« PreviousContinue »
to be seated in the mean; superfluity comes fooner by white hairs,' but competency lives longer.
Por. Good sentences, and well pronounced. Ner. They would be better, if well followed.
Por. If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men's cottages, princes' palaces. It is a good divine that follows his own instructions : I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done, than be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching, The brain may devise laws for the blood; but a hot temper leaps over a cold decree: such a hare is madness the youth, to skip o'er the meshes of good counsel the cripple. But this reasoning is not in the fashion to choose me a husband :-o me, the word choose! I may neither choose whom I would, nor refuse whom I disike; so is the will of a liying daughter curb’d by the will of a dead father :Is it not hard, Nerissa, that I cannot choose one, nor refuse none?
Ner. Your father was ever virtuous; and holy men, at their death, have good inspirations; therefore, the lottery, that he hath devised in these three chests, of gold, silver, and lead, (whereof who chooses his meaning, chooses you,) will, no doubt, never be chosen by any rightly, but one who you shall rightly love. But what warmth is there in your affection towards any of these princely suitors that are already come?
Por. I pray thee, over-name them; and as thou namest them, I will describe them; and, according to my description, level at my affection.
1- fuperfluity comes sooner by white hairs,] i. e. Superflạity sooner 'acquires white hairs; becomes old. We still say, How did be sorne by it? MALONI,
Ner. First, there is the Neapolitan prince.
Por. Ay, that's a colt, indeed, for he doth nothing but talk of his horse;' and he makes it a great appropriation to his own good parts, that he can fhoe him himself: I am much afraid, my lady his mother played false with a smith.
Ner. Then, is there the county Palatine."
Por. He doth nothing but frown; as who should fay, An if you will not have me, choose: he hears merry tales, and smiles not: I fear, he will prove the weeping philosopher when he grows old, being so full of unmannerly sadness in his youth. I had rather be married to a death's head with a bone in his mouth, than to either of these. God defend me from these two!
4— the Neapolitan prince.] The Neapolitans in the time of Shakspeare, were eminently skilled in all that belongs to horsemanship; nor have they, even now, forfeited their title to the same praise. Steevens.
Though our author, when he composed this play, could not have read the following passage in Florio's translation of Montaigne's Efaies, 1603, he had perhaps met with the relation in some other book of that time: “ While I was a young lad, (says old Montaigne,) I saw the prince of Salmona, at Naples, manage a young, a rough, and fierce horse, and show all manner of horsemanship; to hold testons or reals under his knees and toes so fast as if they had been nayled there, and all to show his sure, steady, and unmoveable fitting." MALONE,
s Ay, that's a colt, indeed, for he doth nothing but talk of his horse ;] Colt is used for a witless, heady, gay youngster, whence the phrase used of an old man too juvenile, that he ftill retains his colt's tooth. See Henry VIII. Ad I. sc. iii. See also Vol. V. p. 227. JOHNSON.
6 - is there the county Palatine.] I am almost inclined to believe, that Shakspeare has more allusions to particular facts and persons than his readers commonly suppose. The count here mentioned was, perhaps, Albertus a Lalco, a Polish Palatine, who visited England in our author's life-time, was eagerly caressed, and Splendidly entertained; but running in debt, at last stole away, and endeavoured to repair kis fortune by enchantment. Johnson,
County and Count in old language were synonyinous.—The Count Alafco was in London in 1583. MALONE,
Ner. How say you by the French lord, Món, sieur Le Bon ?
Por. God made him, and therefore let him pass for a man. In truth, I know it is a fin to be a mocker; But, he! why, he hath a horse better than the Neapolitan's; a better bad habit of frowning than the count Palatine: he is every man in no man: if a throstle' fing, he falls straight a capering; he will fence with his own shadow : if I should marry him, I should marry twenty husbands : If he would despise me, I would forgive him; for if he love me to madness, I shall never requite him.
NER. What say you then to Faulconbridge, the young baron of England ?
Por. You know, I say nothing to him; for he understands not me, nor I him : he hath neither Latin, French, nor Italian ;8 and you will come into the court and swear, that I have a poor pennyworth in the English. He is a proper man's pic, ture ;' But, alas! who can converse with a dumb show? How oddly he is suited! I think, he bought his doublet in Italy, his round hose in France, his bonnet in Germany, and his behaviour every where.
into the come English;n can converhink, he
9- if a throstle -] Old Copies-traffel, Corrected by Mr, Pope. The throfle is the thrush. The word occurs again, in A Midsummer Night's Dream:
“ The throftle with his note so true-" Malone. That the throjtle is a distinct bird from the thrush, may be known from T. Newton's Herball to the Bible, quoted in a note on the foregoing passage in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Vol. V. p. 81.
STEEVENS. 8 he hath neither Latin, French, nor Italian ;] A satire on the ignorance of the young English travellers in our author's time,
WARBURTON, a proper man's picture;) Proper is bandsome. So, in Othello:
“ This Ludovico is a proper man." STEEVENS,
Ner. What think you of the Scottish lord,” his neighbour?
Por. That he hath a neighbourly charity in him; for he borrowed a box of the ear of the Englishman, and swore he would pay him again, when he was able: I think, the Frenchman became his surety,' and sealed under for another.
Ner. How like you the young German, the duke of Saxony's nephew ?
Por. Very vilely in the morning, when he is sober; and most vilely in the afternoon, when he is drunk: when he is beft, he is a little worse than a man; and when he is worst, he is little better than a beast : an the worst fall that ever fell, I hope, I shall make shift to go without him.
Ner. If he should offer to choose, and choose the right casket, you should refuse to perform your father's will, if you should refuse to accept him.
Por. Therefore, for fear of the worst, I pray thee, set a deep glass of Rhenish wine on the contrary casket: for, if the devil be within, and that temptation without, I know he will choose it. I will do any thing, Nerissa, ere I will be married to a spunge.
Ner. You need not fear, lady, the having any of
2- Scottish lord,] Scottish, which is in the quarto, was omitted in the first folio, for fear of giving offence to king James's countrymen. THEOBALD.
3 I think, the Frenchman became his furety,] Alluding to the conftant assistance, or rather constant promises of affiftance, that the French gave the Scots in their quarrels with the English. This alliance is here humorously satirized. WARBURTON.
4 How like you the young German, &c.] In Shakspeare's time the duke of Bavaria visited London, and was made knight of the garter.
Perhaps in this enumeration of Portia's suitors, there may be some covert allusion to those of queen Elizabeth. Johnson,