« PreviousContinue »
Lor. I thank your honour : For my part,
My purpose was not to have seen you here ;
I did, my lord, And I have reason for it. Signior Anthonio Commends him to you.
[Gives Bassanio, a letter, Bass.
Ere I ope his letter, I pray you, tell me how my good friend doth. Sale. Not sick, my lord, unless it be in
mind; Nor well, unless in mind:6 his letter there Will shew you his estate. Gra. Nerissa, cheer yon' stranger ;7 bid her welcome.
5 But meeting with Salerio by the way,] Where Lorenzo was going when he was thus encountered, is not disclosed : He was, possibly, however, returning to Venice after his expedition to Genoa, if we may suppose Belmont to lie somewhere in, or near the road leading from the one to the other of these two cities. E.
6 Nor well, unless in mind :] Relates to his situa. tion as most unhappy, if he be not comforted in his misfortunes, and supported by that fortitude of mind which is an attendant upon virtue and conscious in
7 Nerissa, cheer yon' stranger ;] As the audience
Your hand, Salerio ; What's the news from
Venice? How doth that royal merchant, good An
thonio ? I know, he will be glad of our success ; We are the. Jasons, we have won the fleece. Sale. 'Would you had won the fleece that
he bath lost !8 Por. There are some shrewd contents in yon' same paper,
were already apprized of Jessica's story, the opening of it here to Portia would have been a superfluous repetition. Nor could it be done properly while a letter of such haste and consequence was to be delivered; and on which the main action of the play depended. Jessica is, therefore, artfully complimented in dumb shew, and no speech made to her, because the Scene is drawn out to a great length by more important business. THEOBALD.
8 Would you had won the fleece, 8c.] He wishes, we may suppose, that they had been able to preserve that life which he has forfeited. E.
9 There are some shrewd contents, &c.] Among the significations given of the word shrewd in John son's Dictionary we find these which follow—“ bad, “ ill-betokening;" also “ dangerous, mischievous ;"> any of which are suitable enough to this place. Mr. Capell, as well as the edition of 1785, by retaining the verb steals in the singular, the reading probably of all the older copies, seems to suppose that it is the paper, and not the contents thereof, that steals the colour, &c. In this way, however, the expression suffers no inconsiderable diminution of its elegance. I belive steals to be a printer's mistake. E,
That steal the colour from Bassanio's cheek. Some dear friend dead; else nothing in the
world Could turn so much the constitution Of any constant man. What, worse and
worse ? With leave, Bassanio ; I am half yourself, And I must freely have the half of any thing That this same paper brings you. Bass.
() sweet Portia, Here are a few of th' unpleasant'st words, That ever blotted paper! Gentle lady, When I did first impart my love to you, I freely told you, all the wealth I had Ran in my veins, I was a gentleman ; And then I told you true : and yet, dear lady, Rating myself at nothing, you shall see How much I was a braggart: When I told
you My state was nothing, I should then have told
you That I was worse than nothing; for, indeed, I have engag'd myself to a dear friend, Engag'd my friend to his meer enemy, To feed my means.
Here is a letter, lady; The paper as the body of my friend,
I The paper as the body, &c.] The expression is somewhat elliptical : “ The paper as the body,"
And every word in it a gaping wound,
hit ? 2
Not one, my lord. 3
-the paper resembles the body, is as the body. STEEVENS.
In bold figurative language, the paper and the words are said to be as those things, or like those things, the notion of which they serve very strongly and powerfully to suggest to the imagination. E.
-What, not one hit ?] The auxiliary verb must be understood as repeated here in the singular: Mr. Capell is of opinion that the expression is defective in what follows and must be supplied by understanding"Has he vessels from Tripolis, i. e. expected from it : induced, probably, to think so by what immediately follows,
« And not one vessel 'scape," &c. The construction of this latter line would be much clearer, and better connected with what goes before, if it were read thus“ Has not one vessel ’scap'd the dreadful touch,” &c. I have judged it expedient, for the sake of grammar, at least, to receive into the text the participle 'scap'd, after the example of Theobald, Hanmer, Johnson, &c. E.
3 Not one, my lord.] The supposed universality of Anthonio's loses, is not a little injurious to the probability of the fable. E.
Besides, it should appear, that if he had
plea Of forfeiture, of justice, and his bond. Jes. When I was with him, I have heard
him swear, To Tubal, and to Chus, his countrymen, That he would rather have Anthonio's flesh, Than twenty times the value of the sum That he did owe him ; and I know, my lord, If law, authority, and power deny not
4 When I was with him, I have heard him swear,] The circumstance here mentioned by Jessica, pleads strongly in favour of supposing that such an interval as that I have suggested, takes place between the conclusion of the first Act, and commencement of the second, as they are now divided, since it proves that she remained at home some time after Anthonio had become bound to the Jew, during which, it seems as if he had been accustomed to make such a declaration. E.