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SCENE IV. The same. A Street. Enter GRATIANO, LORENZO, SALARINO, and
SALANIO. Lor. Nay, we will slink away in supper-time; Disguise us at my lodging, and return All in an hour. Gra. We have not made good preparation. Salar. We have not spoke us yet of torch-bearers.
Salan. 'Tis vile, unless it may be quaintly order'd; And better, in my mind, not undertook.
Lor. 'Tis now but four o'clock; we have two hours To furnish us:
Enter LAUNCELOT, with a Letter.
Friend Launcelot, what's the news ? Laun. An it shall please you to break up 1 this, it shall seem to signify.
Lor. I know the hand: in faith, 'tis a fair hand;
Love-news, in faith.
Laun. Marry, sir, to bid my old master the Jew to sup to-night with my new master the Christian.
Lor. Hold here, take this :—tell gentle Jessica, I will not fail her ;-speak it privately; go.— Gentlemen,
[Exit LAUNCELOT. Will you prepare you for this masque to-night? I am provided of a torch-bearer.
1 To break up was a term in carving. This term is used again metaphorically for breaking the seal of a letter or opening it in Love's Labour's Lost:
• Boyet, you can carve;
Salar. Ay, marry, I'll be gone about it straight.
Meet me, and Gratiano,
[Exeunt SALAR. and SALAN. Gra. Was not that letter from fair Jessica ?
Lor. I must needs tell thee all: She hath directed, How I shall take her from her father's house: What gold, and jewels, she is furnish'd with; What page's suit she hath in readiness. If e'er the Jew her father come to heaven, It will be for his gentle daughter's sake: And never dare misfortune cross her foot, Unless she do it under this excuse,– That she is issue to a faithless Jew. Come, go with me; peruse this, as thou goest: Fair Jessica shall be my torch-bearer. [Exeunt.
SCENE V. The same. Before Shylock's House.
Enter Shylock and LAUNCELOT. '
Why, Jessica !
Laun. Your worship was wont to tell me, I could do nothing without bidding.
. Enter JESSICA.
Shy. I am bid 1 forth to supper, Jessica: There are my keys :- But wherefore should I go? I am not bid for love; they flatter me: But yet I'll go in hate, to feed upon The prodigal Christian?.—Jessica, my girl, Look to my house:-I am right loath to go; There is some ill a brewing towards my rest, For I did dream of money-bags to-night.
Laun. I beseech you, sir, go; my young master doth expect your reproach.
Shy. So do I his.
Laun. And they have conspired together. I will not say, you shall see a masque; but if you do, then it was not for nothing that my nose fell a bleeding on Black-Monday last, at six o'clock i'the morning, falling out that year on Ash Wednesday was four year in the afternoon. Shy. What are there masques ? Hear you me,
Jessica: Lock up my doors; and when you hear the drum, And the vile squeaking of the wry-neck'd fife, Clamber not you up to the casements then, Nor thrust your head into the public street, To gaze on Christian fools with varnish'd faces : But stop my house's ears, I mean my casements; Let not the sound of shallow foppery enter My sober house.—By Jacob's staff, I swear, I have no mind of feasting forth to-night;
1 Invited. 2 Shakspeare meant to heighten the malignity of Shylock's character by thus making him depart from his most settled resolve (that he will neither eat, drink, nor pray with Christians), for the prosecution of his revenge.
3 i.e. Easter-Monday. It was called Black-Monday from the severity of that day, April 4, 1360, which was so extraordinary that, of Edward the Third's soldiers, then before Paris, many died of the cold. Anciently a superstitious belief was annexed to the accident of bleeding at the nose.
But I will go.-Go you before me, sirrah;
I will go before, sir.-
There will come a Christian by,
Will be worth a Jewess' eye. [Exit LAUN. Shy. What says that fool of Hagar's offspring, ha? Jes. His words were, Farewell, mistress; nothing
else. Shy. The patch" is kind enough; but a huge feeder. Snail-slow in profit, and he sleeps by day More than the wild cat: drones hive not with me; Therefore I part with him; and part with him To one that I would have him help to waste His borrow'd purse.—Well, Jessica, go in; Perhaps, I will return immediately; Do, as I bid you, Shut doors after you: Fast bind, fast find; A proverb never stale in thrifty mind. [Exit.
Jes. Farewell: and if my fortune be not crost, I have a father, you a daughter, lost. [Exit.
SCENE VI. The same. Enter GRATIANO and SALARINO, masqued. Gra. This is the pent-house, under which Lorenzo Desir’d us to make stand. Salar.
His hour is almost past. Gra. And it is marvel he out-dwells his hour, For lovers ever run before the clock.'
Salar. O, ten times faster Venus' pigeons 1 fly 4 i. e. fool, or simpleton.
1 Johnson thought that lovers, who are sometimes called turtles or doves in poetry, were meant by Venus' pigeons. The allusion, however, seems to be to the doves by which Venus's chariot is drawn: Venus drawn by doves is much more prompt to seal new bonds,' &c.
To seal love's bonds new made, than they are wont, To keep obliged faith unforfeited!
Gra. That ever holds: Who riseth from a feast,
2 Gray evidently caught the imagery of this passage in his Bard, but dropt the allusion to the parable of the prodigal —
• Fair laughs the morn and soft the zephyr blows,
That hush’d in grim repose expects his evening prey.' 3 So in Othello :
· The bawdy wind, that kisses all it meets.' It has been observed by Mr. Steevens that the bark ought to be of the masculine gender, otherwise the allusion wants somewhat of propriety. This indiscriminate use of the personal for the neuter at least obscures the passage-he adds, ' A ship, however, is commonly spoken of in the feminine gender.'