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SHAKSPEARE'S ALLUSIONS

TO

SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS, INCIDENTS, ETC.

IN THE NEW TESTAMENT.

He alludes to Herod, in Henry V., act iii., sc. 3; in

Antony and Cleopatra, act i., sc. 2; twice in act iii., sc. 3 of the same play ; also in act iii., sc. 6, and act iv., sc. 6, and in Hamlet, act iii.,

scene 2. To Pilate, in King Richard II., act iv., sc. 1; and

King Richard III, act i., sc. 4. To Judas, in Love's Labour's Lost, act v., sc. 2; As

You Like It, act iii., sc. 4; King Richard II., act iii., sc. 2; and act iv., sc. 1 ; and in King

Henry VI. (3d part), act v., sc. 7. To Barrabas, in the Merchant of Venice, act iv., sc. 1. To the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, in King

Richard II., act iv., sc. 1; in King Henry IV. (1st part), act iv., sc. 2, and act iii., sc. 3 of the same play.

To the Parable of the Prodigal Son, in the Merry

Wives of Windsor, act iv., sc. 5; in the Comedy of Errors, act iv., sc. 3; in King Henry IV. (1st part), act iv., sc. 2; in As You Like It, act i., sc. l; and in the Two Gentlemen of Verona, act ii.,

sc. 3. To the Legion of Devils, in Twelfth Night, act ii., sc.

4; and in the Merchant of Venice, act i., sc. 3. To Golgotha, in Macbeth, act i., sc. 2; and in King

Richard II., act iv., sc. 1.

IN THE OLD TESTAMENT.

He alludes to Adam, twice in Much Ado about

Nothing, act ii., sc. 1; in Love's Labour's Lost, act iv., sc. 2; in As You Like It, act ii., sc. 1 ; in the Comedy of Errors, act iv., sc. 3; in King Henry IV. (1st part), act iii., sc. 3; in King Henry V., act i., sc. 1; in King Henry VI (2d part), act iv., sc. 2; and twice in Hamlet, act v.,

sc. 1. To Adam and Eve, in Love's Labour's Lost, act v., sc.

2 ; and in King Richard II., act iii., sc. 4. To Eve, in Two Gentlemen of Verona, act iii., sc. 1 ;

Merry Wives of Windsor, act iv., sc. 2 ; Twelfth
Night, act i., sc. 5; and in Love's Labour 's Lost,

act i., sc. 1. To Cain, in Love's Labour's Lost, act iv., sc. 2; King

John, act iii., sc. 4 ; King Richard II., act v., sc. 6; King Henry IV. (2d part), act i., sc. 1; King Henry VI. (1st part), act i., sc. 3 ; Hamlet, act

V., sc. 1. To Abel, King Richard II., act i., sc. 1; King Henry

VI. (1st part), act i., sc. 3. To Abraham, twice in the Merchant of Venice, act i.,

sc. 3. To Jacob, five times in the Merchant of Venice, act i.,

sc. 3; and once in act ii., sc. 5, of the same play. To Japheth, in King Henry IV. (2d part), act ii., sc. 2. To Hagar, in the Merchant of Venice, act ii., sc. 5. To Laban, twice in the Merchant of Venice, act i., sc. 3. To Noah, in Twelfth Night, act ii., sc. 2. To the Flood, in the Comedy of Errors, act iii., sc. 2. To the Beasts entering the Ark, in As You Like It, act

V., sc. 4. To Pharaoh's Soldiers, in Much Ado about Nothing,

act iii., sc. 3. To Pharaoh's Lean Kine, * King Henry IV. (1st part),

act ii., sc. 4. To the manner of Sisera's death, in the Tempest, act

iii., sc. 2. To Job, in King Henry IV. (2d part), act i., sc. 2. To Job and his Wife, in Merry Wives of Windsor, act

V., sc. 5.

* Stevens says that the following lines from Hamlet, act ii., sc. 4, contain an allusion to Pharaoh's dream, in Gen. xli. :

Look you now, what follows:
Here is your husband; like a mildew'd ear,

Blasting his wholesome brother.
But the allusion is a little obscure, and may be questioned.

To Daniel, in the Merchant of Venice, act iv., sc. 1. To Nebuchadnezzar, in All's Well that Ends Well, act

iv., sc. 5. To Samson, in Love's Labour's Lost, act i., sc. 2. To Samson and Goliath, in King Henry VI. (1st part),

act i., sc. 2. To Goliath, in Merry Wives of Windsor, act v., sc. 1. To Deborah,* in King Henry VI. (1st part), act i., sc. 2. To Jezebel, in Twelfth Night, act ii., sc. 5. To Jephthah, in Hamlet, act ii., sc. 2; and in King

Henry VI. (2d part), act iii., sc. 2. To David, in King Henry IV. (2d part), act iii., sc. 2. To Ahithophel, in King Henry IV. (20 part), act i.,

sc. 2. To Solomon, in Love's Labour's Lost, act i., sc. 2, and

act iv., sc. 3. To the Queen of Sheba, in King Henry VIII., act v.,

sc. 4.+

I have collected these Allusions in order to illustrate more fully the frequency and facility with which Shakspeare was in the habit of referring to such subjects, and to shew with what extreme readiness they offered themselves to his mind and pen; arguing, as they do, a familiarity with the Bible not very common in any case, and, in his particular arena, most singu

* Not Rebekab's nurse, but Deborah the prophetess.

of Shakspeare also alludes to several characters of the Apocryphal books which I have not included in the above,

larly, exceptional. Besides these, there are still a great number of passages in his writings, although not quotable either as parallels or as direct allusions, that nevertheless, by some peculiarity of phrase or figure, distinctly reveal a biblical source, or suggest at once some biblical equivalent. Take, for example, the following from “All's Well that Ends Well," act ii., sc. 1, where Helena, the daughter of a famous physician, in trying to persuade the King of France to try the remedy she possesses for the cure of his disease, pleads the following arguments in defence of her youth and seeming inexperience :

He that of greatest works is finisher,
Oft does them by the weakest minister;
So holy writ in babes hath judgment shown,
When judges have been babes. Great floods have

flown
From simple sources; and great seas have dried
When miracles have by the greatest been denied.
Oft expectation fails, and most oft there
Where most it promises ; and oft it hits
Where hope is coldest, and despair most sits.

What a comprehensive ramification of biblical allusion do these few words contain. The first lines call to mind at once the text in 1st Corinthians—“God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty.” Then in the next lines we are reminded of Matthew xxi. 16—“Out of the mouths of babes,” etc., and in the words, “When judges have been babes,” of the child-prophet Samuel,

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