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ages, seeing how naturally the son follows the faith of the father, and how much too general a thing it is amongst mankind to profess any particular form of religion, that devolves upon them by inheritance, rather than by free election and conviction of reason founded
examination. Let me put the case of a man born a Jew, and settled in a kingdom where the Inquisition is in force; can he reconcile his natural feelings to a conversion in favour of that church, which denounces everlasting damnation against him, if he does not betray the secrets of his parents, and impeach them to the Inquisition for the concealed religion, which he knows they practise, though they do not profess?
If we as Christians owe some respect to the Jews as the people chosen by God to be the keepers of those prophetic records which announce the coming of the Messias, we owe it also to the truth of history to confess, that the hope indulged by them that his coming would bring temporal as well as spiritual salvation, was general to all the nation. Their ancient sages had united the military with the prophetic character; some had headed their armies; forth with them, and even their women had contributed to the downfal of their enemies and oppressors: they had been delivered from their Egyptian and Babylonish thraldom by the arm of God; the yoke of Rome laid no less heavy on their necks; and they regarded their former deliverances as types and forerunners of the great deliverance to come, when the Son of God should descend upon earth in the plenitude of his power to rid them from their enemies and oppressors.
In place of this glittering but delusive vision they beheld a meek and humble man, a teacher of peaceful doctrines, who went about preaching forgiveness of injuries and submission to authorities. They asked
all had gone
him (and the question was a proving one), whether he would have them render tribute unto Cæsar: he told them, in reply, they should render unto Cæsar the things that were Cæsar's, tribute to whom tribute was due: mortifying reply! extinguishing at once their hopes and their ambition. Still there was something about him that converted many and staggered all; never man spoke as he spoke, never man did what he did; he had evident power of working miracles ; the hand of God was with him, and the operations of nature were under his control: his power was great, but was not great to their purposes, and therefore they denied that it was derived from God; they charged him with being a magician, and casting out devils by the aid of the prince of the devils. A likely intercourse between the representatives of light and of darkness; a notable collusion between heaven and
ell; if Beelzebub was to be charged with conspiring to cast out Beelzebub, it was at least incumbent on the abettors of the charge to prove that any being endowed with such power, could be so devoid of intelligence.
Conviction and rebuke only rendered them more furious and inveterate: despairing at length of employing his power against Rome, they resolved upon turning the power of Rome against him: they impeached him before Pilate the Roman procurator: Pilate unwillingly, at their urgent requisition, sentenced him to ignominious execution; disavowing in the strongest terms his share in the act, and by the figurative exculpation of washing his hands in public view, purifying (as far as such a ceremony could purify) his tribunal from the guilt of spilling innocent blood.
Can it be a wonder with us at this hour that the Jews should persist in avowing their unbelief in the Messias? If they admit the evidences of the Chris:
tian religion, do they not become their own accusers? And this, although it be no reason why a man should shut his eyes against the truth, will yet be a motive, allowing for the imperfection of human nature, why he should not seek for it.
I SLIGHTLY hinted in my former
that the Jew of Venice would not turn out to be the proper offspring of Shakspeare, and as the researches of his commentators have settled this point so clearly against the legitimacy of Shylock, I may leave it with the reader's judgment to decide, whether he formed his drama immediately from the Pecorone of Fiorentina, borrowing the incidents of the caskets from Boccace: or at second hand, as some suppose, from an old ballad formed upon that story.
But I had a farther object in the hint I then dropped, suggested to me by the perusal of a very curious old novel, written by Thomas Nashe, and published in 1594, entitled “The Unfortunate Traveller, or the Life of Jacke Wilton.' The hero is described to be one of the court-pages belonging to Henry the Eighth, and is made to play a number of rougish pranks in the camp of that monarch before Tournay. He travels to Munster in Germany, where he falls in with John of Leyden, the famous fanatic, and is present at his defeat by the Imperialists; here he meets Lord Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, and accompanies him to Venice, passing through Wittemberg, where he has an interview with Luther and Carlostadius ; from thence he repairs to Rome, where he relates a
series of strange adventures, by which he is thrown into the hands of a Jew named Zadock, physician to Pope Clement VIII, and having forfeited his life to him by the law, the Jew gets the person of Jacke Wilton in limbo, with an intent to anatomize him, and whilst he is dieting and bleeding him for that purpose, the Marchioness of Mantua, the Pope's mistress, spies him out from her balcony, and being smitten with his appearance, contrives to get him out of Zadock's hands by persuading his holiness to banish all the Jews from Rome and confiscate their effects, upon a charge she sets up against them.
With this intelligence, Zadock is accosted by a brother Jew called Zachary, “who comes running to him in sackcloth and ashes, presently after his goods were confiscated, and tells him how he is served, and what decree is coming out against them all.'
I have made an extract of this interview between Zadock and Zachary, which the reader will observe by the date was published before Shakspeare wrote his Merchant of Venice, and as the critics seem agreed that he was conversant in other works of Nashe, it is highly probable that this history of Jacke Wilton had also been in his hands: I do not mean to infer that Shakspeare took his character of Shylock from this of Nashe's Zadock, for there is nothing that can warrant such an inference; but I shall submit the fol. lowing dialogue as an extraordinary specimen of strong impassioned writing, which though it will not stand by Shakspeare's scene between Shylock and Tubal in dramatic terseness, has nevertheless a force of expression that will bear a comparison with that or any other
passage in our old dramatic writers. Zachary having made his report as above, the author thus proceeds to the introduction of his chief speaker~ Descriptions, stand by! here is to be expressed the fury of Lucifer, when he was turned over
heaven's bar for a wrangler: there is a toad-fish, which taken out of the water swells more than one would think his skin could hold, and bursts in his face that touches him; so swelled Zadock, and was ready to burst out of his skin, and shoot his bowels like chain-shot full in Zachary’s face for bringing him such baleful tidings; his eyes glared and burned like brimstone and aqua vitæ set on fire in an egg-shell, his very nose lightened glow-worms; his teeth crack ed and grated together like the joints of a high building rocking like a cradle, when as a tempest takes her full butt against her broadside : he swore and curst, and said
· These be they that worship that crucified God of Nazareth; here is the fruits of their new-found gospel; sulphur and gunpowder carry them all quick to Gehennah! I would spend my soul willingly to have this triple-headed Pope, with all his sin-absolved whores, and oil-greased priests, borne like a black saint on the devil's back in procession to the pit of perdition. Would I might sink presently into the earth, so I might blow up this Rome, this whore of Babylon, into the air with my breath! If I must be banished, if these heathen dogs will needs rob me of my goods, I will poison their springs and conduitheads, whence they receive their water all about the city. I will ’tice all the
young children in my house that I can get, and cutting their throats, barrel them up in powdering beef-tubs, and so send them to victual the Pope's galleys. Ere the officers come to extend, I will bestow a hundred pounds on a dole of bread, which I will cause to be kneaded with scorpion's oil, that may kill more than the plague. I will hire them that make their wafers or sacramentary Gods, to mix them after the same sort, so in the zeal of their superstitious religion shall they languish and drop like carrion. If there be ever a blasphemous