« ZurückWeiter »
is a secular Rabbinism. In fine, the commerce and the colonising concur too strikingly to need remark, and are plain results of avidity and individualism. The “dispersion” of the Hebrew section, the disappearance of the Phoenician and the destruction of the Carthaginian are another form of the same destiny, implanted by Jehovah in the organization of the race.
A thousand other consonances of the races will now present themselves. But these are sufficient, no doubt, to satisfy that we may safely employ, for brevity, the test elucidated in the Teutons by way of key to the Jewish character. The only difference is of degree—which is, however, as immense as the divergence of the epochs and the development meanwhile. The Jew in mind, if not also body, might be defined an aborted Teuton ; and the Teuton, a stunted shrub grown to a cedar—but still of Lebanon.
This dwarf character must needs present, then, the typic attributes in like condition. The Reflection can be barely a commencement of abstraction, a mere negation of materiality, devoid of power to seize a principle. For want of this, the mind must crawl, in its procedure along the subject, clinging desperately to the language as its sole logical machinery : and hence a reverence for “what is writ,” and a tenacity of national records, and an unquestioning submission to whatever is named "law”; for all these traits (although attesting the providential channel through which the Holy Scriptures were to pass to the Christian world), yet have been also the props that have upheld the infant intellect, on its detachment from the physical trellis of the heathen symbolism : of course, the reasoning power is totally null. --The Conscience, too, could be ill developed, for it implies a higher abstraction
than that of man from physical nature, which was the stage of the Hebrews; namely, that of soul, in turn, from its physical encasement, man. The Jews had thus no distinct notion of either soul or immortality. The rudimental conscience had barely sufficient activity to recognize the obligation of an express compact once for all—another trait which shows in germ the Teutonic love of contracts : the religion itself has been a compact of this nature, entered into, right commercially, with the author of their being.—The philosophy of the Hebrews was the power and passions of Jehovah, who disposed all things down to even a sparrow's fall, by express orders; for a race of personality and muscular contention could account for no effect but by a force, a man, behind it.—The Manners, it is known and still observable, were almost animal. —As to the vicious test of Selfishness, it is a synonym with Jew. So intense, indeed, is this, that it diffused itself to the tribe, and from the tribe to the small communities which this dispersive race admitted : so that the Jew, through his mental concreteness, and the voracity of his selfishness, exhibits something similar to patriotism, if not sociability. He loves himself so all-absorbingly, that, quite instinctively for his own sake, he loves and lauds whatever else has been called Hebrew back to Abraham. Other races, in much larger communities, do likewise. And if in charity the fact should be presumed, in either case, to be a result of humanity, not mere collective selfishness, the notion would be promptly put to flight by the remark, of a lurking rancour to every nation that opposes their meanest interests.
2. Shakespeare's pencil in painting Shylock has been dipped in all these principles. The mental, as giving form to the rest, will be most marking. It commences with the very entrance of the personage upon the stage, in act of uttering characteristically: “Three thousand ducats." For when informed by the borrower, of the time and surety successively, he feels it requisite to repeat each, to help along the apprehension ; as is attested by his adding “well,” to say that he now. understands. He then repeats again the three particulars together, by way of linking or lumping them in his mind, through language : “Three thousand ducats for three months, and Anthonio bound.” Accordingly on after mentioning the ducats without the months, he corrects himself as if omitting an integral portion of his notion : "I had forgot”--three months—you told me so." And this has also the effect of reassuring him of the terms. Your answer to that ? repeats the borrower Bassanio, who had already asked, without attention from the absorbed Jew. But Shylock still, instead of noticing, goes on to talk as if to himself, and of the sufficiency or the "goodness" (in broker's ethics) of the surety. And this he does, not, as is commonly supposed perhaps, from shrewdness, but from the slowness and the slimness of his capacity of comprehension.
His power of logic is displayed admirably, in the argument for usury, which takes the infant form of a parable or precedent :
Shy.- When Jacob grazed his uncle Laban's sheep
This Jacob from our holy Abraham was-
Here the feeble intellect confounds itself already, distracted by the patriarchal lore of the Jewish brain. At the end of the first line, it falls away from the proposition, into the pedigree of Jacob, diverted doubtless by a twofold circumstance; the one to aid itself by the usual thread of narrative of the nation ; the other circumstance, the vanity of bringing in the holy Abraham. It then breaks off to a new subject and parenthesis in the third line. In the fourth, it recrosses to the topic of the second, the genealogical propinquity of Jacob to Abraham, but so confusedly as to mistake the word “possessor” for successor. It may be, also, that the poet designed a Jew should deem them one, or that possession and existence were convertible in his sentiment. In fact, when Shylock, disappointed of his pound of flesh and principal, is menaced with the loss of his whole property, but pardoned personally, he is made to decline this, and tell the judge to take "life and all,” saying: “You take my life, when
you do take the means by which I live.” At all events Shylock's reason is quite exhausted at this point, and has completely lost the trace of what he purposed in the opening line. He can but turn with the mere instinct of a hound that has lost the trail, and resume the ruptured end, repeating : “Ay, he was the third.” This may call to mind the similar expedient of Polonius : “Then, sir, does he this he does
What was I about to say ? I was about to say something : where did I leave ? At closes in the consequence, suggests Reynaldo. At closes in the consequence, ay, marry,” etc.
But while Polonius is made to stumble in a ratiocinative sequence, Shylock fails to keep the tenor of simple statement from line to line. It is a singular obser
vance of the ratio between the races. At last, Anthonio interposes, to relieve the halt of Shylock. “And what of
“ him (Jacob), did he take interest ?" Thus replaced upon the
) track, the Jewish expositor still proceeds, by repetition of the question, until he gropes himself a footing. No, he answers,
No, not take interest ; not as you would say,
Directly interest; mark what Jacob did. He naturally thinks the hearers must exert, to comprehend him, the same labour of attention that he is tasked with himself.
When he at length has waddled through a recital of the Yankee trick whereby the nephew got possession of the produce of the uncle's flock (no doubt a sacred type and presage of the genius of the race of commerce), the conclusion or application is presented in this wise :
This was a way to thrive, and he was blest;
The formal stealth would be against the commandment, the writ, and more probably against a moneyed Jew than in his favour; the "thrift is blessing” explains the union of trade and religion in all such races. But when Anthonio again, to bring this rambling to the point, enquires if he means to argue for the legitimacy of interest, I would assimilate his gold and silver to the ewes and rams of the patriarch, the answer is : “I cannot tell ; I make it breed as well.” In other words, he can say nothing of the analogy, because a principle ; although it was the vague purpose of his introducing the rigmarole ; but he can answer for the physical fact, that he makes his money beget him more.
It is pre