Belmont. A Room in Portia's House.

Enter Nerissa, with a Servant. Ner. Quick, quick, I pray thee, draw the

curtain 1 straight; The prince of Arragon hath ta’en his oath, And comes to his election presently. Flourish of cornets. Enter the Prince of

Arragon, Portia, and their trains. Por. Behold, there stand the caskets, noble

prince: If you choose that wherein I am contain’d, Straight shall our nuptial rites be solemniz'd;


* SCENE VII. In former editions, Scene 9.Though it is impossible to determine, with precision, how much time has elapsed since the foregoing Scene, it is, however, evident that the intervening period cannot be very long, since there is sufficient reason for imagining that Belmont lay at no very great distance from Venice, and, in the conclusion of the present, after the Prince of Arragon has been foiled in his election, news is brought of Bassanio's approach. This, therefore may well be considered as à continuation of the same day with the preceding Scene.


draw the curtain] i. e. Draw it open. So, in an old stage-direction in King Henry VIII: The King draws the curtain, and sits reading “ pensively." STEEVENS,

But if you fail, without more speech, my lord,
You must be gone from hence immediately.
Ar. I am enjoin'd by oath to observe three

First, never to unfold to any one
Which casket 'twas I chose ; next, if I fail
Of the right casket, never in my life
To woo a maid in way of marriage ; lastly,
If I do fail in fortune of my choice,
Immediately to leave you and be

gone. Por. To these injunctions every one doth

swear, That comes to hazard for my worthless self. Ar. And so have I addrest me :2 Fortune now


- Do

2 And so have 1 addrest me :] To address is to prepare. The meaning is, “ I have prepared myself by * the same ceremonies.” So, in All's well that ends well : you

think he will make no deed of all “ this, that so seriously he doth address himself “ unto ?" STEVENS. I believe we should read,

« And so have I. Address me, Fortune, now,

To my heart's hope !" So, in the Merry Wives of Windsor, Act iii. Scene the last, Falstaff says : “ I will then address me to my appointment.”

TYRWHITT. By a very slight deviation from the meaning ascribed by Mr. Steevens to these words, the sense may be—“ Upon these terms do I engage; for all this

am I prepared.” E.

To my heart's hope !3--Gold, silver, and base

lead. IV ho chooseth me, must give and hazard all he

hath : You shall look fairer, ere I give, or hazard. What says the golden chest? ha! let me see :Who chooseth me, shall gain whai may men

desire. What many men desire :—That many may be

meant 4 By the fool multitude,5 that choose by show,


3 To


heart's hope !] “ Be propitious,” or some such words, seem to be understood. E.

4 That many may be meant] The repetition of many is a mere blunder. It is unnecessary to the sense, and destroys the measure.

Ritson. 5 By the fool multitude,] i. e. By that many may be meant the foolish multitude, &c. The fourth folio first introduced a phraseology more agreeable to our ears at present, Of the fool multitude;" which has been adopted by all the subsequent editors ;but change merely for the sake of elegance is always dangerous. Many modes of speech were familiar in Shakspeare's age, that are now no longer used.

So, in Plutarch’s life of Cæsar, as translated by North, 1575: “ he answered, that these fat, “ long-heared men made him not affrayed, but the “ lean and whitely-faced fellows; meaning that by “ Brutus and Cassius.” i.e. meaning by that, &c. Again, in Sir Thomas More's Life of Edward the Fifth; Holinshead, p. 1374 : “ that meant he by the

Lordes of the Queene's kindred that were taken « before ;" i.e. by that he meant the lords, &c.


Not learning more than the fond eye doth teach; Which pries not to the interior, but, like the

martlet, Builds in the weather on the outward wall, Even in the force and road of casualty.7 I will not choose what many men desire, Because I will not jump with common spirits, 8 And rank me with the barbarous multitudes. Why, then to thee, thou silver treasure-house; Tell me once more what title thou dost bear:


Again, ibidem, p. 1371 : “ My Lord, quoth Lord Hastings, on my life, never doubt you ; for while

one man is there, never can there be, &c. “ This meant he by Catesby, which was of his near so secrete counsaile.” i.e. by this he meant Catesby, &c.

Again, Puttenham in his Arte of English Poesie, 1589, p. 157, after citing some enigmatical verses, adds, “—the good old gentleman would tell us that

were children, how it was meant by a furr'd glove." i.e. a furred glove was meant by it, i.e. by the enigma. Again, ibidem, p. 161: “ Any simple judg.

ment might easily perceive by whom it was meant, “ that is, by lady Elizabeth, queene of England.”

MALONE. -in the force) i. e. the power.

So, in Much Ado about Nothing : -in the force of his “ will." STEEVENS.

7 Even in the force and road of casualty.) This cir. cumstance of the comparison points to the disadvantages which attend a choice so unskilfully and injudiciously made. E

—-jump with common spirits,] i. e. agree with. So, in King Henry iv. P. 1. " -and in some sort it jumps with my

humour." STEEVENS.



Who chooseth me, shall get as much as he

deserves ; And well said too; for who shall go about To cozen fortune, and be honourable Without the stamp of merit? Let none pre

sume To wear an undeserved dignity. 0, that estates, degrees, and offices, Were not deriv'd corruptly! and that clear

honour 9 Were purchas'd by the merit of the wearer! How many then should cover, that stand bare? How many be commanded, that command? How much low peasantry would then be

glean'd From the true seed of honour?, and how much

honour Pick'd from the chaff and ruin of the times,


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-clear honour] Clear seems to be used here for bright, splendid, or, perhaps, for unsullied. E. 1 How much low peasantry would then be glean’d

From the true seed of honour !] The meaning is, “ How much meanness would be “ found among the great, and how much greatness

among the mean!” But since men are always said to glean corn though they may pick chaff, the sentence had been more agreeable to the common manner of speech if it had been written thus;

“ How much low peasantry would then be pick'd “ From the true seed of honour! how much honour « Glean'd from the chaff !” JOHNSON.

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