Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Janelle Jenstad
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The Merchant of Venice (Folio 1, 1623)

The Merchant of Venice.
The slaues are ours. So do I answer you.
2005The pound of flesh which I demand of him
Is deerely bought, 'tis mine, and I will haue it.
If you deny me; fie vpon your Law,
There is no force in the decrees of Venice;
I stand for iudgement, answer, Shall I haue it?
2010Du. Vpon my power I may dismisse this Court,
Vnlesse Bellario a learned Doctor,
Whom I haue sent for to determine this,
Come heere to day.
Sal. My Lord, heere stayes without
2015A Messenger with Letters from the Doctor,
New come from Padua.
Du. Bring vs the Letters, Call the Messengers.
Bass. Good cheere Anthonio. What man, corage yet:
The Iew shall haue my flesh, blood, bones, and all,
2020Ere thou shalt loose for me one drop of blood.
Ant. I am a tainted Weather of the flocke,
Meetest for death, the weakest kinde of fruite
Drops earliest to the ground, and so let me;
You cannot better be employ'd Bassanio,
2025Then to liue still, and write mine Epitaph.

Enter Nerrissa.
Du. Came you from Padua from Bellario?
Ner. From both.
My Lord Bellario greets your Grace.
2030Bas. Why dost thou whet thy knife so earnestly?
Iew. To cut the forfeiture from that bankrout there.
Gra. Not on thy soale: but on thy soule harsh Iew
Thou mak'st thy knife keene: but no mettall can,
No, not the hangmans Axe beare halfe the keennesse
2035Of thy sharpe enuy. Can no prayers pierce thee?
Iew. No, none that thou hast wit enough to make.
Gra. O be thou damn'd, inexecrable dogge,
And for thy life let iustice be accus'd:
Thou almost mak'st me wauer in my faith;
2040To hold opinion with Pythagoras,
That soules of Animals infuse themselues
Into the trunkes of men. Thy currish spirit
Gouern'd a Wolfe, who hang'd for humane slaughter,
Euen from the gallowes did his fell soule fleet;
2045And whil'st thou layest in thy vnhallowed dam,
Infus'd it selfe in thee: For thy desires
Are Woluish, bloody, steru'd, and rauenous.
Iew. Till thou canst raile the seale from off my bond
Thou but offend'st thy Lungs to speake so loud:
2050Repaire thy wit good youth, or it will fall
To endlesse ruine. I stand heere for Law.
Du. This Letter from Bellario doth commend
A yong and Learned Doctor in our Court;
Where is he?
2055Ner. He attendeth heere hard by
To know your answer, whether you'l admit him.
Du. With all my heart. Some three or four of you
Go giue him curteous conduct to this place,
Meane time the Court shall heare Bellarioes Letter.

2060YOur Grace shall vnderstand, that at the receite of your
Letter I am very sicke: but in the instant that your mes-
senger came, in louing visitation, was with me a young Do-
ctor of Rome, his name is Balthasar: I acquained him with
the cause in Controuersie, betweene the Iew and Anthonio
2065the Merchant: We turn'd ore many Bookes together: hee is
furnished with my opinion, which bettred with his owne lear-
ning, the greatnesse whereof I cannot enough commend, comes
with him at my importunity, to fill vp your Graces request in
my sted. I beseech you, let his lacke of years be no impediment
2070to let him lacke a reuerend estimation: for I neuer knewe so
yong a body, with so old a head. I leaue him to your gracious
acceptance, whose trial shall better publish his commendation.

Enter Portia for Balthazar.

Duke. You heare the learn'd Bellario what he writes,
2075And heere (I take it) is the Doctor come.
Giue me your hand: Came you from old Bellario?
Por. I did my Lord.
Du. You are welcome: take your place;
Are you acquainted with the difference
2080That holds this present question in the Court.
Por. I am enformed throughly of the cause.
Which is the Merchant heere? and which the Iew?
Du. Anthonio and old Shylocke, both stand forth.
Por. Is your name Shylocke?
2085Iew. Shylocke is my name.
Por. Of a strange nature is the sute you follow,
Yet in such rule, that the Venetian Law
Cannot impugne you as you do proceed.
You stand within his danger, do you not?
2090Ant. I, so he sayes.
Por. Do you confesse the bond?
Ant. I do.
Por. Then must the Iew be mercifull.
Iew. On what compulsion must I? Tell me that.
2095Por. The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle raine from heauen
Vpon the place beneath. It is twice blest,
It blesseth him that giues, and him that takes,
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest, it becomes
2100The throned Monarch better then his Crowne.
His Scepter shewes the force of temporall power,
The attribute to awe and Maiestie,
Wherein doth sit the dread and feare of Kings:
But mercy is aboue this sceptred sway,
2105It is enthroned in the hearts of Kings,
It is an attribute to God himselfe;
And earthly power doth then shew likest Gods
When mercie seasons Iustice. Therefore Iew,
Though Iustice be thy plea, consider this,
2110That in the course of Iustice, none of vs
Should see saluation: we do pray for mercie,
And that same prayer, doth teach vs all to render
The deeds of mercie. I haue spoke thus much
To mittigate the iustice of thy plea:
2115Which if thou follow, this strict course of Venice
Must needes giue sentence 'gainst the Merchant there.
Shy. My deeds vpon my head, I craue the Law,
The penaltie and forfeite of my bond.
Por. Is he not able to discharge the money?
2120Bas. Yes, heere I tender it for him in the Court,
Yea, twice the summe, if that will not suffice,
I will be bound to pay it ten times ore,
On forfeit of my hands, my head, my heart:
If this will not suffice, it must appeare
2125That malice beares downe truth. And I beseech you
Wrest once the Law to your authority.
To do a great right, do a little wrong,
And curbe this cruell diuell of his will.
Por. It must not be, there is no power in Venice
2130Can alter a decree established:
'Twill be recorded for a President,