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All the actors in this have snarled at Tubaland spoken of the Turquoise as a ring, bought by Shylock of some one during his Bachelorship, of so high a money value as to be worth more than the accumulated prices of as many monkeys as would stock a wilderness. The author intended a very different reading. In the course of this fine scene, Shylock has been agitated by affection, avarice, rage, and revenge,now a flood of tenderness pours in on him.-It is evident that Leah was his wife, the mother of the ingrate who has robbed and deserted him—He has scarcely uttered the words 'I'll torture him, in the preceding speech, when as if by a visitation, he is himself TORTURED by Tubal. The turquoise, is said to be a precious stone found in the veins of the mountains on the Eastern confines of Persia-indicating, by its change of colour, variations in the health of the wearer, and acting as a charm for the promotion of happiness between a married couple. The Poet has chosen the name of Leah, evidently because the despised wife of Jacob was so called (Genesis, xxix). With this explanation, the reader will at once see the author's meaning.–At the mention of the turquoise, the desolate old man thinks of his boyish days in which it was given to him, by the first object of his love, to serve as a charm for their future happiness, and as the means by which she might watch his health:--That wife bore him a daughter,
and they were happy-How altered now is his situation? he is carried away by the recollection, and in a burst of tears and tenderness, declares he would not have parted with it, for all the monkeys in the world.
TUBAL. But Antonio is certainly undone. Again poor Shylock is dashed by his well-meaning, but injudicious friend, upon another of the rocks which have wrecked his peace, and he says,
“Nay, that's true that's very true. Go, Tubal, seek me an officer, bespeak him a fortnight before; I'll have the heart of him if he forfeit; for were he out of Venice, I can make what merchandize I will-Go, go, Tubal, and meet me at our Synagogue; go, good Tubal-at our Synagogue, Tubal.”
ACT IV. SCENE 1.
The fourth and last, like the three preceding scenes of Shylock, abounds in Scriptural allusions, none of which have ever been noticed on the stage.
The three thousand ducats not having been forthcoming on the day fixed for the payment, the forfeit has become the due of the bond. And Shylock has sworn to have the forfeit. He says, “I have an oath in heaven: shall I lay perjury upon my soul? No, not for Venice.” It is certainly repugnant to the feelings of any human being, in the present day, whether Jew or Christian, that a man should seek a justification for an act of atrocity, by alleging, that as he had sworn to do it, he was bound to its commission. In a religious point of view, the contemplation of the act is nearly as culpable as its performance. It is not intended here to discuss metaphysical distinctions between the will and the power to do wrong. Before an earthly tribunal, man can only be tried by his actions. If it were otherwise, the judge on the bench might be found as guilty as the prisoner at the bar. Dr. Haslam, (whose splendid lectures on the human mind must hand
down his name to posterity as one of the most extraordinary persons that ever lived,) was once asked by an advocate whether a supposed lunatic was of sound mind, -to which he replied. “In my opinion, the Deity alone can be of sound, mind; for a being of sound mind would be free from the weaknesses, frailties, infirmities, and vices of human nature.” So Shakespeare, in displaying the passion of revenge in the person of his Jew, has made the oath almost an inevitable weakness consequent on, and arising out of his imperfect nature, or, as Haslam would say, his unsound mind, in misconstruing the laws of Moses, which he was enthusiastically bent on obeying.
It may be well, in this place, to consider the leading influences under which Shylock is represented to have acted. He considers his tribe as the chosen people of God, and would think it an offence to do away with the distinctions which he is taught by the Old Testament were made by the Deity himself in their favour. He justifies the lending money at interest, (for usury and interest are used synonymously,) by the command rehearsed in Deuteronomy, xxiii. which says, “ Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury, but unto thy Brother thou shalt not lend upon usury.” Some cavillers have remarked on the use of the word mayest, in the one case, and the word shalt in the other.-A living author, also,
has alleged that the Israelites were mere agriculturalists; whereas, the Egyptians, by travelling as merchants, made a profit on the merchandize bought with the money lent; and therefore it was that the Israelites laid usury on them. These nice speculations, however, cannot do away with the broad distinctions every where raised throughout the Old Testament in favour of the chosen people. It seems unnecessary to multiply, instances, or many might be quoted; but perhaps the following will suffice. “ And if thy brother that dwelleth by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee, thou shalt - not compel him to serve as a bondsman, but as an hired servant and as a sojourner he shall be with thee.”“For they are my servants, which I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: they shall not be sold as bondmen.”-“Both thy bondmen and thy bondmaids which thou shalt have shall be of the Heathens that are round thee; of them shall you buy bondmen and bondmaidens.. * In making his oath, or more strictly speaking, his vow, to devote Antonio, Shylock thinks himself as much justified as he is in laying interest on a stranger. “If a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath, to bind his soul with a bond, he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.” (Numbers, xxx. V.2.)-"Notwithstanding no devoted thing that a man shall devote unto the Lord,