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And wear my dagger with the braver grace;
And fpeak between the change of man and boy,
Which I denying, they fell fick and died.
And wifh, for all that, that I had not killed them.
That men fhall fwear I've discontinued school
The character of Mercy is here most beautifully defcribed. This paffage can never be too often read. There is no danger of its growing feared and tedious, as Angelo fays of the laws of juftice.
Portia, pleading for Anthonio.
The quality of Mercy is not ftrained;
And earthly power doth then fhew likeft God's,
Should fee falvation. We do pray for mercy;
And that fame prayer doth teach us all to render
There is also a paffage in the fame Scene, where the Pro and Con for partial juftice is rightly ar
* Meafure for Measure. A& II. Scene X,
gued on both fides; but terminates, as I fear it fhould do, for the fafety of a State, in ftoical strictnefs.
Baffanio to Portia, in the character of a Judge.
And I beseech you,
Wreft once the law to your authority;
To do a great right, do a little wrong;
Portia. It must not be; there is no power in Venice,"
'Twill be recorded for a precedent,
And many an error, by the fame example,
We have also, here, fome philofophic reflections on the advantages of dying before we are encumbered with age and poverty, with a manly fpirit of acquiefcence in the unavoidable ills of life, joined to the affecting tenderness and generous regards of friendship.
Anthonio, when the Jew has obtained fentence against him:
I am armed, and well prepared
Give me your hand, Baffanio; fare ye well!
To let the wretched man out-live his wealth,
'Tis a pity this fine fpeech fhould be difgraced by
the quibble in the last expreffion.
ACT V. SCENE I.
The enchanting powers and effects of mufic are here most poetically fet forth. There can never be faid too much on this charming theme. Men's minds may be fometimes too ftern or obftinate to yield to argument, but in melody there is a fort of fentiment, that finks into the heart, and by awaking the fofter paffions of the foul, often perfuades, where reason elfe would fail.
Lorenzo and Jeffica.
A Sound of Mufic.
Ffica. I'm never merry, when I hear fweet mufic.
You shall perceive them make a mutual ftand;
By the fweet power of mufic. Therefore, the Poet
Did feign that Orpheus drew trees, ftones, and floods;
Since none fo ftickish, hard and full of rage,
But mufic for the time doth change his nature
The man that hath no mufie in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of fweet founds,
Is fit for treafons, tratagems, and fpoils;
The motions of his fpirit are dull as night,
Let no fuch man be trusted. *
There is also a beautiful allufion made to the light of a candle, in this place, which, with the moral deduced from it, is, I think, worthy to be noted here.
Portia and Neriffa.
Porcia. How far that little candle throws its beams!
So fhines a good deed in a naughty world.
So fays the Scripture, "Let your light fo fhine." And in the continuation of the fame dialogue, the effects of time, circumstance, comparison, and accafion, are beautifully and juftly pointed out:
* Hic niger eft; hunc tøy Romane, Câvero,
Neria. When the moon fhone, we did not fee the candle.
Neria. It is your mufic, Madam, of the houfe.
The next quotation, and the last I fhall tranfcribe from this Play, is in the fame Scene; where Portia accofts her husband's friend, Anthonio, on his first vifit to her, after the catastrophe of the piece has been wound up:
Sir, you are welcome to our house
It must appear in other ways than words;
In this speech the very juftly expreffes the true fentiment of affection, which renders profeffions needless, where intentions are fincere.
• That is, reference to time, place, or other circumstance,