Imatges de pÓgina
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In this Scene, the foliloquy of Launcelot is a ftrong picture of the mind of man, whenever it debates within itself upon the right or wrong of a queftion, in which it is any way interested; for in fuch cafes, our paffions, even without our connivance, are apt to plead their own caufe; and we but fophisticate, while we think we reafon. In all doubtful matters, where the arguments feem to be equally fufpended, 'tis prudent ever to fufpect that fide of the balance to be the lighteft, which we find our affections the most inclined to.

Launcelot. Certainly, my confcience will ferve me to run from this Jew, my mafter. The fiend is at my elbow, and tempts me ; faying to me, Gobbo, Launcelot Gobbo, good Launcelot, or good Gobbo, or good Launcelot Gobbo, ufe your legs, take the start, run away. My confcience fays, no; take heed, honeft Launcelot, take heed, honeft Gobbo; or, as aforesaid, honest Launcelot Gobbo, do not run ; fcorn running with the heels. Well, the most courageous fiend bids me pack; via! fays the fiend; away! fays the fend; for the heavens, roufe up a brave mind, fays the fiend; and run. Well, my confcience, hanging about the neck of my heart, fays very wifely to me, my honeft friend, Launcelot, being an honelt man's fon, or rather, an honeft woman's fon (for, indeed, my father did fomething fmack; fomething grow to; he had a kind of tafte)-Well, my confcience fays, budge not; budge, fays the fiend; budge not, fays my confcience. Confcience, fays 1, you counfel ill; fiend, fays I, you counsel ill. To be ruled by my confcience, I should stay with the Jew, my master, who, God bless the mark, is a kind of devil; and to run away from the Jew, I fhould be ruled by the fiend; who, faving your reverence, is the devil himfelf. Certainly, the Jew is the very devil incarnal; and in my confcience, my confcience is but a kind of hard confcience, to offer to counsel me to ftay with the Jew. The fiend gives the more friendly counsel; I will run; fiend, my heels are at your commandment; I will run.


The defcription here given of the parting of two friends, would make a beautiful and affecting fubject for the pencil:

Salanio. And even there, his eye being big with tears,
Turning his face he put his hand behind him,

And, with affection wond'rous fenfible,

He wrung Baffanio's hand; and fo they parted.

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The false or mistaken fupputations of happiness, which men are too often apt to frame to themselves, are well remarked upon, in this place:

Prince of Arragon, on viewing the Caskets, with their mottos.

Fortune, now,

To my heart's hope! Gold, filver, and bafe lead.

Who chufeth me, must give and hazard all be bath *.
You fhall look fairer, ere I give or hazard..
What fays the golden cheft? Ha, let me fee-
Who chufeth me, shall gain what many men defire.
What many men defire-That may be meant
Of the fool multitude, that chufe by fhew;
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 cafualty.

I will not chufe what many men defire,
Because I will not jump with common spirits,
And rank me with the barb'rous multitude.

And immediately after, in the fame speech, he makes a juft and noble reflection, diftinguishing merit from dignities; or titles to, from titles of, ho


Well then to thee, thou filver treasure-house,
Tell me, once more, what title thou doft bear-
Who chufeth me, shall get as much as he deferves.
And well faid too; for who fhall go about
To cozen Fortune and be honourable,
Without the stamp of merit? Let none prefume
To wear an undeserved dignity—

O that estates, degrees, and offices,

Were not derived corruptly! that clear honour
Were purchased by the merit of the wearer!
How many then fhould cover, that ftand bare?
How many be commanded, that command ?
How much low peafantry would then be pickt +
From the true feed of honour? How much honour
Gleaned from the chaff and ruin of the times,
To be new vanned || .

Leaden casket.

Pickt, inftead of gleaned.

Gleaned, instead of pickt. Johnfon.

Vanned, or winnowed, instead of varnished. Warburton.

Thefe three alterations certainly preferve the purity of the metaphor from the

manifeft corruption of the text.



The great principle of univerfal charity, which Loars above the partial refpects of nations or of fects, is ftrongly, though indirectly, inculcated, in the Jew's fpeech, here; which, according to this very principle, fhould be received without prejudice, though proceeding from the mouth of an Alien, and an Infidel.

Shylock, fpeaking of Anthonio,

"He hath difgraced me, and hindered me of half a million, "laughed at my loffes, mocked at my gains, fcorned my nation, "thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies; "and what's his reafon? I am a few. Hath not a Jew eyes? "Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimenfions, fenfes, affections, "paffions? Fed with the fame food, hurt by the fame weapons, fubject to the fame difeafes, healed by the fame means, warned " and cooled by the fame fummer and winter, as a Christian is ? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poifon us, do we not die?"

As the remainder of the fpeech exceeds the moderation of Chriftian ethics, I think proper to stop the Jew's mouth, here.

The fame perfon fays fomething again to the like purport, in the firft Scene of A&t the Fourth, that ought to awaken our minds to proper sentiments of humanity, upon this subject.

Shylock. You have among you many a purchased slave ;
Which, like your affes, and your dogs, and mules,
You ufe in abject and in flavish part,

Because you bought them➡Shall I say to you,
Let them be free, marry them to your heirs?
Why fweat they under burdens? Let their beds
Be made as foft as yours, and let their palates
Be feafoned with fuch viands-You will answer,
The flaves are ours.

Montefquieu, in his Spirit of Laws, fpeaking with a just contempt and humorous feverity against all the arguments brought in defence of this cruelty,


fays, that the strongest reafon which can be given for the practice of uting Negroes like beafts of burden, is, their having black skins, and flat noses.

In the fecond Scene of the Third Act, the difficulty of determining the true rate of perfons or things, is largely conimented upon; and as opinion is too often more under the dominion of fancy than of reafon, perhaps the ftanzas which precede the reflections, may serve as a proper prelude to the speech. The reader, at least, I dare fay, will be pleafed at finding them inferted here

A Song while Baffanio debates with himself, on his choice of the cafkets.

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So may the outward shows be least themselves
The world is ftill deceived with ornament,
In law, what plea fo tainted and corrupt,
But, being feafoned with a gracious voice,
Obfcures the fhew of evil? In religion,
What damned error but fome sober brow
Will blefs it, and approve it with a text;
Hiding the groffness with fair ornament?
There is no vice fo fimple, but affumes
Some mark of virtue on its outward part.
How many cowards, whose hearts are all as falíe
As ftairs of fand, wear yet upon their chins

As the beginning of this fpeech is abrupt, we are to fuppofe the former part

of the argument to have paffed filently in his mind, before he speaks aloud. This is Doctor Johnson's remark,


The beards of Hercules and frowning Mars;
Who, inward fearched, have livers white as milk?
And these affume but valour's excrement,
To render them redoubted-Look on beauty,
And you fhall fee 'tis purchased by the weight,
Which therein works a miracle in nature,
Making them lightest, that wear most of it.
So are thofe crispy fnaky golden locks,
Which make fuch wanton gambols with the wind
Upon fuppofed fairness, often known

To be the dowry of a second head,

The skull that bred them, in the fepulchre.
Thus ornament is but the gilded shore
To a moft dangerous fea; the beauteous scarf
Veiling an Indian dozudy; in a word,
The feeming truth which cunning times put on,
To entrap the wifeft, Then, thou gaudy gold,
Hard food for Midas, I will none of thee:
Nor none of thee, thou pale and common drudge
'Twixt man and man: but thou, thou meagre lead,
Which rather threateneft, than doft promife aught,
Thy plainnefst moves me more than eloquence;
And here chufe I-Joy be the confequence!

Portia's rapture, on finding her favourite lover has chofen right, is warmly and finely expreffed, in the next speech; in which the danger of an excefs of joy is also pointed out :

How all the other paffions fleet to air

As doubtful thoughts, and rash-embraced defpair,
And fhuddering fear, and green-eyed jealousy.
O love, be moderate, allay thy extasy;
In measure rein thy joy, fcant this excess;
I feel too much thy bleffing; make it lefs,

For fear I furfeit.

In the fifth Scene following, there is a ridiculous, but whimsical, defcription of a vain boafting young man; many of which fort are to be met with in life; in courts, in camps, in coffee-houses:

Portia and Neriffa, going into boy's cloaths.

Pertia. I'll hold thee any wager,

When we are both apparelled like young men,
I'll prove the prettier fellow of the two,

Dowody-The word in the text is beauty, but reformed by Sir Thomas

Hanm r.

tuftead of palenefs. Johnson,

Rein, inftead of rain. Ditto.


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