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Dum. O, shall I say, I thank you, gentle wife?
Kath. Not so, my lord.—A twelvemonth and a day
Dum. I'll serve thee true and faithfully till then.
At the twelvemonth's end, I'll change my black gown for a faithful friend.
Long. I'll stay with patience; but the time is long.
Biron. Studies my lady? Mistress, look on me;
Ros. Oft have I heard of you, my lord Birón,
your wit, To enforce the pained impotent to smile. Biron. To move wild laughter in the throat of
death? It cannot be; it is impossible. Mirth cannot move a soul in agony.
Ros. Why, that's the way to choke a gibing spirit, Whose influence is begot of that loose grace, Which shallow, laughing hearers give to fools. A jest's prosperity lies in the ear of him that hears it, never in the tongue Of him that makes it. Then, if sickly ears.
Deafed with the clamors of their own dear? groans,
befall, I'll jest a twelvemonth in an hospital. Prin. Ay, sweet my lord; and so I take my leave.
[To the King King. No; madam ; we will bring you on your way.
Biron. Our wooing doth not end like an old play; Jack hath not Jill: these ladies' courtesy Might well have made our sport a comedy.
King. Come, sir, it wants a twelvemonth and a day, And then 'twill end. Biron.
That's too long for a play.
Arm. I will kiss thy royal finger and take leave. I am a votary; I have vowed to Jaquenetta to hold the plough for her sweet love three years. But, most esteemed greatness, will you hear the dialogue that the two learned men have compiled, in praise of the owl and the cuckoo ? it should have followed in the end of our show.
King. Call them forth quickly; we will do so.
Enter HOLOFERNES, NATHANIEL, Moth, COSTARD,
and others. 'This side is Hiems, winter ; this Ver, the spring; the one maintained by the owl, the other by the cuckoo Ver, begin.
1 Dear ; used by ancient writers to express pain, solicituđe, &c.
Spring. When daisies pied, and violets blue,
And lady-smocks all silver white,
Do paint the meadows with delight,
When shepherds pipe on oaten straws,
And merry larks are ploughmen's clocks,
And maidens bleach their summer smocks,
Winter. When icicles hang by the wall,
And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
And milk comes frozen home in pail,
sings the staring owl,
Joan doth keel the pot.
1 Gerarde, in his Herbal, 1597, says that the flos cuculi cardamine, &c. are called " in English cuckoo flowers, in Norfolk Canterbury bells, and at Namptwich, in Cheshire, Ladie-smocks."
When all aloud the wind doth blow,
And coughing drowns the parson's saw,
And Marian's nose looks red and raw,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.?
1 This wild English apple, roasted and put into ale, was a very favorite indulgence in old times.
2 To keel, or kele, is to cool.
In this play, which all the editors have concurred to censure, and some have rejected as unworthy of our Poet, it must be confessed that there are many passages mean, childish, and vulgar; and some which ought not to have been exhibited, as we are told they were, to a maiden queen. But there are scattered through the whole many sparks of genius; nor is there any play that has more evident marks of the hand of Shakepeare.
MERCHANT OF VENICE.
« THE Merchant of Venice,” says Schlegel, “ 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 wonder of ingenuity and art for the reflecting critic. Shylock, the Jew, is one of the inconceivable masterpieces of characterization of which Shakspeare alone furnishes us with examples. It is easy for the poet and the player to exhibit a caricature of national sentiments, modes of speaking, and gestures. Shylock, however, is every thing but a common Jew; he possesses a very determinate and original individuality, and yet we perceive a slight touch of Judaism in every thing which he says or does. We imagine we hear a sprinkling of the Jewish pronunciation in the mere written words, as we sometimes still find it in the higher classes, notwithstanding their social refinement. In tranquil situations, what is foreign to the European blood and Christian sentiments, is less perceiv
but in passion, the national stamp appears more strongly marked. All these inimitable niceties the finished art of a great actor can alone properly express. Shylock is a man of information, even a thinker in his own way; he has only not discovered the region where human feelings dwell: his morality is founded on the disbelief in goodness and magnanimity. The desire of revenging the oppressions and humiliations suffered by his nation is, after avarice, his principal spring of action. His hate is naturally directed chiefly against those Christians who possess truly Christian sentiments; the example of disinterested love of our neighbor 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 mercy, which speaks to him from the mouth of Portia with heavenly eloquence; he insists on severe and inflexible justice, and it at last recoils on his own head. Here he becomes a symbol of the general history of his unfortunate nation. The melancholy and self-neglectful magnanimity of Antonio is affectingly sublime. Like a royal merchant, he is surrounded with a whole train of noble friends. The contrast which this forins