

"Cannot contain their urine for AFFECTION:

Of what it likes, or loaths."

With Collier, we give the text as printed and pointed in all the original editions, with the single change of "sway" for sways. The sense is then obvious. After giving other examples to the same effect, Shylock adds that some men are affected, physically, by the sound of the bagpipe: for, whoever or whatever are the masters of passion, they govern and incline it to the mood of its likings or loathings. If the reader, like many of the commentators, is not satisfied with this reading, he may make his own selection among the editorial conjectures. Rowe and Pope preserved the old punctuation, and gave the text thus:

Masterless passion sways it to the mood
Of what it likes, or loaths.

The next reading is

[blocks in formation]

Master of passion, sways it to the mood, etc.

Stevens adopted an anonymous writer's conjecture of— affection,

[ocr errors]

Mistress of passion, sways it to the mood, etc. Any one of the above readings might have come from the Poet's pen, and the difference of sense is scarcely worth the pages of controversy it has occasioned.

"Why he cannot abide A GAPING PIG"-" A pig prepared for the table is most probably meant, for in that state is the epithet gaping' most applicable to this animal. So, in Fletcher's Elder Brother:'

And they stand gaping like a roasted pig. And in Nashe's 'Pierce Pennylesse, his Supplication to the Devil,' (1592,) the following passage may serve to confirm the conjecture:-- The causes conducting unto wrath are as diverse as the actions of a man's life. Some will take on like a madman if they see a pig come to the table. Sotericus, the surgeon, was cholerick at the sight of a sturgeon,' etc."-SINGER.


-a WOOLLEN bag-pipe"-So the old copies. It is ordinarily written swollen bagpipe, upon the suggestion of Sir John Hawkins. Dr. Johnson would read wooden. The old reading has the testimony of Dr. Leyden, in his edition of The Complaynt of Scotland," who informs us that the Lowland bagpipe commonly had the bag or sack covered with woollen cloth, of a green colour; a practice which, he adds, prevailed in the northern counties of England.

"When they are FRETTEN" So both the old quartos, and there seems no reason to abandon this form of the participle, though the folio and later editions have fretted.

"To cut the forfeiture from that BANKROUT there"— I have preserved the old orthography of the word now spelt bankrupt, because that was the uniform mode of the age, and retains the etymology of a word, the precise meaning of which has long been the subject of legal and constitutional discussion in the United States.

"You stand WITHIN HIS DANGER"-" Within his danger" was anciently equivalent to "within his power." Thus, in North's "Plutarch," a book familiar to Shakespeare, Pompey is said to have brought the pirates "within his danger;" thence it became familiarly applied to the power of the creditor over another person. Here both meanings seem included.

"The quality of mercy is not strain'd"-Hooker's magnificent personification of "Law," considered in its broadest sense, as a right rule of moral and social action,

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »