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Por. Well then, confess, and live.
Bass. Confess, and love, Had been the very sum of my confession : O happy torment, when my torturer Doth teach me answers for deliverance ! But let me to my fortune and the caskets. Por. Away then: I am lock'd in one of
you do love me, you will find me out.Nerissa, and the rest, stand all aloof. Let music sound, while he doth make his choice;
9 Confess, and love, &c.] Bassanio in this reply plays upon her words, but with no great ingenuity or precision. The most natural construction his reply seems to admit of, is that of a fanciful transition made from the imperative form of expression, which she had just made use of, to the indicative, viz. "I confess, I love," and this, he says, would have been the sum of his confession ; all that he could confess. In the same manner, what follows O happy torment, &c. is still an allusion to her words, so near to what would have been the substance of his confession. E.
[ If you do love me, &c.] Portia herself, as well as her father in framing his whimsical decree, seems to be under the influence of a notion that no person but one, by the sincerity of his love and justness of his discernment, entitled to possess her, would be fortunate enough to obtain her, and that whenever such a one should arrive, he would, probably, be successful in his choice. E.
Then, if he lose, he makes a swan-like end,
ear, And summon him to marriage. Now he goes, With no less presence, but with much more
love, Than young Alcides, when he did redeem The virgin tribute paid by howling Troy
2 Fading in music :). I cannot but think that the cadence of the foregoing line, and the pause in this, have a fine effect in impressing the idea communicated to the mind. E.
-my eye shall be the stream, &c.] An allusion to her tears if he should fail, the idea being, perhaps, included, of her keeping her eye, at the same time, fixed upon him in a manner expressive both of tenderness and affliction. E.
-then music is, &c.] The two comparative illustrations introduced here are highly beautiful in imagery and expression, as well as strictly just and proper in their application. E.
5 With no less presence,] With the same dignity of mien.
To the sea-monster :6. I stand for sacrifice;
dismay7 I view the fight, than thou that mak’st the fray.
6 To the sea-monster, &c.] See Ovid. Metamorph. Lib. xi. ver. 199, et seq. Shakspeare, however, I believe, had read an account of this adventure in The Destruction of Troy : “ Laomedon cast his
eyes all bewept on him, [Hercules) and was all “ abashed to see his greatness and his beuuty." See B. i. p. 221. edit. 1617. MALONE. See Appendix.
-with much much more dismay I view the fight, than thou that mak'st the fray.] This is very defectively worded, indeed, if, as I am much inclined to suspect, the thought which the poet intended to express was this
“ With much more dismay I view the fight than thou art sensible of who makest the fray.” To consider Bassanio as a spectator of the combat waged by himself, though but metaphorical, would be a very unusual mode of thinking and speaking. The objection might be obviated by a change of this sort,
“ than thou maintain'st the fray.” The lines, notwithstanding this inaccuracy, are animated by a spirit of much tenderness and pathos, which the single rhyme, upon whatever principle, has no tendency to didinish. E.
Music, whilst Bassanio comments on the caskets
Tell me, where is fancy bred,
With gazing fed; and fancy dies
Let us all ring fancy's knell ;
I'll begin it, -Ding, dong, bell. All. Ding, dong, bell.
--is fancy bred,] i. Love.
So, in A Midsummer Night's Dream : Than sighs and tears, poor fancy's followers."
STEEVENS. In the following speech the difficulty of determining the true rate of persons or things, is largely commented upon; and as opinion is too often more under the dominion of fancy than of reason, perhaps the stanzas which precedé the reflections may serve as a proper prelude to the speech.
MRS. GRIFFITH. 9 Reply.] These words, reply, reply, were in all the late editions, except Sir T. Hanmer's, put as a verse in the song; but, in all the old copies, stand as a marginal direction. JOHNSON.
What has just been said concerning the late editions may have arisen, in the first place, from the
Bass. -So may the outward shows i be
least themselves; The world is still deceiv'd with ornament.
word being repeated- Reply, reply," and then from the circumstance of its happening to rhyme with eye in the singular, the reading of the quartos, but which can, however, scarcely, be right. Any appearance that it could have of propriety in this way, must be derived from a supposition of the first speaker calling thus upon the second for an answer.
E. These words shew it be a song in two parts, or by two voices; followed by a chorus of divers assis. tant voices, which is evident from the word “ all :" The matter of it is both pleasing and suitable, and, in one place, satirical; for the sentence beginning
" and fancy dies” is expressive of love's changeableness, which has both its birth in the eye from one object, and its extinction or death from others. CAPELL. See Appendix.
I So may the outwurd shows] He begins abruptly, the first part of the argument has passed in his mind.
JOHNSON. Or perhaps the lines at the head of this speech, expressed in the broken and elliptical language of soliloquy, were designed to have a relation to the subject of the song.- -“ So may the outward shows," &c. i. e. of these caskets; “in like manner as those objects which attract the regard of fancy, promise to her deluded eye a more substantial good than they are, in the end, qualified to afford, the consequence of which is that short-lived enjoyment just before alluded to : And agreeable to this is that observation which we have such continual occasion to make, viz. that the world is still deceived with ornamient,” &c. E,