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Lorenzo. Fair ladies, you drop manna in the way Of starved people.
Portia. It is almost morning, And yet I am sure you are not satisfied Of these events at full. Let us go in; And charge us there upon inter'gatories, And we will answer all things faithfully.
Gratiano. Well, while I live I'll fear no other thing So sore as keeping safe Nerissa's ring.
1. The key-note of the play is struck in these opening lines. The sadness of Antonio, which has no apparent cause, is really a presentiment of disaster. “Coming events cast their shadows before. In the same way unusual exaltation of spirits is popularly supposed to forbode misfortune or death. Thus in Romeo and Juliet, v. 1. 3, Romeo says : “My bosom's lord sits lightly in his throne. When a person is in this state of mind he is said in Scotland to be .fie.' Sir W. Scott has availed himself of this superstition in Guy Mannering (ch. ix). 4. stuff. Compare Tempest, iv. I. 156:
We are such stuff · As dreams are made on.' 9. argosies. Argosy denotes a large vessel, generally a merchant - ship, more rarely a ship of war. The word has been supposed to be a corruption of Ragosie, “a ship of Ragusa,' but more probably it is derived through Low Lat, argis from the classical Argo. The word occurs again, v. I. 262. 10. burghers on the flood. So Midsummer Night's Dream, ii. 1. 127:
Marking the embarked traders on the flood.' Capell conjectured, and Steevens read, burghers of the flood, quoting As You Like It, ii. 1. 23:
“Being native burghers of this desert city.' For .flood,' see note on iv. 1.71.
11. pageants. The word pageant was first used for a lofty scaffold or stage for public shows, afterwards for the show itself. Florio (It. Dict. 1611) gives • Pegma, a frame or pageant, to rise, mooue, or goe it selfe with vices.' Shakespeare probably had in his mind the gay barges used in the pageants on the Thames, when he calls the ships “the pageants of the sea. The derivation is unknown. The very late Lat. pagina, as used in this sense, is probably derived from pageant, not vice versa. “In calling argosies the pageants of the sea, Shakespeare alludes to those enormous machines, in the shapes of castles, dragons, ships, giants, &c., that were drawn about the streets in the ancient shows or pageants, and which often constituted the most important part of them.' (Douce.)
15. venture, what is risked in a merchant's enterprise. The word occurs several times in the same sense in this play,
17. still, constantly. See 1. 136.
IV. roads, anchorages : · Rade: f. A road, an open harbor for shipping.' (Cotgrave, Fr. Dict.) See v. I. 278:
My ships Are safely come to road.' “Yarmouth Roads' is the name given to the open sea off Yarmouth, where ships ride at anchor.
25. hour-glass. In Shakespeare's time an hour-glass was commonly found in churches, fixed near the pulpit. Mr. Halliwell gives a woodcut of one which is still preserved in St. Alban’s, Wood Street.
27. Perhaps, as Mr. Knight suggests, the name Andrew was given to ships in compliment to the famous Andrea Doria, the Genoese admiral, who died 1560.
Ib. dock'd. Rowe's emendation for docks, the reading of the earliest editions. 28. Vailing, lowering. . See Pericles, i. 3. 42:
* None that beheld him but, like lesser lights,
Did vail their crowns to his supremacy.'
“It did me good
Unto my maiden flag.
. • Because we vaild not to the Spanish fleet.' 33, 34. These lines were evidently in Sir W. Scott's mind when he made Isaac the Jew say: 'When in the Gulf of Lyons I Aung over my merchandise to lighten the ship ... robed the seething billows in my choice silks-perfumed their briny foam with myrrh and aloes.' (Ivanhoe, ch. x.)
35. worth this. The meaning is here obscure and the construction abrupt, if this' refers to the spices and silks just mentioned. Perhaps, as Mr. Lettsom conjectured, a line has been lost after silks. As the text stands, the actor may be supposed to complete the sense by a gesture, extending his arms.
42. bottom, a merchant vessel, or transport ship. See Twelfth Night, V. I. 60:
With which such scathful grapple did he make
With the most noble bottom of our feet.' 46. Tie, fie! The line wants a foot. Hanmer reads • Fie, fie, away!' and Mr. Dyce suggests • In love! fie, fie!'
54. other, altered by Pope to others. Other is frequently used as plural.
Ib. aspect. This word is always accented on the second syllable in Shakespeare.
56. Nestor. The oldest, and therefore presumably the .gravest, of heroes. See Love's Labour's Lost, iv. 3. 169:
•And Nestor play at push-pin with the boys.' 61. prevented, anticipated. See Ps. cxix. 148: · Mine eyes prevent the night-watches."
67. strange. The word is used in the same sense, Comedy of Errors, ii. 2. 151:
• In Ephesus I am but two hours old,
As strange unto your town as to your talk.'
74. “To have respect upon ’is a rare phrase, but the word respect is frequently used with other prepositions, generally of, in the same sense as here, viz. “regard,''consideration.'
78. every man. The first quarto reads every one. 79. And mine, i.e. “And my part is.'
Ib. play the fool, i.e. play the part of Fool, a character of constant occurrence in the old comedies. 80. So in Love's Labour's Lost, v. 2. 465:
Some Dick, That smiles his cheek in years.' 82. It was an old belief that sighs and groans drained the blood from the heart. Hence Midsummer Night's Dream, iii. 2.97:
Pale of cheer
* Might liquid tears or heart-offending groans
Look pale as primrose with blood-drinking sighs.' 84. Compare Othello, v. 2. 5: “Smooth as monumental alabaster.' Alabaster, spelt in the older editions 'alablaster,' was frequently used for tombs in the Elizabethan and Jacobean times. One magnificent specimen is in the north aisle of Stratford church, and may have suggested this simile to the poet. 85. See Troilus and Cressida, i. 3. 2:
•What grief hath set the jaundice on your cheeks?' 89. See Lear, iii. 4. 139:
•The green mantle of the standing pool.' And Tempest, iv. I. 182:
The filthy-mantled pool.' And for “mantle' as an active verb in a different but yet analogous sense, see Tempest, v. 1.67:
"Their rising senses
Their clearer reason.' 90. And do, i.e. And who do. Not unfrequently in Shakespeare the pronoun requires to be mentally repeated in order to complete the construction. See i Henry IV. ii. 4. 279: “We two saw you four set on four and bound them, and were masters of their wealth.' A somewhat similar inaccuracy occurs also in the present scene, 11. 97, 98. Ib. wilful stillness, obstinate silence. See Richard III. iii. 7. 28 :
“And ask'd the mayor what meant this wilful silence.' And Henry V. iii. 1.4: .
• In peace there's nothing so becomes a man