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and for these curtesies request he'll lend them se much monies."- Anthonio, his old enemy, instead of any acknowledgment of the shrewdness and justice of his remonstrance, which would have been preposterous in a respectable Catholick merchant in those times, threatens him with a repetition of the same treatment
“I am as like to call thee so again,
After this, the appeal to the Jew's mercy, as if there were any common principle of right and wrong between them, is the rankest hypocrisy, or the blindest prejudice ; and the Jew's answer to one of Anthonio's friends, who asks him what his pound of forfeit flesh is good for, is irresistible
“ To bait fish withal ; if it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge. He hath disgrac'd me, and hinder'd me of half a million, laugh'd at my losses, mock'd at my gains, scorn'd my nation, thwarted my bargaios, cool'd my friends, heated mine enemies ; and what's his reason? I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes; hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions ; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer that a Christian is ? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? why revenge. The villany you teach me I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction."
The whole of the trial scene, both before and after the entrance of Portia, is a masterpiece of drama
tick skill. The legal acuteness, the passionate declamations, 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 surpassed. Shylock, who is his own counsel, defends himself well, and is triumphant on all the general topicks that are urged against him, and only fails through a legal flaw. Take the following as an instance:
“Shylock. What judgment shall I dread, doing no wrong?
The keenness of his revenge awakes all his faculties; and he beats back all opposition to his purpose, whether grave or gay, whether of wit or argument, with an equal degree of earnestness and self-possession. His character is displayed as distinctly in other less prominent parts of the play, and we may collect from a few sentences the history of his life-his descent and origin, his thrift and domestick economy, his affection for his daughter, whom he loves next to his wealth, his courtship and his first present to Leah
his wife ! “I would not have parted with it" (the ring which be first gave her) “for a wilderness of monkies !” What a fine Hebraism is implied in this expression !
Portia is not a very great favourite with us ; neither are we in love with her maid, Nerissa. Portia has a certain degree of affectation and pedantry about her, which is very unusual in Shakspeare's women, but which perhaps was a proper qualification for the office of a “civil doctor,” which she undertakes and executes so successfully. The speech about Mercy is very well; but there are a thousand finer ones in Shakspeare. We do not admire the scene of the caskets; and object entirely to the Black Prince Morocchius. We should like Jessiea better if she had not deceived and robbed her father, and Lorenzo, if he had not married a Jewess, though he thinks he has a right to wrong a Jew. The dialogue between this newly married couple by moonlight, beginning " On such a night,” &c. is a collection of classical elegancies. Launcelot, the Jew's man, is an honest fellow. The dilemma in which he describes himself placed between his “conscience and the fiend,” the one of which advises him to run away from his magter's service and the other to stay in it, is exquisitely humorous.
Gratiano is a very admirable subordinate character. He is the jester of the piece : yet one speech of his, in his own defence, contains a whole volume of wisdom.
“ Anthonio. I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano,
Gratiano. Let me play the fool :
Gratiano's speech on the philosophy of love, and the effect of habit in taking off the force of passion, is as full of spirit and good sense. The graceful winding up of this play in the fifth act, after the tragick business is despatched, is one of the happiest instances of Shakspeare's knowledge of the principles of the drama. We do not mean the pretended quarrel between Portia and Nerissa and their husbands about the rings, which is amusing enough, but the conversation just before and after the return of Portia to her own house, beginning “ How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank,” and ending 66 Peace ! how the moon sleeps with Eodymion, and would not
be awaked. There is a number of beautiful thoughts crowded into that short space, and linked together by the most natural transitions.
When we first went to see Mr. Kean io Shylock, we expected to see, what we had been used to see, a decrepid old man, bent with age, and ugly with mental deformity, grinning with deadly malice, with the venom of his heart congealed in the expression of his countenance, sullen, morose, gloomy, inflexible, brooding over one idea, that of his hatred, and fixed on one unalterable purpose, that of his revenge. We were disappointed, because we had taken our idea from other actors, not from the play. There is no proof there that Shylock is old, but a single line, • Bassanio and old Shylock, both stand forth," - wbich does not imply that he is infirm with ageand the circumstance that he has a daughter marriageable, which does not imply that he is old at all. It would be too much to say that his body should be made crooked and deformed to answer to his mind, which is bowed down and warped with prejudices and passion. That he has but one idea, is not true : he has more ideas than any other person in the piece ; and if he is intense and inveterate in the pursuit of his purpose, he shews the utmost elasticity, vigour, and presence of mind, in the means of attaining it. But so rooied was our habitual impression of the part from seeing it caricatured in the representation, that it was only from a careful perusal of the play itself that we saw our errour. The stage is not in general the best place to study our author's characters in. It is too often filled with traditional commonplace conceptions of the part, handed down from sire to