List iconThe Merchant of VeniceList icon

The Merchant of Venice
Entire Play

Synopsis:

Contents

Characters in the Play

Entire Play

Antonio, the merchant in The Merchant of Venice, secures a loan from Shylock for his friend Bassanio, who seeks to court…

Act 1, scene 1

Antonio, a Venetian merchant, has invested all his wealth in trading expeditions. Bassanio, his friend and kinsman, asks him for…

Act 1, scene 2

At Portia’s estate of Belmont, Portia and Nerissa talk over Portia’s frustration at being unable to choose her own husband….

Act 1, scene 3

In Venice Bassanio goes to Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, to borrow, in Antonio’s name, 3,000 ducats. Shylock hates Antonio but…

Act 2, scene 1

At Belmont the Prince of Morocco greets Portia, who tells him the terms of the contest: if he chooses the…

Act 2, scene 2

In Venice Shylock’s servant, Lancelet Gobbo, debates whether he should find a new master. Lancelet’s father comes in search of…

Act 2, scene 3

Jessica, Shylock’s daughter, says good-bye to Lancelet and gives him a letter for Lorenzo, a friend of Bassanio. In a…

Act 2, scene 4

Lorenzo, Gratiano, Solanio, and Salarino try to arrange a masque for Bassanio’s dinner that night. Lancelet brings Lorenzo Jessica’s letter…

Act 2, scene 5

Lancelet brings Shylock an invitation to dinner at Bassanio’s. Shylock grudgingly accepts and commands Jessica to guard their house carefully….

Act 2, scene 6

Gratiano and Salarino wait for Lorenzo near Shylock’s house. As soon as Lorenzo arrives, he calls Jessica, who throws him…

Act 2, scene 7

At Belmont the Prince of Morocco attempts to choose the right chest and win Portia. He picks the gold one…

Act 2, scene 8

In Venice Solanio and Salarino discuss the latest news: Shylock’s torment over the loss of his daughter and the treasures…

Act 2, scene 9

At Belmont the Prince of Arragon attempts to win Portia by choosing the silver chest, but finds in it the…

Act 3, scene 1

In Venice Solanio and Salarino have learned that the Italian ship wrecked in the English Channel was Antonio’s. Shylock enters…

Act 3, scene 2

Portia advises Bassanio to postpone choosing for fear he should make the wrong choice. Bassanio declares himself unable to live…

Act 3, scene 3

Antonio seeks out Shylock in an effort to get the moneylender to listen to him. But Shylock insists that the…

Act 3, scene 4

Portia entrusts the management of her household to Lorenzo and pretends to leave with Nerissa for a house of an…

Act 3, scene 5

Lancelet, the clown, makes jokes at the expense of Jessica and then Lorenzo. Jessica praises Portia and jokes with Lorenzo.

Act 4, scene 1

In court at Venice, Shylock demands that the terms of his bond be fulfilled. Portia enters as a doctor of…

Act 4, scene 2

Gratiano gives the disguised Portia Bassanio’s ring. Nerissa decides to try to obtain from Gratiano the ring that she had…

Act 5, scene 1

Portia and Nerissa return to Belmont. When Bassanio and Gratiano also return, bringing Antonio with them, Portia and Nerissa “discover”…

Include links to:

Images
Glosses
Audio
Video
Essays
Quill icon
ACT 1
Scene 1
Enter Antonio, Salarino, and Solanio.

ANTONIO 
 In sooth I know not why I am so sad.
 It wearies me, you say it wearies you.
 But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,
 What stuff ’tis made of, whereof it is born,
5 I am to learn.
 And such a want-wit sadness makes of me
 That I have much ado to know myself.
SALARINO 
 Your mind is tossing on the ocean,
 There where your argosies with portly sail
10 (Like signiors and rich burghers on the flood,
 Or, as it were, the pageants of the sea)
 Do overpeer the petty traffickers
 That curtsy to them, do them reverence,
 As they fly by them with their woven wings.
SOLANIO 
15 Believe me, sir, had I such venture forth,
 The better part of my affections would
 Be with my hopes abroad. I should be still
 Plucking the grass to know where sits the wind,
 Piring in maps for ports and piers and roads;
20 And every object that might make me fear
7

9
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 1. SC. 1

 Misfortune to my ventures, out of doubt
 Would make me sad.
SALARINO  My wind cooling my broth
 Would blow me to an ague when I thought
25 What harm a wind too great might do at sea.
 I should not see the sandy hourglass run
 But I should think of shallows and of flats,
 And see my wealthy Andrew docked in sand,
 Vailing her high top lower than her ribs
30 To kiss her burial. Should I go to church
 And see the holy edifice of stone
 And not bethink me straight of dangerous rocks,
 Which, touching but my gentle vessel’s side,
 Would scatter all her spices on the stream,
35 Enrobe the roaring waters with my silks,
 And, in a word, but even now worth this
 And now worth nothing? Shall I have the thought
 To think on this, and shall I lack the thought
 That such a thing bechanced would make me sad?
40 But tell not me: I know Antonio
 Is sad to think upon his merchandise.
ANTONIO 
 Believe me, no. I thank my fortune for it,
 My ventures are not in one bottom trusted,
 Nor to one place; nor is my whole estate
45 Upon the fortune of this present year:
 Therefore my merchandise makes me not sad.
SOLANIO 
 Why then you are in love.
ANTONIO  Fie, fie!
SOLANIO 
 Not in love neither? Then let us say you are sad
50 Because you are not merry; and ’twere as easy
 For you to laugh and leap, and say you are merry
 Because you are not sad. Now, by two-headed
 Janus,

11
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 1. SC. 1

 Nature hath framed strange fellows in her time:
55 Some that will evermore peep through their eyes
 And laugh like parrots at a bagpiper,
 And other of such vinegar aspect
 That they’ll not show their teeth in way of smile
 Though Nestor swear the jest be laughable.

Enter Bassanio, Lorenzo, and Gratiano.

60 Here comes Bassanio, your most noble kinsman,
 Gratiano, and Lorenzo. Fare you well.
 We leave you now with better company.
SALARINO 
 I would have stayed till I had made you merry,
 If worthier friends had not prevented me.
ANTONIO 
65 Your worth is very dear in my regard.
 I take it your own business calls on you,
 And you embrace th’ occasion to depart.
SALARINO 
 Good morrow, my good lords.
BASSANIO 
 Good signiors both, when shall we laugh? Say,
70 when?
 You grow exceeding strange. Must it be so?
SALARINO 
 We’ll make our leisures to attend on yours.
Salarino and Solanio exit.
LORENZO 
 My Lord Bassanio, since you have found Antonio,
 We two will leave you. But at dinner time
75 I pray you have in mind where we must meet.
BASSANIO 
 I will not fail you.
GRATIANO 
 You look not well, Signior Antonio.
 You have too much respect upon the world.

13
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 1. SC. 1

 They lose it that do buy it with much care.
80 Believe me, you are marvelously changed.
ANTONIO 
 I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano,
 A stage where every man must play a part,
 And mine a sad one.
GRATIANO  Let me play the fool.
85 With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come,
 And let my liver rather heat with wine
 Than my heart cool with mortifying groans.
 Why should a man whose blood is warm within
 Sit like his grandsire cut in alabaster?
90 Sleep when he wakes? And creep into the jaundice
 By being peevish? I tell thee what, Antonio
 (I love thee, and ’tis my love that speaks):
 There are a sort of men whose visages
 Do cream and mantle like a standing pond
95 And do a willful stillness entertain
 With purpose to be dressed in an opinion
 Of wisdom, gravity, profound conceit,
 As who should say “I am Sir Oracle,
 And when I ope my lips, let no dog bark.”
100 O my Antonio, I do know of these
 That therefore only are reputed wise
 For saying nothing, when, I am very sure,
 If they should speak, would almost damn those ears
 Which, hearing them, would call their brothers
105 fools.
 I’ll tell thee more of this another time.
 But fish not with this melancholy bait
 For this fool gudgeon, this opinion.—
 Come, good Lorenzo.—Fare you well a while.
110 I’ll end my exhortation after dinner.
LORENZO 
 Well, we will leave you then till dinner time.
 I must be one of these same dumb wise men,
 For Gratiano never lets me speak.

15
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 1. SC. 1

GRATIANO 
 Well, keep me company but two years more,
115 Thou shalt not know the sound of thine own
 tongue.
ANTONIO 
 Fare you well. I’ll grow a talker for this gear.
GRATIANO 
 Thanks, i’ faith, for silence is only commendable
 In a neat’s tongue dried and a maid not vendible.
Gratiano and Lorenzo exit.
ANTONIO 120Is that anything now?
BASSANIO Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of nothing,
 more than any man in all Venice. His reasons are as
 two grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff: you
 shall seek all day ere you find them, and when you
125 have them, they are not worth the search.
ANTONIO 
 Well, tell me now what lady is the same
 To whom you swore a secret pilgrimage,
 That you today promised to tell me of?
BASSANIO 
 ’Tis not unknown to you, Antonio,
130 How much I have disabled mine estate
 By something showing a more swelling port
 Than my faint means would grant continuance.
 Nor do I now make moan to be abridged
 From such a noble rate. But my chief care
135 Is to come fairly off from the great debts
 Wherein my time, something too prodigal,
 Hath left me gaged. To you, Antonio,
 I owe the most in money and in love,
 And from your love I have a warranty
140 To unburden all my plots and purposes
 How to get clear of all the debts I owe.
ANTONIO 
 I pray you, good Bassanio, let me know it;

17
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 1. SC. 1

 And if it stand, as you yourself still do,
 Within the eye of honor, be assured
145 My purse, my person, my extremest means
 Lie all unlocked to your occasions.
BASSANIO 
 In my school days, when I had lost one shaft,
 I shot his fellow of the selfsame flight
 The selfsame way with more advisèd watch
150 To find the other forth; and by adventuring both
 I oft found both. I urge this childhood proof
 Because what follows is pure innocence.
 I owe you much, and, like a willful youth,
 That which I owe is lost. But if you please
155 To shoot another arrow that self way
 Which you did shoot the first, I do not doubt,
 As I will watch the aim, or to find both
 Or bring your latter hazard back again,
 And thankfully rest debtor for the first.
ANTONIO 
160 You know me well, and herein spend but time
 To wind about my love with circumstance;
 And out of doubt you do me now more wrong
 In making question of my uttermost
 Than if you had made waste of all I have.
165 Then do but say to me what I should do
 That in your knowledge may by me be done,
 And I am prest unto it. Therefore speak.
BASSANIO 
 In Belmont is a lady richly left,
 And she is fair, and, fairer than that word,
170 Of wondrous virtues. Sometimes from her eyes
 I did receive fair speechless messages.
 Her name is Portia, nothing undervalued
 To Cato’s daughter, Brutus’ Portia.
 Nor is the wide world ignorant of her worth,
175 For the four winds blow in from every coast

19
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 1. SC. 2

 Renownèd suitors, and her sunny locks
 Hang on her temples like a golden fleece,
 Which makes her seat of Belmont Colchos’ strond,
 And many Jasons come in quest of her.
180 O my Antonio, had I but the means
 To hold a rival place with one of them,
 I have a mind presages me such thrift
 That I should questionless be fortunate!
ANTONIO 
 Thou know’st that all my fortunes are at sea;
185 Neither have I money nor commodity
 To raise a present sum. Therefore go forth:
 Try what my credit can in Venice do;
 That shall be racked even to the uttermost
 To furnish thee to Belmont to fair Portia.
190 Go presently inquire, and so will I,
 Where money is, and I no question make
 To have it of my trust, or for my sake.
They exit.


Scene 2
Enter Portia with her waiting woman Nerissa.

PORTIA By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is aweary
 of this great world.
NERISSA You would be, sweet madam, if your miseries
 were in the same abundance as your good fortunes
5 are. And yet, for aught I see, they are as sick that
 surfeit with too much as they that starve with
 nothing. It is no mean happiness, therefore, to be
 seated in the mean. Superfluity comes sooner by
 white hairs, but competency lives longer.
PORTIA 10Good sentences, and well pronounced.
NERISSA They would be better if well followed.

21
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 1. SC. 2

PORTIA If to do were as easy as to know what were
 good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor
 men’s cottages princes’ palaces. It is a good divine
15 that follows his own instructions. I can easier teach
 twenty what were good to be done than to be one of
 the twenty to follow mine own teaching. The brain
 may devise laws for the blood, but a hot temper
 leaps o’er a cold decree: such a hare is madness the
20 youth, to skip o’er the meshes of good counsel the
 cripple. But this reasoning is not in the fashion to
 choose me a husband. O, me, the word “choose”! I
 may neither choose who I would nor refuse who I
 dislike. So is the will of a living daughter curbed by
25 the will of a dead father. Is it not hard, Nerissa, that
 I cannot choose one, nor refuse none?
NERISSA Your father was ever virtuous, and holy men
 at their death have good inspirations. Therefore the
 lottery that he hath devised in these three chests of
30 gold, silver, and lead, whereof who chooses his
 meaning chooses you, will no doubt never be
 chosen by any rightly but one who you shall rightly
 love. But what warmth is there in your affection
 towards any of these princely suitors that are already
35 come?
PORTIA I pray thee, overname them, and as thou
 namest them, I will describe them, and according
 to my description level at my affection.
NERISSA First, there is the Neapolitan prince.
PORTIA 40Ay, that’s a colt indeed, for he doth nothing but
 talk of his horse, and he makes it a great appropriation
 to his own good parts that he can shoe him
 himself. I am much afeard my lady his mother
 played false with a smith.
NERISSA 45Then is there the County Palatine.
PORTIA He doth nothing but frown, as who should say
 “An you will not have me, choose.” He hears

23
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 1. SC. 2

 merry tales and smiles not. I fear he will prove the
 weeping philosopher when he grows old, being so
50 full of unmannerly sadness in his youth. I had
 rather be married to a death’s-head with a bone in
 his mouth than to either of these. God defend me
 from these two!
NERISSA How say you by the French lord, Monsieur Le
55 Bon?
PORTIA God made him, and therefore let him pass for
 a man. In truth, I know it is a sin to be a mocker,
 but he!—why, he hath a horse better than the
 Neapolitan’s, a better bad habit of frowning than
60 the Count Palatine. He is every man in no man. If a
 throstle sing, he falls straight a-cap’ring. He will
 fence with his own shadow. If I should marry him, I
 should marry twenty husbands! If he would despise
 me, I would forgive him, for if he love me to
65 madness, I shall never requite him.
NERISSA What say you then to Falconbridge, the young
 baron of England?
PORTIA You know I say nothing to him, for he understands
 not me, nor I him. He hath neither Latin,
70 French, nor Italian; and you will come into the
 court and swear that I have a poor pennyworth in
 the English. He is a proper man’s picture, but alas,
 who can converse with a dumb show? How oddly
 he is suited! I think he bought his doublet in Italy,
75 his round hose in France, his bonnet in Germany,
 and his behavior everywhere.
NERISSA What think you of the Scottish lord, his
 neighbor?
PORTIA That he hath a neighborly charity in him, for
80 he borrowed a box of the ear of the Englishman,
 and swore he would pay him again when he was
 able. I think the Frenchman became his surety and
 sealed under for another.

25
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 1. SC. 2

NERISSA How like you the young German, the Duke of
85 Saxony’s nephew?
PORTIA Very vilely in the morning, when he is sober,
 and most vilely in the afternoon, when he is drunk.
 When he is best he is a little worse than a man, and
 when he is worst he is little better than a beast. An
90 the worst fall that ever fell, I hope I shall make shift
 to go without him.
NERISSA If he should offer to choose, and choose the
 right casket, you should refuse to perform your
 father’s will if you should refuse to accept him.
PORTIA 95Therefore, for fear of the worst, I pray thee set
 a deep glass of Rhenish wine on the contrary
 casket, for if the devil be within and that temptation
 without, I know he will choose it. I will do
 anything, Nerissa, ere I will be married to a sponge.
NERISSA 100You need not fear, lady, the having any of
 these lords. They have acquainted me with their
 determinations, which is indeed to return to their
 home and to trouble you with no more suit, unless
 you may be won by some other sort than your
105 father’s imposition depending on the caskets.
PORTIA If I live to be as old as Sibylla, I will die as
 chaste as Diana unless I be obtained by the manner
 of my father’s will. I am glad this parcel of wooers
 are so reasonable, for there is not one among them
110 but I dote on his very absence. And I pray God
 grant them a fair departure!
NERISSA Do you not remember, lady, in your father’s
 time, a Venetian, a scholar and a soldier, that came
 hither in company of the Marquess of Montferrat?
PORTIA 115Yes, yes, it was Bassanio—as I think so was he
 called.
NERISSA True, madam. He, of all the men that ever my
 foolish eyes looked upon, was the best deserving a
 fair lady.

27
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 1. SC. 3

PORTIA 120I remember him well, and I remember him
 worthy of thy praise.

Enter a Servingman.

 How now, what news?
SERVINGMAN The four strangers seek for you, madam,
 to take their leave. And there is a forerunner come
125 from a fifth, the Prince of Morocco, who brings
 word the Prince his master will be here tonight.
PORTIA If I could bid the fifth welcome with so good
 heart as I can bid the other four farewell, I should
 be glad of his approach. If he have the condition of
130 a saint and the complexion of a devil, I had rather
 he should shrive me than wive me.
 Come, Nerissa. To Servingman. Sirrah, go before.—
 Whiles we shut the gate upon one wooer, another
 knocks at the door.
They exit.


Scene 3
Enter Bassanio with Shylock the Jew.

SHYLOCK Three thousand ducats, well.
BASSANIO Ay, sir, for three months.
SHYLOCK For three months, well.
BASSANIO For the which, as I told you, Antonio shall
5 be bound.
SHYLOCK Antonio shall become bound, well.
BASSANIO May you stead me? Will you pleasure me?
 Shall I know your answer?
SHYLOCK Three thousand ducats for three months,
10 and Antonio bound.
BASSANIO Your answer to that?
SHYLOCK Antonio is a good man.
BASSANIO Have you heard any imputation to the
 contrary?

29
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 1. SC. 3

SHYLOCK 15Ho, no, no, no, no! My meaning in saying he
 is a good man is to have you understand me that he
 is sufficient. Yet his means are in supposition: he
 hath an argosy bound to Tripolis, another to the
 Indies. I understand, moreover, upon the Rialto,
20 he hath a third at Mexico, a fourth for England, and
 other ventures he hath squandered abroad. But
 ships are but boards, sailors but men; there be land
 rats and water rats, water thieves and land
 thieves—I mean pirates—and then there is the
25 peril of waters, winds, and rocks. The man is,
 notwithstanding, sufficient. Three thousand ducats.
 I think I may take his bond.
BASSANIO Be assured you may.
SHYLOCK I will be assured I may. And that I may be
30 assured, I will bethink me. May I speak with
 Antonio?
BASSANIO If it please you to dine with us.
SHYLOCK Yes, to smell pork! To eat of the habitation
 which your prophet the Nazarite conjured the
35 devil into! I will buy with you, sell with you, talk
 with you, walk with you, and so following; but I
 will not eat with you, drink with you, nor pray with
 you.—What news on the Rialto?—Who is he comes
 here?

Enter Antonio.

BASSANIO 40This is Signior Antonio.
SHYLOCK, aside 
 How like a fawning publican he looks!
 I hate him for he is a Christian,
 But more for that in low simplicity
 He lends out money gratis and brings down
45 The rate of usance here with us in Venice.
 If I can catch him once upon the hip,
 I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him.

31
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 1. SC. 3

 He hates our sacred nation, and he rails,
 Even there where merchants most do congregate,
50 On me, my bargains, and my well-won thrift,
 Which he calls “interest.” Cursèd be my tribe
 If I forgive him!
BASSANIO  Shylock, do you hear?
SHYLOCK 
 I am debating of my present store,
55 And, by the near guess of my memory,
 I cannot instantly raise up the gross
 Of full three thousand ducats. What of that?
 Tubal, a wealthy Hebrew of my tribe,
 Will furnish me. But soft, how many months
60 Do you desire? To Antonio. Rest you fair, good
 signior!
 Your Worship was the last man in our mouths.
ANTONIO 
 Shylock, albeit I neither lend nor borrow
 By taking nor by giving of excess,
65 Yet, to supply the ripe wants of my friend,
 I’ll break a custom. To Bassanio. Is he yet
 possessed
 How much you would?
SHYLOCK  Ay, ay, three thousand
70 ducats.
ANTONIO And for three months.
SHYLOCK 
 I had forgot—three months. To Bassanio.
 You told me so.—
 Well then, your bond. And let me see—but hear
75 you:
 Methoughts you said you neither lend nor borrow
 Upon advantage.
ANTONIO  I do never use it.
SHYLOCK 
 When Jacob grazed his Uncle Laban’s sheep—
80 This Jacob from our holy Abram was

33
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 1. SC. 3

 (As his wise mother wrought in his behalf)
 The third possessor; ay, he was the third—
ANTONIO 
 And what of him? Did he take interest?
SHYLOCK 
 No, not take interest, not, as you would say,
85 Directly “interest.” Mark what Jacob did.
 When Laban and himself were compromised
 That all the eanlings which were streaked and pied
 Should fall as Jacob’s hire, the ewes being rank
 In end of autumn turnèd to the rams,
90 And when the work of generation was
 Between these woolly breeders in the act,
 The skillful shepherd pilled me certain wands,
 And in the doing of the deed of kind
 He stuck them up before the fulsome ewes,
95 Who then conceiving did in eaning time
 Fall parti-colored lambs, and those were Jacob’s.
 This was a way to thrive, and he was blest;
 And thrift is blessing if men steal it not.
ANTONIO 
 This was a venture, sir, that Jacob served for,
100 A thing not in his power to bring to pass,
 But swayed and fashioned by the hand of heaven.
 Was this inserted to make interest good?
 Or is your gold and silver ewes and rams?
SHYLOCK 
 I cannot tell; I make it breed as fast.
105 But note me, signior—
ANTONIO, aside to Bassanio 
 Mark you this, Bassanio,
 The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose!
 An evil soul producing holy witness
 Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
110 A goodly apple rotten at the heart.
 O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!

35
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 1. SC. 3

SHYLOCK 
 Three thousand ducats. ’Tis a good round sum.
 Three months from twelve, then let me see, the
 rate—
ANTONIO 
115 Well, Shylock, shall we be beholding to you?
SHYLOCK 
 Signior Antonio, many a time and oft
 In the Rialto you have rated me
 About my moneys and my usances.
 Still have I borne it with a patient shrug
120 (For suff’rance is the badge of all our tribe).
 You call me misbeliever, cutthroat dog,
 And spet upon my Jewish gaberdine,
 And all for use of that which is mine own.
 Well then, it now appears you need my help.
125 Go to, then. You come to me and you say
 “Shylock, we would have moneys”—you say so,
 You, that did void your rheum upon my beard,
 And foot me as you spurn a stranger cur
 Over your threshold. Moneys is your suit.
130 What should I say to you? Should I not say
 “Hath a dog money? Is it possible
 A cur can lend three thousand ducats?” Or
 Shall I bend low, and in a bondman’s key,
 With bated breath and whisp’ring humbleness,
135 Say this: “Fair sir, you spet on me on Wednesday
 last;
 You spurned me such a day; another time
 You called me ‘dog’; and for these courtesies
 I’ll lend you thus much moneys”?
ANTONIO 
140 I am as like to call thee so again,
 To spet on thee again, to spurn thee, too.
 If thou wilt lend this money, lend it not
 As to thy friends, for when did friendship take

37
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 1. SC. 3

 A breed for barren metal of his friend?
145 But lend it rather to thine enemy,
 Who, if he break, thou mayst with better face
 Exact the penalty.
SHYLOCK  Why, look you how you storm!
 I would be friends with you and have your love,
150 Forget the shames that you have stained me with,
 Supply your present wants, and take no doit
 Of usance for my moneys, and you’ll not hear me!
 This is kind I offer.
BASSANIO This were kindness!
SHYLOCK 155This kindness will I show.
 Go with me to a notary, seal me there
 Your single bond; and in a merry sport,
 If you repay me not on such a day,
 In such a place, such sum or sums as are
160 Expressed in the condition, let the forfeit
 Be nominated for an equal pound
 Of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken
 In what part of your body pleaseth me.
ANTONIO 
 Content, in faith. I’ll seal to such a bond,
165 And say there is much kindness in the Jew.
BASSANIO 
 You shall not seal to such a bond for me!
 I’ll rather dwell in my necessity.
ANTONIO 
 Why, fear not, man, I will not forfeit it!
 Within these two months—that’s a month before
170 This bond expires—I do expect return
 Of thrice three times the value of this bond.
SHYLOCK 
 O father Abram, what these Christians are,
 Whose own hard dealings teaches them suspect
 The thoughts of others! Pray you tell me this:
175 If he should break his day, what should I gain

39
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 1. SC. 3

 By the exaction of the forfeiture?
 A pound of man’s flesh taken from a man
 Is not so estimable, profitable neither,
 As flesh of muttons, beefs, or goats. I say,
180 To buy his favor I extend this friendship.
 If he will take it, so. If not, adieu;
 And for my love I pray you wrong me not.
ANTONIO 
 Yes, Shylock, I will seal unto this bond.
SHYLOCK 
 Then meet me forthwith at the notary’s.
185 Give him direction for this merry bond,
 And I will go and purse the ducats straight,
 See to my house left in the fearful guard
 Of an unthrifty knave, and presently
 I’ll be with you.
ANTONIO 190 Hie thee, gentle Jew.
Shylock exits.
 The Hebrew will turn Christian; he grows kind.
BASSANIO 
 I like not fair terms and a villain’s mind.
ANTONIO 
 Come on, in this there can be no dismay;
 My ships come home a month before the day.
They exit.


ACT 2
Scene 1
Enter the Prince of Morocco, a tawny Moor all in
white, and three or four followers accordingly, with
Portia, Nerissa, and their train.


MOROCCO 
 Mislike me not for my complexion,
 The shadowed livery of the burnished sun,
 To whom I am a neighbor and near bred.
 Bring me the fairest creature northward born,
5 Where Phoebus’ fire scarce thaws the icicles,
 And let us make incision for your love
 To prove whose blood is reddest, his or mine.
 I tell thee, lady, this aspect of mine
 Hath feared the valiant; by my love I swear
10 The best regarded virgins of our clime
 Have loved it too. I would not change this hue
 Except to steal your thoughts, my gentle queen.
PORTIA 
 In terms of choice I am not solely led
 By nice direction of a maiden’s eyes;
15 Besides, the lott’ry of my destiny
 Bars me the right of voluntary choosing.
 But if my father had not scanted me
 And hedged me by his wit to yield myself
 His wife who wins me by that means I told you,
43

45
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 2. SC. 1

20 Yourself, renownèd prince, then stood as fair
 As any comer I have looked on yet
 For my affection.
MOROCCO  Even for that I thank you.
 Therefore I pray you lead me to the caskets
25 To try my fortune. By this scimitar
 That slew the Sophy and a Persian prince,
 That won three fields of Sultan Solyman,
 I would o’erstare the sternest eyes that look,
 Outbrave the heart most daring on the Earth,
30 Pluck the young sucking cubs from the she-bear,
 Yea, mock the lion when he roars for prey,
 To win thee, lady. But, alas the while!
 If Hercules and Lychas play at dice
 Which is the better man, the greater throw
35 May turn by fortune from the weaker hand;
 So is Alcides beaten by his page,
 And so may I, blind Fortune leading me,
 Miss that which one unworthier may attain,
 And die with grieving.
PORTIA 40 You must take your chance
 And either not attempt to choose at all
 Or swear before you choose, if you choose wrong
 Never to speak to lady afterward
 In way of marriage. Therefore be advised.
MOROCCO 
45 Nor will not. Come, bring me unto my chance.
PORTIA 
 First, forward to the temple. After dinner
 Your hazard shall be made.
MOROCCO  Good fortune then,
 To make me blest—or cursed’st among men!
They exit.




47
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 2. SC. 2

Scene 2
Enter Lancelet Gobbo the Clown, alone.

LANCELET Certainly my conscience will serve me to
 run from this Jew my master. The fiend is at mine
 elbow and tempts me, saying to me “Gobbo,
 Lancelet Gobbo, good Lancelet,” or “good Gobbo,”
5 or “good Lancelet Gobbo, use your legs, take
 the start, run away.” My conscience says “No. Take
 heed, honest Lancelet, take heed, honest Gobbo,”
 or, as aforesaid, “honest Lancelet Gobbo, do not
 run; scorn running with thy heels.” Well, the most
10 courageous fiend bids me pack. “Fia!” says the
 fiend. “Away!” says the fiend. “For the heavens,
 rouse up a brave mind,” says the fiend, “and run!”
 Well, my conscience, hanging about the neck of my
 heart, says very wisely to me “My honest friend
15 Lancelet, being an honest man’s son”—or rather,
 an honest woman’s son, for indeed my father did
 something smack, something grow to—he had a
 kind of taste—well, my conscience says “Lancelet,
 budge not.” “Budge,” says the fiend. “Budge not,”
20 says my conscience. “Conscience,” say I, “you
 counsel well.” “Fiend,” say I, “you counsel well.”
 To be ruled by my conscience, I should stay with the
 Jew my master, who (God bless the mark) is a kind
 of devil; and to run away from the Jew, I should be
25 ruled by the fiend, who (saving your reverence) is
 the devil himself. Certainly the Jew is the very devil
 incarnation, and, in my conscience, my conscience
 is but a kind of hard conscience to offer to counsel
 me to stay with the Jew. The fiend gives the more
30 friendly counsel. I will run, fiend. My heels are at
 your commandment. I will run.

Enter old Gobbo with a basket.


49
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 2. SC. 2

GOBBO Master young man, you, I pray you, which is
 the way to Master Jew’s?
LANCELET, aside O heavens, this is my true begotten
35 father, who being more than sandblind, high gravelblind,
 knows me not. I will try confusions with him.
GOBBO Master young gentleman, I pray you, which is
 the way to Master Jew’s?
LANCELET Turn up on your right hand at the next
40 turning, but at the next turning of all on your left;
 marry, at the very next turning, turn of no hand,
 but turn down indirectly to the Jew’s house.
GOBBO Be God’s sonties, ’twill be a hard way to hit.
 Can you tell me whether one Lancelet, that dwells
45 with him, dwell with him or no?
LANCELET Talk you of young Master Lancelet? Aside.
 Mark me now, now will I raise the waters.—Talk
 you of young Master Lancelet?
GOBBO No master, sir, but a poor man’s son. His
50 father, though I say ’t, is an honest exceeding poor
 man and, God be thanked, well to live.
LANCELET Well, let his father be what he will, we talk
 of young Master Lancelet.
GOBBO Your Worship’s friend, and Lancelet, sir.
LANCELET 55But I pray you, ergo, old man, ergo, I beseech
 you, talk you of young Master Lancelet?
GOBBO Of Lancelet, an ’t please your mastership.
LANCELET Ergo, Master Lancelet. Talk not of Master
 Lancelet, father, for the young gentleman, according
60 to Fates and Destinies, and such odd sayings, the
 Sisters Three, and such branches of learning, is
 indeed deceased, or, as you would say in plain
 terms, gone to heaven.
GOBBO Marry, God forbid! The boy was the very staff
65 of my age, my very prop.
LANCELET, aside Do I look like a cudgel or a hovel-post,
 a staff or a prop?—Do you know me, father?

51
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 2. SC. 2

GOBBO Alack the day, I know you not, young gentleman.
 But I pray you tell me, is my boy, God rest his
70 soul, alive or dead?
LANCELET Do you not know me, father?
GOBBO Alack, sir, I am sandblind. I know you not.
LANCELET Nay, indeed, if you had your eyes, you might
 fail of the knowing me. It is a wise father that
75 knows his own child. Well, old man, I will tell you
 news of your son. He kneels. Give me your blessing.
 Truth will come to light, murder cannot be hid
 long—a man’s son may, but in the end, truth will
 out.
GOBBO 80Pray you, sir, stand up! I am sure you are not
 Lancelet my boy.
LANCELET Pray you, let’s have no more fooling about
 it, but give me your blessing. I am Lancelet, your
 boy that was, your son that is, your child that shall
85 be.
GOBBO I cannot think you are my son.
LANCELET I know not what I shall think of that; but I
 am Lancelet, the Jew’s man, and I am sure Margery
 your wife is my mother.
GOBBO 90Her name is Margery, indeed. I’ll be sworn if
 thou be Lancelet, thou art mine own flesh and
 blood. Lord worshiped might He be, what a beard
 hast thou got! Thou hast got more hair on thy chin
 than Dobbin my fill-horse has on his tail.
LANCELET, standing up 95It should seem, then, that
 Dobbin’s tail grows backward. I am sure he had
 more hair of his tail than I have of my face when I
 last saw him.
GOBBO Lord, how art thou changed! How dost thou
100 and thy master agree? I have brought him a present.
 How ’gree you now?
LANCELET Well, well. But for mine own part, as I have
 set up my rest to run away, so I will not rest till I

53
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 2. SC. 2

 have run some ground. My master’s a very Jew.
105 Give him a present! Give him a halter. I am
 famished in his service. You may tell every finger I
 have with my ribs. Father, I am glad you are come!
 Give me your present to one Master Bassanio, who
 indeed gives rare new liveries. If I serve not him, I
110 will run as far as God has any ground. O rare
 fortune, here comes the man! To him, father, for I
 am a Jew if I serve the Jew any longer.

Enter Bassanio with Leonardo and a follower or two.

BASSANIO, to an Attendant You may do so, but let it be
 so hasted that supper be ready at the farthest by five
115 of the clock. See these letters delivered, put the
 liveries to making, and desire Gratiano to come
 anon to my lodging.The Attendant exits.
LANCELET To him, father.
GOBBO, to Bassanio God bless your Worship.
BASSANIO 120Gramercy. Wouldst thou aught with me?
GOBBO Here’s my son, sir, a poor boy—
LANCELET Not a poor boy, sir, but the rich Jew’s man,
 that would, sir, as my father shall specify—
GOBBO He hath a great infection, sir, as one would say,
125 to serve—
LANCELET Indeed, the short and the long is, I serve the
 Jew, and have a desire, as my father shall specify—
GOBBO His master and he (saving your Worship’s
 reverence) are scarce cater-cousins—
LANCELET 130To be brief, the very truth is that the Jew,
 having done me wrong, doth cause me, as my
 father being, I hope, an old man, shall frutify unto
 you—
GOBBO I have here a dish of doves that I would bestow
135 upon your Worship, and my suit is—
LANCELET In very brief, the suit is impertinent to
 myself, as your Worship shall know by this honest

55
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 2. SC. 2

 old man, and though I say it, though old man yet
 poor man, my father—
BASSANIO 140One speak for both. What would you?
LANCELET Serve you, sir.
GOBBO That is the very defect of the matter, sir.
BASSANIO, to Lancelet 
 I know thee well. Thou hast obtained thy suit.
 Shylock thy master spoke with me this day,
145 And hath preferred thee, if it be preferment
 To leave a rich Jew’s service, to become
 The follower of so poor a gentleman.
LANCELET The old proverb is very well parted between
 my master Shylock and you, sir: you have “the
150 grace of God,” sir, and he hath “enough.”
BASSANIO 
 Thou speak’st it well.—Go, father, with thy son.—
 Take leave of thy old master, and inquire
 My lodging out. To an Attendant. Give him a livery
 More guarded than his fellows’. See it done.
Attendant exits. Bassanio and Leonardo talk apart.
LANCELET 155Father, in. I cannot get a service, no! I have
 ne’er a tongue in my head! Well, studying his palm
 if any man in Italy have a fairer table which doth
 offer to swear upon a book—I shall have good
 fortune, go to! Here’s a simple line of life. Here’s a
160 small trifle of wives—alas, fifteen wives is nothing;
 eleven widows and nine maids is a simple coming-in
 for one man—and then to ’scape drowning
 thrice, and to be in peril of my life with the edge of a
 featherbed! Here are simple ’scapes. Well, if Fortune
165 be a woman, she’s a good wench for this gear.
 Father, come. I’ll take my leave of the Jew in the
 twinkling.Lancelet and old Gobbo exit.
BASSANIO 
 I pray thee, good Leonardo, think on this.
Handing him a paper.

57
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 2. SC. 2

 These things being bought and orderly bestowed,
170 Return in haste, for I do feast tonight
 My best esteemed acquaintance. Hie thee, go.
LEONARDO 
 My best endeavors shall be done herein.

Enter Gratiano.

GRATIANO, to Leonardo Where’s your master?
LEONARDO Yonder, sir, he walks.Leonardo exits.
GRATIANO 175Signior Bassanio!
BASSANIO Gratiano!
GRATIANO I have suit to you.
BASSANIO You have obtained it.
GRATIANO You must not deny me. I must go with you
180 to Belmont.
BASSANIO 
 Why then you must. But hear thee, Gratiano,
 Thou art too wild, too rude and bold of voice—
 Parts that become thee happily enough,
 And in such eyes as ours appear not faults.
185 But where thou art not known—why, there they
 show
 Something too liberal. Pray thee take pain
 To allay with some cold drops of modesty
 Thy skipping spirit, lest through thy wild behavior
190 I be misconstered in the place I go to,
 And lose my hopes.
GRATIANO  Signior Bassanio, hear me.
 If I do not put on a sober habit,
 Talk with respect, and swear but now and then,
195 Wear prayer books in my pocket, look demurely,
 Nay more, while grace is saying, hood mine eyes
 Thus with my hat, and sigh and say “amen,”
 Use all the observance of civility
 Like one well studied in a sad ostent
200 To please his grandam, never trust me more.

59
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 2. SC. 3

BASSANIO Well, we shall see your bearing.
GRATIANO 
 Nay, but I bar tonight. You shall not gauge me
 By what we do tonight.
BASSANIO  No, that were pity.
205 I would entreat you rather to put on
 Your boldest suit of mirth, for we have friends
 That purpose merriment. But fare you well.
 I have some business.
GRATIANO 
 And I must to Lorenzo and the rest.
210 But we will visit you at supper time.
They exit.


Scene 3
Enter Jessica and Lancelet Gobbo.

JESSICA 
 I am sorry thou wilt leave my father so.
 Our house is hell and thou, a merry devil,
 Didst rob it of some taste of tediousness.
 But fare thee well. There is a ducat for thee,
5 And, Lancelet, soon at supper shalt thou see
 Lorenzo, who is thy new master’s guest.
 Give him this letter, do it secretly,
 And so farewell. I would not have my father
 See me in talk with thee.
LANCELET 10Adieu. Tears exhibit my tongue, most beautiful
 pagan, most sweet Jew. If a Christian do not
 play the knave and get thee, I am much deceived.
 But adieu. These foolish drops do something drown
 my manly spirit. Adieu.
JESSICA 15Farewell, good Lancelet.
Lancelet exits.

61
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 2. SC. 4

 Alack, what heinous sin is it in me
 To be ashamed to be my father’s child?
 But though I am a daughter to his blood,
 I am not to his manners. O Lorenzo,
20 If thou keep promise, I shall end this strife,
 Become a Christian and thy loving wife.
She exits.


Scene 4
Enter Gratiano, Lorenzo, Salarino, and Solanio.

LORENZO 
 Nay, we will slink away in supper time,
 Disguise us at my lodging, and return
 All in an hour.
GRATIANO 
 We have not made good preparation.
SALARINO 
5 We have not spoke us yet of torchbearers.
SOLANIO 
 ’Tis vile, unless it may be quaintly ordered,
 And better in my mind not undertook.
LORENZO 
 ’Tis now but four o’clock. We have two hours
 To furnish us.

Enter Lancelet.

10 Friend Lancelet, what’s the news?
LANCELET An it shall please you to break up this, it
 shall seem to signify.Handing him Jessica’s letter.
LORENZO 
 I know the hand; in faith, ’tis a fair hand,
 And whiter than the paper it writ on
15 Is the fair hand that writ.
GRATIANO  Love news, in faith!

63
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 2. SC. 4

LANCELET By your leave, sir.
LORENZO Whither goest thou?
LANCELET Marry, sir, to bid my old master the Jew to
20 sup tonight with my new master the Christian.
LORENZO 
 Hold here, take this. Giving him money. Tell gentle
 Jessica
 I will not fail her. Speak it privately.
Lancelet exits.
 Go, gentlemen,
25 Will you prepare you for this masque tonight?
 I am provided of a torchbearer.
SALARINO 
 Ay, marry, I’ll be gone about it straight.
SOLANIO 
 And so will I.
LORENZO  Meet me and Gratiano
30 At Gratiano’s lodging some hour hence.
SALARINO ’Tis good we do so.
Salarino and Solanio exit.
GRATIANO 
 Was not that letter from fair Jessica?
LORENZO 
 I must needs tell thee all. She hath directed
 How I shall take her from her father’s house,
35 What gold and jewels she is furnished with,
 What page’s suit she hath in readiness.
 If e’er the Jew her father come to heaven,
 It will be for his gentle daughter’s sake;
 And never dare misfortune cross her foot
40 Unless she do it under this excuse,
 That she is issue to a faithless Jew.
 Come, go with me. Peruse this as thou goest;
Handing him the letter.
 Fair Jessica shall be my torchbearer.
They exit.




65
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 2. SC. 5

Scene 5
Enter Shylock, the Jew, and Lancelet,
his man that was, the Clown.


SHYLOCK 
 Well, thou shalt see, thy eyes shall be thy judge,
 The difference of old Shylock and Bassanio.—
 What, Jessica!—Thou shalt not gormandize
 As thou hast done with me—what, Jessica!—
5 And sleep, and snore, and rend apparel out.—
 Why, Jessica, I say!
LANCELET  Why, Jessica!
SHYLOCK 
 Who bids thee call? I do not bid thee call.
LANCELET Your Worship was wont to tell me I could
10 do nothing without bidding.

Enter Jessica.

JESSICA Call you? What is your will?
SHYLOCK 
 I am bid forth to supper, Jessica.
 There are my keys.—But wherefore should I go?
 I am not bid for love. They flatter me.
15 But yet I’ll go in hate, to feed upon
 The prodigal Christian.—Jessica, my girl,
 Look to my house.—I am right loath to go.
 There is some ill a-brewing towards my rest,
 For I did dream of money bags tonight.
LANCELET 20I beseech you, sir, go. My young master
 doth expect your reproach.
SHYLOCK So do I his.
LANCELET And they have conspired together—I will
 not say you shall see a masque, but if you do, then it
25 was not for nothing that my nose fell a-bleeding on
 Black Monday last, at six o’clock i’ th’ morning,
 falling out that year on Ash Wednesday was four
 year in th’ afternoon.

67
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 2. SC. 5

SHYLOCK 
 What, are there masques? Hear you me, Jessica,
30 Lock up my doors, and when you hear the drum
 And the vile squealing of the wry-necked fife,
 Clamber not you up to the casements then,
 Nor thrust your head into the public street
 To gaze on Christian fools with varnished faces,
35 But stop my house’s ears (I mean my casements).
 Let not the sound of shallow fopp’ry enter
 My sober house. By Jacob’s staff I swear
 I have no mind of feasting forth tonight.
 But I will go.—Go you before me, sirrah.
40 Say I will come.
LANCELET I will go before, sir. Aside to Jessica. Mistress,
 look out at window for all this.
 There will come a Christian by
 Will be worth a Jewess’ eye.He exits.
SHYLOCK 
45 What says that fool of Hagar’s offspring, ha?
JESSICA 
 His words were “Farewell, mistress,” nothing else.
SHYLOCK 
 The patch is kind enough, but a huge feeder,
 Snail-slow in profit, and he sleeps by day
 More than the wildcat. Drones hive not with me,
50 Therefore I part with him, and part with him
 To one that I would have him help to waste
 His borrowed purse. Well, Jessica, go in.
 Perhaps I will return immediately.
 Do as I bid you. Shut doors after you.
55 Fast bind, fast find—
 A proverb never stale in thrifty mind.He exits.
JESSICA 
 Farewell, and if my fortune be not crossed,
 I have a father, you a daughter, lost.
She exits.




69
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 2. SC. 6

Scene 6
Enter the masquers, Gratiano and Salarino.

GRATIANO 
 This is the penthouse under which Lorenzo
 Desired us to make stand.
SALARINO His hour is almost past.
GRATIANO 
 And it is marvel he outdwells his hour,
5 For lovers ever run before the clock.
SALARINO 
 O, ten times faster Venus’ pigeons fly
 To seal love’s bonds new-made than they are wont
 To keep obligèd faith unforfeited.
GRATIANO 
 That ever holds. Who riseth from a feast
10 With that keen appetite that he sits down?
 Where is the horse that doth untread again
 His tedious measures with the unbated fire
 That he did pace them first? All things that are,
 Are with more spirit chasèd than enjoyed.
15 How like a younger or a prodigal
 The scarfèd bark puts from her native bay,
 Hugged and embracèd by the strumpet wind;
 How like the prodigal doth she return
 With overweathered ribs and raggèd sails,
20 Lean, rent, and beggared by the strumpet wind!

Enter Lorenzo.

SALARINO 
 Here comes Lorenzo. More of this hereafter.
LORENZO 
 Sweet friends, your patience for my long abode.
 Not I but my affairs have made you wait.
 When you shall please to play the thieves for wives,
25 I’ll watch as long for you then. Approach.
 Here dwells my father Jew.—Ho! Who’s within?

71
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 2. SC. 6

Enter Jessica above, dressed as a boy.

JESSICA 
 Who are you? Tell me for more certainty,
 Albeit I’ll swear that I do know your tongue.
LORENZO Lorenzo, and thy love.
JESSICA 
30 Lorenzo certain, and my love indeed,
 For who love I so much? And now who knows
 But you, Lorenzo, whether I am yours?
LORENZO 
 Heaven and thy thoughts are witness that thou art.
JESSICA 
 Here, catch this casket; it is worth the pains.
35 I am glad ’tis night, you do not look on me,
 For I am much ashamed of my exchange.
 But love is blind, and lovers cannot see
 The pretty follies that themselves commit,
 For if they could, Cupid himself would blush
40 To see me thus transformèd to a boy.
LORENZO 
 Descend, for you must be my torchbearer.
JESSICA 
 What, must I hold a candle to my shames?
 They in themselves, good sooth, are too too light.
 Why, ’tis an office of discovery, love,
45 And I should be obscured.
LORENZO  So are you, sweet,
 Even in the lovely garnish of a boy.
 But come at once,
 For the close night doth play the runaway,
50 And we are stayed for at Bassanio’s feast.
JESSICA 
 I will make fast the doors and gild myself
 With some more ducats, and be with you straight.
Jessica exits, above.

73
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 2. SC. 7

GRATIANO 
 Now, by my hood, a gentle and no Jew!
LORENZO 
 Beshrew me but I love her heartily,
55 For she is wise, if I can judge of her,
 And fair she is, if that mine eyes be true,
 And true she is, as she hath proved herself.
 And therefore, like herself, wise, fair, and true,
 Shall she be placèd in my constant soul.

Enter Jessica, below.

60 What, art thou come? On, gentleman, away!
 Our masquing mates by this time for us stay.
All but Gratiano exit.

Enter Antonio.

ANTONIO Who’s there?
GRATIANO Signior Antonio?
ANTONIO 
 Fie, fie, Gratiano, where are all the rest?
65 ’Tis nine o’clock! Our friends all stay for you.
 No masque tonight; the wind is come about;
 Bassanio presently will go aboard.
 I have sent twenty out to seek for you.
GRATIANO 
 I am glad on ’t. I desire no more delight
70 Than to be under sail and gone tonight.
They exit.


Scene 7
Enter Portia with the Prince of Morocco and both
their trains.


PORTIA 
 Go, draw aside the curtains and discover

75
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 2. SC. 7

 The several caskets to this noble prince.
A curtain is drawn.
 Now make your choice.
MOROCCO 
 This first, of gold, who this inscription bears,
5 “Who chooseth me shall gain what many men
 desire”;
 The second, silver, which this promise carries,
 “Who chooseth me shall get as much as he
 deserves”;
10 This third, dull lead, with warning all as blunt,
 “Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he
 hath.”
 How shall I know if I do choose the right?
PORTIA 
 The one of them contains my picture, prince.
15 If you choose that, then I am yours withal.
MOROCCO 
 Some god direct my judgment! Let me see.
 I will survey th’ inscriptions back again.
 What says this leaden casket?
 “Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he
20 hath.”
 Must give—for what? For lead? Hazard for lead?
 This casket threatens. Men that hazard all
 Do it in hope of fair advantages.
 A golden mind stoops not to shows of dross.
25 I’ll then nor give nor hazard aught for lead.
 What says the silver with her virgin hue?
 “Who chooseth me shall get as much as he
 deserves.”
 As much as he deserves—pause there, Morocco,
30 And weigh thy value with an even hand.
 If thou beest rated by thy estimation,
 Thou dost deserve enough; and yet enough
 May not extend so far as to the lady.

77
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 2. SC. 7

 And yet to be afeard of my deserving
35 Were but a weak disabling of myself.
 As much as I deserve—why, that’s the lady!
 I do in birth deserve her, and in fortunes,
 In graces, and in qualities of breeding,
 But more than these, in love I do deserve.
40 What if I strayed no farther, but chose here?
 Let’s see once more this saying graved in gold:
 “Who chooseth me shall gain what many men
 desire.”
 Why, that’s the lady! All the world desires her.
45 From the four corners of the Earth they come
 To kiss this shrine, this mortal, breathing saint.
 The Hyrcanian deserts and the vasty wilds
 Of wide Arabia are as throughfares now
 For princes to come view fair Portia.
50 The watery kingdom, whose ambitious head
 Spets in the face of heaven, is no bar
 To stop the foreign spirits, but they come
 As o’er a brook to see fair Portia.
 One of these three contains her heavenly picture.
55 Is ’t like that lead contains her? ’Twere damnation
 To think so base a thought. It were too gross
 To rib her cerecloth in the obscure grave.
 Or shall I think in silver she’s immured,
 Being ten times undervalued to tried gold?
60 O, sinful thought! Never so rich a gem
 Was set in worse than gold. They have in England
 A coin that bears the figure of an angel
 Stamped in gold, but that’s insculped upon;
 But here an angel in a golden bed
65 Lies all within.—Deliver me the key.
 Here do I choose, and thrive I as I may.
PORTIA 
 There, take it, prince. Handing him the key. And if
 my form lie there,
 Then I am yours.
79
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 2. SC. 8

Morocco opens the gold casket.
MOROCCO 70 O hell! What have we here?
 A carrion death within whose empty eye
 There is a written scroll. I’ll read the writing:
 All that glisters is not gold—
 Often have you heard that told.
75 Many a man his life hath sold
 But my outside to behold.
 Gilded tombs do worms infold.
 Had you been as wise as bold,
 Young in limbs, in judgment old,
80 Your answer had not been enscrolled.
 Fare you well, your suit is cold.

 Cold indeed and labor lost!
 Then, farewell, heat, and welcome, frost.
 Portia, adieu. I have too grieved a heart
85 To take a tedious leave. Thus losers part.
He exits, with his train.
PORTIA 
 A gentle riddance! Draw the curtains, go.
 Let all of his complexion choose me so.
They exit.


Scene 8
Enter Salarino and Solanio.

SALARINO 
 Why, man, I saw Bassanio under sail;
 With him is Gratiano gone along;
 And in their ship I am sure Lorenzo is not.
SOLANIO 
 The villain Jew with outcries raised the Duke,
5 Who went with him to search Bassanio’s ship.
SALARINO 
 He came too late; the ship was under sail.

81
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 2. SC. 8

 But there the Duke was given to understand
 That in a gondola were seen together
 Lorenzo and his amorous Jessica.
10 Besides, Antonio certified the Duke
 They were not with Bassanio in his ship.
SOLANIO 
 I never heard a passion so confused,
 So strange, outrageous, and so variable
 As the dog Jew did utter in the streets.
15 “My daughter, O my ducats, O my daughter!
 Fled with a Christian! O my Christian ducats!
 Justice, the law, my ducats, and my daughter,
 A sealèd bag, two sealèd bags of ducats,
 Of double ducats, stol’n from me by my daughter,
20 And jewels—two stones, two rich and precious
 stones—
 Stol’n by my daughter! Justice! Find the girl!
 She hath the stones upon her, and the ducats.”
SALARINO 
 Why, all the boys in Venice follow him,
25 Crying “His stones, his daughter, and his ducats.”
SOLANIO 
 Let good Antonio look he keep his day,
 Or he shall pay for this.
SALARINO Marry, well remembered.
 I reasoned with a Frenchman yesterday
30 Who told me, in the Narrow Seas that part
 The French and English, there miscarrièd
 A vessel of our country richly fraught.
 I thought upon Antonio when he told me,
 And wished in silence that it were not his.
SOLANIO 
35 You were best to tell Antonio what you hear—
 Yet do not suddenly, for it may grieve him.
SALARINO 
 A kinder gentleman treads not the Earth.

83
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 2. SC. 9

 I saw Bassanio and Antonio part.
 Bassanio told him he would make some speed
40 Of his return. He answered “Do not so.
 Slubber not business for my sake, Bassanio,
 But stay the very riping of the time;
 And for the Jew’s bond which he hath of me,
 Let it not enter in your mind of love.
45 Be merry, and employ your chiefest thoughts
 To courtship and such fair ostents of love
 As shall conveniently become you there.”
 And even there, his eye being big with tears,
 Turning his face, he put his hand behind him,
50 And with affection wondrous sensible
 He wrung Bassanio’s hand—and so they parted.
SOLANIO 
 I think he only loves the world for him.
 I pray thee, let us go and find him out
 And quicken his embracèd heaviness
55 With some delight or other.
SALARINO  Do we so.
They exit.


Scene 9
Enter Nerissa and a Servitor.

NERISSA 
 Quick, quick, I pray thee, draw the curtain straight.
 The Prince of Arragon hath ta’en his oath
 And comes to his election presently.

Enter the Prince of Arragon, his train, and Portia.

PORTIA 
 Behold, there stand the caskets, noble prince.
5 If you choose that wherein I am contained,
 Straight shall our nuptial rites be solemnized.

85
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 2. SC. 9

 But if you fail, without more speech, my lord,
 You must be gone from hence immediately.
ARRAGON 
 I am enjoined by oath to observe three things:
10 First, never to unfold to anyone
 Which casket ’twas I chose; next, if I fail
 Of the right casket, never in my life
 To woo a maid in way of marriage;
 Lastly, if I do fail in fortune of my choice,
15 Immediately to leave you, and be gone.
PORTIA 
 To these injunctions everyone doth swear
 That comes to hazard for my worthless self.
ARRAGON 
 And so have I addressed me. Fortune now
 To my heart’s hope! Gold, silver, and base lead.
20 “Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he
 hath.”
 You shall look fairer ere I give or hazard.
 What says the golden chest? Ha, let me see:
 “Who chooseth me shall gain what many men
25 desire.”
 What many men desire—that “many” may be
 meant
 By the fool multitude that choose by show,
 Not learning more than the fond eye doth teach,
30 Which pries not to th’ interior, but like the martlet
 Builds in the weather on the outward wall,
 Even in the force and road of casualty.
 I will not choose what many men desire,
 Because I will not jump with common spirits
35 And rank me with the barbarous multitudes.
 Why, then, to thee, thou silver treasure house.
 Tell me once more what title thou dost bear.
 “Who chooseth me shall get as much as he
 deserves.”

87
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 2. SC. 9

40 And well said, too; for who shall go about
 To cozen fortune and be honorable
 Without the stamp of merit? Let none presume
 To wear an undeservèd dignity.
 O, that estates, degrees, and offices
45 Were not derived corruptly, and that clear honor
 Were purchased by the merit of the wearer!
 How many then should cover that stand bare?
 How many be commanded that command?
 How much low peasantry would then be gleaned
50 From the true seed of honor? And how much honor
 Picked from the chaff and ruin of the times,
 To be new varnished? Well, but to my choice.
 “Who chooseth me shall get as much as he
 deserves.”
55 I will assume desert. Give me a key for this,
He is given a key.
 And instantly unlock my fortunes here.
He opens the silver casket.
PORTIA 
 Too long a pause for that which you find there.
ARRAGON 
 What’s here? The portrait of a blinking idiot
 Presenting me a schedule! I will read it.—
60 How much unlike art thou to Portia!
 How much unlike my hopes and my deservings.
 “Who chooseth me shall have as much as he
 deserves”?
 Did I deserve no more than a fool’s head?
65 Is that my prize? Are my deserts no better?
PORTIA 
 To offend and judge are distinct offices
 And of opposèd natures.
ARRAGON  What is here?
He reads.

89
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 2. SC. 9


 The fire seven times tried this;
70 Seven times tried that judgment is
 That did never choose amiss.
 Some there be that shadows kiss;
 Such have but a shadow’s bliss.
 There be fools alive, iwis,
75 Silvered o’er—and so was this.
 Take what wife you will to bed,
 I will ever be your head.
 So begone; you are sped.

 Still more fool I shall appear
80 By the time I linger here.
 With one fool’s head I came to woo,
 But I go away with two.
 Sweet, adieu. I’ll keep my oath,
 Patiently to bear my wroth.He exits with his train.
PORTIA 
85 Thus hath the candle singed the moth.
 O, these deliberate fools, when they do choose,
 They have the wisdom by their wit to lose.
NERISSA 
 The ancient saying is no heresy:
 Hanging and wiving goes by destiny.
PORTIA 90Come, draw the curtain, Nerissa.

Enter Messenger.

MESSENGER 
 Where is my lady?
PORTIA  Here. What would my
 lord?
MESSENGER 
 Madam, there is alighted at your gate
95 A young Venetian, one that comes before
 To signify th’ approaching of his lord,
 From whom he bringeth sensible regreets;
 To wit (besides commends and courteous breath),
 Gifts of rich value; yet I have not seen

91
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 2. SC. 9

100 So likely an ambassador of love.
 A day in April never came so sweet,
 To show how costly summer was at hand,
 As this fore-spurrer comes before his lord.
PORTIA 
 No more, I pray thee. I am half afeard
105 Thou wilt say anon he is some kin to thee,
 Thou spend’st such high-day wit in praising him!
 Come, come, Nerissa, for I long to see
 Quick Cupid’s post that comes so mannerly.
NERISSA 
 Bassanio, Lord Love, if thy will it be!
They exit.


ACT 3
Scene 1
Enter Solanio and Salarino.

SOLANIO Now, what news on the Rialto?
SALARINO Why, yet it lives there unchecked that Antonio
 hath a ship of rich lading wracked on the
 Narrow Seas—the Goodwins, I think they call the
5 place—a very dangerous flat, and fatal, where the
 carcasses of many a tall ship lie buried, as they say,
 if my gossip Report be an honest woman of her
 word.
SOLANIO I would she were as lying a gossip in that as
10 ever knapped ginger or made her neighbors believe
 she wept for the death of a third husband. But
 it is true, without any slips of prolixity or crossing
 the plain highway of talk, that the good Antonio,
 the honest Antonio—O, that I had a title good
15 enough to keep his name company!—
SALARINO Come, the full stop.
SOLANIO Ha, what sayest thou? Why, the end is, he
 hath lost a ship.
SALARINO I would it might prove the end of his losses.
SOLANIO 20Let me say “amen” betimes, lest the devil
 cross my prayer, for here he comes in the likeness
 of a Jew.

Enter Shylock.

95

97
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 1

 How now, Shylock, what news among the
 merchants?
SHYLOCK 25You knew, none so well, none so well as you,
 of my daughter’s flight.
SALARINO That’s certain. I for my part knew the tailor
 that made the wings she flew withal.
SOLANIO And Shylock for his own part knew the bird
30 was fledge, and then it is the complexion of them
 all to leave the dam.
SHYLOCK She is damned for it.
SALARINO That’s certain, if the devil may be her judge.
SHYLOCK My own flesh and blood to rebel!
SOLANIO 35Out upon it, old carrion! Rebels it at these
 years?
SHYLOCK I say my daughter is my flesh and my blood.
SALARINO There is more difference between thy flesh
 and hers than between jet and ivory, more between
40 your bloods than there is between red wine and
 Rhenish. But tell us, do you hear whether Antonio
 have had any loss at sea or no?
SHYLOCK There I have another bad match! A bankrout,
 a prodigal, who dare scarce show his head on
45 the Rialto, a beggar that was used to come so smug
 upon the mart! Let him look to his bond. He was
 wont to call me usurer; let him look to his bond. He
 was wont to lend money for a Christian cur’sy; let
 him look to his bond.
SALARINO 50Why, I am sure if he forfeit, thou wilt not
 take his flesh! What’s that good for?
SHYLOCK To bait fish withal; if it will feed nothing else,
 it will feed my revenge. He hath disgraced me and
 hindered me half a million, laughed at my losses,
55 mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted
 my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies—
 and what’s his reason? I am a Jew. Hath not
 a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions,

99
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 1

 senses, affections, passions? Fed with the
60 same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to
 the same diseases, healed by the same means,
 warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer
 as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not
 bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you
65 poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall
 we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will
 resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian,
 what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong
 a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian
70 example? Why, revenge! The villainy you teach me I
 will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the
 instruction.

Enter a man from Antonio.

SERVINGMAN Gentlemen, my master Antonio is at his
 house and desires to speak with you both.
SALARINO 75We have been up and down to seek him.

Enter Tubal.

SOLANIO Here comes another of the tribe; a third
 cannot be matched unless the devil himself turn
 Jew.
Salarino, Solanio, and the Servingman exit.
SHYLOCK How now, Tubal, what news from Genoa?
80 Hast thou found my daughter?
TUBAL I often came where I did hear of her, but
 cannot find her.
SHYLOCK Why, there, there, there, there! A diamond
 gone cost me two thousand ducats in Frankfurt!
85 The curse never fell upon our nation till now, I
 never felt it till now. Two thousand ducats in that,
 and other precious, precious jewels! I would my
 daughter were dead at my foot and the jewels in her
 ear; would she were hearsed at my foot and the

101
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 1

90 ducats in her coffin. No news of them? Why so? And
 I know not what’s spent in the search! Why, thou
 loss upon loss! The thief gone with so much, and so
 much to find the thief, and no satisfaction, no
 revenge, nor no ill luck stirring but what lights a’ my
95 shoulders, no sighs but a’ my breathing, no tears but
 a’ my shedding.
TUBAL Yes, other men have ill luck, too. Antonio, as I
 heard in Genoa—
SHYLOCK What, what, what? Ill luck, ill luck?
TUBAL 100—hath an argosy cast away coming from
 Tripolis.
SHYLOCK I thank God, I thank God! Is it true, is it true?
TUBAL I spoke with some of the sailors that escaped
 the wrack.
SHYLOCK 105I thank thee, good Tubal. Good news, good
 news! Ha, ha, heard in Genoa—
TUBAL Your daughter spent in Genoa, as I heard, one
 night fourscore ducats.
SHYLOCK Thou stick’st a dagger in me. I shall never
110 see my gold again. Fourscore ducats at a sitting,
 fourscore ducats!
TUBAL There came divers of Antonio’s creditors in my
 company to Venice that swear he cannot choose
 but break.
SHYLOCK 115I am very glad of it. I’ll plague him, I’ll
 torture him. I am glad of it.
TUBAL One of them showed me a ring that he had of
 your daughter for a monkey.
SHYLOCK Out upon her! Thou torturest me, Tubal. It
120 was my turquoise! I had it of Leah when I was a
 bachelor. I would not have given it for a wilderness
 of monkeys.
TUBAL But Antonio is certainly undone.
SHYLOCK Nay, that’s true, that’s very true. Go, Tubal,
125 fee me an officer. Bespeak him a fortnight before. I

103
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 2

 will have the heart of him if he forfeit, for were he
 out of Venice I can make what merchandise I will.
 Go, Tubal, and meet me at our synagogue. Go, good
 Tubal, at our synagogue, Tubal.
They exit.


Scene 2
Enter Bassanio, Portia, and all their trains, Gratiano,
Nerissa.


PORTIA 
 I pray you tarry, pause a day or two
 Before you hazard, for in choosing wrong
 I lose your company; therefore forbear a while.
 There’s something tells me (but it is not love)
5 I would not lose you, and you know yourself
 Hate counsels not in such a quality.
 But lest you should not understand me well
 (And yet a maiden hath no tongue but thought)
 I would detain you here some month or two
10 Before you venture for me. 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. Beshrew your eyes,
15 They have o’erlooked me and divided me.
 One half of me is yours, the other half yours—
 Mine own, I would say—but if mine, then yours,
 And so all yours. O, these naughty times
 Puts bars between the owners and their rights!
20 And so though yours, not yours. Prove it so,
 Let Fortune go to hell for it, not I.
 I speak too long, but ’tis to peize the time,
 To eche it, and to draw it out in length,
 To stay you from election.

105
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 2

BASSANIO 25 Let me choose,
 For as I am, I live upon the rack.
PORTIA 
 Upon the rack, Bassanio? Then confess
 What treason there is mingled with your love.
BASSANIO 
 None but that ugly treason of mistrust,
30 Which makes me fear th’ enjoying of my love.
 There may as well be amity and life
 ’Tween snow and fire, as treason and my love.
PORTIA 
 Ay, but I fear you speak upon the rack
 Where men enforcèd do speak anything.
BASSANIO 
35 Promise me life and I’ll confess the truth.
PORTIA 
 Well, then, confess and live.
BASSANIO  “Confess and love”
 Had been the very sum of my confession.
 O happy torment, when my torturer
40 Doth teach me answers for deliverance!
 But let me to my fortune and the caskets.
PORTIA 
 Away, then. I am locked in one of them.
 If you do love me, you will find me out.—
 Nerissa and the rest, stand all aloof.
45 Let music sound while he doth make his choice.
 Then if he lose he makes a swanlike end,
 Fading in music. That the comparison
 May stand more proper, my eye shall be the stream
 And wat’ry deathbed for him. He may win,
50 And what is music then? Then music is
 Even as the flourish when true subjects bow
 To a new-crownèd monarch. Such it is
 As are those dulcet sounds in break of day
 That creep into the dreaming bridegroom’s ear
55 And summon him to marriage. Now he goes,

107
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 2

 With no less presence but with much more love
 Than young Alcides when he did redeem
 The virgin tribute paid by howling Troy
 To the sea-monster. I stand for sacrifice;
60 The rest aloof are the Dardanian wives,
 With blearèd visages, come forth to view
 The issue of th’ exploit. Go, Hercules!
 Live thou, I live. With much much more dismay
 I view the fight than thou that mak’st the fray.

A song the whilst Bassanio comments on
the caskets to himself.


 65 Tell me where is fancy bred,
 Or in the heart, or in the head?
 How begot, how nourishèd?
  Reply, reply.
 It is engendered in the eye,
70 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.
BASSANIO 
75 So may the outward shows be least themselves;
 The world is still deceived with ornament.
 In law, what plea so tainted and corrupt
 But, being seasoned with a gracious voice,
 Obscures the show of evil? In religion,
80 What damnèd error but some sober brow
 Will bless it and approve it with a text,
 Hiding the grossness with fair ornament?
 There is no vice so simple but assumes
 Some mark of virtue on his outward parts.
85 How many cowards whose hearts are all as false
 As stairs of sand, wear yet upon their chins
 The beards of Hercules and frowning Mars,

109
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 2

 Who inward searched have livers white as milk,
 And these assume but valor’s excrement
90 To render them redoubted. Look on beauty,
 And you shall see ’tis purchased by the weight,
 Which therein works a miracle in nature,
 Making them lightest that wear most of it.
 So are those crispèd snaky golden locks,
95 Which maketh such wanton gambols with the wind
 Upon supposèd fairness, often known
 To be the dowry of a second head,
 The skull that bred them in the sepulcher.
 Thus ornament is but the guilèd shore
100 To a most dangerous sea, the beauteous scarf
 Veiling an Indian beauty; in a word,
 The seeming truth which cunning times put on
 To entrap the wisest. Therefore, then, thou gaudy
 gold,
105 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 meager lead,
 Which rather threaten’st than dost promise aught,
 Thy paleness moves me more than eloquence,
110 And here choose I. Joy be the consequence!
Bassanio is given a key.
PORTIA, aside 
 How all the other passions fleet to air,
 As doubtful thoughts and rash embraced despair,
 And shudd’ring fear, and green-eyed jealousy!
 O love, be moderate, allay thy ecstasy,
115 In measure rain thy joy, scant this excess!
 I feel too much thy blessing. Make it less,
 For fear I surfeit.
Bassanio opens the lead casket.
BASSANIO  What find I here?
 Fair Portia’s counterfeit! What demigod
120 Hath come so near creation? Move these eyes?

111
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 2

 Or whether, riding on the balls of mine,
 Seem they in motion? Here are severed lips
 Parted with sugar breath; so sweet a bar
 Should sunder such sweet friends. Here in her hairs
125 The painter plays the spider, and hath woven
 A golden mesh t’ entrap the hearts of men
 Faster than gnats in cobwebs. But her eyes!
 How could he see to do them? Having made one,
 Methinks it should have power to steal both his
130 And leave itself unfurnished. Yet look how far
 The substance of my praise doth wrong this shadow
 In underprizing it, so far this shadow
 Doth limp behind the substance. Here’s the scroll,
 The continent and summary of my fortune.
He reads the scroll.
135 You that choose not by the view
 Chance as fair and choose as true.
 Since this fortune falls to you,
 Be content and seek no new.
 If you be well pleased with this
140 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.
145 Like one of two contending in a prize
 That thinks he hath done well in people’s eyes,
 Hearing applause and universal shout,
 Giddy in spirit, still gazing in a doubt
 Whether those peals of praise be his or no,
150 So, thrice-fair lady, stand I even so,
 As doubtful whether what I see be true,
 Until confirmed, signed, ratified by you.
PORTIA 
 You see me, Lord Bassanio, where I stand,
 Such as I am. Though for myself alone

113
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 2

155 I would not be ambitious in my wish
 To wish myself much better, yet for you
 I would be trebled twenty times myself,
 A thousand times more fair, ten thousand times
 More rich, that only to stand high in your account
160 I might in virtues, beauties, livings, friends,
 Exceed account. But the full sum of me
 Is sum of something, which, to term in gross,
 Is an unlessoned girl, unschooled, unpracticed;
 Happy in this, she is not yet so old
165 But she may learn; happier than this,
 She is not bred so dull but she can learn;
 Happiest of all, is that her gentle spirit
 Commits itself to yours to be directed
 As from her lord, her governor, her king.
170 Myself, and what is mine, to you and yours
 Is now converted. 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
175 Are yours, my lord’s. I give them with this ring,
Handing him a 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.
BASSANIO 
 Madam, you have bereft me of all words.
180 Only my blood speaks to you in my veins,
 And there is such confusion in my powers
 As after some oration fairly spoke
 By a belovèd prince there doth appear
 Among the buzzing pleasèd multitude,
185 Where every something being blent together
 Turns to a wild of nothing, save of joy
 Expressed and not expressed. But when this ring
 Parts from this finger, then parts life from hence.
 O, then be bold to say Bassanio’s dead!

115
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 2

NERISSA 
190 My lord and lady, it is now our time,
 That have stood by and seen our wishes prosper,
 To cry “Good joy, good joy, my lord and lady!”
GRATIANO 
 My Lord Bassanio, and my gentle lady,
 I wish you all the joy that you can wish,
195 For I am sure you can wish none from me.
 And when your honors mean to solemnize
 The bargain of your faith, I do beseech you
 Even at that time I may be married too.
BASSANIO 
 With all my heart, so thou canst get a wife.
GRATIANO 
200 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 loved, I loved; for intermission
 No more pertains to me, my lord, than you.
205 Your fortune stood upon the caskets there,
 And so did mine, too, as the matter falls.
 For wooing here until I sweat again,
 And swearing till my very roof was dry
 With oaths of love, at last (if promise last)
210 I got a promise of this fair one here
 To have her love, provided that your fortune
 Achieved her mistress.
PORTIA  Is this true, Nerissa?
NERISSA 
 Madam, it is, so you stand pleased withal.
BASSANIO 
215 And do you, Gratiano, mean good faith?
GRATIANO Yes, faith, my lord.
BASSANIO 
 Our feast shall be much honored in your marriage.
GRATIANO We’ll play with them the first boy for a
 thousand ducats.

117
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 2

NERISSA 220What, and stake down?
GRATIANO No, we shall ne’er win at that sport and
 stake down.

Enter Lorenzo, Jessica, and Salerio, a messenger
from Venice.


 But who comes here? Lorenzo and his infidel?
 What, and my old Venetian friend Salerio?
BASSANIO 
225 Lorenzo and Salerio, welcome hither—
 If that the youth of my new int’rest here
 Have power to bid you welcome. To Portia. By
 your leave,
 I bid my very friends and countrymen,
230 Sweet Portia, welcome.
PORTIA 
 So do I, my lord. They are entirely welcome.
LORENZO, to Bassanio 
 I thank your Honor. For my part, my lord,
 My purpose was not to have seen you here,
 But meeting with Salerio by the way,
235 He did entreat me past all saying nay
 To come with him along.
SALERIO  I did, my lord,
 And I have reason for it.Handing him a paper.
 Signior Antonio
240 Commends him to you.
BASSANIO  Ere I ope his letter,
 I pray you tell me how my good friend doth.
SALERIO 
 Not sick, my lord, unless it be in mind,
 Nor well, unless in mind. His letter there
245 Will show you his estate.
Bassanio opens the letter.
GRATIANO 
 Nerissa, cheer yond stranger, bid her welcome.—
 Your hand, Salerio. What’s the news from Venice?

119
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 2

 How doth that royal merchant, good Antonio?
 I know he will be glad of our success.
250 We are the Jasons, we have won the Fleece.
SALERIO 
 I would you had won the fleece that he hath lost.
PORTIA 
 There are some shrewd contents in yond same
 paper
 That steals the color from Bassanio’s cheek.
255 Some dear friend dead, else nothing in the world
 Could turn so much the constitution
 Of any constant man. What, worse and worse?—
 With leave, Bassanio, I am half yourself,
 And I must freely have the half of anything
260 That this same paper brings you.
BASSANIO  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,
265 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
270 My state was nothing, I should then have told you
 That I was worse than nothing; for indeed
 I have engaged myself to a dear friend,
 Engaged my friend to his mere enemy
 To feed my means. Here is a letter, lady,
275 The paper as the body of my friend,
 And every word in it a gaping wound
 Issuing life blood.—But is it true, Salerio?
 Hath all his ventures failed? What, not one hit?
 From Tripolis, from Mexico and England,
280 From Lisbon, Barbary, and India,
 And not one vessel ’scape the dreadful touch
 Of merchant-marring rocks?

121
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 2

SALERIO  Not one, my lord.
 Besides, it should appear that if he had
285 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,
290 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
295 Of forfeiture, of justice, and his bond.
JESSICA 
 When I was with him, I have heard him swear
 To Tubal and to Chus, his countrymen,
 That he would rather have Antonio’s flesh
 Than twenty times the value of the sum
300 That he did owe him. And I know, my lord,
 If law, authority, and power deny not,
 It will go hard with poor Antonio.
PORTIA 
 Is it your dear friend that is thus in trouble?
BASSANIO 
 The dearest friend to me, the kindest man,
305 The best conditioned and unwearied spirit
 In doing courtesies, and one in whom
 The ancient Roman honor more appears
 Than any that draws breath in Italy.
PORTIA What sum owes he the Jew?
BASSANIO 
310 For me, three thousand ducats.
PORTIA  What, no more?
 Pay him six thousand and deface the bond.
 Double six thousand and then treble that,
 Before a friend of this description
315 Shall lose a hair through Bassanio’s fault.

123
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 3

 First go with me to church and call me wife,
 And then away to Venice to your friend!
 For never shall you lie by Portia’s side
 With an unquiet soul. You shall have gold
320 To pay the petty debt twenty times over.
 When it is paid, bring your true friend along.
 My maid Nerissa and myself meantime
 Will live as maids and widows. Come, away,
 For you shall hence upon your wedding day.
325 Bid your friends welcome, show a merry cheer;
 Since you are dear bought, I will love you dear.
 But let me hear the letter of your friend.
BASSANIO reads 
 Sweet Bassanio, my ships have all miscarried, my
 creditors grow cruel, my estate is very low, my bond to
330 the Jew is forfeit, and since in paying it, it is impossible
 I should live, all debts are cleared between you and I 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 letter.

PORTIA 
335 O love, dispatch all business and begone!
BASSANIO 
 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.
They exit.


Scene 3
Enter Shylock, the Jew, and Solanio, and Antonio,
and the Jailer.


SHYLOCK 
 Jailer, look to him. Tell not me of mercy.

125
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 3

 This is the fool that lent out money gratis.
 Jailer, look to him.
ANTONIO  Hear me yet, good Shylock—
SHYLOCK 
5 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 hadst a cause,
 But since I am a dog, beware my fangs.
 The Duke shall grant me justice.—I do wonder,
10 Thou naughty jailer, that thou art so fond
 To come abroad with him at his request.
ANTONIO I pray thee, hear me speak—
SHYLOCK 
 I’ll have my bond. I will not hear thee speak.
 I’ll have my bond, and therefore speak no more.
15 I’ll not be made a soft and dull-eyed 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.He exits.
SOLANIO 
 It is the most impenetrable cur
20 That ever kept with men.
ANTONIO  Let him alone.
 I’ll follow him no more with bootless prayers.
 He seeks my life. His reason well I know:
 I oft delivered from his forfeitures
25 Many that have at times made moan to me.
 Therefore he hates me.
SOLANIO  I am sure the Duke
 Will never grant this forfeiture to hold.
ANTONIO 
 The Duke cannot deny the course of law,
30 For the commodity that strangers have
 With us in Venice, if it be denied,
 Will much impeach the justice of the state,
 Since that the trade and profit of the city

127
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 4

 Consisteth of all nations. Therefore go.
35 These griefs and losses have so bated me
 That I shall hardly spare a pound of flesh
 Tomorrow to my bloody creditor.—
 Well, jailer, on.—Pray God Bassanio come
 To see me pay his debt, and then I care not.
They exit.


Scene 4
Enter Portia, Nerissa, Lorenzo, Jessica, and Balthazar,
a man of Portia’s.


LORENZO 
 Madam, although I speak it in your presence,
 You have a noble and a true conceit
 Of godlike amity, which appears most strongly
 In bearing thus the absence of your lord.
5 But if you knew to whom you show this honor,
 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.
PORTIA 
10 I never did repent for doing good,
 Nor shall not now; for in companions
 That do converse and waste the time together,
 Whose souls do bear an equal yoke of love,
 There must be needs a like proportion
15 Of lineaments, of manners, and of spirit;
 Which makes me think that this Antonio,
 Being the bosom lover of my lord,
 Must needs be like my lord. If it be so,
 How little is the cost I have bestowed
20 In purchasing the semblance of my soul
 From out the state of hellish cruelty!

129
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 4

 This comes too near the praising of myself;
 Therefore no more of it. Hear other things:
 Lorenzo, I commit into your hands
25 The husbandry and manage of my house
 Until my lord’s return. For mine own part,
 I have toward heaven breathed a secret vow
 To live in prayer and contemplation,
 Only attended by Nerissa here,
30 Until her husband and my lord’s return.
 There is a monastery two miles off,
 And there we will abide. I do desire you
 Not to deny this imposition,
 The which my love and some necessity
35 Now lays upon you.
LORENZO  Madam, with all my heart.
 I shall obey you in all fair commands.
PORTIA 
 My people do already know my mind
 And will acknowledge you and Jessica
40 In place of Lord Bassanio and myself.
 So fare you well till we shall meet again.
LORENZO 
 Fair thoughts and happy hours attend on you!
JESSICA 
 I wish your Ladyship all heart’s content.
PORTIA 
 I thank you for your wish, and am well pleased
45 To wish it back on you. Fare you well, Jessica.
Lorenzo and Jessica exit.
 Now, Balthazar,
 As I have ever found thee honest true,
 So let me find thee still: take this same letter,
 And use thou all th’ endeavor of a man
50 In speed to Padua. See thou render this
 Into my cousin’s hands, Doctor Bellario.
She gives him a paper.

131
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 4

 And look what notes and garments he doth give
 thee,
 Bring them, I pray thee, with imagined speed
55 Unto the traject, to the common ferry
 Which trades to Venice. Waste no time in words,
 But get thee gone. I shall be there before thee.
BALTHAZAR 
 Madam, I go with all convenient speed.He exits.
PORTIA 
 Come on, Nerissa, I have work in hand
60 That you yet know not of. We’ll see our husbands
 Before they think of us.
NERISSA  Shall they see us?
PORTIA 
 They shall, Nerissa, but in such a habit
 That they shall think we are accomplishèd
65 With that we lack. I’ll hold thee any wager,
 When we are both accoutered like young men,
 I’ll prove the prettier fellow of the two,
 And wear my dagger with the braver grace,
 And speak between the change of man and boy
70 With a reed voice, and turn two mincing steps
 Into a manly stride, and speak of frays
 Like a fine bragging youth, and tell quaint lies
 How honorable ladies sought my love,
 Which I denying, they fell sick and died—
75 I could not do withal!—then I’ll repent,
 And wish, for all that, that I had not killed them.
 And twenty of these puny lies I’ll tell,
 That men shall swear I have discontinued school
 Above a twelvemonth. I have within my mind
80 A thousand raw tricks of these bragging jacks
 Which I will practice.
NERISSA  Why, shall we turn to men?
PORTIA Fie, what a question’s that,
 If thou wert near a lewd interpreter!

133
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 5

85 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 today.
They exit.


Scene 5
Enter Lancelet, the Clown, and Jessica.

LANCELET Yes, truly, for look you, the sins of the father
 are to be laid upon the children. Therefore I
 promise you I fear you. I was always plain with you,
 and so now I speak my agitation of the matter.
5 Therefore be o’ good cheer, for truly I think you
 are damned. There is but one hope in it that can do
 you any good, and that is but a kind of bastard hope
 neither.
JESSICA And what hope is that, I pray thee?
LANCELET 10Marry, you may partly hope that your father
 got you not, that you are not the Jew’s daughter.
JESSICA That were a kind of bastard hope indeed; so
 the sins of my mother should be visited upon me!
LANCELET Truly, then, I fear you are damned both by
15 father and mother; thus when I shun Scylla your
 father, I fall into Charybdis your mother. Well, you
 are gone both ways.
JESSICA I shall be saved by my husband. He hath made
 me a Christian.
LANCELET 20Truly the more to blame he! We were Christians
 enow before, e’en as many as could well live
 one by another. This making of Christians will
 raise the price of hogs. If we grow all to be pork
 eaters, we shall not shortly have a rasher on the
25 coals for money.

Enter Lorenzo.


135
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 5

JESSICA I’ll tell my husband, Lancelet, what you say.
 Here he comes.
LORENZO I shall grow jealous of you shortly, Lancelet,
 if you thus get my wife into corners!
JESSICA 30Nay, you need not fear us, Lorenzo. Lancelet
 and I are out. He tells me flatly there’s no mercy for
 me in heaven because I am a Jew’s daughter; and
 he says you are no good member of the commonwealth,
 for in converting Jews to Christians you
35 raise the price of pork.
LORENZO I shall answer that better to the commonwealth
 than you can the getting up of the Negro’s
 belly! The Moor is with child by you, Lancelet.
LANCELET It is much that the Moor should be more
40 than reason; but if she be less than an honest
 woman, she is indeed more than I took her for.
LORENZO How every fool can play upon the word! I
 think the best grace of wit will shortly turn into
 silence, and discourse grow commendable in none
45 only but parrots. Go in, sirrah, bid them prepare for
 dinner.
LANCELET That is done, sir. They have all stomachs.
LORENZO Goodly Lord, what a wit-snapper are you!
 Then bid them prepare dinner.
LANCELET 50That is done too, sir, only “cover” is the
 word.
LORENZO Will you cover, then, sir?
LANCELET Not so, sir, neither! I know my duty.
LORENZO Yet more quarreling with occasion! Wilt
55 thou show the whole wealth of thy wit in an
 instant? I pray thee understand a plain man in his
 plain meaning: go to thy fellows, bid them cover the
 table, serve in the meat, and we will come in to
 dinner.
LANCELET 60For the table, sir, it shall be served in; for
 the meat, sir, it shall be covered; for your coming in

137
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 5

 to dinner, sir, why, let it be as humors and conceits
 shall govern.Lancelet exits.
LORENZO 
 O dear discretion, how his words are suited!
65 The fool hath planted in his memory
 An army of good words, and I do know
 A many fools that stand in better place,
 Garnished like him, that for a tricksy word
 Defy the matter. How cheer’st thou, Jessica?
70 And now, good sweet, say thy opinion
 How dost thou like the Lord Bassanio’s wife?
JESSICA 
 Past all expressing. It is very meet
 The Lord Bassanio live an upright life,
 For having such a blessing in his lady
75 He finds the joys of heaven here on Earth,
 And if on Earth he do not merit it,
 In reason he should never come to heaven.
 Why, if two gods should play some heavenly match,
 And on the wager lay two earthly women,
80 And Portia one, there must be something else
 Pawned with the other, for the poor rude world
 Hath not her fellow.
LORENZO  Even such a husband
 Hast thou of me as she is for a wife.
JESSICA 
85 Nay, but ask my opinion too of that!
LORENZO 
 I will anon. First let us go to dinner.
JESSICA 
 Nay, let me praise you while I have a stomach!
LORENZO 
 No, pray thee, let it serve for table talk.
 Then howsome’er thou speak’st, ’mong other things
90 I shall digest it.
JESSICA  Well, I’ll set you forth.
They exit.


ACT 4
Scene 1
Enter the Duke, the Magnificoes, Antonio, Bassanio,
Salerio, and Gratiano, with Attendants.


DUKE What, is Antonio here?
ANTONIO Ready, so please your Grace.
DUKE 
 I am sorry for thee. Thou art come to answer
 A stony adversary, an inhuman wretch,
5 Uncapable of pity, void and empty
 From any dram of mercy.
ANTONIO  I have heard
 Your Grace hath ta’en great pains to qualify
 His rigorous course; but since he stands obdurate,
10 And that no lawful means can carry me
 Out of his envy’s reach, I do oppose
 My patience to his fury, and am armed
 To suffer with a quietness of spirit
 The very tyranny and rage of his.
DUKE 
15 Go, one, and call the Jew into the court.
SALERIO 
 He is ready at the door. He comes, my lord.

Enter Shylock.

DUKE 
 Make room, and let him stand before our face.—
141

143
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 4. SC. 1

 Shylock, the world thinks, and I think so too,
 That thou but leadest this fashion of thy malice
20 To the last hour of act, and then, ’tis thought,
 Thou ’lt show thy mercy and remorse more strange
 Than is thy strange apparent cruelty;
 And where thou now exacts the penalty,
 Which is a pound of this poor merchant’s flesh,
25 Thou wilt not only loose the forfeiture,
 But, touched with humane gentleness and love,
 Forgive a moi’ty of the principal,
 Glancing an eye of pity on his losses
 That have of late so huddled on his back,
30 Enow to press a royal merchant down
 And pluck commiseration of his state
 From brassy bosoms and rough hearts of flint,
 From stubborn Turks, and Tartars never trained
 To offices of tender courtesy.
35 We all expect a gentle answer, Jew.
SHYLOCK 
 I have possessed 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
40 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 humor. Is it answered?
45 What if my house be troubled with a rat,
 And I be pleased to give ten thousand ducats
 To have it baned? What, are you answered yet?
 Some men there are love not a gaping pig,
 Some that are mad if they behold a cat,
50 And others, when the bagpipe sings i’ th’ nose,
 Cannot contain their urine; for affection
 Masters oft passion, sways it to the mood

145
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 4. SC. 1

 Of what it likes or loathes. Now for your answer:
 As there is no firm reason to be rendered
55 Why he cannot abide a gaping pig,
 Why he a harmless necessary cat,
 Why he a woolen bagpipe, but of force
 Must yield to such inevitable shame
 As to offend, himself being offended,
60 So can I give no reason, nor I will not,
 More than a lodged hate and a certain loathing
 I bear Antonio, that I follow thus
 A losing suit against him. Are you answered?
BASSANIO 
 This is no answer, thou unfeeling man,
65 To excuse the current of thy cruelty.
SHYLOCK 
 I am not bound to please thee with my answers.
BASSANIO 
 Do all men kill the things they do not love?
SHYLOCK 
 Hates any man the thing he would not kill?
BASSANIO 
 Every offence is not a hate at first.
SHYLOCK 
70 What, wouldst thou have a serpent sting thee twice?
ANTONIO, to Bassanio 
 I pray you, think you question with the Jew.
 You may as well go stand upon the beach
 And bid the main flood bate his usual height;
 You may as well use question with the wolf
75 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 fretten with the gusts of heaven;
 You may as well do anything most hard
80 As seek to soften that than which what’s harder?—
 His Jewish heart. Therefore I do beseech you

147
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 4. SC. 1

 Make no more offers, use no farther means,
 But with all brief and plain conveniency
 Let me have judgment and the Jew his will.
BASSANIO 
85 For thy three thousand ducats here is six.
SHYLOCK 
 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 shalt thou hope for mercy, rend’ring none?
SHYLOCK 
90 What judgment shall I dread, doing no wrong?
 You have among you many a purchased 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
95 “Let them be free! Marry them to your heirs!
 Why sweat they under burdens? Let their beds
 Be made as soft as yours, and let their palates
 Be seasoned with such viands”? You will answer
 “The slaves are ours!” So do I answer you:
100 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 
105 Upon my power I may dismiss this court
 Unless Bellario, a learnèd doctor
 Whom I have sent for to determine this,
 Come here today.
SALERIO  My lord, here stays without
110 A messenger with letters from the doctor,
 New come from Padua.

149
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 4. SC. 1

DUKE 
 Bring us the letters. Call the messenger.
BASSANIO 
 Good cheer, Antonio! What, man, courage yet!
 The Jew shall have my flesh, blood, bones, and all
115 Ere thou shalt lose for me one drop of blood!
ANTONIO 
 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 employed, Bassanio,
120 Than to live still and write mine epitaph.

Enter Nerissa, disguised as a lawyer’s clerk.

DUKE 
 Came you from Padua, from Bellario?
NERISSA, as Clerk 
 From both, my lord. Bellario greets your Grace.
Handing him a paper, which he reads, aside, while
Shylock sharpens his knife on the sole of his shoe.

BASSANIO 
 Why dost thou whet thy knife so earnestly?
SHYLOCK 
 To cut the forfeiture from that bankrout there.
GRATIANO 
125 Not on thy sole but on thy soul, harsh Jew,
 Thou mak’st thy knife keen. But no metal can,
 No, not the hangman’s axe, bear half the keenness
 Of thy sharp envy. Can no prayers pierce thee?
SHYLOCK 
 No, none that thou hast wit enough to make.
GRATIANO 
130 O, be thou damned, inexecrable dog,
 And for thy life let justice be accused;
 Thou almost mak’st me waver in my faith,
 To hold opinion with Pythagoras

151
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 4. SC. 1

 That souls of animals infuse themselves
135 Into the trunks of men. Thy currish spirit
 Governed a wolf who, hanged for human slaughter,
 Even from the gallows did his fell soul fleet,
 And whilst thou layest in thy unhallowed dam,
 Infused itself in thee, for thy desires
140 Are wolfish, bloody, starved, and ravenous.
SHYLOCK 
 Till thou canst 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 
145 This letter from Bellario doth commend
 A young and learnèd doctor to our court.
 Where is he?
NERISSA, as Clerk  He attendeth here hard by
 To know your answer whether you’ll admit him.
DUKE 
150 With all my heart.—Some three or four of you
 Go give him courteous conduct to this place.
Attendants exit.
 Meantime the court shall hear Bellario’s letter.
He reads.
 Your Grace shall understand that, at the receipt of
 your letter, I am very sick, but in the instant that your
155 messenger came, in loving visitation was with me a
 young doctor of Rome. His name is Balthazar. 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,
160 which, bettered with his own learning (the greatness
 whereof I cannot enough commend), comes with
 him at my importunity to fill up your Grace’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

153
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 4. SC. 1

165 never knew so young a body with so old a head. I
 leave him to your gracious acceptance, whose trial
 shall better publish his commendation.


 You hear the learnèd Bellario what he writes.

Enter Portia for Balthazar, disguised as a doctor of
laws, with Attendants.


 And here I take it is the doctor come.—
170 Give me your hand. Come you from old Bellario?
PORTIA, as Balthazar 
 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?
PORTIA, as Balthazar 
175 I am informèd throughly of the cause.
 Which is the merchant here? And which the Jew?
DUKE 
 Antonio and old Shylock, both stand forth.
PORTIA, as Balthazar 
 Is your name Shylock?
SHYLOCK  Shylock is my name.
PORTIA, as Balthazar 
180 Of a strange nature is the suit you follow,
 Yet in such rule that the Venetian law
 Cannot impugn you as you do proceed.
 To Antonio. You stand within his danger, do you
 not?
ANTONIO 
185 Ay, so he says.
PORTIA, as Balthazar  Do you confess the bond?
ANTONIO 
 I do.
PORTIA, as Balthazar  Then must the Jew be merciful.
SHYLOCK 
 On what compulsion must I? Tell me that.

155
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 4. SC. 1

PORTIA, as Balthazar 
190 The quality of mercy is not strained.
 It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
 Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
 It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
 ’Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
195 The thronèd monarch better than his crown.
 His scepter 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 sceptered sway.
200 It is enthronèd 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:
205 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,
210 Which, if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
 Must needs give sentence ’gainst the merchant
 there.
SHYLOCK 
 My deeds upon my head! I crave the law,
 The penalty and forfeit of my bond.
PORTIA, as Balthazar 
215 Is he not able to discharge the money?
BASSANIO 
 Yes. Here I tender it for him in the court,
 Yea, twice 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.
220 If this will not suffice, it must appear

157
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 4. SC. 1

 That malice bears down truth. To the Duke. And I
 beseech you,
 Wrest once the law to your authority.
 To do a great right, do a little wrong,
225 And curb this cruel devil of his will.
PORTIA, as Balthazar 
 It must not be. There is no power in Venice
 Can alter a decree establishèd;
 ’Twill be recorded for a precedent
 And many an error by the same example
230 Will rush into the state. It cannot be.
SHYLOCK 
 A Daniel come to judgment! Yea, a Daniel.
 O wise young judge, how I do honor thee!
PORTIA, as Balthazar 
 I pray you let me look upon the bond.
SHYLOCK 
 Here ’tis, most reverend doctor, here it is.
Handing Portia a paper.
PORTIA, as Balthazar 
235 Shylock, there’s thrice thy money offered thee.
SHYLOCK 
 An oath, an oath, I have an oath in heaven!
 Shall I lay perjury upon my soul?
 No, not for Venice!
PORTIA, as Balthazar  Why, this bond is forfeit,
240 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.
SHYLOCK 
 When it is paid according to the tenor.
245 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,

159
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 4. SC. 1

 Proceed to judgment. By my soul I swear
250 There is no power in the tongue of man
 To alter me. I stay here on my bond.
ANTONIO 
 Most heartily I do beseech the court
 To give the judgment.
PORTIA, as Balthazar  Why, then, thus it is:
255 You must prepare your bosom for his knife—
SHYLOCK 
 O noble judge! O excellent young man!
PORTIA, as Balthazar 
 For the intent and purpose of the law
 Hath full relation to the penalty,
 Which here appeareth due upon the bond.
SHYLOCK 
260 ’Tis very true. O wise and upright judge,
 How much more elder art thou than thy looks!
PORTIA, as Balthazar, to Antonio 
 Therefore lay bare your bosom—
SHYLOCK  Ay, his breast!
 So says the bond, doth it not, noble judge?
265 “Nearest his heart.” Those are the very words.
PORTIA, as Balthazar 
 It is so.
 Are there balance here to weigh the flesh?
SHYLOCK I have them ready.
PORTIA, as Balthazar 
 Have by some surgeon, Shylock, on your charge,
270 To stop his wounds, lest he do bleed to death.
SHYLOCK 
 Is it so nominated in the bond?
PORTIA, as Balthazar 
 It is not so expressed, but what of that?
 ’Twere good you do so much for charity.
SHYLOCK 
 I cannot find it. ’Tis not in the bond.

161
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 4. SC. 1

PORTIA, as Balthazar 
275 You, merchant, have you anything to say?
ANTONIO 
 But little. I am armed and well prepared.—
 Give me your hand, Bassanio. Fare you well.
 Grieve not that I am fall’n to this for you,
 For herein Fortune shows herself more kind
280 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 ling’ring penance
 Of such misery doth she cut me off.
285 Commend me to your honorable wife,
 Tell her the process of Antonio’s end,
 Say how I loved you, speak me fair in death,
 And when the tale is told, bid her be judge
 Whether Bassanio had not once a love.
290 Repent but 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.
BASSANIO 
 Antonio, I am married to a wife
295 Which is as dear to me as life itself,
 But life itself, my wife, and all the world
 Are not with me esteemed above thy life.
 I would lose all, ay, sacrifice them all
 Here to this devil, to deliver you.
PORTIA, aside 
300 Your wife would give you little thanks for that
 If she were by to hear you make the offer.
GRATIANO 
 I have a wife who I protest I love.
 I would she were in heaven, so she could
 Entreat some power to change this currish Jew.

163
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 4. SC. 1

NERISSA, aside 
305 ’Tis well you offer it behind her back.
 The wish would make else an unquiet house.
SHYLOCK 
 These be the Christian husbands! I have a
 daughter—
 Would any of the stock of Barabbas
310 Had been her husband, rather than a Christian!
 We trifle time. I pray thee, pursue sentence.
PORTIA, as Balthazar 
 A pound of that same merchant’s flesh is thine:
 The court awards it, and the law doth give it.
SHYLOCK Most rightful judge!
PORTIA, as Balthazar 
315 And you must cut this flesh from off his breast:
 The law allows it, and the court awards it.
SHYLOCK 
 Most learnèd judge! A sentence!—Come, prepare.
PORTIA, as Balthazar 
 Tarry a little. There is something else.
 This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood.
320 The words expressly are “a pound of flesh.”
 Take then 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
325 Unto the state of Venice.
GRATIANO 
 O upright judge!—Mark, Jew.—O learnèd judge!
SHYLOCK 
 Is that the law?
PORTIA, as Balthazar  Thyself shalt see the act.
 For, as thou urgest justice, be assured
330 Thou shalt have justice more than thou desir’st.
GRATIANO 
 O learnèd judge!—Mark, Jew, a learnèd judge!

165
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 4. SC. 1

SHYLOCK 
 I take this offer then. Pay the bond thrice
 And let the Christian go.
BASSANIO  Here is the money.
PORTIA, as Balthazar 
335 Soft! The Jew shall have all justice. Soft, no haste!
 He shall have nothing but the penalty.
GRATIANO 
 O Jew, an upright judge, a learnèd judge!
PORTIA, as Balthazar 
 Therefore prepare thee to cut off the flesh.
 Shed thou no blood, nor cut thou less nor more
340 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 substance
 Or the division of the twentieth part
 Of one poor scruple—nay, if the scale do turn
345 But in the estimation of a hair,
 Thou diest, and all thy goods are confiscate.
GRATIANO 
 A second Daniel! A Daniel, Jew!
 Now, infidel, I have you on the hip.
PORTIA, as Balthazar 
 Why doth the Jew pause? Take thy forfeiture.
SHYLOCK 
350 Give me my principal and let me go.
BASSANIO 
 I have it ready for thee. Here it is.
PORTIA, as Balthazar 
 He hath refused it in the open court.
 He shall have merely justice and his bond.
GRATIANO 
 A Daniel still, say I! A second Daniel!—
355 I thank thee, Jew, for teaching me that word.
SHYLOCK 
 Shall I not have barely my principal?

167
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 4. SC. 1

PORTIA, as Balthazar 
 Thou shalt have nothing but the forfeiture
 To be so taken at thy peril, Jew.
SHYLOCK 
 Why, then, the devil give him good of it!
360 I’ll stay no longer question.He begins to exit.
PORTIA, as Balthazar  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
365 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,
370 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,
375 Thou hast contrived against the very life
 Of the defendant, and thou hast incurred
 The danger formerly by me rehearsed.
 Down, therefore, and beg mercy of the Duke.
GRATIANO 
 Beg that thou mayst have leave to hang thyself!
380 And yet, thy wealth being forfeit to the state,
 Thou hast not left the value of a cord;
 Therefore thou must be hanged at the state’s
 charge.
DUKE 
 That thou shalt see the difference of our spirit,
385 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.

169
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 4. SC. 1

PORTIA, as Balthazar 
 Ay, for the state, not for Antonio.
SHYLOCK 
390 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.
PORTIA, as Balthazar 
 What mercy can you render him, Antonio?
GRATIANO 
395 A halter gratis, nothing else, for God’s sake!
ANTONIO 
 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, to render it
400 Upon his death unto the gentleman
 That lately stole his daughter.
 Two things provided more: that for this favor
 He presently become a Christian;
 The other, that he do record a gift,
405 Here in the court, of all he dies possessed
 Unto his son Lorenzo and his daughter.
DUKE 
 He shall do this, or else I do recant
 The pardon that I late pronouncèd here.
PORTIA, as Balthazar 
 Art thou contented, Jew? What dost thou say?
SHYLOCK 
410 I am content.
PORTIA, as Balthazar  Clerk, draw a deed of gift.
SHYLOCK 
 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 415 Get thee gone, but do it.

171
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 4. SC. 1

GRATIANO 
 In christ’ning shalt thou have two godfathers.
 Had I been judge, thou shouldst have had ten more,
 To bring thee to the gallows, not to the font.
Shylock exits.
DUKE, to Portia as Balthazar 
 Sir, I entreat you home with me to dinner.
PORTIA, as Balthazar 
420 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,
425 For in my mind you are much bound to him.
The Duke and his train exit.
BASSANIO, to Portia as Balthazar 
 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
430 We freely cope your courteous pains withal.
ANTONIO 
 And stand indebted, over and above,
 In love and service to you evermore.
PORTIA, as Balthazar 
 He is well paid that is well satisfied,
 And I, delivering you, am satisfied,
435 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.
She begins to exit.
BASSANIO 
 Dear sir, of force I must attempt you further.
440 Take some remembrance of us as a tribute,

173
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 4. SC. 1

 Not as fee. Grant me two things, I pray you:
 Not to deny me, and to pardon me.
PORTIA, as Balthazar 
 You press me far, and therefore I will yield.
 Give me your gloves; I’ll wear them for your sake—
445 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.
BASSANIO 
 This ring, good sir? Alas, it is a trifle.
 I will not shame myself to give you this.
PORTIA, as Balthazar 
450 I will have nothing else but only this.
 And now methinks I have a mind to it.
BASSANIO 
 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.
455 Only for this, I pray you pardon me.
PORTIA, as Balthazar 
 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 answered.
BASSANIO 
 Good sir, this ring was given me by my wife,
460 And when she put it on, she made me vow
 That I should neither sell nor give nor lose it.
PORTIA, as Balthazar 
 That ’scuse serves many men to save their gifts.
 And if your wife be not a madwoman,
 And know how well I have deserved this ring,
465 She would not hold out enemy forever
 For giving it to me. Well, peace be with you.
Portia and Nerissa exit.
ANTONIO 
 My Lord Bassanio, let him have the ring.

175
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 4. SC. 2

 Let his deservings and my love withal
 Be valued ’gainst your wife’s commandment.
BASSANIO 
470 Go, Gratiano, run and overtake him.
 Give him the ring, and bring him if thou canst
 Unto Antonio’s house. Away, make haste.
Gratiano exits.
 Come, you and I will thither presently,
 And in the morning early will we both
475 Fly toward Belmont.—Come, Antonio.
They exit.


Scene 2
Enter Portia and Nerissa, still in disguise.

PORTIA 
 Inquire the Jew’s house out; give him this deed
 And let him sign it. She gives Nerissa a paper. We’ll
 away tonight,
 And be a day before our husbands home.
5 This deed will be well welcome to Lorenzo.

Enter Gratiano.

GRATIANO 
 Fair sir, you are well o’erta’en.
 My Lord Bassanio, upon more advice,
 Hath sent you here this ring, and doth entreat
 Your company at dinner.He gives her a ring.
PORTIA, as Balthazar 10 That cannot be.
 His ring I do accept most thankfully,
 And so I pray you tell him. Furthermore,
 I pray you show my youth old Shylock’s house.
GRATIANO 
 That will I do.

177
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 4. SC. 2

NERISSA, as Clerk 15 Sir, I would speak with you.
 Aside to Portia. I’ll see if I can get my husband’s
 ring,
 Which I did make him swear to keep forever.
PORTIA, aside to Nerissa 
 Thou mayst, I warrant! We shall have old swearing
20 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.
She exits.
NERISSA, as Clerk 
 Come, good sir, will you show me to this house?
They exit.


ACT 5
Scene 1
Enter Lorenzo and Jessica.

LORENZO 
 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
5 And sighed his soul toward the Grecian tents
 Where Cressid lay that night.
JESSICA  In such a night
 Did Thisbe fearfully o’ertrip the dew
 And saw the lion’s shadow ere himself
10 And ran dismayed away.
LORENZO  In such a night
 Stood Dido with a willow in her hand
 Upon the wild sea-banks, and waft her love
 To come again to Carthage.
JESSICA 15 In such a night
 Medea gathered the enchanted herbs
 That did renew old Aeson.
LORENZO  In such a night
 Did Jessica steal from the wealthy Jew,
20 And with an unthrift love did run from Venice
 As far as Belmont.
JESSICA  In such a night
 Did young Lorenzo swear he loved her well,
181

183
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 5. SC. 1

 Stealing her soul with many vows of faith,
25 And ne’er a true one.
LORENZO  In such a night
 Did pretty Jessica, like a little shrew,
 Slander her love, and he forgave it her.
JESSICA 
 I would out-night you did nobody come,
30 But hark, I hear the footing of a man.

Enter Stephano, a Messenger.

LORENZO 
 Who comes so fast in silence of the night?
STEPHANO A friend.
LORENZO 
 A friend? What friend? Your name, I pray you,
 friend.
STEPHANO 
35 Stephano is my name, and I bring word
 My mistress will before the break of day
 Be here at Belmont. She doth stray about
 By holy crosses, where she kneels and prays
 For happy wedlock hours.
LORENZO 40 Who comes with her?
STEPHANO 
 None but a holy hermit and her maid.
 I pray you, is my master yet returned?
LORENZO 
 He is not, nor we have not heard from him.—
 But go we in, I pray thee, Jessica,
45 And ceremoniously let us prepare
 Some welcome for the mistress of the house.

Enter Lancelet, the Clown.

LANCELET Sola, sola! Wo ha, ho! Sola, sola!
LORENZO Who calls?
LANCELET Sola! Did you see Master Lorenzo? Master
50 Lorenzo, sola, sola!

185
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 5. SC. 1

LORENZO Leave holloaing, man! Here.
LANCELET Sola! Where, where?
LORENZO Here!
LANCELET Tell him there’s a post come from my master
55 with his horn full of good news. My master will
 be here ere morning, sweet soul.Lancelet exits.
LORENZO, to Jessica 
 Let’s in, and there expect their coming.
 And yet no matter; why should we go in?—
 My friend Stephano, signify, I pray you,
60 Within the house, your mistress is at hand,
 And bring your music forth into the air.
Stephano exits.
 How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank.
 Here will we sit and let the sounds of music
 Creep in our ears; soft stillness and the night
65 Become the touches of sweet harmony.
 Sit, Jessica. Look how the floor of heaven
 Is thick inlaid with patens of bright gold.
 There’s not the smallest orb which thou behold’st
 But in his motion like an angel sings,
70 Still choiring 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.

Enter Stephano and musicians.

 Come, ho! and wake Diana with a hymn.
75 With sweetest touches pierce your mistress’ ear,
 And draw her home with music.
Music plays.
JESSICA 
 I am never merry when I hear sweet music.
LORENZO 
 The reason is, your spirits are attentive.
 For do but note a wild and wanton herd

187
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 5. SC. 1

80 Or race of youthful and unhandled colts,
 Fetching mad bounds, bellowing and neighing loud,
 Which is the hot condition of their blood,
 If they but hear perchance a trumpet sound,
 Or any air of music touch their ears,
85 You shall perceive them make a mutual stand,
 Their savage eyes turned to a modest gaze
 By the sweet power of music. Therefore the poet
 Did feign that Orpheus drew trees, stones, and
 floods,
90 Since naught 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 moved with concord of sweet sounds,
 Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils;
95 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.

PORTIA 
 That light we see is burning in my hall.
 How far that little candle throws his beams!
100 So shines a good deed in a naughty world.
NERISSA 
 When the moon shone we did not see the candle.
PORTIA 
 So doth the greater glory dim the less.
 A substitute shines brightly as a king
 Until a king be by, and then his state
105 Empties itself as doth an inland brook
 Into the main of waters. Music, hark!
NERISSA 
 It is your music, madam, of the house.
PORTIA 
 Nothing is good, I see, without respect.
 Methinks it sounds much sweeter than by day.

189
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 5. SC. 1

NERISSA 
110 Silence bestows that virtue on it, madam.
PORTIA 
 The crow doth sing as sweetly as the lark
 When neither is attended, and I think
 The nightingale, if she should sing by day
 When every goose is cackling, would be thought
115 No better a musician than the wren.
 How many things by season seasoned are
 To their right praise and true perfection!
 Peace—how the moon sleeps with Endymion
 And would not be awaked!
Music ceases.
LORENZO 120 That is the voice,
 Or I am much deceived, of Portia.
PORTIA 
 He knows me as the blind man knows the cuckoo,
 By the bad voice.
LORENZO  Dear lady, welcome home.
PORTIA 
125 We have been praying for our husbands’ welfare,
 Which speed we hope the better for our words.
 Are they returned?
LORENZO  Madam, they are not yet,
 But there is come a messenger before
130 To signify their coming.
PORTIA  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.
LORENZO 
135 Your husband is at hand. I hear his trumpet.
 We are no tell-tales, madam, fear you not.
PORTIA 
 This night methinks is but the daylight sick;

191
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 5. SC. 1

 It looks a little paler. ’Tis a day
 Such as the day is when the sun is hid.

Enter Bassanio, Antonio, Gratiano, and their followers.

BASSANIO 
140 We should hold day with the Antipodes
 If you would walk in absence of the sun.
PORTIA 
 Let me give light, but let me not be light,
 For a light wife doth make a heavy husband,
 And never be Bassanio so for me.
145 But God sort all! You are welcome home, my lord.
Gratiano and Nerissa talk aside.
BASSANIO 
 I thank you, madam. Give welcome to my friend.
 This is the man, this is Antonio,
 To whom I am so infinitely bound.
PORTIA 
 You should in all sense be much bound to him,
150 For as I hear he was much bound for you.
ANTONIO 
 No more than I am well acquitted of.
PORTIA 
 Sir, you are very welcome to our house.
 It must appear in other ways than words;
 Therefore I scant this breathing courtesy.
GRATIANO, to Nerissa 
155 By yonder moon I swear you do me wrong!
 In faith, I gave it to the judge’s clerk.
 Would he were gelt that had it, for my part,
 Since you do take it, love, so much at heart.
PORTIA 
 A quarrel ho, already! What’s the matter?
GRATIANO 
160 About a hoop of gold, a paltry ring
 That she did give me, whose posy was

193
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 5. SC. 1

 For all the world like cutler’s poetry
 Upon a knife, “Love me, and leave me not.”
NERISSA 
 What talk you of the posy or the value?
165 You swore to me when I did give it you
 That you would wear it till your 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 and have kept it.
170 Gave it a judge’s clerk! No, God’s my judge,
 The clerk will ne’er wear hair on ’s face that had it.
GRATIANO 
 He will, an if he live to be a man.
NERISSA 
 Ay, if a woman live to be a man.
GRATIANO 
 Now, by this hand, I gave it to a youth,
175 A kind of boy, a little scrubbèd boy,
 No higher than thyself, the judge’s clerk,
 A prating boy that begged it as a fee.
 I could not for my heart deny it him.
PORTIA 
 You were to blame, I must be plain with you,
180 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.
185 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.
BASSANIO, aside 
190 Why, I were best to cut my left hand off
 And swear I lost the ring defending it.

195
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 5. SC. 1

GRATIANO 
 My Lord Bassanio gave his ring away
 Unto the judge that begged it, and indeed
 Deserved it, too. And then the boy, his clerk,
195 That took some pains in writing, he begged mine,
 And neither man nor master would take aught
 But the two rings.
PORTIA  What ring gave you, my lord?
 Not that, I hope, which you received of me.
BASSANIO 
200 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.
PORTIA 
 Even so void is your false heart of truth.
 By heaven, I will ne’er come in your bed
205 Until I see the ring!
NERISSA, to Gratiano  Nor I in yours
 Till I again see mine!
BASSANIO  Sweet Portia,
 If you did know to whom I gave the ring,
210 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 naught would be accepted but the ring,
 You would abate the strength of your displeasure.
PORTIA 
215 If you had known the virtue of the ring,
 Or half her worthiness that gave the ring,
 Or your own honor to contain the ring,
 You would not then have parted with the ring.
 What man is there so much unreasonable,
220 If you had pleased 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!

197
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 5. SC. 1

BASSANIO 
225 No, by my honor, madam, by my soul,
 No woman had it, but a civil doctor,
 Which did refuse three thousand ducats of me
 And begged the ring, the which I did deny him
 And suffered him to go displeased away,
230 Even he that had held up the very life
 Of my dear friend. What should I say, sweet lady?
 I was enforced to send it after him.
 I was beset with shame and courtesy.
 My honor would not let ingratitude
235 So much besmear it. Pardon me, good lady,
 For by these blessèd candles of the night,
 Had you been there, I think you would have begged
 The ring of me to give the worthy doctor.
PORTIA 
 Let not that doctor e’er come near my house!
240 Since he hath got the jewel that I loved,
 And that which you did swear to keep for me,
 I will become as liberal as you:
 I’ll not deny him anything I have,
 No, not my body, nor my husband’s bed.
245 Know him I shall, I am well sure of it.
 Lie not a night from home. Watch me like Argus.
 If you do not, if I be left alone,
 Now by mine honor, which is yet mine own,
 I’ll have that doctor for my bedfellow.
NERISSA 
250 And I his clerk. Therefore be well advised
 How you do leave me to mine own protection.
GRATIANO 
 Well, do you so. Let not me take him, then,
 For if I do, I’ll mar the young clerk’s pen.
ANTONIO 
 I am th’ unhappy subject of these quarrels.

199
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 5. SC. 1

PORTIA 
255 Sir, grieve not you. You are welcome
 notwithstanding.
BASSANIO 
 Portia, forgive me this enforcèd wrong,
 And in the hearing of these many friends
 I swear to thee, even by thine own fair eyes,
260 Wherein I see myself—
PORTIA  Mark you but that!
 In both my eyes he doubly sees himself,
 In each eye one. Swear by your double self,
 And there’s an oath of credit.
BASSANIO 265 Nay, but hear me.
 Pardon this fault, and by my soul I swear
 I never more will break an oath with thee.
ANTONIO 
 I once did lend my body for his wealth,
 Which but for him that had your husband’s ring
270 Had quite miscarried. I dare be bound again,
 My soul upon the forfeit, that your lord
 Will never more break faith advisedly.
PORTIA 
 Then you shall be his surety. Give him this,
Giving Antonio a ring.
 And bid him keep it better than the other.
ANTONIO 
275 Here, Lord Bassanio, swear to keep this ring.
BASSANIO 
 By heaven, it is the same I gave the doctor!
PORTIA 
 I had it of him. Pardon me, Bassanio,
 For by this ring, the doctor lay with me.
NERISSA 
 And pardon me, my gentle Gratiano,
280 For that same scrubbèd boy, the doctor’s clerk,
 In lieu of this, last night did lie with me.
She shows a ring.

201
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 5. SC. 1

GRATIANO 
 Why, this is like the mending of highways
 In summer, where the ways are fair enough!
 What, are we cuckolds ere we have deserved it?
PORTIA 
285 Speak not so grossly.—You are all amazed.
She hands a paper to Bassanio.
 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
290 Shall witness I set forth as soon as you,
 And even but now returned. I have not yet
 Entered my house.—Antonio, you are welcome,
 And I have better news in store for you
 Than you expect. Unseal this letter soon.
Handing him a paper.
295 There you shall find three of your argosies
 Are richly come to harbor suddenly.
 You shall not know by what strange accident
 I chancèd on this letter.
ANTONIO  I am dumb.
BASSANIO 
300 Were you the doctor and I knew you not?
GRATIANO 
 Were you the clerk that is to make me cuckold?
NERISSA 
 Ay, but the clerk that never means to do it,
 Unless he live until he be a man.
BASSANIO, to Portia 
 Sweet doctor, you shall be my bedfellow.
305 When I am absent, then lie with my wife.
ANTONIO 
 Sweet lady, you have given me life and living;
 For here I read for certain that my ships
 Are safely come to road.

203
The Merchant of Venice
ACT 5. SC. 1

PORTIA  How now, Lorenzo?
310 My clerk hath some good comforts too for you.
NERISSA 
 Ay, and I’ll give them him without a fee.
Handing him a paper.
 There do I give to you and Jessica,
 From the rich Jew, a special deed of gift,
 After his death, of all he dies possessed of.
LORENZO 
315 Fair ladies, you drop manna in the way
 Of starvèd people.
PORTIA  It is almost morning,
 And yet I am sure you are not satisfied
 Of these events at full. Let us go in,
320 And charge us there upon inter’gatories,
 And we will answer all things faithfully.
GRATIANO 
 Let it be so. The first inter’gatory
 That my Nerissa shall be sworn on is
 Whether till the next night she had rather stay
325 Or go to bed now, being two hours to day.
 But were the day come, I should wish it dark
 Till I were couching with the doctor’s clerk.
 Well, while I live, I’ll fear no other thing
 So sore as keeping safe Nerissa’s ring.
They exit.