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(Transactions, Sh. Soc., 1877-79.)

But the march of time at Belmont during the interval between the signing of the bond and the trial is irreconcilable, on principles of matter-of-fact calculation, with the three months of its date. Instead of trying to show, with Mr. Daniel, that Bassanio really spends three months there (in spite of iii. 2. 1 f.), it is better to say that the three brilliant and engrossing scenes in the casketchamber at Belmont produce an illusion of a much longer interval than they reckon out at. No audience dreams that anything is

wrong.

Salanio,

Dramatis Persona. Salarino, Salerio. There is great confusion among these names in the old texts. The earlier commentators supposed that only two persons were intended Steevens first added the name Salerio to the dramatis personæ. As Salerio nowhere appears with Salanio or Salarino, and once (iii. 2.) where we might expect one of these, it is very likely that only one person is meant.

Shylock. The name was probably current among the Jews in Shakespeare's time, and may

extant.

have been suggested to him by a tract: Caleb Shillocke, his prophecie, or the Jewes Prediction,' of which, however, no copies earlier than 1607 are A ballad with the same title and date is in Pepys' collection. There are obscure traces of a name Scialac in the Levant, of which Shillock may have been an anglicised form.

Stephano. This name is here accented on the a, in The

Tempest on the e. Shakespeare had probably learned the true accentuation in the interim.

INTRODUCTION

Literary

Two Quarto editions of The Merchant of Venice were Early issued in 1600. The first (Q1) was printed by James HistoryRoberts and issued in his own name. He had designed Texts. to publish it two years before, and entered it accordingly in the Stationers' Register (22nd July 1598) as 'A booke of the Merchaunt of Venyse, otherwise called the Jewe of Venise.' The entry is followed, however, by a proviso 'that it be not printed by the said James Roberts or any other whatsoever without leave first had from the ryght honourable the Lord Chamberlan.' In 1600 this leave was apparently obtained, and Roberts issued his Quarto with the following title

page :

The excellent | History of the Merchant of Venice. With the extreme cruelty of Shylocke | the Iew towards the saide Merchant, in cut- | ting a iust pound of his flesh. And the obtaining | of Portia, by the choyse of three Caskets |. Written by W. Shakespeare. Printed by J. Roberts, 1600.

On 28th October, however, in the same year, another edition of the play was entered on the Register by Thomas Heyes, by consent of Master Robertes.' The title-page of this Quarto (Q) is as follows:

The most excellent | Historie of the Merchant | of Venice with the extreame crueltie of Shylocke the

Jewe towards the sayd Merchant, in cutting a iust pound of his flesh and the obtayning of Portia | by the choyse of three chests. | As it hath beene divers times acted by the Lord Chamberlaine his Seruants. Written by William Shakespeare. London. Printed by I. R. for Thomas Heyes.

At

This 'I. R.' was, then, probably Roberts, who, after issuing his own edition, seems to have printed a second for Heyes. Heyes's was afterwards used for the Folio. Neither of the two Quartos, however, was printed from the other. Their differences are on the whole trifling, but they have a few glaring errors in common, and were probably printed from different transcripts of a single copy of the author's MS. The second Quarto was reprinted in 1637 (Q3) with a list of the actors' names, and again in 1652 (Q4).

In spite of its great and sustained popularity in later times, the play is rarely alluded to in the seventeenth century. But we know that one of Burbadge's

most famous rôles was that of

the red-haired Jew,

Which sought the bankrupt merchant's pound of flesh.1

English comedians carried it to Germany, and some critics have suspected a rude adaptation of it in the Komödie von einem König von Cypern und von einem Herzog von Venedig, which John Green's company played in 1608 at the court of Graz in Steiermark,2 and in other places. Nine years earlier, when Shakespeare's play had been on the boards some two

1 Elegy on Richard Burbadge (d. 13th March 1618).

2 Meissner, Die englischen Komodianten zur Zeit Shake

speare's in Österreich, 1884, p. 127 f. (quoted by J. Bolte, Jahrbuch, xxi. 193). Meissner

supposes this to be substantially preserved in the extant Jud von Venetien, which contains a rude transcript of the trial - scene. But Bolte has shown that this is probably later than the Thirty Years' War (Jahrbuch, xxii. 189 f.).

or three, a curious Latin drama (Moschus, by Jacob Rosefeldt) on the bond story was acted at Jena (July 1599) in celebration of a professional wedding. It is quite credible that The Merchant of Venice should have been acted in Germany in 1597-98; but the Moschus treats the story in an independent though fresh and lively way, and can only be regarded as a parallel.1

The Merchant of Venice was, as has been said, Date of Composientered by Roberts in the Stationers' Register in July tion." 1598. It is mentioned by Meres in his Palladis Tamia, published the same autumn, as a well-known piece. Two passages are imitated in the poor play of Wily Beguiled, which is plausibly assigned to 1597.2 Silvayn's Orator, translated in 1596, perhaps supplied suggestions for the trial-scene. External evidence supplies no further data. But the maturity of style and the extraordinary skill of the composition forbid us to place it very near even the ripest of the early comedies. It probably belongs to 1596-97.

All discussion of the origin of The Merchant of Sources. Venice has to reckon at the outset with a brief notice by Stephen Gosson of the lost play called The Jew. A converted player, bitterly hostile to the stage, he excepts from his general anathema some four plays as 'without rebuke': 'The two prose

1 Cf. the account of it by J. Bolte, the first living authority on the Humanist Latin drama, in Jahrbuch, xxi. 187 f. Bassanio and his wooing are wholly absent; Antonio ('Polyharpax') is a grasping merchant who himself proposes the bond in pure whim! He is saved by the intervention of his brother, an unworldly scholar who despises money-making and lives

only for learning; and the moral
of his triumph is duly brought
home to the academic audience.

2 The most palpable copy
occurs in the dialogue of Sophos
and Lelia :-

Soph. In such a night did Paris
win his love.

Lel. In such a night Æneas prov'd
unkind.

Soph. In such a night did Troilus
court his dear, etc.

books played at the Belsavage, where you shall never find a word without wit, never a line without pith, never a letter placed in vaine. The Jew, and Ptolone, shown at the Bull: the one representing the greediness of worldly chusers, and bloody minds of usurers; the other, very lively, describing how seditious states . . . are overthrown; neither with amorous gesture wounding the eye, nor with slovenly talk hurting the ear of the chaste hearers.' 1

This brief notice tells us exceedingly little; but just enough to preclude the assumption that the plot of the Merchant took shape essentially in Shakespeare's hands. The author of The Jew, we can hardly doubt, had already illustrated 'the bloody minds of usurers' by the story of the pound of flesh, and 'the greediness of worldly chusers' by some variant of the three caskets, and Gosson's approval makes it evident that both morals were driven unmistakably home. Versions of the ancient pound-of-flesh story (though without the Jew) and of the caskets story, had entered English literature a century before in the English Gesta Romanorum. In a form much nearer Shakespeare, the pound-of-flesh story had been told by the Italian novelist, Ser Giovanni Fiorentino, in his Pecorone (pr. 1558), as well as, probably, in the ballad of Gernutus the Jew.2 In the novel, as in the play, it is the fascinations of a lady of Belmont which set the whole in motion. But she is a rapacious and crafty siren, who allures passing

1 School of Abuses, 1579 (ed. Shakesp. Soc., p. 30).

2 A new song shewing the cruelty of Gernutus the Jew, who lending to a Marchant a hundred crowns, would have a pound of his Flesh, because he

could not pay him at the day appointed. Printed in Percy's Reliques. The date of the song is uncertain, but it would probably have recalled the play more closely had it not preceded it.

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