Por. A pound of that same merchant's flesh

is thine ; The court awards it, and the law doth give it.

Shy. Most rightful judge !
Por. And you must cut this flesh from uff

his breast; The law allows it, and the court awards it. Shy. Most learned judge !-A sentence ;

come, prepare. Por. Tarry a little ;-mthere is something

else. This bond doth give thee here no jot of

blood; The words expressly are, a pound of flesh : Then take thy bond, take thou thy pound of


But, in the cutting it, if thou dost shed
One drop of Christian blood, thy lands and

Are, by the laws of Venice, confiscate
Unto the state of Venice.
Gra. O upright judge !-Mark, Jew;-O

learned judge! Shy. Is that the law ? Por. Thyself shalt see the act :


small trespass ; which, the nature and circumstances of the piece considered, may be pardoned even by the severest. CAPELL.



For, as thou urgest justice, be assur'd, Thou shalt have justice, more than thou

desir'st. Gra. O learned judge !—Mark, Jew ;-a

learned judge! Shy. I take this offer then ; 8-pay the bond

thrice, And let the Christian go.

Bass. Here is the money.

Por. The Jew shall have , all justice ;-soft!-no

Soft ;

haste ;

He shall have nothing but the penalty.
Gra. O Jew! an upright judge, a learned

judge! Por. Therefore, prepare thee to cut off the flesh.9


8 I take this offer then ;] I have introduced into the text, as a new 'correction, “his offer,” which, the supposed doctor being now out of favour with him, he utters with marks of signal displeasure in tone, action, and look. IDEM.

It is observable that, in recommending the same emendatory change, Mr. Ritson refers_his offer to Bassanio, and Mr. Capell to Portia. E.

He means, I think, to say “ I take this offer " that has been made me.' Bassanio had offered at first but twice the sum, but Portia had


further “ Shylock there's thrice thy money,” &c. The Jew paturally insists on the larger sum. MALONE.

9* Therefore prepare thee to cut off the flesh.] This judgment is related by Gracian, the celebrated


Shed thou no blood; nor cut thou less, nor more,



Spanish jesuit, in his Hero, with a reflexion at the conclusion of it. -Compite con la del Salomon “ la promptitud de aquel gran Turco. Pretendia

un Judio cortar una onza de carne a un Christiano, pena sobre usura. Insistia en ello con igual ter

quera a su Principe, que perfidia a su Dios. Man“ do el gran Juez traer peso, y cuchillo; cominole “ el deguello si cortava mas ni menos. Y fue dar

agudo corte a la lid, y al mundo milagro del ingenio.El Heroe de Lorenzo Gracian. Primor. 3. Thus rendered by Sir John Skeffington, 1652.

“ The vivacity of that great Turke enters in com

petition with that of Solomon : a Jew pretended to cut an ounce of the flesh of a Christian upon

a penalty of usury; he urged it to the prince, “ with as much obstinacy, as perfidiousness towards 66 God.

The great judge commanded a pair of “ scales to be brought, threatening the Jew with « death if he cut either more or less : And this was “ to give a sharp decision to a malicious process, “ and to the world a miracle of subtilty.” The Heroe, p. 24.

Gregorio Leti, in his Life of Sixtus v. has a similar story. The papacy of Sixtus began in 1583. He died Aug. 29, 1590. The reader will find an extract from Furnworth's Translation, at the conclusion of the play. STEEVENS.

nor cut thou less, nor more, &c.] I cannot discover any thing like reason or propriety in this decision, by which he is made to incur the punishment afterwards mentioned for taking less * than a just pound.” It surely is not founded in natural equity, and it is impossible that any positive law could ever have been framed expressly provid



Bat just a pound of flesh; if thou tak'st

more, Or less, than a just pound, be it but so much As makes it light, or heavy, in the substance, On the division of the twentieth part 2 Of one poor scruple; nay, if the scale do

turn But in the estimation of a hair, Thou diest, and all thy goods are confiscate.


ing for the circumstances of such a particular case, as no man could conceive it possible should ever happen. The merchant would sustain an injury by his cutting more than the just pound; but if he had a right to that, he unquestionably had an equal right to a smaller portion, and in cutting less he certainly did him & kindness. It is otherwise with regard to the threat held out respecting the blood; upon the principle of its being ordained by the Venetian law 80 highly penal for a Jew to shed the blood of a Christian it was an ingenious salvo, and a fair advantage taken. E.

2 Or the division of the twentieth part, &c.] It is not easy to make sense of this which is the reading of the original copies; that which has been here admitted into the text has been copied from Mr. Theobald, (whom Dr. Warburton and Mr. Capell have likewise followed) and must, I think, be explained in this manner- -By means, or in consequence of the twentieth part, &c. being divided, which operation must be supposed to be performed for the purpose of ascertaining the exact quantity of the overplus or deficiency; in either way the form of expression is obscure. E.

Grå. A secorid Daniel, a Daniel, Jew! Now, infidel, I have thee on the hip. Por. Why doth the Jew pause ? take thy

forfeiture. Shy. Give ine my principal, and let me go. Bass. I have it ready for thee; here it is.

Por. He hath refus'd it in the open court; He shall have werely justice, and his bond. Gra. A Daniel, still say I; a second

Daniel !
I thank thee, Jew, for teaching me that word.

Shy. Shall I not have barely my principal ?
Por. Thou shalt have nothing but the for-

feiture, To be so taken at thy peril, Jew. Shy. Why then the devil give him good of

it! I'll stay no longer question. Por.

Tarry, Jew; The law hath yet another hold on you. It is enacted in the laws of Venice,-If it be prov'd against an alien, That, by direct, or indirect attempts, He seek the life of any citizen, The party, 'gainst the which he doth contrive, Shall seize on half his goods; the other half Comes to the privy coffer of the state; And the offender's life lies in the mercy Of the duke only, 'gainst all other voice.

« VorigeDoorgaan »