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  • Title: The Merchant of Venice (Quarto 1, 1600)
  • Editor: Janelle Jenstad

  • Copyright Janelle Jenstad. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Janelle Jenstad
    Not Peer Reviewed

    The Merchant of Venice (Quarto 1, 1600)

    Enter the Duke, the Magnificoes, Anthonio, Bassanio,
    and Gratiano.
    1830Duke. What, is Anthonio heere?
    Antho. Ready, so please your grace?
    Duke. I am sorry for thee, thou art come to aunswere
    a stonie aduersarie, an inhumaine wretch,
    vncapable of pitty, voyd, and empty
    1835from any dram of mercie.
    Antho. I haue heard
    your grace hath tane great paines to quallifie
    his rigorous course; but since he stands obdurate,
    And that no lawfull meanes can carry me
    1840out of his enuies reach, I doe oppose
    my patience to his furie, and am armd
    to suffer with a quietnes of spirit,
    the very tiranny and rage of his.
    Duke. Goe one and call the Iew into the Court.
    1845Salerio. He is ready at the dore, he comes my Lord.
    Enter Shylocke.
    Duke. Make roome, and let him stand before our face.
    Shylocke the world thinks, and I thinke so to
    that thou but leadest this fashion of thy mallice
    1850to the last houre of act, and then tis thought
    thowlt shew thy mercy and remorse more strange,
    than is thy strange apparant cruelty;
    and where thou now exacts the penalty,
    vvhich is a pound of this poore Merchants flesh,
    1855thou wilt not onely loose the forfaiture,
    but toucht with humaine gentlenes and loue:
    Forgiue a moytie of the principall,
    glauncing an eye of pitty on his losses
    that haue of late so hudled on his backe,
    1860Enow to presse a royall Merchant downe;
    And pluck comiseration of this states
    from brassie bosomes and rough harts of flints,
    from stubborne Turkes, and Tarters neuer traind
    to offices of tender curtesie:
    1865We all expect a gentle aunswere Iewe?
    Iewe. I haue possest your grace of what I purpose,
    and by our holy Sabaoth haue I sworne
    to haue the due and forfet of my bond,
    if you deny it, let the danger light
    1870vpon your charter and your Citties freedome?
    Youle aske me why I rather choose to haue
    a weight of carrion flesh, then to receaue
    three thousand ducats: Ile not aunswer that?
    But say it is my humour, is it aunswerd?
    1875What if my house be troubled with a Rat,
    and I be pleasd to giue ten thousand ducats
    to haue it baind? vvhat, are you aunswerd yet?
    Some men there are loue not a gaping pigge?
    Some that are mad if they behold a Cat?
    1880And others when the bagpipe sings ith nose,
    cannot containe their vrine for affection.
    Maisters of passion swayes it to the moode
    of what it likes or loathes, now for your aunswer:
    As there is no firme reason to be rendred
    1885vvhy he cannot abide a gaping pigge?
    vvhy he a harmelesse necessarie Cat?
    vvhy he a woollen bagpipe: but of force
    must yeeld to such in euitable shame,
    as to offend himselfe being offended:
    1890So can I giue no reason, nor I will not,
    more then a lodgd hate, and a certaine loathing
    I beare Anthonio, that I follow thus
    a loosing sute against him? are you aunswered?
    Bass. This is no aunswer thou vnfeeling man,
    1895to excuse the currant of thy cruelty?
    Iewe. I am not bound to please thee with my answers?
    Bass. Doe all men kill the things they doe not loue?
    Iewe. Hates any man the thing he would not kill?
    Bass. Euery offence is not a hate at first?
    1900Iewe. What wouldst thou haue a serpent sting thee twice?
    Anth. I pray you think you question with the Iewe,
    you may as well goe stand vpon the Beach
    and bid the maine flood bate his vsuall height,
    you may as vvell vse question with the Woolfe
    1905the Ewe bleake for the Lambe:
    You may as well forbid the mountaine of Pines
    to wag their high tops, and to make no noise
    vvhen they are fretten with the gusts of heauen:
    You may as well doe any thing most hard
    1910as seeke to soften that then which what's harder:
    his Iewish hart? therefore I doe beseech you
    make no moe offers, vse no farther meanes,
    but with all briefe and plaine conueniencie
    let me haue iudgement, and the Iewe his will?
    1915Bass. For thy three thousand ducats heere is sixe?
    Iewe. If euery ducat in sixe thousand ducats
    vvere in sixe parts, and euery part a ducat,
    I would not draw them, I would haue my bond?
    Duk. How shalt thou hope for mercy rendring none?
    1920Iewe. What iudgment shall I dread doing no wrong?
    you haue among you many a purchast slaue,
    vvhich 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,
    1925let them be free, marry them to your heires?
    vvhy sweat they vnder burthens, let their beds
    be made as soft as yours, and let their pallats
    be seasond with such viands, you will aunswer
    the slaues are ours, so doe I aunswer you:
    1930The pound of flesh which I demaund of him
    is deerely bought, as 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, aunswer, shall I haue it?
    1935Duke. 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?
    Salerio. My Lord, heere stayes without
    1940a messenger with letters from the Doctor,
    new come from Padua?
    Duke. Bring vs the letters? call the Messenger?
    Bass. Good cheere Anthonio? what man, courage yet:
    The Iew shall haue my flesh, blood, bones and all,
    1945ere thou shalt loose for me one drop of blood?
    Antho. I am a tainted vveather of the flocke,
    meetest for death, the weakest kind of fruite
    drops earliest to the ground, and so let me;
    You cannot better be imployd Bassanio,
    1950then to liue still and write mine Epitaph?
    Enter Nerrissa.
    Duke. Came you from Padua from Bellario?
    Ner. From both? my L. Bellario greetes your grace?
    Bass. Why doost thou whet thy knife so earnestly?
    1955Iewe. To cut the forfaiture from that bankrout there?
    Gratia. Not on thy soule: but on thy soule harsh Iew
    thou makst thy knife keene: but no mettell can,
    no, not the hangmans axe beare halfe the keenenesse
    of thy sharpe enuie: can no prayers pearce thee?
    1960Iewe. No, none that thou hast wit enough to make.
    Gratia. O be thou damnd, inexecrable dogge,
    And for thy life let iustice be accusd;
    Thou almost mak'st me wauer in my faith,
    to hold opinion with Pythagoras,
    1965that soules of Animalls infuse themselues
    into the trunks of men: Thy currish spirit
    gouernd a Woolfe, who hangd for humaine slaughter
    euen from the gallowes did his fell soule fleete,
    and whilest thou layest in thy vnhallowed dam;
    1970infusd it selfe in thee: for thy desires
    are vvoluish, bloody, staru'd, and rauenous.
    Iewe. Till thou canst raile the seale from off my bond,
    Thou but offendst thy lungs to speake so loud:
    Repaire thy wit good youth, or it will fall
    1975to curelesse ruine. I stand heere for law.
    Duke. This letter from Bellario doth commend
    a young and learned Doctor to our Court:
    Where is he?
    Ner. He attendeth here hard by
    1980to know your aunswer whether youle admit him.
    Duke. With all my hart: some three or foure of you
    goe giue him curteous conduct to this place,
    meane time the Court shall heare Bellarios letter.
    Your Grace shall vnderstand, that at the receit of your letter I
    1985am very sicke, but in the instant that your messenger came, in lo-
    uing visitation was with me a young Doctor of Rome, his name is
    Balthazer: I acquainted him with the cause in cōtrouersie between
    the Iew and Anthonio the Merchant, wee turnd ore many bookes
    together, hee is furnished with my opinion, which bettered vvith
    1990his owne learning, the greatnes whereof I cannot enough com-
    mend, comes with him at my importunitie, to fill vp your graces
    request in my stead. I beseech you let his lacke of yeeres be no im-
    pediment to let him lacke a reuerend estimation, for I neuer knew
    so young a body with so olde a head: I leaue him to your gracious
    1995acceptance, whose tryall shall better publish his commendation.
    Enter Portia for Balthazer.
    Duke. You heare the learnd Bellario what he writes,
    and heere I take it is the doctor come.
    Giue me your hand, come you from old Bellario?
    2000Portia. I did my Lord.
    Duke. You are welcome, take your place:
    are you acquainted with the difference
    that holds this present question in the Court.
    Por. I am enformed throughly of the cause,
    2005vvhich is the Merchant here? and which the Iew?
    Duke. Anthonio and old Shylocke, both stand forth.
    Por. Is your name Shylocke?
    Iew. Shylocke is my name.
    Por. Of a strange nature is the sute you follow,
    2010yet in such rule, that the Venetian law
    cannot impugne you as you doe proceed.
    You stand within his danger, doe you not.
    An. I, so he sayes.
    Por. Doe you confesse the bond?
    2015An. I doe.
    Por. Then must the Iew be mercifull.
    Shy. On what compulsion must I, tell me that.
    Por. The qualitie of mercie is not straind,
    it droppeth as the gentle raine from heauen
    2020vpon the place beneath: it is twise blest,
    it blesseth him that giues, and him that takes,
    tis mightiest in the mightiest, it becomes
    the throned Monarch better then his crowne.
    His scepter showes the force of temporall power,
    2025the attribut to awe and maiestie,
    vvherein doth sit the dread and feare of Kings:
    but mercie is aboue this sceptred sway,
    it is enthroned in the harts of Kings,
    it is an attribut to God himselfe;
    2030and earthly power doth then show likest gods
    vvhen mercie seasons iustice: therefore Iew,
    though iustice be thy plea, consider this,
    that in the course of iustice, none of vs
    should see saluation: vve doe pray for mercy,
    2035and that same prayer, doth teach vs all to render
    the deedes of mercie. I haue spoke thus much
    to mittigate the iustice of thy plea,
    vvhich if thou follow, this strict Court of Venice
    must needes giue sentence gainst the Merchant there.
    2040Shy. My deeds vpon my head, I craue the law,
    the penalty and forfaite of my bond.
    Por. Is he not able to discharge the money?
    Bass. Yes, heere I tender it for him in the Court,
    yea, twise the summe, if that will not suffise,
    2045I will be bound to pay it ten times ore
    on forfait of my hands, my head, my hart,
    if this will not suffise, it must appeare
    that malice beares downe truth. And I beseech you
    wrest once the law to your authoritie,
    2050to doe a great right, doe a little wrong,
    and curbe this cruell deuill of his will.
    Por. It must not be, there is no power in Venice
    can altar a decree established:
    twill be recorded for a precedent,
    2055and many an errour by the same example
    will rush into the state, it cannot be.
    Shy. A Daniell come to iudgement: yea a Daniell.
    O wise young Iudge how I doe honour thee.
    Por. I pray you let me looke vpon the bond.
    2060Shy. Heere tis most reuerend doctor, here it is.
    Por. Shylocke theres thrice thy money offred thee.
    Shy. An oath, an oath, I haue an oath in heauen,
    shall I lay periurie vpon my soule?
    Not not for Venice.
    2065Por. Why this bond is forfait,
    and lawfully by this the Iew may claime
    a pound of flesh, to be by him cut off
    neerest the Merchants hart: be mercifull,
    take thrice thy money, bid me teare the bond.
    2070Shy. When it is payd, according to the tenure.
    It doth appeare you are a worthy iudge,
    you know the law, your exposition
    hath beene most sound: I charge you by the law,
    vvhereof you are a well deseruing piller,
    2075proceede to iudgement: by my soule I sweare,
    there is no power in the tongue of man
    to alter me, I stay here on my Bond,
    An. Most hartelie I doe beseech the Court
    to giue the iudgement.
    2080Por. Why than thus it is,
    you must prepare your bosome for his knife.
    Shy. O noble Iudge, ô excellent young man.
    Por. For the intent and purpose of the law
    hath full relation to the penaltie,
    2085vvhich heere appeareth due vpon the bond.
    Iew. Tis very true: ô wise and vpright Iudge,
    how much more elder art thou then thy lookes.
    Por. Therefore lay bare your bosome.
    Iew. I, his breast,
    2090so sayes the bond, doth it not noble Iudge?
    Neerest his hart, those are the very words.
    Por. It is so, are there ballance here to weigh the flesh?
    Iew. I haue them ready.
    Por. Haue by some Surgion Shylocke on your charge,
    2095to stop his wounds, least he doe bleede to death.
    Iew. Is it so nominated in the bond?
    Por. It is not so exprest, but what of that?
    Twere good you doe so much for charitie.
    Iew. I cannot finde it, tis not in the bond.
    2100Por. You Merchant, haue you any thing to say?
    Ant. But little; I am armd and well prepard,
    giue me your hand Bassanio, far you well,
    greeue not that I am falne to this for you:
    for heerein Fortune showes her selfe more kind
    2105then is her custome: it is still her vse
    to let the wretched man out-liue his wealth,
    to view with hollow eye and wrinckled brow
    an age of pouertie: from which lingring pennance
    of such misery doth she cut me of.
    2110Commend me to your honourable wife,
    tell her the processe of Anthonios end,
    say how I lou'd you, speake me faire in death:
    and when the tale is told, bid her be iudge
    vvhether Bassanio had not once a loue:
    2115Repent but you that you shall loose your friend
    and he repents not that he payes your debt.
    For if the Iew doe cut but deepe enough,
    Ile pay it instantly with all my hart.
    Bass. Anthonio, I am married to a wife
    2120which is as deere to me as life it selfe,
    but life it selfe, my wife, and all the world,
    are not with me esteemd aboue thy life.
    I would loose all, I sacrifize them all
    heere to this deuill, to deliuer you.
    2125Por. Your wife would giue you little thankes for that
    if she were by to heare you make the offer.
    Gra. I haue a wife who I protest I loue,
    I would she were in heauen, so she could
    intreate some power to change this currish Iew.
    2130Ner. Tis well you offer it behind her back,
    the wish would make else an vnquiet house.
    Iew. These be the christian husbands, I haue a daughter
    vvould any of the stocke of Barrabas
    had beene her husband, rather then a Christian.
    2135We trifle time, I pray thee pursue sentence.
    Por. A pound of that same Merchants flesh is thine,
    the Court awards it, and the law doth giue it.
    Iew. Most rightfull Iudge.
    Por. And you must cut this flesh from off his breast,
    2140the law alowes it, and the court awards it.
    Iew. Most learned Iudge, a sentence, come prepare.
    Por. Tarry a little, there is some thing else,
    this bond doth giue thee heere no iote of blood,
    the words expresly are a pound of flesh:
    2145take then thy bond, take thou thy pound of flesh,
    but in the cutting it, if thou doost shed
    one drop of Christian blood, thy lands and goods
    are by the lawes of Venice confiscate
    vnto the state of Venice.
    2150Gra. O vpright Iudge,
    Marke Iew, ô learned Iudge.
    Shy. Is that the law?
    Por. Thy selfe shalt see the Act:
    for as thou vrgest iustice, be assurd
    2155thou shalt haue iustice more then thou desirst.
    Gra. O learned iudge, mark Iew, a learned iudge.
    Iew. I take this offer then, pay the bond thrice
    and let the Christian goe.
    Bass. Heere is the money.
    2160Por. Soft, the Iew shal haue all iustice, soft no hast,
    he shall haue nothing but the penalty.
    Gra. O Iew, an vpright Iudge, a learned Iudge.
    Por. Therefore prepare thee to cut of the flesh,
    Shed thou no blood, nor cut thou lesse nor more
    2165but iust a pound of flesh: if thou tak'st more
    or lesse then a iust pound, be it but so much
    as makes it light or heauy in the substance,
    or the deuision of the twentith part
    of one poore scruple, nay if the scale doe turne
    2170but in the estimation of a hayre,
    thou dyest, and all thy goods are confiscate.
    Gra. A second Daniell, a Daniell Iew,
    now infidell I haue you on the hip.
    Por. Why doth the Iew pause, take thy forfaiture.
    2175Shy. Giue me my principall, and let me goe.
    Bass. I haue it ready for thee, here it is.
    Por. Hee hath refusd it in the open Court,
    hee shall haue meerely iustice and his bond.
    Gra. A Daniell still say I, a second Daniell,
    2180I thanke thee Iew for teaching me that word.
    Shy. Shall I not haue barely my principall?
    Por. Thou shalt haue nothing but the forfaiture
    to be so taken at thy perrill Iew.
    Shy. Why then the deuill giue him good of it:
    2185Ile stay no longer question.
    Por. Tarry Iew,
    the law hath yet another hold on you.
    It is enacted in the lawes of Venice,
    if it be proued against an alien,
    2190that by direct, or indirect attempts
    he seeke the life of any Cittizen,
    the party gainst the which he doth contriue,
    shall seaze one halfe his goods, the other halfe
    comes to the priuie coffer of the State,
    2195and the offenders life lies in the mercy
    of the Duke onely, gainst all other voyce.
    In which predicament I say thou standst:
    for it appeares by manifest proceeding,
    that indirectly, and directly to
    2200thou hast contriued against the very life
    of the defendant: and thou hast incurd
    the danger formorly by me rehearst.
    Downe therefore, and beg mercie of the Duke.
    Gra. Beg that thou maist haue leaue to hang thy selfe,
    2205and yet thy wealth beeing forfait to the state,
    thou hast not left the value of a cord,
    therefore thou must be hangd at the states charge.
    Duke. That thou shalt see the difference of our spirit
    I pardon thee thy life before thou aske it:
    2210for halfe thy wealth, it is Anthonios,
    the other halfe comes to the generall state,
    vvhich humblenes may driue vnto a fine.
    Por. I for the state, not for Anthonio.
    Shy. Nay, take my life and all, pardon not that,
    2215you take my house, when you doe take the prop
    that doth sustaine my house: you take my life
    vvhen you doe take the meanes whereby I liue.
    Por. What mercy can you render him Anthonio?
    Gra. A halter gratis, nothing else for Godsake.
    2220Anth. So please my Lord the Duke, & all the Court
    to quit the fine for one halfe of his goods,
    I am content: so he will let me haue
    the other halfe in vse, to render it
    vpon his death vnto the Gentleman
    2225that lately stole his daughter.
    Two things prouided more, that for this fauour
    he presently become a Christian:
    the other, that he doe record a gift
    heere in the Court of all he dies possest
    2230vnto his sonne Lorenzo and his daughter.
    Duke. He shall doe this, or else I doe recant
    the pardon that I late pronounced heere.
    Por. Art thou contented Iew? what dost thou say?
    Shy. I am content.
    2235Por. Clarke, draw a deede of gift.
    Shy. I pray you giue me leaue to goe from hence,
    I am not well, send the deede after me,
    and I will signe it.
    Duke. Get thee gone, but doe it.
    2240Shy. In christning shalt thou haue two Godfathers,
    had I beene iudge, thou shouldst haue had ten more,
    to bring thee to the gallowes, not to the font.
    Duke. Sir I entreate you home with me to dinner.
    Por. I humbly doe desire your Grace of pardon,
    2245I must away this night toward Padua,
    and it is meete I presently set forth.
    Duke. I am sorry that your leysure serues you not.
    Anthonio, gratifie this gentleman,
    for in my mind you are much bound to him.
    Exit Duke and his traine.
    Bass. Most worthy gentleman, I and my friend
    haue by your wisedome been this day aquitted
    of greeuous penalties, in lewe whereof,
    three thousand ducats due vnto the Iew
    2255wee freely cope your curtious paines withall.
    An. And stand indebted ouer and aboue
    in loue and seruice to you euer-more.
    Por. Hee is well payd that is well satisfied,
    and I deliuering you, am satisfied,
    2260and therein doe account my selfe well payd,
    my minde was neuer yet more mercinarie.
    I pray you know me when we meete againe,
    I wish you well, and so I take my leaue.
    Bass. Deere sir, of force I must attempt you further,
    2265take some remembrance of vs as a tribute,
    not as fee: graunt me two things I pray you,
    not to deny me, and to pardon me.
    Por. You presse me farre, and therefore I wil yeeld,
    giue mee your gloues, Ile weare them for your sake,
    2270and for your loue ile take this ring from you,
    doe not draw back your hand, ile take no more,
    and you in loue shall not denie me this?
    Bass. This ring good sir, alas it is a trifle,
    I will not shame my selfe to giue you this?
    2275Por. I will haue nothing else but onely this,
    and now me thinks I haue a minde to it?
    Bass. 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,
    2280onely for this I pray you pardon me?
    Por. I see sir you are liberall in offers,
    you taught me first to beg, and now me thinks
    you teach me how a begger should be aunswerd.
    Bass. Good sir, this ring was giuen me by my wife,
    2285and when she put it on, she made me vowe
    that I should neither sell, nor giue, nor loose it.
    Por. 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,
    2290she would not hold out enemy for euer
    for giuing it to me: vvell, peace be with you.
    Anth. My L. Bassanio, let him haue the ring,
    let his deseruings and my loue withall
    be valued gainst your wiues commaundement.
    2295Bass. Goe Gratiano, runne and ouer-take him,
    giue him the ring, and bring him if thou canst
    vnto Anthonios house, away, make hast.
    Exit Gratiano.
    Come, you and I will thither presently,
    and in the morning early will we both
    2300flie toward Belmont, come Anthonio.