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rule of the thing he marred the graciousness of the favour ; the rich were dealt with as the poor, destroying all sense of gratitude ; so that, except self-satisfaction, Antonio acquired nothing by the transaction. And Shylock hated him for his folly, as he esteemed it; and for his superiority, which left him unassailable. He was his rival, and he outrivalled him; he was a mark for praise, while he himself was a butt for contumely, which, as he was fond of profit, he returned with compound interest, inasmuch as his capabilities were greater than those of his persecutors. Shylock would be an opposer of the second covenant of grace;
he trusted to himself, and exemplified a preference of that of works. Antonio had goodly faith, which brought forth fruits. His adherence to truth, even to the disadvantage of his suit, we honour ; and we are fain to admire the subtlety and readiness of his opponent. But Antonio's was not an enlarged philosophy; he treated the Jew mercilessly, cruelly, brutally ; still he is hardly to blame, for he believed himself right: he was not, like Shylock, instigated by personal hatred, so much as by a hatred of the sin ; yet fleshly temper partly lent the stimulus. We are too anxious to condemn the man who thinks differently from ourselves; we are orthodox, forsooth, and void our spitefulness on the heterodox; and we are not always as excusable as the merchant by the ill conduct of the object of aversion; even when his deeds are as faultless as those of human beings can be, we shake our heads doubtingly, and fear that, in spite of external smiles, he is rotten at corea whitewashed sepulchre, in a word. The noblest characters are prone to this falling off: presumption is the bane of charity, though a staple commodity, and of use in its own way, writing sterling after the honesty of many folk whom it inflates. It, as it were, bespeaks solidity; a man must, in a measure, act up to his pretensions. Unprincipled scoundrels seldom find fault with the crimes of others; they stand too much in need themselves of forgiveness : when persons judge harshly, they are of some worth, or of much notable hypocrisy, which last, nearly as cleverly as genuine morality, faces society. But let us, who are arrogant, abate our pride; we, who, whatever we may affirm, cannot abide ridicule, are rendering ourselves the bitter scorn of those whom we slightingly run down. We never know, besides, when we may want those whom we neglect, as Antonio stood in exigence of Shylock; therefore, from interested motives,
ested motives, if not from principle, we should bridle our tongue, our actions, and, if possible, our thoughts.
We like Antonio's uncrouching inability, even when in his power, to be more civil to the Jew; his face to face acknowledgment that he regarded him as a foe, which was more than the latter had courage for. Iago had positively no grounds of offence, no incitement to revenge, so that we cannot tolerate his guilt ; while we voluntarily make allowance for, and more, almost pardon, almost relish, and certainly enjoy, the behaviour of Shylock. There is a small, droll, acute, laughable wit in the nature of the bond, with which, as the piece is a comedy, we may
and over which, in any case, a vicious hunchback would chuckle. Antonio, whose conscience is pleased, cannot conceive of another harbouring such incredible malice. Bassanio, a less excited spectator, and of greater reach of intellect, suspects a sinister
design; and we esteem his entreaties against its completion, though he intercedes to his own detriment. A sensitive person, appreciating the extent of service about to be performed, could not, let him be ever so interestedly inclined, avoid expressing his sense of obligation, and insight to the danger incurred by the creditor, who, blinded, as it were, by the passion of generosity, sees, and feels, and comprehends, no sight but the delightful. How triumphant is the craft of the Jew, while he laughs, not only at Antonio's beard, but at that of the more intellectual though less experienced Bassanio, persuading and overpowering both. The first believes—the last thinks it perhaps unreasonable, needless, and unwise, for his own welfare, further to doubt; resigning his advocation with a good grace, and deeming he has done enough to establish his foresight in the opinion of others, to exonerate his conscience in his own, and to manifest his affection in that of Antonio. But he is not insincere, for he still harps upon the strangeness of the occurrence. We are often dull prophets in our own concerns ; and headstrong, because deceived by self-love: how can others, against whom we have no present injurious plan, foster ill-will towards what we so fondly cherish ? Positive prohibition, which Bassanio did not essay, might, it may be, have better served the interests of the merchant. The internal merriment which Shylock experienced in the defeat of those who had trampled on him conferred a handsome premium on his villany. Yet who can hate him? He is our brother in misfortune: we are all good haters when tried; but we are so only at intervals; whereas he was fain to endure one continued martyrdom.
How tantalising is Shylock; and how much greater command of his temper does the well-bred Bassanio discover in his communications with him than the favourite of nature, Antonio! An uncertain position in life often qualifies ill humour. The Jew positively clings to his own style, because such obstinacy gladdens him and vexes Bassanio ; he is like a nettle, stinging all who approach him : besides, why should the millionnaire bend to an embarrassed man? There is as much cleverness and drollery as malignity and venom in his discourse. How pleasurable is our secret and veiled pride in an object despised by the world, but which we esteem precious beyond valuation !--and thus we can imagine poor Shylock's elation of spirit while he dwelt on sacred nation." Antonio, being good-natured, less eagerly railed on the Israelite in private places, but when stimulated by a host of merchants, who regarded him as their prince, and enjoyed the abasement of Shylock, who envied the success of the latter, and hated him especially for his good fortune; when encouraged by the air of enjoyment, and applauding voices of these associates, he was sometimes spirited on so far as to entail on his conscience a hesitation as to whether his conduct had been altogether right, soon however to be quieted, such is bigotry, because the injured object was only a Jew. And for a like cause, in such circumstances, neither were the laws of hospitality of any
avail; even in his own house he felt and exercised his power to taunt; an incident at the time apparently little heeded by Shylock, but which was stored up in his accurate memory, in due season to be fearfully revenged: by like unjust treatment we may raise the devil even in a guileless child. Shylock suffered more personal annoyance
from public attacks; he hated Antonio, however, more for his domestic ones.
How clear was his brain !-and he was not utterly devoid of principle; he respected his country's rites and traditions, and he talked himself into believing that he should be doing well to pursue a like course with
any of his honoured patriarchs. He would cheat, and deem it a fair trial of skill; he would extort; and so much as men, pressed by necessity originating in their imprudence or misfortunes, found themselves impelled to give, he would consider commendable to accept: but he would not steal. Every dog will have his day, and Shylock is not so simple as to let his pass unappropriated; Antonio must submit to a proper teasing and rating ; yet such seeming innocence as he displays in his justification, withal, nearly betraying himself by the cunning glimmer of mischief which twinkles in the corner of his quick, contracted eye.
If we are conscious of personal defects, and sensible of their possibly disagreeable effects, we will not allude to them, unless in presence of the most intimate friend ; and never in conversation with her whom we love, excepting we have first ascertained that such feelings are mutual ; and even then, only when long habit has bred sweet familiarity. He, with the widest capacity of love, does not vaunt of his ability ; he feels that his powers are beyond the force of words to express. When congeniality of soul has been manifested, he may discuss the hitherto unimagined fathomlessness of the charmingly mysterious depths of affection. Those of common capabilities are not aware of the deficiency of language; they fancy everything may be uttered ; and in this case it is truly so, for their speech is exaggeration, rather than the contrary; the grasp of their comprehension is limited. The truly courageous boast not of their prowess ; their bravery, to them, is less surprising—they recollect the moral effort of each essay, and they trust in being enabled henceforth to uphold their fame : their gallantry is produced by a combination of mental and animal qualifications, that of the boaster is more of a mere corporeal matter.
He who is nervously anxious as to the sequel of his attachment will not remind the lady of his imperfections : disagreeabilities announced disgust more than those on which we are silent; custom may lull a person to forgetfulness; mention the unpleasant theme, and every painful association is vividly recalled. Portia, though alive to a lack of beauty, might, and probably would, lose sight of ugliness in intellectual worthiness. One of superiority, who has been often loved, will be dumb on such topics to the queen of his affections until he has won her. Why should he put her, the peerless, on a par with others ? And might he not be suspected of doing so, if
, when he asked her love, he brought on the carpet that of others which had been given him ? Others have adored me, then why should not you? After she has offered herself as a willing sacrifice to him, he may narrate such anecdotes. Every bagatelle in which he has taken part, every unimportant affair with which he has been connected, is now of intense interest to her ; and that he has been sought by others, now enchances the value of his devotion to herself.
How courteous to the Moor is the gracious Portia! Unwilling to wound his vanity, her speech infers that his appearance will not tend
to his disadvantage. Then she casts from herself the onus of a refusal, which might render his intercourse with her unpalatable, to lay it truly on her fate. She teaches him that he is not to expect her to select him, nor to be hurt if she does not exercise her powers of choice, seeing that the ability does not lie in her to act on the spur of such selection. She consoled him by permitting him to fancy that her inclination towards him was possibly strong. She asserts everything agreeable, which may be stated with truth—that she had no greater, but a rather less leaning to the six previous suitors than to himself, none of whom had hazarded all for her, as the Moor was about to do: at least a vast deal was staked on the event, which bound him, if unhappy, never more to think of marriage. Even for so much he thanked her. A genuine lover would have demanded far more; until he secured it, never dreaming of resigning things to the issue of the caskets. The Moor dwelt more on the portion and person the mind of his lady. Portia has a firm confidence in destiny. She regards the testament of her father as demonstrative of his wit, rather than of his rash folly. She is persuaded, with Nerissa, that all will go right—she knows that all is ordered, and she believes that everything will be for the best.
The man who is silent as to his feats entices an imaginative woman far more than he who blazons every meritorious act. There is nothing left for the fancy to feed upon when, unasked, the particulars of each laudable deed are detailed. It is only eminently weak women who care to have set forth all the wonders which, for their sakes, their mighty lovers will perform. Others are too happy in the strength of that affection which is centred in themselves; if there is a needs-be for action they relish exertion, otherwise they think not of demanding it. The Moor displayed such confidence in his advance to the caskets, and in comparing himself with Hercules, and the candidate who should supplant him with Lichas, as Juliet could not have borne, though Portia found it easy to support, because she had a fixed consciousness of her own deserts. Those, like Portia, or, on the other hand, the very humble-minded, can best content themselves with self-importance. Juliet, alive to all the impediments of excellence, would not calculate on herself, and could hardly tolerate others counting on their merits. As the Moor was by no means sentimental, Portia was not at all so in her consolations. Yet it is evident that he dwells more on the probability of success than of failure. Portia, with woman's thoughtfulness and good hostess-ship, has dinner served in previously to the trial, guessing that either joy or sorrow would equally destroy the keenness of her prince's appetite, and that either termination might deprive her of her charming liberty of demeanour. By the first she would be transformed to his slave, comparatively; by the second she must likewise be restrained, fearful, if she developed her fascinations, to heighten his grief, or to appear, in his eyes, careless and almost glad of the event, which would be impolitic.
Bassanio is a complete gentleman; not juvenile and bashful, nor absorbed, like Romeo-selfishly devoted to the one whom he loves, and neglectful of all the world beside--not rough, and never endeavouring to please the female sex, like Othello. We fancy him about thirty years of age, comely and portly, with a bright, handsome countenance, rather than regular features; of the medium height, with a careless ease of deportment, and a courteous attention, withal, to those who seem to need his services; a favourite both with men and women, and an avowed admirer of the latter; still, not at all the foppish, feminine, lady's man; an agreeable converser, without being a great talker; of general information, without particular taste for one profession over another; of fully as happy a temperament, for a man, as Portia for a woman, though his circumstances were not entirely so prosperous; of less depth than Romeo, but, as he had more readiness, he would more quickly establish his fame; and if Romeo might to a greater degree fascinate the few, Bassanio would be more likely to attract the many: the latter had more tact, and an ambition for popularity, of which the former was devoid, who aspired but to the admiration of congenial spirits; Bassanio had more equanimity, and was more fitly framed to create the happiness of society; Romeo was a more picturesque lover; Bassanio, in the opinion of the crowd, a more amiable husband.
What self-deception Shylock exhibits in his parting admonitions to Launcelot Gobbol yet it was not so much that, as an instinctive and practical love of imposing on others, of believing in and demonstrating their folly. It is a luxury to praise ourselves, without being verbally contradicted by our auditor, though he may revenge himself by a mental reservation; a luxury to depreciate others in comparison of ourselves, almost fancying at the same time that we gain the point of establishing our own supremacy; and it may be so in our own case, though certainly not in that of the listener, such chat always militating against the speaker. We rise in arms against similar ill usage of friends, knowing that, as the orator abases them, he will, and does, lower ourselves. So brimful of cares is Shylock's brain, that he says, as well as thinks, twenty things in a breath. Some imagine that this doing of all works at once saves time; but they are egregiously mistaken. The man who receives one message will remember and execute it more clearly and satisfactorily than he to whom a score are in a heap delivered, to be jumbled confusedly in his mind, and, when occasion demands, separated or mingled as chance dictates. Besides, the employer, whose ideas are fixed on the second topic while he broaches the first, must, of necessity, make himself but indistinctly understood, though unaware of the imperfection. What lessons might there not be read to the housekeeper from Shylock's mismanagement ! Save a penny and lose a pound was his, and is many another's system; as well as incessant fault-finding : do this, and it pleases not; leave it undone, and you are farther still from the goal of affording satisfaction. Few can, and none will, if he can avoid it, put up with hard-hearted stinginess and perpetual grinding.
Instil hatred of others into your child's heart, and, ten to one, you are but teaching her to dislike yourself. We will not be guided by dictates against which our judgment rebels, though it might suit our purpose, if uninterfered with, so to tutor ourselves, or even to instruct another. We revolt against that yoke which is inflicted, not for our benefit, but to our injury, and purely to increase the means of effect