« AnteriorContinuar »
Por. I had it of him. Pardon me, Bassanio, For by this ring the doctor lay with me. Ner. And pardon me, my gentle Gratiano; For that same scrubbed boy, the doctor’s clerk, In lieu of this, last night did lie with me. Gra. Why, this is like the mending of highways In summer, where the ways are fair enough; What! are we cuckolds, ere we have deserved it P Por. Speak not so grossly.—You are all amazed. Here is a letter; read it at your leisure; It comes from Padua, from Bellario; There you shall find, that Portia was the doctor; Nerissa there, her clerk. Lorenzo here Shall witness, I set forth as soon as you, And but even now returned. I have not yet Entered my house.—Antonio, you are welcome , And I have better news in store for you, Than you expect. Unseal this letter soon; There you shall find, three of your argosies Are richly come to harbor suddenly; You shall not know by what strange accident I chanced on this letter. Ant. . I am dumb. Bass. Were you the doctor, and I knew you not? Gra. Were you the clerk, that is to make me cuckold 2 Ner. Ay; but the clerk that never means to do it; Unless he live until he be a man. Bass. Sweet doctor, you shall be my bedfellow ; When I am absent, then lie with my wife. Ant. Sweet lady, you have given me life, and living For here I read for certain, that my ships Are safely come to road. Por. . How now, Lorenzo P My clerk hath some good comforts too for you. Ner. Ay, and I’ll give them him without a fee.— There do I give to you, and Jessica, From the rich Jew, a special deed of gift, After his death, of all he dies possessed of.
Lor. Fair ladies, you drop manna in the way
Por. It is almost morning,
Gra. Let it be so. The first inter’gatory
or the Merchant of Venice the style is even and easy, with few peculiarities of diction, or anomalies of construction. The comic part raises laughter, and the serious fixes expectation. The probability of either one or the other story cannot be maintained. The union of two actions in one eventis in this drama eminently happy. Dryden was much pleased with his own address in connecting the two plots of his Spanish Friar, which yet, I believe, the critic will find excelled by this play.
DR. GREY and Mr. Upton asserted that this play was certainly borrowed from the Coke's Tale of Gamelyn, printed in Urry's Chaucer; but it is hardly likely that Shakspeare saw that in manuscript, and there is a more obvious source from whence he derived his plot, viz. the pastoral romance of “Rosalynde, or Euphues' Golden Legacy,” by Thomas Lodge, first printed in 1590. From this he has sketched his principal characters, and constructed his plot; but those admirable beings, the melancholy Jaques, the witty Touchstone, and his Audrey, are of the poet's own creation. Lodge's novel is one of those tiresome (I had almost said unnatural) pastoral romances, of which the Euphues of Lyly and the Arcadia of Sidney were also popular examples. It has, however, the redeeming merit of
some very beautiful verses interspersed; * and the circumstance of its hav
* The following beautiful stanzas are part of what is called “Rosalynd’s Madrigal,” and are not unworthy of a place even in a page devoted to Shakspeare:—
Love in my bosom like a bee
ing led to the formation of this exquisite pastoral drama, is enough to make us withhold our assent to Steevens's splenetic censure of it as “worthless.” . “Touched by the magic wand of the enchanter, the dull and endless prosing of the novelist is transformed into an interesting and lively drama; the forest of Arden converted into a real Arcadia of the golden age. The highly-sketched figures pass along in the most diversified succession: we see always the shady dark-green landscape in the back ground, and breathe, in imagination, the fresh air of the forest. The hours are here measured by no clocks, no regulated recurrence of duty or toil; they flow on unnumbered in voluntary occupation or fanciful idleness. One throws himself down ‘under the shade of melancholy boughs, and indulges in reflection on the changes of fortune, the falsehood of the world, and the self-created torments of social life; others make the woods resound with social and festive songs, to the accompaniment of their horns. Selfishness, envy, and ambition, have been left in the city behind them: of all the human passions, love alone has found an entrance into this sylvan scene, where it dictates the same language to the simple shepherd, and
the chivalrous youth who hangs his love ditty to a tree.”*
“And this their life, exempt from public haunts,
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing.”
How exquisitely is the character of Rosalind conceived! what liveliness and sportive gayety, combined with the most natural and affectionate tenderness! the reader is as much in love with her as Orlando, and wonders not at Phebe's sudden passion for her when disguised as Ganymede; or Celia's constant friendship. Touchstone is, indeed, a “rare fellow; he uses his folly as a stalking-horse, and under the presentation of that, he shoots his wit:” his courtship of Audrey, his lecture to Corin, his defence of cuckolds, and his burkesque upon the “duello” of the age, are all most
“exquisite fooling.” It has been remarked, that there are few of Shak