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Jes. I shall be saved by my husband;5 he hath made me a Christian.
Laun. Truly, the more to blame he: we were Christians enough before; e'en as many as could well live, one by another: This making of Christians will raise the price of hogs; if we grow all to be pork-eaters, we shall not shortly have a rasher on the coals for money.
Enter LORENZO. Jes. I'll tell my husband, Launcelot, what you say; here he comes.
Lor. I shall grow jealous of you shortly, Launcelot, if you thus get my wife into corners.
Jes. Nay, you need not fear us, Lorenzo; Launcelot and I are out: he tells me flatly, there is no mercy for mę in heaven, because I am a Jew's daughter: and he says, you are no good member of the commonwealth; for in converting Jews to Christians, you raise the price of pork.
to have made some ignorant and capricious changes in its text; so that in many places it is as apparently interpolated and corrupted as the ancient copies of Shakspeare. “Galterus (says Hermann in his Conspectus Reipublicæ Literariæ, p. 102) secutus est Curtium, & sæpe ad verbum expressit, unde ejus cum Curtio collatione, nonnulla ex hoc menda tolli possunt; id quod experiendo didici.” See also, I. G. Vossius de Poet. Lat. p. 74, and Journal des Sçavans pour Avril, 1760.
Though Nicholas Grimoald (without mention of his original) had translated a long passage of The Alexandreis into blank verse before the year 1557, (See Surrey's Poems and Warton's History of English Poetry, Vol. III, p. 63) it could have been little known in England, as it is not enumerated in Philips's Theatrum, &c. a work understood to be enriched by his uncle Milton's extensive knowledge of modern as well as ancient poetry. Steevens.
Nothing is more frequent than this proverb in our old writers. Thus Ascham, in his Scole-master :-" If Scylla drowne him not, Charybdis may fortune to swallowe him.” Again, Niccols in his England's Eliza:
“ To shun Charybdis jaws, they helpless fell
“ In Scylla's gulf,” &c. I remember it is likewise met with in Lyly's Euphues, Harrington's Ariosto, &c. ,and Surrey's contemporary in one of his Poems:
“ From Scylla to Charybdis clives,-from danger unto
death.” Farmer. 5 I shall be saved by my husband,] From St. Paul: “ The unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband.”
Henley. VOL. IV.
Lor. I shall answer that better to the commonwealth, than you can the getting up of the negro's belly: the Moor is with child by you, Launcelot.
Laun. It is much, that the Moor should be more than reason: but if she be less than an honest woman, she is, indeed, more than I took her for.
Lor. How every fool can play upon the word! I think, the best grace of wit will shortly turn into silence; and discourse grow commendable in none only but parrots. -Go in, sirrah; bid them prepare for dinner.
Laun. That is done, sir; they have all stomachs.
Lor. Goodly lord,? what a wit-snapper are you! then bid them prepare dinner.
Laun. That is done too, sir; only, cover is the word.
Lor. Yet-more quarrelling with occasion! Wilt thou show the whole wealth of thy wit in an instant? I pray thee, understand a plain man in his plain meaning: go to thy fellows; bid them cover the table, serve in the meat, and we will come in to dinner.
Laun. For the table, sir, it shall be served in; for the meat, sir, it shall be covered; for your coming in to dinner, sir, why, let it be as humours and conceits shall govern.
[Exit Laun. Lor. O dear discretion, how his words are suited!
6 It is much, that the Moor should be more &c.] This reminds us of the quibbling epigram of Milton, which has the same kind of humour to boast of:
« Galli ex concubitu gravidam te, Pontia, Mori,
“Quis bene moratam, morigeramque neget?" So, in The Fair Maid of the West, 1631:
“ And for you Moors thus much I mean to say,
“I'll see if more I eat the more I may." Steevens. Shakspeare, no doubt, had read or heard of the old epigram on Sir Thomas More:
“When More some years had chancellor been,
“No more suits did remain;
“ Till More be there again." Ritson. 7 Goodly lord,] Surely this should be corrected Good lord as it is in Theobald's edition. Tyrwhitt.
It should be Good je Lord! Farmer. 8 --- how his words are suited!] I believe the meaning is
The fool hath planted in his memory
Jes. Past all expressing: It is very meet,
Even such a husband
Jes. Nay, but ask my opinion too of that.
Lor. No, pray thee, let it serve for table-talk;
Well, I'll set you forth. [Exeunt.
What a series or suite of words he has independent of meaning; how one word draws on another without relation to the matter.
Johnson. I cannot think either that the word suited is derived from the word suite, as Johnson supposes, as that, I believe, was introduced into our language long since the time of Shakspeare; or that Launcelot's words were independent of meaning. Lorenzo expresses his surprise that a fool should apply them so properly. So Jaques says to the Duke in As you Like it :
“I met a fool
“ In good set terms."
ACT IV ..... SCENE I.
Venice. A Court of Justice.
GRATIANO, SALARINO, SALANIO, and others.
Duke. I am sorry for thee; thou art come to answer
I have heard,
Duke. Go one, and call the Jew into the court.
9- his envy's reach,] Envy in this place means hatred or malice. So, in Reynolds's God's Revenge against Murder, 1621 : " — he never looks on her (his wife) with affection, but engy." p. 109, edit. 1679. So also, (as Mr. Malone observes) in Laza. rus Pyot's Orator, &c. (See the notes at the end of this play) “ – they had slaine him for verie envie.” Steevens. 1- remorse,] i. e. pity. So, in Othello:
“And to obey shall be in me remorse." Steevens.
“And where I thought the remnant of mine age
(Which is a pound of this poor merchant's flesh)
Shy. I have possess’d your grace of what I purpose;
.4 Enough to press a royal merchant down,] We are not to imágine the word royal to be only a ranting sounding epithet. It is used with great propriety, and shows the poet well acquainted with the history of the people whom he here brings upon the stage. For when the French and Venetians, in the beginning of the thirteenth century, had won Constantinople, the French under the emperor Henry, endeavoured to extend their conquests into the provinces of the Grecian empire on the Terra firma; while the Venetians, who were masters of the sea, gave liberty to any subjects of the republick, who would fit out vessels, to make themselves masters of the isles of the Archipelago, and other maritime places; and to enjoy their conquests in sovereignty: only doing homage to the republick for their several principalities. By virtue of this license, the Sanudo's, the Justiniani, the Grimaldi, the Summaripo's, and others, all Venetian merchants, erected principalities in several places of the Archipelago, (which their descendants enjoyed for many generations) and thereby became truly and properly royal merchants. Which indeed was the title generally given them all over Europe. Hence, the most eminent of our own merchants (while publick spirit re. sided amongst them, and before it was aped by faction) were called royal merchants. Warburton.
This epithet was in our poet's time more striking and better understood, because Gresham was then commonly dignified with the title of the royal merchant. Johnson.
Even the pulpit did not disdain the use of this phrase. I have now before me “ The Merchant Royal, a Sermon, preached at Whitehall, before the king's majestie, at the nuptialls of the right honourable the Lord Hay and his lady, upon the twelfe day last, being Jan. 6, 1607.” Steevens.