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And we Fairies, that do run
By the triple Hecate's team,
Following darkness like a dream,
To sweep the dust behind the door. To share in the revels, the reconciled Oberon and Titania, with their resplendent trains of Fairies, enter: and Puck-lately the 'wicked sprite, but now the merry Robin Good-fellow-comes, with his happy peroration, to end this “ Midsummer Night's Dream." Puck. If we shadows have 'offended,
'Think but this, (and all is mended,)
have but 'slumbered here,
END OF A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM.
• Hecate, the goddess of magic and enchantment, is classically known by three names :-Luna, (in heaven ;) Diana, (on earth ;) and Hecate, or Proserpine, (in hell.) bundeserved good fortune. cin being hissed.
THE MERCHANT OF VENICE.
The Comedy of “The Merchant of Venice" was probably writ. ten about the year 1597 : it was entered at Stationers' Hall, in 1598, included in Francis Meres' list of Shakespeare's Plays in the same year, (see p. 6,) but not printed till 1600, when its popularity was so great that two editions successively appeared; but there was no later reprint till in the folio of 1623. These two quartos present very slight differences from each other, while the folio contains a few but unimportant variations.
It may be stated, as a strange circumstance, that this most interesting Comedy must have been preceded by an older play now lost, but distinctly mentioned by Stephen Gosson, in his “ School of Abuse," published in 1579—more than twenty years before the publication of Shakespeare's play. There is also a marked resemblance to an old ballad (reprinted in Bishop Percy's “Reliques of Ancient English Poetry,”) referring to the cruelty of Gernutus, a Jew. The original main story may be farther traced back to a collection of Tales called “Il Pecorone,” by Ser Giovanni, published at Milan in 1558.
A story is also told by the biographer of Pope Sixtus the Fifth, in which the pitiless creditor was a Christian, and his victim a Jew; but Shakespeare prefers the story which accorded with popular prejudice and orthodox iniquity. He has incorporated, with the “bond” of Shylock, an incident from another tale (found in the “Gesta Romanorum”)—that of Portia and the caskets; and the two stories are so skilfully interwoven that no suspicion of their double origin is suggested.
• The following is the first entry in the Register of the Stationers' Company, dated July 220, 1698, to James Roberts (the printer): “A booke of the Marchaunt of Venyse, otherwise called the Jewe of Venyse. Provyded that yt bee not prynted by the said James Robertes, or anye other whatsoever, without leaue first had from the ryght honourable the Lord Chamberlen."
On October 28th, 1600, another entry is made in favour of Tho. Heyes (the publisher): "A booke called the Book of the Merchaunt of Venyce.”
The following are their respective title-pages :
(Roberts' Quarto.) “The excellent History of The Merchant of Venice. With the extreame cruelty of Shylocke the Jew towards the saide Merchant in cutting a pound of his flesh. And the obtaining of Portia by the choyse of the Caskets. Written by W. Shakespeare. Printed by J. Roberts, 1600."
[Heyes' Quarto.) “The most excellent Historie of the Merchant of Venice. With the extreme crueltie of Shylocke the Jewe towards the sayd Merchant, by cutting a iust pound of his flesh. And the obtayning of Portia by the choyse of three chests. As it hath beene diuers times acted by the Lord Chamberlaine his Seruants. Written by William Shakespeare. At London. Printed by I R. Heyes for Thomas Heyes, and are to be sold in Paules Church-yard at the Signe of the Greene Dragon." [1600.j
b This was a tract, “ Containing a pleasant Invective against Poets, Pipers, Players, Jesters, and such like Caterpillars of the Commonwealth.” Gosson thus refers to the lost play :-" The Jew shown at the Bull, representing the greediness of worldly choosers, and the bloody minds of usurers. But as there is no reference to the story of the Bond or to that of the Thrie Caskets, we must not conclude that Shakespeare was in any way indebted to this lost play.
“ The Merchant of Venice" ranks as a “ Comedy," although the main incident is tragic enough. The characteristics of Tragedy and Comedy are often as closely intermingled in our author's dramas, as in the real life which they reflect. Thus the Tragedies are often relieved by mirth and humour, side by side with pathos and solemnity; and the Comedies illustrate, in some of their scenes or incidents, the universal truth as expressed by Shelley
“Our sincerest laughter with some pain is fraught."
The dramatic Characters retained in this Condensation are:
SHYLOCK, a Jer.
DUKE OF VENICE."
Friends to Antonio
PORTIA, a rich Heiress.
and other Attendants.
Scene-Partly in Venice, and partly at Belmont.'
The First Scene is a Street in Venice: it introduces the dramatic personage who gives name to the Play-Antonio the Merchant; a melancholy moralizing man, but of much enterprize and vast speculation. With him are two friends, Salarino and Solanio, who have been endeavouring to rally him out of his unsocial and tristful mood; but he thus excuses himself: Ant. In sooth, I know not 'why I am so sad.
It wearies me: You say, it wearies 'you ;
I am yets to learn.
There, where your argosies" with portly sail,
As they fly by them with their woven wings.
My ventures are not in 'one vesselk trusted,
a or Doge. a city of Italy built on a cluster of islands in the north west fringe of the Adriatic Sea. cin the north-west of Africa, on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. da province in the north east of Spain. 20. R. Salavio or Salino. f Lady Portia's country-seat near Venice.
ginserted word h large ships for commerce; galleons. i small trading ships. j their sails
k O. R. bottom.
[sal: and Sol.
Salar. Why, then you are in 'love ?
Because you are not 'merry; and it were as easy
Though Nestor swear the jest be laughable.
We leave you now with 'better company. Lorenzo, Gratiano, and Bassanio enter.
Lorenzo is a young gentleman very much in love, and therefore not given to much conversation :-Gratiano is a great talker, a humourist, and laughing philosopher :- Bassanio is a handsome, high-spirited prodigal, who comes to borrow—not for the first time—from his wealthy friend Antonio.-Gratiano also takes notice of the gloom of the rich Merchant : 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. 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:
As who should say, “'I am Siro Oracle! + an ancient King of Italy, deitied as the god of the year-with two faces, one looking to the past, the other to the future.
any old person like Nestor--one of the Homeric heroes, venerable for age and eloquence.
c maintain an obstinate silence.
d O. R. I am sir an Oracle.
(Exeunt Gratiano and Lorenzo.
And, when I ope 'my lips, let no dog bark!"-
I'll end my “exhortation " 'after dinner.
In a neat's tongue dried,-and a maid not vendible.
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 the same
To whom you swore a secret pilgrimage?
And she is fair; and, fairer than that word,
That I should questionless be fortunate.
Nor have I money, nor commodity,
In consequence of this friendly direction, we are now to suppose before us, in the Public Place in Venice,-Bassanio the haughty borrower, and Shylock the cautious lender, of money. * an easily-caught fresh-water fish, used chiefly for bait. b wealth (of information). e inserted word.
d See Julius Cæsar,