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therefore versed in the rules of propriety and their reasons, naturally and without an effort conducting herself accordingly, yet rationally anticipating very different demeanour from persons misguided by passion, worldly interest, and want of principle. There is a playful, frisking laisser aller in her bearing, during the scene of her introduction to us, just such as in Miss Baillie's--“ Uprouse ye, then, my merry, merry men,"--playful, pleasant, unforced; permitted with harmless satisfaction.
This scene discovers her philosophy too; her keen, cutting good sense; still rendering her a fair type of the authoress : her ideas are not girlish, like those of Juliet; nor womanish, like those of Desdemona ; and her candour is like that manifested by Miss Baillie, when she confesses her longing that her plays should be acted, in other words, popular, and her calm sorrow that they are not so.
The style of each is free, bold, and uncrippled ; (the mode of thought noble, dignified, and untrammelled ;) not abounding in set phrases-not discovering any constitutional inability to utter aught but satinet syllables, and cramped ideas to correspond, cast but in one mould, pretty, it is true, yet devoid of the charms of ease and variety. Portia's eloquence is not a resistless torrent like that of Juliet, whose ideas and language dazzle us by the brilliancy of metaphor, rather than instruct us by the sobriety of truth: too strong a light sheds a false glare on surrounding objects—twilight diffuses a hazy but indistinct charm-the temperate medium of ante and afternoon developes truly; figures stand out clearly, distinctly, and unflattered in their ugliness or beauty, except that the halo of light, like that of poetry, encircles them. No intercourse is so charming as that which admits us to the confidence of an agreeable person; and Portia, as well as Miss Baillie, can be delightfully confiding; not raptly ever, nor, like an engrossing
selfite,” developing profound truisms, to fathom which to their depths, years of pondering devoted by third-rate ability would be requisite; but, from a higher order of talent, only grasping comprehensive moments which concentrate the experience of ages.
Her resolute determination to abide by her father's will, without a shadow of intention to appeal from it, denotes her unflinching principle, for which she assumes no credit, deeming it simply a thing of course ; just as there is no merit in spelling well, though a great defect in doing so incorrectly. We can imagine Miss Baillie a like person ; but spirited personifications of moral beauty are rarely able to embody such as themselves. Erring, frail children of humanity sometimes appreciate, as with a passion, the noble character which inspiration teaches them to depict. The Lady Jane Montfort is very good; but where are the airy charms of nature, the essence of life, and quintessence of attractiveness ? Portia's is pleasant satire, for it is merely lively truth; it has no
She has not the evil qualities of a professed wit, for she evinces that she is not one by her acknowledgment of—“I know it is a sin to be a mocker.” Some Neapolitans are, to this day, if report speaks truly, more knowing in horse-flesh than in other sciences; and Germans are grave, searching for truth in the bottom of a well; and Frenchmen merry and imitative; and Englishmen stupid in society;
and Scotchmen shrewd; and Saxons dull : the first of Portia's suitors priding himself on his jockeyish talents; the second on his reflective; the third on his social; the fourth on his nation's worth, which rendered it unnecessary for him to play the agreeable; the fifth on his pedigree and wisdom; and the sixth on his appreciation of sensualities. Yet the Englishman is nervously sensitive to the opinion of others, and unwisely desirous of attaining outward perfection; not from a wish to afford pleasure; but lest this sensitiveness should be wounded; heaping, in consequence, undecidedly together the fancies of hundreds on his single person. He has selfish pride; the Frenchman feminine vanity, who is anxious to please, not because he thus insures the gratification of others, but because the contentment of his associates will be reflected on himself, encouraging him to greater, and therefore more successful efforts, yielding him influence over those by whom he is liked, and with self-importance inflating him, the frog, who puffs and pants to ape the size of a cow.
Still there is a bonhomie about him which is more attractive than the exclusive selfishness of the Englishman : the latter is near-sighted, the former far; Jack Brag would term the latter a wet blanket-a gloomy condensation of damps; while the former glitters in a tinsel robe: darkness and gravity belong to one, light and laughter to the other; there is no congeniality between them; they despise, and almost avowedly hate each other. The Englishman, however, thinks he believes his rival beneath his hatred; while the Frenchman admits him to be above it—that is, wholly out of his sphere, and scarcely worthy of a thought, because incapable to emulate him. The first deems his competitor a frivolous child, grovelling amidst sublunary trifles; while the last considers him in a youthful dotage, vainly attempting to career on unsubstantial clouds. The former gives his opponent credit for tact in availing himself of valueless nonentities; the latter allows him to possess talent, but unaccompanied by discretion to use it aright: the former wavers as to the path he shall pursue, and, like a solemn ape, often aims after that which is beyond the scope
of his ability; while the latter, like a spruce parrot, gaily smirking in the conceit of pretty plumage, everywhere fearlessly intrudes his speech.
Both of these the German contemns; the reflections of the Englishman are too material, not sufficiently abstract, dealing too much in illustration, too much depending on mere utility, and not exaltingly pointless and aimless. The Frenchman he esteems totally irreflective, glancing at, without thinking on, subjects. In his turn, he is admired by the Englishman, who deems, however, that a combination of his own qualifications would vastly improve him. But if the Frenchman believes the Englishman doting, he judges the German to be melancholy mad, and an awkward, stupid clown to boot, who must pore over everything, labouring upon trifles, and comprehending nothing by a glimpse—wading through bogs, instead of lightly skipping over them-scrutinising each particle of chaff, instead of tossing them rapidly in the sun, and discovering the seed by his beams. The Neapolitan shrugs his shoulders at all three, and, though every man will have his taste, imagines that people must confess he has the
best of the matter, for whom life is alive, and nature gay; from whom sad tameness, miserable drudging, and vexatious harassing about incomprehensible things, are at a distance. And those three properly scorn him, while they enjoy complacency of spirit, seeing that he elevates corporeal above spiritual gratifications; but when depressed, as all are at times, they pretend that he is to be envied, because free from ambition by silence to obtain respect for his wisdom, or by his social valuation to grasp the perquisites of such dominion, or by his brutish toiling to ascend a tottering pinnacle of eminence.
The Scotchman sneers at all round; and well he may, for he combines the means of success possessed by the former four. He relishes a vacation devoted to pure amusement, however limping may be his essays to act the sportsman ; he savours objective thinking, like the Englishman, and boundless conception, like the German; and in discoursing, he can lay on a thick coat of flattery, which sometimes outdoes the less clumsy and more graceful address of the Frenchman. He mingles national, family, and personal pride; and he has not equal art with the last-mentioned in concealing meanness; while his self.complacency, admitting of no abashment, is less passable, less refined, so to speak, and more offensive. He is just capable of strong feeling, while that of the Frenchman is evanescent, who is good-natured and polite, however, so long as his own claims are uninterfered with. The first lover seeks in Portia à mother of his children, and manager his household, to be permitted to act as she wists; the second seeks her as a useful and ornamental doll; the fourth as a goddess, to be worshipped and left lonely, though a suitable partner of his state, and the subject of approbation to his connexions. The wife of the Scotchman will be his companion and adviser, mingling with his, those attainments which by pains taking have been mutually acquired; and, if serviceable, she will be well treated. The Saxon is careless of all the world, as well as of himself, deeming no one worth the trouble of a sentiment either of esteem or scorn: to exist as if without a soul, and to die also like a beast, is his destiny; the most wretched portion allotted to any. Yet he displays a heedless confidence in his own merits; and, not having much happiness staked on the issue of a request, is almost indifferent to a refusal ; while he dreams, all the time, that he has as good a chance of, and right to, being favourably heard, as any other candidate: still he would not put aught to hazard, unless for the sake of the one god of his idolatry. The first grows fond, from habit, of her with whom he has long associated; the second reasons himself into attachment; the third addresses himself to courtship, because the lady is the fashion, of station and influence, or because she has abilities to grace either situation, and his flame burns quickly, hotly, and angrily; the fourth in one or two interviews is fascinated, allowing imagination then to feed on the fancies they have kindled; the fifth, perceiving the advantages of the match, steps forward to propose it; and the sixth is advised to the proceeding by a crony, forthwith acceding to a belief in the damsel's attributes, and to the opinion that no time should be lost in the business.
“ It was Bassanio; as I think, so was he called.” True ; but the insertion of " as I think” is feminine: there is no necessity to waste thought in deliberating the truth of a known fact. However she might resolve to bear herself, the female still peeped forth : here was a lengthening out of the sentence devoted to her lover, that she might, as it were licensedly, meditate the longer on him. She frankly exhibits a girlish entertainment in counting and scanning her followers; and unaffectedly discovers a depth of affection in the cheerful, contented, respectful manner, though at heart a little sorry, in which she speaks of her father's will. We can conceive him something of an oddity, shrewd, merry, and happy ; when peevish or cross, smoothed to order by his placid, entertaining, and high-hearted daughter, who loved, while she noted, his clever eccentricity, on which her taste for mental philosophy revelled. A glad fellowship was maintained between this pair ; such an equal communion as was unknown to Brabantio and Desdemona, Capulet and Juliet. No confidence was withheld, for as yet there was no love affair to hide. There is more of sensuality, and less of imaginativeness, in Portia than in Desdemona ; and the former is desirous of a comely husband.
It is meet that Antonio should be introduced shadowed in sombre, as his part is always dolorous, relieving the brilliancy of the other actors. He is the only man who rises grandly before us, gaining, at the same time, our respectful affection. There is nothing harsh or ungainly in his character; his failings only render him more amiable; and we are interested by his causeless melancholy, the foreboding of ill; being naturally inclined to sympathise with the sufferer, rather than with the successful. His dependence for happiness on the love of others attaches us and his disinterested attachment to Bassanio, on whom he lavishes princely bounties, feeling it far better to give than to receive-his liberal mind, not contracted by merchandise, nor deeming it aught but a means to a greater end—and his noble fearlessness of evil; generous animals are ever rashest. So amiable an old bachelor is he, that his acquaintances give him credit for being amorous : we imagine him once to have loved, and been beloved, by a faithful fair one, whose grave was her bridal bed—and sorrow, fidelity to her memory, a happy lot, a contented temper, a wedding to old habits, a sly dislike to run a chance of being rejected, kept him single; and an imaginativeness which led him to fix on youth rather than on congenial years, causing him sometimes to witness the triumphant wooing of his idol by another, he himself having been tardy from a diffident consciousness of unworthiness to possess the peerless princess, who is more loftily enthroned in his fond meditations than in those of the ostensible lover; and a formation to be the consoling, assisting, and more passive confidant, rather than the actor in such stirring scenes ; a luxurious indolence, and a pampered inertness held him still unmarried. He is clear-sighted, and untormented by mental ambition ; his employment lying in another way, and demanding care for to-day rather than fame for to-morrow. He leads the happiest kind of life, performing the needful cheerfully and well, and pleasantly idling the rest of his days, which recreation, from the contrast of occupation, is the more relished: he does not task himself to neverending labours ; he is not pained by a restlessness of the brain, forcing him to ceaseless toil. Yet, recollecting his disappointment, his loneliness, his hopelessness of changing his state, in the gloom of a moment he terms his fate a sad one. But he is not hence fretful or disagreeable ; his temper is one that can rarely be ruffled; and this the rolicking Gratiano knew full well, or he would not have ventured to read him an impertinent lecture. Antonio is without self-sufficiency; for, accepting the joke, he defends not himself; and the selfcomplacent cannot endure even in jest to be taxed, being inflamed by the very notion of censure.
The light-hearted Bassanio is a finished courtier ; neither his affection nor his policy permit him to let Gratiano's accusation rest unanswered, undervaluing his ability and its accuracy. Our heart warms to an extravagant one like Bassanio, from an instinctive persuasion that the prodigal's delight consists in diffusing happiness, augmenting comfort, lessening misery, relieving want, supplying necessities ; carrying his fortunes, as in a sieve, to rain them on all more than on himself, who comes in but for the droppings which are whiffed aside in the descent. Universal benevolence is in his heart, and though he is not usually the beau ideal of a superfine lover, yet he is a favourite of woman, who sincerely admires him. He has a voluptuous enjoyment in the gifts of life, health, wealth, beauty, wit, genius ; and almost a capability to embody the felicity he savours. But, like Bassanio, he must be honourable to insure esteem, friendship, and love. Between two estimable friends there is always more of ceremony than amongst the base ; more of due consideration reciprocally for the likings and opinions of each. The unworthy, who hold each other by the hip, and can at any instant feed fat their ancient grudges, explode formality and courteousness. Besides, it is incumbent on the beggar to have deference for the donor ; and the latter, who, like Antonio, assumes no state, commends himself vastly to us. Though Bassanio augurs auspiciously, he is by no means confident of the success of his suit; only the foolish are so.
And we should not be without a certain regard for Shylock, who gives zest to the piece, and has many good points; his virtues are his own, his failings originate in circumstances. He is an untiring thinker ; a perseveringly unwearied doer ; self-sacrificing and selfdenying; shrewd, witty, talented, ambitious; one that, only for his nation, must have reached a prouder estate than the more popular Antonio, who had not the same perpetual vigour and emulation; happy coincidences shared in the attainment of his prosperity, while that of Shylock was attributable to his own indefatigable powers. His forbidding independence interests us his solid sense—his comprehensive view of subjects—the shameless honesty of his confessions of inmost feelings--his sturdy opinionativeness, coupled with the apparent humility of his sneaking deportment-his deficiency of veneration for those in fame and fortune, contrasted with the paltry admiration of such exhibited by most men—his patriotism, manifested by his heartfelt allusions to tribe and nation—and even his contempt of Antonio's senseless and ill-judged avoidance of interest in his money dealings. Its abuse was to be denied ; it was otherwise with its use: he might generously forgive when the debtor was incapable; but by making a