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132, 133 It is interesting to know that these lines, which appear

irregular, are really following an unwritten law. Dr. Abbott points out (Section 514, Shakespearian Grammar) that Shakespeare sometimes treats interruptions as parenthetical, and forming no part of the complete line. Thus, the real line 132 would be:

This is kind I offer. [ ] This kindness will I show.

To reduce this to a satisfactory pentameter, we must remember that er has often the sound of French re, and must either consider that the first foot is an anapest, or that is

is merged in this. Abbott prints “this kind.” 135 single. A single bond, in legal phraseology, was a bond

without a condition attached. This certainly does not describe the bond proposed by Shylock; hence the legal sense of the word does not seem to be intended. The Clarendon Press editors think that Shylock means a bond without sureties, having Antonio's signature only. But perhaps your single bond is equivalent to “your mere bond," and presents an example of transferred epithet, meaning “merely seal me your bond.” Shylock is belit

tling the operation by which the money is to be raised. 139 nominated for: named as. 139 equal: just, exact. 151 teaches. Possibly this form of the verb, with a plural sub

ject, is a survival of an early English usage, the formation

of the plural in es. “To” is omitted before suspect. 156 This may be called an Alexandrine, or we may prefer to

call it a case of the insertion of two unemphatic syllables after the second foot. Whatever term we use, we should

touch the last syllables of estimable very lightly in reading. 165 fearful: causing (me) fear. This is one of the adjectives

which may be either active or passive in meaning. 168–171 See Introduction, IV. g.


Enter the Prince of Morocco. The First Folio adds, “a tawnie

Moore all in white." 1 complexion. See Introduction, IV. h. 2. 2 Explain the figures in this line. The connotation of the

word livery, in Shakespeare's time, made the word more suitable for poetry than it would now be. Associations with the old system of retainers and cognizances clung about it. Compare Milton, Comus :

“ And send a liveried angel, if need were.”

6 make incision. This violent proof of love was not unknown

among the young gallants of the Elizabethan period, as

we find in the plays of Ben Jonson and Fletcher. 9 fear'd: made afraid. 18 wit: wisdom. 25, 26 the Sophy: the Emperor of Persia. Apparently Morocco

served under Sultan Solyman the Magnificent in the first half of the sixteenth century, and slew the Sophy, and also a Persian prince who had previously defeated Solyman in three battles. Shakespeare is rather seeking to convey a general notion of Morocco's prowess than to be historically

accurate. 31 alas the while! This exclamation really means little more

than alas, though literally its significance would be "alas for the present time!” Compare sc. ii, line 63, “ Alack the

day.” 32 Lichas was the servant of Hercules, or Alcides. 32, 33 What is the ellipsis before which ?

advised. See Act I, sc. i, line 142. 43 The double negative is proper in Shakespeare, as in Chaucer. 44 temple : loosely used for church. Morocco was to take a

solemn vow. 46 blest. The meaning is “most blest.” The Elizabethans

often attached terminations to a second adjective which affected the preceding adjective also, or the reverse. But in this case perhaps the syllable est has been absorbed.



Enter Launcelot. The First Folio has, “ Enter the Clowne

alone.” This indicates that Gobbo, though not represented as a professional jester, was intended to supply, in the present play, the element of coarse fun usually provided by the fool in the drama. See note on Act I, sc. i, line 79. From such a fellow we expect whimsical remarks, with only a slight thread of sense to hold them together; and we need not trouble ourselves to reconcile the inconsistencies of his speech, for in those very inconsistencies its drollery resides. Compare Mrs. Malaprop in Sheridan's comedy, The Rivals, for curious errors like incarnal for “incarnate,” line 23; frutify for “certify,” line 122; impertinent for "pertinent," line 125; and in the speech of Old Gobbo, whose eccentricities of language are similar,

defect for “effect,” line 130. 7, 8 To scorn with the heels was frequently used for “ to spurn.” 9 pack: begone. “ Pack yourself off.” Via! was the word of

encouragement then used to horses; it was probably from

the Italian, and meant “ Away!” 10 for the heavens. This was generally equivalent to the oath

“by heaven”; but its force here appears to be “for heaven's

sake." 15 grow to. The Clarendon Press editors explain this as

household phrase, applied to milk when burnt to the bot

tom of the saucepan,” in which case it has a kind of taste. 20 The parenthetical exclamation God bless the mark! is dif

ficult to explain. Originally, perhaps, it accompanied the action of making the sign of the cross (“the mark”) to avert evil of any kind; and possibly Launcelot so uses it, before his mention of the devil. (But in many other cases it occurs with an ironical force, as “forsooth” or “indeed” is sometimes used; compare Othello, Act I, sc. i, line 33,

and 1 Henry IV., Act I, sc. iii, line 56.) 22 saving your reverence, also parenthetical, is like the phrase

“ with all due respect ”; the speaker excuses himself in advance for saying something improper.



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23 in my conscience : in my conception, according to my notion

of the matter; a play on the word. 31 sand-blind : partly blind, as opposed to “stone-blind"; Laun

celot invents an intermediate condition, high-gravel blind. It would be interesting to look up the derivation of sand

in this old compound adjective. 32 try confusions. “I'll try conclusions with him” was a stock

expression meaning "I'll argue with him.” The reason for Launcelot’s amendment sufficiently appears in his next

speech. 36 marry. A familiar expletive, originally the oath" by Mary,"

or an appeal to the Virgin, but harmlessly used, in Shakespeare's time, without that sense. It corresponds to our “indeed,”“ however,” “well then,” or various other forms,

according to the general character of the passage. 39 sonties. A word of doubtful meaning. It is possibly from

the French santé, health; possibly a corrupt diminutive, equivalent to “dear little saints"; possibly a perversion

of “sanctities." 47 well to live : likely to live long. 48 a'. A colloquialism for “he.” 51 ergo. Launcelot has picked up a scrap of Latin, and uses it

as a flower of speech, without much meaning, except per

haps in line 54. 55 father. Here, and in line 139, used only as a familiar form

of address to an old man. 83 thou. Note the change from the more respectful and formal

you, proper in addressing a superior. 84, 85 Lord worshipped might he be! Might was then used to

express a wish, as we now use “may”; the sense is simply, “ The Lord be worshipped !” The exclamation expresses Old Gobbo's surprise and pleasure at the growth of Launcelot's beard. (It is stage tradition for the rogue Launcelot to kneel with his back to his father ; the old man, stroking

his son's long hair, takes it for a beard.) 86 fill-horse: thill-horse, i.e. horse that goes in the shafts or

thills. 94, 95 set up my rest. It is clear enough that this expression

“made up my mind ”; but not so clear what is the




metaphor involved. Perhaps the rest or support of the heavy old matchlock is meant; in that case the figure would be: “I have fixed my rest firmly in the ground, and am ready to level my piece.” Perhaps the rest or wager of the card-player is meant; in that case the figure would be: “I have laid down the sum betted, backing the cards I have in my hand.” It will be seen that either action is

decisive. Notice the play on words. 99 me : for me; a dative. 106

put the liveries to making: set the tailor to making the

liveries. 110 Gramercy! many thanks; from the French grand merci. 114 infection : possibly a twisting of “affection,” in the sense of

“ desire.” 119 cater-cousins : “a term formerly applied to persons on terms

of cousinship,' intimate friendship, or familiarity with each other, who, though not cousins by blood, were “next cousins’ in some respect, or perhaps called each other “cousin' from some community of life, interests, or employments." - MURRAY, New English Dictionary. The meaning of are scarce cater-cousins appears to be,“ do not

agree very well.” 133 preferr'd. This word combines the sense of “recommended”

and “transferred,” and also conveys the idea of promotion,

to which preferment is equivalent. 136 The old proverb. The pithiest version of the saying referred

to is the Scotch : “God's grace is gear enough.” 142 guarded : ornamented with lace or galloon. 143 in: “into the house with you,” — “go in.” Shylock's house

is probably not far away, despite Launcelot's lucid

direction. 145 table: the palm of the hand. This is one of the few cases

in which the present edition differs from the Globe text. An exclamation point is inserted after table, in accordance with the suggestion of Kenrick, quoted with approval by

Furness. 145, 146 These lines have given great trouble to commentators.

The difficulty may be met by understanding a few words which Launcelot evidently had in mind, but did not feel

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