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fourth Touchstone and Audrey
come in, ex
There is, sure, another flood toward, and these couples are coming
to the ark!
into which, as Warburton has remarked, the beasts that were not clean entered two and two. See Gen. vii. 2, 15. Again, in Twelfth Night, Act iii. Sc. 2, Fabian, the servant of Olivia, says to Sir Andrew Ague-cheek-'I will prove it legitimate, Sir, upon the oaths of Judgment and Reason;' to which Sir Toby Belch adds, with as much deep truth as wit'And they (ie., Judgment and Reason) have been grand jurymen since before Noah was a sailor.' Moreover, our poet had learnt from the sacred history, not only that of the three sons of Noah 'was the whole earth overspread,' but that the natives of Europe were descended from Japhet.* This appears in the Second Part of King Henry IV., where Poins, proceeding to read Falstaff's letter to Prince Henry, begins thus:
Poins [reads]. John Falstaff, knight.'—Every man must know that as oft as he has occasion to name himself. Even like those that are kin to the king; for they never prick their finger, but they say, 'There is some of the king's blood spilt:' 'How comes that?' says he, that takes upon him not to conceive: the answer is as ready as a borrower's cap. I am the King's poor cousin, Sir.'
*Whereas, in Markham's Gentleman's Academie, 1595-a reprint of the Book of St. Alban's, 1486—Asia is assigned to Japhet. See Drake's Shakspeare, &c., vol. i. p. 72.
P. Henry. Nay, they will be kin to us, or they will fetch it from Japhet:Act ii. Sc. 2.
that is, rather than fail they will go up so high as to Japhet to trace the descent.
4. The history of Job has the misfortune to appear only in connexion with Sir John Falstaff, first in the Merry Wives of Windsor, where the following dialogue takes place in his presence :
Mrs. Page. Why, Sir John, do you think, though we would have thrust virtue out of our hearts by the head and shoulders and have given ourselves without scruple to hell, that ever the devil could have made you our delight?
Ford. What, a hodge pudding? a bag of flax?
Mrs. Page. A puff'd man?
Page. Old, cold, wither'd, and of intolerable entrails?
Ford. And one that is as slanderous as Satan?
Page. And as pour as Job?
Ford. And as wicked as his wife?
Act v. Sc. 5.
Our poet's reference to Satan in the foregoing passage would seem to show that he remembered not only the history of Job, but the manner also in which it comes to be introduced.
To one portion of this complex accusation Falstaff has the grace to plead guilty, when in the Secona Part of King Henry IV. he is brought up for trial before the Chief Justice, and, as making a shift to escape, counterfeits deafness.
Chief Justice. You hear not what I say to you.
Falstaff. Very well, my lord, very well: rather, an't please you, it is
the disease of not listening, the malady of not marking, that I am troubled withal.
Chief Justice. To punish you by the heels* would amend the attention of your ears; and I care not if I do become your physician.
Falstaff. I am as poor as Job, my lord; but not so patient: your lordship may minister the potion of imprisonment to me, in respect of poverty; but how I should be your patient to follow your prescription, the wise may make some dram of a scruple, or indeed a scruple itself. Act i. Sc. 2.
5. The use which our poet has made of the history of Jacob and Laban in the Merchant of Venice, appeared, I conclude, objectionable to Mr. Bowdler; for he has omitted the entire passage, amounting to thirty-two lines:-but to me it appears so far otherwise, that I venture to cite almost the whole of it, as a remarkable instance of the tact with which Shakspeare could apply with perfect accuracy a passage Scripture open to misconception, and yet divest its application of all dangerous tendency. Shylock, the rich Jew, is speaking to Antonio, the merchant of Venice, who proposed to borrow of him a large sum of money: :
Shylock. Well, then, your bond: and let me see-but hear you; Methought you said you neither lend, nor borrow,
Shyl. When Jacob grazed his uncle Laban's sheep
This Jacob from our holy Abraham was
* i.e., to put you in the stocks.
(As his wise mother wrought in his behalf)
Ant. And what of him? Did he take interest?
Shyl. No, not take interest; not, as you would say
When Laban and himself were compromised,
That all the eanlings* which were streak'd and pied,
Should fall as Jacob's share,
The skilful shepherd peeled me† certain wands,
And stuck them up before the fulsome ewes,
Who, then conceiving, did in eaning time
Fall party-coloured lambs, and those were Jacob's.
And thrift is blessing, if men steal it not.
Ant. This was a venture, Sir, that Jacob served for ;
A thing not in his power to bring to pass,
But sway'd and fashion'd by the hand of Heaven.
Was this inserted to make interest good?
The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
Act i. Sc. 3.
All this, I say-even to the beautiful and instructive lines with which the passage concludes-Mr. Bowdler has omitted; and so has deprived his reader of the opportunity of observing Shakspeare's knowledge of the Bible not only in the case of the narrative to which
* Young lambs just dropt or eaned.
+ See above, Pt. I. ch. i. p. 15.
i.e., let fall, give birth to.
§ Comp. Hamlet, Act i. Sc. 5.
I am now mainly referring, but also in two other instances. In the line
The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose,
there is evidently an allusion to the history of our Lord's temptation, as recorded in Matt. iv. and Luke iv. And the same allusion occurs again in King Richard III., where the wicked Gloster (as he still was) is speaking of the treason and other crimes which he had committed, and not only disguised, but laid to the charge of others, who, he pretended, had by those same crimes wronged and displeased him :
But then I sigh, and with a piece of Scripture,
With old odd ends stolen forth of Holy Writ,
And seem a saint, when most I play the devil :—
Act i. Sc. 3.
i.e., by so quoting and misapplying* Scripture. The other instance in which a close knowledge of the Bible may be traced is in the use of the word 'falsehood' in the last line for 'knavery,' or 'dishonesty.'t
In a subsequent scene of the same play, the oath which is put into the mouth of Shylock bears further
* See below, Ch. ii. Sect. 2.
+ See below, Ch. ii. Sect. 12.