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Shakespeare's play of the Merchant of Venice Arranged for Representation at the Princess's Theatre, with Historical and Explanatory Notes by Charles Kean, F.S.A online

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Arranged for Representation at the Princess's Theatre,
With Historical and Explanatory Notes
by Charles Kean, F.S.A.,

As First Performed on Saturday, June 12th, 1858

Entered at Stationers' Hall



DUKE OF VENICE, ........................... Mr. H. MELLON.

} (Suitors to Portia) {

ANTONIO, (_the Merchant of Venice_)... Mr. GRAHAM.

BASSANIO, (_his Friend_) ........... Mr. RYDER.

SALANIO, } (_Friends to Antonio and {Mr. BRAZIER.
Bassanio_.) {



LORENZO, (_in love with Jessica_).... Mr. J.F. CATHCART.

SHYLOCK, (_a Jew_) .................. Mr. CHARLES KEAN.

TUBAL, (_a Jew, his Friend_) ........ Mr. F. COOKE.

LAUNCELOT GOBBO, } (_a Clown, servant to {Mr. HARLEY
Shylock_) {

OLD GOBBO, (_Father to Launcelot_) .. Mr. MEADOWS.

} (_Servants to Bassanio_)

BALTHAZAR, (_Servant to Portia_) .... Mr. DALY.

HERALD, .................................. Mr. J. COLLETT.

PORTIA, (_a rich Heiress_) .......... Mrs. CHARLES KEAN.

NELISSA, (_her Waiting Maid_) ....... Miss CARLOTTA LECLERCQ.

JESSICA, (_Daughter to Shylock_) .... Miss CHAPMAN
(Her First Appearance).


Magnificoes of Venice, Officers of the Court of Justice, Gaoler,
Servants, and other Attendants.

* * * * *

SCENE. - Partly at VENICE; and partly at BELMONT, the Seat of PORTIA, on
the Continent.

THE SCENERY Painted by Mr. GRIEVE and Mr. TELBIN, Assisted by Mr. W.

THE MUSIC under the direction of Mr. J.L. HATTON.


The DRESSES by Mrs. and Miss HOGGINS.


THE DANCES arranged by Mr. CORMACK.

PERRUQUIER; Mr. ASPLIN, of No. 13, New Bond Street

* * * * *

For reference to Historical Authorities, see end of each Act.


Venice, "the famous city in the sea," rising like enchantment from the
waves of the Adriatic, appeals to the imagination through a history
replete with dramatic incident; wherein power and revolution - conquest
and conspiracy - mystery and romance - dazzling splendour and judicial
murder alternate in every page. Thirteen hundred years witnessed the
growth, maturity, and fall of this once celebrated city; commencing in
the fifth century, when thousands of terrified fugitives sought refuge
in its numerous islands from the dreaded presence of Attila; and
terminating when the last of the Doges, in 1797, lowered for ever the
standard of St. Mark before the cannon of victorious Buonaparte. Venice
was born and died in fear. To every English mind, the Queen of the
Adriatic is endeared by the genius of our own Shakespeare. Who that has
trod the great public square, with its mosque-like cathedral, has not
pictured to himself the forms of the heroic Moor and the gentle
Desdemona? Who that has landed from his gondola to pace the Rialto, has
not brought before his "mind's eye," the scowling brow of Shylock, when
proposing the bond of blood to his unsuspecting victim? Shakespeare may
or may not have derived his plot of _The Merchant of Venice_, as some
suppose, from two separate stories contained in Italian novels; but if
such be the fact, he has so interwoven the double interest, that the two
currents flow naturally into a stream of unity.

In this play Shakespeare has bequeathed to posterity one of his most
perfect works - powerful in its effect, and marvellous in its ingenuity.
While the language of the Jew is characterized by an assumption of
biblical phraseology, the appeal of Portia to the quality of mercy is
invested with a heavenly eloquence elevating the poet to sublimity.

From the opening to the closing scene, - from the moment when we hear of
the sadness, prophetic of evil, which depresses the spirit of Antonio,
till we listen at the last to the "playful prattling of two lovers in a
summer's evening," whose soft cadences are breathed through strains of
music, - all is a rapid succession of hope, fear, terror, and gladness;
exciting our sympathies now for the result of the merchant's danger; now
for the solution of a riddle on which hangs the fate of the wealthy
heiress; and now for the fugitive Jessica, who resigns her creed at the
shrine of womanly affection.

In the production of _The Merchant of Venice_ it has been my object to
combine with the poet's art a faithful representation of the picturesque
city; to render it again palpable to the traveller who actually gazed
upon the seat of its departed glory; and, at the same time, to exhibit
it to the student, who has never visited this once

" - pleasant place of all festivity,
The revel of the earth, the masque of Italy."

The far-famed place of St. Mark, with its ancient Church, the Rialto and
its Bridge, the Canals and Gondolas, the Historic Columns, the Ducal
Palace, and the Council Chamber, are successively presented to the
spectator. Venice is re-peopled with the past, affording truth to the
eye, and reflection to the mind.

The introduction of the Princes of Morocco and Arragon at Belmont,
hitherto omitted, is restored, for the purpose of more strictly adhering
to the author's text, and of heightening the interest attached to the
episode of the caskets.

The costumes and customs are represented as existing about the year
1600, when Shakespeare wrote the play. The dresses are chiefly selected
from a work by Cesare Vecellio, entitled "Degli Habiti Antichi e Moderni
di diverse Parti del Mondo. In Venetia, 1590;" as well as from other
sources to be found in the British Museum, whence I derive my authority
for the procession of the Doge in the first scene. If the stage is to
be considered and upheld as an institution from which instructive and
intellectual enjoyment may be derived, it is to Shakespeare we must look
as the principal teacher, to inculcate its most valuable lessons. It is,
therefore, a cause of self-gratulation, that I have on many occasions
been able, successfully, to present some of the works of the greatest
dramatic genius the world has known, to more of my countrymen than have
ever witnessed them within the same space of time; and let me hope it
will not be deemed presumptuous to record the pride I feel at having
been so fortunate a medium between our national poet and the people of





_Various groups of Nobles, Citizens, Merchants, Foreigners,
Water-Carriers, Flower Girls, &c., pass and repass. Procession of the
Doge, in state, across the square_.[1]

ANTONIO, SALARINO, _and_ SALANIO _come forward_.

_Ant_. In sooth, I know not why I am so sad;
It wearies me; you say, it wearies you;
But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,
What stuff 'tis made of, whereof it is born,
I am to learn;
And such a want-wit sadness makes of me,
That I have much ado to know myself.

_Salar_. Your mind is tossing on the ocean;
There, where your argosies[2] with portly sail,
Like signiors and rich burghers on the flood,
Do overpeer the petty traffickers,
That curt'sy to them, do them reverence,
As they fly by them with their woven wings.

_Sal_. Believe me, Sir, had I such venture forth,
The better part of my affections would
Be with my hopes abroad. I should be still
Plucking the grass,[3] to know where sits the wind;
Peering in maps, for ports, and piers, and roads;
And every object that might make me fear
Misfortune to my ventures, out of doubt,
Would make me sad.

_Salar_. My wind, cooling my broth,
Would blow me to an ague, when I thought
What harm a wind too great might do at sea.
I should not see the sandy hour-glass run,
But I should think of shallows and of flats;
And see my wealthy Andrew[4] dock'd in sand,
Vailing her high-top[5] lower than her ribs,
To kiss her burial.
Shall I have the thought
To think on this? and shall I lack the thought
That such a thing, bechanc'd, would make me sad?
But tell not me; I know Antonio
Is sad to think upon his merchandize.

_Ant_. Believe me, no: I thank my fortune for it,
My ventures are not in one bottom trusted,
Nor to one place; nor is my whole estate
Upon the fortune of this present year:
Therefore my merchandize makes me not sad.

_Salar_. Why, then, you are in love.

_Ant_. Fie, fie!

_Salar_. Not in love, neither? Then let us say you are sad,
Because you are not merry: an 'twere as easy
For you to laugh and leap, and say you are merry,
Because you are not sad.

_Sal_. 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.
I take it your own business calls on you,
And you embrace the occasion to depart.


_Salar_. Good morrow, my good lords.

_Bas_. Good signiors, both, when shall we laugh? Say, when?
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
I pray you have in mind where we must meet.

_Bas_. I will not fail you.

_Gra_. You look not well, Signor 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.

_Gra_. Let me play the fool:[6]
With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come;
And let my liver rather heat with wine,
Than my heart cool with mortifying groans.
Why should a man, whose blood is warm within,
Sit like his grandsire, cut in alabaster?
Sleep when he wakes? and creep into the jaundice
By being peevish? I tell thee what, Antonio,
I love thee, and it is my love that speaks; -
There are a sort of men, whose visages
Do cream[7] and mantle like a standing pond:
And do a wilful stillness entertain,[8]
With purpose to be dress'd in an opinion
Of wisdom, gravity, profound conceit;
As who should say, '_I am Sir Oracle_,
_And when I ope my lips let no dog bark!_'[9]
O, my Antonio, I do know of these,
That therefore only are reputed wise
For saying nothing; when I am very sure,
If they should speak, 'twould almost damn those ears[10]
Which, hearing them, would call their brothers fools.
I'll tell thee more of this another time:
But fish not with this melancholy bait,
For this fool gudgeon, this opinion.
Come, good Lorenzo: - Fare ye well, a while;
I'll end my exhortation after dinner.[11]

_Lor_. Well, we will leave you, then, till dinner-time:
I must be one of these same dumb wise men,
For Gratiano never lets me speak.

_Gra_. Well, keep me company but two years more,
Thou shalt not know the sound of thine own tongue.

_Ant_. Farewell: I'll grow a talker for this gear.[12]

_Gra_. Thanks, i'faith; for silence is only commendable
In a neat's tongue dried,[13] and a maid not vendible.

[_Exeunt_ GRATIANO _and_ LORENZO.

_Ant_. Is that any thing now?

_Bas_. Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of nothing, more than any man
in all Venice. His reasons are as two grains of wheat hid in two bushels
of chaff; you shall seek all day ere you find them; and when you have
them they are not worth the search.

_Ant_. Well; tell me now, what lady is the same
To whom you swore a secret pilgrimage,
That you to-day promis'd to tell me of?

_Bas_. 'Tis not unknown to you, Antonio,
How much I have disabled mine estate,
By something showing a more swelling port[14]
Than my faint means would grant continuance.
To you, Antonio, I owe the most in money and in love;
And from your love I have a warranty
To unburthen all my plots and purposes,
How to get clear of all the debts I owe.

_Ant_. I pray you, good Bassanio, let me know it;
And, if it stand, as you yourself still do,
Within the eye of honour, be assur'd
My purse, my person, my extremest means,
Lie all unlock'd to your occasions.

_Bas_. In my school-days, when I had lost one shaft
I shot his fellow of the self-same flight
The self-same way, with more advised watch
To find the other forth; and by adventuring both
I oft found both. I urge this childhood proof,
Because what follows is pure innocence.
I owe you much; and, like a wasteful youth,
That which I owe is lost: but if you please
To shoot another arrow that self way
Which you did shoot the first, I do not doubt,
As I will watch the aim, or to find both,
Or bring your latter hazard back again,
And thankfully rest debtor for the first.

_Ant_. You know me well; and herein spend but time,
To wind about my love with circumstance;
Then do but say to me what I should do,
That in your knowledge may by me be done,
And I am prest unto it:[15] therefore speak.

_Bas_. In Belmont is a lady richly left,
And she is fair, and, fairer than that word,
Of wond'rous virtues. Sometimes[16] from her eyes
I did receive fair speechless messages:
Her name is Portia; nothing undervalued
To Cato's daughter, Brutus' Portia.
Nor is the wide world ignorant of her worth;
For the four winds blow in from every coast
Renowned suitors.
O, my Antonio! had I but the means
To hold a rival place with one of them,
I have a mind presages me such thrift,
That I should questionless be fortunate.

_Ant_. Thou know'st that all my fortunes are at sea;
Neither have I money, nor commodity
To raise a present sum: therefore go forth,
Try what my credit can in Venice do;
That shall be rack'd, even to the uttermost,
To furnish thee to Belmont, to fair Portia.
Go, presently inquire, and so will I,
Where money is; and I no question make,
To have it of my trust, or for my sake.



[Footnote 1: This procession is copied from a print in the British
Museum, by Josse Amman, who died in 1591.]

[Footnote 2: _ - argosies_; A name given, in our author's time, to ships
of great burthen. The name is supposed by some to be derived from the
classical ship, Argo, as a vessel eminently famous.]

[Footnote 3: _Plucking the_; By holding up the grass, or any light body
that will bend by a gentle blast, the direction of the wind is found.]

[Footnote 4: _ - my wealthy Andrew_; The name of the ship.]

[Footnote 5: Vailing _her high-top_; To _vail_ is "_to lower_," or "_let

[Footnote 6: _Let me play the fool_; Alluding to the common comparison
of human life to a stage-play. So that he desires his may be the fool's
or buffoon's part, which was a constant character in the old farces;
from whence came the phrase, _to play the fool_. - WARBURTON.]

[Footnote 7: _ - whose visages do_ cream; The poet here alludes to the
manner in which the film extends itself over milk in scalding; and he
had the same appearance in his eye when writing a foregoing line: "_With
mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come_." - HENLEY.]

[Footnote 8: _ - a wilful stillness entertain,; Id est_, an obstinate

[Footnote 9: _let no dog bark_!; This seems to be a proverbial

[Footnote 10: _ - 'twould almost damn those ears_; The author's meaning
is this: - That some people are thought wise whilst they keep silence;
who, when they open their mouths, are such stupid praters, that the
hearers cannot help calling them _fools_, and so incur the judgment
denounced in the Gospel. - THEOBALD.]

[Footnote 11: _I'll end my exhortation after dinner_.'; The humour of
this consists in its being an allusion to the practice of the Puritan
preachers of those times, who being generally very long and tedious,
were often forced to put off that part of their sermon called the
_exhortation_, till after dinner. - WARBURTON.]

[Footnote 12: _ - for this gear_.; A colloquial expression, meaning _for
this matter_.]

[Footnote 13: _In a_ neat's _tongue dried_,; Neat, horned cattle of the
Ox species.]

[Footnote 14: _ - a more swelling port; Port_, in the present instance,
comprehends the idea of expensive equipage, and external pomp of


_Enter_ PORTIA _and_ NERISSA.

_Por_. By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is a-weary of this great

_Ner_. You would be, sweet madam, if your miseries were in the same
abundance as your good fortunes are. And yet, for aught I see, they are
as sick that surfeit with too much, as they that starve with nothing. It
is no small happiness, therefore, to be seated in the mean; superfluity
comes sooner by white hairs,[17] but competency lives longer.

_Por_. Good sentences, and well pronounced.

_Ner_. They would be better, if well followed.

_Por_. If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels
had been churches, and poor men's cottages princes' palaces. It is a
good divine that follows his own instructions: I can easier teach twenty
what were good to be done, than be one of the twenty to follow mine own
teaching. But this reasoning is not in the fashion to choose me a
husband: - O me, the word choose! I may neither choose whom I would, nor
refuse whom I dislike, so is the will of a living daughter curb'd by the
will of a dead father: - Is it not hard, Nerissa, that I cannot choose
one, nor refuse none?

_Ner_. Your father was ever virtuous; and holy men at their death have
good inspirations; therefore, the lottery that he hath devised in these
three chests, of gold, silver, and lead (whereof who chooses his meaning
chooses you), will, no doubt, never be chosen by any rightly, but one
who you shall rightly love. But what warmth is there in your affection
towards any of these princely suitors that are already come?

_Por_. I pray thee, over-name them; and as thou namest them I will
describe them; and according to my description level at my affection.

_Ner_. First, there is the Neapolitan prince.[18]

_Por_. Ay, that's a colt, indeed, for he doth nothing but talk of his
horse,[19] and he makes it a great approbation of his own good parts
that he can shoe him himself.

_Ner_. Then, is there the county Palatine.[20]

_Por_. He doth nothing but frown; as who should say, '_An you will not
have me, choose;_' he hears merry tales, and smiles not: I fear he will
prove the weeping philosopher when he grows old, being so full of
unmannerly sadness in his youth. I had rather to be married to a death's
head with a bone in his mouth, than to either of these. Heaven defend me
from these two!

_Ner_. How say you by the French lord, Monsieur Le Bon?

_Por_. Heaven made him, and therefore let him pass for a man.

_Ner_. How like you the young German, the Duke of Saxony's nephew?[21]

_Por_. Very vilely in the morning, when he is sober; and most vilely in
the afternoon, when he is drunk: when he is best he is a little worse
than a man; and when he is worst he is little better than a beast: an
the worst fall that ever fell, I hope I shall make shift to go without

_Ner_. If he should offer to choose, and choose the right casket, you
should refuse to perform your father's will if you should refuse to
accept him.

_Por_. Therefore, for fear of the worst, I pray thee set a deep glass of
Rhenish wine on the contrary casket; for, if the devil be within, and
that temptation without, I know he will choose it.

_Ner_. You need not fear, lady, the having any of these lords; they have
acquainted me with their determinations: which is, indeed, to return to
their home and to trouble you with no more suit; unless you may be won
by some other sort than your father's imposition, depending on the

_Por_. I am glad this parcel of wooers are so reasonable; for there is
not one among them but I dote on his very absence, and I wish them a
fair departure.

_Ner_. Do you not remember, lady, in your father's time, a Venetian, a
scholar, and a soldier, that came hither in company of the Marquis of

_Por_. Yes, yes, it was Bassanio; as I think so was he called.

_Ner_. True, madam; he, of all the men that ever my foolish eyes looked
upon was the best deserving a fair lady.

_Por_. I remember him well; and I remember him worthy of thy
praise. - How now? - What news?


_Ser_. The four strangers seek you, madam, to take their leave: and
there is a fore-runner come from a fifth, the prince of Morocco; who
brings word the prince, his master, will be here to-night.

_Por_. If I could bid the fifth welcome with so good heart as I can bid
the other four farewell, I should be glad of his approach.

Come, Nerissa. Sirrah, go before.

Whiles we shut the gate upon one wooer, another knocks at the door.



[Footnote 15: _ - I am prest unto it:_; Ready.]

[Footnote 16: _ - Sometimes from her eyes_; In old English, _sometimes_
is synonymous with _formerly; id est_, some time ago, at a certain time.
It appears by the subsequent scene, that Bassanio was at Belmont with
the Marquis de Montferrat, and saw Portia in her father's lifetime.]

[Footnote 17: _ - superfluity comes sooner by white hairs,_; _Id est_,
superfluity sooner _acquires_ white hairs - becomes old. We still say,
how did he _come by it_ - MALONE.]

[Footnote 18: _ - the Neapolitan prince_.; The Neapolitans in the time of
Shakespeare were eminently skilled in all that belonged to

[Footnote 19: _ - that's a_ colt, _indeed, for he doth nothing but talk
of his horse,_; _Colt_ is used for a restless, heady, gay youngster,
whence the phrase used of an old man too juvenile, that he still retains
his _colt's tooth_. - JOHNSON.]

[Footnote 20: _ - the county Palatine_.; Shakespeare has more allusions
to particular facts and persons than his readers commonly suppose. The
Count here mentioned was, perhaps, Albertus Alasco, a Polish Palatine,
who visited England in our author's lifetime, was eagerly caressed and
splendidly entertained, but, running in debt, at last stole away, and
endeavoured to repair his fortune by enchantment. - JOHNSON.

County and Count in old language, were synonymous. The Count Albertus
Alasco was in London in 1583.]

[Footnote 21: _ - the young German, the Duke of Saxony's nephew_.; In
Shakespeare's time the Duke of Bavaria visited London, and was made
Knight of the Garter. Perhaps in this enumeration of Portia's suitors,
there may be some covert allusion to those of Queen Elizabeth. - JOHNSON]


_Enter_ BASSANIO _and_ SHYLOCK. (D)

_Shy_. Three thousand ducats, - well,

_Bas_. Ay, sir, for three months.

_Shy_. For three months, - well.

_Bas_. For the which, as I told you, Antonio shall be bound.

_Shy_. Antonio shall become bound, - well.

_Bas_. May you stead me? Will you pleasure me? Shall I know your answer?

_Shy_. Three thousand ducats, for three months, and Antonio bound.

_Bas_. Your answer to that.

_Shy_. Antonio is a good man.

_Bas_. Have you heard any imputation to the contrary?

_Shy_. Oh no, no, no, no; - my meaning in saying he is a good man is, to
have you understand me that he is sufficient; yet his means are in
supposition: he hath an argosy bound to Tripolis, another to the Indies;
I understand, moreover, upon the Rialto, he hath a third at Mexico, a
fourth for England; and other ventures he hath, squander'd abroad.[22]
But ships are but boards, sailors but men: there be land rats and water
rats, land thieves and water thieves; I mean, pirates; and then, there
is the peril of waters, winds, and rocks: The man is, notwithstanding,

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Online LibraryWilliam ShakespeareShakespeare's play of the Merchant of Venice Arranged for Representation at the Princess's Theatre, with Historical and Explanatory Notes by Charles Kean, F.S.A → online text (page 1 of 6)