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King. And by these badges, &c. JOHNSON. 64 As bombast, and as lining to the time:] This line is obscure. Bombast was a kind of loose texture not unlike what is now called wadding, used to give the dresses of that time bulk and protuberance, without much increase of weight; whence the same name is given a tumour of words unsupported by solid sentiment. The Princess, therefore, says, that they considered this courtship as but bombast, as something to fill out life, which not being closely united with it, might be thrown away at pleasure.
es To flatter up these powers of mine with rest;] Dr. Warburton would read fetter, but flatter or sooth is, in my opinion, more apposite to the king's purpose than fetter. Perhaps we may read,
To flatter on these hours of time with rest; That is, I would not deny to live in the hermitage, to make the year of delay pass in quiet. JOHNSON. dear groans.] Dr. Johnson says dear should here be dere, i. e. sad, odious.
67 When daisies, &c.] The first lines of this song, that were transposed, have been replaced by Mr. Theobald.
68 While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.] This word is yet used in Ireland, and signifies to scum the pot.
Although the other annotators do not agree in the actual mode of keeling the pot, yet they seem all of opinion that the word signifies to cool.
PLOT, THE FABLE, AND CONSTRUCTION
MERCHANT OF VENICE.
OF The Merchant of Venice the stile is even and easy, with few pecularities of diction, or anomalies of construction. The comic part raises laughter, and the serious fixes expectation. The probability of either one or the other story cannot be maintained. The union of two actions in one event is in this drama eminently happy. Dryden was much pleased with his own address in connecting the two Plots of his Spanish Friar, which yet, I believe, the critic will find excelled by this play.
It has been lately discovered, that the fable is taken from a story in the Pecorone of Ser Giovanni Fiorentino, a novelist, who wrote in 1378. The story has been published in English, and I have epitomised the translation. The translator is of opinion, that the choice of the caskets is borrowed from a tale of Boccace, which I have likewise abridged, though I believe that Shakspeare must have had some other novel in view.
There lived at Florence, a merchant whose name was Bindo. He was rich, and had three sons. Being near his end, he called for the two eldest, and left them heirs to the youngest he left nothing. This youngest, whose name was Giannetto, went to his father, and said, What has my father done? The father replied, dear Giannetto, there is none to whom I wish better than to you. Go to Venice to your godfather, whose name is Ansaldo; he has no child, and has wrote to me often to send you thither to him. He is the richest merchant amongst the Christians: if you behave well, you will be certainly a rich man. The son answered, I am ready to do whatever my dear father shall command: upon which he gave him his benediction, and in a few days died.
Giannetto went to Ansaldo, and presented the letter given by the father before his death. Ansaldo reading the letter, cried out, My dearest godson is welcome to my arms. He then asked news of his father. Giannetto replied, He is dead. I am much grieved, replied Ansaldo, to hear of the death of Bindo; but the joy I feel, in seeing you, mitigates my sorrow. He conducted him to his house, and gave orders to his servants, that Giannetto should be obeyed, and served with more attention than had been paid to himself. He then delivered him the keys of his ready money; and told him, Son, spend this money, keep a table, and make yourself known: remember, that the more you gain the good will of every body, the more you will be dear to me.