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THE MERCHANT OF VENICE.
THIS play was entered at Stationers' Hall on the 22d of July, 1598; but must have been exhibited before that time, as it was mentioned by Meres, in the Wit's Treasury, which was published early in the same year. The first known edition of this comedy is the quarto, "printed by J. R. for Thomas Heyes, 1600." It was most probably written in 1597. Mr. Malone places it three years earlier; but he has no authority to support his hypothesis, but a simile of Portia's
This passage he supposes to refer to the recent coronation of Henry the Fourth of France, of which a description was published in this country immediately after the event.
The principal incidents of the plot are taken from a story in the Pecorone of Ser Giovanni Fiorentino, a novelist who wrote in 1378. [The first novel of the fourth day.] The story has been published in English. The circumstance of the caskets is from an old translation of the Gesta Romanorum, first printed by Wynkyn de Worde.
It has been supposed that there was a play on the subject previous to this of our author, and on which he might have grounded his work. This notion has been suggested by a passage in Stephen Gosson's School of Abuse, which speaks of "the Jew shewn at the Bull, representing the greediness of worldly choosers, and the bloody minds of usurers;" but these words apply with equal propriety to the Jew of Marlow, and to the Shylock of Shakspeare.
Duke of VENICE.
Prince of MOROCCO, suitors to PORTIA.
ANTONIO, the Merchant of VENICE.
BASSANIO, his friend.
SALARINO, friends to ANTONIO and BASSANIO.
LORENZO, in love with JESSICA.
SHYLOCK, a Jew:
TUBAL, a Jew, his friend.
LAUNCELOT GOBBO, a clown, servant to SHYLOCK.
OLD GOBBO, father to LAUNCELOT,
SALERIO, a messenger from Venice.
LEONARDO, servant to BASSANIO.
PORTIA, a rich heiress.
NERISSA, her waiting-maid.
JESSICA, daughter to SHYLOCK.
Magnificoes of VENICE, officers of the court of justice, jailer, servants, and other attendants.
SCENE, partly at VENICE, and partly at BELMONT, the seat of PORTIA on the continent.
a In the old editions in quarto, for J. Roberts, 1600, and in the old folio, 1623, there is no enumeration of the persons. It was first made by Mr. Rowe. -JOHNSON.
b It is not easy to determine the orthography of this name. In the old editions the owner of it is called-Salanio, Salino, and Solanio.-STEEVENS.
c This character I have restored to the Persona Dramatis. The name appears in the first folio: the description is taken from the quarto.-STEEVENS.
MERCHANT OF VENICE.
SCENE I.-Venice. A Street.
Enter ANTONIO, SALARINO, and SALANIO.
Ant. In sooth, I know not why I am so sad;
And such a want-wit sadness makes of me,
Salar. Your mind is tossing on the ocean;
That curt'sy to them, do them reverence,
Be with my hopes abroad. I should be still
Plucking the grass, to know where sits the wind;
argosies-] Argosie was in our author's time a name given to ships of great burden.-Several derivations have been suggested.-Nares considers that Pope and Douce are correct in supposing it to come from the ship Argo, which is confirmed by the word argis being used for a ship in low Latin.
b Plucking the grass, &c.] By holding up the grass, or any light body that will bend by a gentle blast, the direction of the wind is found.-JOHNSON.
My wind, cooling my broth,
And not bethink me straight of dangerous rocks?
And now worth nothing? Shall I have the thought
Is sad to think upon his merchandize.
Ant. Believe me, no: I thank my fortune for it,
Salan. Not in love neither? Then let's say, you are sad,
Because you are not merry: and 'twere as easy
For you to laugh, and leap, and say, you are merry,
And other of such vinegar aspect,
That they'll not show their teeth in way of smile,
-Andrew-] The name of the ship.
d Vailing To vail is to put off the hat—to trike sail-to give sign of submission.-BULLOKAR's English Expositor, 1616.
Enter BASSANIO, LORENZO, and GRATIANO.
Salan. Here comes Bassanio, your most noble kinsman, Gratiano, and Lorenzo: Fare you well;
We leave you now with better company.
Salar. I would have staid till I had made you merry, If worthier friends had not prevented me.
Ant. Your worth is very dear in my regard.
Bass. Good signiors both, when shall we laugh? Say You grow exceeding strange: Must it be so?
Salar. We'll make our leisures to attend on yours.
[Exeunt SALARINO and SALANIO. Lor. My lord Bassanio, since you have found Antonio,
We two will leave you: but, at dinner time, pray you, have in mind where we must meet.
Bass. I will not fail you.
Gra. You look not well, signior Antonio; You have too much respect upon the world; They lose it, that do buy it with much care. Believe me, you are marvellously chang'd.
Ant. I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano; A stage, where every man must play a part,
And mine a sad one.
Let me play the Fool:
Sleep when he wakes? and creep into the jaundice