Abbildungen der Seite

And wear my dagger with the braver grace;

And fpeak between the change of man and boy,
With a reed voice; and turn two mincing steps
Into a manly ftride; and Speak of frays,
Like a fine bragging youth; and tell quaint lies,
How honourable ladies fought my love,

Which I denying, they fell fick and died.
Then I'll repent,

And wifh, for all that, that I had not killed them.
And twenty of these puny lies I'll tell,

That men fhall fwear I've discontinued school
Above a twelve-month-I have in my mind
A thousand raw tricks of these bragging Jacks,
Which I will practise.




The character of Mercy is here most beautifully defcribed. This paffage can never be too often read. There is no danger of its growing feared and tedious, as Angelo fays of the laws of juftice.

Portia, pleading for Anthonio.


The quality of Mercy is not ftrained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain of heaven
"Upon the place beneath: It is twice blessed;
It bleffeth him that gives, and him that takes.
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His fceptre fhews the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majefty,
Wherein doth fit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this fceptred fway,
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings;
It is an attribute to God himself;

And earthly power doth then fhew likeft God's,
When mercy feafons juftice. Therefore, Jew,
Tho' juftice be thy plea, confider this,
That in the courfe of juftice none of us

Should fee falvation. We do pray for mercy;

And that fame prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy,


There is also a paffage in the fame Scene, where the Pro and Con for partial juftice is rightly ar

* Meafure for Measure. A& II. Scene X,


gued on both fides; but terminates, as I fear it fhould do, for the fafety of a State, in ftoical strictnefs.

Baffanio to Portia, in the character of a Judge.

And I beseech you,

Wreft once the law to your authority;

To do a great right, do a little wrong;
And curb this cruel devil of his will.

Portia. It must not be; there is no power in Venice,"
Should alter a decree established.

'Twill be recorded for a precedent,

And many an error, by the fame example,
Will rub into the State-It cannot be.

We have also, here, fome philofophic reflections on the advantages of dying before we are encumbered with age and poverty, with a manly fpirit of acquiefcence in the unavoidable ills of life, joined to the affecting tenderness and generous regards of friendship.

Anthonio, when the Jew has obtained fentence against him:

I am armed, and well prepared

Give me your hand, Baffanio; fare ye well!
Grieve not, that I am fallen to this for you;
For herein Fortune fhews herself more kind,
Than is her cuftom. It is ftill her use,

To let the wretched man out-live his wealth,
To view with hollow eye, and wrinkled brow,
An age of poverty; from which lingering penance
Of fuch a mifery doth the cut me off-
Commend me to your honourable wife ;
Tell her the procefs of Anthonio's end;
Say how I loved you; speak me fair, in death
And when the tale is told, bid her be judge,
Whether Baffanio had not once a love.
Repent not you, that you fhall lose your
And he repents not, that he pays your
For if the Jew do cut but deep enough,
I'll pay it inftantly with all my heart.

friend ;


'Tis a pity this fine fpeech fhould be difgraced by

the quibble in the last expreffion.



The enchanting powers and effects of mufic are here most poetically fet forth. There can never be faid too much on this charming theme. Men's minds may be fometimes too ftern or obftinate to yield to argument, but in melody there is a fort of fentiment, that finks into the heart, and by awaking the fofter paffions of the foul, often perfuades, where reason elfe would fail.

Lorenzo and Jeffica.

A Sound of Mufic.

Ffica. I'm never merry, when I hear fweet mufic.
Lorenzo. The reason is, your spirits grow attentive;
For do but note a wild and wanton herd,
Or race of youthful and unhandled colts,
Fetching mad bounds, bellowing and neighing loud,
(Which is the mad condition of their blood)
If they perchance but hear a trumpet found,
Or any air of mufic touch their ears,

[ocr errors]

You shall perceive them make a mutual ftand;
Their favage eyes turned to a modest gaze,

By the fweet power of mufic. Therefore, the Poet

Did feign that Orpheus drew trees, ftones, and floods;

Since none fo ftickish, hard and full of rage,

But mufic for the time doth change his nature

The man that hath no mufie in himself,

Nor is not moved with concord of fweet founds,

Is fit for treafons, tratagems, and fpoils;

The motions of his fpirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus-

Let no fuch man be trusted. *

There is also a beautiful allufion made to the light of a candle, in this place, which, with the moral deduced from it, is, I think, worthy to be noted here.

Portia and Neriffa.

Porcia. How far that little candle throws its beams!

So fhines a good deed in a naughty world.

So fays the Scripture, "Let your light fo fhine." And in the continuation of the fame dialogue, the effects of time, circumstance, comparison, and accafion, are beautifully and juftly pointed out:

* Hic niger eft; hunc tøy Romane, Câvero,



Neria. When the moon fhone, we did not fee the candle.
Portia. So doth the greater glory dim the lefs.
A fubftitute fhines brightly as a king,
Until a king be by; and then his ftate
Empties itfelf, as doth an inland brook
Into the main of waters. Mufick, hark!

Neria. It is your mufic, Madam, of the houfe.
Portia. Nothing is good, I fee, without refpe&-
Methinks it founds much sweeter than by day.
Nerifa. Silence beftows the virtue on it, Madam.
Portia. The crow doth fing as fweetly as the lark,
When neither is attended; and, I think,
The nightingale, if the fhould fing by day,
When every goofe is cackling, would be thought
No better a mufician than the wren:
How many things by season seasoned are
To their right praife, and true perfection?

The next quotation, and the last I fhall tranfcribe from this Play, is in the fame Scene; where Portia accofts her husband's friend, Anthonio, on his first vifit to her, after the catastrophe of the piece has been wound up:

Sir, you are welcome to our house

It must appear in other ways than words;
Therefore I fcant this breathing courtesy.

In this speech the very juftly expreffes the true fentiment of affection, which renders profeffions needless, where intentions are fincere.

• That is, reference to time, place, or other circumstance,


[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
« ZurückWeiter »