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Furness. It appears that Antonio is not considering his own interests, but merely securing to Lorenzo the future possession of that half of Shylock's goods which might legally be claimed by him, Antonio. He makes this proposition conditional upon the acceptance of another, which secures to Lorenzo and Jessica the possession of Shylock's whole estate at the time of his death. In use is here a legal
term, and does not mean, as elsewhere, “ at interest." 383 “Of” is understood after possessed. 393 ten more: i.e. twelve jurymen. This is out of place in the
mouth of a Venetian ; see note, line 39. 396 desire your grace of pardon. An idiomatic Elizabethan con
struction, equivalent to “I desire pardon of your grace.” 400 gratify: reward. 404 in lieu whereof: in return for which. 406 cope: either“ meet” (SCHMIDT) or “requite” (CLARENDON
PRESS editors). 406 withal: as in Act III, sc. i, line 24. 437 Express this idea in modern form. 444 withal: as in Act. II, sc. vii, line 12. 445 commandment. This is “commandement” in the most im
portant old editions; and it is quite clear that the e, now lost, was here intended to be pronounced.
Act IV. SCENE II
15 old : an augmentative, signifying “great.” “We shall have
plenty of swearing."
ACT V. SCENE I
4-14 These exquisite allusions to classic stories may be traced to
Chaucer. The first is certainly a reminiscence of his Troylus and Creseide. In his Legenıle of Good Women Thisbe, Dido, and Medea are associated; though the passage in that poem relating to Ariadne, rather than the mention of Dido herself, seems to have suggested the present picture of Dido. In the case of Medea Shakespeare got additional suggestions from Ovid, with whose poetry, in Golding's translation, he was familiar.
For three of these stories consult any classical dictionary. The tale of Troilus, however, is not classic, but a product of the Middle Ages. The young prince, Troilus, was the youngest son of King Priam of Troy. He secretly loved Cressida, who returned his love. She was exchanged for a Trojan prisoner, and sent to her father Calchas in the Greek camp, where she fell in love with the Greek chieftain Diomed, and proved false to Troilus. On this story Shakespeare has based his play of
the Third Period, Troilus and Cressida. 11 waft. Probably an absorption of the ed, into the final t, for
the sake of euphony. 12, 14, 17 These lines are all irregular, though 12 and 14 may
be scanned by making the fourth foot, in each case, an anapest; and 17 may be accounted for by supposing that the pause after Belmont fills the time of an accented syllable. But the truer explanation seems to be that this passage (beginning with the last part of line 3 and continuing until the movement runs down in the raillery of line 22) is to be regarded as a kind of lyrical interlude. If printed with the usual indentations, it would easily be recognized as such. The first line of each division is an iambic dimeter; the last line is twice in succession a trimeter,
twice a trimeter hypercatalectic, and twice a dimeter. 21 shrew. See note on shrewd, Act III, sc. ii, line 240. 28 Stephano. It is clear that the name is here to be accented on
the second syllable. The correct pronunciation is used in The T'empest, Act V, sc. i, line 277. Halliwell suggests that Shakespeare picked up the true accenting, after he wrote The Merchant, from Ben Jonson's Every Man in his
Humour, in which he acted a part. 57 touches. Schmidt defines touch, in this specific sense, as
- the act of the hand on a musical instrument." 59 patines. The First Folio and two of the Quartos read pattens ;
the later Folios have patterns — a reading adopted by Rowe, Pope, and others, who understand the constellations to be meant. Malone suggested patines, a word meaning the small plates used with the chalice in the administration of the Eucharist; these were sometimes of gold. Patten, paten, and patine are really the same word.
61 This is the old theory of the music of the spheres. In
ancient astronomy, it was held that there were certain “revolving spherical shells, having the earth for their common center, in which the stars were supposed to be set.” – Standard Dictionary. These spheres, as they revolved, made music. Elsewhere, Shakespeare distinguishes accurately between the stars or planets, and their spheres ; see Midsummer Night's Dream, Act II, sc. i, line 153. But in this figure he seems to confuse the two ideas, since the
smallest orb must refer to a star. 62 cherubins. “ An English form of a Chaldee plural.”.
Furness. What two forms are more usual, as the plural
of cherub, and what distinction is made in their use? 63 “Some have ... been induced to think, that the soul
itself by nature is or hath in it harmony." — HOOKER:
Ecclesiastical Polity. 66 Explain the beauty of this line. 77 mutual: common (to more than two, as used by Shakespeare). 79 An example of the addition of an extra syllable before a
pause; here, at the end of the third foot. See Abbott,
Section 454. 79 the poet: Ovid. 99 without respect: without regard to the conditions, absolutely. 103 attended : i.e. attended by favorable circumstances. Most
editors, however, regard this as a case of the omission of
the preposition to. 107, 108
“ How many things are, by the fit season, qualified so as to
receive their right praise and to attain their true perfection!” 109 See line 66. The story of Diana's love for the shepherd
Endymion has been told by many poets besides Keats. The passage in Fletcher's Faithful Shepherdess is often quoted :
“How the pale Phæbe, hunting in a grove,
First saw the boy Endymion, from whose eyes
118 See note on line 79. Compare also line 133.
tucket: a flourish on a trumpet. 127 Explain Bassanio's splendid compliment. 129 See note on Act II, sc. vi, line 42. 130 heavy : sorrowful. 132 sort: dispose, arrange. 146 This line appears defective; but perhaps the pause after me
is long enough to represent an accented syllable. 146 posy: the inscription on the inside of a ring. The word is
a contraction of poesy. 148 leave: give. Compare lines 170 and 192. 154 respective : mindful, considerate. 160 scrubbed : stunted and wretched; from the same root as shrub. 167 The superfluous syllable in this line has been disposed of in
several ways. Pope and Dyce dropped so, believing that it had been repeated by mistake. Dr. Furness thinks that we should read rivet “ almost, if not quite, as a monosyllable.” For remarks on the softening of v, see note on
Act III, sc. ii, line 125. 175 See note on Act II, sc. viii, line 33. 197 What should we say instead of contain ? 200 A construction in our own time inadmissible. 201, 202 wanted the modesty To urge : would have been so wanting
in modesty as to urge. 202
a ceremony: a sacred thing. 207 Shakespeare uses which interchangeably with who and that.
See Act IV, sc. i, line 277. 210 Even he. This nominative seems to imply that “ the which
away” is a parenthetical clause; as the Clarendon
editors point out. 231
double: deceitful, false. 239 advisedly: intentionally. 271 inter’gatories : interrogatories. “In the Court of Queen's
Bench, when a complaint is made against a person for a 'contempt,' the practice is that before sentence is finally pronounced he is sent into the Crown Office, and being there 'charged upon inter’gatories,' he is made to swear that he will • auswer all things faithfully.'” – Lord Campbell, quoted by Dr. FURNESS.
SUGGESTIVE AND CRITICAL NOTES
When, in the early times, the curtain was drawn aside for the first performance of The Merchant of Venice, the “groundlings” who stood crowded together in the pit looked up at a hanging board and read the word VENICE. At that cue their eager imaginations went to work and painted the scenery for them; for other scenery there was none.
When we sit down to read the play, then, we are in no worse case than they were, and we must try to do as they did. It would certainly be a great pity if we, with our many easily accessible books and pictures, and all the other advantages that have accumulated for us in three hundred years, proved less successful at this business of imagining things than the London 'prentices in the pit of the Theater, the Rose, or the Globe.
Venice : at the word a rich, if rather confused, background should shape itself in the mind; a warm, blue southern sky, buildings of black-and-white marble, smooth green canals, reflecting many brilliant colors, black gondolas, gliding hither and thither; in the brick-paved street picturesque passing figures, - melonsellers, bronzed fishermen in red caps. And see! three gentlemen approach in conversation. We listen, and the deep grave voice of Antonio begins : “In sooth, I know not why I am so sad.”
Act I, sc. i. — The first thing we have to note is this singular sadness of Antonio. The man is a rich merchant; his companions speak of his great argosies loaded with silks and spices. We may judge that he is a settled man of, or near, middle age; partly from the position that he has won, partly from his reproachful tone when Salarino suggests that he is in love. He has not been habitually sad, for in this mood he “has much ado to know” hiinself. And he protests that he knows not why such a mood hangs upon him.
It seems a little presumptuous in us to seek the reason. Perhaps it is a reason that he would hesitate to give, or even to put into words in his own mind; for it might seem selfish, and we are not long in finding out that Antonio is anything but a selfish man. He has a large, loving nature; he is kind and generous to all his friends; and when by and by he exhibits some unlovely qualities,