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ACT IV..... SCENE I.
Venice. A Court of Justice.
GRATIANO, SALARINO, SALANIO, and others.
Duke. I am sorry for thee; thou art come to answer
I have heard,
Duke. Go one, and call the Jew into the court.
Enter SHYLOCK. Duke. Make room, and let him stand before our face. Shylock, the world thinks, and I think so too, That thou but lead'st this fashion of thy malice To the last hour of act; and then, 'tis thought, Thou 'lt show thy mercy, and remorse,? more strange Than is thy strange apparent cruelty: And where 3 thou now exact'st the penalty,
his envy's reach,] Enoy in this place means hatred or malice. So, in Reynolds's God's Revenge against Murder, 1621 : “ — he never looks on her (his wife) with affection, but enny." p. 109, edit. 1679. So also, (as Mr. Malone observes) in Lazarus Pyot's Orator, &e. (See the notes at the end of this play] “ – they had slaine him for verie envie." Steevens.
-remorse,] i. e. pity. So, in Othello:
where --] For whereas. Fohnson. So, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona:
“ And where I thought the remnant of mine age
(Which is a pound of this poor merchant's flesh)
Shy. I have possess’d your grace of what I purpose;
4 Enough to press a royal merchant down,] We are not to ima. gine the word royal to be only a ranting sounding epithet. It is used with great propriety, and shows the poet well acquainted with the history of the people whom he here brings upon the stage. For when the French and Venetians, in the beginning of the thirteenth century, had won Constantinople, the French under the emperor Henry, endeavoured to extend their conquests into the provinces of the Grecian empire on the Terra firma; while the Venetians, who were masters of the sea, gave liberty to any subjects of the republick, who would fit out vessels, to make themselves masters of the isles of the Archipelago, and other maritime places; and to enjoy their conquests in sovereignty: only doing homage to the republick for their several principalities. By virtue of this license, the Sanudo's, the Justiniani, the Grimaldi, the Summaripo's, and others, all Venetian merchants, erected principalities in several places of the Archipelago, (which their descendants enjoyed for many generations) and thereby became truly and properly royal merchants. Which indeed was the title generally given them all over Europe. Hence, the most eminent of our own merchants (while publick spirit resided amongst them, and before it was aped by faction) were called royal merchants. Warburton.
This epithet was in our poet's time more striking and better understood, because Gresham was then commonly dignified with the title of the royal merchant. Johnson.
Even the pulpit did not disdain the use of this phrase. I have now before me “ The Merchant Royal, a Sermon, preached at Whitehall, before the king's majestie, at the nuptialls of the right honourable the Lord Hay and his lady, upon the twelfe day last, being Jan. 6, 1607.” Steevens.
Upon your charter, and your city's freedom.
I'll not answer that: But, say, it is my humour ;] The Jew being asked a question, which the law does not require him to answer, stands upon his right, and refuses; but afterwards gratifies his own malignity by such answers as he knows will aggravate the pain of the inquirer. I will not answer, says he, as to a legal or serious question, but since you want an answer, will this serve you? Fohnson.
“I thought your grace would find him out a Jew." Again, in The Mastive, &c. or A Collection of Epigrams and Satirés :
" Darkas cannot endure to see à cat,
“ A breast of mutton, or a pig's head gaping." See King Henry VIII, Act V, sc. iii. Steevens.
By a gaping pig, Shakspeare, I believe, meant a pig prepared for the table; for in that state is the epithet, gaping, most appli. cable to this animal. So, in Fletcher's Elder Brother:
“ And they stand gaping like a roasted pig." A passage in one of Nashe's pamphlets (which perhaps fur. nished our author with his instance) may serve to confirm the observation: “The causes conducting unto wrath are as diverse as the actions of a man's life. Some will take on like a madman, if they see a pig come to the table. Sotericus the surgeon was cholerick at the sight of sturgeon,” &c. Pierce Pennylesse his Supplication to the Devil, 1592. Malone. 7 Cannot contain their urine; &c.] Mr. Rowe reads:
Gannot contain their urine for affection.
Of what it likes, or loaths.
As there is no firm reason to be render'd,
what word there is to which this relative it is to be referred. The ingenious Dr. Thirlby would thus adjust the passage :
Cannot contain their urine ; for affection,
Master of passion, sways it, &c. And then it is governed of passion. The two old quartos and folios read-Masters of passion, &c.
It may be objected, that affection and passion mean the same thing. But I observe, the writers of our author's age made a distinction; as Jonson in Sejanus :
He hath studied
Affection's pussions, knows their springs and ends." And then, in this place, affection will stand for that sympathy or antipathy of soul by which we are provoked to show a liking or disgust in the working of our passions. Theobald.
Masters of passion, is certainly right. He is speaking of the power of sound over the human affections, and concludes, very naturally, that the masters of passion (for so he finely calls the musicians) sway the passions or affections as they please. Alluding to what the ancients tell us of the feats that Timotheus and other musicians worked by the power of music. Can any thing be more natural ? Warburton.
Does not the verb sway, which governs the two nominative cases affection and masters, require that both should be plural, and consequently direct us to read thus? For affections, masters of passion sway it, &c.
Sir 7. Hawkins. That affections and passions anciently had different significations, may be known from the following instance in Greene's Never too Late, 1616:
“ His heart was fuller of passions than his eyes of affections." Affections, as used by Shylock, seem to signify imaginations, or prejudices. In Othello, Act I, is a passage somewhat similar: " And though we have here a substitute of most allowed suffi. ciency, yet opinion, a sovereign mistress of effects, throws a more safe voice on you." Steevens.
Of this much controverted passage, my opinion was formerly very different from what it is at present. Sways, the reading of the old copies, I conceived, could not agree with masters as a substantive; but very soon after my former note on these words was printed, i found that this was not only our author's usual phraseology, but the common language of the time. Innumer. able instances of the same kind occur in these plays; in all of which I have followed the practice of my predecessors, and silently reduced the substantive and the verb to concord. This is the only change that is now made in the present passage; for all the ancient copies read-affection, not affections, as the word has been printed in late editions, in order to connect it with the following line :
“Cannot contain their urine for affection," I believe, means
Why he cannot abide a gaping pig;
only-Cannot, &c. on account of their being affected by the noise of the bagpipe; or, in other words, on account of an involuntary antipathy to such a noise. In the next line, which is put in apposition with that preceding, the word it, may refer either to passion, or affection. To explain it, I shall borrow Dr. Johnson's words, with a slight variation: “ Those who know how to operate on the passion of men, rule it, (or rule the sympathetick feeling) by making it operate in obedience to the notes which please or disgust it.” It, (“sway it”) in my opinion refers to affection, that is to the sympathetick feeling. Malone.
The true meaning undoubtedly is,—The masters of passion, that is such as are possessed of the art of engaging and managing the human passions, influence them by a skilful application to the particular likings or loathings of the person they are addressing; this is a proof that men are generally governed by their likings and loathings, and therefore it is by no means strange or unnatural that I should be so too in the present instance. Heath. The reading of all the old editions is:
“ And others, when the bag-pipe sings i’ th' nose,
« Of what it likes or loaths.” i. e. some men when they hear the sound of a bag-pipe, are so affected therewith that they cannot retain their urine. For those things which are masters over passion, make it like or loath whatever they will. Ritson.
After all that has been said about this contested passage, I am convinced we are indebted for the true reading of it to Mr. Waldron, the ingenious editor and continuator of Ben Jonson's Sad Shepherd.
In his Appendix, p. 212, he observes that “ Mistress was for. merly spelt Maistresse or Maistres. In Upton's and Church's Spenser, we have:
- young birds, which he had taught to sing “ His maistresse praises.” B. III, c. vii, st. 17. This, I presume, is the reading of the first edition of the three first Books of The Fairie Queene, 1590, which I have not; in the second edition, 1596, and the folios 1609, and 1611, it is spelt mistresse.
In Bulleyn's Dialogue we have “my maister, and my maistress.” See p. 219 of this Appendix.
Perhaps Maistres (easily corrupted, by the transposition of the r and e, into Maisters, which is the reading of the second folio of Shakspeare) might have been the poet's word.
Mr. Steevens, in his note on this difficult passage, gives a quo. tation from Othello, which countenances this supposed difference of gender in the noun:-“ And though we have here a substi. tute of most allowed sufficiency, yet opinion, a sovereign mistress of effects, throws a more safe voice on you."