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329. “ The Duke cannot deny the course of law;
“ For the commodity that strangers have " With us in Venice, if it be denied,
“ Will," &c, This is foul construction; the relative does not clearly refer to its antecedent-If what be denied ? the commodity ? no, nor yet the course of law, but the forfeiture, the fulfilment of the bond :the sense of the passage, perhaps, might be obtained by reading emphatically“ if that be denied.” The word "commodity” will, by no means, support such a ponderous definition as Mr. Malone would impose upon it, “the denial of those rights to strangers, which render their abode at Venice, so commodious and agreeable to them.” " The commodity that strangers have with us” is merely the confidential deposits of foreigners,
330. “ I never did repent for doing good,
“ Nor shall not now.” Expressions like this are often censured on account of what is called a double negative, but it is not so; “nor” is only the appropriate nega, tive conjunction.
- In companions
“ Of lineaments,” &c. Mr. Steevens seems not to have done justice to the sense of this passage : the speaker's meaning is, what many an observer of life will acknow
ledge the truth of, that, between companions whose pursuits and inclinations agree, who love each other, and are continually engaged in reciprocal attentions; a sympathy of affections will beget a resemblance of manners, of countenance, gesture, and deportment. 333." Imagin’d speed,” · Means, I think, speed that may be more easily imagined than expressed; with all imaginable speed :the expression, so understood, is, I grant, licentipus: I cannot admit that Mr. Steeyens's is the true explanation.
335. “ There is but one hope in it, and that is
“ but a bastard hope neither.” This is very capricious phraseology, though not unusual. -Ranger, in The Suspicious Husband, says, “ he was but a queer looking son-ofa-bitch of a surgeon, neither.” 339. "
I do know “ A many fools. This mode of speech has been justly censured by Dr. Lowth.
“ For a tricksy word
“ Defy the matter.” Talk nonsense, or from the point, for the sake of introducing fanciful and affected words.
ACT IV. SCENE I.
341. “ Void and empty,
“ From any dram of mercy. “Empty from” is a phrase, perhaps not so improper as it is unusual.
" Since-no lawful means can carry me “Out of his envy's reach."
Envy, as Mr. Steevens remarks, is here, hatred, malice; and in this sense, as well as that of odium, reprobation, was often used by other writers in our author's time,
“He thought likewise to make use of the ”enuie that the French king met with; by occa“sion of this warre of Britaine,” &c.
Bacon's Historie of the Raigne of King
Henry the Seventh, Ed. 1629. “ This tax (called beneuolence) was deuised " by Edward the Fourth, for which he sustained "much enuie.
Ibidem. 344. “ Others, when the bag-pipe sings i'th' nose,
“Cannot contain their urine; for affection, “ Mistress of passion, sways it to the mood “Of what it likes, or loaths."
Rowe's emendation of this difficult passage appears to be the most satisfactory of any yet pro-, posed. “Masterless passion,” &c. and the sense, I believe, is this --And others, at the singing of the bag-pipe, are so affected by it, that they cannot contain their urine; masterless passion,
that irrisistible instinctive principle by which men's nerves are actuated, holds dominion over us, (i. e. lords-it, or sways-it) and imperiously advances towards what it likes, and withdraws from what it loathes.
349. “You may as well forbid the mountain
pines “ To wag their high-tops, and to make no
noise “When they are fretted [Quo fretten]
with the gusts of heaven.” To forbid to make no noise, should be, to command some noise to be made; yet bid and forbid seem to have been formerly used indiscriminately, as in Chaucer's Plowman, Stanz. 29.
“ Moses' law forbode it tho,
“ Christ's Gospel biddeth also
“ That they should no lordships held.” 352. “ Not on thy sole, but on thy soul,” &c.
These words, it appears, were, in Shakspeare's time, pronounced differently, as at this day they are by the vulgar in Ireland: or perhaps the difference was marked by Gratiano's action. 353. “Souls of animals infuse themselves
“ Into the trunks of men.” The making “animals” stand absolutely in contradistinction to human animals, or mankind, is almost as common as it is wrong; and Shakspeare may well be excused when so circumspect and philosophic a writer as David Hume is chargeable with the same fault.
Thy currish spirit “Govern'd a wolf, who, hang’d for human
slaughter, “ Even from the gallows did his fell soul
fleet,” &c. This is perplexed; there is a nominative case without effect: in this short sentence there is absolutely wanting a verb, a conjunction, and an adverb. 6
- Thy spirit “Governed a wolf who (was) hang'd (and then) “Even from,” &c. 356. “ It is twice bless'd;
“ It blesseth him,” &c. Would not the sense be better expressed if we should read, “it is twice blessing ?” yet I cannot approve of this: "twice-blessed” certainly does not mean blessed in repetition, as our actresses most vilely utter it, but blessed augmentedly, blessed supremely, or in a great degree, as we say, thnice happy, without any idea of repetition. “Blessed” here is “holy.”
“ In the course of justice none of us
“ Should see salvation.” Sir William Blackstone thinks it is out of character that Portia should refer the Jew to the Christian doctrine of salvation and the Lord's Prayer; but, besides that it is supposed the Lord's Prayer consists of expressions in use among the Jews; their Scriptures abound with passages recommending mercy, particularly Eccles. xxviii ver. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
This note is from a correspondent of Lord