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The Merchant of Venice [liberally edited by Charles Kean] by William Shakespeare

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nor no ill luck stirring but what lights o' my shoulders; no sighs but
o' my breathing; no tears but o' my shedding.

_Tub_. Yes, other men have ill luck, too. Antonio, as I heard in

_Shy_. What, what, what? ill luck, ill luck?

_Tub_. Hath an argosy cast away, coming from Tripolis.

_Shy_. I thank God, I thank God:--Is it true? is it true?

_Tub_. I spoke with some of the sailors that escaped the wreck.

_Shy_. I thank thee, good Tubal;--Good news, good news: ha! ha!--Where?
in Genoa?

_Tub_. Your daughter spent in Genoa, as I heard, one night, fourscore

_Shy_. Thou stick'st a dagger in me:--I shall never see my gold again:
Fourscore ducats at a sitting! fourscore ducats!

_Tub_. There came divers of Antonio's creditors in my company to Venice,
that swear he cannot choose but break.

_Shy_. I am very glad of it: I'll plague him; I'll torture him; I am
glad of it.

_Tub_. One of them showed me a ring, that he had of your daughter for a

_Shy_. Out upon her! Thou torturest me, Tubal: it was my turquoise;[80]
I had it of Leah, when I was a bachelor: I would not have given it for a
wilderness of monkeys.

_Tub_. But Antonio is certainly undone.

_Shy_. Nay, that's true, that's very true: Go, Tubal, fee me an officer,
bespeak him a fortnight before: I will have the heart of him, if he
forfeit; for were he out of Venice, I can make what merchandize I will.
Go, Tubal, and meet me at our synagogue: go, good Tubal; at our
synagogue, Tubal.



[Footnote 76: _--to bear my wroath_.; _Misfortune_.]

[Footnote 77: _--regreets; i.s_., salutations.]

[Footnote 78: _I reason'd; Id est_, I conversed.]

[Footnote 79: _--knapp'd ginger,_; To knap is to break short. The word
occurs in the common prayer--"_He knappeth the spear in sunder_."]

[Footnote 80: _turquoise_; A precious stone found in the veins of the
mountains on the confines of Persia to the east, subject to the Tartars.
Many superstitious qualities were imputed to it, all of which were
either monitory or preservative to the wearer.]



_Por_. I pray you, tarry; pause a day or two,
Before you hazard; for, in choosing wrong
I lose your company; I could teach you
How to choose right, but then I am forsworn;
So will I never be: so may you miss me;
But if you do, you'll make me wish a sin,
That I had been forsworn.

_Bas_. Let me choose;
For, as I am, I live upon the rack.
Come, let me to my fortune and the caskets.

_Por_. Away then: I am lock'd in one of them;
If you do love me, you will find me out.
Let music sound, while he doth make his choice:
Then, if he lose, he makes a swan-like end,
Fading in music.(B)--That the comparison
May stand more proper, my eye shall be the stream
And wat'ry death-bed for him.

[_Music, whilst_ BASSANIO _comments on the Caskets to himself_.


1. Tell me where is fancy bred.
Or in the heart, or in the head?
How begot, how nourished
Reply, reply.

2. It is engender'd in the eyes,
With gazing fed; and fancy dies
In the cradle where it lies:
Let us all ring fancy's knell;
I'll begin it.--Ding, dong, bell.
_All_. Ding, dong, bell.

[_Exeunt all but_ PORTIA _and_ BASSANIO.

_Bas_. So may the outward shows be least themselves;[82]
The world is still deceiv'd with ornament.
In law, what plea so tainted and corrupt,
But, being season'd with a gracious voice,[83]
Obscures the show of evil? In religion,
What damned error, but some sober brow
Will bless it and approve it[84] with a text,
Hiding the grossness with lair ornament?
There is no vice so simple, but assumes
Some mark of virtue on his outward parts.
Thus ornament is but the guiled[85] shore
To a most dangerous sea; the beauteous scarf
Veiling an Indian beauty. Therefore, thou gaudy gold,
Hard food for Midas, I will none of thee:
Nor none of thee, thou pale and common drudge
'Tween man and man. But thou, thou meagre lead,
Which rather threat'nest than dost promise aught,
Thy plainness moves me more than eloquence,
And here choose I. Joy be the consequence!

_Por_. How all the other passions fleet to air!
O love, be moderate, allay thy ecstacy,
I feel too much thy blessing, make it less,
For fear I surfeit!

_Bas_. What find I here!

[_Opening the leaden casket_.

Fair Portia's counterfeit?[86]--Here's the scroll,
The continent and summary of my fortune.

'You that choose not by the view,
Chance as felt, and choose as true!
Since this fortune falls to you,
Be content, and seek no new.
If you be well pleas'd with this,
And hold your fortune for your bliss.
Turn you where your lady is,
And claim her with a loving kiss.'

A gentle scroll.--Fair lady, by your leave,
I come by note, to give and to receive.
Yet doubtful whether what I see be true,
Until confirm'd, sign'd, ratified by you.

_Por_. You see, my lord Bassanio, where I stand,
Such as I am: though, for myself alone,
I would not be ambitious in my wish,
To wish myself much better; yet, for you,
I would be trebled twenty times myself.
But now I was the lord
Of this fair mansion, master of my servants,
Queen o'er myself; and even now, but now,
This house, these servants, and this same myself.
Are yours, my lord,--I give them with this ring;
Which, when you part from, lose, or give away,
Let it presage the ruin of your love,
And be my vantage to exclaim on you.

_Bas_. Madam, you have bereft me of all words;
Only my blood speaks to you in my veins:
But when this ring
Parts from this finger, then parts life from hence;
O, then be bold to say, Bassanio's dead.

_Ner_. My lord and lady, it is now our time,
That have stood by and seen our wishes prosper,
To cry good joy; God joy, my lord and lady!

_Gra_. My lord Bassanio, and my gentle lady,
I wish you all the joy that you can wish;
For I am sure you can wish none from me:
And, when your honours mean to solemnize
The bargain of your faith, I do beseech you
Even at that time I may be married too.

_Bas_. With all my heart, so thou canst get a wife.

_Gra_. I thank your lordship; you have got me one.
My eyes, my lord, can look as swift as yours:
You saw the mistress, I beheld the maid;
You lov'd, I lov'd; for intermission[87]
No more pertains to me, my lord, than you.
Your fortune stood upon the caskets there;
And so did mine too, as the matter falls:
For wooing here, until my roof was dry
With oaths of love, at last,--if promise last,--
I got a promise of this fair one here,
To have her love, provided that your fortune
Achiev'd her mistress.

_Por_. Is this true, Nerissa?

_Ner_. Madam, it is, so you stand pleas'd withal.

_Bas_. And do you, Gratiano, mean good faith?

_Gra_. Yes, faith, my lord.

_Bas_. Our feast shall be much honour'd in your marriage.

_Gra_. But who comes here? Lorenzo, and his infidel?
What, and my old Venetian friend, Solanio.


_Bas_. Lorenzo, and Solanio, welcome hither;
If that the youth of my new interest here
Have power to bid you welcome:--By your leave,
I bid my very friends and countrymen,
Sweet Portia, welcome.

_Por_. So do I, my lord;
They are entirely welcome.

_Lor_. I thank your honour:--For my part, my lord,
My purpose was not to have seen you here;
But meeting with Solanio by the way,
He did entreat me, past all saying nay,
To come with him along.

_Sal_. I did, my lord,
And I have reason for it. Signior Antonio
Commends him to you.

[_Gives_ BASSANIO _a letter_.

_Bas_. Ere I ope this letter,
I pray you tell me how my good friend doth.

_Sal_. Not sick, my lord, unless it be in mind:
Nor well, unless in mind: his letter there
Will show you his estate.

_Gra_. Nerissa, cheer yon stranger; bid her welcome.
Your hand, Solanio. What's the news from Venice?
How doth that royal merchant, good Antonio?
I know he will be glad of our success;
We are the Jasons, we have won the fleece.

_Sal_. 'Would you had won the fleece that he hath lost!

_Por_. There are some shrewd contents in yon same paper,
That steal the colour from Bassanio's cheek;
Some dear friend dead; else nothing in the world
Could turn so much the constitution
Of any constant man.[88] What, worse and worse?--
With leave, Bassanio; I am half yourself,
And I must freely have the half of any thing
That this same paper brings you.

_Bas_. O sweet Portia,
Here are a few of the unpleasant'st words
That ever blotted paper! Gentle lady,
When I did first impart my love to you,
I freely told you, all the wealth I had
Ran in my veins,--I was a gentleman:
And then I told you true: and yet, dear lady,
Rating myself at nothing, you shall see
How much I was a braggart: When I told you
My state was nothing, I should then have told you
That I was worse than nothing; for, indeed,
I have engag'd myself to a dear friend,
Engag'd my friend to his mere enemy,
To feed my means. Here is a letter, lady;
The paper as the body of my friend,
And every word in it a gaping wound,
Issuing life-blood. But is it true, Solanio?
Have all his ventures fail'd? What, not one hit?
From Tripolis, from Mexico, and England,
From Lisbon, Barbary, and India?
And not one vessel 'scape the dreadful touch
Of merchant-marring rocks?

_Sal_. Not one, my lord.
Besides, it should appear, that if he had
The present money to discharge the Jew,
He would not take it: Never did I know
A creature that did bear the shape of man,
So keen and greedy to confound a man
He plies the duke at morning, and at night;
And doth impeach the freedom of the state
If they deny him justice: twenty merchants,
The duke himself, and the magnificoes
Of greatest port, have all persuaded with him;
But none can drive him from the envious plea
Of forfeiture, of justice, and his bond.

_Por_. Is it your dear friend that is thus in trouble?

_Bas_. The dearest friend to me, the kindest man,
The best condition'd and unwearied spirit
In doing courtesies, and one in whom
The ancient Roman honour more appears,
Than any that draws breath in Italy.

_Por_. What sum owes he the Jew?

_Bas_. For me, three thousand ducats.

_Por_. What, no more?
Pay him six thousand, and deface the bond;
Double six thousand, and then treble that,
Before a friend of this description
Shall lose a hair through Bassanio's fault.
First, go with me to church, and call me wife:
And then away to Venice to your friend!
For never shall you stay by Portia's side
With an unquiet soul. You shall have gold
To pay the petty debt twenty times over;
When it is paid, bring your true friend along:
My maid Nerissa, and myself, mean time,
Will live as maids and widows. Come, away;
For you shall hence, upon my wedding-day:
But let me hear the letter of your friend.

_Bas. (reads.)_

'Sweet Bassanio, my ships have all miscarried, my creditors grow cruel,
my estate is very low, my bond to the Jew is forfeit; and since, in
paying it, it is impossible I should live, all debts are cleared between
you and me, if I might but see you at my death: notwithstanding, use
your pleasure: if your love do not persuade you to come, let not my

_Por_. O love, despatch all business, and be gone.

_Bas_. Since I have your good leave to go away,
I will make haste: but, till I come again,
No bed shall e'er be guilty of my stay,
Nor rest be interposer 'twixt us twain.



[Footnote 81: Sung by Miss POOLE, and Chorus of Ladies.]

[Footnote 82: _So may the outward shows be least themselves_; Bassanio
begins abruptly; the first part of the argument having passed in his
mind while the music was proceeding.]

[Footnote 83: _--gracious voice_,; Pleasing--winning favour.]

[Footnote 84: _--approve it_; _Id est_, justify it.]

[Footnote 85: _--guiled_; Treacherous--deceitful.]

[Footnote 86: _Fair Portia's counterfeit?_; Counterfeit, which is at
present used only in a bad sense, anciently signified a _likeness_, a
_resemblance_, without comprehending any idea of fraud.]

[Footnote 87: _--intermission_; Intermission is pause--intervening

[Footnote 88: _--any constant man_.; _Constant_, in the present instance
signifies _grace_.]



_Shy_, Gaoler, look to him. Tell not me of mercy;--
This is the fool that lends out money gratis;--
Gaoler, look to him.

_Ant_. Hear me yet, good Shylock.

_Shy_. I'll have my bond; speak not against my bond;
I have sworn an oath that I will have my bond:
Thou call'dst me dog, before thou had'st a cause:
But, since I am a dog, beware my fangs:
The duke shall grant me justice.--I do wonder,
Thou naughty gaoler, that thou art so fond[89]
To come abroad with him at his request.

_Ant_. I pray thee, hear me speak.

_Shy_. I'll have my bond; I will not hear thee speak:
I'll have my bond; and therefore speak no more.
I'll not be made a soft and dull-ey'd fool,
To shake the head, relent, and sigh, and yield
To Christian intercessors. Follow not;
I'll have no speaking; I will have my bond.

[_Exit_ SHYLOCK.

_Salar_. It is the most impenetrable cur
That ever kept with men.

_Ant_. Let him alone;
I'll follow him no more with bootless prayers.
He seeks my life.

_Salar_. I am sure the duke
Will never grant this forfeiture to hold.

_Ant_. The duke cannot deny the course of law,[90]
For the commodity that strangers have
With us in Venice, if it be denied,
'Twill much impeach the justice of the state;[91]
Since that the trade and profit of the city
Consisteth of all nations.
Well, gaoler, on:--Pray heaven, Bassanio come
To see me pay his debt, and then I care not.



[Footnote 89: _--fond_; _Id est_, foolish.]



_Lor_. Madam, although I speak it in your presence,
You have a noble and a true conceit
Of god-like amity; which appears most strongly
In bearing thus the absence of your lord.
But, if you knew to whom you show this honour,
How true a gentleman you send relief,
How dear a lover of my lord your husband,
I know you would be prouder of the work,
Than customary bounty can enforce you.

_Por_. I never did repent for doing good,
Nor shall not now.
This comes too near the praising of myself;
Therefore, no more of it: hear other things.[92]
Lorenzo, I commit into your hands
The husbandry and manage of my house,
Until my lord's return: for mine own part,
I have toward heaven breath'd a secret vow,
To live in prayer and contemplation,
Only attended by Nerissa here;
There is a monastery two miles off,
And there we will abide. I do desire you
Not to deny this imposition;
To which my love, and some necessity,
Now lays upon you.

_Lor_. Madam, with all my heart,
I shall obey you in all fair commands.

_Por_. My people do already know my mind,
And will acknowledge you and Jessica
In place of lord Bassanio and myself.
So fare you well, till we shall meet again.

_Lor_. Fair thoughts and happy hours attend on you!

_Jes_. I wish your ladyship all heart's content.

_Por_. I thank you for your wish, and am well pleas'd
To wish it back on you: fare you well, Jessica!

_Exeunt_ JESSICA _and_ LORENZO.

Now, Balthazar,
As I have ever found thee honest, true,
So let me find thee still: Take this same letter;
See thou render this
Into my cousin's hand, doctor Bellario;
And, look, what notes and garments he doth give thee
Bring them, I pray thee, with imagin'd speed[93]
Unto the tranect,[94] to the common ferry
Which trades to Venice:--waste no time in words,
But get thee gone; I shall be there before thee.

_Bal_. Madam, I go with all convenient speed.


_Por_. Come on, Nerissa; I have work in hand,
That you yet know not of: we'll see our husbands,
Before they think of us.

_Ner_. Shall they see us?

_Por_. They shall, Nerissa:
But come, I'll tell thee all my whole device
When I am in my coach, which stays for us
At the park gate; and therefore haste away,
For we must measure twenty miles to-day.




(A) The present stone structure superseded an older one of wood. This
celebrated edifice was commenced in 1588.

(B) That the swan uttered musical sounds at the approach of death was
credited by Plato, Chrysippus, Aristotle, Euripides, Philostratus,
Cicero, Seneca, and Martial. Pliny, Aelian, and Athenaeus, among the
ancients, and Sir Thomas More among the moderns, treat this opinion as a
vulgar error. Luther believed in it. See his _Colloquia_, par. 2, p.
125, edit. 1571, 8vo. Our countryman, Bartholomew Glanville, thus
mentions the singing of the swan: "And whan she shal dye and that a
fether is pyght in the brayn, then she syngeth, as Ambrose sayth," _De
propr. rer_. 1. xii., c. 11. Monsieur Morin has written a dissertation
on this subject in vol. v. of the _Mem. de l'acad. det inscript_. There
are likewise some curious remarks on it in Weston's _Specimens of the
conformity of the European languages with the Oriental_, p. 135; in
Seelen _Miscellanea_, tom. 1. 298; and in Pinkertoa's _Recollections of
Paris_, ii. 336.--_Douce's illustrations_.

(C) These two magnificent granite columns, which, adorn the Piazzetta of
St. Mark, on the Molo or Quay, near the Doge's Palace, were among the
trophies brought by Dominico Michieli on his victorious return from
Palestine in 1125; and it is believed that they were plundered from some
island in the Archipelago. A third pillar, which accompanied them, was
sunk while landing. It was long before any engineer could be found
sufficiently enterprising to attempt to rear them, and they were left
neglected on the quay for more than fifty years. In 1180, however,
Nicolo Barattiero[A], a Lombard, undertook the task, and succeeded. Of
the process which he employed, we are uninformed; for Sabellico records
no more than that he took especial pains to keep the ropes continually
wetted, while they were strained by the weight of the huge marbles. The
Government, more in the lavish spirit of Oriental bounty, than in
accordance with the calculating sobriety of European patronage, had
promised to reward the architect by granting whatever boon, consistent
with its honour, he might ask.

It may be doubted whether he quite strictly adhered to the requisite
condition, when he demanded that games of chance, hitherto forbidden
throughout the capital, might be played in the space between the
columns: perhaps with a reservation to himself of any profits accruing
from them. His request was granted, and the disgraceful monopoly became
established; but afterward, in order to render the spot infamous, and to
deter the population from frequenting it, it was made the scene of
capital executions; and the bodies of countless malefactors were thus
gibbeted under the very windows of the palace of the chief magistrate. A
winged lion in bronze, the emblem of St. Mark, was raised on the summit
of one of these columns; and the other was crowned with a statue of St.
Theodore, a yet earlier patron of the city, armed with a lance and
shield, and trampling on a serpent. A blunder, made by the statuary in
this group, has given occasion for a sarcastic comment from Amelot de la
Houssaye. The saint is sculptured with the shield in his right hand, the
lance in his left; a clear proof, says the French writer, of the
unacquaintance of the Venetians with the use of arms; and symbolical
that their great council never undertakes a war of its own accord, nor
for any other object than to obtain a good and secure peace. The
satirist has unintentionally given the republic the highest praise which
could flow from his pen. Happy, indeed, would it have been for mankind,
if Governments had never been actuated by any other policy. De la
Houssaye informs us also that the Venetians exchanged the patronage of
St. Theodore for that of St. Mark, from like pacific motives; because
the first was a soldier and resembled St. George, the tutelary idol of
Genoa.--_Sketches of Venetian History_.


[Footnote 90: _The Duke cannot deny_, &c.; As the reason here given
seems a little perplex'd, it may be proper to explain it. If, says he,
the duke stop the course of law, it will be attended with this
inconvenience, that stranger merchants, by whom the wealth and power of
this city is supported, will cry out of injustice. For the known stated
law being their guide and security, they will never bear to have the
current of it stopped on any pretence of equity whatsoever.--WARBURTON.]

[Footnote 91: _For the commodity that strangers have With us in Venice,
if it be denied_, &c.; _Id est_, for the denial of those rights to
strangers, which render their abode at Venice so commodious and
agreeable to them, would much impeach the justice of the state. The
consequence would be, that strangers would not reside or carry on
traffick here; and the wealth and strength of the state would be
diminished. In the _Historye of Italye,_ by W. Thomas, quarto, 1567,
there is a section _On the libertee of straungers_, at Venice--MALONE.]

[Footnote 92: _--hear other things_.; _Id est_, she'll say no more in
self-praise, but will refer to a new subject.]

[Footnote 93: _--with imagin'd speed_; _Id est_, with celerity, like
that of imagination.]

[Footnote 94: _Unto the tranect_,; Probably this word means the tow-boat
of the ferry.]

[Footnote A: Doglioni fixes the erection of these columns in 1172,
Sabellico in 1174, the common Venetian Guide-books, a few years later.
The Abbate Garaccioli, writes the name of the engineer Starrattoni.]



SALARINO, SALANIO, _and others_.

_Duke_. What is Antonio here?

_Ant_. Ready, so please your grace.

_Duke_, I am sorry for thee: them art come to answer
A stony adversary, an inhuman wretch,
Uncapable of pity, void and empty
From any dram of mercy.

_Ant_. I have heard
Your grace hath ta'en great pains to qualify
His rigorous course; but since he stands obdurate,
And that no lawful means can carry me
Out of his envy's reach,[96] I do oppose
My patience to his fury; and am arm'd
To suffer, with a quietness of spirit,
The very tyranny and rage of his.

_Duke_. Go one, and call the Jew into the court.

_Grand Capt_. He's ready at the door: he comes, my lord.

_Enter_ SHYLOCK.

_Duke_. Make room, and let him stand before our face.
Shylock, the world thinks, and I think so, too,
That thou but lead'st this fashion of thy malice
To the last hour of act: and then, 'tis thought
Thou'lt show thy mercy and remorse,[97] more strange
Than is thy strange apparent cruelty:[98]
And where[99] thou now exact'st the penalty,
(Which is a pound of this poor merchant's flesh),
Thou wilt not only lose the forfeiture,
But touch'd with human gentleness and love,
Forgive a moiety of the principal;
Glancing an eye of pity on his losses,
That have of late so huddled on his back,
Enough to press a royal merchant down, (c)
And pluck commiseration of his state
From brassy bosoms, and rough hearts of flint,
From stubborn Turks and Tartars, never train'd
To offices of tender courtesy.
We all expect a gentle answer, Jew.

_Shy_. I have possess'd your grace of what I purpose;
And by our holy Sabbath have I sworn,
To have the due and forfeit of my bond:
If you deny it, let the danger light
Upon your charter, and your city's freedom.
You'll ask me, why I rather choose to have
A weight of carrion flesh, than to receive
Three thousand ducats: I'll not answer that:
But, say, it is my humour:[100] Is it answer'd?
What if my house be troubled with a rat,
And I be pleas'd to give ten thousand ducats
To have it ban'd? What, are you answer'd yet?
Some men there are love not a gaping pig;[101]
Some, that are mad if they behold a cat;
Now for your answer.
As there is no firm reason to be render'd
Why he cannot abide a gaping pig;
Why he a harmless necessary cat;
So can I give no reason, nor I will not,
More than a lodg'd hate, and a certain loathing,
I bear Antonio, that I follow thus
A losing suit against him. Are you answer'd?

_Bas_. This is no answer, thou unfeeling man,
To excuse the current of thy cruelty.

_Shy_. I am not bound to please thee with my answer.

_Bas_. Do all men kill the things they do not love?

_Shy_. Hates any man the thing he would not kill?

_Bas_. Every offence is not a hate at first.

_Shy_. What, would'st thou have a serpent sting thee twice?

_Ant_. I pray you, think you question with the Jew.[102]
You may as well go stand upon the beach,
And bid the main flood bate his usual height;
Yon may as well use question with the wolf,
Why he hath made the ewe bleat for the lamb;
You may as well forbid the mountain pines
To wag their high tops, and to make no noise,
When they are fretted with the gusts of heaven;
You may as well do anything most hard,
As seek to soften that (than which what's harder?)
His Jewish heart:--Therefore, I do beseech you,
Make no more offers, use no further means,
But, with all brief and plain conveniency,
Let me have judgment, and the Jew his will.

_Bas_, For thy three thousand ducats here are six.

_Shy_. If every ducat in six thousand ducats
Were in six parts, and every part a ducat,
I would not draw them,--I would have my bond.

_Duke_. How shall thou hope for mercy, rend'ring none?

_Shy_. What judgment shall I dread, doing no wrong?
You have among you many a purchas'd slave,
Which, like your asses, and your dogs, and mules,
You use in abject and in slavish parts,
Because you bought them:--Shall I say to you,
Let them be free, marry them to your heirs?
Why sweat they under burthens? let their beds
Be made as soft as yours, and let their palates
Be season'd with such viands? You will answer,
The slaves are ours:--So do I answer you.
The pound of flesh, which I demand of him.
Is dearly bought; 'tis mine, and I will have it;
If you deny me, fie upon your law!
There is no force in the decrees of Venice:
I stand for judgment: answer; shall I have it?

_Duke_. Upon my power, I may dismiss this court,
Unless Bellario, a learned doctor,
Whom I have sent for to determine this,
Come here to day.

_Grand Capt_. My lord, here stays without
A messenger, with letters from the doctor,
New come from Padua.[103]

_Duke_. Bring us the letters:--Call the messenger.

_Bas_. Good cheer, Antonio! What, man! courage yet!
The Jew shall have my flesh, blood, bones, and all,
Ere thou shall lose for me one drop of blood.

_Ant_. I am a tainted wether of the flock,
Meetest for death; the weakest kind of fruit
Drops earliest to the ground, and so let me:
You cannot better be employ'd, Bassanio,
Than to live still, and write mine epitaph.

_Enter_ NERISSA, _dressed like a lawyer's clerk_.

_Duke_. Came you from Padua, from Bellario?

_Ner_. From both, my lord; Bellario greets your grace.

[_Presents a letter_.

_Bas_. Why dost thou whet thy knife so earnstly?

_Shy_. To cut the forfeit from that bankrupt there.

_Gra_. Can no prayers pierce thee?

_Shy_. No, none that thou hast wit enough to make.

_Gra_. O, be thou damn'd inexorable dog!
And for thy life let justice be accus'd.
Thou almost makst me waver in my faith,
To hold opinion with Pythagoras,
That souls of animals infuse themselves
Into the trunks of men: thy currish spirit
Govern'd a wolf, who, hang'd for human slaughter,
Even from the gallows did his fell soul fleet,
And whilst thou lay'st in thy unhallow'd dam,
Infus'd itself in thee; for thy desires
Are wolfish, bloody, starv'd, and ravenous.

_Shy_. Till thou can'st rail the seal from off my bond,
Thou but offend'st thy lungs to speak so loud:
Repair thy wit, good youth; or it will fall
To cureless ruin.--I stand here for law.

_Duke_. This letter from Bellario doth commend
A young and learned doctor tax our court:--
Where is he?

_Ner_. He attendeth here hard by,
To know your answer, whether you'll admit him.

_Duke_. With all my heart:--some three or four of you
Go give him courteous conduct to this place.--
Meantime, the court shall hear Bellario's letter.

[_Herald reads_] "Your grace shall understand, that, at the receipt of
your letter, I am very sick; but that in the instant that your messenger
came, in loving visitation was with me a young doctor of Home; his name
is Balthasar: I acquainted him with the cause in controversy between the
Jew and Antonio, the merchant: we turned o'er many books together; he is
furnished with my opinion; which, better'd with his own learning (the
greatness whereof I cannot enough commend), comes with him, at my
importunity, to fill up your grate's request in my stead. I beseech you,
let his lack of years be no impediment to let him lack a reverend
estimation; for I never knew so young a body with so old a head. I leave
him to your gracious acceptance, whose trial all better publish his

_Duke_. You hear the learn'd Bellario, what he writes:
And here, I take it, is the doctor come.

_Enter_ PORTIA, _dressed like a Doctor of Laws_.

Give me your hand: Came you from old Bellario?

_Por_. I did, my lord.

_Duke_. You are welcome: take your place.
Are you acquainted with the difference
That holds this present question in the court?

_Por_. I am informed throughly of the cause.
Which is the merchant here, and which the Jew?

_Duke_. Antonio and old Shylock, both stand forth.

_Por_. Is your name Shylock?

_Shy_. Shylock is my name.

_Por_. Of a strange nature is the suit you follow;
Yet in such rule that the Venetian law
Cannot impugn you,[104] as you do proceed.--You
stand within his danger,[105] do you not?


_Ant_. Ay, so he says.

_Por_. So you confess the bond?

_Ant_. I do.

_Por_. Then must the Jew be merciful.

_Shy_. On what compulsion must I? Tell me that.

_Por_. The quality of mercy is not strain'd;[106]
It droppeth, as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless'd;
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes;
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway,
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this---That
in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much,
To mitigate the justice of thy plea;
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence 'gainst the merchant there.

_Shy_., My deeds upon my head! I crave the law,
The penalty and forfeit of my bond.

_Por_. Is he not able to discharge the money?

_Bas_. Yes, here I tender it for him in the court;
Yea, thrice the sum: if that will not suffice,
I will be bound to pay it ten times o'er,
On forfeit of my hands, my head, my heart:
If this will not suffice, it must appear
That malice bears down truth.[107] And I beseech you,
Wrest once the law to your authority:
To do a great right to do a little wrong;
And curb this cruel devil of his will.

_Por_. It must not be; there is no power in Venice
Can alter a decree established:
'Twill be recorded for a precedent;
And many an error, by the same example,
Will rush into the state; it cannot be.

_Shy_. A Daniel come to judgment! yea, a Daniel!
O wise young judge, how do I honour thee!

_Por_. I pray you, let me look upon the bond.

_Shy_. Here 'tis, most reverend doctor, here it is.

_Por_. Shylock, there's thrice thy money offer'd thee.

_Shy_. An oath, an oath, I have an oath in heaven:
Shall I lay perjury upon my soul?
No, not for Venice.

_Por_. Why, this bond is forfeit;
And lawfully by this the Jew may claim
A pound of flesh, to be by him cut off
Nearest the merchant's heart:--Be merciful;
Take thrice thy money; bid me tear the bond.

_Shy_. When it is paid according to the tenour.
It doth appear you are a worthy judge;
You know the law, your exposition
Hath been most sound: I charge you by the law,
Whereof you are a well-deserving pillar,
Proceed to judgment: by my soul I swear,
There is no power in the tongue of man
To alter me: I stay here on my bond.

_Ant_. Most heartily I do beseech the court
To give the judgment.

_Por_. Why then, thus it is:
You must prepare your bosom for his knife.

_Shy_. O noble judge! O excellent young man!

_Por_. For the intent and purpose of the law
Hath full relation to the penalty,
Which here appeareth due upon the bond.

_Shy_. 'Tis very true: O wise and upright judge!
How much more elder art thou than thy looks!

_Por_. Therefore, lay bare your bosom.

_Shy_. Ay, his breast:
So says the bond;--Doth it not, noble judge?--Nearest
his heart, those are the very words.

_Por_. It is so. Are there balance here to weigh
The flesh?

_Shy_. I have them ready.

_Por_. Have by some surgeon, Shylock, on your charge,
To stop his wounds, lest he should bleed to death.

_Shy_. Is it so nominated in the bond?

_Por_. It is not so express'd; but what of that?
'Twere good you do so much for charity.

_Shy_. I cannot find it; 'tis not in the bond.

_Por_. Come, merchant, have you anything to say?

_Ant_. But little; I am arm'd and well prepar'd.--
Give me your hand, Bassanio; fare you well!
Grieve not that I am fallen to this for you;
For herein fortune shows herself more kind
Than is her custom: it is still her use,
To let the wretched man outlive his wealth,
To view with hollow eye and wrinkled brow,
An age of poverty: from which lingering penance
Of such a misery doth she cut me off.
Commend me to your honorable wife:
Tell her the process of Antonio's end;
Say, how I lov'd you, speak me fair in death;
And, when the tale is told, bid her be judge
Whether Bassanio had not once a love.
Repent not you that you shall lose your friend,
And he repents not that he pays your debt;
For, if the Jew do cut but deep enough,
I'll pay it instantly with all my heart.

_Bas_. Antonio, I am married to a wife,
Which is as dear to me as life itself;
But life itself, my wife, and all the world,
Are not with me esteem'd above thy life;
I would lose all, ay, sacrifice them all
Here to this devil, to deliver you.

_Gra_. I have a wife, whom I protest I love;
I would she were in heaven, so she could
Entreat some power to change this currish Jew.

_Shy_. These be the Christian husbands: I have a daughter;
Would any of the stock of Barrabas[108]
Had been her husband, rather than a Christian! [_Aside_.
We trifle time; I pray thee pursue sentence.

_Por_. A pound of that same merchant's flesh is thine;
The court awards it, and the law doth give it.

_Shy_. Most rightful judge!

_Por_. And you must cut this flesh from off his breast!
The law allows it, and the court awards it.

_Shy_. Most learned judge!--A sentence; come, prepare.

_Por_. Tarry a little;--there is something else.--
This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood;
The words expressly are a pound of flesh:
Then take thy bond, take thou thy pound of flesh;
But, in the cutting it, if thou dost shed
One drop of Christian blood, thy lands and goods
Are, by the laws of Venice, confiscate
Unto the state of Venice.

_Gra_. O upright judge!--Mark, Jew!--O learned judge!

_Shy_. Is that the law?

_Por_. Thyself shall see the act;
For, as thou urgest justice, be assur'd
Thou shall have justice more than thou desir'st.

_Gra_. O learned judge!--Mark Jew;--a learned judge!

_Shy_. I take his offer, then,--pay the bond thrice,
And let the Christian go.

_Bas_. Here is the money.

_Por_. Soft.
The Jew shall have all justice;--soft;--no haste;--He
shall have nothing but the penalty.

_Gra_. O Jew! an upright judge, a learned judge!

_Por_. Therefore, prepare thee to cut off the flesh.(D)
Shed thou no blood; nor cut thou less, nor more,
But just a pound of flesh: if thou tak'st more,
Or less, than a just pound,--be it but so much
As makes it light or heavy in the balance,
Or the division of the twentieth part
Of one poor scruple,--nay, if the scale do turn
But in the estimation of a hair,--
Thou diest, and all thy goods are confiscate.

_Gra_. A second Daniel, a Daniel, Jew!
Now, infidel, I have thee on the hip.

_Por_. Why doth the Jew pause? take thy forfeiture.

_Shy_. Give me my principal, and let me go.

_Bas_. I have it ready for thee; here it is.

_Por_. He hath refus'd it in the open court;
He shall have merely justice, and his bond.

_Gra_. A Daniel, still say I; a second Daniel!--
thank thee, Jew, for teaching me that word.

_Shy_. Shall I not barely have my principal?

_Por_. Thou shalt have nothing but the forfeiture,
To be so taken at thy peril, Jew.

_Shy_. Why then the devil give him good of it!
I'll stay no longer question.

_Por_. Tarry, Jew;
The law hath yet another hold on you.
It is enacted in the laws of Venice,--If
it be proved against an alien,
That by direct or indirect attempts
He seek the life of any citizen,
The party 'gainst the which he doth contrive
Shall seize one half his goods; the other half
Comes to the privy coffer of the state;
And the offender's life lies in the mercy
Of the duke only, 'gainst all other voice.
In which predicament, I say, thou stand'st:
For it appears by manifest proceeding,
That, indirectly, and directly, too,
Thou hast contriv'd against the very life
Of the defendant; and thou hast incurr'd
The danger formerly by me rehears'd.
Down, therefore, and beg mercy of the duke.

_Gra_. Beg that thou may'st have leave to hang thyself:
And yet, thy wealth being forfeit to the state,
Thou hast not left the value of a cord;
Therefore, thou must be hang'd at the state's charge.

_Duke_. That thou shall see the difference of our spirit,
I pardon thee thy life before thou ask it:
For half thy wealth, it is Antonio's;
The other half comes to the general state,
Which humbleness may drive unto a fine.

_Por_. Ay, for the state;[109] not for Antonio.

_Shy_. Nay, take my life and all, pardon not that:
You take my house, when you do take the prop
That doth sustain my house; you take my life,
When you do take the means whereby I live.

_Por_. What mercy can you render him, Antonio?

_Gra_. A halter gratis; nothing else, for Heaven's sake.

_Ant_. So please my lord the duke, and all the court,
To quit the fine for one half of his goods;
I am content, so he will let me have
The other half in use,[110] to render it,
Upon his death, unto the gentleman
That lately stole his daughter;
Two things provided more,--That for this favour,
He presently become a Christian;
The other, that he do record a gift,
Here in the court, of all he dies possess'd,
Unto his son Lorenzo and his daughter.

_Duke_. He shall do this; or else I do recant
The pardon that I late pronounced here.

_Por_. Art thou contented, Jew? What dost thou say?

_Shy_. I am content.

_Por_. Clerk, draw a deed of gift.

_Shy_. I pray you give me leave to go from hence:
I am not well; send the deed after me,
And I will sign it.

_Duke_. Get thee gone, but do it.

_Gra_. In christening; thou shalt have two godfathers;
Had I been judge, thou should'st have had ten more,[111]
To bring thee to the gallows, not to the font.

[_Exit_ SHYLOCK.

_Duke_. Sir, I entreat you with me home to dinner.

_Por_. I humbly do desire your grace of pardon.
I must away this night toward Padua;
And it is meet I presently set forth.

_Duke_. I am sorry that your leisure serves you not:
Antonio, gratify this gentleman;
For, in my mind, you are much bound to him.

[_Exeunt_ DUKE, _Magnificoes, and Train_,

_Bas_. Most worthy gentleman, I and my friend,
Have by your wisdom been this day acquitted
Of grievous penalties; in lieu whereof,
Three thousand ducats, due unto the Jew,
We freely cope your courteous pains withal.

_Ant_. And stand indebted, over and above,
In love and service to you evermore.

_Por_. He is well paid that is well satisfied:
And I, delivering you, am satisfied,
And therein do account myself well paid;
My mind was never yet more mercenary.
I pray you know me, when we meet again;
I wish you well, and so I take my leave.

_Bas_. Dear Sir, of force I must attempt you further;
Take some remembrance of us, as a tribute,
Not as a fee: grant me two things, I pray you,
Not to deny me, and to pardon me.

_Por_. You press me far, and therefore I will yield,
Give me your gloves, I'll wear them for your sake;
And, for your love, I'll take this ring from you:--Do
not draw back your hand; I'll take no more;
And you in love shall not deny me this.

_Bas_. This ring, good Sir,--alas, it is a trifle;
I will not shame myself to give you this.

_Por_. I will have nothing else but only this;
And now, methinks, I have a mind to it.

_Bas_. There's more depends on this than on the value.
The dearest ring in Venice will I give you,
And find it out by proclamation;
Only for this I pray you pardon me.

_Por_. I see, Sir, you are liberal in offers:
You taught me first to beg; and now, methinks,
You teach me how a beggar should be answer'd.

_Bas_. Good Sir, this ring was given me by my wife;
And when she put it on, she made me vow
That I should neither sell, nor give, nor lose it.

_Por_. That 'scuse serves many men to save their gifts.
An if your wife be not a mad woman,
And know how well I have deserv'd this ring,
She would not hold out enemy for ever,
For giving it to me. Well, peace be with you!

[_Exeunt_ PORTIA _and_ NERISSA.

_Ant_. My lord Bassanio, let him have the ring;
Let his deservings, and my love withal,
Be valued 'gainst your wife's commandment.

_Bas_. Go, Gratiano, run and overtake him;
Give him the ring; and bring him, if thou can'st,
Unto Antonio's house;--away, make haste.


Come, you and I will thither presently;
And in the morning early will we both
Fly toward Belmont: Come, Antonio.



[Footnote 95: _Magnificoes_,; Coryat calls the nobles of Venice

[Footnote 96: _--envy's reach_,; Envy, in this place, means hatred
or malice.]

[Footnote 97: _--remorse,; Id est_, pity:]

[Footnote 98: _--apparent cruelly_: That is, seeming cruelty; not

[Footnote 99: _--where thou now_ where for whereas.]

[Footnote 100: _--I'll not answer that_;

_But, say, it is my humour_; The Jew being asked a question
which the law does not require him to answer, stands upon his
right, and refuses; but afterwards gratifies his own malignity by
such answers as he knows will aggravate the pain of the enquirer.
I will not answer, says he, as to a legal or serious question, but,
since you want an answer, will this serve you?--JOHNSON.]

[Footnote 101: _--a gaping pig_; By a _gaping_ pig, Shakespeare, I believe,
meant a pig prepared for the table; for in that state is the epithet,
_gaping_, most applicable to this animal. So, in Fletcher's _Elder

"And they stand _gaping_ like a _roasted pig_."

A passage in one of Nashe's pamphlets (which perhaps furnished our
author with his instance), may serve to confirm the observation: "The
causes conducting unto wrath are as diverse as the actions of a man's
life. Some will take on like a madman, if they see a _pig come to the
table_. Sotericus, the surgeon, was cholerick at the sight of sturgeon,"
&c. _Pierce Pennylesse his Supplication to the Devil_, 1592.--MALONE.]

[Footnote 102: _--question with the Jew_.; To question is to converse.]

[Footnote 103: Padua is the place of education for the civil law in

[Footnote 104: _Cannot impugn you_,; To impugn, is to oppose, to

[Footnote 105: _You stand within his danger,; Id est_, within his
power--within his reach or control.]

[Footnote 106: _The quality of mercy is not strain'd;_ "Mercy is
seasonable in the time of affliction, as clouds of rain in the time of
drought." --Ecclesiasticus xxxv., 20.]

[Footnote 107: _--malice bears down truth_.; Malice oppresses honesty. A
_true_ man in old language is an _honest_ man.]

[Footnote 108: _--Burrabas_; Shakespeare seems to have followed the
pronunciation of the name of this robber usual to the Theatre, Barrabas
being sounded Barabas throughout Marlowe's _Jews of Malta_.]

[Footnote 109: _Ay, for the state_; That is, the state's moiety may be
commuted for a fine, but not Antonio's.]

[Footnote 110: _The other half in use_,; Let him have it at interest
during the Jew's life, to render it on his death to Lorenzo.]

[Footnote 111: _thou should'st have had ten more,; Id est_, a jury of
_twelve_ men, to condemn thee to be hanged.]


_Enter_ PORTIA _and_ NERISSA.

_Por_. Inquire the Jew's house out, give him this deed, And let him sign
it; we'll away to-night, And be a day before our husbands home: This
deed will be well welcome to Lorenzo.


_Gra_. Fair Sir, you are well overtaken: My lord Bassanio, upon more
advice,[112] Hath sent you here this ring; and doth entreat Your company
at dinner.

_Por_. That cannot be: This ring I do accept most thankfully, And so, I
pray you, tell him: Furthermore, I pray you, show my youth old Shylock's

_Gra_. That will I do.

_Ner_. Sir, I would speak with you:--I'll see if I can get my husband's


Which I did make him swear to keep for ever.

_Por_. Thou may'st, I warrant. We shall have old swearing,[113] That
they did give the rings away to men; But we'll outface them, and
outswear them, too. Away, make haste; thou know'st where I will tarry.

_Ner_. Come, good Sir, will you show me to this house?




[Footnote 112: _upon more advice,; Id est_, upon more reflection.]

[Footnote 113: _old swearing_; Of this once common augmentative in
colloquial language there are various instances in our author.]


(A) This scene represents the Sala dei Pregádi, or Hall of the Senators.
In Venice the tribunal for criminal cases was composed of forty judges,
ordinarily presided over by one of three selected from the Council of
the Doge, and draughted for the most part, if not wholly, from the
members of the Senate. The Doge, who on all occasions was attended by
his particular officers, had the right of sitting in the councils, or on
the tribunal. The authority for the six senators in red (in this scene)
is taken from the picture at Hampton Court Palace, where the Doge of
Venice, in state, is receiving Sir Henry Wootton, ambassador from James
the First. The picture is by Odoardo Fialletti, better known as an
engraver than as a painter, and who was living at Venice when Sir Henry
Wootton was ambassador there.

(B) The first Doge, or Duke of Venice, was Paolo Luca Anafesto, elected
A.D. 697, and the last was Luigi Manini, who yielded the city, which had
just completed the eleventh century of its sway, to the victorious arms
of Buonaparte, in 1797.

(C) We are not to imagine the word _royal_ to be only a ranting,
sounding epithet. It is used with great propriety, and shows the poet
well acquainted with the history of the people whom he here brings upon
the stage. For when the French and Venetians, in the beginning of the
thirteenth century, had won Constantinople, the French, under the.
Emperor Henry, endeavoured to extend their conquests into the provinces
of the Grecian Empire on the _Terra firma_; while the Veuetiaas, who
were masters of the sea, gave liberty to any subjects of the republic,
who would fit out vessels, to make themselves masters of the isles of
the Archipelago, and other maritime places; and to enjoy their conquests
in sovereignty: only doing homage to the republic for their several
principalities By virtue of this licence, the Sanudi, the Justinianii,
the Grimaldi, the Summaripi, and others, all Venetian _merchants_,
erected principalities in several places of the Archipelago (which their
descendants enjoyed for many generations), and thereby became truly and
properly _royal merchants_, which, indeed was the title generally given
them all over Europe. Hence, the most eminent of our own merchants
(while publick spirit resided amongst them, and before it was aped by
faction), were called _royal merchants_.--_Warburton_.

This epithet was in our poet's time more striking and better
understood, because Gresham was then commonly dignified with the title
of the _royal merchant.--Johnson_.

(D) This judgment is related by _Gracian_, the celebrated Spanish
Jesuit, in his _Hero_, with a reflection at the conclusion of it;--

"The vivacity of that great Turke enters into competition with that of
Solomon: a _Jew_ pretended to cut an ounce of the flesh of a Christian
upon a penalty of usury; he urged it to the Prince, with as much
obstinacy, as perfidiousness towards God. The great Judge commanded a
pair of scales to be brought, threatening the _Jew_ with death if he cut
either more or less: And this was to give a sharp decision to a
malicious process, and to the world a miracle of subtilty."--_The Hero_,
p. 24, &c.

Gregorio Leti, in his _Life of Sixtus V_., has a similar story. The
papacy of Sixtus began in 1583. He died Aug. 29, 1590.--_Steevens_



_Enter_ LORENZO _and_ JESSICA.

_Lor_. The moon shines bright:--In such a night as this,
When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees,
And they did make no noise,--in such a night,
Troilus, methinks, mounted the Trojan walls,
And sigh'd his soul toward the Grecian tents,
Where Cressid lay that night.

_Jes_. In such a night
Bid young Lorenzo swear he lov'd me well;
Stealing my soul with many vows of faith,
And ne'er a true one.

_Lor_. In such a night,
Did pretty Jessica, like a little shrew,
Slander her love, and he forgave it her.

_Jes_. I would out-night you, did no body come:
But, hark, I hear the footing of a man.


_Lor_. Who comes so fast in silence of the night?

_Bal_. A Mend,

_Lor_. A friend? what friend? your name, I pray you,

_Bal_. Balthazar is my name: and I bring word,
My mistress will before the break of day
Be here at Belmont.
I pray you, is my master yet return'd?

_Lor_. He is not, nor we have not heard from him.--
But go we in, I pray thee, Jessica,
And ceremoniously let us prepare
Some welcome for the mistress of the house.


_Lau_. Sola, sola, we ha, ho, sola, sola.

_Lor_. Who calls?

_Lau_. Sola! Did you see master Lorenzo, and mistress Lorenzo? sola,

_Lor_. Leave holloing, man; here.

_Lau_. Sola! where? where?

_Lor_. Here.

_Lau_. Tell him, there's a post come from my master, with his horn full
of good news; my master will be here ere morning.


_Lor_. My friend Balthazar, signify, I pray you,
Within the house, your mistress is at hand:
And bring your music forth into the air. [_Exit_ BALTHAZAR.
How sweet the moon-light sleeps upon this bank!
Here will we sit, and let the sounds of music
Creep in our ears: soft stillness, and the night,
Become the touches of sweet harmony.
Sit, Jessica. Look how the floor of heaven
Is thick inlaid with patines[114] of bright gold.
There's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st
But in his motion like an angel sings,
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubins:
Such harmony is in immortal souls,
But whilst this muddy vesture of decay
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.--



It was a lover and his lass,
With a hey and a ho, and a hey nonino;
That o'er the green corn fields did pass,
In the spring-time, the pretty spring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding-a-ding, ding:--
Sweet lovers love the spring.

And therefore take the present time,
With a hey and a ho, and a hey nonino;
For love is crowned with the prime
In the spring-time, the pretty spring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding-a-ding, ding:--
Sweet lovers love the spring.

_Jes_. I am never merry when I hear sweet music.

_Lor_. The reason is your spirits are attentive:
For do but note a wild and wanton herd,
If any air of music touch their ears,
You shall perceive them make a mutual stand,
Their savage eyes turn'd to a modest gaze,
By the sweet power of music. Therefore, the poet
Did feign that Orpheus drew trees, stones, and floods;
Since nought so stockish, hard, and full of rage,
But music for the time doth change his nature:
The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus:
Let no such man be trusted.--Mark the music.

_Enter_ PORTIA _and_ NERISSA, _at a distance_.

_Por_. That light we see is burning in my hall.
How far that little candle throws his beams!
So shines a good deed in a naughty world. Music! hark!

_Ner_. It is your music, madam, of the house.

_Por_. Nothing is good, I see, without respect;[116]
Methinks it sounds much sweeter than by day.

_Ner_. Silence bestows that virtue on it, madam.

[_Music ceases_.

_Por_. How many things by season season'd are
To their light praise, and true-perfection!--

_Lor_. That is the voice,
Or I am much deceiv'd, of Portia.

_Por_. He knows me, as the blind man knows the cuckoo,
By the bad voice.

_Lor_. Dear lady, welcome home.

_Por_. We have been praying for our husbands' welfare,
Which speed, we hope, the better for our words.
Are they return'd?

_Lor_. Madam, they are not yet;
But there is come a messenger before,
To signify their coming.

_Por_. Go in, Nerissa;
Give order to my servants, that they take
No note at all of our being absent hence;
Nor you, Lorenzo;--Jessica, nor you.

[_A trumpet sounds_.

_Lor_. Your husband is at hand; I hear his trumpet:
We are no tell-tales, madam; fear you not.

_Enter_ BASSANIO, ANTONIO, GRATIANO, _and their Followers_.

_Por_. You are welcome home, my lord.

_Bas_. I thank you, madam: give welcome to my friend.--
This is the man, this is Antonio,
To whom I am so infinitely bound.

_Por_. You should in all sense be much bound to him,
For, as I hear, he was much bound for you.

_Ant_. No more than I am well acquitted of.

_Por_. Sir, you are very welcome to our house:
It must appear in other ways than words,
Therefore, I scant this breathing courtesy.[117]

[GRATIANO _and_ NERISSA _seem to talk apart_.

_Gra_. By yonder moon, I swear you do me wrong;
In faith, I gave it to the judge's clerk:
Would he were hang'd that had it, for my part,
Since you do take it, love, so much at heart.

_Por_. A quarrel, ho, already? What's the matter?

_Gra_. About a hoop of gold, a paltry ring
That she did give to me; whose posy was
For all the world, like cutler's poetry[118]
Upon a knife, '_Love me, and leave me not_.'

_Ner_. What talk you of the posy, or the value?
You swore to me, when I did give it you,
That you would wear it till the hour of death:
And that it should lie with you in your grave;
Though not for me, yet for your vehement oaths,
You should have been respective,[119] and have kept it.
Gave it a judge's clerk!--but well I know,
The clerk will ne'er wear hair on's face that had it.

_Gra_. He will, an if he live to be a man.

_Ner_. Ay, if a woman live to be a man.

_Gra_. Now, by this hand, I gave it to a youth,--
kind of boy; a little scrubbed boy,[120]
No higher than thyself, the judge's clerk;
A prating boy, that begg'd it as a fee;
I could not for my heart deny it him.

_Por_. You were to blame, I must be plain with you,
To part so slightly with your wife's first gift:
A thing stuck on with oaths upon your finger,
And so riveted with faith unto your flesh.
I gave my love a ring, and made him swear
Never to part with it; and here he stands,--
I dare be sworn for him, he would not leave it,
Nor pluck it from his finger, for the wealth
That the world masters. Now, in faith, Gratiano,
You give your wife too unkind a cause of grief;
An 'twere to me, I should be mad at it.

_Bas_. Why, I were best to cut my left hand off,
And swear, I lost the ring defending it.


_Gra_. My lord Bassanio gave his ring away
Unto the judge that begg'd it, and, indeed,
Deserv'd it, too; and then the boy, his clerk,
That took some pains in writing, he begg'd mine:
And neither man, nor master, would take aught
But the two rings.

_Por_. What ring gave you, my lord;
Not that, I hope, which you receiv'd of me.

_Bas_. If I could add a lie unto a fault,
I would deny it; but you see, my finger
Hath not the ring upon it, it is gone.

_Por_. Even so void is your false heart of truth.
By heaven, I will ne'er come in your sight
Until I see the ring.

_Ner_. Nor I in yours,
Till I again see mine.

_Bas_. Sweet Portia,
If you did know to whom I gave the ring,
If you did know for whom I gave the ring,
And would conceive for what I gave the ring,
And how unwillingly I left the ring,
When nought would be accepted but the ring,
You would abate the strength of your displeasure.

_Por_. If you had known the virtue of the ring,
Or half her worthiness that gave the ring,
Or your own honour to contain the ring,
You would not then have parted with the ring.
What man is there so much unreasonable,
If you had pleas'd to have defended it
With any terms of zeal, wanted the modesty
To urge the thing held as a ceremony?
Nerissa teaches me what to believe;
I'll die for't, but some woman had the ring.

_Bas_. No, by mine honour, madam, by my soul,
No woman had it, but a civil doctor,
Which did refuse three thousand ducats of me,
And begg'd the ring; the which I did deny him,
And suffer'd him to go displeas'd away;
Even he that had held up the very life
Of my dear friend. What should I say, sweet lady?
I was enforc'd to send it after him.
Had you been there, I think you would have begg'd
The ring of me to give the worthy doctor.

_Por_. Let not that doctor e'er come near my house:
Since he hath got the jewel that I lov'd,
And that which you did swear to keep for me,
I will become as liberal as you.

_Ant_. I am the unhappy subject of these quarrels.

_Por_. Sir, grieve not you; you are welcome notwithstanding.

_Bas_. Portia, forgive me this enforced wrong;
And in the hearing of these many friends,
I swear to thee, even by thine own fair eyes,
I never more will break an oath with thee.

_Ant_. I once did lend my body for his wealth;[121]
Which, but for him that had your husband's ring,


Had quite miscarried: I dare be bound again,
My soul upon the forfeit, that your lord
Will never more break faith advisedly.

_Por_. Then you shall be his surety: give him this;
And bid him keep it better than the other.

_Ant_. Here, lord Bassanio; swear to keep this ring.

_Bas_. By heaven it is the same I gave the doctor!

_Por_. I had it of him: pardon me, Bassanio.

_Ner_. And pardon me, my gentle Gratiano;
For that same scrubbed boy, the doctor's clerk,
Did give me this.

_Gra_. Why this is like the mending of highways
In summer, when the ways are fair enough.

_Por_. You are all amaz'd:
Here is a letter, read it at your leisure;
It comes from Padua, from Bellario:
There you shall find, that Portia was the doctor;
Nerissa there, her clerk: Lorenzo here
Shall witness, I set forth as soon as you,
And but e'en now return'd; I have not yet
Enter'd my house.--Antonio, you are welcome;
And I have better news in store for you
Than you expect: unseal this letter soon,
There you shall find three of your argosies
Are richly come to harbour suddenly:
You shall not know by what strange accident
I chanced on this letter.

_Bas_. Were you the doctor, and I knew you not?

_Gra_. Were you the clerk, and I knew you not?

_Ant_. Sweet lady, you have given me life, and living;
For here I read for certain, that my ships
Are safely come to road.

_Por_. How now, Lorenzo?
My clerk Has some good comforts too for you.

_Ner_. Ay, and I'll give them him without a fee.--
There do I give to you Jessica,
From the rich Jew a special deed of gift,
After his death, of all he dies possessed of.

_Lor_. Fair ladies, you drop manna in the way of starved people.

_Por_. It is almost morning,
And yet I am sure you are not satisfied
Of these events at full: Let us go in;
And charge us there upon inter'gatories,[122]
And we will answer all things faithfully.



[Footnote 114: _--patines of bright gold.;_. A patine is the small flat
dish or plate used with the chalice in the service of the altar. In the
time of popery, and probably in the following Age, it was commonly made
of gold.]

[Footnote 115: Sung by Miss POOLE, Miss LEFFLEE, Mr. T. YOUNG, Mr. T.
COLLETT, and Mr. WALLWORTH.--From _At You Like It_, Act v., Scenes.]

[Footnote 116: _Nothing is good, I see, without respect; Not absolutely
good, but relatively good, as it is modified by circumstances.]

[Footnote 117: _--this breathing courtesy_.; This verbal complimentary
form, made up only of breath, _i_._e_., words.]

[Footnote 118: _--like cutler's poetry_; Knives were formerly inscribed,
by means of aqua fortis, with short sentences in distich.]

[Footnote 119: _--respective,_; Regardful.]

[Footnote 120: _--a little scrubbed boy,_; A stunted boy.]

[Footnote 121: _I once did lend my body for his wealth;_] _Id est_., for
his advantage--to obtain his happiness; _wealth_ was, at that time, the
term opposed to _adversity_ or _calamity_.]

[Footnote 122: _--inter'gatories,_; A contraction of interrogatories.]


At a very early period, Venice had begun to trade with Constantinople
and the Levant, and though subjected to formidable competition from the
Pisans and Genoese, succeeded in engrossing the far largest share of the
traffic of the East. The Crusades now commenced, and giving lucrative
employment to their shipping in the conveyance of troops, and the
munitions of war, greatly increased both their wealth and power, and
enabled them to make large additions to their territory. In early times,
the Doges had been elected by the popular voice, and held their office
by a very precarious tenure; for, in the case of any reverse or general
dissatisfaction from any other cause, they were not only deposed, but
often lost their lives, either by open violence, or assassination. The
disorders thus occasioned rose to such a height in the 12th century,
that a change in the form of government became necessary. For this
purpose the city was divided into six districts, each of which nominated
two delegates, or twelve in all; these twelve nominated 470
representatives, who concentrated in themselves all the powers which had
been previously exercised by the popular assemblies. At the same time, a
senate was appointed, and the Doge was provided with a council of six,
who were nominally to assist, but, if so disposed, could easily find
means to thwart him. The 470 representatives formed the grand council,
and receiving their appointments annually from 12 delegates chosen by
the popular voice, continued, in fact, notwithstanding the change in
form, to be dependent upon it. The next change, however, set them free.
After a severe struggle, the 470, in 1319, succeeded in making their
office hereditary, and thus converted what had previously been a
democracy into one of the most rigid forms of aristocracy. The evils of
the system soon developed themselves. The 470, now hereditary nobles,
became as jealous of each other as they had formerly been of the people,
and while appropriating all the great offices of the state, had recourse
to various methods, many of them of the most despotic nature, to prevent
anyone of the great families from acquiring a preponderating influence.
Among these arrangements was the institution of a council of 10,
selected from the grand council, and subsequently, in 1454, the
selection of three state inquisitors from the council of 10. These
inquisitors, in whom all the powers of the state were absolutely vested,
justified the name which the cruel bigotry of the Romish Church has
established. This rigid despotism had, however, the effect of giving a
stern unity of purpose to the proceedings of government, and doubtless
contributed in some degree to consolidate the various accessions of
territory which had been made into one whole. At this period the
Venetians were masters of the coast of Dalmatia, and the islands of
Cyprus, Candia, and a great part of the Morea, and had almost
monopolized the trade of Egypt and the East. The first great attempt to
humble Venice was made in the beginning of the 16th century, when the
famous league of Cambrai, of which Pope Julius the Second was the real
author, though the Emperor of Germany, and the kings of France and Spain
were parties to it, was framed for the avowed purpose of completely
subduing her, and partitioning her territories. Dissensions among the
confederates more than her own valour saved her from destruction, but
not before most of her possessions on the mainland had been wrested from
her. A still heavier blow at her prosperity was struck, by the discovery
of a new passage to the East, which carried its rich traffic into new
channels, and dried up one of the main sources of her wealth and
strength. The work of destruction was all but completed by the Turks,
who engaged her in an expensive and ruinous warfare, during which she
lost the Morea, the islands of Cyprus and Candia, and with them the
ascendancy which she had long possessed in the Levant. From all these
causes her decline proved as rapid as her rise had been, and though her
position can hardly fail to give her a considerable coasting trade, all
her maritime greatness has departed, and apparently the highest destiny
to which she can now aspire, is that of being a valuable dependency to
some superior power.

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