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and cannot like corn and cattle multiply itself. And to set off the absurdity of this kind of usury, he put breed and barren in opposition. WARBURTON.
16 -dwell in my necessity.) To dwell seems in this place to mean the same as to continue. To abide has both the senses of habitation and continuance.
JOHNSON. 17 To prove whose blood is reddest, his or mine.] To understand how the tawny prince, whose savage dignity is very well supported, means to recommend himself by this challenge, it must be remembered that red blood is a traditionary sign of courage: Thus Macbeth calls one of his frighted soldiers, a lily liver'd Lown; again in this play, Cowards are said to have livers as white as milk; and an effeminate and timorous man is termed a milksop. JOHNSON.
18 Hath fear'd the valiant;] i.e. terrify'd. To fear is often used by our old writers, in this sense. So B. Jonson, in Every Man in his Humour: “Make him a warrant, (he shall not go) “ I but fear the knave.” : So again in Hen. VI. 3d Part:
“Thou seest what's past, go fear thy king withall." So again in the same play ;
“ For Warwick was a bug that fear'd us all.”
STEEvens. 19 So is Alcides beaten by his page.] Though the whole set of editions concur in reading, beaten by his
rage, yet it is corrupt at bottom. Let us look into the poet's drift, and the history of the persons mentioned in the context. If Hercules, (says he) and Lichas were to play at dice for the decision of their superiority, Lichas, the weaker man, might have the better cast of the two. But how then is Alcides beaten by his rage? The poet means no more, than, if Lichas had the better throw, so might Hercules himself be beaten by Lichas. And who was he, but a poor unfor. tunate servant of Hercules, that unknowingly brought his master the envenom'd shirt, dipt in the blood of the Centaur Nessus, and was thrown headlong into the sea for his pains ? This one circumstance of Lichas's quality known, sufficiently ascertains the emendation, I have substituted page instead of rage.
THEOBALD. 20 Enter LAUNCELOT GOBBO.] The old copies read-Enter the Clown alone; and throughout the play he is called so at most of his entrances or exits.
STEEVENS. 21 Turn up, on your right hand, &c.] This arch and perplexed direction, to puzzle the enquirer, seems to imitate that of Syrus to Demea in the Brothers of Terence:
ubi eas præterieris, Adsinistram hac rectâ platea: ubi ad Dianæ veneris, Ito ad dextrum: prius quam ad portam venias, &c.
WARBURTON. 22 By God's sonties-] i. e. By God's sanctities or holiness.
23 Well, if any man in Italy hath a fairer table, &c.] The chiromantic term for the lines of the hand. So Ben Jonson in his Mask of gipsies to the lady Elizabeth Hatton :
Mistress of a fairer table,
Which doth offer to swear upon a book, &c.] This nonsense seems to have taken its rise from the accident of a lost line in transcribing the play for the press; so that the passage, for the future, should be printed thus,-Well, if any man in Italy, have a fairer table, which doth ****** offer to swear upon a look, I shall have good fortune. It is impossible to find, again, the lost line: but the lost sense is easy enough- if any man in Italy have a fairer table, which doth [promise luck, I am mistaken. I durst almost] offer to swear upon a book, I shall have good fortune.
WARBURTON. Dr. Warburton understood the word, but puzzles himself with no great success in the pursuit of the meaning. The whole matter is this: Launcelot congratulates himself upon his dexterity and good fortune, and, in the height of his rapture, inspects bis hand, and congratulates himself upon the felicities in his table. The act of expounding his hand puts him in mind of the action in which the palm is shewn, by raising it to lay it on the book, in judicial attestations. Well, says he, if any man in Italy have a fairer table, that doth offer to swear upon a
himself upotht of his rapture, the felicities
book- Here he stops with an abruptness very common, and proceeds to particulars. JOHNSON.
2+ In peril of my life with the edge of a featherbed.] A cant phrase to signify the danger of marrying. A certain French writer uses the same kind of figure, O mon Ami, j'aimerois mieux étre tombée sur la pointe d'un Oreiller, & m'étre rompu le Cou. .
WARBURTON. 25 Something too liberal.] Liberal I have already shewn to be mean, gross, coarse, licentious. JOHNSON.
26 sad ostent,] i.e. grave appearance. 27 — torch-bearers.] See the note in Rom. & Jul. Act I. Sc. 4. We have not spoke as yet, &c. i. e, we have not yet bespoke us, &c. Thus the old copies. Mr. Pope reads" spoke as yet.”—
To feed upon The prodigal Christian. .. Shakspeare has made Shylock forget his resolution. In a former scene he declares he will neither eat, drink, nor pray with Christians. Of this circumstance the poet was aware, and meant only to heighten the malignity of the character, by making him depart from his most settled resolve, for the prosecution of his revenge.
STEEVENS. 29 - then it was not for nothing that my nose fell a bleeding on Black-Monday last.] Black-Monday is a moveable day; it is “ Easter-Monday, and “ was so called on this occasion: In the 34th of Ed“ ward III. (1360) the 14th of April, and the mor
“ row after Easter-day, King Edward, with his host, “ lay before the city of Paris; which day was full “ dark of mist and hail, and so bitter cold, that “ many men died on their horses' backs with the “ cold. Wherefore, unto this day, it hath been “ called the Black-Monday." Stowe, p. 261–6.
GRAY. .30 —a Gentile, and no Jew.] A jest rising from the ambiguity 'of Gentile, which signifies both a Heathen, and one well born. JOHNSON.
3* Gilded tombs do worms infold.] In all the old editions this line is written thus:
Gilded timber do worms infold. From which Mr. Rowe and all the following editions have made
Gilded wood may worms infold. A line not bad in itself, but not so applicable to the occasion as that which, I believe, Shakspeare wrote.
Gilded tombs do worms infold. A tomb is the proper repository of a death's-head.
JOHNSON. 32 Chuse me so.] The old quarto edition of 1600 has no distribution of acts, but proceeds from the beginning to the end in an unbroken tenour. This play therefore having been probably divided without authority by the publishers of the first folio, lies open to a new regulation, if any more commodious division can be proposed. The story is itself so wildly incre. dible, and the changes of the scene so frequent and capricious, that the probability of action does not