« VorigeDoorgaan »
To eke it, and to draw it out in length,
Let me choose;
I live the rack.
love. Bass. None, but that ugly treason of mistrust, Which makes me fear the enjoying of my
love: There may as well be amity and life 'Tween snow and fire, as treason and
love. Por. Ay, but, I fear, you speak upon the rack, Where men enforced do speak any thing.
Bass. Promise me life, and I'll confess the truth.
Confess, and love, Had been the very sum of my
Por. Away then: I am lock'd in one of them; If
you do love me, you will find me out.Nerissa, and the rest, stand all aloof. Let musick sound, while he doth make his choice; Then, if he lose, he makes a swanlike end 3, Fading in musick : that the comparison May stand more proper, my eye shall be the stream, And watry death-bed for him: He may win; And what is musick then? then' musick is Even as the flourish when true subjects bow To a new-crowned monarch; such it is, As are those dulcet sounds in break of day, That creep into the dreaming bridegroom's ear, And summon him to marriage. Now he goes,
3 Allading to the opinion which long prevailed that the swan uttered a plaintive musical sound at the approach of death; there is something so touching in this ancient superstition that one feels loath to be undeceived.
With no less presence*, but with much more love, Than
young Alcides, when he did redeem The virgin tribute paid by howling Troy To the sea-monster 5; I stand for sacrifice, The rest aloof are the Dardanian wives, With bleared visages, come forth to view The issue of the exploit. Go, Hercules ! Live thou, I live:-With much much more dismay I view the fight, than thou that mak’st the fray. Musick, whilst BASSANIO comments on the caskets
Or in the heart, or in the head?
With gazing fed; and fancy dies
Let us all ring fancy's knell;
the outward shows be least themselves; The world is still deceiv'd with ornament. In law, what plea so tainted and corrupt, But, being season'd with a gracious 8 voice, Obscures the show of evil? In religion, What damned error, but some sober brow Will bless it, and approve it with a text,
4 i. e. dignity of mien.
5 See Ovid. Metamorph. lib. xi. ver. 199. Malone says, Shakspeare had read the account of this adventure in the Old Legend of the Destruction of Troy.
6 Love. ? Bassanio begins abruptly, the first part of the argument has passed in his mind.
8 Pleasing; winning favour. 9 i. e. justify it.
Hiding the grossness with fair ornament ?
10 That is, what a little higher is called the beard of Hercules. Excrement, from excresco, is used for every thing which appears to grow or vegetate upon the human body, as the hair, the beard, the nails. So in The Winter's Tale, Act iv. Sc. 3:
• Let me pocket up my pedler's excrement.' 11 Shakspeare has also satirized this fashion of false hair in Love's Labour's Lost. Its prevalence in his time is evinced by the Satire of Barnabe Rich, in "The Honestie of this Age, or the World never honest till now;' and by passages in other cotemporary writers.
12 Guiled for guiling, or treacherous. 13 I could wish to read
thou stale and common drudge;' for so I think the poet wrote. Steevens cites a passage in George
'Tween man and man: but thou, thou meager lead, Which rather threatnest, than dost promise aught, Thy paleness 14
moves me more than eloquence, And here choose I; Joy be the consequence!
Por. How all the other passions fleet to air, As doubtful thoughts, and rash-embrac'd despair, And shudd'ring fear and green-ey'd jealousy. O love, be moderate, allay thy ecstasy, In measure rain thy joy, scant this excess; I feel too much thy blessing, make it less, For fear I surfeit! Bass.
What find I here?
[Opening the leaden casket. Fair Portia's counterfeit 15? What demi-god Hath come so near creation ? Move these eyes ? Or whether, riding on the balls of mine, Seem they in motion ? Here are sever'd lips, Parted with sugar breath; so sweet a bar Should sunder such sweet friends : Here in her hairs The painter plays the spider; and hath woven
Chapman's Hymnus in Noctem, 1594, in confirmation of the reading of the text:
• To whom pale day (with whoredom soked quite)
Is but a drudge. But shining or bright would have been considered by our ancestors more characteristic of silver than paleness.
14 In order to avoid the repetition of the epithet pale, Warburton altered this to plainness, and he has been followed in the modern editions, but the reading of the old copy, which I have restored, is the true one. That paleness was an epithet peculiar to lead is shown in Baret's Alvearie, Letter P. No. 46: ‘Paleness or wannesse like lead.-Ternissure.' See also Cotgrave in that word. Thus Skelton in The Boke of Philip Sparow, 1568:
• My visage pale and dead
Wan and blue as lead.' 15 Counterfeit anciently signified a likeness, a resemblance. So in The Wit of a Woman, 1634: 'I will see if I can agree with this stranger for the drawing of my daughter's counterfeit.' And Hamlet calls the pictures he shows to his mother,
• The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.'
A golden mesh to entrap the hearts of men,
You that choose not by the view,
your lady is,
[Kissing her. I come by note, to give, and to receive. Like one of two contending in a prize, That thinks he hath done well in people's eyes,
16 i.e. unfurnished with a companion or fellow. In Fletcher's Lover's Progress, Alcidon says to Clarangé, on delivering Lidian's challenge, which Clarangé accepts:
you are a noble gentleman,
And pity, either of us should be unfurnish’d.' The hint for this passage appears to have been taken from Greene's History of Faire Bellora; afterwards published under the title of A Paire of Turtle Doves : ‘If Apelles had beene tasked to have drawne her counterfeit, her two bright burning lampes would have so dazzled his quick-seeing sences, that quite dispairing to expresse with his cunning pensill so admirable a worke of nature, he had been inforced to have staid his hand, and left this earthly Venus unfinished. A preceding passage in Bassanio's speech might have been suggested by the same novel: “What are our curled and crisped lockes, but snares and nets to catch and entangle the hearts of gazers, &c.'