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The Merchant of Venice: Act 4, Scene 1


           Enter the DUKE, the Magnificoes,
           ANTONIO, BASSANIO,
           [SALERIO], GRATIANO, [with others].

      DUKE
  1   What, is Antonio here?

      ANTONIO
  2   Ready, so please your grace.

      DUKE
  3   I am sorry for thee: thou art come to answer
  4   A stony adversary, an inhuman wretch
  5   Uncapable of pity, void and empty
  6   From any dram of mercy.

      ANTONIO
  6                                       I have heard
  7   Your grace hath ta'en great pains to qualify
  8   His rigorous course; but since he stands obdurate
  9   And that no lawful means can carry me
 10   Out of his envy's reach, I do oppose
 11   My patience to his fury, and am arm'd
 12   To suffer, with a quietness of spirit,
 13   The very tyranny and rage of his.

      DUKE
 14   Go one, and call the Jew into the court.

      SALERIO
 15   He is ready at the door: he comes, my lord.

           Enter SHYLOCK.

      DUKE
 16   Make room, and let him stand before our face.
 17   Shylock, the world thinks, and I think so too,
 18   That thou but leadest this fashion of thy malice
 19   To the last hour of act; and then 'tis thought
 20   Thou'lt show thy mercy and remorse more strange
 21   Than is thy strange apparent cruelty;
 22   And where thou now exact'st the penalty,
 23   Which is a pound of this poor merchant's flesh,
 24   Thou wilt not only loose the forfeiture,
 25   But, touch'd with human gentleness and love,
 26   Forgive a moi'ty of the principal;
 27   Glancing an eye of pity on his losses,
 28   That have of late so huddled on his back,
 29   Enow to press a royal merchant down
 30   And pluck commiseration of his state
 31   From brassy bosoms and rough hearts of flint,
 32   From stubborn Turks and Tartars, never train'd
 33   To offices of tender courtesy.
 34   We all expect a gentle answer, Jew.

      SHYLOCK
 35   I have possess'd your grace of what I purpose;
 36   And by our holy Sabbath have I sworn
 37   To have the due and forfeit of my bond:
 38   If you deny it, let the danger light
 39   Upon your charter and your city's freedom.
 40   You'll ask me, why I rather choose to have
 41   A weight of carrion flesh than to receive
 42   Three thousand ducats: I'll not answer that:
 43   But, say, it is my humor: is it answer'd?
 44   What if my house be troubled with a rat
 45   And I be pleased to give ten thousand ducats
 46   To have it ban'd? What, are you answer'd yet?
 47   Some men there are love not a gaping pig;
 48   Some, that are mad if they behold a cat;
 49   And others, when the bagpipe sings i' the nose,
 50   Cannot contain their urine: for affection,
 51   Mistress of passion, sways it to the mood
 52   Of what it likes or loathes. Now, for your answer:
 53   As there is no firm reason to be render'd,
 54   Why he cannot abide a gaping pig;
 55   Why he, a harmless necessary cat;
 56   Why he, a woolen bagpipe; but of force
 57   Must yield to such inevitable shame
 58   As to offend, himself being offended;
 59   So can I give no reason, nor I will not,
 60   More than a lodg'd hate and a certain loathing
 61   I bear Antonio, that I follow thus
 62   A losing suit against him. Are you answer'd?

      BASSANIO
 63   This is no answer, thou unfeeling man,
 64   To excuse the current of thy cruelty.

      SHYLOCK
 65   I am not bound to please thee with my answers.

      BASSANIO
 66   Do all men kill the things they do not love?

      SHYLOCK
 67   Hates any man the thing he would not kill?

      BASSANIO
 68   Every offence is not a hate at first.

      SHYLOCK
 69   What, wouldst thou have a serpent sting thee twice?

      ANTONIO
 70   I pray you, think you question with the Jew:
 71   You may as well go stand upon the beach
 72   And bid the main flood bate his usual height;
 73   You may as well use question with the wolf
 74   Why he hath made the ewe bleat for the lamb;
 75   You may as well forbid the mountain pines
 76   To wag their high tops and to make no noise,
 77   When they are fretten with the gusts of heaven;
 78   You may as well do anything most hard,
 79   As seek to soften that — than which what's harder? —
 80   His Jewish heart: therefore, I do beseech you,
 81   Make no more offers, use no farther means,
 82   But with all brief and plain conveniency
 83   Let me have judgment and the Jew his will.

      BASSANIO
 84   For thy three thousand ducats here is six.

      SHYLOCK
 85   If every ducat in six thousand ducats
 86   Were in six parts and every part a ducat,
 87   I would not draw them; I would have my bond.

      DUKE
 88   How shalt thou hope for mercy, rendering none?

      SHYLOCK
 89   What judgment shall I dread, doing no wrong?
 90   You have among you many a purchased slave,
 91   Which, like your asses and your dogs and mules,
 92   You use in abject and in slavish parts,
 93   Because you bought them: shall I say to you,
 94   Let them be free, marry them to your heirs?
 95   Why sweat they under burdens? let their beds
 96   Be made as soft as yours and let their palates
 97   Be season'd with such viands? You will answer
 98   "The slaves are ours": so do I answer you:
 99   The pound of flesh, which I demand of him,
100   Is dearly bought; 'tis mine and I will have it.
101   If you deny me, fie upon your law!
102   There is no force in the decrees of Venice.
103   I stand for judgment: answer; shall I have it?

      DUKE
104   Upon my power I may dismiss this court,
105   Unless Bellario, a learned doctor,
106   Whom I have sent for to determine this,
107   Come here today.

      SALERIO
107                     My lord, here stays without
108   A messenger with letters from the doctor,
109   New come from Padua.

      DUKE
110   Bring us the letter; call the messenger.

      BASSANIO
111   Good cheer, Antonio! What, man, courage yet!
112   The Jew shall have my flesh, blood, bones and all,
113   Ere thou shalt lose for me one drop of blood.

      ANTONIO
114   I am a tainted wether of the flock,
115   Meetest for death: the weakest kind of fruit
116   Drops earliest to the ground; and so let me
117   You cannot better be employ'd, Bassanio,
118   Than to live still and write mine epitaph.

           Enter NERISSA,
           [dressed like a lawyer's clerk].

      DUKE
119   Came you from Padua, from Bellario?

      NERISSA
120   From both, my lord. Bellario greets your grace.

           [Presenting a letter.]

      BASSANIO
121   Why dost thou whet thy knife so earnestly?

      SHYLOCK
122   To cut the forfeiture from that bankrupt there.

      GRATIANO
123   Not on thy sole, but on thy soul, harsh Jew,
124   Thou makest thy knife keen; but no metal can,
125   No, not the hangman's axe, bear half the keenness
126   Of thy sharp envy. Can no prayers pierce thee?

      SHYLOCK
127   No, none that thou hast wit enough to make.

      GRATIANO
128   O, be thou damn'd, inexecrable dog!
129   And for thy life let justice be accused.
130   Thou almost makest me waver in my faith
131   To hold opinion with Pythagoras,
132   That souls of animals infuse themselves
133   Into the trunks of men: thy currish spirit
134   Govern'd a wolf, who, hang'd for human slaughter,
135   Even from the gallows did his fell soul fleet,
136   And, whilst thou lay'st in thy unhallow'd dam,
137   Infused itself in thee; for thy desires
138   Are wolvish, bloody, starved and ravenous.

      SHYLOCK
139   Till thou canst rail the seal from off my bond,
140   Thou but offend'st thy lungs to speak so loud:
141   Repair thy wit, good youth, or it will fall
142   To cureless ruin. I stand here for law.

      DUKE
143   This letter from Bellario doth commend
144   A young and learned doctor to our court.
145   Where is he?

      NERISSA
145               He attendeth here hard by,
146   To know your answer, whether you'll admit him.

      DUKE
147   With all my heart. Some three or four of you
148   Go give him courteous conduct to this place.
149   Meantime the court shall hear Bellario's letter.

           [Reads]

150   "Your grace shall understand that at
151   the receipt of your letter I am very sick: but in
152   the instant that your messenger came, in loving
153   visitation was with me a young doctor of Rome;
154   his name is Balthasar. I acquainted him with the
155   cause in controversy between the Jew and
156   Antonio the merchant: we turned o'er many books
157   together: he is furnished with my opinion; which,
158   bettered with his own learning, the greatness
159   whereof I cannot enough commend, comes with
160   him, at my importunity, to fill up your grace's
161   request in my stead. I beseech you, let his lack of
162   years be no impediment to let him lack a reverend
163   estimation; for I never knew so young a body with
164   so old a head. I leave him to your gracious
165   acceptance, whose trial shall better publish his
166   commendation."

      DUKE
167   You hear the learn'd Bellario, what he writes:
168   And here, I take it, is the doctor come.

           Enter PORTIA for Balthazar.


169   Give me your hand. Come you from old Bellario?

      PORTIA
170   I did, my lord.

      DUKE
170                You are welcome: take your place.
171   Are you acquainted with the difference
172   That holds this present question in the court?

      PORTIA
173   I am informed throughly of the cause.
174   Which is the merchant here, and which the Jew?

      DUKE
175   Antonio and old Shylock, both stand forth.

      PORTIA
176   Is your name Shylock?

      SHYLOCK
176                                     Shylock is my name.

      PORTIA
177   Of a strange nature is the suit you follow;
178   Yet in such rule that the Venetian law
179   Cannot impugn you as you do proceed.
180   You stand within his danger, do you not?

      ANTONIO
181   Ay, so he says.

      PORTIA
181               Do you confess the bond?

      ANTONIO
182   I do.

      PORTIA
182                Then must the Jew be merciful.

      SHYLOCK
183   On what compulsion must I? tell me that.

      PORTIA
184   The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
185   It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
186   Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
187   It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
188   'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
189   The throned monarch better than his crown;
190   His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
191   The attribute to awe and majesty,
192   Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
193   But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
194   It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
195   It is an attribute to God himself;
196   And earthly power doth then show likest God's
197   When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
198   Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
199   That, in the course of justice, none of us
200   Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
201   And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
202   The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
203   To mitigate the justice of thy plea;
204   Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
205   Must needs give sentence 'gainst the merchant there.

      SHYLOCK
206   My deeds upon my head! I crave the law,
207   The penalty and forfeit of my bond.

      PORTIA
208   Is he not able to discharge the money?

      BASSANIO
209   Yes, here I tender it for him in the court;
210   Yea, twice the sum: if that will not suffice,
211   I will be bound to pay it ten times o'er,
212   On forfeit of my hands, my head, my heart:
213   If this will not suffice, it must appear
214   That malice bears down truth.

           [To the Duke.]

214                                                   And I beseech you,
215   Wrest once the law to your authority:
216   To do a great right, do a little wrong,
217   And curb this cruel devil of his will.

      PORTIA
218   It must not be; there is no power in Venice
219   Can alter a decree established:
220   'Twill be recorded for a precedent,
221   And many an error by the same example
222   Will rush into the state: it cannot be.

      SHYLOCK
223   A Daniel come to judgment! yea, a Daniel!
224   O wise young judge, how I do honor thee!

      PORTIA
225   I pray you, let me look upon the bond.

      SHYLOCK
226   Here 'tis, most reverend doctor, here it is.

      PORTIA
227   Shylock, there's thrice thy money offer'd thee.

      SHYLOCK
228   An oath, an oath, I have an oath in heaven:
229   Shall I lay perjury upon my soul?
230   No, not for Venice.

      PORTIA
230                               Why, this bond is forfeit;
231   And lawfully by this the Jew may claim
232   A pound of flesh, to be by him cut off
233   Nearest the merchant's heart. Be merciful:
234   Take thrice thy money; bid me tear the bond.

      SHYLOCK
235   When it is paid according to the tenor.
236   It doth appear you are a worthy judge;
237   You know the law, your exposition
238   Hath been most sound: I charge you by the law,
239   Whereof you are a well-deserving pillar,
240   Proceed to judgment: by my soul I swear
241   There is no power in the tongue of man
242   To alter me: I stay here on my bond.

      ANTONIO
243   Most heartily I do beseech the court
244   To give the judgment.

      PORTIA
244                                     Why then, thus it is:
245   You must prepare your bosom for his knife.

      SHYLOCK
246   O noble judge! O excellent young man!

      PORTIA
247   For the intent and purpose of the law
248   Hath full relation to the penalty,
249   Which here appeareth due upon the bond.

      SHYLOCK
250   'Tis very true: O wise and upright judge!
251   How much more elder art thou than thy looks!

      PORTIA
252   Therefore lay bare your bosom.

      SHYLOCK
252                                                     Ay, his breast:
253   So says the bond: doth it not, noble judge?
254   "Nearest his heart": those are the very words.

      PORTIA
255   It is so. Are there balance here to weigh
256   The flesh?

      SHYLOCK
256                I have them ready.

      PORTIA
257   Have by some surgeon, Shylock, on your charge,
258   To stop his wounds, lest he do bleed to death.

      SHYLOCK
259   Is it so nominated in the bond?

      PORTIA
260   It is not so express'd: but what of that?
261   'Twere good you do so much for charity.

      SHYLOCK
262   I cannot find it; 'tis not in the bond.

      PORTIA
263   You, merchant, have you any thing to say?

      ANTONIO
264   But little: I am arm'd and well prepared.
265   Give me your hand, Bassanio: fare you well!
266   Grieve not that I am fallen to this for you;
267   For herein Fortune shows herself more kind
268   Than is her custom: it is still her use
269   To let the wretched man outlive his wealth,
270   To view with hollow eye and wrinkled brow
271   An age of poverty; from which lingering penance
272   Of such misery doth she cut me off.
273   Commend me to your honorable wife:
274   Tell her the process of Antonio's end;
275   Say how I loved you, speak me fair in death;
276   And, when the tale is told, bid her be judge
277   Whether Bassanio had not once a love.
278   Repent but you that you shall lose your friend,
279   And he repents not that he pays your debt;
280   For if the Jew do cut but deep enough,
281   I'll pay it presently with all my heart.

      BASSANIO
282   Antonio, I am married to a wife
283   Which is as dear to me as life itself;
284   But life itself, my wife, and all the world,
285   Are not with me esteem'd above thy life:
286   I would lose all, ay, sacrifice them all
287   Here to this devil, to deliver you.

      PORTIA
288   Your wife would give you little thanks for that,
289   If she were by, to hear you make the offer.

      GRATIANO
290   I have a wife, whom, I protest, I love:
291   I would she were in heaven, so she could
292   Entreat some power to change this currish Jew.

      NERISSA
293   'Tis well you offer it behind her back;
294   The wish would make else an unquiet house.

      SHYLOCK [Aside.]
295   These be the Christian husbands. I have a daughter;
296   Would any of the stock of Barrabas
297   Had been her husband rather than a Christian!
298   We trifle time: I pray thee, pursue sentence.

      PORTIA
299   A pound of that same merchant's flesh is thine:
300   The court awards it, and the law doth give it.

      SHYLOCK
301   Most rightful judge!

      PORTIA
302   And you must cut this flesh from off his breast:
303   The law allows it, and the court awards it.

      SHYLOCK
304   Most learned judge! A sentence! Come, prepare!

      PORTIA
305   Tarry a little; there is something else.
306   This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood;
307   The words expressly are "a pound of flesh":
308   Take then thy bond, take thou thy pound of flesh;
309   But, in the cutting it, if thou dost shed
310   One drop of Christian blood, thy lands and goods
311   Are, by the laws of Venice, confiscate
312   Unto the state of Venice.

      GRATIANO
313   O upright judge! Mark, Jew: O learned judge!

      SHYLOCK
314   Is that the law?

      PORTIA
314                Thyself shalt see the act:
315   For, as thou urgest justice, be assured
316   Thou shalt have justice, more than thou desirest.

      GRATIANO
317   O learned judge! Mark, Jew: a learned judge!

      SHYLOCK
318   I take this offer, then; pay the bond thrice
319   And let the Christian go.

      BASSANIO
319                                           Here is the money.

      PORTIA
320   Soft!
321   The Jew shall have all justice; soft! no haste:
322   He shall have nothing but the penalty.

      GRATIANO
323   O Jew! an upright judge, a learned judge!

      PORTIA
324   Therefore prepare thee to cut off the flesh.
325   Shed thou no blood, nor cut thou less nor more
326   But just a pound of flesh: if thou cut'st more
327   Or less than a just pound, be it but so much
328   As makes it light or heavy in the substance,
329   Or the division of the twentieth part
330   Of one poor scruple, nay, if the scale do turn
331   But in the estimation of a hair,
332   Thou diest and all thy goods are confiscate.

      GRATIANO
333   A second Daniel, a Daniel, Jew!
334   Now, infidel, I have you on the hip.

      PORTIA
335   Why doth the Jew pause? take thy forfeiture.

      SHYLOCK
336   Give me my principal, and let me go.

      BASSANIO
337   I have it ready for thee; here it is.

      PORTIA
338   He hath refused it in the open court:
339   He shall have merely justice and his bond.

      GRATIANO
340   A Daniel, still say I, a second Daniel!
341   I thank thee, Jew, for teaching me that word.

      SHYLOCK
342   Shall I not have barely my principal?

      PORTIA
343   Thou shalt have nothing but the forfeiture,
344   To be so taken at thy peril, Jew.

      SHYLOCK
345   Why, then the devil give him good of it!
346   I'll stay no longer question.

      PORTIA
346                                                 Tarry, Jew:
347   The law hath yet another hold on you.
348   It is enacted in the laws of Venice,
349   If it be proved against an alien
350   That by direct or indirect attempts
351   He seek the life of any citizen,
352   The party 'gainst the which he doth contrive
353   Shall seize one half his goods; the other half
354   Comes to the privy coffer of the state;
355   And the offender's life lies in the mercy
356   Of the duke only, 'gainst all other voice.
357   In which predicament, I say, thou stand'st;
358   For it appears, by manifest proceeding,
359   That indirectly and directly too
360   Thou hast contrived against the very life
361   Of the defendant; and thou hast incurr'd
362   The danger formerly by me rehears'd.
363   Down therefore and beg mercy of the duke.

      GRATIANO
364   Beg that thou mayst have leave to hang thyself:
365   And yet, thy wealth being forfeit to the state,
366   Thou hast not left the value of a cord;
367   Therefore thou must be hang'd at the state's charge.

      DUKE
368   That thou shalt see the difference of our spirits,
369   I pardon thee thy life before thou ask it:
370   For half thy wealth, it is Antonio's;
371   The other half comes to the general state,
372   Which humbleness may drive unto a fine.

      PORTIA
373   Ay, for the state, not for Antonio.

      SHYLOCK
374   Nay, take my life and all; pardon not that:
375   You take my house when you do take the prop
376   That doth sustain my house; you take my life
377   When you do take the means whereby I live.

      PORTIA
378   What mercy can you render him, Antonio?

      GRATIANO
379   A halter gratis; nothing else, for God's sake.

      ANTONIO
380   So please my lord the duke and all the court
381   To quit the fine for one half of his goods,
382   I am content; so he will let me have
383   The other half in use, to render it,
384   Upon his death, unto the gentleman
385   That lately stole his daughter:
386   Two things provided more, that, for this favor,
387   He presently become a Christian;
388   The other, that he do record a gift,
389   Here in the court, of all he dies possess'd,
390   Unto his son Lorenzo and his daughter.

      DUKE
391   He shall do this, or else I do recant
392   The pardon that I late pronounced here.

      PORTIA
393   Art thou contented, Jew? what dost thou say?

      SHYLOCK
394   I am content.

      PORTIA
394                Clerk, draw a deed of gift.

      SHYLOCK
395   I pray you, give me leave to go from hence;
396   I am not well: send the deed after me,
397   And I will sign it.

      DUKE
397                               Get thee gone, but do it.

      GRATIANO
398   In christening shalt thou have two godfathers:
399   Had I been judge, thou shouldst have had ten more,
400   To bring thee to the gallows, not the font.

           Exit [SHYLOCK].

      DUKE
401   Sir, I entreat you home with me to dinner.

      PORTIA
402   I humbly do desire your grace of pardon:
403   I must away this night toward Padua,
404   And it is meet I presently set forth.

      DUKE
405   I am sorry that your leisure serves you not.
406   Antonio, gratify this gentleman,
407   For, in my mind, you are much bound to him.

           Exeunt Duke and his Train.

      BASSANIO
408   Most worthy gentleman, I and my friend
409   Have by your wisdom been this day acquitted
410   Of grievous penalties; in lieu whereof,
411   Three thousand ducats, due unto the Jew,
412   We freely cope your courteous pains withal.

      ANTONIO
413   And stand indebted, over and above,
414   In love and service to you evermore.

      PORTIA
415   He is well paid that is well satisfied;
416   And I, delivering you, am satisfied
417   And therein do account myself well paid:
418   My mind was never yet more mercenary.
419   I pray you, know me when we meet again:
420   I wish you well, and so I take my leave.

      BASSANIO
421   Dear sir, of force I must attempt you further:
422   Take some remembrance of us, as a tribute,
423   Not as a fee: grant me two things, I pray you,
424   Not to deny me, and to pardon me.

      PORTIA
425   You press me far, and therefore I will yield.
426   Give me your gloves, I'll wear them for your sake;
427   And, for your love, I'll take this ring from you:
428   Do not draw back your hand; I'll take no more;
429   And you in love shall not deny me this.

      BASSANIO
430   This ring, good sir, alas, it is a trifle!
431   I will not shame myself to give you this.

      PORTIA
432   I will have nothing else but only this;
433   And now methinks I have a mind to it.

      BASSANIO
434   There's more depends on this than on the value.
435   The dearest ring in Venice will I give you,
436   And find it out by proclamation:
437   Only for this, I pray you, pardon me.

      PORTIA
438   I see, sir, you are liberal in offers
439   You taught me first to beg; and now methinks
440   You teach me how a beggar should be answer'd.

      BASSANIO
441   Good sir, this ring was given me by my wife;
442   And when she put it on, she made me vow
443   That I should neither sell nor give nor lose it.

      PORTIA
444   That 'scuse serves many men to save their gifts.
445   An if your wife be not a madwoman,
446   And know how well I have deserved the ring,
447   She would not hold out enemy for ever,
448   For giving it to me. Well, peace be with you!

           Exeunt [Portia and Nerissa].

      ANTONIO
449   My Lord Bassanio, let him have the ring:
450   Let his deservings and my love withal
451   Be valued against your wife's commandment.

      BASSANIO
452   Go, Gratiano, run and overtake him;
453   Give him the ring, and bring him, if thou canst,
454   Unto Antonio's house: away! make haste.

           Exit Gratiano.

455   Come, you and I will thither presently;
456   And in the morning early will we both
457   Fly toward Belmont: come, Antonio.

           Exeunt.

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