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Among the few good prints which have yet appeared of Shylock, there is one, which (in my poor opinion) poffeffes eminent merit. The copy of this print in my poffeffion, has neither the name of painter, engraver or publisher; nor any date or letters whatever. The impreffion feems to be a very fine one. It is of an 8vo. fize, and is evidently drawn from the fpirited line of
a fentence! come, prepare.
There is a kind of border or frame round it, and at the top is a very grim head of Shakespeare, furrounded with laurel. I cannot recollect from whence I came into poffeffion of it-it may have come from fome Magazine, but wherever it came from, or whoever was the defigner of it, it must be confidered as a happy ornament to this page. I think few painters could have more happily expreffed the fire and triumphant joy of the favage Shylock. He feems as if he had whetted his knife on the floor, and, having just brandifhed it, is now cafting his looks at the bankrupt Antonio. This print need only to be enlarged to a proper fize, and it will merit 'the best engraving; and may accompany this page, with
out the addition of the other characters. *
The print in Bell's first edition is taken from the above words; and as there is certainly much merit in this print, I purpose recommending it for the Tail-piece.
* This page offers another line where Shylock might be drawn in ftrong characters-for when he fays: Is that the Law? he darts a look on Portia, which none but Macklin can exhibit.
to accompany thefe laft lines-but yet, notwithstanding its merit, it certainly does not reach that idea of the Jew which we form, when he is repeating the above fentence-his countenance fhould exprefs fomewhat of exulting joy, as well as favage fellness. A figure of Shylock from the above lines by the pencil of Loutherbourg, would give us the very Jew that Shakespeare drew-for he would exprefs the animated rapidity of Macklin, and point the countenance glowing with rapturous adoration to Portia, and yet at the fame time mixed with malevolence and terrifying ferocity. The expreffion of neareft his heart is perhaps one of the first fituations in the play to draw Shylock from.
If we reject the giving a fingle figure of Shylock to this paffage; or if we wish to retain that which is in Taylor's work, (in cafe no better is produ ced) we may even then decorate this fame page with an engraving from the above firft felected lines; for no lines can offer a fitter opportunity to draw the whole characters from, who compofe the trial scene.
WE fhall now for the first time view Portia, as dressed like a doctor of laws and the gracefulness of her attitude will be finely difplayed, when pronouncing the Merchant's fentence. It will admit of all the grace of expreffion. Her fentence is uttered with a look of mild firmnefs, and not with one of fullen or morofe harshness. And the Jew's fpirited lines of
O noble judge! O excellent young man !
is almoft equal to his rapturous exclamation of
A Daniel come to judgment! yes, a Daniel!
and will therefore require his appearing to every poffible advantage. When Portia pronounces her sentence on the Merchant, the paffions in his countenance, as well as on thofe of his dear friend, and of Gratiano, will form a very interefting fcene. It is one of thofe fituations, which fixes expectation.
In this concluding part of the trial fcene, are many anxious fituations, where both Shylock and Portia, the Merchant and Bassanio, as well as the other characters, might be well reprefented. I will point out that paffage, which ftrikes me as the most proper to draw them from.*
Shylock (with his knife and scales in his hand) may be receding from the attitude in which he pronounced his late triumphant joy; and with his favage eyes fternly rivetted on Portia, may be addrefling to her the above question-and this animated defender of the injured Merchant will appear to every advantage, as on the point of fpiritedly enforcing his lines. The other characters may be drawn in interefting fituations, particularly the delivered Antonio, and his kind friend-as well as the generous Gratiano. Joy will be painted in each countenance, except in thofe of the two friends, whofe minds are now agitated with softer paffions, and whose countenances should exhibit that pathetic expreffion which friendship claims.
Page 236. A&t 5. Sc. 1.
WE fhall be interested in paying fome tributary efteem to the writer of this sweet scene, from the attachment he fo frequently discovers for that fcience to the effects of which-even
fell Charybdis murmur'd soft applause. †
INSTEAD of having quoted many of the foregoing paffages, I fhould have obferved the advice of Dr. Johnfon, who fays that "The reader is feldom pleafed to find his opinion anticipated-it is natural to delight more in what we find or make, than in what we receive.-Judgment, like other faculties, is improved by practice, and its advancement is hindered by fubmiffion to dictatorial decifions."
Though a very refpectable Commentator does not.
but more fo, from a divine religious ftrain which illumines this pageand which fo frequently ennobles the poetry of Shakespeare :
There's not the smallest orb, which thou behold'st,
Still quiring to the young eye'd cherubims;
But, whilft this muddy vefture of decay
The many paffages of this fine nature, fo frequently met with in the writings of Shakespeare, tend forcibly to ftrengthen the traditionary reports of the sweetness, benevolence, and goodness of his heart. It is scarce poffible for an irreligious mind to have written that paffage with which the Fryar fooths the parents of Juliet, on her fuppofed deathand Ben Johnfon tells us: "that he was indeed HONEST, and of an open and free nature; had an excellent phantfie, brave notions, and gentle expreffions."-If the countenance is the mirror of the foul—the traits of the most pleasing qualities are strongly expreffed in the metzotinto, by Simon, from after Zouft. *
We could have wished the figures in this fcene, had been drawn by Mr. Cypriani; and that the landscape might come from the pencil of Mr. Gainfborough. They might be drawn as listening to the mufic which first plays,—which I think would be better than at the subH fequent
*The child of Fancy, by the Virtues crown'd,
UNIVERSAL MAGAZINE, July, 1784.
AND a Poem in vol. 2. of Pearch's Collection, fpeaks thus of him:
Where were ye Graces, where ye tuneful Nine,
fequent paffage of, mark the mufic-as the fentiments Lorenzo utters before the founds of the first mufic, will permit his being drawn with an action more elevated. Something of that very fine attitude and expreffion fhould be given to Lorenzo, which we meet with in the figure of the prince, in Pine's beautiful print of Miranda. This print is worth referring to. The scene will represent a grove or green place, with a view of part of the houfe of Belmont, "bofom'd high in tufted trees," with the rich foliage and other wildneffes of luxuriant nature, and the moon fleeping (not fhining) upon the bank. Can painting express this happy word of the Poet?
To feel this scene properly, an Englishman should tranfport himself into the warmer climate of Italy; which he may do in imagination by a perufal of Martin Sherlock's Letters from an English traveller. *
LETTER XIV. V. 1.
It is not furprising that Virgil should make fuch fine verfes at Naples: the air there is fo foft and fo pure, the fun fo brilliant and so warm, and the face of nature fo rich and diverfified, that the ima gination feels a vivacity and vigour which it scarce ever perceives in other countries.
LETTER IX. v. 2.
A great enjoyment for a man who loves letters, is to have in his walks, his Horace in one pocket, and his Virgil in the other, and to look at a thousand objects which have been painted by these MafA great writer never throws out a word at random; all his expreffions are precious, and there are a thousand paffages in Virgil and Horace which can scarcely be understood, but which it is impoffible to feel without having feen Italy. Præceps Anio-to feel præceps, you go to Tivoli, I could quote numberless examples, but I fhall only mention one or two:
Naples, Feb. 3, 1779.
Nullus in orbe locus Baiis prælucet amoenis.
It is impoffible to feel pralucet but at Baia