« PreviousContinue »
Ner. From both, my lord : Bellario greets
your grace. :: Buss. Why dost thou whet thy knife so
earnestly? Shy. To cut the forfeiture 4 from that bank
Gra. Not on thy soal, but on thy soul, harsh Jew,5
the forfeiture-] Read forfeit. It occurs repeatedly in the present Scene for forfeiture.
Ritson. Several modern editions accordingly read forfeit in this place. E.
5 Not on thy șoal, but on thy soul, harsh Jews] This lost jingle Mr. Theobald found again; but knew not what to make of it when he had it, as appears by his paraphrase, “ Though thou thinkest that thou “ art whetting thy knife on the soal of thy shoe, yet “ it is upon thy soul, thy immortal part. Absurd ! the conceit is, that his soul was so hard that it had given an edge to his knife.
WARBURTON. To me, Mr. Theobald and Dr. Warburton seem to mean pretty much the same thing: Both admit that the Jew's soul is supposed, by a figure, to be the instrument of rendering the edge more keen. The jingle recovered from the folios by the former,
incline us to an opinion that the vulgar, diphthongal pronunciation of the word soul was in use, even among polite speakers, in Shakspeare's days.
E. So, in King Henry iv. p. 2: “ Thou hid'st a thousand daggers in thy thoughts ; • Which thou hast whetted on thy stony heart, " To stab' at half an hour of my life.”
Thou mak'st thy knife keen: but no metal
can, No, not the hangman's ax, bear half the keen
Of thy sharp envy.6 Can no prayers pierce
thee? Shy. No, none that thou hast wit enough to
make. Gra. O, be thou damn'd, inexorable dog ! And for thy life let justice be accus'd .7 Thou almost mak'st me waver in my faith, To hold opinion with Pythagoras, That souls of animals infuse themselves Into the trunks of men : thy currish spirit Govern'd a wolf, who hang'd for human
slaughter, Even from the gallows did his fell soul fleet, And, whilst thou lay'st in thy unhallow'd dam,
6 Of thy sharp envy.] Endy again, in this place, signifies hatred or malice. STEEVENS.
7 And for thy life let justice, &c.] The meaning is-that as he had before invoked dumnation upon him, so now he would have justice (executive justice) take away his life; though it were in wrong, and to the impeachment of justice. CAPELL.
Is it not as likely he may intend to say that justice itself merits accusation for permitting a person of so unworthy and crael a character any longer to live? In whichever of these ways the line is explained, it seems to be but awkwardly introduced.
E. O 2
Infus'd itself in thee ; for thy desires
Shy. 'Till thou can'st rail the seal from off
Thou but offend'st thy lungs to speak so
loud: Repair thy wit, good youth, or it will fall To cureless ruin.-I stand here for law. Duke. This letter from Bellario doth com
mend A young
and learned doctor to our court; Where is he?
Ner. He attendeth here hard by, To know your answer, whether you'll admit
him. Duke. With all my heart :--some three or
four of you,
Go give him courteous conduct to this place.. Mean time, the court shall hear Bellario's letter.
[Giving it to a clerk. Clerk reads.] Your grace shall understand, that, at the receipt of your letter, 8 I am very
8 that, at the receipt of your letter, &c.] It is probable that the learned doctor Bellario received the duke's summons to attend this cause about the time, or rather, perhaps, a little before his cousin had made her application to him by letter. Whether the doctor's illness was real, or only pretended, is of no great moment to the business of the play; it is sufficient that it coincided better with Portia's project that he should be absent upon this occasion. E.
fick : but at the instant that your messenger came, in loving visitation was with me a young doctor of Rome; his name is Balthasar: I acquainted him with the cause in controversy between the Jew and Anthonio the merchant : we turn'd o'er many books together : he is furnish'd with my opinion; which, better'd with his own learning, (the greatness whereof I cannot enough commend,) comes with him, at my importunity, to fill up your grace's request in my stead. I beseech you, let his lack of years be no impediment to let him lack a reverend estimation ; for I never knew so young a body with so old an head. I leave him to your gracious acceptance, whose trial shall better publish his commendation, Enter Portia, dressed like a doctor of laws, Duke. You hear the learn'd Bellario, what
he writes; And here, I take it, is the doctor come.Give me your hand : Came you from old Bel
Duke. You are welcome: take your place.
Por. I am informed thoroughly of the
Which is the merchant here, and which the
Shylock is my name.
follow; Yet in such rule, that the Venetian law Cannot impugn you,9 as you do proceed.You stand within his danger, do
9 Cannot impugn you,] To impugn is to oppose, to controvert. So, in the Tragedy of Darius, 1603 :
“ Yet though my heart would fain impugn my
STEEVENS. The sense then must be will not allow of “ resistance or opposition to your plea,” agreeably to what Portia afterwards remarks. E.
1 You stand within his danger,] So, in the Corvysor's Play, among the collection of Whitsun Mytseries represented at Chester. See MS. Harl. 1013, p. 106 :
« Two detters some tyme there were
Oughten money to an usurere, “ The one was in his daungere
“ Fyve hundred poundes tolde.” STEEVENS. There are frequent instances in the Paston Letters of the use of the phrase in the same sense ; whence it is obvious, from the common language of the time,