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prompter's books. Thus, nine in ten at least of those who read the play are not only deprived of the benefit of some of the most excellent
passages of the poet, but are shut out from the knowledge that such passages ever had existence. Let the reader judge whether we are correct or otherwise, from the following specimens. Morochius, a prince of Morocco, who is one of Portia's suiters, opens the second act with the following charming speech:
Mor. “ Mislike me not for my complexion,
Portia. In terms of choice I am not solely led
Mor. Even for that I thank you;
Miss that which one unworthier may attain,
Since we have entered on the subject of those excisions from the play, we will go on with it, and, by quoting the parts cut out, show how much is lost to the admirers of poetry. Morochius being brought to the caskets, ponders upon the choice he shall make in the following speech:
Some god direct my judgment!-Let me see,
says the silver with her virgin hue?
To think so base a thought; it were too gross
Portia. Here, take it, prince, and if my form lie there,
Mor. O hell! what have we here?
“ All that glitters is not gold;
In this speech of Morochius there are some delightful effusions of poetic fancy; and the lines found inscrolled in the casket contain some noble moral truths, which ought not to be lost to the audience. But still superior to these, in the loftiness of the flights and truth of characteristic expression, as well as in sterling moral wisdom, are the speeches of the prince of Arragon, another suiter of the fair Portia. Being conducted by her to the caskets, he opens his observations with the pertinent, unceremonious solemnity of a high Spaniard.
I am enjoin'd by oath to observe three things:
Portia. To these injunctions every one doth swear,
That comes to hazard for my worthless self. VOL. III.
Arrag. And so have I addrest me: :-fortune, now To my heart's hope!-Gold, silver, and base lead. “Who chooseth me, must give and hazard all he hath:” You shall look fairer, ere I give or hazard. What says the golden chest?-Ha!-let me see“Who chooseth me, shall gain what many men desire." What many men desire!—That many may be meant Of the fool multitude, that choose by show, Not learning more than the fond eye doth teach; Which pries not to the interior, but, like the martlet, Builds in the weather on the outward wall, Even in the force and road of casualty. I will not choose what many men desire, Because I will not jump with common spirits, And rank me with the barbarous multitude. Why, then to thee, thou silver treasure-house, Tell me once more what title thou dost bear: “Who chooseth me, shall get as much as he deserves;" And well said too: for who shall go about To cozen fortune, and be honourable, Without the stamp of merit?-Let none presume To wear an undeserved dignity. O that estates, degrees, and offices Were not deserv'd corruptly! And that clear honour Were purchas'd by the merit of the wearer! How many then should cover that stand bare? How many be commanded that command? How much low peasantry would then be gleaned From the true seed of honour, and how much honour Pick'd from the chaff and ruin of the times, To be new-varnish’d? Well, but to my choice: “ Who chooseth me, shall get as much as he deserves." I will assume desert; give me a key for this, And instantly unlock my fortunes here.
Portia. Too long a pause for that which you find here.
Arrag. What's here? The portrait of a blinking idiot, Presenting me a schedule?-I will read it. How much unlike art thou to Portia! How much unlike my hopes and my deservings! Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves! Did I deserve no more than a fool's head? Is that my prize!–Did I deserve no better?
Portia. To offend and judge are distinct offices, and Of opposed natures.
The more the nature and importance of these passages are considered, with a view to the author's intention, as well as to the entirety of the drama, the more cause there will appear to wonder at the motives of those who first set the example of disfiguring it, and to condemn the taking of such an injudicious, unwarrantable liberty. It would not be truth to say they are digressive. The play consists of two actions, founded on two separate, remote original stories that of the bond for the pound of flesh, and that of the caskets, which stories Shakspeare has so conducted as to make them mutually aid each other, but each of which is so constructed as to unfold itself. The characters of the two suiters, Morochius and Arragon, are as necessary to the full development of the casket plot, as Tubal or Launcelot to the accomplishment of the plot of the bond. This appears not only from the chasm which the excision of them makes in the progressive explanation of the story, but from the care and amount of mind bestowed upon them by the poet: for where has he exhibited more studious art, where displayed more captivating or affecting sentiment? In the scenes with those suiters the fable is cleared up in a gradual order calculated to unfold to the audience, in a natural way, the particular provision in the will of Portia's father, by which she is bound on the subject of marriage. By the two several disappointments of those two suiters, the mind is better prepared for the successful adventure of the third, and the contents of all the caskets are thereby laid open as they should be to the audience. But how is it, as now acted?-The story, of itself sufficiently improbable, is rendered more difficult of belief and unintelligible by being left without explana. tion till Bassanio comes to the caskets; when scraps, taken from the speeches of Morochius and the prince of Arragon, are, through