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Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 102, May 28, 1892   By:

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VOL. 102.

May 28, 1892.



On the Stage, the Scene represents "A Public Place before the Arsenal," where a number of artisans are apparently busily engaged in making horse shoes on cold anvils in preparation for the launch of " The Adriatica ." On extreme R. enter Antonio , who expresses commercial embarrassment by going through a sort of dumb bell exercise on a bridge. On extreme L. enter Bassanio , Lorenzo , and Antonio , who observe, with mild surprise, that there are several other persons present, and proceed to point out objects of local interest to one another with the officious amiability of persons in the foreground of hotel advertisements. ( Here a Small Boy in a box, who has an impression he is going to see a Pantomime, inquires audibly "when the Clown Part will begin?" and has to be answered and consoled. ) Bassanio perceives Antonio afar off, and advances towards him with stately deliberation, throwing out signals with one arm at intervals; Antonio goes to meet him; they shake each other by both hands with affectionate cordiality, and then turn their backs on one another, as though, on reflection, they found they had less to say than they had imagined. Presently Bassanio recollects why he wanted to see Antonio so particularly, and, by describing a circle in the air, and pointing from the electric lights above to the balcony stalls in front, and tapping his belt, puts Antonio at once in possession of his chronic impecuniosity, his passion for Portia , and his need for a small temporary loan. Antonio curls up his fists, raises them to the level of his ears, and then pretends to take his heart out of his doublet and throw it at Bassanio , who fields it with graceful dexterity, instantly comprehending with Italian intuition that his friend is, like himself, rather pressed for ready money, but is prepared to back a bill for any amount. Shylock passes that way, and is introduced by Antonio as a gentleman in the city who is in the habit of making advances on personal security without inquiry. Shylock extracts imaginary ink from his chest, and writes with one hand on the palm of the other, and cringingly produces a paper knife whereupon the transaction is complete, and the parties, becoming aware that a Grand Triumphal Procession is waiting to come in, and that they are likely to be in the way, tactfully suggest to one another the propriety of retiring. After the Procession, Valentina , "the lovely daughter of the proud Visconti " embarks on a barge with her maidens to meet her betrothed.

( In the Stalls, a Lady with a Catalogue, who hasn't been here before, mistakes this proceeding for "The Launch of the Adriatica," but is set right by a friend who has, and is consequently able to inform her that Valentina is Portia on her way to plead against Shylock.)

[Illustration: "Signals to Portia that it is not such an amusing game as he thought."]

A mimic battle takes place on a bridge i.e., rival factions shake their fists with prudent defiance over one another's shoulders. ( An Old Lady in the Balcony, who has been watching this desperate encounter, finds that she has missed a very important Scene between Shylock and Jessica at the other end of the stage, and remorsefully resolves to be more observant in future, as the Scene changes to "Portia's Palatial Home." ) Portia enters ( the Lady in the Stalls, who has been here before, tells her companion that Portia's dress was "lovely when it was clean "), and greets her guests by extending both arms and inviting them to inspect the palms of her hands, thereby intimating that the abundance of canopied recesses, and the absence of any furniture to sit down upon, is due to the fact that the apartment has been recently cleared for a parlour game. The company express a well bred gratification by bowing. Enter the Prince of Morocco (who is of course identified by various Spectators in the Stalls without Catalogues as "Othello," or "the Duke of Thingumbob you know the chap I mean "), followed by his retinue; he kisses Portia's hand, as she explains to him, the Prince of Arragon , and Bassanio , the rules of the game in three simple gestures... Continue reading book >>

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