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Belmont. A Room in Portia's House.
Enter Bassanio, Portia, Gratiano, Nerissa,
The Caskets are set out.
Por. I pray you, tarry; pause a day or
hazard; for, in choosing wrong, I lose your company; therefore, forbear a
while : There's something tells me, but it is not love) I would not lose you ; and you know yourself, Hate counsels not in such a quality : But lest you should not understand me well, (And yet a maiden hath no tongue but
thought) I would detain you here some month or two, Before you venture for me. I could teach you,
* Scene II.-The two Scenes wherein Morochius and the Prince of Arragon proceed to try their success with the caskets, ought not to be left out, as is usually the case, in the representation upon the stage : By the omission, the pleasing effect of the contrast in the present Scene is entirely destroyed.-For remarks upon the period when it may probably be supposed to take place, see Appendix.
How to choose right, but then I am for
sworn ; So will I never be: so may you
me ; But if you do, you'll make me wish a sin, That I had been forsworn.
eyes, They have o'er-looked me, and divided me; One half of me is yours, the other yours," Mine own, I would say ; but if mine, then
yours, And so all yours :: O! these naughty times Put bars between the owners and their rights ;
the other yours,] The natural beauty of this line has, till now, been deformed by the intrusion of a word entirely impertinent, viz. half in the conclusion of it, which I have omitted.
Mr. Rowe, Mr. Pope, and the Oxford Editor read thus
“ One half of me is your's, the other half
“ Mine own, I would say ;" &c. which, according to Dr. Grey, is nearly the reading of the folio of 1632, and affords a very natural and proper sense. E.
2 And so all your's, &c.] The latter word is here used as a dissyllable. In the next line but one below, where the same word occurs twice, our author, with his usual licence, employs one as a word of two syllables, and the other as a monosyllable.
And so, though yours, not yours.3—Prove
Let fortune go to hell for it,-not I.
3 And so though yours, not yours.] It may be inore grammatically read :
And so though yours, I'm not yours. Johnson. 4
Prove it so, &c.] The meaning is, « If se the worst I fear should happen, and it should prove «c in the event, that I, who am justly yours by the “ free donation I have made you of myself, should
yet not be yours in consequence of an unlucky sa choice, let fortune go to hell for robbing you of
your just due, not I for violating my oath.” The pronoun I in the nominative case, supposes a different construction to have preceded ;- “ Go fortune “ to hell for it.” Nothing is more common in all languages, and with the best writers, than such a sudden variation of the construction, which creates little difficulty to the reader, and is frequently scarce even perceived by him. Heath.
The words “ prove it so" are by old editions of all sorts put in parenthesis, which indicates a disjunction or sentence apart, and they are manifestly a wish : a consistent wish they cannot be, without a negative which exactly perfects the measure of the
« Prove it not so !” Her last words—“ not yours” are looked upon by the speaker as words of ill omen; and this wish, or this petition, is put up to avert it: A pause then ensues, and what follows after is expressive of a renewal of former struggles between her love and her oath, in which the latter has the victory : It is the result of her fears that, in this affair of the choice “ fortune" might prove perverse; in which case, she bids her “go to hell” for her perverseness; for herself
I speak too long; but 'tis to piece the time ; 5
Let me choose ;
she meant not to hazard it, by infringing her oath: “ it” relates to the choice with respect to which she had inwardly been debating how it should be decided, whether by fortune's act or her own. This irresolution and these pauses, being the natural workings of a mind much agitated, are highly dramatic. CAPELL.
Conformably to Mr. Heath's explanation, the sense is rendered clearer, as well as the measure improved, by the Oxford Editor's insertion :
SO, “ Let fortune go to hell for it, not me.” E.
-to peize the time ;] Thus the old copies. To peize is from peser, Fr. So, in K. Richard 11:
« Lest leaden slumber peize me down to-morrow." To peize the time, therefore, is to retard it by hanging weights upon it. All the modern editors read, with out authority,- piece. STEEVENS.
Surely “ piece the time” is more likely to have been the true reading ;
-the words which follow seem to
prove that it is, “ to piece the time,” in order to eke it out, and draw it out in length. Portia wished, by delay, to prolong the time, but not to make it pass heavily. J. M. MASON.
To peize, is to weigh, or balance; and figuratively, to keep in suspence, to delay. So, in Sir P. Sydney's Apology for Poetry :-"
-“ not speaking words as " they chanceably fall from the mouth, but peyzing “ each sillable,” HENLEY.
What treason there is mingled with your love. Bass. None, but that ugly treason of mis
trust ;6 Which makes me fear the enjoying of my
love : 7 There may as well be amity and life 8 'Tween snow and fire, as treason and my
love. Por. Ay, but, I fear, you speak upon the
rack, Where men enforced do speak any thing. Bass. Proinise me life, and I'll confess the truth.
thut ugly treason of mistrust, &c.] Mistrust, that is, suspicion, has often been remarked as the concomitant of guilt, of which treason is a species; but that cannot be an excuse for confounding treason itself with that which can only be considered as sometimes an indication of it; possibly, he designs, to convey an intimation that mistrust, extreme diffidence, or anxiety respecting the event of his choice, has, in his present situation, an effect like that of treason, that is, as fatally destructive to his peace, as actual treason is to the tranquility of a state.
E. 7 Which makes me fear the enjoying of my love :) This is oddly enough expressed to signify,“ —makes
fear the danger of not enjoying,” &c. “ feur “ the enjoying," is for- -“ fear as to," or, veying the enjoyment,” &c. E.
-as well be amity and life “Tween snow and fire, as treuson und my love.] That is, the latter, no more than the former, can subsist in friendly union together, and so as to retain their kative energy and vigour. E.