Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

And how unwillingly I left the ring,

When nought would be accepted but the ring,
You would abate the strength of your displeasure.
POR. If you had known the virtue of the ring,
Or half her worthiness that gave the ring,
Or your own honour to contain the ring,
You would not then have parted with the ring.
What man is there so much unreasonable,

If

you had pleas'd to have defended it

With any terms of zeal, wanted the modesty
To urge the thing held as a ceremony?
Nerissa teaches me what to believe;

I'll die for 't, but some woman had the ring.
BASS. No, by mine honour, madam, by my soul,
No woman had it, but a civil doctor,

Which did refuse three thousand ducats of me,
And begg'd the ring; the which I did deny him,
And suffer'd him to go displeas'd away;

Even he that had held up the very life

Of my dear friend. What should I say, sweet lady?
I was enforc'd to send it after him;

I was beset with shame and courtesy ;

My honour would not let ingratitude

So much besmear it: Pardon me, good lady;

For, by these blessed candles of the night,

Had you been there, I think, you would have begg'd
The ring of me to give the worthy doctor.

POR. Let not that doctor e'er come near my house :
Since he hath got the jewel that I lov'd,

And that which you did swear to keep for me,

I will become as liberal as you;

I'll not deny him anything I have,

No, not my body, nor my husband's bed:

Know him I shall, I am well sure of it:

Lie not a night from home; watch me, like Argus ;

If you do not, if I be left alone,

Now, by mine honour, which is yet mine own,
I'll have that doctor for my bedfellow,

NER. And I his clerk; therefore be well advis'd,
How you do leave me to mine own protection.
GRA. Well, do you so: let not me take him then;
For, if I do, I'll mar the young clerk's pen.
ANT. I am the unhappy subject of these quarrels.

Contain and retain are here synonymous.

POR. Sir, grieve not you; you are welcome notwithstanding.
BASS. Portia, forgive me this enforced wrong;
And, in the hearing of these many friends,

[blocks in formation]

BASS.

Nay, but hear me;
Pardon this fault, and by my soul I swear,
I never more will break an oath with thee.
ANT. I once did lend my body for his wealth;
Which, but for him that had your husband's ring,
Had quite miscarried: I dare be bound again,
My soul upon the forfeit, that your lord
Will never more break faith advisedly.

POR. Then you shall be his surety: Give him this;
And bid him keep it better than the other.
ANT. Here, lord Bassanio; swear to keep this ring.
BASS. By heaven, it is the same
I gave
the doctor!
POR. I had it of him: pardon me, Bassanio;
For by this ring the doctor lay with me.
NER. And pardon me, my gentle Gratiano;

For that same scrubbed boy, the doctor's clerk,
In lieu of this last night did lie with me.
GRA. Why, this is like the mending of highways

In summer, where the ways are fair enough:
What! are we cuckolds, ere we have deserv'd it?
POR. Speak not so grossly.-You are all amaz'd:
Here is a letter, read it at your leisure;

ANT.

It comes from Padua, from Bellario:
There you shall find, that Portia was the doctor;
Nerissa there, her clerk: Lorenzo here

Shall witness, I set forth as soon as you,
And but e'en now return'd; I have not yet
Enter'd my house.-Antonio, you are welcome;
And I have better news in store for you
Than you expect: unseal this letter soon;
There you shall find, three of your argosies

Are richly come to harbour suddenly:
You shall not know by what strange accident
I chanced on this letter.

I am dumb.

BASS. Were you the doctor, and I knew you not?

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

GRA. Were you the clerk, that is to make me cuckold?
NER. Ay, but the clerk that never means to do it,
Unless he live until he be a man.

BASS. Sweet doctor, you shall be my bedfellow;
When I am absent then lie with my wife.

ANT. Sweet lady, you have given me life, and living;
For here I read for certain, that my ships

[blocks in formation]

My clerk hath some good comforts too for you. NER. Ay, and I'll give them him without a fee.— There do I give to you and Jessica,

From the rich Jew, a special deed of gift, After his death, of all he dies possess'd of. LOR. Fair ladies, you drop manna in the way Of starved people.

POR.

It is almost morning,
And yet, I am sure, you are not satisfied
Of these events at full: Let us go in;
And charge us there upon inter'gatories,
And we will answer all things faithfully.
GRA. Let it be so; The first inter'gatory,
That my Nerissa shall be sworn on, is,
Whether till the next night she had rather stay,
Or go to bed now, being two hours to day:
But were the day come, I should wish it dark,
Till I were couching with the doctor's clerk.
Well, while I live, I 'll fear no other thing

So sore, as keeping safe Nerissa's ring.

[blocks in formation]

[Exeunt.

ILLUSTRATIONS.

ACT I.

1 SCENE I.-" Argosies with portly sail." THE largest vessels now used and supposed to have been ever employed in Venetian commerce, are of two hundred tons. Fleets of such made up the ancient "argosies with portly sail." The smallest trading vessels,-coasters, "petty traffickers," —are brigs and brigantines, which may be seen daily hovering, "with their woven wings," around the Island City.

The most splendid "pageants of the sea ever beheld were perhaps some that put forth from Venice in the days of her glory. Cleopatra's barge itself could not supass the Bucintoro, with its exterior of scarlet and gold, its burnished oars, its inlaid deck and seats, its canopy and throne. The galleys of many of the wealthier citizens almost equalled this state vessel in splendour, to judge by the keels and other remains of ancient vessels which are preserved at the arsenal.—(M.)

2 SCENE I.-" Plucking the grass, to know
where sits the wind."

Though sea-weed is much more common than grass in Venice, there is enough land-vegetation in the gardens belonging to some of the palazzi to furnish the means of Solanio's experiment. —(M.)

3 SCENE I.-"Now, by two-headed Janus," &c. Warburton, upon this passage, justly and sensibly says, "Here Shakspere shows his knowledge in the antique. By two-headed Janus is meant those antique bifrontine heads, which generally represent a young and smiling face, together with an old and wrinkled one, being of Pan and Bacchus, of Saturn and Apollo, &c. These are not uncommon in collections of antiques, and in the books of the antiquaries, as Montfaucon, Spanheim," &c. Farmer upon

this displays his unfairness and impertinence very strikingly:-"In 'The Merchant of Venice' we have an oath, 'By two-headed Janus;' and here, says Dr. Warburton, Shakspere shows his knowledge in the antique: and so again does the Water-poet, who describes Fortune

'Like a Janus with a double face.""

Farmer has just told us that "honest John Taylor, the Water-poet, declares that he never learned his Accidence, and that Latin and French were to him Heathen Greek." Now, Warburton's remark does not apply to the simple use by Shakspere of the term "twoheaded Janus," but to the propriety of its use in association with the image which was passing in Salarino's mind, of one set of heads that would "laugh, like parrots," and others of "vinegar aspect"-the open-mouthed and closedmouthed-"strange fellows,"-as different as the Janus looking to the east, and the Janus looking to the west.

4 SCENE I.-"Let me play the Fool." The part of the Fool running over with "mirth and laughter," was opposed to the "sad" . part which Antonio played. The Fool which Shakspere found in possession of the "stage" was a rude copy of the domestic fool-licentious, if not witty. Our great poet, in clothing him with wit, hid half his grossness. In the time of Middleton (Charles I.), when the domestic ! Fool was extinct, and the Fool of the stage nearly so, he is thus described retrospectively:—

"Oh, the clowns that I have seen in my time!

The very passing out of one of them would have
Made a young heir laugh though his father lay a-dying:
A man undone in law the day before
(The saddest case that can be) might for his second
Have burst himself with laughing, and ended all
His miseries. Here was a merry world, my masters."
Mayor of Quinborough.

SCENE II.-"He hath neither Latin, French, nor Italian."

"A satire," says Warburton, "on the ignorance of the young English travellers in our author's time." Authors are not much in the habit of satirising themselves; and yet according to Farmer and his school, Shakspere knew "neither Latin, French, nor Italian."

SCENE III.-"Venice. A public Place." Though there are three hundred and six canals in Venice, serving for thoroughfares, there is no lack also of streets and public places. The streets are probably the narrowest in Europe, from the value of ground in this City of the Sea. The public places (excepting the great squares before St. Mark's and the Ducal Palace) are small open spaces in front of the churches, or formed by the intersection of streets, or by four ways meeting, or a bridge. These resound with a hubbub of voices, from the multitude of conferences perpetually going on; thus forming a remarkable contrast with the neighbouring canals, where the plash of the oar, and its echo from the high walls of the houses, is usually all that is heard. As conferences cannot well take place on these watery ways, and the inhabitants had, till lately, nowhere else to meet, all out-door conversation must take place in the alleys and on the bridges; and

[merged small][graphic][merged small]

8 SCENE III.-"What news on the Rialto ?" The Rialto spoken of throughout this play is not the bridge to which belong our general associations with the name. The bridge was built in 1591, by A. da Ponte, under the Doge Pascal Cicogna.

The Rialto of ancient commerce is an island -one of the largest of those on which Venice is built. Its name is derived from riva altahigh shore,-and its being larger and somewhat more elevated than the others accounts for its being the first inhabited. The most ancient church of the city is there; and there were erected the buildings for the magistracy and commerce of the infant settlement. The arcades used for these purposes were burned down in the great fire of 1513, and rebuilt on the same spot in 1555, as they now stand. Rialto Island is situated at the bend of the Grand Canal, by which it is bounded on two sides, while the Rio delle Beccarie and another small canal bound it on the other two. There is a vegetable market there daily; and, though the great squares by St. Mark's are now the places "where merchants most do congregate," the old rendezvous is still so thronged, and has yet so much the character of a "mart," as to justify now, as formerly, the question, "What news on the Rialto?"--(M.)

[ocr errors][merged small]
« AnteriorContinua »