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and gives an analysis of the 99th chapter, which he thinks is obvious fectingly sublime. Like a royal merchant, he is surrounded with a ly the story which supplied the caskets of the “ MERCHANT OF VENICE.” | whole train of noble friends. The contrast which this forms to the
A marriage was proposed between the son of Anselmus, Emperor selfish cruelty of the usurer Shylock, was necessary to redeem the of Rome, and the daughter of the King of Apulia. The young lady in | honor of human nature. her voyage was shipwrecked and swallowed by a whale. In this sit The judgment scene, with which the fourth act is occupied, is uation, she contrived to make a fire and to wound the animal with & alone a perfect drama, concentrating in itself the interest of the knife, so that he was driven towards the shore, and slain by an earl whole. The knot is now untied, and, according to the common idea, named Pirius, who delivered the princess and took her under his pro the curtain might drop. But the poet was unwilling to dismiss bis tection. On relating her story, she was conveyed to the emperor. - audience with the gloomy impressions which the delivery of Antonio, In order to prove whether she was worthy the hand of his son, he accomplished with so much difficulty, contrary to all expectation, placed before her three vessels. The first was of gold, and filled with and the punishment of Shylock, were calculated to leave behind; ho dead-men's bones: on it was this inscription:-“Who chooses me bas, therefore, added the fifth act, by way of a musical asterpiece in shall find what he deserves.” The second was of silver, filled 1 with the play itself. The episode of Jessica, the fugitive daughter of the earth, and thus inscribed :-“Who chooses me shall find what nature
chooses me shall find what nature Jew, in whom Sbakspeare has contrived to throw a disguise of sweetcovets." The third was of lead, but filled with precious stones, it had ness over the national features, and the artifice by which Portia and this inscription:-“Who chooses me sball find what God has placed.” her companion are enabled to rally their newly-married husbands, The emperor then commanded her to choose one of the vessels, in- supply him with materials. forming her that if she made choice of that which should profit her. The scene opens with the playful prattling of two lovers in a fumself and others she would obtain his son: if of what should profit | mer moonlight:neither herself nor others, she would lose him. The princess, after
“When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees.” praying for assistance, preferred the leaden vessel. The emperor in.
It is followed by soft music, and a rapturous eulogy on this powerful formed her that she had chosen as he wished, and immediately united
disposer of the human mind and the world. The principal characters her with his son.
then make their appearance; and, after an assumed dissension, which is elegantly carried on, the whole ends with the most exhilarating mirth. -SOHLEGEL.
The "MERCHANT OF VENICE” is one of Shakspeare's most perfect works: popular to an extraordinary degree, and calculated to produce the most powerful effect on the stage; and at the same time, a In Percy's “RELIQUES OF ANCIENT POETRT," there is a Ballad called wonder of ingenuity and art for the reflecting critic. Shylock, the “ A new Song, shewing the cruelty of Gerputus, a Jew; who, lending Jew, is one of the inconceivable masterpieces of characterization of to a Merchant an hundred Crowns, would have a pound of his flesh, which Shakspeare alone furnishes us with examples. It is easy for because he could not pay him at the time appointed." This produo the poet and the player to exhibit a caricature of national sentiments, tion is supposed by Warton and other competent judges to have been modes of speaking, and gestures. Sbylock, however, is everything written before Shakspeare's play: and it seems not unlikely that the but a common Jew: he possesses a very determinate and original in- poet derived various hints from it, more particularly from those parts dividuality, and yet we perceive a slight touch of Judaism in every which speak of the “merry jest" and "the" whetted blade." Three thing which he says and does. We imagine we hear & sprinkling of of the more relevant stanzas are subjoined by way of specimen :the Jewish pronunciation in the mere written words, as we still sometimes find it in the higher classes of that people, notwithstanding
No penny for the loan of it their social refinement. In tranquil situations, what is foreign to the
For one year you shall pay: European blood and Christian sentiments is less perceivable; but in
You may do me as good a turn passion the national stamp appears more strongly marked. All these
Before my dying day. inimitable niceties the finished art of a great actor can alone properly
But we will have a merry jest express.
For to be talked long: Shylock is a man of information, even a thinker in his own way;
You shall make me a bond (quoth he) he has not only discovered the region where human feelings dwell;
That shall be large and strong. his morality is founded on the disbelief in goodness and magnanimity. The desire of revenging the oppressions and humiliations suffered by
The bloody Jew now ready is, his nation, is, after avarice, his principal spring of action. His hate
With whetted blade in hand, is naturally directed chiefly against those Christians who possess truly
To spill the blood of innocent, Christian sentiments: the example of disinterested love of our neigh
By forfeit of his bond," &c. bor, seems to him the most unrelenting persecution of the Jews. The letter of the law is his idol; he refuses to lend an ear to the voice of It were useless further to pursue the search for Shakspeare's aumercy, which speaks to him from the mouth of Portia with heavenly thorities. The story of the cruel creditor and of his defeat seems to eloquence: he insists on severe and inflexible justice, and it at last re have been told in as many regions, East and West, as that of Par coils on his own head. Here he becomes a gymbol of the general bis- | nell's “ HERMIT," and in as great variety of forms. In the “ MES. tory of his unfortunate pation.
CHANT OF VENICE,” we have it finally embalmed, in its most striking The melancholy and self-neglectful magnanimity of Antonio is af- | and instructive aspect.
VARIEGATED, light, and splendid as though woren in the woof of Iris, the wondrous texture of this enchanting Dream is yet of stamina to last till doomsday. “Such tricks hath strong imagination!” Like gravitation in the substantial world, its influence pervades the whole domain of moral nature, and compels materials apparently the most discordant to revolve in harmony round one bright vivifying center. Never was this divine impulsive property of intellect more finely exemplified than in the Elysian scene that here presents itself. The stately heroes and heroines of Grecian story move in soft unison with the beautiful creations of the Gothic mythology — quaint, rich, and fantastic as the ornaments of our matchless Gothic fanes ; while all are bound up and blended with a plenteous exhibition of the joys and the sorrows, the constancy and the faithfulness, the sense and the absurdity, that in every age and every clime have characterized our inconsistent, yet exalted human nature.
Theseus and his Amazonian love, although invested, for the most part, with an air of classic
coldness, at times give indications of being instinct with Shaksperian fire. There is a fine touch of feminine feeling in Hippolyta's expressed dislike “to see wretchedness o'ercharged, and duty in his service perishing." The answer of Theseus breathes the very spirit of a generous philosophy. Their conversation, too, while preparing for the chase, is animated with a glowing sense of animal enjoyment that rises into strenuous poetry. Altogether, these warlike lovers present a very gratifying specimen of the heroic character in repose.
The language of the amorous “human mortals," while doomed to illustrate the pathetic adage that “the course of true love never did run smooth,” is fraught with sweetness gathered from the purest flowers of Parnassus. The pains and pleasures, the exalting and debasing influences of the universal passion, are delineated with surpassing truth and beauty. Under its resistless spell, the charming Helena betrays her friend, for the sake of a short-lived interview with her revolted and contemptuous lover. Her subsequent unshaken patience, however, and exquisite expostulation with Hermia, amply atone for the solitary error springing from that intoxication of the heart and brain which deprives its victims of discretion, and too often of their self-respect, at the precise moment when they have most occasion for support and admonition.
While basking in the moonlight fairy scenes, the luxurious fancy seems to inhale the very odors of the spiced Indian air;" or, sweeter still, to drink the balmy influence of that “luscious woodbine” which forms Titania's most appropriate canopy. – Puck, the “ shrewd and knavish sprite,” who finds a sport in lovers' agonizing janglings, is beautifully discriminated from Ariel, who pities mortal miseries, and instigates his master to relieve them. Still the “merry wanderer of the night” is delightful and exhilarating company: his sportive malice, controlled by the beneficent Oberon, is productive of infinite diversion; we easily forgive his elvish ridicule of pangs and raptures he is alike incapable of feeling, and for the moment heartily subscribe to his satiric dictum, - “Lord, what fools these mortals be!”.
"The “hempen homespuns” who are so marvelously intermixed with the superior intelligences of the drama, are all admirable workers in their tiny spheres, — from Peter Quince, the business-like manager, who really seems to have half an idea in his head, and contents himself with the humble role of Thisbe's father — up (or down) to ostentatious “ Bully Bottom," the twinkling cynosure of all his meek competitors. The union of broad humor with poetic fancy was never perhaps so admirably effected as in the scenes in which this “shallowest thickskin of that barren sort” receives, as a mere thing of course, the enthusiastic courtship of the Queen of Fairyland. — “ A very good piece of work, and a merry."
There were two quarto editions of the “ MIDSUMMER Night's DREAM” (both published in 1600), previous to its appearance in the folio collection.