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bound to supply. “Well (I'll be hanged (or some equivalent expression]), if any man in Italy have a fairer table (than this); which doth offer to swear upon a book (that) I shall have good fortune.” “ Doth offer to swear upon a book” is merely his whimsical way of saying “doth offer to testify (by its lines);” and the words are peculiarly appropriate, as the palm would be laid upon the book in

swearing. 146 Go to. This elastic expression should, in the present instance,

require no explanation for any one who has ever heard the Southern “go ’long,” or “go 'way,” or the rough “ah, go

on” of the New York streets. 146 simple, i.e., poor, mean, is, of course, ironic, being part of the

unctuous pretended depreciation by which Launcelot shows

his relish for his promised good fortune. 148 coming in: inheriting (for inheritance); as one is said to

“come into” a fortune; acquisition. 152 for this gear : for this business (of promising me such won

derful things — or, perhaps, of getting me into Bassanio's

service). 170 liberal: free. Furness suggests “free-and-easy." 175 habit. Gratiano is using a metaphor (compare the same

speaker's “to be dressed in an opinion,” Act I, sc. i, line 91), and is at the same time playing on the word habit, and giving it the double sense of “customary demeanor,” and

“costume.” For the same metaphor see line 187. 179 Thus with my hat. It was customary to wear hats during

dinner. 181 studied: prepared by study, as an actor would be in his part. 181

a sad ostent: a grave appearance.


10 exhibit. This may be one of Launcelot's perversions of lan

guage, for “prohibit,” or “inhibit"; the sense would then be “ tears forbid ine to speak.” It may, however, mean,“ tears set forth my speech,” i.e. what my tongue would otherwise say.


5 If this awkward line be correctly given, it is equivalent to

“We have not yet bespoken torch-bearers for ourselves." But Dr. Furness thinks, with Rowe, Pope, and others, that

us is probably a misprint for "as.” 6 quaintly ordered : artistically contrived. What do


understand to be the antecedent of it? 12–14 For a similar play on hand, see As You Like It, Act IV,

sc. iii, lines 24–29. 19 What do you suppose this to have been? 26 some hour hence : about an hour hence. In exceptional cases

some is used by Shakespeare with a singular noun of time. 29 must needs. Abbott explains the adverb needs as formed from

the possessive case of need, thus signifying “of necessity.” 35 cross her foot: cross her path, by a figure of association. Com

pare sc. v, line 55. 36 What is the antecedent of she in this line? See sc. ii, line 151.



3 What, Jessica! What, why, and when were used indifferently

as exclamations of impatience. 8 wont: used, accustomed. 18 to-night : last night. The same form occurs in 2 Henry VI.,

Act III, sc. ii, line 31, and in Julius Caesar, Act III, sc. iii, line 1. The allusion to an old superstition explains

itself. 20, 21 Launcelot's perversion of language gives Shylock an oppor

tunity to utter, “ significantly,” says Booth,“ his little joke.”

But his bitterness goes beyond joking. 24 Black-Monday: Easter Monday. So called because, in 1360,

while Edward III. was besieging Paris, the day was unnaturally dark. Of course, the rest of the speech is pure nonsense. “ Ash-Wednesday was four year” is rustic English for “four

years ago last Ash-Wednesday.” 29 the wry-neck'd fife. Here the epithet may refer to the fife,

which had a bent mouthpiece; or it may properly belong to the player, and be rhetorically transferred to the instrument. (The elder Booth illustrated the line, says his son, “by turning his head as it is held when one plays upon the fife.”) It is even possible that fife, by a figure of association, means “fife-player,” as in Shakespeare we sometimes find “trumpet”

instead of “ trumpeter.” 42 “Worth a Jew's eye” was a proverbial phrase; its origin is

clear enough, and brings to mind the cruelties practised, for sordid motives, upon a persecuted people. Launcelot is re

peating the phrase in a different sense. 43 Hagar's offspring. It will be remembered that the Ishmaelites,

the descendants of Hagar, were held in contempt by the

Israelites, as sons of the bondwoman.” 45 patch: fool. The word probably arose as a nickname from

the parti-colored dress of the professional jester, and was

afterward applied to fools out of uniform. 50 What is the antecedent of his?

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1 pent-house : shed. 5 “ The doves of Venus are swifter in drawing her chariot, when

she goes to seal,” etc. 7 obliged : bound, due. How many syllables are demanded ? 8 In modern speech, what word would probably follow holds ? 9 The second that has the force of “with which.” 10 untread : tread back again, retrace. 11 unbated : undiminished. 14 younker: an inexperienced youth. 15 the scarfed bark. What picture does this epithet lead you to

form of the vessel as she sails away? How many syllables

in scarfed ? 18 over-weather’d. Can you supply the ordinary equivalent of

this unusual word ? 18–19 It is not only characteristic of the talkative Gratiano to

multiply illustrations here; it is also characteristic of Shakespeare, with his splendid opulence of expression. The best commentary on the last illustration, lines 14–19, is the parable of the Prodigal Son, in which, it will be remembered, the language is equally plain and powerful. In this simile the experience of the bark is the principal idea, and the prodigal enters only as illustrating it; but so vivid is the poet's imagination that he slips into personifying metaphor in

lean, beggar'd, etc. See note on Act I, sc. i, lines 10–14. 21 abode : abiding, stay. 24 you is probably prolonged by the emphasis naturally laid upon

it. See Introduction, IV. h. 2. 30 What do you find in this line which would now be a gramma

tical impropriety? 34 Understand “so that” before you. 36–39 There is a double confusion of ideas between love, or Cupid,

and lovers; but the general sense is plain. 42 sooth: truth. What preposition must be understood before

good ? 42 too too: a very common repetition, for emphasis, in Elizabethan

writers. Some editors, recognizing it as a compound, print

it “ too-too.” 42 light is here used in a double sense : “ illumined,” as by the

candle, and “flighty, found wanting in conduct.” 45 How does Lorenzo really mean to apply the epithet lovely, here

transferred to garnish? 47 close : secret (and hence favorable to Lorenzo's present pur

pose). 51 by my hood. This curious oath, found elsewhere but not in

Shakespeare, may be taken literally; or it may originally have meant, as Richard Grant White supposed, “ by my condition or estate.” (So in the compounds “manhood,"

“knighthood," etc.) 51 a Gentile. This reads “gentle ” in several of the old editions ;

and no doubt a play upon the two meanings of Gentile is

intended. 52 Beshrew me: curse me (as with a shrew-bite). The tiny

shrew-mouse, it was believed, was “deadly to other beasts if he bit them” (Florio's Worlde of Wordes, 1598), and hence

came the curse, generally, as in this case, playful. 66 twenty. Not literal, but a rhetorical putting of the definite

for the indefinite; what is the figure called? We often say, " I've told you so twenty times.”


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4 What deviation from modern



notice ? 5 On the measure of these inscriptions, see Introduction, IV. e. 8 Make this line quite clear by supplying the necessary words. 12 withal: therewith. 22 Why is her the appropriate pronoun here? 26 rated : estimated. 30 disabling: disparaging. 34 What preposition must we understand before these? 40 Morocco first uses the figure “ to kiss this shrine," a metaphor

meaning “to pay their devotions, as to the shrine of a saint”; and even before he has finished the sentence, his thought goes further on the line suggested, and presents Portia, not merely as the shrine sought by pilgrims, but as the saint that makes it holy — a saint, though still breathing mortal

breath. 41 The Hyrcanian deserts, south of the Caspian Sea, were supposed

to be haunted by tigers. Compare Macbeth, Act III, sc. iv, line 101: "The arm'd rhinoceros, or the Hyrcan tiger.”


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Read “ Th' Hyrcanlian desserts." 42 throughfares. Of what familiar word is this obviously an old

form? 44 head. This was sometimes used to mean an insurrection or an insurgent force. Compare Hamlet, Act IV, sc. v, line 101:

“Than young Laertes, in a riotous head,

O’erbears your officers.” 46 spirits : men of spirit. 51 rib: enclose; explain the metaphor involved. 51 cerecloth : waxed cloth, used in embalming. How does Shake

speare here accent obscure ? 53 undervalued. Compare Act I, sc. i, lines 165, 166. Gold really

was to silver as ten to one when this play was produced. 56 angel. The gold angel was worth about ten shillings. 57 insculp'd : engraved. Supply “it” after upon, or regard upon

as used adverbially, and emphasized. The coin has the angel without; the casket within.

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