Page images

and the complexion of a devil, I had rather he should shrive me than wive me. Come, Nerissa.Sirrah, go before.-Whiles we shut the gate upon one wooer, another knocks at the door.

Venice. A publick Place.

Enter BASSANIO and Shylock.
Shy. Three thousand ducats-well.
Bass. Ay, sir, for three months.
Shy. For three months,— well.

Bass. For the which, as I told you, Antonio shall be bound.

Shy. Antonio shall become bound - well.

Bass. May you stead me? Will you pleasure me? Shall I know your answer?

Shy. Three thousand ducats, for three months, and Antonio bound.

Bass. Your answer to that.
Shy. Antonio is a good man.
Bass. Have you heard any imputation to the contrary?

Shy. Ho, no, no, no, no;-my meaning, in saying he is a good man, is to have you understand me, that he is sufficient: yet his means are in supposition: he hath an argosy bound to Tripolis, another to the Indies; I understand moreover upon the Rialto, he hath a third at Mexico, a fourth for England, and other ventures he hath, squander'd abroad: But ships are but boards, sailors but men: there be land-rats, and water-rats, waterthieves, and land-thieves; I mean, pirates; and then, there is the peril of waters, winds, and rocks: The man, is notwithstanding, sufficient;-three thousand ducats;~I think, I may take his bond.

Bass. Be assured you may.

Shy. I will be assured, I may; and, that I may be assured, I will bethink me: May I speak with Antonio?

Bass. If it please you to dine with us.

Shy. Yes, to smell pork; to eat of the habitation which your prophet, the Nazarite, conjured the devil into:6 I

5 the condition -] i. e. the temper, qualities. So, in Othello: “ and then, of so gentle a condition » Malone.

will buy with you, sell with you, talk 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?

Enter ANTONIO. Bass. This is signior Antonio.

Shy. [Aside] How like a fawning publican he tooks! I hate him for he is a christian: ." och 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 once upon the hip, I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him. i, He hates our sacred nation; and he rails, : Even there where merchants most no congregate; On me, my bargains, and my well-won thrift, Which he calls interest: Cursed be my tribe, If I forgive him! Bass.

Shylock, do you hear?
Shy. I am debating of my present store;
And, by the near guess of my memory,
I cannot instantly raise up the gross
Of full three thousand ducăts: What of that?
Tubal, a wealthy Hebrew of my tribe,
Will furnish me: But soft; How many months
Do you desire?--Rest you fair, good signior; [T. ANT.
Your worship was the last man in our mouths.

Ant. Shylock, albeit I neither lend nor borrow,
By taking, nor by giving of excess,
Yet, to supply the ripe wants of my friend, 8

6 — the habitation which your prophet, the Nazarite, conjured the devil into:] Perhaps there is no character through all Shakspeare, drawn with more spirit, and just discrimination, than Shylock's. His language, allusions, and ideas, are every where so appropriate to a Jew, that Shylock might be exhibited for an exemplar of that peculiar people. Henley.

7 If I can catch him once upon the hip,] This, Dr. Johnson observes, is a phrase taken from the practice of wrestlers; and (he might have added) is an allusion to the angel's thus laying hold on Jacob when he wrestled with him. See Gen. xxxii, 24, &c.

Henley. 8 — the ripe wants of my friend,] Ripe wants are wants come to the height, wants that can have no longer delay. Perhaps we might read-rife wants, wants that come thick upon him. Fohnson.

I'll break a custom:-Is he yet possess'd,"
How much you would?

Ay, ay, three thousand ducats. Ant. And for three months.

Shy. I had forgot--three months, you told me so.
Well then, your bond; and, let me see, But hear you;
Methought, you said, you neither lend, nor borrow,
Upon advantage.

I do never use it.
Shy. When Jacob graz’d his uncle Laban's sheep,
This Jacob from our holy Abraham was
(As his wise mother wrought in his behalf)
The third possessor; ay, he was the third.

Ant. And what of him? did he take interest?

Shy. No, not take interest; not, as you would say, Directly interest: mark what Jacob did. When Laban and himself were compromis'd, That all the eanlingswhich were streak’d, and pied, Should fall as Jacob's hire; the ewes, being rank, In the end of autumn turned to the rams: And when the work of generation was Between these woolly breeders in the act, The skilful shepherd peel'd'me certain wands, 2 And, in the doing of the deed of kind, 3 He stuck them up before the fulsome ewes;

Ripe is, I believe, the true reading. So, afterwards:

“ But stay the very riping of the time.” Malone. Again, in A Midsummer Night's Dream:

“Here is a brief how many sports are ripe.Steevens. 9- possess'd,] i. e. acquainted, informed. So, in Twelfth Night : Possess us, possess us, tell us something of him.”

Steevens. 1— the eanlings -] Lambs just dropt: from ean, eniti.

Musgrave. 2- certain wands,] A wand in our author's time was the usual term for what we now call a switch. Malone.

3- of kind,] i.e. of nature. So, Turbervile, in his book of Falconry, 1575, p. 127 :

“ So great is the curtesy of kind, as she ever seeketh to recompense any defect of hers with some other better benefit.” Again, in Drayton's Mooncalf:

“— nothing doth so please her mind,

“ As to see mares and horses do their kind.Collins. 4- the fulsome ewes;] Fulsome, I believe, in this instance,

Who, then conceiving, did in eaning time
Fall party-colour'd lambs, and those were Jacob's.5
This was a way to thrive, 6 and he was blest;
And thrift is blessing, if men steal it not.

Ant. This was a venture, sir, that Jacob serv'd for;
A thing not in his power to bring to pass,
But sway'd, and fashion'd, by the hand of heaven.
Was this inserted to make interest good?
Or is your gold and silver, ewes and rams?

Shy. I cannot tell; I make it breed as fast:7-
But note me, signior.

Mark you this, Bassanio,

means lascivious, obscene. The same epithet is bestowed on the night, in Acolastus his After-Witte. By S. N. 1600:

Why shines not Phæbus in the fulsome night?”' In the play of Muleasses the Turk, Madam Fulsome a Bawd is introduced. The word, however, sometimes signifies offensive in smell. So, in Chapman's version of the 17th Book of the Odyssey:

"— and fill'd his fulsome scrip,” &c. Again, in the dedication to Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, p. 63: “noisome or fulsome for bad smells, as butchers' slaughter houses,” &c.

It is likewise used by Shakspeare in King John, to express some quality offensive to nature:

" And stop this gap of breath with fulsome dust." Steevens. Minsheu supposes it to mean nauseous in so high a degree as to excite vomiting. Malone. 5- and those were Facob's.] See Genesis, xxx, 37, &c.

Steevens. 6 This was a way to thrive, &c.] So, in the ancient song of Gernutus the Few of Venice:

ás His wife must lend a shilling,

For every weeke a penny,
“ Yet bring a pledge that is double worth,

“If that you will have any.
“ And see, likewise, you keepe your day,

“Or else you lose it all:
“ This was the living of the wife,

“Her cow she did it call.” Her cow, &c. seems to have suggested to Shakspeare Shylock's argument for usury. Percy.

? - I make it breed as fast:] So, in our author's Venus and Adonis :

“Foul cank’ring rust the hidden treasure frets ; *" But gold that's put to use more gold begets." Malone.

The devil can cite scripture for his purpose. 8
An evil soul, producing holy witness,
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek;
A goodly apple rotten at the heart:
0, what a goodly outside falshood hath !9

Shy. Three thousand ducats,'tis a good round sum. Three months from twelve, then let me see the rate.

Ant. Well, Shylock, shall we be beholden to you?

Shy. Signior Antonio, many a time and oft,
In the Rialto you have rated me
About my monies, and my usances: 1
Still have I borne it with a patient shrug;2
For sufferance is the badge of all our tribe:
You call me-misbeliever, cut-throat dog,
And spits upon my Jewish gaberdine,
And all for use of that which is mine own.
Well then, it now appears, you need my help:
Go to then; you come to me, and you say,
Shylock, we would have monies: You say so;

8 The devil can cite scripture &c.] See St. Matt. iv, 6. Henley.

90, what a goodly outside falshood hath!'] Falshood, which as truth means honesty, is taken here for treachery and knavery, does not stand for falshood in general, but for the dishonesty now operating. Johnson.

1— my usances :] Use and Usance are both words anciently employed for usury, both in its favourable and unfavourable sense. So, in The English Traveller, 1633:

“Give me my use, give me my principal.” Again:

“A toy; the main about five hundred pounds,

“ And the use fifty.” Steevens. Usance, in our author's time, I believe, signified interest of mo. ney. It has been already used in this play in that sense :

“ He lends out money gratis, and brings down

“ The rate of usance with us here in Venice.” Again, in a subsequent part, he says, he will take “no doit of usance for his monies.” Here it must mean interest Malone.

2 Still have I borne it with a patient shrug;1 So, in Marlowe's Few of Malta, (written and acted before 1593) printed in 1633:

« I learn’d in Florence how to kiss my hand,

Heave up my shoulders when they call me dogge,Malone. 3 And spit -] The old copies always read spet, which spelling is followed by Milton: “

the womb “Of Stygian darkness spets her thickest gloom.” Steevens.

« PreviousContinue »