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lovely on that account: she talks considerably indeed of herselt, yet always so becomingly that we hardly wish she would enoose any other subject; for we are rather agreeably surprised, that one so fully aware of her gifts should still bear them so meekly. Mrs. Jameson, with Portia in her eye, intimates plainly enough that she considers Shakespeare about the only artist, except nature, who could make women wise without turning them into men. And it may be worth remarking, that honourable as the issue of her course at the trial would be to a man, she shows no unwomanly craving to be in the scene of her triumph as she goes there prompted by the feelings and duties of a wife, for the saving of her husband's honour and peace of mind, so she gladly leaves when these causes no longer bear in that direction. Being to act for once the pari of a man, it would seem as though she could scarce go through the undertaking without more of self-confidence than were becoming in a woman; and the student may find plenty of matter for thought in the skill wherewith the Poet has managed to prevent such an impression. It is no drawback upon Portia's strength and substantial dignity of character, that her nature is all overflowing with romance rather, this it is that glorifies her and breathes enchantment about her; it adds that precious seeing to the eye which conducts her to such winning beauty and sweetness of deportment, and makes her the "rich-souled" creature that Schlegel so aptly describes her to be.

Shylock is a standing marvel of power and scope in the dramatic art; at the same time appearing so much a man of nature's making, that we scarce know how to look upon him as the Poet's workmanship. In the delineation Shakespeare had no less a task than to inform with individual life and peculiarity the broad, strong outlines of national character in its most fallen and revolting state. Accordingly Shylock is a true representative of his nation; wherein we have a pride which for ages never ceased to provoke hostility, but which no hostility could ever subdue; a thrift which still invited rapacity, but which no rapacity could ever exhaust; and a weakness which, while it exposed the subjects to wrong, only deepened their hate, because it left them without the means or the hope of redress. Thus Shylock is a type of national sufferings, sympa. thies, and antipathies. Himself an object of bitter insult and scorn to those about him; surrounded by enemies whom he is at once too proud to conciliate and too weak to oppose; he can have no life among them but money; no hold on them but interest; no feeling towards them but hate; no indemnity out of them but revenge. Such being the case, what wonder that the elements of national greatness became congealed or petrified into malignity? As avarice was the passion in which he mainly lived, of course the Christian virtues that thwarted this were the greatest wrong that Fould be done him.

With these strong national traits are interwoven personal traits

qually strong. Thoroughly and intensely Jewish, he is not more a Jew than he is Shylock. In his hard, icy intellectuality, and his "dry, mummy-like tenacity" of purpose, with a dash now and then of biting sarcastic humour, we see the remains of a great and noble nature, out of which all the genial sap of humanity has been pressed by accumulated injuries. With as much elasticity of mind as stiffness of neck, every step he takes but the last is as firm as the earth he treads upon. Nothing can daunt, nothing disconcert him; remonstrance cannot move, ridicule cannot touch, obloquy cannot exasperate him when he has not provoked them, he has been forced to bear them; and now that he does provoke them, be is proof against them. In a word, he may be broken; he cannot be bent.

These several elements of character are so complicated in Shylock, that we cannot distinguish their respective influence. Even his avarice has a smack of patriotism. Money is the only defence of his brethren as well as himself, and he craves it for their sake as much as his own; feels indeed that wrongs are offered to them in him, and to him in them. Antonio has scorned his religion, thwarted him of usurious gains, insulted his person: therefore he hates him as a Christian, himself a Jew; as a lender of money gratis, himself a griping usurer; as Antonio, himself Shylock. Moreover, who but a Christian, one of Antonio's faith and fellowship, has stolen away his daughter's heart, and drawn her into revolt, loaded with his ducats, and his precious, precious jewels? Thus his religion, his patriotism, his avarice, his affection, all concur to stimulate his enmity; and his personal hate, thus reenforced, for once overcomes his avarice, and he grows generous in the prosecution of his design. The only reason he will vouchsafe for taking the pound of flesh is, "if it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge ;" -a reason all the more satisfactory to him, forasmuch as those to whom he gives it can neither allow nor refute it and until they can rail the seal from off his bond, all their railings are but a foretaste of the revenge he seeks. In his eagerness to taste that morsel sweeter to him than all the luxuries of Italy, his recent afflictions, the loss of his daughter, his ducats, his jewels, and even the precious ring given him by his departed wife, all fade from his mind. In his cool, resolute, unrelenting, imperturbable hardness at the trial, there' is something that makes our blood to tingle. It is the sublimity of malice! We feel, and tremble as we feel, that the yearnings of revenge have silenced all other cares and all other thoughts. Fearful, however, as is his malignity, he comes not off without moving our pity. In the very act whereby he thinks to avenge h's own and his brethren's wrongs, the national curse overtakes him in standing up for the law he has but strengthened his ene mies' hands, and sharpened their weapons against himself; and the terrible Jew sinks at last into the poor, pitiable heart-broken Shylock.

The Merchant of Venice is justly distinguished among Shake speare's dramas for the beauty of particular scenes and passages For descriptive power, the opening scene between the Merchan and his friends is not easily rivalled, and can hardly fail to live ir the memory of any one that has an eye for such things. Equally fine in its way is the scene between Tubal and Shylock, where the latter is so torn with the struggle of conflicting passions, his heart now sinking with grief at the account of his fugitive daughter's expenses, now leaping with malignant joy at the report of Antonio's losses at sea. The trial scene, with its tugging vicissitudes of passion and its hush of terrible expectation, now ringing with the Jew's sharp, spiteful snaps of malice, now made musical with Portia's strains of eloquence, now holy with Antonio's noble gushes of friendship, is hardly surpassed in tragic power any where; and as it forms the catastrophe, so it concentrates the interest of the whole play. Scarce inferior in its kind is the night scene of Lorenzo and Jessica, bathed as it is in love, moonlight, "touches of sweet harmony," and soul-lifting discourse, followed by the grave moral reflections of Portia, as she approaches her home, and sees its lights, and hears its music. The bringing in this passage of ravishing lyrical sweetness, so replete with the most soothing and tranquillizing effect, close upon the intense dramatic excitement of the preceding scene, is such a transition as we may find nowhere but in Shakespeare, and shows his unequalled mastery over the mind's capacities of delight. The affair of the rings, with the harmless perplexities growing out of it, is a well-managed device for letting the mind down from the tragic height, whereon it lately stood, to the merry conclusion which the play requires. Critics, indeed, may easily quarrel with this merry after-piece; but it stands justified by the tribunal to which criticism itself must bow, the spontaneous feelings of all such as are willing to be made happier and wiser, without beating their brains about the how and wherefore.

Before leaving this fruitful theme, it may be worth the while to consider, for a moment, what a wide diversity of materials are here drawn up and moulded into unity of life and impression. Ben Jonson, in his preface to The Alchemist, sets it down as "the disease of the unskilful to think rude things greater than polished, or scattered more numerous than composed." A principle very well illustrated in the play before us. One can hardly realize how many things are there brought together, they are ordered in such perfect concert and harmony; the greatness of the work being thus hidden in its fine proportions. In many of the Poet's dramas we are surprised at the great variety of character: here, besides this, we have also a remarkable variety of plot; and, admirable as may be the skill displayed in the characters, severally considered the interweaving of so many several plets, without the least con fusion or embarrassment, evinces a still higher mastership. For many and various as are the forms and aspects of life, they all

emphatically live together, as though they had but one circulation. So that the play is like a large, full-grown, fair-spreading tree, which we know is made up of divers smaller trees, all developed from and cohering in one common life.

Now, admitting the excellence of workmanship shown in the several plots and characters, there is a further question, namely. What business have they here? by what law or principle are they this brought together? A question that has been handled with so much of ingenuity, or of something better, by Ulrici the German critic, as may well entitle his view to a place in this connection. He regards the whole play as a manifold working out of the principle, that all forms of right and justice, if pushed beyond a certain point, pass over into their opposites, so that extreme right becomes extreme wrong, thus verifying the old maxim, summum jus summa injuria. Which is best exemplified in Shylock, who has formal right on his side, in that he claims no more than Antonio has freely bound himself to pay; but in the strict rigid exacting of this claim he runs into the foulest wrong, because in his case justice is not justice unless it be tempered with mercy; that is, to keep its own nature, it must be an offshoot from the higher principle of charity. So, also, the tying up of Portia's hand to the disposal of chance, and robbing her of all share in the choice of a husband, rests ultimately on paternal right; yet this extreme right is an extreme Wrong, because it might involve her in misery for life, but that chance, a lucky thought of the moment, leads to a happy result. Likewise in case of Jessica; her conduct were exceedingly wrong. but that she has good cause for it in the approved malignity of her father's temper; for justice cannot blame her for forsaking both the person and the religion of one, even though her father, whose character is so steeped in cruelty. Again, in the matter of the rings, the same principle is reflected, right and wrong being here driven to that extreme point where they pass over into each other only Portia understands or feels this truth, because her mind lives in the harmonies of things, and is not poisoned with any self-willed abstraction. Which yields a further justification of the fifth act: it effaces the tragic impression which still lingers on the mind from the fourth act; the last vibrations of the harsh tones which were there struck here die away; in the gay aud amusing trifling of love the sharp contrarieties of right and wrong are playfully reconciled." Thus while the several parts are disposed with clearness and precision, each proceeding so naturally of itself, and alongside the others, that we never lose the thread, at the same time a free living principle pervades them all, rounding them off into a perfect organic whole. And the several parts and persons not only cohere with one another, but with the general circumstances wherein they occur. Thus in the character of Portia, for example, the splendour of Italian skies, and scenery, and art, is reproduced; their spirit lives in her imagination, and is complicated with all she does and says.

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LORENZO, in love with Jessica.


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.

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Magnificoes of Venice, Officers of the Court of Jusuce Jailors, Servants, and other Attendants

SCENE, partly at Venice, and partly at Belmont

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