The Merchant of Venice: Act 1, Scene 3






1. ducats: in this play, gold coins (there were also silver ducats); their value has been variously estimated, usually at something between a quarter and a half of an English pound apiece.
           Enter BASSANIO
           with SHYLOCK the Jew.

      SHYLOCK
  1   Three thousand ducats; well.

      BASSANIO
  2   Ay, sir, for three months.

      SHYLOCK
  3   For three months; well.

      BASSANIO
  4   For the which, as I told you, Antonio shall
  5   be bound.

      SHYLOCK
  6   Antonio shall become bound; well.

      BASSANIO
7. stead: assist, supply a need.
  7   May you stead me? will you pleasure me? shall I
  8   know your answer?

      SHYLOCK
  9   Three thousand ducats for three months and
 10   Antonio bound.

      BASSANIO
 11   Your answer to that.

      SHYLOCK
12. good: Shylock means solvent, a good credit risk; Bassanio interprets in the moral sense.
 12   Antonio is a good man.

      BASSANIO
 13   Have you heard any imputation to the
 14   contrary?

      SHYLOCK
 15   Oh, no, no, no, no: my meaning in saying he is a
 16   good man is to have you understand me that he is
17. sufficient: i.e., a good security. in supposition: doubtful, uncertain; i.e., not certainly in existence.
 17   sufficient. Yet his means are in supposition: he
 18   hath an argosy bound to Tripolis, another to the
19. Rialto: commercial and business exchange of Venice and the center of commercial activity.
 19   Indies; I understand moreover, upon the Rialto, he
 20   hath a third at Mexico, a fourth for England, and
21. squand'red: unwisely scattered.
 21   other ventures he hath, squand'red abroad. But ships
 22   are but boards, sailors but men: there be land-rats
 23   and water-rats, water-thieves and land-thieves, I
 24   mean pirates, and then there is the peril of waters,
 25   winds and rocks. The man is, notwithstanding,
 26   sufficient. Three thousand ducats; I think I may
 27   take his bond.

      BASSANIO
 28   Be assured you may.

      SHYLOCK
29. assur'd: sure, satisfied (but Shylock takes it up in the sense "guaranteed by adequate security").
 29   I will be assured I may; and, that I may be assur'd,
 30   I will bethink me. May I speak with
 31   Antonio?

      BASSANIO
 32   If it please you to dine with us.

      SHYLOCK
33‑37. Yes, to smell pork; to eat of the habitation which your prophet the Nazarite . . . pray with you: Perhaps these lines are spoken aside while Shylock "bethinks him" (see line 30). 34. Nazarite: Nazarene. (For the reference to Christ's casting evil spirits into a herd of swine, see Luke 8:32‑33 and Mark 5:1‑13).
 33   Yes, to smell pork; to eat of the habitation which
 34   your prophet the Nazarite conjured the devil into. I
 35   will buy with you, sell with you, talk with you,
 36   walk with you, and so following, but I will not eat
 37   with you, drink with you, nor pray with you. What
 38   news on the Rialto? Who is he comes
 39   here?

           Enter ANTONIO.

      BASSANIO
 40   This is Signior Antonio.

      SHYLOCK [Aside]
41. fawning publican: This is a puzzling phrase.
 41   How like a fawning publican he looks!
42. for: because.
 42   I hate him for he is a Christian,
43. low simplicity: humble, honest plainness  or  low-class foolishness. Shylock probably means both.
 43   But more for that in low simplicity
 44   He lends out money gratis and brings down
45. usance: usury, interest.
 45   The rate of usance here with us in Venice.
46. upon the hip: at a disadvantage (a wrestling term).
 46   If I can catch him once upon the hip,
 47   I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him.
 48   He hates our sacred nation, and he rails,
 49   Even there where merchants most do congregate,
50. thrift: thriving, profit.
 50   On me, my bargains and my well-won thrift,
 51   Which he calls interest. Cursed be my tribe,
 52   If I forgive him!

      BASSANIO
 52               Shylock, do you hear?

      SHYLOCK
53. store: supply (of money).
 53   I am debating of my present store,
 54   And, by the near guess of my memory,
55. gross: total amount.
 55   I cannot instantly raise up the gross
 56   Of full three thousand ducats. What of that?
 57   Tubal, a wealthy Hebrew of my tribe,
 58   Will furnish me. But soft! how many months
 59   Do you desire?

           [To Antonio.]

 59                         Rest you fair, good signior;
 60   Your worship was the last man in our mouths.

      ANTONIO
 61   Shylock, although I neither lend nor borrow
62. excess: interest.
 62   By taking nor by giving of excess,
63. ripe: immediate.
 63   Yet, to supply the ripe wants of my friend,
64. possess'd: informed.
 64   I'll break a custom. Is he yet possess'd
 65   How much ye would?

      SHYLOCK
 65               Ay, ay, three thousand ducats.

      ANTONIO
 66   And for three months.

      SHYLOCK
 67   I had forgot; three months; you told me so.
 68   Well then, your bond; and let me see; but hear you;
69. Methought: it seemed to me.
 69   Methought you said you neither lend nor borrow
70. advantage: interest. use it: make it my practice.
 70   Upon advantage.

      ANTONIO
 70                I do never use it.

      SHYLOCK
71. Jacob: See Genesis 27, 30:25‑43.
 71   When Jacob grazed his uncle Laban's sheep—
 72   This Jacob from our holy Abram was,
 73   As his wise mother wrought in his behalf,
74. possessor: i.e., of God's promise.
 74   The third possessor; ay, he was the third—

      ANTONIO
 75   And what of him? did he take interest?

      SHYLOCK
 76   No, not take interest, not, as you would say,
 77   Directly interest: mark what Jacob did.
78. compromis'd: agreed (a variant form of compromised).
 78   When Laban and himself were compromis'd
79. eanlings: new-born lambs. pied: spotted, variegated in color. 80. hire: wages. rank: in heat.
 79   That all the eanlings which were streak'd and pied
 80   Should fall as Jacob's hire, the ewes, being rank,
 81   In the end of autumn turned to the rams,
 82   And, when the work of generation was
 83   Between these woolly breeders in the act,
84. pill'd me: peeled, stripped. (Me is the so-called ethical dative, used colloquially). 85. deed of kind: i.e., copulation.
 84   The skilful shepherd pill'd me certain wands,
 85   And, in the doing of the deed of kind,
 86   He stuck them up before the fulsome ewes,
87. eaning: lambing.
 87   Who then conceiving did in eaning time
88. Fall: let fall, give birth to.
 88   Fall parti-color 'd lambs, and those were Jacob's.
 89   This was a way to thrive, and he was blest:
90. thrift is blessing: i.e., making a profit is sanctified by God.
 90   And thrift is blessing, if men steal it not.

      ANTONIO
91. venture, sir, that Jacob served for: commercial enterprise with an unpredictable outcome on which Jacob risked his time as a servant.
 91   This was a venture, sir, that Jacob served for;
 92   A thing not in his power to bring to pass,
 93   But sway'd and fashion'd by the hand of heaven.
94. inserted to make interest good: brought in to justify the practice of usury.
 94   Was this inserted to make interest good?
 95   Or is your gold and silver ewes and rams?

      SHYLOCK
 96   I cannot tell; I make it breed as fast:
 97   But note me, signior.

      ANTONIO
 97                                     Mark you this, Bassanio,
98. The devil can cite Scripture: See Matthew 4:6., in which the Devil tempts Jesus to cast himself from a pinnacle in order to prove that he is the Son of God.
 98   The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
 99   An evil soul producing holy witness
100   Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
101   A goodly apple rotten at the heart:
102   O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!

      SHYLOCK
103. Did Shylock not hear what Antonio just said, or is he purposely ignoring it?
103   Three thousand ducats; 'tis a good round sum.
104   Three months from twelve; then, let me see; the rate—

      ANTONIO
105. beholding: beholden, indebted.
105   Well, Shylock, shall we be beholding to you?

      SHYLOCK
106   Signior Antonio, many a time and oft
107. rated: berated, rebuked, reviled.
107   In the Rialto you have rated me
108   About my moneys and my usances:
109   Still have I borne it with a patient shrug,
110. sufferance: endurance. badge: distinctive mark.
110   For sufferance is the badge of all our tribe.
111   You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog,
112. gaberdine: a loose upper garment of coarse material like a cape or mantel. 113. use: With play on "usury."
112   And spit upon my Jewish gaberdine,
113   And all for use of that which is mine own.
114   Well then, it now appears you need my help:
115. Go to: term of impatience or remonstrance.
115   Go to, then; you come to me, and you say
116   "Shylock, we would have moneys": you say so;
117. rheum: spittle.
117   You, that did void your rheum upon my beard
118. spurn: kick.
118   And foot me as you spurn a stranger cur
119   Over your threshold: moneys is your suit
120   What should I say to you? Should I not say
121   "Hath a dog money? is it possible
122   A cur can lend three thousand ducats?" Or
123   Shall I bend low and in a bondman's key,
124   With bated breath and whispering humbleness,
125   Say this:
126   "Fair sir, you spit on me on Wednesday last;
127   You spurn'd me such a day; another time
128   You call'd me dog; and for these courtesies
129   I'll lend you thus much moneys"?

      ANTONIO
130   I am as like to call thee so again,
131   To spit on thee again, to spurn thee too.
132   If thou wilt lend this money, lend it not
133   As to thy friends; for when did friendship take
134. A breed: offspring, increase (cf. line 96). The figure continues in barren . One of the oldest arguments . . . more
134   A breed for barren metal of his friend?
135   But lend it rather to thine enemy,
136. Who: from whom. break: fail to pay on time, go bankrupt.
136   Who, if he break, thou mayst with better face
137   Exact the penalty.

      SHYLOCK
137                Why, look you, how you storm!
138   I would be friends with you and have your love,
139   Forget the shames that you have stain'd me with,
140. doit: coin of trifling value.
140   Supply your present wants and take no doit
141   Of usance for my moneys, and you'll not hear me:
142   This is kind I offer.

      BASSANIO
143. were kindness: would be kindness (if the offer were seriously meant).
143   This were kindness.

      SHYLOCK
143                                   This kindness will I show.
144   Go with me to a notary, seal me there
145. single bond: bond signed only by the debtor, without other security.
145   Your single bond; and, in a merry sport,
146   If you repay me not on such a day,
147   In such a place, such sum or sums as are
148   Express'd in the condition, let the forfeit
149. nominated for: named, stipulated as. equal: exact.
149   Be nominated for an equal pound
150   Of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken
151   In what part of your body pleaseth me.

      ANTONIO
152   Content, i' faith: I'll seal to such a bond
153   And say there is much kindness in the Jew.

      BASSANIO
154   You shall not seal to such a bond for me:
155. dwell: remain.
155   I'll rather dwell in my necessity.

      ANTONIO
156   Why, fear not, man; I will not forfeit it:
157   Within these two months, that's a month before
158   This bond expires, I do expect return
159   Of thrice three times the value of this bond.

      SHYLOCK
160   O father Abram, what these Christians are,
161   Whose own hard dealings teaches them suspect
162   The thoughts of others! Pray you, tell me this;
163. break his day: fail to pay on the due date.
163   If he should break his day, what should I gain
164. forfeiture: forfeit, amount stipulated as penalty.
164   By the exaction of the forfeiture?
165   A pound of man's flesh taken from a man
166   Is not so estimable, profitable neither,
167   As flesh of muttons, beefs, or goats. I say,
168   To buy his favor, I extend this friendship:
169   If he will take it, so; if not, adieu;
170. wrong me not: do not impute evil motives to me.
170   And, for my love, I pray you wrong me not.

      ANTONIO
171   Yes Shylock, I will seal unto this bond.

      SHYLOCK
172   Then meet me forthwith at the notary's;
173   Give him direction for this merry bond,
174   And I will go and purse the ducats straight,
175. fearful: arousing anxiety, i.e., untrustworthy.
175   See to my house, left in the fearful guard
176   Of an unthrifty knave, and presently
177   I will be with you.

      ANTONIO
177. Hie thee: hasten.
177                               Hie thee, gentle Jew.

           Exit Shylock.


178   The Hebrew will turn Christian: he grows kind.

      BASSANIO
179   I like not fair terms and a villain's mind.

      ANTONIO
180   Come on: in this there can be no dismay;
181   My ships come home a month before the day.

           Exeunt.