The Merchant of Venice: Act 5, Scene 1

           Enter LORENZO and JESSICA.


4. Troilus: Trojan prince and lover of Cressida, who proved faithless to him after she had been sent from Troy to the Greek camp.
  1   The moon shines bright: in such a night as this,
  2   When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees
  3   And they did make no noise, in such a night
  4   Troilus methinks mounted the Troyan walls
  5   And sigh'd his soul toward the Grecian tents,
  6   Where Cressid lay that night.

  6                                                   In such a night
7. Thisbe: Beloved of Pyramus who, arranging to meet him by night, was affrighted by a lion; their story is the subject of the play performed by Bottom and his fellows in A Midsummer Night's Dream (Act 5).
  7   Did Thisbe fearfully o'ertrip the dew
  8   And saw the lion's shadow ere himself
  9   And ran dismay'd away.

  9                                       In such a night
10. Dido: queen of Carthage who loved Aeneas and was deserted by him. willow: The emblem of slighted love.
 10   Stood Dido with a willow in her hand
 11   Upon the wild sea banks and waft her love
 12   To come again to Carthage.

 12                                             In such a night
13. Medea: a famous enchantress of Colchis who, after falling in love with Jason and helping him win the Golden Fleece, used her magic to renew [restore youth] to Aeson, Jason's father.
 13   Medea gather'd the enchanted herbs
 14   That did renew old Aeson.

 14                                           In such a night
 15   Did Jessica steal from the wealthy Jew
16. unthrift: prodigal.
 16   And with an unthrift love did run from Venice
 17   As far as Belmont.

 17                               In such a night
 18   Did young Lorenzo swear he loved her well,
 19   Stealing her soul with many vows of faith
 20   And ne'er a true one.

 20                                   In such a night
21. shrow: shrew.
 21   Did pretty Jessica, like a little shrow,
 22   Slander her love, and he forgave it her.

 23   I would out-night you, did no body come;
24. footing: footsteps.
 24   But, hark, I hear the footing of a man.

           Enter a MESSENGER [STEPHANO].

 25   Who comes so fast in silence of the night?

 26   A friend.

 27   A friend! what friend? your name, I pray you, friend?

 28   Stephano is my name; and I bring word
 29   My mistress will before the break of day
 30   Be here at Belmont; she doth stray about
31. holy crosses: wayside crosses or shrines (common both in England and in Italy).
 31   By holy crosses, where she kneels and prays
 32   For happy wedlock hours.

 32                                         Who comes with her?

 33   None but a holy hermit and her maid.
 34   I pray you, is my master yet return'd?

 35   He is not, nor we have not heard from him.
 36   But go we in, I pray thee, Jessica,
 37   And ceremoniously let us prepare
 38   Some welcome for the mistress of the house.

           Enter Clown [LAUNCELOT].

39. Sola: Perhaps the imitation of a post horn (see lines 46‑48 which mention a post accompanied by a horn).
 39   Sola, sola! wo ha, ho! sola, sola!

 40   Who calls?

 41   Sola! did you see Master Lorenzo?
 42   Master Lorenzo, sola, sola!

 43   Leave hollowing, man: here.

 44   Sola! where? where?

 45   Here.

 46   Tell him there's a post come from my master, with
 47   his horn full of good news: my master will be here
 48   ere morning.


49. expect: await.
 49   Sweet soul, let's in, and there expect their coming.
 50   And yet no matter: why should we go in?
51. signify: give notice.
 51   My friend Stephano, signify, I pray you,
 52   Within the house, your mistress is at hand;
 53   And bring your music forth into the air.

           Exit Messenger.

 54   How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!
 55   Here will we sit and let the sounds of music
 56   Creep in our ears: soft stillness and the night
57. Become: suit, befit. touches: notes (literally, the fingering of a musical instrument).
 57   Become the touches of sweet harmony.
 58   Sit, Jessica. Look how the floor of heaven
59. patens: thin metal plates or disks.
 59   Is thick inlaid with patens of bright gold:
 60   There's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st
 61   But in his motion like an angel sings,
62. quiring: singing in harmony. young-ey'd: i.e., eternally clear-sighted.
 62   Still quiring to the young-ey'd cherubins;
 63   Such harmony is in immortal souls;
64. muddy vesture of decay: i.e., mortal flesh.
 64   But whilst this muddy vesture of decay
65. close it in: i.e., enclose the soul. hear it: i.e., hear the music of the spheres.
 65   Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.

           [Enter MUSICIANS.]

66. Diana: the moon-goddess.

 66   Come, ho! and wake Diana with a hymn!
 67   With sweetest touches pierce your mistress' ear,
 68   And draw her home with music.

Music: musicians (so also in line 98).
            Play Music.

 69   I am never merry when I hear sweet music.

70. spirits are attentive: faculties are concentrated; the spirits would be in motion . . . more 71. wanton: untrained (cf. line 72 unhandled, with similar meaning). 72. race: herd.
 70   The reason is, your spirits are attentive:
 71   For do but note a wild and wanton herd,
 72   Or race of youthful and unhandled colts,
 73   Fetching mad bounds, bellowing and neighing loud,
 74   Which is the hot condition of their blood;
 75   If they but hear perchance a trumpet sound,
 76   Or any air of music touch their ears,
77. mutual: common or simultaneous.
 77   You shall perceive them make a mutual stand,
 78   Their savage eyes turn'd to a modest gaze
79. the poet: perhaps Ovid, who tells the story of the Thracian musician Orpheus in his Metamorphoses. 80. Orpheus: legendary musician. drew: attracted, charmed. 81. stockish: resembling a block of wood; i.e., unfeeling.
 79   By the sweet power of music: therefore the poet
 80   Did feign that Orpheus drew trees, stones and floods;
 81   Since nought so stockish, hard and full of rage,
 82   But music for the time doth change his nature.
 83   The man that hath no music in himself,
 84   Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
85. stratagems: deceptive tricks. spoils: acts of plunder.
 85   Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils;
 86   The motions of his spirit are dull as night
87. Erebus: the hell of classical mythology; primeval darkness.
 87   And his affections dark as Erebus:
 88   Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music.

           Enter PORTIA and NERISSA.

 89   That light we see is burning in my hall.
 90   How far that little candle throws his beams!
91. naughty: wicked.
 91   So shines a good deed in a naughty world.

 92   When the moon shone, we did not see the candle.

 93   So doth the greater glory dim the less:
 94   A substitute shines brightly as a king
 95   Unto the king be by, and then his state
 96   Empties itself, as doth an inland brook
97. main of waters: ocean.
 97   Into the main of waters. Music! hark!

 98   It is your music, madam, of the house.

99. respect: reference to other circumstances, comparison, context.
 99   Nothing is good, I see, without respect:
100   Methinks it sounds much sweeter than by day.

101   Silence bestows that virtue on it, madam.

102   The crow doth sing as sweetly as the lark,
103. When neither is attended: i.e., when each sings alone.
103   When neither is attended, and I think
104   The nightingale, if she should sing by day,
105   When every goose is cackling, would be thought
106   No better a musician than the wren.
107. by season season'd are: are matured by favorable occasion.
107   How many things by season season'd are
108   To their right praise and true perfection!
109. Endymion: a shepherd loved by the moon-goddess, who caused him to be cast into a perpetual sleep in a cave on Mount Latmos where she could visit him.
109   Peace, ho! the moon sleeps with Endymion
110   And would not be awaked.

           [Music ceases.]

110                                         That is the voice,
111   Or I am much deceived, of Portia.

112   He knows me as the blind man knows the cuckoo,
113   By the bad voice.

113                Dear lady, welcome home.

114   We have been praying for our husbands' healths,
115. Which speed: who thrive.
115   Which speed, we hope, the better for our words.
116   Are they return'd?

116                Madam, they are not yet;
117   But there is come a messenger before,
118   To signify their coming.

118                                           Go in, Nerissa;
119   Give order to my servants that they take
120   No note at all of our being absent hence;
121   Nor you, Lorenzo; Jessica, nor you.

tucket: distinctive series of notes on a trumpet.
            [A tucket sounds.]

122   Your husband is at hand; I hear his trumpet:
123   We are no tell-tales, madam; fear you not.

124   This night methinks is but the daylight sick;
125   It looks a little paler: 'tis a day,
126   Such as the day is when the sun is hid.

           Enter BASSANIO, ANTONIO,
           GRATIANO, and their FOLLOWERS.

127‑28. We should hold day with the Antipodes, / If you would walk in absence of the sun: i.e., if you, Portia, like a second sun, always walked at night (when it is day on the other side of the world), . . . more
127   We should hold day with the Antipodes,
128   If you would walk in absence of the sun.

129. not be light: not be wanton, unfaithful.
129   Let me give light, but let me not be light;
130. heavy: sad, sorrowful.
130   For a light wife doth make a heavy husband,
131   And never be Bassanio so for me:
132. sort: decide, dispose.
132   But God sort all! You are welcome home, my lord.

133   I thank you, madam. Give welcome to my friend.
134   This is the man, this is Antonio,
135   To whom I am so infinitely bound.

136. in all sense: in every way, with every reason.
136   You should in all sense be much bound to him.
137   For, as I hear, he was much bound for you.

138   No more than I am well acquitted of.

139   Sir, you are very welcome to our house:
140   It must appear in other ways than words,
141. scant: make brief. breathing courtesy: courteous speaking, utterance of welcome.
141   Therefore I scant this breathing courtesy.

      GRATIANO [To Nerissa.]
142    By yonder moon I swear you do me wrong;
143   In faith, I gave it to the judge's clerk:
144. gelt: gelded [castrated]. for my part: as far as I'm concerned.
144   Would he were gelt that had it, for my part,
145   Since you do take it, love, so much at heart.

146   A quarrel, ho, already! what's the matter?

147   About a hoop of gold, a paltry ring
148. posy: motto, sometimes in verse (posy ~ poesy), inscribed inside a ring.
148   That she did give me, whose posy was
149   For all the world like cutler's poetry
150. leave: part with.
150   Upon a knife, "Love me, and leave me not."

151   What talk you of the posy or the value?
152   You swore to me, when I did give it you,
153   That you would wear it till your hour of death
154   And that it should lie with you in your grave:
155   Though not for me, yet for your vehement oaths,
156. respective: mindful, careful.
156   You should have been respective and have kept it.
157   Gave it a judge's clerk! no, God's my judge,
158   The clerk will ne'er wear hair on's face that had it.

159   He will, an if he live to be a man.

160   Ay, if a woman live to be a man.

161   Now, by this hand, I gave it to a youth,
162. scrubbed: scrubby, stunted.
162   A kind of boy, a little scrubbed boy,
163   No higher than thyself; the judge's clerk,
164   A prating boy, that begg'd it as a fee:
165   I could not for my heart deny it him.

166   You were to blame, I must be plain with you,
167   To part so slightly with your wife's first gift:
168   A thing stuck on with oaths upon your finger
169   And so riveted with faith unto your flesh.
170   I gave my love a ring and made him swear
171   Never to part with it; and here he stands;
172   I dare be sworn for him he would not leave it
173   Nor pluck it from his finger, for the wealth
174. masters: possesses.
174   That the world masters. Now, in faith, Gratiano,
175   You give your wife too unkind a cause of grief:
176. mad: beside myself.
176   An 'twere to me, I should be mad at it.

      BASSANIO [Aside.]
177    Why, I were best to cut my left hand off
178   And swear I lost the ring defending it.

179   My Lord Bassanio gave his ring away
180   Unto the judge that begg'd it and indeed
181   Deserved it too; and then the boy, his clerk,
182   That took some pains in writing, he begg'd mine;
183   And neither man nor master would take aught
184   But the two rings.

184                               What ring gave you my lord?
185   Not that, I hope, which you received of me.

186   If I could add a lie unto a fault,
187   I would deny it; but you see my finger
188   Hath not the ring upon it; it is gone.

189   Even so void is your false heart of truth.
190   By heaven, I will ne'er come in your bed
191   Until I see the ring.

191                                   Nor I in yours
192   Till I again see mine.

192                                     Sweet Portia,
193   If you did know to whom I gave the ring,
194   If you did know for whom I gave the ring
195   And would conceive for what I gave the ring
196   And how unwillingly I left the ring,
197   When nought would be accepted but the ring,
198   You would abate the strength of your displeasure.

199. virtue: power, efficacy.
199   If you had known the virtue of the ring,
200   Or half her worthiness that gave the ring,
201. contain: retain.
201   Or your own honor to contain the ring,
202   You would not then have parted with the ring.
203   What man is there so much unreasonable,
204   If you had pleased to have defended it
205. wanted the modesty: who would have been so lacking in moderation as. 206. urge: insist on being given. ceremony: sacred pledge.
205   With any terms of zeal, wanted the modesty
206   To urge the thing held as a ceremony?
207   Nerissa teaches me what to believe:
208   I'll die for't but some woman had the ring.

209   No, by my honor, madam, by my soul,
210. civil doctor: doctor of civil law.
210   No woman had it, but a civil doctor,
211   Which did refuse three thousand ducats of me
212   And begg'd the ring; the which I did deny him
213   And suffer'd him to go displeased away;
214   Even he that did uphold the very life
215   Of my dear friend. What should I say, sweet lady?
216   I was enforced to send it after him;
217   I was beset with shame and courtesy;
218   My honor would not let ingratitude
219   So much besmear it. Pardon me, good lady;
220   For, by these blessed candles of the night,
221   Had you been there, I think you would have begg'd
222   The ring of me to give the worthy doctor.

223   Let not that doctor e'er come near my house:
224   Since he hath got the jewel that I loved,
225   And that which you did swear to keep for me,
226. liberal: (1) generous; (2) sexually free.
226   I will become as liberal as you;
227   I'll not deny him any thing I have,
228   No, not my body nor my husband's bed:
229   Know him I shall, I am well sure of it:
230. from: away from. Argus: a mythological hundred-eyed monster.
230   Lie not a night from home; watch me like Argus:
231   If you do not, if I be left alone,
232   Now, by mine honor, which is yet mine own,
233   I'll have that doctor for my bedfellow.

234   And I his clerk; therefore be well advised
235   How you do leave me to mine own protection.

236   Well, do you so; let not me take him, then;
237. pen: With ribald second sense.
237   For if I do, I'll mar the young clerk's pen.

238   I am the unhappy subject of these quarrels.

239   Sir, grieve not you; you are welcome notwithstanding.

240   Portia, forgive me this enforced wrong;
241   And, in the hearing of these many friends,
242   I swear to thee, even by thine own fair eyes,
243   Wherein I see myself—

243                                     Mark you but that!
244   In both my eyes he doubly sees himself;
245. double: With play on the double reflection and the sense "deceitful." 246. of credit: worthy to be believed.
245   In each eye, one: swear by your double self,
246   And there's an oath of credit.

246                                                   Nay, but hear me:
247   Pardon this fault, and by my soul I swear
248   I never more will break an oath with thee.

249. wealth: welfare.
249   I once did lend my body for his wealth;
250   Which, but for him that had your husband's ring,
251   Had quite miscarried: I dare be bound again,
252   My soul upon the forfeit, that your lord
253. advisedly: intentionally, deliberately.
253   Will never more break faith advisedly.

254   Then you shall be his surety. Give him this
255   And bid him keep it better than the other.

256   Here, Lord Bassanio; swear to keep this ring.

257   By heaven, it is the same I gave the doctor!

258   I had it of him: pardon me, Bassanio;
259   For, by this ring, the doctor lay with me.

260   And pardon me, my gentle Gratiano;
261   For that same scrubbed boy, the doctor's clerk,
262. In lieu of: in return for.
262   In lieu of this last night did lie with me.

263‑264. this is like the mending of highways / In summer, where the ways are fair enough: this development makes what was fairly bad before even worse. 265. cuckolds: husbands whose wives are unfaithful.
263   Why, this is like the mending of highways
264   In summer, where the ways are fair enough:
265   What, are we cuckolds ere we have deserved it?

266. amaz'd: bewildered.
266   Speak not so grossly. You are all amaz'd:
267   Here is a letter; read it at your leisure;
268   It comes from Padua, from Bellario:
269   There you shall find that Portia was the doctor,
270   Nerissa there her clerk: Lorenzo here
271   Shall witness I set forth as soon as you
272   And even but now return'd; I have not yet
273   Enter'd my house. Antonio, you are welcome;
274   And I have better news in store for you
275   Than you expect: unseal this letter soon;
276   There you shall find three of your argosies
277   Are richly come to harbour suddenly:
278   You shall not know by what strange accident
279   I chanced on this letter.

279                                           I am dumb.

280   Were you the doctor and I knew you not?

281   Were you the clerk that is to make me cuckold?

282   Ay, but the clerk that never means to do it,
283   Unless he live until he be a man.

284   Sweet doctor, you shall be my bed-fellow:
285   When I am absent, then lie with my wife.

286   Sweet lady, you have given me life and living;
287   For here I read for certain that my ships
288. road: anchorage.
288   Are safely come to road.

288                                         How now, Lorenzo!
289   My clerk hath some good comforts too for you.

290   Ay, and I'll give them him without a fee.
291   There do I give to you and Jessica,
292   From the rich Jew, a special deed of gift,
293   After his death, of all he dies possess'd of.

294   Fair ladies, you drop manna in the way
295   Of starved people.

295                It is almost morning,
296   And yet I am sure you are not satisfied
297   Of these events at full. Let us go in;
298. charge us there upon inter'gatories: require us to answer all things under oath.
298   And charge us there upon inter'gatories,
299   And we will answer all things faithfully.

300   Let it be so: the first inter'gatory
301   That my Nerissa shall be sworn on is,
302. stay: wait.
302   Whether till the next night she had rather stay,
303   Or go to bed now, being two hours to day:
304   But were the day come, I should wish it dark,
305   That I were couching with the doctor's clerk.
306. fear: be concerned about.
306   Well, while I live I'll fear no other thing
307. ring: with sexual suggestion.
307   So sore as keeping safe Nerissa's ring.