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So can I give no reason, nor I will not,
Bass. This is no answer, thou unfeeling man, To excuse the current of thy cruelty.
Shy. I am not bound to please thee with my an
Bass. Do all men kill the things they do not love ?
thee twice ? Ant. I pray you, think you question with the
Jew : You may as well go stand upon the beach, And bid the main flood bate his usual height; You may as well use question with the wolf, Why he hath made * the ewe bleat for the lamb; You may as well forbid the mountain pines To wag their high tops, and to make no noise, When they are fretted with the gusts of heaven;?
* First folio omits why he hath made. Perhaps Shakspeare calls the bagpipe woollen, from the bag being generally covered with woollen cloth. I have seen one at Alnwick, belonging to one of the pipers in the Percy family, covered with black velvet, and guarded with silver fringe.
R. G. Robinson. As the aversion was not caused by the outward appearance of the bag-pipe, but merely by the sound arising from its inflation, I have placed the conjectural reading-swollen, in the text. Steevens. 9 - you question -] To question is to converse.
So, in Measure for Measure:
“ – in the loss of question i. e. conversation that leads to nothing. To reason had anciently the same meaning.
You may as well do any thing most hard,
Bass. For thy three thousand ducats here is six.
Shy. If every ducat in six thousand ducats Were in six parts, and every part a ducat, I would not draw them, I would have my bond. DUKE. How shalt thou hope for mercy, rend'ring
none ? Shy. What judgment shall I dread, doing no
wrong? You have among you many a purchas'd slave, Which, like your asses, and your dogs, and mules, You use in abject and in slavish parts, Because you bought them :-Shall I say to you, Let them be free, marry them to your heirs ? Why sweat they under burdens ? let their beds Be made as soft as yours, and let their palates Be season'd with such viands? You will answer, The slaves are ours :—So do I answer you: The pound of flesh, which I demand of him, Is dearly bought, 'tis mine, and I will have it : If you deny me, fye upon your law!
image seems to have been caught from Golding's version of Ovid, 1587, book xv. p. 196 : “Such noise as pine-trees make, what time the headdy east
erne wind “Doth whizz amongst them —" Steevens.
many a purchas'd slave,] This argument, considered as used to the particular persons, seems conclusive. I see not how Venetians or Englishmen, while they practise the purchase and sale of slaves, can much enforce or demand the law of doing to others as we would that they should do to us. Johnson.
- 'tis mine,] The first quarto [quarto H.] reads-as mine, evidently a misprint for is. . The other quarto and the folio-'tis mine. - Malone.
There is no force in the decrees of Venice:
Duke. Upon my power I'may dismiss this court,
My lord, here stays without A messenger with letters from the doctor, New come from Padua.
Duke. Bring us the letters ; Call the messenger. Bass. Good cheer, Antonio! What, man ? cou
rage yet! The Jew shall have my flesh, blood, bones, and all, Ere thou shalt lose for me one drop of blood.
Ant. I am a tainted wether of the flock, Meetest for death; the weakest kind of fruit Drops earliest to the ground, and so let me: You cannot better be employ'd, Bassanio, Than to live still, and write mine epitaph.
Enter Ner.ssa, dressed like a lawyer's clerk. Duke. Came you from Padua, from Bellario ? NER. From both my lord: Bellario greets your grace.
[Presents a letter. Bass. Why dost thou whet thy knife so earnestly ? Shy. To cut the forfeiture' from that bankrupt
4- Bellario, a learned doctor,
Whom I have sent for —] The doctor and the court are here somewhat unskilfully brought together. That the duke would, on such an occasion, consult a doctor of great reputation, is not unlikely; but how should this be foreknown by Portia ? Johnson.
I do not see any necessity for supposing that this was foreknown by Portia. She consults Bellario as an eminent lawyer, and her relation. If the Duke had not consulted him, the only difference would have been, that she would have come into court, as an advocate perhaps, instead of a judge. TYRWHITT.
s the forfeiture - ] Read-forfeit. It occurs repeatedly in the present scene for fur eiture. "Ritson.
GRA. Not on thy sole, but on thy soul, harsh
Jew Thou mak'st thy knife keen : but no metal can, No, not the hangman's ax, bear half the keenness Of thy sharp envy? Can no prayers pierce thee? Shy. No, none that thou hast wit enough to
make. GRA. O, be thou damn'd, inexorable dog ø ! And for thy life let justice be accus’d. Thou almost mak'st me waver in To hold opinion with Pythagoras, That souls of animals infuse themselves Into the trunks of men: thy currish spirit Govern’d a wolf, who, hang’d for human slaughter”, Even from the gallows did his fell soul fleet, And, whilst thou lay'st in thy unhallow'd dam, Infus'd itself in thee; for thy desires
6 Not on thy sole, but on thy soul, harsh Jew,] This lost jingle Mr. Theobald found again ; but knew not what to make of it when he had it, as appears by his paraphrase: “ Though thou thinkest that thou art whetting thy knife on the sole of thy shoe, yet it is upon thy soul, thy immortal part.” Absurd, the conceit is, that his soul was so hard that it had given an edge to his knife.
WARBURTON. So, in King Henry IV. P. II. :
“ Thou hid'st a thousand daggers in thy thoughts;
Which thou hast whetted on thy stony heart,
To stab at half an hour of my life." STEEVENS. 7 Of thy sharp ENVY.] Envy again, in this place, signifies hatred or malice. STEEVENS.
— INEXORABLE dog!) All the copies read-inexecrable. It was corrected in the third folio.
STEEVENS. Perhaps, however, unnecessarily. In was sometimes used in our author's time, in composition, as an augmentative or intensive particle. Malone. 9 — thy currish spirit
Govern'd a wolf, who, hang’d for human slaughter,] This allusion might have been caught from some old translation of Pliny, who mentions a Parrhasian turned into a wolf, because he had eaten part of a child that had been consecrated to Lycæan Jupiter. See Goulart's Admirable Histories, 4to. 1607, pp. 390, 391. STEEVENS.
Are wolfish, bloody, starv'd, and ravenous.
my bond, Thou but offend'st thy lungs to speak so loud : Repair thy wit, good youth, or it will fall To cureless * ruin.-I stand here for law.
Duke. This letter from Bellario doth commend A young and learned doctor to our court: Where is he?
NER. He attendeth here hard by, To know your answer, whether you'll admit him. DUKE. With all my heart :-some three or four
Go give him courteous conduct to this place.-
[Clerk reads.] Your grace shall understand, that, at the receipt of your letter I am very sick : but in the instant that your messenger came, in loving visitation was with me a young doctor of Rome, his name is Balthazar : I acquainted him with the cause in controversy between the Jew and Antonio the merchant : we turned o'er many books together : he is furnish'd with my opinion ; which, better'd with his own learning, (the greatness whereof I cannot enough commend,) comes
with him, at my importunity, to fill up your grace's request in my stead. I beseech
you, let his lack of years be no impediment to let him lack a reverend estimation; for I never knew so young a body with so old a head. I leave him to your gracious acceptance, whose trial shall better publish his commendation. Duke. You hear the learn’d Bellario, what he
writes: And here, I take it, is the doctor come.
* First folio, endless.