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THE MERCHANT OF VENICE.

ACT I.

SCENE I.-Venice. A street.
Enter ANTONIO, SALARINO, and SOLANIO.2

Ant. In sooth, I know not why I am so sad :
It wearies me; you say it wearies you ;'
But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,
What stuff 'tis made of, whereof it is born,
I am to learn;

And such a want-wit sadness makes of me,
That I have much ado to know myself.

Salar. Your mind is tossing on the ocean;
There, where your argosies with portly sail,—
Like signiors and rich burghers on the flood,
Or, as it were, the pageants of the sea,-
Do overpeer the petty traffickers,

That curt'sy to them, do them reverence,
As they fly by them with their woven wings.
Solan. Believe me, sir, had I such venture

forth,

The better part of my affections would

Be with my hopes abroad. I should be still
Plucking the grass, to know where sits the wind;"
Peering in maps for ports, and piers, and roads; 7
And every object that might make me fear
Misfortune to my ventures, out of doubt
Would make me sad.

Salar.
My wind, cooling my broth,
Would blow me to an ague, when I thought
What harm a wind too great might do at sea.
I should not see the sandy hour-glass run,
But I should think of shallows and of flats;

2. Salarino, and Solanio. In the Folio these names are variously spelt in various places of the play; but the mode proposed by Capell, and here adopted, of giving them uniformly, and abbreviated into Salar, and Solan., appears to be the best for obviating confusion. 3. It wearies e; you say it, &c. This passage affords an instance of Shakespeare's way of using "it" in reference to a previously unstated particular. In the present speech, indeed, this particular ("sadness") is subsequently named; but the peculiarity of style is here pointed out, as helping to illustrate other passages, where the poet's usage is less manifest, and where, consequently, the construction is more difficult of com

1. The earliest printed copies known of "THE MERCHANT OF VENICE" are two-both in quarto, and both published in 1600; and it appears as the ninth play in the 1623 Folio. But there is record that it was entered on the register of the Stationers' Company, on the 22nd July, 1598; and there is reason to believe that it was acted by the fellowship of actors of whom Shakespeare was one, in the year 1594. The poet was then thirty years of age, in the very prime of intellectual vigour, and we can well imagine this fine play to have been the product of his pen at that period of his life. There is a strength of purpose in it as a drama, a tone of experience in its views of men and life, a masterly treatment of character, and, withal, a wealth of romance about its story, that mark it for a composition on his arrival at manly maturity. The sources of the double plot-prehension. that of the bond, and of the caskets-are to be traced in the "Gesta Romanorum;" and very distinct vestiges of the bond story are to be found in the "Pecorone" of Ser Giovanni Fiorentino, which existed in an English translation in Shakespeare's time. What adds to the probability that he availed himself of the latter is, that the name of the place where the lady lives who is the heroine of the tale is Belmont. But for the blending of the two plots into one supremely interesting story; for the poetry and refinement of its conduct; for the noble delineations of friendship and love; for the potent yet subtle development of hate sprung from mingled national and individual, professional and personal causes-malignant revenge pursued from motives of race-prejudice, social dislike, and moral antipathy; for the making a dramatic fable the means of vindicating a grand human brotherhood question,--for all this, Shakespeare is solely indebted to his own genius.

4. Argosies. The name given to large ships, either men-ofwar or merchantmen. It has been derived from Argo-the vessel in which Jason and the Argonauts set sail when they sought the golden fleece.

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5. Signiors and rich burghers. "Signior" is a title of dignity and respect among Italians. 'Burghers" are privileged members of a corporate town or borough.

6. Plucking the grass, &c. Ascham says-"This way I used in shooting. When I was in the myddle way betwixt the markes, which was an open place, there I toke a fethere, or a lyttle grasse, and so learned how the wind stood." Every one knows the sailor's method of holding up a moistened finger, that the side soonest feeling cold may indicate the quarter whence the wind blows.

7. Roads. Roadsteads. See Note 37, Act iii., "Comedy of Errors."

And see my wealthy Andrew dock'd in sand,
Vailing her high-top lower than her ribs,
To kiss her burial. Should I go to church,
And see the holy edifice of stone,

And not bethink me straight of dangerous rocks,
Which, touching but my gentle vessel's side,
Would scatter all her spices on the stream;
Enrobe the roaring waters with my silks;
And, in a word, but even now worth this,10
And now worth nothing? Shall I have the
thought

To think on this; and shall I lack the thought,
That such a thing bechanc'd would make me sad ?
But tell not me; I know, Antonio

Is sad to think upon his merchandise.

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Ant. Believe me, no: I thank my fortune for I pray you, have in mind where we must meet.

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Salar. Not in love neither? Then let's say you're sad,

Because you are not merry: and 'twere as easy For you to laugh, and leap, and say you are merry, Because you are not sad. Now, by two-headed Janus,"

Nature hath fram'd strange fellows in her time: Some that will evermore peep through their eyes, 12

And laugh, like parrots, at a bag-piper;
And other of such vinegar aspéct,

That they'll not show their teeth in way of smile,
Though Nestor 13 swear the jest be laughable.
Solan. Here comes Bassanio, your most noble
kinsman,

Gratiano, and Lorenzo. Fare you well:

We leave you now with better company.

Salar. I would have stay'd till I had made you

merry,

If worthier friends had not prevented me.

8. Andrew. Well given as the name of an Italian ship, in honour of the great Genoese admiral, Andrea Doria.

9. Vailing, To "vail" is to lower, decline, bend down, let fall. See Note 1, Act v., "Measure for Measure."

10. Now worth this. In Shakespeare's elliptical style, the nominative is understood, though not expressed in this sentence. 11. By two-headed Janus. We shall have many occasions to point out where Shakespeare has been accurately appropriate in his forms of adjuration. Here, not only does he make an Italian use a mythological oath (still a habit in Italy, where "Per Bacco!" "Corpo di Bacco!" and "Santa Diana!" are usual exclamations at the present day), but he makes Salarino swear by Janus, who was one of the most ancient god-kings in Italy giving him the epithet "two-headed," in allusion to the form in which the god was represented. Moreover, the double head with which the antique images of Janus appeared, often gave contrasted faces; young and old, smiling and wrinkled,

Bass. I will not fail you.

Gra. You look not well, Signior Antonio;
You have too much respect upon the world:
They lose it that do buy it with much care:
Believe me, you are marvellously chang'd.
Ant. I hold the world but as the world,
Gratiano;

A stage, where every man must play a part,
And mine a sad one.

Gra.
Let me play the fool: 14
With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come;
And let my liver rather heat with wine,
Than my heart cool with mortifying groans.
Why should a man, whose blood is warm within,
Sit like his grandsire cut in alabaster?

Sleep when he wakes? and creep into the jaun dice

By being peevish? I tell thee what, Antonio,—
I love thee, and it is my love that speaks,-
There are a sort of men, whose visages
Do cream and mantle 15 like a standing pond;
And do a wilful stillness entertain,

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&c.; which accords well with the subsequent context in the speech.

12. Peep through their eyes. A graphic expression, descriptive of one who puckers up his eyes into mere narrow slits by perpetual laughing.

13. Nestor. One of the gravest and sagest of the Grecian generals in the Trojan war; the commander-in-chief, Agamemnon, saying that, had he ten such counsellors as Nestor, Troy would soon be taken.

14. Play the fool. Gratiano, hearing Antonio assigning himself a sad part on the stage of the world, professes his choice for that of "the fool;" in allusion to the character who went by that name in the old dramatic shows, and whose province it was to deal in perpetual buffooneries.

15. Do cream and mantle. The felicity of these verbs, as here used, will be obvious to those who recall not only the way in which "a standing pond" becomes covered by a sluggish

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