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Sample page: Merchant of Venice, D3v

Editorial note

This sample page demonstrates an editorial approach that prioritizes fidelity to the original document, as well as historical contextualization of the language in the play. Thus, the indentation, spacing, and alignment in the digital edition reflect what appears in the quarto as closely as possible; all of the original characters (including the long s and i/j and u/v shifts) are preserved; and none of the spellings are regularized. The edition also includes both the running header and catchwords in the original document. The annotations reflect an editorial attention to historical and linguistic contexts by focusing on the ways that particular words and phrases from the play were used in other sixteenth-century documents, explaining where words are rarer or more common than a modern reader might expect, and offering commentary on the meanings of this language for the play more broadly.

The Comicall Historie of

A coyne that beares the figure of an Angell
ſtampt in gold, but thats inſculpt1 vpon :
But heere an Angell in a golden bed
lies all vvithin. Deliuer me the key :
heere doe I chooſe, and thriue I as I may.
     Por.  There take it Prince, and if my forme lie there
then I am yours?
     Mor.  O hell ! what haue wee heare, a carrion death,
vvithin whoſe emptie eye there is a written ſcroule,
Ile reade the writing.
          All that gliſters is not gold,2
          Often haue you heard that told,
          Many a man his life hath ſold
          But my outſide to behold,
          Guilded timber doe wormes infold :
          Had you beene as wiſe as bold,
          Young in limbs, in iudgement old,
          Your aunſwere had not beene inſcrold,3
          Fareyouwell, your ſute is cold.
     Mor.  Cold indeede and labour loſt,4
Then farewell heate, and welcomefroſt :
Portia adiew, I haue too greeu’d a hart
To take a tedious leaue : thus looſers5 part.          Exit.
     Por.  A gentle riddance, draw the curtaines, go,
Let all of his complexion6 chooſe me ſo.         Exeunt.
Enter Salarino and Solanio.
     Sal.  Why man I ſaw Baſſanio vnder ſayle,
vvith him is Gratiano gone along ;
and in theyr ſhip I am ſure Lorenzo is not.
     Sola.  The villaine Iew with outcries raiſd the Duke,
vvho went with him to ſearch Baſſanios ſhip.
     Sal.  He came too late, the ſhip was vnderſaile,
But there the Duke was giuen to vnderſtand
that in a Gondylo7 were ſeene together
Lorenzo and his amorous Ieſſica.
Beſides, Anthonio certified the Duke
they were not with Baſſanio in his ſhip.


Image credit: Rare Books & Manuscripts Department, Boston Public Library, copy G.176.16. The most excellent historie of the merchant of Venice. First Quarto. London: 1600.

Citing this page: Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice, page 30 (D3v). London: 1600. Cacodemon Digital Shakespeare. Edited by Sarah Connell. Source edition: Rare Books & Manuscripts Department, Boston Public Library (copy G.176.16).


  1. "Insculpt" is a rare word in sixteenth-century English, appearing just four times in the Early English Books Online–Text Creation Partnership Phase I collection materials for that century. One of these uses is in a likely source text for Merchant, the Gesta Romanorum (Deeds of the Romans), a fourteenth-century collection of tales that includes an account of a young woman who must prove her worth as a bride for the son of an Emperor by choosing one of three caskets. The 1595 English translation describes the casket of lead thus: "The third veſſell was made of Lead, full within of precious ſtones, and therevpon was inſculpt this poſey. Who ſo chooſeth mee, ſhall finde that God hath diſpoſed for him" (100).
  2. Various versions of this saying date back until at least the twelfth century, but this usage in Merchant is credited as the source for the most common modern expression. "Glister" was a synonym for the now more standard "glitter," which eventually replaced "glister" in the expression.
  3. The only instances of this word in the EEBO–TCP Phase I collection appear in editions of The Merchant of Venice.
  4. Love's Labour's Lost was likely authored in the mid-1590s and was first published in quarto in 1598, but it should also be remembered that references to lost labor were common in the sixteenth century. For example, the 1557 Songes and sonettes, written by the right honorable Lorde Henry Haward late Earle of Surrey, and other includes a poem by an "uncertain author" that speaks of "The labour lost of weried Sisiphus" (n. pag.).
  5. "Loosers" and "losers" are moderately well represented in sixteenth-century discourse. For example, John Heywood's 1546 Dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the englishe tongue states: "be they wynners or looſers, / Folke ſay alwaie, beggers ſhulde be no chooſers" (n. pag.). In the sixteenth century texts from EEBO–TCP, there are 42 references to "loosers" and 25 to "losers."
  6. This is the third of four references to "complexion" in _Merchant_, appearing several scenes after Morocco says to Portia: "Mislike me not for my complexion" in Act 2, Scene 1. Sixteenth-century usages of "complexion" often related to the concept of the four bodily humors. For example, Thomas Iyot's 1539 _The castel of helth_ explains that: "Complexion is a combynation of two dyuers qualities of the foure elementes in one body, as hotte & drye of the Fyre: hote and moyſte of the Ayre, colde and moyſte of the Water, colde and drye of the Erth" (2). Nevertheless, as has long been acknowledged in scholarship on the play, _Merchant_ clearly also associates complexion with skin color, as when Morocco calls his own complexion "the shadowed liuerie of the burnisht sunne" (2.1).
  7. The only instances of this spelling of "Gondylo" (in addition to the variation "Gondilo") for "gondola" in the EEBO–TCP Phase I collection appear in editions of The Merchant of Venice.