Imatges de pÓgina

• SCENE III. "He lends out money gratis, and brings down The rate of usance here with us in Venice." When the commerce of Venice extended over

the whole civilised world, and Cyprus, Candia, and the Morea, were her dependencies (which was the case during a part of Shakspere's century), the city was not only the resort of strangers from all lands, but the place of residence of merchants of every nation, to whom it was the policy of the state to afford every encouragement and "commodity." Much of this convenience consisted in the lending of capital, which was done by the Jews, to the satisfaction of the government. These Jews were naturally feared and disliked by their merchant debtors; but while they were essential to these very parties, and countenanced by the ruling powers, they throve, to the degree declared by Thomas, in his History of Italy,' published in 1561,ten years before the republic lost Cyprus.

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About my moneys, and my usances." Upon this passage Douce observes,-"Mr. Steevens asserts that use and usance anciently signified usury, but both his quotations show the contrary." Ritson and Malone both state that usance signifies interest of money. And so usury formerly did. It is evident, from Bacon's masterly Essay on Usury,' in which he has anticipated all that modern political economy has given us on the subject, that usury meant interest at any rate. One of the objections, he says, which is urged against usury is, "that it is against nature for money to beget money."

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"It is almost incredyble what gaine the Venetians receive by the usurie of the Jewes,



THE stage direction of the quartos is curious, as
exhibiting a proof that some attention to cos-
tume prevailed in the ancient theatres :—
"Enter Morochus, a tawny Moore all in white,
and three or foure followers accordingly, with
Portia, Nerrissa, and their trains."

of these, some are among the most respectable
and enlightened of the citizens. The Jews who
people their quarter are such as are unable to
rise out of it. Its buildings are ancient and
lofty, but ugly and sordid. "Our Synagogue”
is, of course, there. Judging by the commotion
among its inhabitants when the writer traversed '
it, it would seem that strangers rarely enter the

12 SCENE II." Which is the way to master quarter. It is situated on the canal which leads


It does not appear that the Jews (hardly used everywhere) had more need of patience in Venice than in other states. The same traditional reports against them exist there as elsewhere, testifying to the popular hatred and prejudice but they were too valuable a part of a commercial population not to be more or less considered and taken care of. An island was appropriated to them; but they long ago overflowed into other parts of the city. Many who have grown extremely rich by money-lending have now fine palaces in various quarters; and

to Mestre. There are houses old enough to have been Shylock's, with balconies from which Jessica might have talked; and ground enough beneath, between the house and the water for her lover to stand, hidden in the shadow, or under "a pent-house." Hence, too, her gondola might at once start for the mainland, without having to traverse any part of the city.-(M.)

13 SCENE II.-"I will run as far as God has any ground."

A characteristic speech in the mouth of a Venetian. Ground to run upon being a scarce

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amongst other credulities belonging to ages which we call ignorant and superstitious. The other, although fashionable half a century ago, is professed by none, but, more or less, has its influence upon all. The woodcut which we give is copied from a little book, with which Shakspere must have been familiar :-' Briefe introductions, both natural, pleasaunte, and also delectable, unto the Art of Chiromancy, or manuel divination, and Phisiognomy: with circumstances upon the faces of the Signes. Also certain Canons or Rules upon Diseases and Sicknesses, &c. Written in y Latin tongue by Jhon Indagine, Prieste, and now lately translated into Englishe, by Fabian Withers. For Richard Jugge, 1558.' Launcelot, as well as his betters, were diligent students of the mysteries interpreted by John Indagine, Priest; and a simple or complex line of life were indications that made even some of the wise exult or tremble. Launcelot's "small trifle of wives" was, however, hardly compatible with the simple line of life. There must have been too many crosses in such a destiny.

convenience in Venice, its lower orders of inhabitants regard the great expanse of the mainland with feelings of admiration which can be little entered into by those who have been able, all their days, to walk where they would.-(M.)

In Winwood's Memorials' there is a letter dated Venice, 21st June, 1611, from Sir Dudley Carleton, Ambassador from England to the Venetian Republic, addressed to Mr. Trumbull, Resident at Brussels, which contains the following passage:

"Even now I have met with your last of the eighth of this present, being newly come from a Villa hard by, where I have been for the space of a fortnight with my wife and family, this being the first time for these six months past, that any of us have trod on firm land; and I find it so good a course, as well for health as recreation, that I am like hereafter to use it often. I have heard it as well from other hands as now by your letters, that my predecessor here is my successor in the nomination to that employment where you are; wherein I shall envy him in two things only, that he shall be nearer the air of England, and that he shall have God's dear earth under his feet.”

14 SCENE II." I have here a dish of doves." Mr. Brown, as we have noticed in 'The Taming of the Shrew,' has expressed his decided conviction that some of the dramas of Shakspere exhibit the most striking proofs that our poet had visited Italy. The passage before us is cited by Mr. Brown as one of these proofs:"Where did he obtain his numerous graphic touches of national manners? where did he learn of an old villager's coming into the city with 'a dish of doves' as a present to his son's master? A present thus given, and in our days too, and of doves, is not uncommon in Italy. I myself have partaken there, with due relish, in memory of poor old Gobbo, of a dish of doves, presented by the father of a servant."(Autobiographical Poems.)

15 SCENE II.-"Go to, here's a simple line of life!"

Palmistry, or chiromancy, had once its learned professors as well as astrology. The printingpress consigned the delusion to the gypsies. Chiromancy and physiognomy were once kindred sciences. The one has passed away


16 SCENE V.-"Thou shalt not gormandise."

The word gormandise, which is equivalent to the French gourmander, is generally considered to be of uncertain origin. Zachary Grey, however, in his Notes on Shakspeare,' quotes a


curious story from Webb's 'Vindication of Stone-Heng restored' (1665), which at any rate will amuse, if it does not convince, our readers "During the stay of the Danes in Wiltshire they consumed their time in profuseness and belly cheer, in idleness and sloth. Insomuch that, as from their laziness in general we even to this day call them Lur-Danes; so, from the licentiousness of Gurmond and his army in particular, we brand all luxurious and profuse people by the name of Gurmandisers. And this luxury and this laziness are the sole monuments, the only memorials, by which the Danes have made themselves notorious to posterity, by lying encamped in Wiltshire."

"SCENE V.-" Black-Monday."

Stow, the Chronicler, thus describes the origin of this name:- -"Black-Monday is EasterMonday, and was so called on this occasion: in the 34th of Edward III. (1360), the 14th of April, and the morrow after Easter-day, King Edward, with his host, lay before the city of Paris: which day was full dark of mist and hail, and so bitter cold, that many men died on their horses' backs with the cold. Wherefore unto this day it hath been call Black-Monday."

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18 SCENE V.-"The wry-neck'd fife." There is some doubt whether the fife is here the instrument or the musician. Boswell has given a quotation from Barnaby Rich's Aphorisms,' 1618, which is very much in point:-"A fife is a wry-neckt musician, for he always looks away from his instrument." And yet we are inclined to think that Shakspere intended the instrument. We are of this opinion principally from the circumstance that the passage is an imitation of Horace, in which the instrument is decidedly meant :

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"Primâ nocte domum claude; neque in vias,

Sub cantu querulæ despice tibiæ.”—(Carm. 1. iii. 7.) (By the way, Farmer has not told us from what source, except the original, Shakspere derived this idea; nor could Farmer, for there was no English translation of any of the Odes of Horace in Shakspere's time.)

19 SCENE V.-"Will be worth a Jewess' eye." The play upon the word alludes to the common proverbial expression, "worth a Jew's eye."

That worth was the price which the persecuted Jews paid for the immunity from mutilation and death. When our rapacious King John extorted an enormous sum from the Jew of Bristol by drawing his teeth, the threat of putting out an eye would have the like effect upon other Jews. The former prevalence of the saying is proved from the fact that we still retain it, although its meaning is now little known.

20 SCENE VII.-"A coin that bears the figure of an angel."

Verstegan, in his 'Restitution of Decayed Intelligence,' gives the following account of the origin of the practice amongst the English monarchs of insculping an angel upon their coin :

"To come now unto the cause of the general calling of our ancestors by the name of Englishmen, and our country consequently by the name of England, it is to be noted, that the seven petty kingdoms aforenamed, of Kent, East-English, West-Saxons, South-Saxons, East-Saxons, Northumbers, and Mercians, came in fine one after another by means of the West-Saxons, who subdued and got the sovereignty of all the rest to be all brought into one monarchy under King Egbert, king of the said West-Saxons. This king then considering that so many different names as the distinct kingdoms before had caused, was now no more necessary, and that as the people were all originally of one nation, so was it fit | they should again be brought under one name; and although they had had the general name of Saxons, as unto this day they are of the Welch and Irish called, yet did he rather choose and ordain that they should be all called English-men, as but a part of them before were called; and that the country should be called England. To the affectation of which name of English-men, it should seem he was chiefly moved in respect of Pope Gregory, his alluding the name of Engelisce unto Angel-like. The name of Engel is yet at this present in all the Teutonick tongues, to wit, the high and low Dutch, &c., as much to say, as Angel, and if a ' Dutch-man be asked how he would in his language call an Angel-like-man, he would answer, ein English-man; and being asked how in his own language he would or doth call an Englishman, he can give no other name for him, but even the very same that he gave before for an Angel-like-man, that is, as before is said, ein

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22 SCENE 1.-"The Goodwins, I think they call the place."

THE popular notion of the Goodwin Sand was, not only that it was "a very dangerous flat and fatal," but that it possessed a "voracious and ingurgitating property; so that, should a ship

of the largest size strike on it, in a few days it would be so wholly swallowed up by these quicksands, that no part of it would be left to be seen." It is to this belief that Shakspere most probably alludes when he describes the place as


"where the carcases of many a tall ship lie buried." It has, however, been ascertained that

the sands of the opposite shore are of the same quality as that which tradition reports to have once formed the island property of Goodwin, Earl of Kent.

23 SCENE I." It was my turquoise."

The turquoise, turkise, or Turkey-stone, was supposed to have a marvellous property, thus described in Fenton's Secret Wonders of Nature,' 1569"The turkeys doth move when there is any peril prepared to him that weareth it." Ben Jonson and Drayton refer to the same superstition. But the Jew, who had "affections, senses, passions," values his turquoise for something more than its commercial worth or its imaginary virtue. "I had it of Leah, when I was a bachelor: I would not have given it for a wilderness of monkeys."

"One touch of nature makes the whole world kin;"

and Shakspere here, with marvellous art, shows us the betrayed and persecuted Shylock, at the moment when he is raving at the desertion of his daughter, and panting for a wild revenge, as looking back upon the days when the fierce passions had probably no place in his heart-"I had it of Leah, when I was a bachelor."

24 SCENE II.-"The scull that bred them in the sepulchre."

Shakspere appears to have had as great an antipathy to false hair as old Stubbes himself; from whose Anatomy of Abuses' we gave a quotation upon this subject in A MidsummerNight's Dream' (Illustrations of Act IV.). Timon of Athens says

"thatch your poor thin roofs With burthens of the dead."

In the passage before us the idea is more elaborated, and so it is also in the 68th Sonnet :"Thus in his cheek the map of days outworn,

When beauty liv'd and died as flowers do now,
Before these bastard signs of fair were borne,
Or durst inhabit on a living brow;

Before the golden tresses of the dead,

The right of sepulchres, were shorn away,
To live a second life on second head,

Ere beauty's dead fleece made another gay:
In him those holy antique hours are seen,
Without all ornament, itself, and true,
Making no summer of another's green,

Robbing no old to dress his beauty new." The "holy antique hours" appear to allude to a state of society in which the fashion, thus placed under its most revolting aspect, did not exist. Stow says "Women's periwigs were. first brought into England about the time of the massacre of Paris" (1572). Barnaby Rich in 1615, speaking of the periwig-sellers, tells us "These attire-makers within these forty years were not known by that name." And he adds

But now they are not ashamed to set them forth upon their stalls-such monstrous moppoles of hair-so proportioned and deformed that but within these twenty or thirty years would have drawn the passers-by to stand and gaze, and to wonder at them."


"Unto the tranect, to the common ferry
Which trades to Venice."

If Shakspere had been at Venice (which, from the extraordinary keeping of the play, ap pears the most natural supposition), he must surely have had some situation in his eye for Belmont. There is a "common ferry" at two places-Fusina and Mestre. The Fusina ferry would be the one if Portia lived in perhaps the most striking situation, under the Euganean Hills. But the Mestre ferry is the most convenient medium between Padua and Venice. There is a large collection of canal-craft there. It is eighteen English miles from Padua, and five from Venice. Supposing Belmont to lie in the plain N.W. from Venice, Balthazar might cut across the country to Padua, and meet Portis at Mestre, while she travelled thither at a lady's speed.-(M.)


26 SCENE I.-"Some men there are," &c. THERE is a passage in Donne's Devotions' (1626), in which the doctrine of antipathies is put in a somewhat similar manner:-" A man that is not afraid of a lion is afraid of a cat;

not afraid of starving, and yet is afraid of some joint of meat at the table, presented to feed him; not afraid of the sound of drums and trumpets, and shot, and those which they seek to drown, the last cries of men, and is afraid of some particular harmonious instrument; so

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