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Bass. We should hold day with the Anti
podes, If you would walk in absence of the sun. Por. Let me give light,2 but let me not be
light; For a light wife doth make a heavy husband, And never be Bassanio so for me ; But, God sort all !--You are welcome home,
At any mark of his impatience to return, we cannot be surprised; the wonder would be, if he could have waited till the morning. E.
We should hold day, &c.} If you would always walk in the night, it would be day with us, as it now is on the other side of the globe. MALONE.
2 Let me give light, &c.] There is scarcely any word with which Shakspeare so much delights to trifle as with light, in its various significations.
JOHNSON. Most of the old dramatic writers are guilty of the same quibble. So, Marston in his Insatiate Countess, 1613:
By this bright light that is deriv'd from thee“ So, sir, you make me a very light creature.” Again, Middleton, in A Mad World my Masters, 1608 :
---more lights—I calPd for light : here come in “ two are light enough for a whole house." Again, in Springes for Woodcocks, a collection of
« Lais of lighter metal is compos'd • Than hath her lightness till of late disclos'd; “ For lighting where she light acceptance feels, “ Her fingers there prove lighter than her heels.”
Bass. I thank you, madam: give welcome
to my friend. This is the man, this is Anthonio, To whom I am so infinitely bound. Por. You should in all sense be much bound
to him, For, as I hear, he was much bound for you.
Anth. No more than I am well acquitted of. Por. Sir, you are very welcome to our
house : It must appear in other ways than words, Therefore I scant this breathing courtesy.3
[Gratiano and Nerissa seem to talk apart. Gra By yonder moon, I swear, you do
me wrong ; In faith, I gave it to the judge's clerk : Would he were gelt that had it, for my part, Since you do take it, love, so much at heart. Por. A quarrel, ho, already? what's the
matter? Gra. About a hoop of gold, a paltry ring
3- this breathing courtesy.] This verbal complimentary form, made up only of breath, i. e. words. So, in Timon of Athens, à senator replies. to Alcibiades, who had made a long speech :
• You breath in vain.” Malone, So, in Macbeth:
mouth-honour, breath." STEEVENS.
That she did give me ; whose poesy was A
value! You swore to me, when I did give it you, That you would wear it till your hour of death; And that it should lie with you in your grave : Though not for me, yet for your vehement oaths,
4 That she did give me; whose posy was, &c.] Poesy is the orthography of one quarto and of the folio copies, which seems to have been retained by modern editors with a view to make out the verse, but the verse is purposely incomplete, and of four feet only, me being redundant. 'Capell. If posy
be the word, for the sake of metre, I suppose we should read
“ That she did give to me;" &c. STEEVENS.
Mr. Capell, possibly, imagined that the hobbling measure of the line was more expressive of the notion of contempt intended to be conveyed by this passage.
-like cutler's poetry;] Knives, as Sir John Hawkins observes, were formerly inscribed by means of aqua fortis, with short sentences in distich. In Decker's Satyromastix, Sir Edward Vaughan says, " You shall swear by Phæbus, who is your poet's
good lord and master, that hereafter you will not “ hire Horace to give you poesies for rings, or handkerchiefs, or knives, which
you understand not.”
You should have been respective, and have
kept it. Gave it a judge's clerk !—but well I know, The clerk will ne'er wear hair on his face,
that had it. Gru. He will, an if he live to be a man. Ner. Ay, if a woman live to be a man. Gra. Now, by this hand, I gave it to a youth.7.
have been respective.] Respective has the same meaning as respectful. See K. John Act 1.
STEEVENS. I think it rather means regårdful. J. M. Mason.
Chapman, Marston, and other poets of that time, use this word in the same sense. [i. e. for respecto ful.] MALONE.
Dr. Johnson in the Dictionary, as one class of the significations of this word, but obsolete, gives
-Accurate ; nice; prudent ; cautious : I think the meaning here to be—“ You ought to have had more “ respect to the obligation you had laid yourself “ under ;" which may accord with either of the above senses.
A prating boy, &c.] It is certain from the words of the context and the tenor of the story, that Gratiano does not here speak contemptuously of the judge's clerk, who was no other than Nerissa disguised in man's clothes. He only means to describe the person and appearance of this supposed youth, which he does by insinuating what seemed to be the precise time of his age: he
A kind of boy ; a little scrubbed boy,
represents him as having the look of a young stripling, of a boy beginning to advance towards puberty. I am therefore of opinion, that the poet wrote:
-a little stubbed boy. In many counties it is a common provincialism, to call young birds not yet fledged, stubbed young ones. But, what is more to our purpose, the author of The History and Antiquities of Glastonbury, printed by Hearne, an antiquarian, and a plain unaffected writer, says, that“ Saunders must be a stubbed boy. “ if not a man, at the dissolution of abbeys.” edit. 1722, Pref. Signat. n. 2. It therefore seems to have been a common expression for stripling, the very idea which the speaker means to convey. If the emendation be just here, we should also correct Nerissa's speech which follows:
“ For that same stubbed boy, the doctor's clerk,
WARTON. I believe scrubbed and stubbed have a like meaning, and signify stunted or shrub-like. So, in P. Holland's translation of Pliny's Nat. Hist. “. -but such “ will never prove fair trees, but shrubs only.”.
STEEVENS. Stubbed in the sense contended for by Mr. Warton was in use so late as the Restoration. In the Parliamentary Register, July 30, 1660, is an advertisment enquiring after a person described as “a thick, short, “ stubbed fellow, round faced, ruddy complexion, “ dark brown hair and eyebrows, with a sad gray “ suit.” REED.
Scrubbed perhaps meant dirty, as well as short, Cole, in his Dictionary, 1672, renders it by the Latin word, squalidus. Malone.