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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    Not Peer Reviewed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 Lorenzo and Iessica.
    Lor. The moone shines bright. In such a night as this,
    vvhen the sweet winde did gently kisse the trees,
    and they did make no noyse, in such a night
    Troylus me thinks mounted the Troian walls,
    2330and sigh'd his soule toward the Grecian tents
    vvhere Cressed lay that night.
    Iessi. In such a night
    did Thisbie fearefully ore-trip the dewe,
    and saw the Lyons shadow ere him selfe,
    2335and ranne dismayed away.
    Loren. In such a night
    stoode Dido with a willow in her hand
    vpon the wilde sea banks, and waft her Loue
    to come againe to Carthage.
    2340Iessi. In such a night
    Medea gathered the inchanted hearbs
    that did renew old Eson.
    Loren. In such a night
    did Iessica steale from the wealthy Iewe,
    2345and with an vnthrift loue did runne from Venice,
    as farre as Belmont.
    Iessi. In such a night
    did young Lorenzo sweare he loued her well,
    stealing her soule with many vowes of faith,
    2350and nere a true one.
    Loren. In such a night
    did pretty Iessica (like a little shrow)
    slaunder her Loue, and he forgaue it her.
    Iessi. I would out-night you did no body come:
    2355But harke, I heare the footing of a man.
    Enter a Messenger.
    Loren. Who comes so fast in silence of the night?
    Messen. A friend?
    Loren. A friend, what friend, your name I pray you friend?
    2360Mess. Stephano is my name, and I bring word
    my Mistres will before the breake of day
    be heere at Belmont, she doth stray about
    by holy crosses where she kneeles and prayes
    for happy wedlock houres.
    2365Loren. Who comes with her?
    Mess. None but a holy Hermit and her mayd:
    I pray you is my Maister yet returnd?
    Loren. He is not, nor we haue not heard from him,
    But goe we in I pray thee Iessica,
    2370and ceremoniously let vs prepare
    some welcome for the Mistres of the house.
    Enter Clowne.
    Clowne. Sola, sola: wo ha, ho sola, sola.
    Loren. Who calls?
    Clo. Sola, did you see M. Lorenzo, & M. Lorenzo sola, sola.
    2375Loren. Leaue hollowing man, heere.
    Clowne. Sola, where, where?
    Loren. Heere?
    Clow. Tell him there's a Post come from my Maister, with his
    horne full of good newes, my Maister will be heere ere morning
    2380sweete soule.
    Loren. Let's in, and there expect their comming.
    And yet no matter: why should we goe in.
    My friend Stephen, signifie I pray you
    vvithin the house, your mistres is at hand,
    2385and bring your musique foorth into the ayre.
    How sweet the moone-light sleepes vpon this banke,
    heere will we sit, and let the sounds of musique
    creepe in our eares soft stilnes, and the night
    become the tutches of sweet harmonie:
    2390sit Iessica, looke how the floore of heauen
    is thick inlayed with pattens of bright gold,
    there's not the smallest orbe which thou beholdst
    but in his motion like an Angell sings,
    still quiring to the young eyde Cherubins;
    2395such harmonie is in immortall soules,
    but whilst this muddy vesture of decay
    dooth grosly close it in, we cannot heare it:
    Come hoe, and wake Diana with a himne,
    vvith sweetest tutches pearce your mistres eare,
    2400and draw her home with musique.
    play Musique.
    Iessi. I am neuer merry when I heare sweet musique.
    Loren. The reason is your spirits are attentiue:
    for doe but note a wild and wanton heard
    or race of youthfull and vnhandled colts
    2405fetching mad bounds, bellowing and neghing loude,
    vvhich is the hote condition of their blood,
    if they but heare perchance a trumpet sound,
    or any ayre of musique touch their eares,
    you shall perceaue them make a mutuall stand,
    2410their sauage eyes turn'd to a modest gaze,
    by the sweet power of musique: therefore the Poet
    did faine that Orpheus drew trees, stones, and floods.
    Since naught so stockish hard and full of rage,
    but musique for the time doth change his nature,
    2415the man that hath no musique in himselfe,
    nor is not moued with concord of sweet sounds,
    is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoiles,
    the motions of his spirit are dull as night,
    and his affections darke as Terebus:
    2420let no such man be trusted: marke the musique.
    Enter Portia and Nerrissa.
    Por. That light we see is burning in my hall:
    how farre that little candell throwes his beames,
    so shines a good deede in a naughty world.
    2425Ner. When the moone shone we did not see the candle?
    Por. So dooth the greater glory dim the lesse,
    a substitute shines brightly as a King
    vntill a King be by, and then his state
    empties it selfe, as doth an inland brooke
    2430into the maine of waters: musique harke.
    Ner. It is your musique Madame of the house?
    Por. Nothing is good I see without respect,
    me thinks it sounds much sweeter then by day?
    Ner. Silence bestowes that vertue on it Madam?
    2435Por. The Crow doth sing as sweetly as the Larke
    vvhen neither is attended: and I thinke
    the Nightingale if she should sing by day
    vvhen euery Goose is cackling, would be thought
    no better a Musition then the Renne?
    2440How many things by season, seasond are
    to their right prayse, and true perfection:
    Peace, how the moone sleepes with Endimion,
    and would not be awak'd.
    Loren. That is the voyce,
    2445or I am much deceau'd of Portia.
    Por. He knowes me as the blind man knowes the Cuckoe
    by the bad voyce?
    Loren. Deere Lady welcome home?
    Por. We haue bin praying for our husbands welfare,
    2450vvhich speed we hope the better for our words:
    are they return'd?
    Loren. Madam, they are not yet:
    but there is come a Messenger before
    to signifie their comming?
    2455Por. Goe in Nerrissa.
    Giue order to my seruants, that they take
    no note at all of our being absent hence,
    nor you Lorenzo, Iessica nor you.
    Loren. Your husband is at hand, I heare his trumpet,
    2460vve are no tell-tales Madame, feare you not.
    Por. This night me thinks is but the day light sicke,
    it lookes a little paler, tis a day,
    such as the day is when the sunne is hid.
    Enter Bassanio, Anthonio, Gratiano, and their
    Bass. We should hold day with the Antipodes,
    if you would walke in absence of the sunne.
    Por. Let me giue light, but let me not be light,
    for a light wife doth make a heauie husband,
    2470and neuer be Bassanio so for me,
    but God sort all: you are welcome home my Lord.
    Bass. I thank you Madam, giue welcome to my friend,
    this is the man, this is Anthonio,
    to whom I am so infinitely bound.
    2475Por. You should in all sence be much bound to him,
    for as I heare he was much bound for you.
    Anth. No more then I am well acquitted of.
    Por. Sir, you are very welcome to our house:
    it must appeare in other wayes then words,
    2480therefore I scant this breathing curtesie.
    Gra. By yonder moone I sweare you doe me wrong,
    infaith I gaue it to the Iudges Clarke,
    vvould he were gelt that had it for my part,
    since you doe take it Loue so much at hart.
    2485Por. A quarrell hoe already, what's the matter?
    Grati. About a hoope of gold, a paltry ring
    that she did giue me, whose posie was
    for all the world like Cutlers poetry
    vpon a knife, Loue me, and leaue me not.
    2490Ner. What talke you of the posie or the valew:
    You swore to me when I did giue you,
    that you would weare it till your houre of death,
    and that it should lie with you in your graue,
    though not for me, yet for your vehement oathes,
    2495you should haue beene respectiue and haue kept it.
    Gaue it a Iudges Clarke: no Gods my Iudge
    the Clarke will nere weare haire ons face that had it.
    Gra. He will, and if he liue to be a man.
    Nerrissa. I, if a woman liue to be a man.
    2500Gra. Now by this hand I gaue it to a youth,
    a kind of boy, a little scrubbed boy,
    no higher then thy selfe, the Iudges Clarke,
    a prating boy that begd it as a fee,
    I could not for my hart deny it him.
    2505Por. You were to blame, I must be plaine with you,
    to part so slightly with your wiues first gift,
    a thing stuck on with oaths vpon your finger,
    and so riueted with faith vnto your flesh.
    I gaue my Loue a ring, and made him sweare
    2510neuer to part with it, and heere he stands:
    I dare be sworne for him he would not leaue it,
    nor pluck it from his finger, for the wealth
    that the world maisters. Now in faith Gratiano
    you giue your wife too vnkind a cause of griefe,
    2515and twere to me I should be mad at it.
    Bass. Why I were best to cut my left hand off,
    and sweare I lost the ring defending it.
    Gra. My Lord Bassanio gaue his ring away
    vnto the Iudge that begd it, and indeede
    2520deseru'd it to: and then the boy his Clarke
    that tooke some paines in writing, he begd mine,
    and neither man nor maister would take ought
    but the two rings.
    Por. What ring gaue you my Lord?
    2525Not that I hope which you receau'd of me.
    Bass. If I could add a lie vnto a fault,
    I would deny it: but you see my finger
    hath not the ring vpon it, it is gone.
    Por. Euen so voyd is your false hart of truth.
    2530By heauen I will nere come in your bed
    vntill I see the ring?
    Ner. Nor I in yours
    till I againe see mine?
    Bass. Sweet Portia,
    2535if you did know to whom I gaue the ring,
    if you did know for whom I gaue the ring,
    and would conceaue for what I gaue the ring,
    and how vnwillingly I left the ring,
    vvhen naught would be accepted but the ring,
    2540you would abate the strength of your displeasure?
    Por. If you had knowne the vertue of the ring,
    or halfe her worthines that gaue the ring,
    or your owne honour to containe the ring,
    you would not then haue parted with the ring:
    2545vvhat man is there so much vnreasonable
    if you had pleasd to haue defended it
    vvith any termes of zeale: wanted the modesty
    to vrge the thing held as a ceremonie:
    Nerrissa teaches me what to beleeue,
    2550ile die for't, but some woman had the ring?
    Bass. No by my honour Madam, by my soule
    no woman had it, but a ciuill Doctor,
    vvhich did refuse three thousand ducats of me,
    and begd the ring, the which I did denie him,
    2555and sufferd him to goe displeasd away,
    euen he that had held vp the very life
    of my deere friend. What should I say sweet Lady,
    I was inforc'd to send it after him,
    I was beset with shame and curtesie,
    2560my honour would not let ingratitude
    so much besmere it: pardon me good Lady,
    for by these blessed candels of the night,
    had you been there, I think you would haue begd
    the ring of me to giue the worthy Doctor?
    2565Por. Let not that Doctor ere come neere my house
    since he hath got the iewell that I loued,
    and that which you did sweare to keepe for me,
    I will become as liberall as you,
    Ile not deny him any thing I haue,
    2570no, not my body, nor my husbands bed:
    Know him I shall, I am well sure of it.
    Lie not a night from home. Watch me like Argos,
    if you doe not, if I be left alone,
    now by mine honour which is yet mine owne,
    2575ile haue that Doctor for mine bedfellow.
    Nerrissa. And I his Clark: therefore be well aduisd
    how you doe leaue me to mine owne protection.
    Gra. Well doe you so: let not me take him then,
    for if I doe, ile mar the young Clarks pen.
    2580Anth. I am th'vnhappy subiect of these quarrells.
    Por. Sir, greeue not you, you are welcome notwithstanding.
    Bass. Portia, forgiue me this enforced wrong,
    and in the hearing of these many friends
    I sweare to thee, euen by thine owne faire eyes
    2585vvherein I see my selfe.
    Por. Marke you but that?
    In both my eyes he doubly sees himselfe:
    In each eye one, sweare by your double selfe,
    and there's an oath of credite.
    2590Bass. Nay, but heare me.
    Pardon this fault, and by my soule I sweare
    I neuer more will breake an oath with thee.
    Anth. I once did lend my body for his wealth,
    vvhich but for him that had your husbands ring
    2595had quite miscaried. I dare be bound againe,
    my soule vpon the forfet, that your Lord
    vvill neuer more breake faith aduisedly.
    Por. Then you shall be his surety: giue him this,
    and bid him keepe it better then the other.
    2600Antho. Here Lord Bassanio, sweare to keepe this ring.
    Bass. By heauen it is the same I gaue the Doctor.
    Por. I had it of him: pardon me Bassanio,
    for by this ring the Doctor lay with me.
    Nerrissa. And pardon me my gentle Gratiano,
    2605for that same scrubbed boy the Doctors Clarke
    in liew of this, last night did lie with me.
    Grati. Why this is like the mending of high wayes
    in Sommer where the wayes are faire enough?
    What, are we cuckolds ere we haue deseru'd it.
    2610Por. Speake not so grosly, you are all amaz'd;
    Heere is a letter, reade it at your leasure,
    It comes from Padua from Bellario,
    there you shall finde that Portia was the Doctor,
    Nerrissa there her Clarke. Lorenzo heere
    2615shall witnes I set foorth as soone as you,
    and euen but now returnd: I haue not yet
    enterd my house. Anthonio you are welcome,
    and I haue better newes in store for you
    than you expect: vnseale this letter soone,
    2620there you shall finde three of your Argosies
    are richly come to harbour sodainly.
    You shall not know by what strange accident
    I chaunced on this letter.
    Antho. I am dumb?
    2625Bass. Were you the Doctor, and I knew you not?
    Gra. Were you the Clark that is to make me cuckold.
    Ner. I but the Clarke that neuer meanes to doe it,
    vnlesse he liue vntill he be a man.
    Bass. (Sweet Doctor) you shall be my bedfellow,
    2630vvhen I am absent then lie with my wife.
    An. (Sweet Lady) you haue giuen me life and lyuing;
    for heere I reade for certaine that my ships
    are safely come to Rode.
    Por. How now Lorenzo?
    2635my Clarke hath some good comforts to for you.
    Ner I, and ile giue them him without a fee.
    There doe I giue to you and Iessica
    from the rich Iewe, a speciall deede of gift
    after his death, of all he dies possest of.
    2640Loren. Faire Ladies, you drop Manna in the way
    of starued people.
    Por. It is almost morning,
    and yet I am sure you are not satisfied
    of these euents at full. Let vs goe in,
    2645and charge vs there vpon intergotories,
    and we will aunswer all things faithfully.
    Gra. Let it be so, the first intergotory
    that my Nerrissa shall be sworne on, is,
    vvhether till the next night she had rather stay,
    2650or goe to bed now being two houres to day:
    But were the day come, I should wish it darke
    till I were couching with the Doctors Clarke.
    Well, while I liue, ile feare no other thing
    so sore, as keeping safe Nerrissas ring.