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A Grove, or Lawn, before Portia's House.
Enter Lorenzo and Jessica.
Lor. The moon shines bright :-In such a
night as this, When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees, And they did make no noise ; in such a night, Troilus, methinks, mounted the Trojan wall, And sigh'd his soul toward the Grecian tents, Where Cressid lay that night,
In such a night, Did Thisbe fearfully o'ertrip the dew ; And saw the lion's shadow ere himself, And ran dismay'd away.
* SCENE I. - The place assigned to this Scene by Mr. Capell, and the editions of 1793 and 1803 is« The Avenue to Portia's house." Time is late in the night, the first, probably, after the determination of Anthonio's cause.
I And saw the lion's shadow ere himself, &c.] For this notion Shakspeare is not indebted to Ovid, who only says ;
“Quam procul, ad Lunæ radios, Babylonia Thisbe • Vidit : et obscurum timido pede fugit in antrum.”
In such a night, Stood Dido with a willow in her hand 2 Upon the wild sea-banks, and wav'd her love To come again to Carthage. Jes.
In such a night, Medea gather'd the enchanted herbs That did renew old Æson. Lor.
In such a night, Did Jessica steal from the wealthy Jew;
There is a deviation too from the Roman poet in respect to the sex of the object of Thisbe's terror. It is not unworthy of observation that the circumstance of her flight from the meer appearance of the shadow strongly marks her extreme alarm and timi. dity at the instant. E.
Thisbe may have be supposed to have seen the lion's shadow by moonlight in the water of the fountain near the tomb of Ninus. Our poet probably had recently read in Chaucer's Legend of Good Women, Tisbe of Babylone. MALONE.
2 In such a night, stood Dido with a willow in her hand] This passage contains a small instance out of many that might be brought to prove that Shak. speare was no reader of the classics. STEEVENS.
Mr. Warton suggests in his History of English, Poetry, that Shakspeare might have taken this image from some ballad on the subject. MALONE.
The image designed to be represented here seems to be that of Dido, standing on the beach, and waving the willow which she held in her hand, and which served also to denote his desertion of her, as à signal for Eneas to return, after his embarkation, and while the vessel, which conveyed him away, was yet in view. E.
And with an unthrift love 3 did run from
Venice; As far as Belmont. Jes.
And in such a night, Did young Lorenzo swear he lov'd her well; Stealing her soul with many vows of faith, And ne'er a true one. Lor.
And in such a night, Did pretty Jessica, like a little shrew, Slander her love, and he forgave it her. Jes. I would out-night you, did no body
come ; But, hark, I hear the footing of a man.
Enter a Servant. Lor. Who comes so fast in silence of the
night? Ser. A friend. Lor. A friend? what friend ? your name,
I Ser. Stephano is my name; and I bring
word, My mistress will before the break of day Be here at Belmont: she doth stray about
pray you, friend ?
3 And with an unthrift love, &c.] This word unthrift, here used as an adjective for unthrifty, occurs again as a substantive in Richard 11. Act 2, Scene 3:
Land given away " To upstart unthrifts.” E.
By holy crosses, where she kneels and prays
Who comes with her ? Ser. None, but a holy hermit,4 and her
maid. I pray you,
my master yet return'd? Lor. He is not, nor we have not heard from
him.-5 But go we in, I pray thee, Jessica, And ceremoniously let us prepare Some welcome for the mistress of the house.
4 None, but a holy hermit, &c.] I do not perceive the use of this hermit, of whom nothing is seen or heard afterwards. The poet had first planned his fable some other way, and, inadvertently, when he changed his scheme, retained something of the ori. ginal design. Johnson.
Dr. Johnson's remark is answered by observing that this circumstance cannot be supposed to be the truth, but merely the feigned report of a confidential servant, to whom the secret of her expedition to Venice had been entrusted, and intended to deceive those, from whom, for a time, she wished to conceal the knowledge of it. E.
-nor we have not heard from him.] Some modern editors, as Theobald, Hanmer, Johnson, &c. to avoid the unpleasant effect of the double negative, read
-nor have we yet heard from him.” E.
Laun. Sola ! did you see master Lorenzo, and mistress Lorenzo ! sola, sola!
Lor. Leave hollowing, man ; here.
Here. Laun. Tell him there's a post come from my master, with, with his horn full of good news; my master will be here ere morning.
[Exit. Lor. Sweet soul, let's in, and there expe
their coming. And yet no matter ;-Why should we go
in ? My friend Stephano, signify, I pray you, Within the house, your mistress is at hand; And bring your music forth into the air.
6 Enter Launcelot.] The mode of his entry, if properly performed, should be with a whip in his hand, with which he runs lashing about, circling the two people he hollows for without once looking on them; and having emptied his budget, goes out lashing as he came in. CAPELL.
7 My friend Stephano, &c.] Without the addition which I have made My good friend
Stephano,” &c. Stephano must be accented Stepháno, which was never done by an Englishman.