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THE MERCHANT OF VENICE,' like 'A Mid- lad was written before The Merchant of summer Night's Dream,' was first printed in Venice.' But this ballad of Gernutus' 1600; and it had a further similarity to that wants that remarkable feature of the play, play from the circumstance of two editions the intervention of Portia to save the life of appearing in the same year—the one bearing the Merchant; and this, to our minds, is the the name of a publisher, Thomas Heyes, the strongest confirmation that the ballad preother that of a printer, J. Roberts. The ceded the comedy. Shakspere found that play was not reprinted till it appeared in the incident in the source from which the ballad. folio of 1623. In that edition there are a writer professed to derive his history few variations from the quartos. All these
" In Venice towne not long agoe, editions present the internal evidence of
A cruel Jew did dwell, having been printed from correct copies.
Which lived all on usurie,
As Italian writers tell." • The Merchant of Venice' is one of the plays of Shakspere mentioned by Francis It was from an Ialian writer, Ser Giovanni, Meres in 1598, and it is the last mentioned the author of a collection of tales called 'Il in his list.
Pecorone,' written in the fourteenth century, Stephen Godson, who, in 1579, was moved and first published at Milan in 1558, that to publish a tract called 'The School of Abuse, Sbakspere unquestionably derived some of containing a pleasant invective against poets, the incidents of his story, although he might pipers, players, jesters, and such like cater- be familiar with another version of the same pillars of the commonwealth,' thus describes tale. a play of his time :-"The Jew, shown at “ It is well known,” says Mrs. Jameson, the Bull, representing the greedyness of " that 'The Merchant of Venice' is founded worldly choosers, and the bloody minds of on two different tales; and in weaving togeusurers." Whatever might have been the ther his double plot in so masterly a manner, plot of 'The Jew' mentioned by Gosson, the Shakspere has rejected altogether the chastory of the bond was ready to Shakspere's racter of the astutious lady of Belmont, with hand, in a ballad to which Warton first her magic potions, who figures in the Italian drew attention. He considers that the bal. novel. With yet more refinement, he has
thrown out all the licentious part of the and the lowly, the learned and the igno story, which some of his contemporary dra rant:matists would have seized on with avidity, “ There was in Asie, in a gret citee, and made the best or the worst of it pos- Amonges Cristen folk a Jewerie, sible; and he has substituted the trial of
Sustened by a lord of that contree,
For foul usure, and lucre of vilanie, the caskets from another source." That
Hateful to Crist, and to his compagnie.” source is the 'Gesta Romanorum.' In dealing with the truly dramatic subject
It was scarcely to be avoided in those of the forfeitare of the bond, Shakspere had times that even Chaucer, the most gennine to choose between one of two courses that and natural of poets, should lend his great lay open before him. The Gesta Roma. powers to the support of the popular belief norum' did not surround the debtor and the that Jews ought to be proscribed as creditor with any prejudices Wehearnothing
“ Hateful to Crist, and to his compagnie." of one being a Jew, the other a Christian. But we ought to expect better things when There is a remarkable story told by Gregorio we reach the times in which the principles Leti, in his 'Life of Pope Sixtus the Fifth,' of religious liberty were at least germinated. in which the debtor and creditor of 'The And yet what a play is Marlowe's 'Jew of Merchant of Venice' change places. The Malta,'-undoubtedly one of the most popudebtor is the Jew,--the revengeful creditor lar plays even of Shakspere's day, judging the Christian; and this incident is said to as we may from the number of performances have happened at Rome in the time of Sir recorded in Henslowe's papers! That drama, Francis Drake. This, no doubt, was a pure as compared with the 'Merchant of Venice,' fiction of Leti, whose narratives are by no has been described by Charles Lamb, with means to be received as authorities; but it his usual felicity "Marlowe's Jew does not shows that he felt the intolerance of the old approach so near to Shakspere's as his story, and endeavoured to correct it, though Edward II. Shylock, in the midst of his in a very inartificial manner. Shakspere savage purpose, is a man.
His motives, took the story as he found it in those narra feelings, resentments, have something human tives which represented the popular preju- in them. 'If you wrong us, shall we not dice. If he had not before him the ballad revenge ?' Barabas is a mere monster, of 'Gernutus' (upon which point it is difficult brought in with a large painted nose, to to decide), he had certainly access to the tale please the rabble. He kills in sport-poisons of the Pecorone.' If he had made the con- whole nunneries-invents infernal machines. test connected with the story of the bond He is just such an exhibition as, a century between two of the same faith, he would or two earlier, might have been played before have lost the most powerful hold which the the Londoners, by the Royal command, when subject possessed upon the feelings of an a general pillage and massacre of the Heaudience two centuries and a half ago. If brews had been previously resolved on in he had gone directly counter to those feel the cabinet." "The Jew of Malta' was ings (supposing that the story which Leti written essentially upon an intolerant prin. tells had been known to him, as some have ciple. "The Merchant of Venice,' whilst it supposed), his comedy would have been seized upon the prejudices of the multitude, hooted from the stage.
and dealt with them as a foregone conclusion "The Prioress's Tale' of Chaucer belonged by which the whole dramatic action was to to the period when the Jews were robbed, be governed, had the intention of making maimed, banished, and most foully vilified, those prejudices as hateful as the reaction of with the universal consent of the powerful cruelty and revenge of which they are the
• Characteristics of Women,' vol. I., p. 72.
DUKE OF VENICE.
Appeara, Act IV. sc. 1.
Appeara, Act II. sc. 9.
Appeara, Act II. sc. 1; sc. 7.
Act IV. sc. l.Act V. sc. I.
BASSANIO, friend to Antonio. Appears, Act I. sc. 1 ; sc. 3. Act II. sc. % Act III. sc. 2.
Act IV. sc. 1. Act V. sc. l. SOLANIO, friend to Antonio and Bassanio.
Appears, Act I. sc. 1. Act II. SC. 4; sc. 8.
Act IIl. sc. 1; sc. 2, Act IV. sc. l. SALARINO, friend to Antonio and Bassanio. Appears, Act I. sc. 1. Act II. sc. 4; sc. 6; sc. 8.
Act 111. sc. 1; sc. & Act IV. sc. 1. GRATTANO, friend to Antonio and Bassanio.
Appears, Act I. sc. 1. Act II. sc. 2; sc. 4; sc. 6.
LORENZO, in love with Jessica.
SHYLOCK, a Jew.
Act IV. sc. 1.
TURAL, A Jew, friend to Shylock.
Appears, Act III. sc. l.
Act V. sc. 1.
Appears, Act II. sc. 2.
Appeara, Act II. sc. 2.
Appears, Act III. sc. 4.
Appears, Act V. sc. I.
PORTIs, a rich heiress. Appears, Act I. sc. 2. Act II. sc. 1; sc. 7; sc. 9. Act III. sc. 9; sc. 4. Act IV. sc. 1; sc. 2. Act V. sc. l.
NERISSA, waiting-maid to Portia. Appears, Act I. sc. 2. Act II. sc. l; sc. 7; sc. 9. Act III. sc. 2; sc. 4. Act IV. sc. l; sc. 2. Act V. sc. I.
JESSICA, daughter to Shylock.
Appears, Act II. sc. 3; sc. 5; sc. 6.
Act III. sc. 2; sc. 4; sc. 5. Act V. sc. 1. Magnificoes of Venice, Officers of the Court
of Justice, Gaoler, Servants, and other Attendants.
SCENE,—PARTLY AT VENICE ; AND PARTLY AT BELMONT, THE SEAT OF PORTIA, ON
• Salarino. Nothing can be more confused than the manner in which the names of Salarino and Solanio are indicated in the folio of 1623. Neither in that edition, nor in the quartos, is there any enumeration of characters. In the text of the folio we find Salarino and Slarino; Salanio, Solanio, and Salino. Further, in the third act we have a Salerio, who has been raised to the dignity of a distinct character by Steevens. Gratiano calls this Salerio “my old Venetian friend;" and there is no reason whatever for not receiving the name as a misprint of Solanio, or Salanio. But if there be confusion even in these names when given at length in the text, the abbreviations prefixed to the speeches are “confusion worse confounded." Salanio begins with being Sal, but he immediately turns into Sola., and afterwards to Sol.; Salarino is at first Salar., then Sala., and finally Sal. We have adopted the distinction which Capell recommended to prevent the mistake of one abbreviation for another-Solan. and Salar.; and we have in some instances deviated from the usual assignment of the speeches to each of these characters, following for the most part the quarto, which in this particular is much less perplexed than the folio copy. The modern editors appear to have exercised only their caprice in this matter; and thus they have given Salarino and Solanio alternate speeches, after the fashion of Tityrus and Melibæus; whereas Salarino is decidedly meant for the liveliest and the greatest talker.
What stuff 't is made of, whereof it is born,
That I have much ado to know myself.
There, where your argosies with portly sail',
As they fly by them with their woven wings.
The better part of my affections would
Would make me sad.
My wind, cooling my broth,
his merchandise. Ant. Believe me, no; I thank my fortune for it,
· Wealthy Andrew. Johnson explains this (which is scarcely necessary) as “the name of the ship;" but he does not point out the propriety of the name for a ship, in association with the great naval commander, Andrea Doria, famous through all Italy.
• Vailing her high-top. To vail is to let down: the high-top was shattered-fallen—when the Andrew was on the shallows.