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


Actus Quartus.
Enter the Duke, the Magnificoes, Anthonio, Bassanio, and
Gratiano.
Duke. What, is Anthonio heere?
1905Ant. Ready, so please your grace?
Duke. I am sorry for thee, thou art come to answere
A stonie aduersary, an inhumane wretch,
Vncapable of pitty, voyd, and empty
From any dram of mercie.
1910Ant. I haue heard
Your Grace hath tane great paines to qualifie
His rigorous course: but since he stands obdurate,
And that no lawful meanes can carrie me
Out of his enuies reach, I do oppose
1915My patience to his fury, and am arm'd
To suffer with a quietnesse of spirit,
The very tiranny and rage of his.
Du. Go one and cal the Iew into the Court.
Sal. He is ready at the doore, he comes my Lord.
1920
Enter Shylocke.
Du. Make roome, and let him stand before our face.
Shylocke the world thinkes, and I thinke so to
That thou but leadest this fashion of thy mallice
To the last houre of act, and then 'tis thought
1925Thou'lt shew thy mercy and remorse more strange,
Than is thy strange apparant cruelty;
And where thou now exact'st the penalty,
Which is a pound of this poore Merchants flesh,
Thou wilt not onely loose the forfeiture,
1930But touch'd with humane gentlenesse and loue:
Forgiue a moytie of the principall,
Glancing an eye of pitty on his losses
That haue of late so hudled on his backe,
Enow to presse a royall Merchant downe;
1935And plucke commiseration of his state
From brassie bosomes, and rough hearts of flints,
From stubborne Turkes and Tarters neuer traind
To offices of tender curtesie,
We all expect a gentle answer Iew?
1940Iew. I haue possest your grace of what I purpose,
And by our holy Sabbath haue I sworne
To haue the due and forfeit of my bond.
If you denie it, let the danger light
Vpon your Charter, and your Cities freedome.
1945You'l aske me why I rather choose to haue
A weight of carrion flesh, then to receiue
Three thousand Ducats? Ile not answer that:
But say it is my humor; Is it answered?
What if my house be troubled with a Rat,
1950And I be pleas'd to giue ten thousand Ducates
To haue it bain'd? What, are you answer'd yet?
Some men there are loue not a gaping Pigge:
Some that are mad, if they behold a Cat:
And others, when the bag-pipe sings i'th nose,
1955Cannot containe their Vrine for affection.
Masters of passion swayes it to the moode
Of what it likes or loaths, now for your answer:
As there is no firme reason to be rendred
Why he cannot abide a gaping Pigge?
1960Why he a harmlesse necessarie Cat?
Why he a woollen bag-pipe: but of force
Must yeeld to such ineuitable shame,
As to offend himselfe being offended:
So can I giue no reason, nor I will not,
1965More then a lodg'd hate, and a certaine loathing
I beare Anthonio, that I follow thus
A loosing suite against him? Are you answered?
Bass. This is no answer thou vnfeeling man,
To excuse the currant of thy cruelty.
1970Iew. I am not bound to please thee with my answer.
Bass. Do all men kil the things they do not loue?
Iew. Hates any man the thing he would not kill?
Bass. Euerie offence is not a hate at first.
Iew. What wouldst thou haue a Serpent sting thee
1975twice?
Ant. I pray you thinke you question with the Iew:
You may as well go stand vpon the beach,
And bid the maine flood baite his vsuall height,
Or euen as well vse question with the Wolfe,
1980The Ewe bleate for the Lambe:
You may as well forbid the Mountaine Pines
To wagge their high tops, and to make no noise
When they are fretted with the gusts of heauen:
You may as well do any thing most hard,
1985As seeke to soften that, then which what harder?
His Iewish heart. Therefore I do beseech you
Make no more offers, vse no farther meanes,
But with all briefe and plaine conueniencie
Let me haue iudgement, and the Iew his will.
1990Bas. For thy three thousand Ducates heere is six.
Iew. If euerie Ducat in sixe thousand Ducates
Were in sixe parts, and euery part a Ducate,
I would not draw them, I would haue my bond?
Du. How shalt thou hope for mercie, rendring none?
1995Iew. What iudgement shall I dread doing no wrong?
You haue among you many a purchast slaue,
Which like your Asses, and your Dogs and Mules,
You vse in abiect and in slauish parts,
Because you bought them. Shall I say to you,
2000Let them be free, marrie them to your heires?
Why sweate they vnder burthens? Let their beds
Be made as soft as yours: and let their pallats
Be season'd with such Viands: you will answer
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,
And many an error by the same example,
Will rush into the state: It cannot be.
Iew. A Daniel come to iudgement, yea a Daniel.
2135O wise young Iudge, how do I honour thee.
Por. I pray you let me looke vpon the bond.
Iew. Heere 'tis most reuerend Doctor, heere it is.
Por. Shylocke, there's thrice thy monie offered thee.
Shy. An oath, an oath, I haue an oath in heauen:
2140Shall I lay periurie vpon my soule?
No not for Venice.
Por. Why this bond is forfeit,
And lawfully by this the Iew may claime
A pound of flesh, to be by him cut off
2145Neerest the Merchants heart; be mercifull,
Take thrice thy money, bid me teare the bond.
Iew. When it is paid according to the tenure.
It doth appeare you are a worthy Iudge:
You know the Law, your exposition
2150Hath beene most sound. I charge you by the Law,
Whereof you are a well-deseruing pillar,
Proceede to iudgement: By my soule I sweare,
There is no power in the tongue of man
To alter me: I stay heere on my bond.
2155An. Most heartily I do beseech the Court
To giue the iudgement.
Por. Why then thus it is:
you must prepare your bosome for his knife.
Iew. O noble Iudge, O excellent yong man.
2160Por. For the intent and purpose of the Law
Hath full relation to the penaltie,
Which heere appeareth due vpon the bond.
Iew. 'Tis verie true: O wise and vpright Iudge,
How much more elder art thou then thy lookes?
2165Por. Therefore lay bare your bosome.
Iew. I, his brest,
So sayes the bond, doth it not noble Iudge?
Neerest his heart, those are the very words.
Por. It is so: Are there ballance heere to weigh the
2170flesh?
Iew. I haue them ready.
Por. Haue by some Surgeon Shylock on your charge
To stop his wounds, least he should bleede to death.
Iew. It is not nominated in the bond?
2175Por. It is not so exprest: but what of that?
'Twere good you do so much for charitie.
Iew. I cannot finde it, 'tis not in the bond.
Por. Come Merchant, haue you any thing to say?
Ant. But little: I am arm'd and well prepar'd.
2180Giue me your hand Bassanio, fare you well.
Greeue not that I am falne to this for you:
For heerein fortune shewes her selfe more kinde
Then is her custome. It is still her vse
To let the wretched man out-liue his wealth,
2185To view with hollow eye, and wrinkled brow
An age of pouerty. From which lingring penance
Of such miserie, doth she cut me off:
Commend me to your honourable Wife,
Tell her the processe of Anthonio's end:
2190Say how I lou'd you; speake me faire in death:
And when the tale is told, bid her be iudge,
Whether Bassanio had not once a Loue:
Repent not you that you shall loose your friend,
And he repents not that he payes your debt.
2195For if the Iew do cut but deepe enough,
Ile pay it instantly, with all my heart.
Bas. Anthonio, I am married to a wife,
Which is as deere to me as life it selfe,
But life it selfe, my wife, and all the world,
2200Are not with me esteem'd aboue thy life.
I would loose all, I sacrifice them all
Heere to this deuill, to deliuer you.
Por. Your wife would giue you little thanks for that
If she were by to heare you make the offer.
2205Gra. I haue a wife whom I protest I loue,
I would she were in heauen, so she could
Intreat some power to change this currish Iew.
Ner. 'Tis well you offer it behinde her backe,
The wish would make else an vnquiet house.
2210Iew. These be the Christian husbands: I haue a daugh-
Would any of the stocke of Barrabas
Had beene her husband, rather then a Christian.
We trifle time, I pray thee pursue sentence.
Por. A pound of that same marchants flesh is thine,
2215The Court awards it, and the law doth giue it.
Iew. Most rightfull Iudge.
Por. And you must cut this flesh from off his breast,
The Law allowes it, and the Court awards it.
Iew. Most learned Iudge, a sentence, come prepare.
2220Por. Tarry a little, there is something else,
This bond doth giue thee heere no iot of bloud,
The words expresly are a pound of flesh:
Then take thy bond, take thou thy pound of flesh,
But in the cutting it, if thou dost shed
2225One drop of Christian bloud, thy lands and goods
Are by the Lawes of Venice confiscate
Vnto the state of Venice.
Gra. O vpright Iudge,
Marke Iew, ô learned Iudge.
2230Shy. Is that the law?
Por. Thy selfe shalt see the Act:
For as thou vrgest iustice, be assur'd
Thou shalt haue iustice more then thou desirest.
Gra. O learned Iudge, mark Iew, a learned Iudge.
2235Iew. I take this offer then, pay the bond thrice,
And let the Christian goe.
Bass. Heere is the money.
Por. Soft, the Iew shall haue all iustice, soft, no haste,
He shall haue nothing but the penalty.
2240Gra. O Iew, an vpright Iudge, a learned Iudge.
Por. Therefore prepare thee to cut off the flesh,
Shed thou no bloud, nor cut thou lesse nor more
But iust a pound of flesh: if thou tak'st more
Or lesse then a iust pound, be it so much
2245As makes it light or heauy in the substance,
Or the deuision of the twentieth part
Of one poore scruple, nay if the scale doe turne
But in the estimation of a hayre,
Thou diest, and all thy goods are confiscate.
2250Gra. A second Daniel, a Daniel Iew,
Now infidell I haue thee on the hip.
Por. Why doth the Iew pause, take thy forfeiture.
Shy. Giue me my principall, and let me goe.
Bass. I haue it ready for thee, heere it is.
2255Por. He hath refus'd it in the open Court,
He shall haue meerly iustice and his bond.
Gra. A Daniel still say I, a second Daniel,
I thanke thee Iew for teaching me that word.
Shy. Shall I not haue barely my principall?
2260Por. Thou shalt haue nothing but the forfeiture,
To be taken so at thy perill Iew.
Shy. Why then the Deuill giue him good of it:
Ile stay no longer question.
Por. Tarry Iew,
2265The Law hath yet another hold on you.
It is enacted in the Lawes of Venice,
If it be proued against an Alien,
That by direct, or indirect attempts
He seeke the life of any Citizen,
2270The party gainst the which he doth contriue,
Shall seaze one halfe his goods, the other halfe
Comes to the priuie coffer of the State,
And the offenders life lies in the mercy
Of the Duke onely, gainst all other voice.
2275In which predicament I say thou standst:
For it appeares by manifest proceeding,
That indirectly, and directly to,
Thou hast contriu'd against the very life
Of the defendant: and thou hast incur'd
2280The danger formerly by me rehearst.
Downe therefore, and beg mercy of the Duke.
Gra. Beg that thou maist haue leaue to hang thy selfe,
And yet thy wealth being forfeit to the state,
Thou hast not left the value of a cord,
2285Therefore thou must be hang'd at the states charge.
Duk. That thou shalt see the difference of our spirit,
I pardon thee thy life before thou aske it:
For halfe thy wealth, it is Anthonio's,
The other halfe comes to the generall state,
2290Which humblenesse may driue vnto a fine.
Por. I for the state, not for Anthonio.
Shy. Nay, take my life and all, pardon not that,
You take my house, when you do take the prop
That doth sustaine my house: you take my life
2295When you doe take the meanes whereby I liue.
Por. What mercy can you render him Anthonio?
Gra. A halter gratis, nothing else for Gods sake.
Ant. So please my Lord the Duke, and all the Court
To quit the fine for one halfe of his goods,
2300I am content: so he will let me haue
The other halfe in vse, to render it
Vpon his death, vnto the Gentleman
That lately stole his daughter.
Two things prouided more, that for this fauour
2305He presently become a Christian:
The other, that he doe record a gift
Heere in the Court of all he dies possest
Vnto his sonne Lorenzo, and his daughter.
Duk. He shall doe this, or else I doe recant
2310The pardon that I late pronounced heere.
Por. Art thou contented Iew? what dost thou say?
Shy. I am content.
Por. Clarke, draw a deed of gift.
Shy. I pray you giue me leaue to goe from hence,
2315I am not well, send the deed after me,
And I will signe it.
Duke. Get thee gone, but doe it.
Gra. In christning thou shalt haue two godfathers,
Had I been iudge, thou shouldst haue had ten more,
2320To bring thee to the gallowes, not to the font.
Exit.
Du. Sir I intreat you with me home to dinner.
Por. I humbly doe desire your Grace of pardon,
I must away this night toward Padua,
And it is meete I presently set forth.
2325Duk. I am sorry that your leysure serues you not:
Anthonio, gratifie this gentleman,
For in my minde you are much bound to him.
Exit Duke and his traine.
Bass. Most worthy gentleman, I and my friend
2330Haue by your wisedome beene this day acquitted
Of greeuous penalties, in lieu whereof,
Three thousand Ducats due vnto the Iew
We freely cope your curteous paines withall.
An. And stand indebted ouer and aboue
2335In loue and seruice to you euermore.
Por. He is well paid that is well satisfied,
And I deliuering you, am satisfied,
And therein doe account my selfe well paid,
My minde was neuer yet more mercinarie.
2340I pray you know me when we meete againe,
I wish you well, and so I take my leaue.
Bass. Deare sir, of force I must attempt you further,
Take some remembrance of vs as a tribute,
Not as fee: grant me two things, I pray you
2345Not to denie me, and to pardon me.
Por. You presse mee farre, and therefore I will yeeld,
Giue me your gloues, Ile weare them for your sake,
And for your loue Ile take this ring from you,
Doe not draw backe your hand, ile take no more,
2350And you in loue shall not deny me this?
Bass. This ring good sir, alas it is a trifle,
I will not shame my selfe to giue you this.
Por. I wil haue nothing else but onely this,
And now methinkes I haue a minde to it.
2355Bas. There's more depends on this then on the valew,
The dearest ring in Venice will I giue you,
And finde it out by proclamation,
Onely for this I pray you pardon me.
Por. I see sir you are liberall in offers,
2360You taught me first to beg, and now me thinkes
You teach me how a beggar should be answer'd.
Bas. Good sir, this ring was giuen me by my wife,
And when she put it on, she made me vow
That I should neither sell, nor giue, nor lose it.
2365Por. That scuse serues many men to saue their gifts,
And if your wife be not a mad woman,
And know how well I haue deseru'd this ring,
Shee would not hold out enemy for euer
For giuing it to me: well, peace be with you.
Exeunt.
2370Ant. My L. Bassanio, let him haue the ring,
Let his deseruings and my loue withall
Be valued against your wiues commandement.
Bass. Goe Gratiano, run and ouer-take him,
Giue him the ring, and bring him if thou canst
2375Vnto Anthonios house, away, make haste.
Exit Grati.
Come, you and I will thither presently,
And in the morning early will we both
Flie toward Belmont, come Anthonio.
Exeunt.