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by the opposition of the rightful owners; while Heyes, who was a young printer, determined, with the caution of youth, to publish nothing that was not indisputably his own. How Roberts eventually obtained a licence, why Heyes had in turn to get permission from Roberts, and why, having got it, he published his own copy, and employed Roberts as printer, we do not know. On the whole, external evidence is slightly in favour of the Second Quarto. It is the basis of the First Folio, though it must be admitted that the Folio occasionally agrees with the first, and even reproduces its spelling for several lines together, and also that Heminge and Condell were not good judges of a text. Still, Heyes's MS. seems to have been two years longer than Roberts's in the possession of Shakespeare's Company, and could hardly have been corrupted without his knowledge. Moreover, it contains certain stage-directions which prove that it, or its original, was actually used as a stage copy. Compare III. ii. 239: “open the letter” (Q 2) with “ He opens the letter” (Q 1), and v. i. 68: “play Musique" (Q 2) with “Musicke plays” (Q 1).
The evidence of their respective texts had been variously estimated. In speaking of the First Folio, Mr. Furness says: “ The text there given is not an independent one, but is a reprint of Heyes's Quarto and the inferior Quarto at that," whereas Dr. Furnivall has brought forward "evidence tending to show the betterness of this second or Heyes Quarto—notwithstanding some worsenesses.” I am relieved of the responsibility of deciding where Doctors disagree, by the kindness of Professor Dowden, who generously gave me his own recension (based on a 2) together with important textual notes which I have incorporated with my own.
For the apparatus criticus, I have collated Q 1, Q2, and F 1; but have taken the readings of later Folios and Quartos from the collation of the Cambridge Editors (2nd ed.) compared with that of Mr. Furness's Variorum.
In the textual notes, stands for the agreement of the first two Quartos (where they differ, I print Q1, Q 2) and F, for the Folio of 1623; Q 3, for the Quarto of 1637 (registered 8 July 1619), a careless reprint of Q 2, but containing for the first time "The Actors Names"; Q 4, for the Quarto of 1651: it is merely Q 3 with a new title-page, see Notes and Queries, 2nd Series, vol. x. p. 21 (referred to by Mr. Furness); F 2, for the Folio of 1632; F 3,
for that of 1664, and F.4, for that of 1685. For the sake of brevity, I generally omit the titles Dr., Professor, Mr., etc., when the information I quote has already appeared in print.
The Date.- A well-known passage in Meres's Palladis Tamia (Wyttes Treasurie) has been quoted to prove that The Merchant of Venice was written in 1598 or not much earlier ; Meres mentions it last in his list of Shakespeare's comedies. This evidence would be more satisfactory if, in the corresponding list of tragedies, the order of time was not neglected. When the Palladis Tamia was written, is not known: it was registered a little later than Roberts's Quarto; see Arber's Transcript, vol. iii. p. 125:
viio Septembris (1598). Cuthberte Burbye Entred for his Copie under the wardens
handes and master Harsnett a booke, called Wyttes Treasurie, being the second parte of Wittes Comonwealth vid
The following is the passage (Arber's English Garner, vol. ii. p. 98) :
“ As Plautus and Seneca are accounted the best for Comedy and Tragedy among the Latins: so Shakespeare among the English is the most excellent in both kinds for the stage. For Comedy: witness his Gentlemen of Verona; his [Comedy of] Errors; his Love's Labour's Lost; his Love's Labour's Won; [? All's Well that Ends Well] his Midsummer Night's Dream; and his Merchant of Venice. For Tragedy: his RICHARD II., RICHARD III., HENRY IV., KING JOHN, TITUS ANDRONICUS, and his ROMEO and JULIET.”
In confirmation of what is already known, it has been suggested that Shakespeare may have learnt the pronunciation of Stephano from Jonson's Every Man in his Humour, in which he acted in 1598; compare
My friend Stephano signify, I pray you,
Merchant, v. 51,
Is not this Stephano my drunken butler ?
Tempest, V. 277.
If we could be sure that Shakespeare was indebted to Munday's translation of Sylvain's Orator, we should get 1596 as the earliest possible date for the Merchant. Munday's translation was dated 1596, and must have been published late in that year or early in the next. The entry in the Stationers' Registers has the words “ to be translated," and the English title does not seem to have been determined on when the entry was made. See Arber's Transcript, vol. iii. p. 673
15 Iulii (1596). Entred for his copie under the handes of master MURGETRODE and the wardens A booke to be translated into Englishe and printed. Called in French Epitoines De Cent histoires Tragicques partie extraictes des Actes des Romains et Autres &c. per Alexandre Sylvain
The title runs as follows :The Orator: Handling a hundred severall Discourses, in forme of Declamations : Some of the Arguments being drawne from Titus Livius and other ancient Writers, the rest of the authors owne invention : Part of which are of matters happened in our Age. Written in French by Alexander Silvayn, and Englished by L. P. [Lazarus Piot, a nom de guerre of Anthony Munday's] London. Printed for Adam Islip, 1596 [old style). Declamation 95 is headed : “Of a Jew who would for his debt have a pound of the flesh of a Christian.” Then follows the Introduction: “A Jew unto whom a Christian Marchant ought nine hundred crownes, would have summoned him for the same in Turckie: the Marchant, because he would not be discredited, promised to pay the said summe within the tearme of three months, and if he paied it not, he was bound to give him a pound of the flesh of his bodie. The tearme being past some fifteene daies, the Jew refused to take his money : the ordinarie Judge of that place appointed him to cut a just pound of the Christian's flesh, and if he cut either more or lesse, then his owne head should be smitten off: The Jew appealed from this sentence, unto the chiefe judge, saying :” The
Jew's speech and the Christian's answer follow.
As in our play, and some other forms of the story, the bond is for three months. Some expressions are similar, " a good round sum," and "a just pound” (see titles of 2); and some of the Jew's arguments are like Shylock's—" Impossible it is
" to breake the credite of trafficke amongst men without great detriment unto the commonwealth"; the harsh treatment of prisoners is brought forward much in the same way as Shylock adduces the harsh treatment of slaves. The sentence, “A man may aske why I would not rather take silver of this man, then his flesh: I might alleage many reasons," is recalled by “You'll ask me, why I rather choose to have A weight of carrion flesh than to receive three thousand ducats”; but the topics in Silvayn are for the most part different, the sum borrowed is different, the Jew is not allowed to take the flesh from whatever part of his debtor's body he pleases, in fact, he is not allowed to take it at all : “the obligation dooth not specifie that I ought either to chuse, cut, or take the same, but that he ought to give me a pound of his flesh.” (See Hazlitt's Shakespeare's Library, vol. i. pp. 355-360.)
Such coincidences as there are may be due to chance or Shakespeare may have read Silvayn's book in the original, or possibly in an earlier English version. Six years before Munday's appeared, a translation of more than half of the histoires tragicques had been entered in the Registers. See Arber's Transcript, vol. ii. p. 2636:
xxvto Augusti (1590].