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Besides, the lottery of my destiny
MOR. Even for that I thank you; Therefore, I pray you, lead me to the caskets, To try my fortune. By this scimitar,That slew the Sophy, and a Persian prince, That won three fields of Sultan Solyman,I would out-stare * the sternest eyes that look, Out-brave the heart most daring on the earth, Pluck the young sucking cubs from the she bear, Yea, mock the lion when he roars for prey, To win thee, lady: But, alas the while! If Hercules, and Lichas, play at dice Which is the better man, the greater throw May turn by fortune from the weaker hand: So is Alcides beaten by his page 1;
* First folio and quarto H, ore-stare.
And hedg'd me by his wIT,] I suppose we may safely read— and hedg'd me by his will. Confined me by his will. JOHNSON. As the ancient signification of wit, was sagacity, or power of mind, I have not displaced the original reading. See our author, passim. STEEVENS.
9 That slew the Sophy, &c.] Shakspeare seldom escapes well when he is entangled with geography. The Prince of Morocco must have travelled far to kill the Sophy of Persia. JOHNSON,
It were well, if Shakspeare had never entangled himself with geography worse than in the present case. If the Prince of Morocco be supposed to have served in the army of Sultan Solyman (the second, for instance,) I see no geographical objection to his having killed the Sophi of Persia. See D'Herbelot in Solyman Ben Selim. TYRWHITT.
So is Alcides beaten by his PAGE ;] The ancient copies read -his rage. STEEVENS. Though the whole set of editions concur in this reading, it is
And so may I, blind fortune leading me,
POR. You must take your chance; And either not attempt to choose at all, Or swear before you choose,-if you choose wrong, Never to speak to lady afterward
In way of marriage; therefore be advis'd2.
MOR. Nor will not; come, bring me unto my chance.
POR. First, forward to the temple; after dinner Your hazard shall be made.
MOR. Good fortune then! [Cornets. To make me blest3, or cursed'st among men.
corrupt at bottom. Let us look into the poet's drift, and the history of the persons mentioned in the context. If Hercules, (says he,) and Lichas were to play at dice for the decision of their superiority, Lichas, the weaker man, might have the better cast of the two. But how then is Alcides beaten by his rage? The poet means no more, than, if Lichas had the better throw, so might Hercules himself be beaten by Lichas. And who was he, but a poor unfortunate servant of Hercules, that unknowingly brought his master the envenomed shirt, dipped in the blood of the Centaur Nessus, and was thrown headlong into the sea for his pains; this one circumstance of Lichas's quality known, sufficiently ascertains the emendation I have substituted, page instead of rage. THEObald.
therefore be ADVIS'D.] Therefore be not precipitant; consider well what you are to do. Advis'd is the word opposite to rash. JOHNSON.
So, in K. Richard III. :
who in my wrath
"Kneel'd at my feet, and bade me be advis'd?"
bless't,] i. e. blessed'st. So, in King Richard III. :
- harmless't creature; " a frequent vulgar contraction in Warwickshire. STEEVENS.
There is no trace in the old copies of any contraction, the word being printed blest; and in K. Richard III. the old copies read harmless, not harmless't. MALONE,
Venice. A Street.
Enter LAUNCELOT GOBBO".
LAUN. Certainly my conscience will serve me to run from this Jew, my master: The fiend is at mine elbow; and tempts me, saying to me, Gobbo, Launcelot Gobbo, good Launcelot, or good Gobbo, or good Launcelot Gobbo, use your legs, take the start, run away: My conscience says,-no; take heed, honest Launcelot; take heed, honest Gobbo; or, as aforesaid, honest Launcelot Gobbo; do not run; scorn running with thy heels: Well, the most courageous fiend bids me pack; via! says the
• Enter Launcelot Gobbo.] The old copies read-Enter the Clown alone; and throughout the play this character is called the Clown at most of his entrances or exits. STEEVENS.
5 SCORN RUNNING with thy heels:] Launcelot was designed for a wag, but perhaps not for an absurd one. We may therefore suppose, no such expression would have been put in his mouth, as our author had censured in another character. When Pistol says, "he hears with ears," Sir Hugh Evans very properly is made to exclaim, "The tevil and his tam! what phrase is this, he hears with ears? why it is affectations." To talk of running with one's heels, has scarce less of absurdity. It has been suggested, that we should read and point the passage as follows: "Do not run; scorn running; withe thy heels:" i. e. connect them with a withe, (a band made of osiers) as the legs of cattle are hampered in some countries, to prevent their straggling far from home. The Irishman in Sir John Oldcastle petitions to be hanged in a withe; and Chapman, in his version of the tenth Odyssey, has the following passage:
There let him lie
"Till I, of cut-up osiers, did imply
"A with, a fathom long, with which his feete
I made together in a sure league meete."
I think myself bound, however, to add, that in Much Ado About Nothing, the very phrase, that in the present instance is disputed, occurs :
"O illegitimate construction! I scorn that with my heels; i. e. I recalcitrate, kick up contemptuously at the idea, as animals
fiend; away! says the fiend, for the heavens ; rouse up a brave mind, says the fiend, and run. Well, my conscience, hanging about the neck of my heart, says very wisely to me, my honest friend Launcelot, being an honest man's son,-or rather an honest woman's son ;-for, indeed, my father did something smack, something grow to, he had a kind of taste;-well, my conscience says, Launcelot, budge not; budge, says the fiend; budge not, says my conscience: Conscience, say I, you counsel well; fiend, say I, you counsel well: to be ruled by my conscience, I should stay with the Jew my master, who, (God bless the mark!) is a kind of devil; and, to run away from the Jew, I should
throw up their hind legs. Such also may be Launcelot's meaning. STEEVENS.
I perceive no need of alteration. The pleonasm appears to me consistent with the general tenour of Launcelot's speech. He had just before expressed the same thing in three different ways:"Use your legs; take the start; run away." MALONE.
Mr. Steevens calls this absurdity, and introduces a brother critick, Sir Hugh Evans, who had maintained that "he hears with ears" was affectations: both the parties had forgotten their Bible. As to the proposed alteration withe thy heels," it might be asked, who ever heard of a person binding his own heels to prevent running? Mr. Malone has well defended the consistency of Launcelot's speech. It may be added that in King Richard II. Act V. Sc. III. we have "kneel upon my knees." DOUCE.
And in the Common Prayer" meekly kneeling upon your
6 AWAY! says the fiend, for the HEAVENS ;] As it is not likely that Shakspeare should make the Devil conjure Launcelot to do any thing for Heaven's sake, I have no doubt but this passage is corrupt, and that we ought to read:
Away! says the fiend, for the haven,"
by which Launcelot was to make his escape, if he was determined to run away. M. MASON.
Mr. Gifford, in a note on Every Man Out of His Humour, has shewn by a number of instances that for the heavens was merely a petty oath. To make the fiend conjure Launcelot to do a thing for Heaven's sake is a specimen of that " acute nonsense," which Barrow makes one of the species of wit, and which Shakspeare was sometimes very fond of. BOSWELL.
be ruled by the fiend, who, saving your reverence, is the devil himself: Certainly, the Jew is the very devil incarnation; and, in my conscience, my conscience is but * a kind of hard conscience, to offer to counsel me to stay with the Jew: The fiend gives the more friendly counsel: I will run, fiend; my heels are at your commandment, I will run '.
Enter old GOBBO, with a Basket.
GOB. Master, young man, you, I pray you; which is the way to master Jew's? LAUN. [Aside.] O heavens, this is my true be
* First folio omits but.
7-well, my conscience says, Launcelot, budge not; budge, says the fiend; budge not, says my conscience.] It is not improbable that this curious struggle between Launcelot's conscience and the fiend might have been suggested by some well known story in Shakspeare's time, grafted on the following Monkish fable. It occurs in a collection of apologues that remain only in manuscript, and have been severally ascribed to Hugo of Saint Victor, and Odo de Sheriton or Shirton, an English Cistercian Monk of the 12th century. "Multi sunt sicut mulier delicata et pigra. Talis vero mulier dum jacet mane in lecto et audit pulsari ad missam, cogitat secum quod vadat ad missam. Et cum caro, quæ pigra est, timet frigus, respondet et dicit, Quare ires ita mane, nonne scis quod clerici pulsant campanas propter oblationes? dormi adhuc ; et sic transit pars diei. Postea iterum conscientia pungit eam quod vadat ad missam. Sed caro respondet, et dicit, Quare ires tu tam cito ad ecclesiam ? certè tu destrueres corpus tuum si ita manè surrexeris, et hoc Deus non vult ut homo destruat seipsum; ergo quiesce et dormi. Et transit alia pars diei. Iterum conscientia pungit eam quod vadat ad ecclesiam; sed caro dicit, Ut quid ires tam cito? Ego bene scio quod talis vicina tua nondum vadit ad ecclesiam ; dormi parum adhuc. Et sic transit alia pars diei. Postea pungit eam conscientia? sed caro dicit, Non oportet quod adhuc vadas, quia sacerdos est curialis et bene expectabit te; attende et dormi. Et sic dormiendo transit tempus. Et tamen ad ultimum verecundia tacita atque coacta, surgit et vadit ad ecclesiam, et invenit portas clausas." DOUCE.
8 Enter old GOBBO,] It may be inferred from the name of Gobbo, that Shakspeare designed this character to be represented with a hump-back. STEEVENS.