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46 GERNUTUS THE JEW OF VENICE.
point Silvayn's Orator, translated from the French by Anthony Munday in 1596, affords the earliest discovered printed notice, in English, of the bond and forfeiture, in a " Declamation, Of a Jew, who would for his debt have a pound of flesh of a Christian ;" and a striking coincidence between the Jew's plea for the execution of the contract, and the reasoning of Shylock before the Senate, may be regarded by some as of weight sufficient to offset the evidence presented to show that the Merchant of Venice was on the stage in 1594.
No dated copy of the ballad of Gernutus is known. It is on the whole more likely that the ballad is older than Shakespeare's comedy, but it may have been called forth by the popularity of that very piece. To judge by the first stanza alone, the writer had derived his materials from an Italian novel.
We give in the Appendix another ballad, presenting considerable diversity in the incidents, which we presume to be the one mentioned by Douce under the title of The Cruel Jews Garland.
In 1664, we are informed by Mr. Collier, Thomas Jordan made a ballad out of the story of the Merchant of Venice, in his Royal Arbor of Loyal Poesie, taking some liberties with the original plot.
The following was printed from an ancient black-letter copy in the Pepys collection, (compared with the Ashmole copy,) entitled, " A new Song, shewing the crueltie of ' Gernutus, a
Jewe,' who, lending to a merchant an hundred
crowns, would have a pound of his fleshe, because
he could not pay tiim at the time appointed. To
the tune of Black and Yellow."