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intends to cast ridicule both on the Prophet and the relation of what passed in the country of the Gadarenes, over against Galilee.
The Christian reader must do Shakespeare the justice to remember that he is sketching the belief, the character, and conduct of a Jew. Indeed, the spirit of the Israelite shines through every word: “ Yes, to smell PORK!" as a man would say, ironically, 'Of course I shall do that! You would like nothing better than to subject me to such a discipline, that you might enjoy the fun, as boys do the miseries of a dog whom they have tortured by a kettle tied to his tail;-oh, yes! of course, a true believer of my experience will dine with you, To smell pork; to eat of the habitation into which the devil was conjured by your PROPHET, the NÁZARITE, (the Lord help us, such a prophet, made out of a thing unworthy to be a priest, because he is not a Levite, and one who severs himself from the tribes, and mortifies his appetites by pretending devotion, merely to bring himself within the scope of a peculiar law, that he may avoid going to war, and performing other duties) Of course, I say, I shall dine with you, to be amused by a relation of the bit of conjuring practised by your Nazarite Prophet with Legion and the herd of swine.'
That this contempt, not only of a Nazarite, but of a Nazarene, existed among the Jews, is clear, from the 4th verse of the 1st chapter of St. John, “And Nathaniel said unto him, Can any good thing come out of Nazareth ?" And again from Acts, xxiv. v. 5, in which Tertullus accusing St. Paul before Felix, says, “ For we have found this man a pestilent fellow and a mover of sedition among the Jews, throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.” Shylock then adds,—I will buy with you, sell with you, talk with you, walk with you, and so following; but it excites my contempt, even to laughter, for you to suppose that one of God's chosen people would attend your unclean orgies, for no better object than the pleasure of speaking with Antonio. Come, let us change the subject. “What news on the Rialto? Who is he comes here?”
Bassanio. This is Signior Antonio.
Shylock. (aside.) How like, a fawning publican, he looks! I hate him, for he is a Christian, But more for that, in low simplicity, He lends out money gratis, and brings down The rate of usance here with us in Venice. If I can catch him on the hip, I'll feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him. The next enthusiastic burst, which marks the pride of the descendant of Jacob, will be found in the following:
Shylock. Methought you said you neither lend nor borrow upon advantage. * Antonio.—I do never use it.
Shylock. When Jacob grazed his uncle Laban's sheep. This Jacob from our holy Abraham was,
(As his wise mother WROUGHT IN H18 BERALF,)
Again the actors have misunderstood one of the finest allusions in the play. The reader will remember the part taken by Rebecca, the wife of Isaac and mother of Jacob, to obtain his father's blessing for him, in preference to Esau, the elder son (Genesis, chap. xxvii.) It was by this act of hers that Jacob became the third possessor; and for this deceit, Shylock thinks her entitled to great praise, not only as it shewed the superior cunning of the woman on behalf of her favorite son, but as it was the means through which the greatness of the Israelites was accomplished, for it drove Jacob to Laban, and from Jacob the whole of the tribes were descended. Shylock therefore says with great exultation, “Aye, he was the third," whereas the actors have uttered the line as if Shylock doubted whether Jacob were the third, or a subsequent possessor,-a point of genealogy, not only thoroughly well known to Shylock, but to every Jew who has lived from the time of Jacob to the present hour. The justification of taking breed of metal, under the name of interest, follows, by Shylock's referring to what passed with Laban, as recorded in Genesis, chap. xxx. and he concludes a speech of exquisite subtlety by saying,
This thrift is blessing, if men steal it not..
alluding to the commandment first quoted, which speaks of laying usury on a stranger, and says, “ That God may bless thee in all thou settest thine hand to, in the land whither thou goest to
Antonio. Was this inserted to make interest good, -
Shylock, I cannot tell.-I make them breed as fast. Shylock being now satisfied of the serious purpose of the parties to borrow from him, and that the terms alone remain to be discussed, determines to tell the Christian a little of his mind; and accordingly, in answer to Antonio's— ere, Well, Shylock-shall we be beholden to you? says .
Signor Antonio, many a time, and oft
And all for use of that which is mine own.
Go to then: you come to me, and you say ; Shylock, we would have monies :—you say so,
You, that did void your rheum upon my beard,
Shall I bend low, and in a bondsman's key
Thus taunted, Antonio with great bitterness says
I am as like to call thee so again,
This one speech shows the strength of Antonio's own prejudices, and his little forbearance towards the prejudices of others.—He speaks of the breed of barren metal; by which it is clear he means interest of money: and either intends to scoff at the distinction between brothers and strangers raised by the law of Moses before alluded to, and which Shylock regards as a religious obligation, or he himself adopts the same distinction, by admitting the justice of putting friends and foes on a different footing,-a doctrine quite at variance with the code of a Christian. .. .in
The reply of Shylock is perfectly beautiful-s0