Sidor som bilder

Then sayd the judge, Yet, good my friend,
Let me of you desire

To take the flesh from such a place,

As yet you let him live:

Do so, and lo! an hundred crownes

To thee here will I give.

No: no: quoth he; no: judgement here:

For this it shall be tride,

For I will have my pound of fleshe

From under his right side.

It grieved all the companie

His crueltie to see,

For neither friend nor foe could helpe

But he must spoyled bee.

The bloudie Jew now ready is

With whetted blade in hand,*

To spoyle the bloud of innocent,
By forfeit of his bond.

And as he was about to strike

In him the deadly blow:





Stay (quoth the judge) thy crueltie;

I charge thee to do so.

The passage in Shakspeare bears so strong a resemblance to this, as to render it probable that one suggested the other. See act iv. sc. 2.

"BASS. Why dost thou whet thy knife so earnestly ? &c.

Sith needs thou wilt thy forfeit have,

Which is of flesh a pound:

See that thou shed no drop of bloud,
Nor yet the man confound.


For if thou doe, like murderer,
Thou here shalt hanged be:

Likewise of flesh see that thou cut

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But for to have his owne.
No, quoth the judge, doe as you list,
Thy judgement shall be showne,


Either take your pound of flesh, quoth he,
Or cancell me your bond.

O cruell judge, then quoth the Jew,
That doth against me stand!

And so with griping grieved mind

He biddeth them fare-well.


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Since the first edition of this book was printed, the Editor hath had reason to believe that both Shakspeare and the Author of this ballad are indebted for their Story of the Jew (however they came by it) to

an Italian Novel, which was first printed at Milan in the year 1554, in a book entitled, Il Pecorone, nel quale si contengono Cinquanta Novelle antiche, &c. republished at Florence about the year 1748, or 9.-The Author was Ser. Giovanni Fiorentino, who wrote in 1378; thirty years after the time in which the scene of Boccace's Decameron is laid. (Vid. Manni Istoria del Decamerone di Giov. Boccac. 4to Fior. 1744.)

That Shakspeare had his Plot from the Novel itself, is evident from his having some incidents from it, which are not found in the Ballad: and I think it will also be found that he borrowed from the Ballad some hints that were not suggested by the Novel. (See above, pt. 2, ver. 25, &c. where, instead of that spirited description of the whetted blade, &c. the Prose Narrative coldly says, "The Jew had prepared a ra"zor, &c." See also some other passages in the same piece.) This however is spoken with diffidence, as I have at present before me only the Abridgment of the Novel which Mr. JOHNSON has given us at the End of his Commentary on Shakspeare's Play. The Translation of the Italian Story at large is not easy to be met with, having I believe, never been published, though it was printed some years ago with this title,"The Novel, from which the Merchant of Venice "written by Shakspeare is taken, translated from the "Italian. To which is added a Translation of a No"vel from the Decamerone of Boccacio. London, "Printed for M. Cooper, 1755, 8vo."



This beautiful sonnet is quoted in the Merry Wives of Windsor, act iii. sc. 1, and hath been usually ascribed (together with the Reply) to Shakspeare himself by the modern editors of his smaller poems. A copy of this madrigal, containing only four stanzas (the 4th and 6th being wanting,) accompanied with the first stanza of the answer, being printed in "The passionate Pilgrime, and Sonnets to sundry Notes of Musicke, by Mr. Wliam Shakspeare, Lond. printed for W. Jaggard, 1599." Thus was this sonnet, &c. published as Shakspeare's in his lifetime.


And yet there is good reason to believe that (not Shakspeare, but) Christopher Marlow wrote the song, and Sir Walter Raleigh the " Nymph's Reply:" For so we are positively assured by Isaac Walton, a writer of some credit, who has inserted them both in his Compleat Angler, under the character of "that "smooth song, which was made by Kit. Marlow, now "at least fifty years ago; and ... an Answer to it,

which was made by Sir Walter Raleigh in his "younger days... Old-fashioned poetry, but choice"ly good." -It also passed for Marlow's in the opinion of his contemporaries; for in the old Poetical Miscellany, entitled England's Helicon, it is printed with the name of Chr. Marlow subjoined to it; and the Reply is signed Ignoto, which is known to have been a signature of Sir Walter Raleigh. With the

*First printed in the year 1653, but probably written some time before.

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