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This Play is justly placed among the most perfect of Shakspeare's compositions. The master-piece of character, as exhibited in Shylock the Jew, would alone entitle it to this classification,
The double plot of this Drama was borrowed by Shakspeare from traditionary stories current in his time. The Jews at that period were a despised and persecuted race; the Poet has lent himself to the prejudices entertained by Christians against Jews, and yet he has made Shylock appear as the champion and avenger of an oppressed people, rather than the sordid contemptible character, then thought to be the distinctive qualification of "God's ancient people." dddd
DUKE OF VENICE.
PRINCE OF MOROCCO,
suitors to Portia.
PRINCE OF ARRAGON,
Antonio, the Merchant of Venice.
BASSANIO, his friend.
SalaniO, SALARINO, GRATIANO, friends to Antonio and Bassanio.
LORENZO, in love with Jessica.
SuyLock, a Jew.
TUBAL, a Jew, his friend.
LAUNCELOT GOBBO, a clown, servant to Shylock
Old GOBBO, father to Launcelot.
SALERIO, a messenger from Venice.
LEONARDO, servant to Bassanio.
BALTHAZAR, STEPHANO, servants to Portia.
PORTia, a rich heiress.
NERISSA, her waiting-maid.
JESSICA, daughter to Shylock.
Magnificoes of Venice, Officers of the Court of Justice, Gaoler, Servants,
and other Attendants. SCENE,-partly at VENICE, and partly at BELMONT, the Seal of Portia,
on the Continent.
SCENE I.–Venice. A Street.
Enter Antonio, SALARINO, and SALANLG
Ant. In sooth, I know not why I am so sad;
It wearies me; you say, it wearies you;
But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,
What stuff ’tis made of, whereof it is born,
I am to learn;
And such a want-wit sadness makes of me,
That I have much ado to know myself.
Salar. Your mind is tossing on the ocean ;
There, where your argosies with portly sail, -
Like signiors and rich burghers of the flood,
Or, as it were, the pageants of the sea,-
Do overpeer the petty traffickers,
That curt’sy to them, do them reverence,
As they fly by them with their woven wings.
Salan. Believe me, sir, had I such venture forth,
The better part of my affections would
Be with my hopes abroad. I should be still
Plucking the grass, to know where sits the wind;
Peering in maps, for ports, and piers, and roads ;
And every object, that might make me fear
Misfortune to my ventures, out of doubt,
Would make me sad.
My wind, cooling my broth, Would blow me to an ague, when I thought What harm a wind too great might do at sea. I should not see the sandy hour-glass run, But I should think of shallows and of flats; And see my wealthy Andrew dock'd in sand, Vailing her high-top lower than her ribs, To kiss her burial. Should I go to church, And see the holy edifice of stone, And not bethink me straight of dangerous rocks? Which touching but my gentle vessel's side, Would scatter all her spices on the stream ; Enrobe the roaring waters with my silks ; And, in a word, but even now worth this, And now worth nothing ? Shall I have the thought To think on this ; and shall I lack the thought, That such a thing, bechanc'd, would make me sad ? But tell not me; I know Antonio Is sad to think upon his merchandise.
Ant. Believe me, no: I thank my fortune for it, My ventures are not in one bottom trusted,
Nor to one place; nor is my whole estate
Upon the fortune of this present year :
Therefore, my merchandise makes me not sad.
Salan. Why then you are in love.
Salan. Not in love neither? Then let's say, you are sad,
Because you are not merry : and 'twere as easy
For you to laugh, and leap, and say, you are merry,
Because you are not sad. Now, by the two-headed Janus,
Nature hath fram'd strange fellows in her time:
Some that will evermore peep through their eyes,
And laugh, like parrots, at a bag-piper :
And other of such vinegar aspect,
That they'll not show their teeth in way of smile,
Though Nestor swear the jest be laughable.
Enter BASSANIO, LORENZO, and GRATIANO.
Salan. Here comes Bassanio, your most noble kinsman,
Gratiano, and Lorenzo: Fare you well;
We leave you now with better company.
Salar. I would have staid till I had made you merry
If worthier friends had not prevented me.
Ant. Your worth is very dear in
I take it, your own business calls on you,
And you embrace the occasion to depart.
Salar. Good morrow, my good lords.
Bass. Good signiors both, when shall we laugh ? Say, when ? You grow exceeding strange : Must it be so ? Salar. We'll make our leisures to attend on yours.
[Exeunt SALARINO, and SALANIA Lor. My lord Bassanio, since you have found Antonio, We two will leave you : but, at dinner time, I pray you, have in mind where we must meet. Bass. I will not fail you.
Gra. You look not well, signior Antonio;
You have too much respect upon the world :
They lose it, that do buy it with much care.
Believe me, you are marvellously chang’d.
Ant. I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano ;
A stage, where every man must play a part,
And mine a sad one.
Let me play the Fool:
With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.
Why should a man, whose blood is warm within,
Sit like his grandsire cut in alabaster ?
Sleep when he wakes ? and creep into the jaundice
By being peevish? I tell thee what, Antonio,-
I love thee, and it is my love that speaks ;-
There are a sort of men, whose visages
Do cream and mantle, like a standing pond;
And do a wilful stillness entertain,
With purpose to be dress'd in an opinion
Of wisdom, gravity, profound conceit;
As who should say, I am Sir Oracle,
And, when I ope my lips, let no dog bark !
O, my Antonio, I do know of these,
That therefore only are reputed wise,
For saying nothing; who, I am very sure,
If they should speak, would almost damn those ears,
Which, hearing them, would call their brothers, fools.
I'll tell thee more of this another time :
But fish not, with this melancholy bait,
For this fool's gudgeon, this opinion.-
Come, good Lorenzo : Fare ye well, a wiile;
I'll end my exhortation after dinner.
Lor. Well, we will leave you then till dinner-time.
I must be one of these same dumb wise men,
For Gratiano never lets me speak.
Gra. Well, keep me company but two years more,
Thou shalt not know the sound of thine own tongue.
Ant. Farewell : I'll grow a talker for this gear.
Gra. Thanks, i' faith; for silence is only commendable In a neat's tongue dried, and a maid not vendible.
[Exeunt GRATIANO, and LORENZU. Ant. Is that any thing now?
Bass. Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of nothing, more than any man in all Venice: His reasons are as two grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff; you shall seek all day ere you find them; and, when you have them, they are not worth the search.
Ant. Well; tell me now, what lady is this same,
To whom you swore a secret pilgrimage,
That you to-day promis’d to tell me of ?
Bass. 'Tis not unknown to you, Antonio,
Ilow much I have disabled mine estate,
By something showing a more swelling port
Than my faint means would grant continuance :
Nor do I now make moan to be abridg’d
From such a noble rate; but my chief care
Is, to come fairly off from the great debts,
Wherein my time, something too prodigal,
Hath left me gaged: To you, Antonio,
I owe the most, in money, and in love ;
And from your love I have a warranty
To unburden all my plots, and purposes,
How to get clear of all the debts I owe.
Ant. I pray you, good Bassanio, let me know it ,
And, if it stand, as you yourself still do,
Within the eye of honor, be assurd
Mly purse, my person, my extremest means,
Lie all unlock'd to your occasions.
Bass. In my school-days, when I had lost one share..
I shot his fellow of the self-same flight
The self-same way, with more advised watch,
To find the other forth; and by advent’ring both,
I oft found both : I urge this childish proof,
Because what follows is pure innocence.
I owe you much; and, like a wilful youth,
That which I owe is lost: but if you please
To shoot another arrow that self way
Which did shoot the first, I do not doubt,
As I will watch the aim, or to find both,
Or bring your latter hazard back again,
And thankfully rest debtor for the first.
Ant. You know me well, and herein spend but ting
To wind about my love with circumstance;
And, out of doubt, you do me now more wrong,
In making question of my uttermost,
Than if you had made waste of all I have:
Then do but say to me what I should do,
That in your knowledge may by me be done,
And I am prest into it: therefore, speak.
Bass. In Belmont is a lady richly left,
And she is fair, and, fairer than that word,
Of wond’rous virtues; sometimes from her eyes
I did receive fair speechless messages :
Her name is Portia; nothing undervalued
To Cato's daughter, Brutus' Portia.
Nor is the wide world ignorant of her worth;
For the four winds blow in from every coast
Renowned suitors : and her sunny locks
Hang on her temples like a golden fleece;
Which makes her seat of Belmont, Colchos' straud,
And many Jasons come in quest of her.
O my Antonio, had I but the means
To hold a rival place with one of them,
I have a mind presages me such thrift,
That I should questionless be fortunate.
Ant. Thou know'st, that all my fortunes are at sea ;
Nor have I money, nor commodity
To raise a present sum: therefore go forth,
Try what my credit can in Venice do ;
That shall be rack’d, even to the uttermost,
To furnish thee to Belmont, to fair Portia.
Go, presently inquire, and so will I,
Where money is; and I no question make,
To have it of my trust, or for my sake.