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some adventures, which are nothing to the present pur. pose,) she is brought before the emperor ; who says to her, “ Puella, propter amorem filii mei multa adversa sustimisti. - Tamen si digna fueris ut uxor ejus sis cito probabo. Et fecit fieri tria vasa. PRIMUM fuit de auro purissimo & lapidibus pretiosis interius ex omni parte, & plenum ossibus mortuorum : & exterius erat subscriptio , Qui me elegerit, in me inveniet quod meruit. SECUNDUM vas erat de argento puro & gemmis pretiosis, plenum terra ; & exterius erat subscriptio ; Qui me elegerit, in me inveniet quod natura appetit. TERTIUM vas de plumbo plenum lapidibus pretiosis interius & gemmis nobilissimis; & exterius erat subscriptio talis : Qui me elegerit, in me inveniet quod deus disposuit. Ista tria ostendit puellæ, & dixit, si unum ex istis elegeris in quo commodum, & proficuum est, filium meum habebis. Si vero elegeris quod nec tibi nec aliis est commodum, ipsum non habebis." The young lady, after mature consideration of the vessels and their inscriptions, chuses the leaden, which being opened, and found to be full of gold and precious stones, the emperor says: “Bona puella, bene elegisti-ideo filium meum habebis."
From this abstract of these two stories, I think it appears sufficiently plain that they are the remote originals of the two incidents in this play. That of the caskets, Shakespeare might take from the English Gesta Romanorum, as Dr. Farmer has observed; and that of the bond might come to him from the. Pecorone ; but upon the whole I am rather inclined to suspect, that he has followed some hitherto unknown novelist, who had saved him the trouble of working up the two stories into one.
This comedy, I believe, was written in the beginning of the year 1598. Meres's book was not published till the end of that year.” See An Attempt to ascertain the Order of Shakespeare's Plays, Vol. II.
Duke of Venice.
suitors to Portia.
servants to Portia. STEPHANO,
Portia, a rich heiress.
Magnificoes of Venice, Officers of the Court of Justice,
Jailer, Servants, and other Attendants.
SCENE-partly at Venice, and partly at Belmont, the
seat of Portia, on the continent.
MERCHANT OF VENICE.
SCENE I.--Venice. A Street. Enter ANTONIO, SALARI
No, and SALANIO.
Salar. Your mind is tossing on the ocean;
Salan. Believe me, sir, had I such venture forth,
Salar. My wind, cooling my broth,
Q] Argosies—A name given in our author's time to ships of great burthen, probably galleons, such as the Spaniards use in their West India trade. JOHNSON.
. By holding up the grass, or any light body that will bend by a gentle blast, the direction of the wind is found. This way I used in shooting. Betwixt the markes was an open place, there I take a fethere, or a lyllle light grasse, and so learned how the wind stood." Ascham. JOHNSON. 10 Vol. II