Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

very sum of

To eke it, and to draw it out in length,
To stay you from election.
Bass.

Let me choose;
For, as I am,

I live
upon

the rack.
Por. Upon the rack, Bassanio ? then confess
What treason there is mingled with your

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

my

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.
Por. Well then, confess, and live.
Bass.

Confess, and love, Had been the

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 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?, 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.

VOL. III.

G

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

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-monster5; 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

to himself

SONG.
1. Tell me, where is fancy bred,

Or in the heart, or in the head?
How begot, how nourished?

REPLY, REPLY.
2. It is engender'd in the eyes,

With gazing fed; and fancy dies
In the cradle where it lies;

Let us all riny fancy's knell;
I'll begin it,

-Ding, dong, bell.
All. Ding, dong, bell.
Bass. So

may

the outward shows be least them-
selves;
The world is still deceiv'd with ornament?.
In law, what plea so tainted and corrupt,
But, being season'd with a gracious 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.

7 Bassanio begins abruptly, the first part of the argument has passed in his mind.

8 Pleasing; winning favour. 9 i. e. justify it.

6 Love.

Hiding the grossness with fair ornament?
There is no vice so simple, but assumes
Some mark of virtue on his outward parts.
How many cowards, whose hearts are all as false
As stairs of sand, wear yet upon their chins
The beards of Hercules, and frowning Mars;
Who, inward search’d, have livers white as milk?
And these assume but valour's excrement 10,
To render them redoubted. Look on beauty,
And you shall see 'tis purchas'd by the weight;
Which therein works a miracle in nature,
Making them lightest that wear most of it:
So are those crisped snaky golden locks,
Which make such wanton gambols with the wind,
Upon supposed fairness, often known
To be the dowry of a second head,
The scull that bred them, in the sepulchre 11.
Thus ornament is but the guiled 12 shore
To a most dangerous sea; the beauteous scarf
Veiling an Indian beauty; in a word,
The seeming truth which cunning times put on
To entrap the wisest. Therefore, thou gaudy gold,
Hard food for Midas, I will none of thee:
Nor none of thee, thou pale and common drudge

13

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;' aud 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, Faster than gnats in cobwebs: But her eyes, How could he see to do them? having made one, Methinks it should have power to steal both his, And leave itself unfurnish'd 16: Yet look, how far The substance of my praise doth wrong

this shadow In underpricing it, so far this shadow Doth limp behind the substance. Here's the scroll, The continent and summ

mmary

of
my

fortune.
You that choose not by the view,
Chance as fair, and choose as true!
Since this fortune falls to you,
Be content and seek no new.
If you be well pleas'd with this,
And hold your fortune for your bliss,
Turn you where your lady is,

And claim her with a loving kiss.
A gentle scroll: Fair lady, by your leave;

[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,
Will't please you bring a friend; we are two of us,

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.'

« VorigeDoorgaan »