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And hath preferr'd thee, if it be preferment,
LAUN. The old proverb is very well parted between my master Shylock and you, sir ; you have the grace of God, sir, and he hath enough. Bass. Thou speak’st it well : Go, father, with
thy son: Take leave of thy old master, and enquire My lodging out :-Give him a livery
To his Followers. More guarded ? than his fellows': See it done.
Laun. Father, in:-I cannot get a service, no; - I have ne'er a tongue in my head.-Well; [Looking on his palm ;] if any man in Italy have a fairer table, which doth offer to swear upon a book 8.-I
7 More GUARDED -] i. e. more ornamented. So, in Soliman and Perseda, 1599:
“ Piston. But is there no reward for my false dice ?
“ Erastus. Yes, sir, a guarded suit from top to toe.” Again, in Albumazar, 1615 : “ — turn my ploughboy Dick to two guarded footmen."
STEEVENS. 8 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 extended. 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 expanding his hand puts him in mind of the action in which the palm is shown, 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. Dr. Johnson's explanation thus far appears to me perfectly just. In support of it, it should be remembered, that which is frequently used by our author and his contemporaries, for the personal pronoun, who. It is still so used in our Liturgy. In the Merry Wives of Windsor, Mrs. Quickly addresses Fenton in the same language as is here used by Launcelot :-“ I'll be sworn on a book she loves you :" a vulgarism that is now superseded by another of the same import-" I'll take my bible oath of it."
shall have good fortuneo; Go to, here's a simple line of life! here's a small trifle of wives : Alas,
Without examining the expositions of this passage, given by the three learned annotators, [Mr. T. Dr. W. and Dr. J.] I shall briefly set down what appears to me to be the whole meaning of it. Launcelot, applauding himself for his success with Bassanio, and looking into the palm of his hand, which by fortune-tellers is called the table, breaks out into the following reflection : “ Well; if any man in Italy have a fairer table; which doth offer to swear upon a book, I shall have good fortune”-i. e. a table, which doth (not only promise, but) offer to swear (and to swear upon a book too) that I shall have good fortune.-(He omits the conclusion of the sentence which might have been) I am much mistaken ; or, I'll be hanged, &c. TYRWHITT.
9 I shall have good fortune;] The whole difficulty of this passage (concerning which there is a great difference of opinion among the commentators,) arose, as I conceive, from a word being omitted by the compositor or transcriber. I am persuaded the author wrote-I shall have no good fortune. These words are not, I believe, connected with what goes before, but with what follows; and begin a new sentence. Shakspeare, I think, meant, that Launcelot, after this abrupt speech-Well; if any man that offers to swear upon a book, has a fairer table than mine-sI am much mistaken :) should proceed in the same manner in which he began :-I shall have no good fortune; go to; here's a simple line of life! &c. So, before : “ I cannot get a service, no ;-I have ne'er a tongue in my head.” And afterwards : “ Alas! fifteen wives is nothing.” The Nurse, in Romeo and Juliet, expresses herself exactly in the same style : “ Well, you have made a simple choice ; you know not how to choose a man; Romeo? no, not he;- he is not the flower of courtesy," &c. So, also, in King Henry IV.: “ Here's no fine villainy!" Again, more appositely, in the anonymous play of King Henry V.: “ Ha! me have no good luck." Again, in The Merry Wives of Windsor : “We are simple men; we do not know what's brought about under the profession of fortune-telling."
Almost every passage in these plays, in which the sense is abruptly broken off, as I have more than once observed, has been corrupted.
It is not without some reluctance that I have excluded this emendation from a place in the text. Had it been proposed by any former editor or commentator, I should certainly have adopted it; being convinced that it is just. But the danger of innovation is so great, and partiality to our own conceptions so delusive, that it becomes every editor to distrust his own emendations; and I am particularly inclined to do so in the present instance, in which I happen to differ from that most respectable and
fifteen wives is nothing; eleven widows, and nine maids, is a simple coming-in for one man : and
Bass. I pralExeunt Law in the twinklin.come;
of my life with the edge of a feather-bed' ;-here are simple 'scapes! Well, if fortune be a woman, she's a good wench for this gear.-Father, come; I'll take my leave of the Jew in the twinkling of an eye *. [Exeunt LAUNCELOT and old GOBBO, Bass. I pray thee, good Leonardo, think on
this; These things being bought, and orderly bestow'd, Return in haste, for I do feast to-night My best-esteem'd acquaintance; hie thee, go. , Leon, My best endeavours shall be done herein,
Enter GRATIANO. Gra. Where is your master ? LEON.
Yonder, sir, he walks.
[Exit LEONARDO, Gra. Signior Bassanio, Bass. Gratiano! GRA. I have a suit to you. Bass.
You have obtain'd it,
* So quarto R.; quarto H. and first folio omit of an eye. judicious critick, whose name is subjoined to the preceding note. According to his idea, the mark of an abrupt sentence should not be after the word book, but fortune. MALONE.
1- 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 point d'un Oreiller, & m'être rompû le Cou—."
Parts, that become thee happily enough,
Signior Bassanio, hear me:
? Something too LIBERAL;] Liberal I have already shown to be mean, gross, coarse, licentious. Johnson.
So, in Othello : “ Is he not a most profane and liberal counsellor?" Steevens. 3 - allay with some cold drops of modesty Thy skipping spirit;] So, in Hamlet :
“ Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper
“ Sprinkle cool patience.” Steevens. 4 — hood mine eyes —] Alluding to the manner of covering a hawk's eyes. So, in The Tragedy of Croesus, 1604 :
“ And like a hooded hawk,” &c. Steevens. It should be remembered that in Shakspeare's time they wore their hats on during the time of dinner. MALONE.
5 - sad ostent - ] Grave appearance; show of staid and serious behaviour. Johnson.
Ostent is a word very commonly used for show among the old dramatick writers. So, in Heywood's Iron Age, 1682:
“ you in those times
“ Did not affect ostent.” Again, in Chapman's translation of Homer, edit. 1598, b. vi. :
“ did bloodie vapours raine
To please his grandam, never trust me more.
BASS.- Well, we shall see your bearing 6.
No, that were pity; I would entreat you rather to put on Your boldest suit of mirth, for we have friends That purpose merriment : But fare you well, I have some business.
GRA. And I must to Lorenzo, and the rest; But we will visit you at supper-time. [Exeunt.
The Same. A Room in SHYLOCK's House.
Enter JESSICA and LAUNCELOT. Jes. I am sorry, thou wilt leave my father so; Our house is hell, and thou, a merry devil, Didst rob it of some taste of tediousness : But fare thee well; there is a ducat for thee. And, Launcelot, soon at supper shalt thou see Lorenzo, who is thy new master's guest: Give him this letter; do it secretly, And so farewell; I would not have my father See me talk * with thee.
Laun. Adieu !-tears exhibit my tongue.
* Quartos, in talk. The word occurs soon afterwards in the present play, Sc. VIII. of this act :
“ Be merry, and employ your chiefest thoughts,
“ To courtship and such fair ostents of love.” Boswell. 6- your BEARING.] Bearing is carriage, deportment. So, in Twelfth-Night:
“ Take and give back affairs, and their despatch,
Steevens. VOL. V.