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SCENE III. “ Consisteth of all nations”—The sense of these lines is clear, though the construction is not a little involved. Antonio says, that the duke cannot deny the course of law, because if the commodity, or advantage which strangers enjoy in Venice, be denied, that denial will much impeach the justice of the state, which derives its profit from all nations. No change of the ancient text seems necessary, though Capell, and Knight after him, print the lines thus altered :
Ant. The duke cannot deny the course of law,
Scene IV. “ Unto the Tranect”-“Shakespeare most likely obtained this word from some novel to which he resorted for his plot. It is supposed to be derived from the Italian franare, (to draw,) owing to the passage-boat on the Brenta being drawn over a dam by a crane, at a place about five miles from Venice."-Collier.
“ I could not do withAL"-An idiom of the time for I could not help it. (See Gifford's “ Ben Jonson,” note on “Silent Woman.”)
ACT IV.-SCENE I. “ A Court of Justice"-" The whole of the final scene is a master-piece of dramatic skill. The legal acuteness, the passionate declamation, the sound maxims of jurisprudence, the wit and irony interspersed in it, the fluctuations of hope and fear in the different persons, and the completeness and suddenness of the catastrophe, cannot be paralleled. Shylock, who is his own coun. sel, defends himself well, and is triumphant on all the general topics that are urged against him, and only fails through a legal flaw. The keenness of his revenge awakens all his faculties, and he beats back all opposi. tion to his purpose, whether grave or gay, whether of art or argument, with an equal degree of earnestness and self-possession.”—Hazlitt.
" — his Envy's reach"_" Envy," of old, was often used in the sense of hatred, malice; a sense often found in our English Bible.
“ Thou'll show thy mercy and REMORSE"_“Remorse" here means pity, as in MEASURE FOR MEASURE, and elsewhere.
“ Thou will not only Loose the forfeiture,” etc. All the copies have “loose the forfeiture," which, as it gives an appropriate meaning, taking “loose" in the sense of release, is retained in this edition, though generally altered to lose.
“ Enow to press a ROYAL MERCHANT down," etc. Warburton and Johnson remark, that “royal merchant” is not merely a ranting epithet as applied to merchants, for such were to be found at Venice in the Sa. nudos, the Giustiniani, the Grimaldi, etc. This epithet was striking, and well understood in Shakespeare's time, when Gresham was dignified with the title of the “ royal merchant," both from his wealth and because he constantly transacted the mercantile business of Queen Elizabeth.
“But, say, it is my Humour"_" The worthy Corporal Nym hath this apology usually at his fingers' ends, and Shylock condescends to excuse his extravagant cruelty
as a humour, or irresistible propensity of the mind. The word 'humour' is not used in its modern signification, but for a peculiar quality which sways and masters the individual through all his actions."—WALTER SCOTT.
In Rowland's “ Epigrams,” No. 27 amply illustrates this phrase :
Aske Humors, why a fether he doth weare !
It is his humour (by the Lord) heele sweare, etc. “ Cannot contain their urine for AFFECTION:
Masters OF PASSION SWAY it to the mood," ete. With Collier, we give the text as printed and pointed in all the original editions, with the single change of “sway" for sways. The sense is then obvious. After giving other examples to the same effect, Shylock adds that some men are affected, physically, by the sound of the bagpipe; for, whoever or whatever are the mas ters of passion, they govern and incline it to the mood of its likings or loathings. If the reader, like many of the commentators, is not satisfied with this reading, be may make his own selection among the editorial conjes tures. Rowe and Pope preserved the old punctuation, and gave the text thus :
Masterless passion sways it to the mood
Of what it likes, or loaths. The next reading is—
for affection, Master of passion, sways it to the mood, etc. Stevens adopted an anonymous writer's conjecture of
affection, Mistress of passion, sways it to the mood, etc. Any one of the above readings might have come from the Poet's pen, and the difference of sense is scarcely worth the pages of controversy it has occasioned.
“Why he cannot abide a GAPING PIG," etc. “A pig prepared for the table is most probably meant, for in that state is the epithet “gaping' most applicable to this animal. So, in Fletcher's • Elder Brother:'
And they stand gaping like a roasted pig. And in Nashe's ‘Pierce Pennylesse, his Supplication to the Devil,' (1592,) the following passage may serve to confirm the conjecture:– The causes conducting unto wrath are as diverse as the actions of a man's life. Some will take on like a madman if they see a pig come to the table. Sotericus, the surgeon, was cholerick at the sight of a sturgeon,' etc."-SINGER.
"- a woollen bag-pipe"-So the old copies. It is ordinarily written“ swollen bagpipe," upon the sugges tion of Sir John Hawkins. Dr. Johnson would read wooden. The old reading has the testimony of Dr. Ley, den, in his edition of The Complaynt of Scotland.” who informs us that the Lowland bagpipe commonly had the bag or sack covered with woollen cloth, of a green colour-a practice which, he adds, prevails in the northern counties of England.
“When they are FRETTEN"-So both the old quartos, and there seems no reason to abandon this form of the participle, though the folio and later editions have fretted.
" — that bankrout there"-I have preserved the old orthography of the word now spelled bankrupl, because that was the uniform mode of the age, and retains the etymology of a word, the precise meaning of which has long been the subject of legal and constitutional discussion in the United States.
“ You stand within his danger"-" Within his danger” was anciently equivalent to within his power. Thus, in North's " Plutarch," a book familiar to Shakespeare, Pompey is said to have brought the pirates
within his danger;" thence it became familiarly applied to the power of the creditor over another person Here both meanings seem included.
“ The quality of mercy is not strain'd," etc. Hooker's magnificent personification of “ Law," considered in its broadest sense, as a right rule of moral
and social action, affords a remarkable parallel to this | fancy might light up to the golden star-paved heavens, beautiful passage. It is at the end of the first book of and the brilliant moonlight gazed upon by lovers' eyes, bis celebrated * Ecclesiastical Polity,” which was pub- from the gardens of Belmont. lished about a year before the MERCHANT OF VENICE was written. It is quoted here, not because there is any
she doth stray about reason whatever to suppose that Shakespeare was in
By holy crosses," etc. debted to it in any way, but as a striking instance, among “These holy crosses still, as of old, bristle the land in many, of the coincidence and resemblance of poetical || Italy, and sanctify the sea. Besides those contained in spirit and philosophical thought between the greater churches, they mark the spots where heroes were born, minds of that wonderful age of English genius. “Of where saints rested, where travellers died. They rise Law there can be no less acknowledged than that her on the summits of hills, and at the intersection of roads; seat is the bosom of God, her voice the harmony of the and there is now a shrine of the Madonna del Mare in world : all things in heaven and earth do her homage, the midst of the sea between Mestre and Venice, and the very least as feeling her care, and the greatest as
another between Venice and Palestrina, where the gonnot exempted from her power; both angels and men, dolier and the mariner cross themselves in passing, and and creatiires of what condition soever, though each in whose lamp nightly gleams over the waters, in moondifferent sort and manner, yet all with uniform consent light or storm. The days are past when pilgrims of all admiring her as the mother of their peace and joy." ranks, from the queen to the beggar-maid, might be “Repent sot you”—It may admit of doubt whether
seen kneeling and praying for happy wedlock hours,'
or for whatever else lay nearest their hearts; and the this reading, which is that of the folio, or “Repent but
reverence of the passing traveller is now nearly all the you," of the two quartos, ought to be adopted. homage that is paid at these shrines."-Knight.
* — any of the stock of Barabbas"-Shakespeare seems to have followed the pronunciation usual to the
“ – Patens of bright gold”—Patines, or “patens," theatre, “ Barabbas” being sounded Barabas through
as it is variously spelled, signifies a dish, or plate; but out Marlowe's " Jew of Malta.”
is preserved in modern language only in ecclesiastical
use, for the plate used at the eucharist, generally of "Had I been judge, thou should'st have had ten more," etc. some precious metal, and in heraldry, where it means a That is, a jury of twelve men to find him guilty and
round, broad plate of gold. The folio of 1632 has pathave him hanged ;-a favourite joke, found in several
terns, which Collier prefers and adopts in his text. It of the dramatic writers of the age, which the Poet
seems to me a misprint, as patterns, in its modern sense, adopted without stopping to consider, what he could
for the plan of a carpet or other similar work, (which not but have known, that an allusion to the English jury
alone could give any sense here,) is more modern than was out of place at Venice.
Several occasions have been taken, in the course of the Notes of this edition, to trace, as an interesting part of literary history, the pedigree of some of the Poet's imagery or thoughts, not copied in the way of direct imitation, but as evidently suggested by passages of prior authors, who have themselves been indebted to a more remote antiquity. We may here trace a nobler genealogy of descent, in one of the most magnificent passages of English poetry, from one of the greatest conceptions of the most poetical philosophy of antiquity; and this again is almost rivalled by similar passages of succeeding poets, who were proud to own themselves the successful imitators of Shakespeare.
The origin of the thought in these lines is drawn from the philosophical imagination of Plato, who, in his “ Republic” and “ Timocus,” nearly two thousand years before Shakespeare, had taught that the heavenly bodies in their revolutions produced, by their rapid motion, the most exquisite musical harmony, so loud, various, and sweet, as to exceed all proportion to the human ear; and, therefore, to be inaudible to men. He taught too, that immortal souls had been formed, equal in number to the stars, each having a celestial orb assigned to it, as its original celestial abode; but that many of these spirits
wese banished thence to the earth, and there clothed Costume of the Doge of Venice.
for a time in human bodies, as in a sepulchre, or prison. These grand imaginations of the philosopher, combined
with an allegorical doctrine of Fate or Destiny, and an ACT V.-SCENE I.
ingenious theory of musical melodies, after having been
expounded and explained by Proclus and other later “ The moon shines bright.— In such a night as this,” etc. Greek Platonists, passed into the philosophy of the
The beauty and truth of this exquisite night-scene || Christian Church. On the revival of letters, the Planeed not to be pointed out to the American reader, who tonic philosophy, as modified by Christianity, became is familiar under his o skies with such moons pouring | the favourite theory of many of the most distinguished Aoods of liquid radiance, and such nights “ but little speculative scholars, such as Bessarion and Ficinus, in paler than the day"—such as many an English traveller Italy, and afterwards More and Cudworth, in England. and many a poet have described, with wonder and de- || Shakespeare's illustrious contemporary, "the judicious light, when seen in Italy or the East. It is the intense | Hooker," was familiar with this learning, and has intifeeling of reality in this scene that, to my mind, gives mated an opinion not unlike " the harmony in immortal strong confirmation of the opinion that Shakespeare had, souls” here spoken of. Touching musical harmony, at some period prior to this drama, wandered beneath (says he,) it being but of high and low sounds in a due the skies and moons of Italy Still it is not conclusive. proportionable disposition, such notwithstanding is the England has her own brighter nights, which the Poet's force thereof, and so pleasing effects it hath in that very
part of man which is most divine, that some have there The other, and the first folio, print in it instead of “ ir by been induced to think that the soul itself by nature in,” which led to long notes by the commentators. is, or hath in it, harmony."—(* Ecclesiastical Policy," Some editions read close us in. lib. v.), This part of the work was published in 1597, about the probable period that this play was written.
“ The crow doth sing as sweetly as the lark," etc.Another striking instance of the familiarity of this
The animals mentioned in this play are all proper to the philosophy to the minds of the scholars of that age, is country, and to that part of it to which the play relates given by Mr. Hallam, (“ History of Literature," vol. üi. The wren is uncommon; but its note is occasionally chap. 3,) in his notice of the Italian Campanella, who,
heard. The crow, lark, jay, cuckoo, nightingale, goose. in unfolding the Platonic philosophy, was roused by his
and eel, are all common in Lombardy. imagination to flights of impressive eloquence on his
" The nightingale, if she should sing by day, favourite themes. The skies and stars (says he) are endowed with the keenest sensibility; nor is it at all
When every goose is cackling," etc. unreasonable to suppose that they signify their mutual
In Shakespeare's One Hundred and Second Sonnel, thoughts to each other by the transference of light, and
there is a beautiful passage of like import:that their sensibility is full of pleasure. The blessed
Our love was new, and then but in the spring,
When I was wont to greet it with my lays; spirits that inform such living and bright mansions, be
As Philomel in summer's front doth sing. hold all things in nature and in the divine ideas; they And stops her pipe in growth of riper days. have also a more glorious light, through which they are Not that the summer is less pleasant now, elevated to a supernatural beatific vision.” Mr. Hallam
Than when her mournful hymns did hush the night,
But that wild music burdens every bough, justly adds, “We can hardly read this without recol
And sweets grown common lose their dear delight. lecting the most sublime passage, perhaps, in ShakeSPEARE: Sit, Jessica,' etc. etc. Companella wrote in "A TUCKET sounded”—From the Italian toccata Latin, and a little after the Poet. The poets of Eng.
which Florio, in his “World of Words," (1611,) con land early became familiar with the more splendid and strues, “a prelude in music." imaginative parts of the Platonic doctrines. Spenser
“ We should hold day with the Antipodes, especially, drew largely upon them; as, in his Platonic
If you would walk in absence of the sun."
That is—If you would walk in the night, it would be
day with us, as it now is on the other side of the globe -a celestial harmony Of likely hearts, composed of stars' consent.
- a little SCRUBBED boy'—Warton, not understand
ing this, proposes to read stubbed boy—a stripling. Bat There are various indications in Shakespeare's style
scrub and scrubbed is good old English for stunted, small that his imagination had been kindled and enriched by
of its kind : as Holland, in his translation of Pliny, hæs these beautiful speculations, though in all probability his knowledge of them was attained in fragments, from
Such will never prove fair trees, but scrubs only;" and
we retain the same use familiarly on this side of the the perusal of the poets and English writers of his own
Atlantic in "scrub oaks,”—a name given from the first day, without any formal study of the philosophy itself,
settlement of the country to the dwarf or bush oak. as a whole. In the next generation, Milton, alike familiar himself with Plato and with Spakespeare, with “ No woman had it; but a civil doctor"-Some Amer music and with philosophy, delighted to dwell on the ican readers may require to be informed, of what the same idea, so captivating to so many superior minds. professional divisicn of labour makes more familiar in He has repeatedly referred to it in his prose works, as | Europe, that“civil" does not refer to manners, but means well as in his “Penseroso" and in “Comus;" while in a doctor of tho civil law, as opposed to one of divinity the “ Arcades" he has blended together the loftiest in or medicine. spiration of Plato and of Shakespeare:
-In deep of night when drowsiness
“The MERCHANT of Venice is one of Shakespeare's To the celestial sirens' harmony,
most perfect works: popular to an extraordinary degree, That sit upon the nine infolded spheres, And sing to those that hold the vital shears,
and calculated to produce the most powerful effect on And turn the adamantine spindle round
the stage; and at the same time, a wonder of ingenuity On which the fate of gods and men is wound.
and art for the reflecting critic. Shylock, the Jew, is Such sweet compulsion doth in music lie,
one of those inconceivable master-pieces of characterizaTo lull the daughter of Necessity,
tion of which Shakespeare alone furnishes us with es. And keep unsteady Nature to her law, And the low world in measur'd motion draw
amples. It is easy for the poet and the player to exhibit After the heavenly tune, which none can hear
a caricature of national sentiments, modes of speaking, Of human mould, with gross unpurged ear.
and gestures. Shylock, however, is every thing but a The editor of the Pictorial edition has added to these common Jew: he possesses a very determinate and passages one from the “Remorse" of Coleridge, au original individuality, and yet we perceive a slight touch “ worthy to stand by the side of Milton and Shake of Judaism in every thing which he says and does. We speare." It is so. But it is also due to Coleridge to
imagine we hear a sprinkling of the Jewish pronunciaadd, that it is not an imitation of any passage of either tion in the mere written words, as we will sometimes of them, but rather an adaptation of another part of the
find it in the higher classes of that people, notwithstand Platonic theory, drawn from the Greek original, and ing their social refinement. In tranquil situations, what borrowing only from Shakespeare its general spirit and
is foreign to the European blood and Christian sentiments bis solemn rhythmical melody :
is less perceivable; but in passion the national stamp Soul of Alvar!
appears more strongly marked. All these inimitable Hear our soft suit, and heed my milder spell ;-
niceties the finished art of a great actor can alone So may the gates of Paradise, unbarr'd,
properly express. Cease thy swift toils! Since haply thou art one
“Shylock is a man of information, even a thinker in his Of that innumerable company Who in broad circle, lovelier than the rainbow,
own way; he has not only discovered the region where Girdle this round earth in a dizzy motion,
human feelings dwell: his morality is founded on the With noise too vast and constant to be heard :
disbelief in goodness and magnanimity. The desire of Fitliest unheard! For oh, ye numberless
revenging the oppressions and humiliations suffered by And rapid travellers! what ear unstunn'd, What sense unmadden'd, might bear up against
his nation, is, after avarice, his principal spring of action. The rushing of your congregated wings !
His hate is naturally directed chiefly against those Chris.
tians who possess truly Christiau sentiments: the exDoth grossly close it in"- Nothing can be clearer ample of disinterested love of our neighbour, seems to than this reading, which is that of Heyes's quarto. him the most unrelenting persecution of the Jews. The
letter of the law is his idol; he refuses to lend an ear to "Throughout this whole piece there is a flow of incithe voice of mercy, which speaks to him from the mouth dent and richly-imagined language that bears us, on a of Portia with heavenly eloquence: he insists on severe spring-tide of interest, to the settlement of the plot in and inflexible justice, and it at last recoils on his own the trial-scene, which is a drama in itself. Yet there head. Here he becomes a symbol of the general history Shakespeare does not forsake us, as a vulgar writer of his unfortunate nation.
would have done. On the contrary, he prolongs our * The melancholy and self-neglectful magnanimity of voluptuous sympathy, in the union of the happy charAntonio is affectingly sublime. Like a royal merchant, acters, by a little pleasantry about the rings, and by a he is surrounded with a whole train of noble friends. moonlight serenade of music. Our imaginations retire The contrast which this forms to the selfish cruelty of from the play soothed and gratified, and perhaps with the usurer Shylock, was necessary to redeem the honour more hints to our understanding respecting the charity of human nature.
which we owe to the Jews than Shakespeare has ven** The judgment scene, with which the fourth act is tured to insinuate."-T. CAMPBELL. occupied, is alone a perfect drama, concentrating in itselt the interest of the whole. The knot is now untied, and, according to the common idea, the curtain might The intention of the Poet in relation to the great drop. But the Poet was unwilling to dismiss his au question of the rights of conscience and opinion, which dience with the gloomy impressions which the delivery is involved in the greater part of the plot and dialogue of Antonio, accomplished with so much difficulty, con of this piece, has been the subject of much discussion. trary to all expectation, and the punishment of Shylock, Some of his critics have contended that the Poet chose were calcalated to leave behind : he has, therefore, his subject with the express object of inculcating the added the fifth act, by way of a musical after-piece in great duty of respect for liberty of conscience; while, the play itself. The episode of Jessica, the fugitive in the eyes of others, the Poet does not appear to have danghter of the Jew, in whom Shakespeare has con himself risen above the level of his age in the spirit of trived to throw a disguise of sweetness over the national toleration, whether Christian or philosophical, but to features, and the artifice by which Portia and her com have partaken of and employed the narrowest and most panion are enabled to rally their newly-married hus bitter prejudices of his age. bands, supply him with materials.
The probable truth seems to me to be, that Shake“ The scene opens with the playful prattling of two speare did not select his subject with any definite plan lorers in a summer moonlight
of depicting the injustice and absurdity of religious perWhen the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees.
secution, but merely with regard to its poetic and dra.
matic effect. But he bad lived among the rage of civil It is followed by soft music, and a rapturous eulogy on
and religious discord, and he still walked over the yet this powerful disposer of the human mind and the world. warm ashes of the fires of persecution. When, thereThe principal characters then make their appearance;
fore, the subject expanded itself in his mind, he described and, after an assumed discussion, which is elegantly car
and he reasoned from his own observation of man and ried on, the whole ends with the most exhilarating society. He therefore painted men as he had seen mirth."-Schlegel.
them—the wisest and kindest blinded by the prejudices of their education or their country, and becoming hard
ened to inflicting insolence and injury ;-the injured, “Since the restoration of Charles II., the MERCHANT
the insulted, the trampled upon, goaded by continual oj Vesice has been one of the most popular plays on wrongs into savage malignity. Had the Poet invested the English stage, and the appearance of Shylock has the despised and injured man with the gentle and more been the ambition of its greatest actors,
In the picture amiable qualities of our nature, and enlisted our symof the Jew there is not the tragic grandeur of RICHARD pathy wholly on his side, whatever additional interest III. ; but there is a similar force of mind, and the same he might have given to his plot, he would have painted subtlety of intellect, though it is less selfish. In point a far less true view of human nature, and have conof courage I would give the palm to Shylock, för he veyed a much less impressive and useful lesson of pracwas an ill-used man, and the chainpion of an oppressed tical morality. race; nor is he a hypocrite, like Richard. In fact, With this view of the origin and design of the charShakespeare, while he lends himself to the prejudices acter of Shylock, I otherwise fully concur with the reof Christians against Jews, draws so philosophical a marks of Mr. Brown, as follows:picture of the energetic Jewish character, that he traces the blame of its faults to the iniquity of the Christian world. Shylock's arguments are more logical that those Toleration is an intolerable word, never used by our of his opponents, and the latter overcome him only by Poet unless, possibly, in a disapproving manner, under a legal quibble.' But he is a usurer, and lives on the cover of Dogherry's ignorance— most tolerable, and not interest of lent moneys; and what but Christian perse to be endured.' To call it therefore in kindlier words, cation forced him to live by this means! But he is also respect for another's sincere opinions, has hitherto made inhuman and revengeful. Why? because they called but slow progress in the world; though, bereaved of the him dog, and spat upon his gaberdine. They voided MERCHANT OF VENICE, it might have been slower. No their rheum upon him, and he in return wished to void
argument in its favour could be more complete, or put his revenge upon them. All this is natural, and Shylock | in a stronger light, than that which we find here. shyhas nothing unnatural about him. His daughter, Jessica, || lock, a usurer, a suspicious father, and altogether a bad 13 a very faithful picture of a love-inclined young wo man, compels us to grant him a portion of our involunman; betraying the oriental warmth of her race. tary good-will, solely on account of his being persecuted But she is not to be taken
for constancy in his creed; and, thwarted in his hopes as a true sample of a Jewish daughter, for among no of a hateful revenge, we look at his ominous scales, people are the ties of domestic lite held more sacred
balance his injuries against his rancour, and cannot than among the Hebrews. The scene of the caskets is
forbear granting him our pity when he is defeated. objected to by Hazlitt, but he gives no why or where How careful the author has been to maintain our felfore : I am not, therefore, bound to argue against his low-feeling, and to make Shylock's religion meet perseno-arguments; but have only to say that I like the pomp. cution at every step! Not only Antonio is his reviler; of Portia's courtship, at the arrival of the Prince of he runs the gauntlet of abuse through Venice; his Morocco, when he swears by his scimitar
daughter forsakes and robs him because of his religion ; That won three fields from Sultan Solyman.
wherever he turns, his misfortnnes are a subject of ex
ultation; and his fall is hailed with insulting, open Let us remember that we are here in the romantic triumph. His claim to be enrolled among his fellow
beings, in that powerful language, ‘Hath not a Jew
eyes ?' etc., has nothing urged against it, nor could a tuous merchant is ready to repeat them, so unconscious word be said in denial, yet his claim is allowed by none; is he of acting with injustice. Representing the perse and he is never treated with a show of respect until he cutor on all other points truly estimable, and the perseis feared. We acknowledge his right, and are glad to cuted in no degree estimable, yet entirely unanswerable see him at last, by any resource, treated with respect: in his defence, puts personal merit out of the question, we only recoil at his appalling, vengeance. On the and places the argument on the broadest principle, inother hand, Antonio is a man justly honoured for every | cluding the worst as well as the best among believers virtue, with one exception—a want of charity, a good and infidels. Shakespeare strove to alleviate the bitter feeling, a decent behaviour towards a fellow-creature, persecutions, not only towards the Jews, but towards purely because he is an unbeliever. The religious ani all others.
For the benefit of those wles mosity of Shylock was no more than retaliation. Anto could apply, or might hereafter apply Antonio and nio, indeed, may have had reason to accuse Shylock of Shylock to themselves, Shakespeare pourtrayed them. extortion ; but his calling him misbeliever,' and 'dog,' should any one think the application was unthought of, spitting on him, and spurning him, force us instantly to and accidental, let him contend that wheat grows into side with the nsurer against the Christian of unblem nourishment by chance; or try what philosophic works ished fame. When reminded of these injuries, the vir he can write by chance."-Shak. Autobiog. Poems.