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The cuckoo then, on every tree,
· When shepherds pipe on oaten straws,
And merry larks are ploughmen's clocks,
And maidens bleach their summer smocks
· And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
And milk comes frozen home in pail,
When all aloud the wind doth blow,
And coughing drowns the parson's saw, 4 And birds sit brooding in the snow,
And Marian's nose looks red and raw,
3- doth keel the pot.] i, e, cool the pot.
- the parson's saw,] Saw seems anciently to have meant, VOL. III.
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,"
Arm. The words of Mercury are harsh after the songs of Apollo. You, that way; we, this way.
not as at present, a proverb, a sentence, but the whole tenor of any instructive discourse.
5 When roasted crabs, &c.] i. e. the wild apples so called. The bowl must be supposed to be filled with ale; a toast and some spice and sugar being added, what is called lamb's wool is produced.
* In this play, which all the editors have concurred to censure, and some have rejected as uuworthy of our poet, it must be confessed that there are many passages mean, childish, and vulgar; and some which ought not to have been exhibited, as we are told they were, to a maiden Queen. But there are scatter'd through the whole many sparks of genius; nor is there any play that has more evident marks of the hand of Shakspeare,
* THE MERCHANT OF VENICE.] The reader will find a distinct epitome of the novels from which the story of this play is supposed to be taken, in the new edition of Shakspeare, 21 vols. 8vo. 1803. It should, however, be remembered, that if our poet was at all indebted to the Italian novelists, it must have been through the medium of some old translation, which has hitherto escaped the researches of his most industrious editors.
It appears from a passage in Stephen Gosson's School of Abuse, &c. 1579, that a play, comprehending the distinct plots of Shakspeare's Merchunt of Venice, had been exhibited long before he commenced a writer, viz. “ The Jew shown at the Bull, repre. senting the greediness of worldly choosers, and the bloody minds of usurers."-" These plays," says Gosson, (for he mentions others with it) “ are goode and sweete plays,” &c. It is therefore not improbable that Shakspeare new-wrote his piece, on the model already mentioned, and that the elder performance, being inferior, was permitted to drop silently into oblivion.
This play of Shakspeare had been exhibited before the year 1598, as appears from Meres's Wits Treasury, where it is mentioned with eleven more of our author's pieces. It was entered on the books of the Stationers' Company, July 22, in the same year. ' It could not have been printed earlier, because it was not yet licensed. The old song of Gernutus the Jew of Venice, is published by Dr. Percy in the first volume of his Reliques of ancient English Poetry: and the ballad intituled, The murtherous Lyfe and terrible Death of the rich Jewe of Malta; and the tragedy on the same subject, were both entered on the Stationers' books, May, 1594. STEEVENS.
The story was taken from an old translation of The Gesta Romanorum, first printed by Wynkyn de Worde. The book was very popular, and Shakspeare has closely copied some of the language: an additional argument, if we wanted it, of his track of reading. Three vessels are exhibited to a lady for her choice—The first was made of pure gold, well beset with precious stones without, and within full of dead men's bones; and thereupon was engraven this posie: Whoso chuseth me, shall find that he deserveth. The second vessel was made of fine silver, filled with earth and worms; the superscription was thus: Whoso chuseth me, shall find that his nature desireth. The third vessel was made of lead, full within of precious stones, and thereupon was insculpt this posie: Whoso chuseth me, shall find that God hath disposed for him.-The lady, after a comment upon each, chuses the leaden vessel.
In a MS. of Lidgate, belonging to my very learned friend, Dr. Askew, I find a Tale of Two Merchants of Egipt and of Baldad er Gestis Romanorum. Leland, therefore, could not be the original author, as Bishop Tanner suspected. He lived a century after Lidgate. FARMER.
suage popular, an rinted from a