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picturesque image of the countenance in laughing, when the eyes appear half shut. WARBURTON. Line 59. their teeth in way of smile,] Because such are apt enough to shew their teeth in anger. WARBURTON.
Line 89. Let me play the Fool;] Alluding to the common comparison of human life to a stage-play. So that he desires his may be the fool's or buffoon's part, which was a constant character in the old farces from whence came the phrase, to play the fool. WARBURTON.
Line 108. would almost damn those ears,] The author's meaning is: That some people are thought wise, whilst they keep silence; who, when they open their mouths, are such stupid praters, that the hearers cannot help calling them fools, and so incur the judgment denounced in the Gospel. THEOBALD.
Line 115. I'll end my exhortation after dinner.] The humour of this consists in its being an allusion to the practice of the puritan preachers of those times; who being generally very long and tedious, were often forced to put off that part of their sermon called the exhortation, till after dinner. WARBURTON.
Line 161. —like a wilful youth,] He has formerly lost his money like a wilful youth, he now borrows more in pure innocence, without disguising his former fault, or his present designs. JOHNSON. Line 179. sometimes-] i. e. Formerly.
ACT I. SCENE II.
Line 243. Ay, that's a colt, indeed, for he doth nothing but talk of his horse ;] Colt is used for a witless, heady, gay youngster; whence the phrase used of an old man too juvenile, that he still retains his colt's tooth. See Henry VIII. Act 1. Sc. 3. JOHNS. Line 248. is there the County Palatine.] I am always inclined to believe, that Shakspeare has more allusions to particular facts and persons than his readers commonly suppose. The count here mentioned was, perhaps, Albertus a Lasco, a Polish Palatine, who visited England in our author's time, was eagerly caressed, and splendidly entertained; but running in debt, at last stole away, and endeavoured to repair his fortune by enchantment.
JOHNSON. -if a throstle- -] The throstle is the thrush.
Line 272. he hath neither Latin, French, nor Italian;] A satire on the ignorance of the young English travellers in our author's time. WARBURTON.
Line 281. -Scottish lord,] Scottish, which is in the quarto, was omitted in the first folio, for fear of giving offence to king James's countrymen. THEOBALD.
Line 286. I think, the Frenchmen became his surety,] Alluding to the constant assistance, or rather constant promises of assistance, that the French gave the Scots in their quarrels with the English. This alliance is here humourously satirized. WARBURTON.
Line 288. How like you the young German, &c.] In Shakspeare's time the duke of Bavaria visited London, and was made knight of the Garter.
Perhaps in this enumeration of Portia's suitors, there may be some covert allusion to those of queen Elizabeth. JOHNSON.
ACT I. SCENE III.
Line 287. If I can catch him once upon the hip,] A phrase taken from the practice of wrestlers. JOHNSON.
See Genesis, c. xxxii. v. 24, &c.
Line 305. - -the ripe wants of my friend,] Ripe wants are wants come to the height, wants that can have no longer delay. Perhaps we might read, rife wants, wants that come thick upon him. JOHNSON.
Line 306. -possess'd,] To possess, in our author, generally means, to inform, to acquaint.
Line 350. 0, what a goodly outside falshood hath!] Falshood, which, as truth means honesty, is taken here for treachery and knavery, does not stand for falshood in general, but for the dishonesty now operating. JOHNSON. my usances;] Usance formerly meant, the in
Line 357. terest of money.
Line 383. A breed for barren metal of his friend ?] A breed, that is, interest money bred from the principal. By the epithet barren, the author would instruct us in the argument on which the advocates against usury went, which is this, that money is a barren thing, 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. Line 406. 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. left in the fearful guard, &c.] Fearful guard, is a guard that is not to be trusted, but gives cause of fear. To fear was anciently to give as well as feel terrours.
So in Henry IV. Part 1.:
"A mighty and a fearful head they are." Line 431. I like not fair terms.] Kind words, good language. JOHNSON.
ACT II. SCENE I.
Line 7. To prove whose blood is reddest, his or mine.] To understand how the tawney 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.
Line 9. Hath fear'd the valiant;] i. e. Terrified. To fear is often used by our old writers, in this sense. STEEVENS.
Line 26. That slew the Sophy, &c.] Shakspeare seldom escapes well when he is entangled with geography. The prince of Morocco must have travelled far to kill the Sophy of Persia. JOHNS. Line 44. therefore be advis'd.] Therefore be not precipitant; consider well what you are to do. Advis'd is the word opposite to rash. JOHNSON.
-bless't,] Means, most blessed.
ACT II. SCENE II.
Line 90. 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. WARBURTON. Line 94. God's sonties,] Probably used as an oath, though the origin of it cannot be traced.
. Line 135.
-your child that shall be.] Launcelot, by your child that shall be, may mean, that his duty to his father shall, for the future, shew him to be his child. It became necessary for him to say something of that sort, after all the tricks he had been playing him. STEEVENS. -more guarded.] i. e. More ornamented. STEEV. 212. Well, if any man in Italy have a fairer table, which doth offer to swear upon a book.] Table is the palm of the hand opened to its utmost.
Launcelot congratulates himself upon his dexterity and good fortune, and, in the height of his rapture, inspects his 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 book-Here he stops with an abruptness very common, and proceeds to particulars. JOHNSON.
Line 219. in peril of my life with the edge of a feather-bed ;] 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 être tombée sur la pointe d'un oreiller, & m'être rompu le WARBURTON.
Line 244. Something too liberal ;] Liberal I have already shewn to be mean, gross, coarse, licentious. JOHNSON. Line 257. --sad ostent--] Grave appearance; shew of staid and serious behaviour. JOHNSON.
ACT II. SCENE III.
Line 281. and get thee,] Mr. Steevens suspects, that Launcelot meant get thee with child.
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.
Line 361. 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 Edward III. (1360) the 14th of April, and the "morrow after Easter-day, King Edward, with his host, lay be"fore 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 Blacke-Monday." Stowe, p. 264-6. GREY.
There will come a Christian by,
Will be worth a Jewess' eye.] It's worth a Jew's eye, is a proverb well known.
ACT II. SCENE VI.
Line 405. O, ten times faster Venus' pigeons fly] Lovers have in poetry been always called turtles or doves, which in lower language may be pigeons. JOHNSON. scarfed bark-] Means, the vessel adorned with flags, banners, or scarfs.
embraced by the strumpet wind!] Thus in Othello: "The bawdy wind, that kisses all it meets."
Line 456. Now, by my hood, a Gentile, and no Jew.] A jest rising from the ambiguity of Gentile, which signifies both a Heathen, and one well born. JOHNSON.
ACT II. SCENE VII.
-as blunt ;] That is, as gross as the dull metal. JOHNSON.
insculp'd-] i. e. Engrav'd.
547. Gilded tombs do worms infold.] A tomb is the proper repository of a death's-head. JOHNSON.
In the old editions, "Gilded timber do worms infold." Line 550. Your answer had not been inscrol'd ;] Since there is an answer inscrol'd or written in every casket, I believe for your