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Ner. Silence beftows that virtue on it, madam. Por. The crow doth fing as fweetly as the lark, When neither is attended; and, I think, The nightingale, if the fhould fing by day, When every goofe is cackling, would be thought No better a mufician than the wren. How many things by feafon feafon'd are To their right praife, and true perfection?Peace! how the moon fleeps with Endymion, And would not be awak'd!

[Mufick ceafes.

Lor. That is the voice,

Or I am much deceiv'd, of Portia.

Por. He knows me, as the blind man knows the cuckow,

By the bad voice.

Lor. Dear lady, welcome home.

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Por. We have been praying for our husbands' welfare,

Which speed, we hope, the better for our words. Are they return'd?

Lor. Madam, they are not yet;
But there is come a meffenger before,
To fignify their coming.

Por. Go in, Neriffa,

Give order to my fervants, that they take
No note at all of our being absent hence ;-
Nor you, Lorenzo; Jeffica, nor you.

[A tucket founds.

Lor. Your husband is at hand, I hear his trumpet: We are no tell-tales, madam; fear you not.

Por. This night, methinks, is but the day-light fick,

It looks a little paler; 'tis a day,
Such as the day is when the fun is hid.

Atucket] Toccata, Ital. a flourish on a trumpet. STEEVENS.


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Enter Baffanio, Anthonio, Gratiano, and their followers.

Baff. We fhould hold day with the Antipodes, If you would walk in abfence of the fun.

Por: Let me give light, but let me not be light;
For a light wife doth make a heavy husband,
And never be Baffanio fo for me;

But, God fort all!-You are welcome home, my lord.' Baff. I thank you, madam: give welcome to my friend.

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This is the man, this is Anthonio,

To whom I am fo infinitely bound.

Por. You fhould in all fenfe be much bound to him,

For, as I hear, he was much bound for you.

Anth. No more than I am well acquitted of.
Por. Sir, you are very welcome to our houfe:
It muft appear in other ways than words,
Therefore I fcant this breathing courtefy.
[Gratiano and Neriffa feem to talk apart.

5 Let me give light, &c.] There is fcarcely any word with which Shakspeare fo much delights to trifle as with light, in its various fignifications. JOHNSON.

Most of the old dramatic writers are guilty of the fame quib. ble. co Marston in his Infatiate Countess, 1613: "By this bright light that is deriv'd from thee"So, fir, you make me a very light creature." Again, Middleton, in A Mad World my Maflers, 1608:

-more lights-I call'd for light: here come in two are light enough for a whole house."

Again, in Springes for Woodcocks, a collection of epigrams, 1606:
"Lais of lighter metal is compos'd

"Than hath her lightness till of late difclos'd;
"For lighting where the light acceptance feels,
"Her fingers there prove lighter than her heels."



this breathing courtely.] Breathing for verbal. So, in Timon of Athens, a fenator replies to Alcibiades, who had made a long ipcech :

"You breathe in vain."

Again, in Hamlet:


Having ever feen in the prenominate crimes
"The youth you breathe of, guilty." MALONE,


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Gra. By yonder moon, I fwear, you do me wrong;
In faith, I gave it to the judge's clerk:
Would he were gelt that had it, for my part,
Since you do take it, love, fo much at heart.

Por. A quarrel, ho, already? what's the matter?
Gra. About a hoop of gold, a paltry ring
That the did give me; whofe poefy was
For all the world, like cutler's poetry'
Upon a knife, Love me, and leave me not.

Ner. What talk you of the poefy, or the value?
You fwore to me, when I did give it you,
That you would wear it till your hour of death;
And that it should lie with you in your grave:
Though not for me, yet for your vehement oaths,
You should have been refpective, and have kept it.
Gave it a judge's clerk!-but well I know,
The clerk will ne'er wear hair on his face that had it.
Gra. He will, an if he live to be a man.
Ner. Ay, if a woman live to be a man.
Gra. Now, by this hand, I gave it to a youth,

A kind

Like cutler's poetry;] Knives, as Sir John Hawkins obferves, were formerly infcribed by means of aqua fortis with fhort fentences in diftich. In Decker's Satyromafrix, Sir Edward Vaughan fays, "You fhall fwear by Phoebus, who is your poet's good lord and mafter, that hereafter you will not hire Horace to give you poefies for rings, or handkerchers or knives which derftand not." EDITOR.

you un

7 - have been refpective.] Respective has the fame meaning as respectful. See K. John, act i. STEEVENS.


——— a youth,

A kind of boy; a little scrubbed boy,

No higher than thyself, the judge's clerk,
A prating boy, &c.]

It is certain from the words of the context and the tenor of the
ftory, that Gratiano does not here fpeak contemptuoufly of the
judge's clerk, who was no other than Neriffa disguised in man's
cloaths. He only means to defcribe the perfon and appearance
of this fuppofed youth, which he does by infinuating what feem-
ed to be the precife time of his age: he reprefents him as having
the look of a young ftripling, of a boy beginning to advance to
wards puberty. I am therefore of opinion, that the poet wrote:

A kind of boy; a little fcrubbed boy,
No higher than thy felf, the judge's clerk;
A prating boy, that begg'd it as a fee;
I could not for my heart deny it him.

Por. You were to blame, I must be plain with


To part fo flightly with your wife's first gift;
A thing ftuck on with oaths upon your finger,
And riveted with faith unto your flesh.

I gave my love a ring, and made him fwear
Never to part with it; and here he ftands:
I dare be fworn for him, he would not leave it,
Nor pluck it from his finger, for the wealth
That the world mafters. Now, in faith, Gratiano,
You give your wife too unkind a caufe of grief;
An 'twere to me, I fhould be mad at it.

Baff. Why, I were beft to cut my left hand off, And fwear, I loft the ring defending it. [Afide.

Gra. My lord Baffanio gave his ring away Unto the judge that begg'd it, and, indeed, Deferv'd it too; and then the boy, his clerk, That took fome pains in writing, he begg'd mine:

-a little fubbed boy.

In many counties it is a common provincialism, to call young birds not yet fledged fubbed young ones. But, what is more to our purpose, the author of The Hiftory and Antiquities of Glaftonbury, printed by Hearne, an antiquarian, and a plain unaffected writer, fays, that "Saunders must be a fubbed boy, if not a man at the diffolution of abbeys, &c." edit. 1722, Pref. Signat. n. 2. It therefore feems to have been a common expreffion for tripling, the very idea which the fpeaker means to convey. dation be just here, we should also correct Nerilla's fpeech which follows:

If the emen.

For that fame fubbed boy, the doctor's clerk,
In lieu of this, did lie with me last night.


I believe ferubbed and fubbed have a like meaning, and fignify funted or forub-like. So, in P. Holland's tranflation of Pliny's Nat. Hift. " -but fuch will never prove fair trees, but skrubs, only." STEEVENS,


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And neither man, nor mafter, would take aught But the two rings.

Por. What ring gave you, my lord?
Not that, I hope, which you received of me.
Baff. If I could add a lye unto a fault,
I would deny it; but you fee my finger
Hath not the ring upon it, it is gone.

Por. Even fo void is your falfe heart of truth.
By heaven, I will ne'er come in your bed
Until I fee the ring.

Ner. Nor I in yours, 'Till I again fee mine. Baff. Sweet Portia,

If you did know to whom I gave the ring,
If you did know for whom I gave the ring,
And would conceive for what I gave the ring,
And how unwillingly I left the ring,
When nought would be accepted but the ring,
You would abate the strength of your difpleature.
Por. If you had known the virtue of the ring,
Or half her worthinefs that gave the ring,
Or your own honour to retain the ring,
You would not then have parted with the ring.
What man is there fo much unreasonable,
If you had pleas'd to have defended it
With any terms of zeal, wanted the modefty
To urge the thing held as a ceremony'?
Neriffa teaches me what to believe;
I'll die for't but fome woman had the ring.

9 retain-] The old copies concur in reading contain.


1 What man· wanted the modefty


urge the thing held as a ceremony?]

This is a very licentious expreffion. The fenfe is, What man could have fo little modefty or wanted modefy fo much, as to arge the demand of a thing kept on account in fome fort religious. JOHNSON.

Thus Calphurnia fays to Julius Cæfar:

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Cæfar, I never ftood on ceremonies." STEEVENS.


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