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the Jew for selling his life, which he said' was suicide, and the Merchant for the premeditated murder of the Jew.
Sixtus, however, who did not really design to put them to death, but to deter others from such practices, ultimately released both, after making each
pay 2000 crowns to an hospital. t.. Those who have read the Merchant of Venice with attention, cannot fail to admire the consummate skill with which Shakespeare has adapted the above-related incident, to meet and flatter a popular prejudice, by making the Malignant a Jew instead of a Christian, whilst he excites deep sympathy for the Christian debtor by involving his life in the mesh weaved by the superior artifice of his Jewish creditor, who under cloak of an act of liberality in a sportive merry mood, and in compliance with the forms and customs of loans, which require some penalty to be named in a bond, veils the malicious purpose of “feeding fat,” an ancient grudge in case the least default should be made on the day fixed for payment. This is one of the many points, on which the poet has seized with admirable dexterity, but whose intentions appear to have been altogether misunderstood, or misrepresented, by those who have personated Shylock on the stage. ptil Shakespeare's character of Shylock impresses the reader with the notion of a Jew of advanced age, of great wealth and pecuniary consequence in
Venice, bearing “ with patient shrug" the scoffs and indignities heaped upon him by the enemies of his sacred nation,-a man, who in addition to the wrongs which he suffers in common with his tribe, has been personally spit upon, kicked, and called the most opprobrious names by the Christian merchant, Antonio, who he says disgraced him and hindered him of half a million, laughed at his losses, mocked at his gains, scorned his nation, thwarted his bargains, cooled his friends, heated his enemies, and he asks “ What is his reason ?
“ I am a Jew! “ Hath not a Jew eyes?--hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions ? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we
in the rest we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility?-revenge! If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be, by Christian example? why, revenge!"
Under this sense of feeling, Shylock, a complete enthusiast in his religious opinions, is applied to, by Bassanio, for the loan of three thousand ducats, on security of the bond of the very Antonio from whom Shylock has suffered so much indignity; and who he says, like a low fool, lends out money gratis, thereby courting vulgar popularity, by seeking to bring down the rate of usance in Venice,-and
calling every Jew an Usurer who shall make money breed by interest.
In his practice of “lending on advantage,” as in every other of his acts, Shylock thinks himself fully justified by the express law of Moses, whose command it is a matter of conscience with him implicitly to obey, as will be manifested by what he says and does, throughout the play. The command is, “Unto a stranger, thou mayest lend upon usury, but unto thy brother, thou shalt not lend upon usury; that the Lord thy God may bless thee, in all thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it.” Shylock will lend to Tubal, and Tubal to Shylock, without interest, because they are brothers, of the same tribe; but a Christian is the stranger who is not to be put on the same footing as one of the sacred nation.
The first entrance of Shylock, is marked by consummate skill, and his introductory speeches fully develope his purpose to the audience. He enters, making Bassanio reiterate his proposals,not that Shylock had forgotten them, but that he wants confirmation of what he can scarcely bring himself to believe.
Shylock. Three thousand ducats-Well!
Bassanio. For the which, as I told you, Antonio shall be bound.
Shylock. ANTONIO shall become bound---Well!!! As much as to say, 'that is the music for my ear, which I was leading you to repeat.-It is ANTONIO shall become BOUND, and to me,- It is WELL, i'faith! and as I originally understood it.'
Bassanio. May you stead me? Will you pleasure me? Shall I know your answer? Then Shylock, who has instantly determined to lend the money at all events, provided Antonio will put himself even within reach“ of his danger,” by signing a bond, turns round to Bassanio, and to make assurance doubly sure, and to prevent the possibility of retraction or mistake, repeats
Three thousand ducats—for three months and ANTONIO BOUND !
Bassanio. Your answer to that.
Having determined to lend the money, but fearing to show himself too eager, Shylock now coquets, and begins to question the security.
Shylock. Antonio is a good man.
Bassanio. ' Have you heard any imputation to the contrary? ,,, Shylock. Ho no, no, no, no: my meaning in saying he is a good man, is to have you understand me that he is sufficient.
That is that he is a solvent man; and Shylock immediately goes on to show that although the man, as he calls him, is sufficient, still, that hiss means are in supposition, and most improvidently,
or as he would say prodigally, squandered all over the world: a fact proved by the result, as Antonio suddenly loses all his property as if by magic. He concludes the speech, which is replete with the cunning of a man well versed in bargain-making, by saying:
I think I may take his bond.
The coquetry of which is admirable, and only to be exceeded by the contemptuous chuckle with which he replies to Bassanio's “ Be assured you may,” by saying,
I will be assured I may. May I speak with Antonio?
Bassanio. If it please you to dine with us.
Shylock. Yes, to smell pork!—to eat of the habitation which your PROPHET the NAZARITE conjured the devil into: I will buy with you,
walk with you, and so following; but I will not eat with you, drink with you, nor pray with you. What news on the Rialto ? Who is he comes here?
This last speech is certainly one of the finest bursts in the play; and seems to have been altogether misunderstood by the actors, who have, uniformly, uttered it with "solemnity, as if Jews were deterred from eating pork by a belief in the fact of Jesus having driven the devils into the herd of swine, as related in the eighth chapter of St. Luke: Whereas, it is expressly commanded by the 11th of Leviticus, v. 7, that the flesh of the swine is unclean and not to be eaten, and Shylock