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This play was entered at Stationers' Hall on the 22d of July, 1598 ; but must have been exhibited before that time, as it was mentioned by Meres, in the Wit's Treasury, which was published early in the same year. The first known edition of this comedy is the quarto, “printed by J. R. for Thomas Heyes, 1600.” It was most probably written in 1597. Mr. Malone places it three years earlier ; but he bas no authority to support his hypothesis, but a simile of Portia's

Thy musick is
“ Even as the flourish when true subjects bow

To a new crowned monarch." This passage he supposes to refer to the recent coronation of Henry the Fourth of France, of which a description was published in this country immediately after the event.

The principal incidents of the plot are taken from a story in the Pecorone of Ser Giovanni Fiorentino, a novelist who wrote in 1378. [The first novel of the fourth day.] The story has been published in English. The circumstance of the caskets is from an old translation of the Gesta Romanorum, first printed by Wynkyn de Worde.

It has been supposed that there was a play on the subject previous to this of our author, and on which he might have grounded his work. This notion has been suggested by a passage in Stephen Gosson's School of Abuse, which speaks of " the Jew shewn at the Bull, representing the greediness of worldly choosers, and the bloody minds of usurers ;” but these words apply with equal propriety to the Jew of Marlow, and to the Shylock of Shakspeare.


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Duke of Venice.
Prince of MOROCCO, } suitors to PORTIA.
Prince of ARRAGON, )
ANTONIO, the Merchant of VENICE.
BASSANIO, his friend.
SALARINO, friends to Antonio and BASSANIO.
LORENZO, in love with JESSICA.
TUBAL, a Jew, his friend.
LAUNCELOT GOBBO, a clown, servant to SHYLOCK.
OLD Gobbo, father to LAUNCELOT,
SALERIO, a messenger from Venice.
LEONARDO, servant to Bassan10.

servants to PORTIA. STEPHANO,


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Portia, a rich heiress.
NERISSA, her waiting-maid.
JESSICA, daughter to SHYLOCK.

Magnificoes of VENICE, officers of the court of justice,

jailer, servants, and other attendants.

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Scene, partly at VENICE, and partly at BELMONT, the MERCHANT OF VENICE.

seat of Portia on the continent.

a In the old editions in quarto, for J. Roberts, 1600, and in the old folio, 1623, there is no enumeration of the persons. It was first made by Mr. Rowe. --JOHNSON.

b It is not easy to determine the orthography of this name. In the old editions the owner of it is called-Salanio, Salino, and Solanio.-STEEVENS.

c This character I have restored to the Personæ Dramatis. The name appears in the first folio: the description is taken from the quarto.—STEVENS. argosies— ] Argosie was in our author's time a name given to ships of great burden.-Several derivations have been suggested.--Nares considers that Pope and Douce are correct in supposing it to come from the ship Argo, which is confirmed by the word argis being used for a ship in low Latin.


Scene I.-Venice. A Street.

Enter ANTONIO, SALARINO, and SALANIO. Ant. In sooth, I know not why I am so sad ; It wearies me; you say, it wearies you; But how I caught it, found it, or came by it, What stuff 'tis made of, whereof it is born, I am to learn; And such a want-wit sadness makes of me, That I have much ado to know myself.

Salar. Your mind is tossing on the ocean;
There, where your argosies* with portly sail,
Like signiors and rich burghers of the flood,
Or, as it were,

the pageants
Do overpeer the petty traffickers,
That curt'sy to them, do them reverence,
As they fly by them with their woven wings.

Salan. Believe me, sir, had I such venture forth,
The better part of my affections would
Be with my hopes abroad. I should be still
Plucking the grass, to know where sits the wind;
Peering in maps, for ports, and piers, and roads;
And every object, that might make me fear
Misfortune to my ventures, out of doubt,
Would make me sad.

of the sea,

b Plucking the grass, &c.] By holding up the grass, or any light body that will bend by a gentle blast, the direction of the wind is found.- Johnson.


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My wind, cooling my broth,
Would blow me to an ague, when I thought
What harm a wind too great might do at sea.
I should not see the sandy hour-glass run,
But I should think of shallows and of flats;
And see my wealthy Andrew dock'd in sand,
Vailingd her high-top lower than her ribs,
To kiss her burial. Should I go to church,

And see the holy edifice of stone,
And not bethink mé straight of dangerous rocks?
Which touching but my gentle vessel's side,
Would scatter all her spices on the stream;
Enrobe the roaring waters with my silks;
And, in a word, but even now worth this,
And now worth nothing ? Shall I have the thought
To think on this ; and shall I lack the thought,
That such a thing, bechanc'd, would make me sad?
But, tell not me; I know, Antonio
Is sad to think upon his merchandize.

Ant. Believe me, no : I thank my fortune for it,
My ventures are not in one bottom trusted,
Nor to one place; nor is my whole estate
Upon the fortune of this present year:
Therefore, my merchandize makes me not sad.

Salan. Why then you are in love.

Fye, fye!
Salan. Not in love neither ? Then let's say, you are sad,
Because you are not merry: and 'twere as easy
For you to laugh, and leap, and say, you are merry,
Because you are not sad. Now, by two-headed Janus,
Nature hath fram'd strange fellows in her time :
Some that will evermore peep through their eyes,
And laugh, like parrots, at a bag-piper:
And other of such vinegar aspect,
That they'll not show their teeth in way of smile,
Though Nestor swear the jest be laughable.

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- Andrew-] The name of the ship. a Vailing-] To vail is to put off the hat--to trike sail--to give sign of submission.-BULLOKAR's English Expositor, 1616.

Enter BASSANIO, LORENZO, and GRATIANO. Salan. Here comes Bassanio, your most noble kinsman, Gratiano, and Lorenzo: Fare you well; We leave you now with better company.

Salar. I would have staid till I had made you merry, If worthier friends had not prevented me.

Ant. Your worth is very dear in my regard.
I take it, your own business calls on you,
And you embrace the occasion to depart.

Salar. Good-morrow, my good lords.

Bass. Good signiors both, when shall we laugh? Say You grow exceeding strange: Must it be so? [when ? Salar. We'll make our leisures to attend on yours.

[Exeunt SALARINO and SALANIO. Lor. My lord Bassanio, since you have found Antonio, We two will leave you : but, at dinner time, I pray you, have in mind where we must meet. Bass. I will not fail you.

Gra. You look not well, signior Antonio;
You have too much respect upon the world;
They lose it, that do buy it with much care.
Believe me, you are marvellously chang'd.

Ant. I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano;
A stage, where every man must play a part,
And mine a sad one.

Let me play the Fool:
With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come;
And let my liver rather heat with wine,
Than my heart cool with mortifying groans.
Why should a man, whose blood is warm within,
Sit like his grandsire cut in alabaster ?
Sleep when he wakes? and creep into the jaundice
By being peevish? I tell thee what, Antonio,-
I love thee, and it is my love that speaks ;-
There are a sort of men, whose visages
Do cream and mantle, like a standing pond;
And do a wilful stillness entertain,
With purpose to be dress’d in an opinion
Of wisdom, gravity, profound conceit;

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