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You shall not know by what strange accident
Anth. I am dumb.
cuckold ? Ner. Ay; but the clerk that never means to do it, Unless he live until he be a man.
Bal. Sweet doctor, you shall be my bedfellow; When I am absent, then lie with my wife. Anth. Sweet lady, you have given me life and
Por. How now, Lorenzo ?
Ner. Ay, and I'll give them him without a fee.-
Lor. Fair ladies, you drop manna in the way
Por. It is almost morning,
my Nerissa shall be sworn on, is,
-you drop manna in the way Of farved people.] Shakespeare is not more exaâ in any thing, than in adapting his images with propriety to his speakers; of which he has here given an instance in making the young Jewels call good fortune, manra.
WARBURTON. The commentator should have remarked, that this speech is not, even in his own edition, the speech of the Jewess. JOHNSON.
Whether till the next night she had rather stay,
6 It has been lately discovered, that this fable is taken from a story in the Pecorone of Ser Giovanni Fiorentino, a novellist, who wrote in 1378. The story has been published in Englih, and I have epitomised the translation. The translator is of opinion, that the choice of the caskets is borrowed from a tale of Boccace, which I have likewise abridged, though I believe that Shakespeare must have had some other novel in view. JOHNSON.
HERE lived at Florence, a merchant whose name was
Bindo. He was rich, and had three sons. Being near his end, he called for the two eldest, and left them heirs : to the youngest he left nothing. This youngest, whose name was Giannecto, went to his father, and faid, What has my father done? The father replied, Dear Giannetto, there is none to whom ! with better than to you. Go to Venice to your godfather, whose name is Ansaldo; he has no child, and has wrote to me often to send you thither to him. He is the richest merchant amongst the Chritians: if you behave well, you will be certainly a rich man. The fon answered, I am ready to do whatever my dear father shall command : upon which he gave him his benediction, and in a few days died.
Giannetto went to Ansaldo, and presented the letter given by the father before his death. Ansaldo reading the letter, cried out, My deareit godson is welcome to my arms. He then asked news of his father. Gianretto replied, He is dead. I am much grieved, replied Ansaldo, to hear of the death of Bindo ; but the joy I feel, in seeing you, mitigates my forrow. He conducted him to his house, and gave orders to his servants, that Giannetto Thould be obeyed, and served with more attention than had been paid to himself.
He then delivered him the keys of his ready money; and told him, Son, spend this money, keep a table, and make yoarself known : remember, that the more you gain the good will of every body, the more you will be dear to me.
Gi:n netto now began to give entertainments. He was more obedient and courteous to An'aldo, than if he had been an hondied times his father. Every body in Venice was fond of him. ! .
Ansaldo could think of nothing but him; so much was he pleased with his good manners and behaviour.
It happened, that two of his most intimate acquaintance defigned to go with two ships to Alexandria, and told Giannetto, he would do well to take a voyage and see the world. I would go willingly, said he, if my father Ansaldo will give leave. His companions go to Ansaldo, and beg his permision for Giannetto to go in the spring with them to Alexandria; and desire bim to provide him a ship. Ansaldo immediately procured a very fine hip, loaded it with merchandize, adorned it with streamers, and furnished it with arms; and, as soon as it was ready, he gave orders to the captain and sailors to do every thing that Giannetto commanded. It happened one morning early, that Giannetto saw a gulph, with a fine port, and asked the captain how the port was called? He replied, That place belongs to a widow lady, who bas ruined many gentlemen. In what manner ? says Giannetto. He answered, This lady is a fine and beautiful woman, and has made a law, that whoever arrives here is obliged to go to bed with her, and if he can have the enjoyment of her, he must take her for his wife, and be lord of all the country ; but if he cannot enjoy her, he loses every thing he has brought with him. Giannetto, after a little reflection, tells the captain to get into the port. He was obeyed ; and in an instant they slide into the port so easily that the other ships perceived nothing:
The lady was soon informed of it, and sent for Giannetto, who waited on her immediately. She, taking him by the hand, asked him who he was? whence he came? and if he knew the custom of the country? He answered, That the knowledge of that custom was his only reason for coming. The lady paid him great honours, and sent for barons, counts, and knights in great number, who were her subje&ts, to keep Giannetto company. These nobles were highly delighted with the good breeding and manners of Giannetto; and all would have rejoiced to have him for their lord.
The night being come, the lady said, it seems to be tiine to go to bed. Giannetto told the lady, he was entirely devoted to her service ; and immediately two daniels enter with wine and sweetmeats. The lady intreats him to raste the wine : he takes the sweet-meats, and drinks fome of the wine, which was prepared with ingredients to cause sleep. He then goes into the bed, where he inftantly falls asleep, and never wakes till late in the morning ; but the lady rose with the fun, and gave orders to unload the vefsel
, which the found full of rich merchandize. After nine o'clock the women servants go to the bed-lide, order Giannetto to rile and be gone, for he had lof the ship. The lady gave him-a horie and money, and he leaves the place very melancholy, and goes to Venice. When he arrives, be dares not riurn home for Hanie;
but at night goes to the house of a friend, who is furprised to see him, and inquires of him the cause of his return? He answers, his hip had struck on a rock in the night, and was broke in pieces.
This friend, going one day to make a visit to Ansaldo, found him very disconfolate. I fear, says Ansaldo, so much, that this son of mine is dead, that I have no reft. His friend told him, that he had been shipwreck'd, and had lost his all, but that he himself was safe. Ansaldo instantly gets up, and runs to find him. My dear son, says he, you need not fear my displeasure ; it is a common accident ; trouble yourself no further. He takes him home, all the way telling him to be chearful and easy.
The news was soon known all over Venice, and every one was concerned for Giannetto. Some time after, his companions arrivingsfrom Alexandria very rich, demanded what was become of their friend, and having heard the story, ran to see him, and rejoiced with him for his safety ; telling him that next spring, he might gain as much as he had lost the last. But Giannetto had no other thoughts than of his return to the lady; and was resolved to marry her, or die. Ansaldo told him frequently, not to be cast down. Giannetto said, he should never be happy, till he was at liberty to make another voyage. Ansaldo provided another ship of more value than the first. He again entered the port of Belmonte, and the lady looking on the port from her bedchamber, and seeing the ship, asked her maid, if the knew the streamers ? the maid said, it was the ship of the young man who arrived the last year. You are in the right, answered the lady; he must surely have a great regard for ine, for never any one came a second time : the maid said, she had never seen a more agreeable man. He went to the castle, and presented himself to the lady; who, as soon as she saw hin, embraced him, and the day was passed in joy and revels. Bed-time being come, the lady entreated him to go to rest : when they were seated in the chamber, the two damsels enter with wine and sweet-meats; and having eat and drank of them, they go to bed, and immediately Giannetto falls asleep; the lady undrefied, and lay down by his fide ; but he waked not the whole night. In the morning, the lady sises, and gives orders to ftrip the hip. He has a horse and money given to him, and away he goes, and never fors till he gets to Venice; and at night goes to the same friend, who with aitonishment asked him, what was the matter? I am undone, says Giannetto. His friend answered, You are the cause of the ruin of Ansaldo, and your thame ought to be greater than the loss you have suffered. Giannetto lived privately many days. At last he Look a resolution of seeing Ansaldo, who rose from his chair, and running to embrace him, told him he was welcome : Giannetta with tiars returned his embraces. Ansaldo heard his tale: do
zot grieve, my dear fon, says he, we have ftill enough: the sea enriches some men, others it ruins.
Poor Giannetto's head was day and night full of the thoughts of his bad success. When Ansaldo enquired what was the matter, he confessed, he could never be contented till he should be in a condition to regain all that he loit. When Ansaldo found him resolved, he began to sell every thing he had, to furnish this other fine fhip with merchandize : but, as he wanted still ten thousand ducats, he applied himself to a Jew at Meftri, and borrowed them on condition, that if they were not paid on the feast of St. John in the next month of june, that the Jew might take a pound of Aesh from any part of his body he pleased. Ansaldo agreed, and the Jew had an obligation drawn, and witnessed, with all the form and ceremony necessary; and then counted him the ten thousand ducats of gold, with which Ansaldo bought what was still wanting for the vessel. This last ship was finer and better freighted than the other two, and his companions made seady for the voyage, with a design that whatever they gained should be for their friend. When it was time to depart, Ansaldo told Giannetto, that since he well knew of the obligation to the Jew, he entreated, that if any misfortune happened, he would return to Venice, that he might see him before he died; and then he could leave the world with satisfaction : Giannetto promised to do every thing that he conceived might give him pleasure. Ansaldo gave him his blessing, they took their leave, and the ships set out.
Giannetto had nothing in his head but to stealinto Belmonte ; and he prevailed with one of the sailors in the night to sail the ver. fel into the port. It was told the lady, that Giannetto was arrived in port. She saw from the window the vessel, and imme. diately sent for him.
Giannetto goes to the castle, the day is spent in joy and feastiog; and to honour him, a tournament is ordered, and many baroos and knights tilted that day. Giannetto did wonders, so well did he understand the lance, and was so graceful a figure on horseback ; he pleased so much, that all were desirous to have him for their lord.
The lady, when it was the usual time, catching him by the hand, begged him to take his reft. When he passed the door of the chamber, one of the damsels in a whisper said to him, Make a pretence to drink the liquor, but touch not one drop. The lady said, I know you must be thirsty, I must have you drink before you go to bed : immediately two damsels entered the room, and presented the wine. Who can refuse wine from such beautiful hands ? cries Giannetto: at which the lady 1miled. Giannetto takes the cup, and making as if he drank, pours the wine into his borom, The lady thinking he had drank, fays aside to herself with great joy, You must go, young man, and bring another ship,