2017년 12월 18일 월요일

Dic/ usance, usury ... in Shakespeare



출처 1: Shakespeare Survery, Vol. 52. (Stanley Wells, Cambridge University Press, 2003). 구글도서.

※ 발췌 (excerpts): "WHICH IS THE JEW THAT SHAKESPEARE KNEW?" 중에서,

( ... ... ) to the point. The word 'usury' does not occur in ^The Merchant of Venice^, while 'usance' is heard three times: Shylock hates Antonio most of all for bringing down the 'rate of usance' (I.3.43) in Venice, and for having 'rated' him for his 'moneys and [his] usances' (I.3.106). In the third and last use of the word, Shylock is prepared to take

     ... no doit
Of usance
                            (I.3.138-9)

for his loan to Antonio. The only person to use the word 'usurer' is, by report, Antonio:

He was wont call me usurer: let him look to his bond. He was wont to lend money for a Christian courtesy: let him look to his bond.   (3.1.43-6)

To Shylock, then, 'usance' is a straightforward synonym for 'interest', which Shylock freely admits he takes--Shakespeare's choice of one term or the other in each case could be purely for metrical reasons. 'Usury', however, is an epithet delivered by the same man who called Shylock 'misbeliever' and 'cut-throat, dog' (I.3.110), after he spat on him, and openly states his willingness to do the same again (I.3.128-9).

The way Shakespeare employs the words 'usance' and 'usurer' in The Merchant of Venice epitomizes what was a major public debate of Elizabethan England, for although Elizabethan writers were, as Danson says, 'unanimous in their condemnation of the practice of usury'[주]20 they were anything but unanimous in defining it. As Norman Jones writes in his endlessly fascinating book, God and the Moneylenders, 'all good Christians agreed that usury was wrong, but they could not agree on what it was and when it occurred'.[주]21

Until 1545, any charging of interest was considered usury, and hence illegal, with the obvious effect of keeping interest rates extremely high. In response, Henry VIII's 1545 statute defined the offence as interest in excess of 10 per cent, although most loans were for periods much shorter than a year, so the nominal annual interest was actually far higher. Enforcement proved very difficult, however, and rates remained high, so the lawmakers did what they always do when they cannot regulate something--they outlaw it again. In 1552 Henry VIII's statute was repeated and replaced by total prohibition, with the same effect as that other well-knowen prohibition, so in 1571, a year after one John Shakespeare of Stratford was fined 40 shillings for charging an astonishing £20 interest for a one-month £80 loan,[주]22  Elizabeth's parliament, after extensive debate, restored the legal limit at 10%, whatever the term of the loan was.  ( ... ... )

In reading ( ... ... ), one learns that writers such as Miles Mosse, who saw usury as the charging of any interest, rather than excessive interest were what we would call today the extreme right wing, or even a 'lunatic fringe'.[주]24  Still, interest rates, like taxes, are always too high, so we might easily assume that many in Shakespeare's audience would have known the difficulty of repaying a loan, and would have seen Shylock as a usurer. But ( ... ... ) it is quite probable that some in the audience, since they were engaged in the practice themselves, believed that lending money at the going market rate, or receiving a commission for arranging a loan, was a socially useful and even honourable thing to do. ( ... ... )

It has been established beyond doubt that like his father, William Shakespeare loaned out, at interest, what were sizable sums of money, and he was prepared to sue when he was not paid back. ( ... ... )

댓글 쓰기