« VorigeDoorgaan »
SHYLOCK AND HIS PREDE- neither Mr. Collier nor Mr. Hazlitt
The sources of the plot of the Merchant of Venice are very well known. Fiorentino's Il Pecorone supplies the story both of the Jew's sanguinary bond, and of the rich lady of Belmont's pleadings in disguise. The Gesta Romanorum contains the incident of the caskets. The ballad of Gernutus, the Jew of Venice, offers very many points of resemblance to Shakespeare's play; but this piece is undated, and it is an open question whether the balladmaker borrowed from the dramatist, or the dramatist from the balladmaker. Editors also deem it advisable to notice two precedents for the introduction of a Jewish hero on the Elizabethan stage. Marlowe's Jew of Malta, which preceded the production of the Merchant by a very few years, is one, and the other is the play called "The Jew, showne at the Bull, representing the greediness of worldly chusers and the bloody minds of userers," men
examined it in close conjunction with the Merchant of Venice. The comedy is a tedious production, marking the transition from moralplays to real dramatic work. The
Three Ladies of London" are such abstractions as Fame, Love, and Conscience; and their encounters with other abstractions, like Lucre, Frand, Usury, Simony, and so forth, constitute the slender plot. Incidentally all the abuses of London society are exposed, and the morality of the clergy and business men is denounced with especial vigor. Amid these strange surroundings there suddenly appears one Mercatore, an Italian merchant, who speaks broken English, traffics in expensive luxuries imported from abroad, and buys up, for exportation, the staple produce of the nation. The scene of the comedy passes for the most part in London, but it is in a few instances transferred to Turkey. There Mercatore puts in an appearance with a view to replenishing his stock of jewels
for the English market. A Jew named Gerontus meets him in the street, and reproaches him with having left the country in order to avoid the payment of a debt. "You know," says the Jew
"I lent you two thousand ducats for three months' space,
And ere the time came you got another thousand by flattery and thy smoooth face,
So when the time came, that I should have
received my money
true, reverend judge, we may not," replied Gerontus; and the merchant pleads that he has turned Turk. But, before he has finished repeating after the judge a formal renunciation of Christianity, Gerontus interrupts:
"Stay there, most puissant Judge.-Signor Mercatore, consider what you do. Pay me the principal, as for the interest I forgive it you.
Merc. No point da interest, no point da principal.
Geront. Then pay me now half, if you will not påy me all.
You were not to be found, but was fled out of the country." After much altercation, Gerontus allows the merchant another five days; but they expire without result. Then, according to the stage direc-self tion, "Enter Mercatore, reading a letter to himself; and let Gerontus, the Jew, follow him, and speak as followeth." Gerontus opens the
"Signor Mercatore, why do you not pay me? think you, I will be mock'd in this sort?
This three times you have flouted me: it seems you make thereat a sport. Truly pay me my money, and that even now presently,
Or by mighty Mahomet I swear I will forthwith arrest ye.'
The merchant is abusive and obdurate, and the Jew places him under arrest. A suit is instituted, and Gerontus and Mercatore appear before a judge. The defendant clothes himself "in Turkish weeds,' to indicate his intention of turning Mohammedan-a process which, according to Turkish law, frees him from all deb. Gerontus, in answer to the "learned judge. briefly states his complaint. The judge points out that if Mercatore is will ing to be converted, his creditors cannot recover their debt. "Most
Merc. No point da half, no point denier; me will be a Turk, I say, Me be weary of my Christ's religion." shocked by the merchant's disFinally, Gerontus confesses himhonest conversion, and rather than be a party to it, releases him from the debt. Mercatore then returns to his old faith, much to the judge's chagrin, and privately congratulates himself on cheating the Jew of his money. The judge adds, "Jews seek to excel in Christianity and Christians in Jewishness," and the scene closes.
It is absurd to imagine that Shakespeare was under any real obligation to these crude scenes, but it is almost certain that he was acquainted with them. The piece was reprinted in 1592, and was still popular then. Gerontus's praises of the judge, the Jew's resentment of the merchant's flouts, and his orders for his debtor's arrest, suggest incidents in the Merchant; and Gerontus's "three thousand ducats at three months" is Shylock's loan. The exact term and amount are not met with elsewhere. In Fiorentino, the Jew lends 10,000 ducats, and the time of repayment is not specified. In the ballad the sum is 100 crowns for
a twelvemonth and a day. Unlike opportunities of personally studying
THE STUDY OF STATISTICS.
"Perhaps the strongest current of popular
Statistics, if properly collected, are history in the most concrete, accurate and imperishable form. results of the census of any given decade, when cast into Arabic numerals, or simple mathematical tables, will endure, when word- tablets have been dashed in pieces by historical criticism. Colonel Wright's plea was not alone for the teaching of statistical science in our higher colleges and universities, but also for a vital connection between higher political education and practical civil service. He said: 'I would urge upon the Government of the United States and upon the Governments of the States, the necessity of providing by law for the admission of students that have taken scientific courses
in statistics as honorary attachés of, or clerks to be employed in the prac tical work of statistical oflices.' He also urged the Government-training of edu cated young men for the consular and diplomatic service, and for other branches of practical administration. This thought, which is now historical, will bear politica! fruit."
SLEEP AND ITS COUNTER
We all know by experience what Sleep is, and we cannot conceive ourselves as sleeping for an indefinite time. Yet it is difficult to draw a line between normal and abnormal sleep; the physiological condition merges by insensible degrees into all kinds of pathological states, known as lethargy, trance, stupor, coma. Through the usual phenomena of dreaming, we pass likewise into those of nightmare, somnambulism, hypnotism, ecstasy, and the like. Yet it is important sharply to define typical instances of these conditions, so as to avoid hopeless confusion in an already obscure field of scientific inquiry, and though we may for the sake of convenience occasionally use the term Sleep in the wider sense, yet the distinction between the various states included under it must be kept present to our minds. It is often possible to distinguish between a somnambulistic, a lethargic, and a cataleptic condition of the hypnotized hysterical subject; and by appropriate manipulations (all based on the theory of influencing the brain centers by the sensory impressions) to make the subject pass from one to another of these states.
By Catalepsy is meant a condition of suspended psychical manifestations on the part of the subject, during which the limbs exhibit no muscular or nervous hyper-excitability, but possess the singular property, while remaining flexible, of preserving indefinitely any attitude imparted to them; hence the name of waxy flexibility" given to this condition by old writers. Unlike the rigid spasins
of the lethargic muscle, the plastic fixity of the cataleptic limb cannot be relaxed by friction over the skin. The aspect of the patient in the two conditions, moreover, offers striking differences, the sleep-like immobility of lethargy contrasting vividly with the petrified attitudes of catalepsy.
The third condition, that of Somnambulism, may easily be brought about by light pressure or rubbing on the top of the head. The hysterical patient then passes into a state somewhat between the lethargic and the cataleptic condition. The muscles have lost the hyperexcitability of the former state, and do not possess the plastic adaptability of the latter. Still they react abnormally to light external stimuli; if we very gently stroke or blow upon a limb, it becomes somewhat rigid. We cannot then relax it by a mere touch as we can in lethargy, and, unlike catalepsy, it offers some resistance when we attempt to move it into a different attitude. Insensibility to pain may persist, but there often is in the somnambulistic phase a singular exaltation of memory and of sensorial perception, which has caused it to be called the "lucid state," and which has been described by the devotees of mesmeric delusions as "second sight.
It is especially in the somnambulistic state that the astonishing phenomena of Suggestion are observed. By this we mean that the patient in whom every spontaneity is in abeyance, who does not "sleep, and who yet does not move or think, can be so impressed through some sensory channel as to enter upon some definite train of ideas or movements. He is under the control of the experimenter, whose will is his
lar methods of suggestion. Thus, if a hanging rope is placed in the hands of the patient, she begins to climb with incredible energy and alacrity; when placed on all fours she runs in that position all over the room, regardless of knocks and
will, so to speak. He is a machine ready to go, but unable to start of itself. There are many different ways of imparting suggestions to a hypnotized subject; and as in the other phases of hypnotism, hysterical patients present the greatest variety of manifestations, when sub-collisions. Or, if the movements of jected to suggestive influences. The washing with invisible soap be commost characteristic phenomena are municated to her hands, she will those known as "muscular" sugges- persist in the mimicry for an intions. If we analyze an emotional definite time. It is sometimes diffiattitude, such as that of threatening cult to check an action so started an enemy with the fist and out- except by waking the patient up, or stretched arm, we notice that the making her pass into lethargy. The whole frame takes part in the special hypnotized patient therefore is much action. The eyes dilate, the mus- in the state of the frog, which when cles of the face move, and an appro- thrown into a pond, even after its priate play of the features accom- brain has been removed, begins to panies the leading gesture. This swim on touching the water, aimcollaboration of several parts of the lessly, automatically. Sometimes a body in the production of a common movement repeatedly executed by effect depends upon the existence in the operator in front of the patient our nervous system of certain will be imitated and carried out by mechanisms subservient to the func- the patient until stopped: this is a tion of mimetic language or physical case of suggestion through the orexpression. Now if in the hypnotiz gan of sight. Or more complicated ed subject we throw a limb into such trains of movement may be initiated an expressive attitude, we immedi- by presenting to the patient objects ately see the usual concomitants of suggestive of certain actions, such the movement follow suit, the trunk as a plate and spoon, a brush and and other limbs fall into a harmoni- comb, and the like. The sight of ous posture, the carriage of the head a boot will start an endless repetition is modified likewise, and the expres- of putting it on, lacing and unlacsion assumed by the face and eyes is ing, taking it off, putting it on so perfect as to equal or surpass the again, and so forth indefinitely. best efforts of the most consummate actor. Now if in our subject we likewise electrically stimulate certain muscles, and artificially produce an expression of anger, or terror, or love, or disdain, the corresponding attitude is at once assumed by the neck, arms, and body generally.
Whole series of muscular actions may be initiated by appealing to the so-called "muscular sense" by simi
Such are the leading phenomena of Hypnotism as observed in those highly sensitive subjects, the sufferers from the graver form of hysteria, or hystero-epilepsy. Epidemics of hystero-epilepsy were rife in the Middle Ages, especially among the members of religious bodies; and even now it seems to be closely related to superstitions or mystical beliefs and and practices. Though