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ANT. Well, Shylock, shall we be beholding to
SHY. Signior Antonio, many a time and oft,
my USANCES:] Use and usance are both words anciently employ'd for usury, both in its favourable and unfavourable sense. So, in The English Traveller, 1633:
"Give me my use, give me my principal."
"A toy; the main about five hundred pounds,
Mr. Ritson asks, whether Mr. Steevens is not mistaken in saying that use and usance were anciently employed for usury. "Use and usance (he adds) mean nothing more than interest; and the former word is still used by country people in the same sense." That Mr. Steevens however, is right respecting the word in the text, will appear from the following quotation: "I knowe a gentleman borne to five hundred pounde lande, did never receyve above a thousand pound of nete money, and within certeyne yeres ronnynge still upon usurie and double usurie, the merchants termyng it usance and double usance, by a more clenly name he did owe to master usurer five thousand pound at the last, borowyng but one thousande pounde at first, so that his land was clean gone, beynge five hundred poundes inherytance, for one thousand pound in money, and the usurie of the same money for so fewe yeres; and the man now beggeth." Wylson on Usurye, 1572, p. 32. REED.
Usance, in our author's time, I believe, signified interest of money. It has been already used in this play in that sense:
"He lends out money gratis, and brings down
Again, in a subsequent part, he says, he will take "no doit of usance for his monies." Here it must mean interest.
8 Still have I borne it with a patient shrug ;] So, in Marlowe's Jew of Malta, (written and acted before 1593,) printed in 1633: "I learn'd in Florence how to kiss my hand, "Heave up my shoulders when they call me dogge."
And all for use of that which is mine own.
Fair sir, you spit on me on Wednesday last;
ANT. I am as like to call thee so again,
9 And SPIT] The old copies always read spet, which spelling is followed by Milton :
- the womb
"Of Stygian darkness spets her thickest gloom."
I A BREED for BARREN metal of his friend?] A breed, that is, interest money bred from the principal. By the epithet barren, the author would instruct us in the argument on which the advocates against usury went, which is this; that money is a barren thing, and cannot, like corn and cattle, multiply itself. And to set off the absurdity of this kind of usury, he put breed and barren in opposition. WARBURTON.
Dr. Warburton very truly interprets this passage. Old Meres says, "Usurie and encrease by gold and silver is unlawful, because against nature; nature hath made them sterill and barren, usurie makes them procreative." FARMER.
The honour of starting this conceit belongs to Aristotle. See De Repub. lib. i. HOLT WHITE.
But lend it rather to thine enemy;
Who if he break, thou may'st with better face
SHY. Why, look you, how you storm! I would be friends with you, and have your love, Forget the shames that you have stain'd me with, Supply your present wants, and take no doit Of usance for my monies, and you'll not hear me : This is kind I offer.
ANT. This were kindness. SHY. This kindness will I show:Go with me to a notary, seal me there Your single bond; and, in a merry sport, If you repay me not on such a day, In such a place, such sum, or sums, as are Express'd in the condition, let the forfeit Be nominated for an equal pound Of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken In what part of your body pleaseth † me.
ANT. Content, in faith; I'll seal to such a bond, And say, there is much kindness in the Jew.
BASS. You shall not seal to such a bond for me, I'll rather dwell in my necessity 2.
ANT. Why, fear not, man; I will not forfeit it; Within these two months, that's a month before This bond expires, I do expect return Of thrice three times the value of this bond.
SHY. Ofather Abraham, what these Christians are; Whose own hard dealings teaches them suspect The thoughts of others! Pray you, tell me this; If he should break his day, what should I gain
*First folio, penalties.
+ First folio, it pleaseth.
Thus both the quarto printed by Roberts, and that by Heyes, in 1600. The folio has a breed of. MALONE.
-DWELL in my necessity.] To dwell seems in this place to mean the same as to continue. To abide has both the senses of habitation and continuance. JOHNSON.
By the exaction of the forfeiture?
A pound of man's flesh, taken from a man,
ANT. Hie thee, gentle Jew. This Hebrew will turn Christian; he grows kind *. BASS. I like not fair terms, and a villain's mind. ANT. Come on; in this there can be no dismay, My ships come home a month before the day.
* First folio and quartos, I'le.
+ Quarto R. so kind.
3 - left in the Fearful guard, &c.] Fearful guard, is a guard that is not to be trusted, but gives cause of fear. To fear was anciently to give as well as feel terrours. JOHNSON.
So, in King Henry IV. Part I.:
"A mighty and a fearful head they are." STEEVENS. 4 I like not fair terms,] Kind words, good language.
Fair terms, mean, I think, a fair offer. ROBERTS.
ACT II. SCENE I.
Belmont. A Room in Portia's House.
Flourish of Cornets. Enter the Prince of Morocco, and his Train; Portia, Nerissa, and other of her Attendants.
MOR. Mislike me not for my complexion, The shadowed livery of the burnish'd sun, To whom I am a neighbour, and near bred. Bring me the fairest creature northward born, Where Phoebus' fire scarce thaws the icicles, And let us make incision for your love, To prove whose blood is reddest, his, or mine 6. I tell thee, lady, this aspect of mine Hath fear'd the valiant'; by my love, I swear, The best regarded virgins of our clime Have lov'd it too: I would not change this hue, Except to steal your thoughts, my gentle queen. POR. In terms of choice I am not solely led By nice direction of a maiden's eyes:
the Prince of Morocco,] The old stage direction is "Enter Morochus a tawnie Moore, all in white, and three or foure followers accordingly," &c. STEEVENS.
6 To prove whose blood is reddest, his, or mine.] To understand how the tawny prince, whose savage dignity is very well supported, means to recommend himself by this challenge, it must be remembered that red blood is a traditionary sign of courage: Thus Macbeth calls one of his frighted soldiers, a lily-liver'd boy; again, in this play, Cowards are said to have livers as white as milk; and an effeminate and timorous man is termed a milksop. JOHNSON.
It is customary in the east for lovers to testify the violence of their passion by cutting themselves in the sight of their mistresses. See Habits du Levant, pl. 43, and Picart's Religious Ceremonies, vol. vii. p. 111. HARRIS.
7 Hath FEAR'D the valiant;] i. e. terrify'd. To fear is often used by our old writers, in this sense. So, in K. Henry VI. P. III. : "For Warwick was a bug that fear'd us all." STEEVENS.