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To be new varnish'd ?? Well, but to my
choice : IVho chooseth me, shall get as much as he
deserves : I will assume desert :-Give me a key, And instantly unlock my fortunes here. Por. Too long a pause for that which you
find there. Ar. What's here? the portrait of a blinking
idiot, Presenting me a schedule? I will read it. How much unlike art thou to Portia ? How much unlike my hopes, and my deseryings?
-how much honour
To be new varnish'd !- -] Much has been said about the incongruity of metaphor in this passage, a fault with which, undoubtedly, it is, in some sort, chargeable, and for which a ridiculous emendation has been proposed as a remedy by Dr. Warburton. The connexion between the chaff and ruins is, it must be confessed, not extremely obvious, but honour, having been recovered thence, is, upon the metaphorical allusion being suddenly dropped, to be considered in a new point of view, more suitable to its true nature and character, and, possibly, with reference to those armorial insignia and types of nobility, which, having been painted, or otherwise emblazoned, are liable by time, or external injury, to be sullied and defaced, but, by being new varnished, may be restored to a certain degree of their primitive splendor and beauty. E.
Who chooseth me, shall have as much as he
deserves. Did I deserve no more than a fool's head? Is that my prize? are my deserts no better? Por. To offend, and judge, are distinct 3
What is here?
3 To offend and judge, are distinct, &c.] There is surely an obscurity in this reply. She seems to consider him as having offended by the injudicious choice he had made; he ought not therefore to assume the character of a judge in deciding upon his own merits, which, indirectly, he may be said to do, by this indignant inquiry. E. 4 Seven times try'd that
judgment is,] For the purpose of arriving at such a perfection of choice, as is immediately specified, it is necessary that the judg. ment should undergo a long course of exercise and experience, not unaptly, perhaps, expressed by an allusion to the practice of assaying metals, and silver in particular. E.
5 Some there be that shadows kiss;] In allusion to the vanity of riches and the insubstantial enjoyment they are often known to produce ; conveying an intimation, at the same time, that such had been the wisdom of his choice. E.
-a shadow's bliss :] Such as a shadow is qualified to bestow. E.
There be fools alive, I wis,
7 I wis,] I know. Wissen, German. So, in Shakspeare's Hen. vi:
I wis your grandame had no worser match." Again, in the comedy of king Cambyses :
“ Yea, I wis, shall you, and that with all speed.” Sidney, Ascham, and Waller use the word.
STEEVENS. 8 Take what wife you will to bed,] Perhaps the poet had forgotten that he who missed Portia was never to marry any woman.
JOHNSON. 9 I will ever be your head :] While the Prince was in expectation of the picture of Portia, he found only the head of an idiot; This personage (the representative of folly abstractedly considered) being supposed the speaker, the purport of these two lines of his address is, probably, of this nature ; " Whatever "wife may hereafter fall to your lot, I (i.e. Folly) shall “continue, as in the present instance, to guide your “actions, to be the ruling principle of your con“ duct.” The inadvertency observed upon by Dr. Johnson, it is not easy to palliate.--In a point of view, but
very little different from the foregoing, the Fool's head
may be regarded as the emblem of that of the disappointed suitor ; in like manner as, in the former case, the Death's head night serve to typify the death of his expectations—
With this latter notion the words «
Your suit is cold,” clearly coincide. E.
-you are sped.] Sped is the participle passive of To speed, the first sense of which as an active verb, given by Dr. Johnson in his Dictionary, is----To dispatch in haste. E.
Still more fool I shall appear
Patiently to bear my wroth.3 [Exit. Por. Thus hath the candle sing'd the moth. O these deliberate fools! when they do choose, They have the wisdom by their wit to lose.
Ner. The ancient saying is no beresy ;4
Enter a Servant.
I go away with two.] It does not, however, appear that he was supposed to carry the head away with him. E.
-to bear my wroth.] The old editions read -“ to bear my wroath.” Wroath is used in some of the old books for misfortune ; and is often spelt like ruth, which at present signifies only pily, or sorrow for the miseries of another. Caxton's Recuyell of the historyes of Troye, &c. 1471, has frequent instances of wroth. Thus also in Chapman's version of the 22d Iliad :
-born to all the wroth “ Of woe and labour.” The modern editors read-my wrath. STEEVENS. is no heresy;] i. c. is orthodox doctrine.
Por. Here, what would my lord ?5
Ser. Madam, there is alighted at your gate
5 Por. Here ; what would my lord?] Would not this speech to the servant be more proper in the mouth of Nerissa? Tyrwhitt.
-regreets ;] i.e. salutations. So, in King John, Act iii. Scene 1.
Unyoke this seizure, and this kind regreet.”
-sensible regreets;] Means, I apprehendregreets or salutations expressive of the sensibility of the sender, which indicates sincerity and true feeling, and are not mere compliments of form. E.
-besides commends,] This word has here a signification very similar to that of the term compliments at present in use.
E. 8 A day in April, &c.] Nothing can be more just and beautiful than this comparison, or, indeed, more elegant than the whole description. The expression is as exquisitely suited to the imagery, as the latter is delightful to the fancy. Costly summer was intended, it is probable, to convey the notion of—summer splendidly adorned, having the appearance of much ornament and show, like those who are expensive in their attire and equipage. The epithet is very signi. ficant. E.