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.
1The moon shines bright: in such a night as this,
2When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees
3And they did make no noise, in such a night
4Troilus methinks mounted the Troyan walls
5And sigh'd his soul toward the Grecian tents,
6Where Cressid lay that night.
6In 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).
7Did Thisbe fearfully o'ertrip the dew
8And saw the lion's shadow ere himself
9And ran dismay'd away.
9In such a night
10. Dido: queen of Carthage who loved Aeneas and was deserted by him. willow: The emblem of slighted love.
10Stood Dido with a willow in her hand
11Upon the wild sea banks and waft her love
12To come again to Carthage.
12In 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.
13Medea gather'd the enchanted herbs
14That did renew old Aeson.
14In such a night
15Did Jessica steal from the wealthy Jew
16. unthrift: prodigal.
16And with an unthrift love did run from Venice
17As far as Belmont.
17In such a night
18Did young Lorenzo swear he loved her well,
19Stealing her soul with many vows of faith
20And ne'er a true one.
20In such a night
21. shrow: shrew.
21Did pretty Jessica, like a little shrow,
22Slander her love, and he forgave it her.
23I would out-night you, did no body come;
24. footing: footsteps.
24But, hark, I hear the footing of a man.
Enter a MESSENGER [STEPHANO].
25Who comes so fast in silence of the night?
27A friend! what friend? your name, I pray you, friend?
28Stephano is my name; and I bring word
29My mistress will before the break of day
30Be here at Belmont; she doth stray about
31. holy crosses: wayside crosses or shrines (common both in England and in Italy).
31By holy crosses, where she kneels and prays
32For happy wedlock hours.
32Who comes with her?
33None but a holy hermit and her maid.
34I pray you, is my master yet return'd?
35He is not, nor we have not heard from him.
36But go we in, I pray thee, Jessica,
37And ceremoniously let us prepare
38Some 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).
39Sola, sola! wo ha, ho! sola, sola!
41Sola! did you see Master Lorenzo?
42Master Lorenzo, sola, sola!
43Leave hollowing, man: here.
44Sola! where? where?
46Tell him there's a post come from my master, with
47his horn full of good news: my master will be here
49. expect: await.
49Sweet soul, let's in, and there expect their coming.
50And yet no matter: why should we go in?
51. signify: give notice.
51My friend Stephano, signify, I pray you,
52Within the house, your mistress is at hand;
53And bring your music forth into the air.
54How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!
55Here will we sit and let the sounds of music
56Creep in our ears: soft stillness and the night
57. Become: suit, befit. touches: notes (literally, the fingering of a musical instrument).
57Become the touches of sweet harmony.
58Sit, Jessica. Look how the floor of heaven
59. patens: thin metal plates or disks.
59Is thick inlaid with patens of bright gold:
60There's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st
61But in his motion like an angel sings,
62. quiring: singing in harmony. young-ey'd: i.e., eternally clear-sighted.
62Still quiring to the young-ey'd cherubins;
63Such harmony is in immortal souls;
64. muddy vesture of decay: i.e., mortal flesh.
64But 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.
65Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.
66Come, ho! and wake Diana with a hymn!
67With sweetest touches pierce your mistress' ear,
68And draw her home with music.
69I 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.
70The reason is, your spirits are attentive:
71For do but note a wild and wanton herd,
72Or race of youthful and unhandled colts,
73Fetching mad bounds, bellowing and neighing loud,
74Which is the hot condition of their blood;
75If they but hear perchance a trumpet sound,
76Or any air of music touch their ears,
77. mutual: common or simultaneous.
77You shall perceive them make a mutual stand,
78Their 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.
79By the sweet power of music: therefore the poet
80Did feign that Orpheus drew trees, stones and floods;
81Since nought so stockish, hard and full of rage,
82But music for the time doth change his nature.
83The man that hath no music in himself,
84Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
85. stratagems: deceptive tricks. spoils: acts of plunder.
85Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils;
86The motions of his spirit are dull as night
87. Erebus: the hell of classical mythology; primeval darkness.
87And his affections dark as Erebus:
88Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music.
Enter PORTIA and NERISSA.
89That light we see is burning in my hall.
90How far that little candle throws his beams!
91. naughty: wicked.
91So shines a good deed in a naughty world.
92When the moon shone, we did not see the candle.
93So doth the greater glory dim the less:
94A substitute shines brightly as a king
95Unto the king be by, and then his state
96Empties itself, as doth an inland brook
97. main of waters: ocean.
97Into the main of waters. Music! hark!
98It is your music, madam, of the house.
99. respect: reference to other circumstances, comparison, context.
99Nothing is good, I see, without respect:
100Methinks it sounds much sweeter than by day.
101Silence bestows that virtue on it, madam.
102The crow doth sing as sweetly as the lark,
103. When neither is attended: i.e., when each sings alone.
103When neither is attended, and I think
104The nightingale, if she should sing by day,
105When every goose is cackling, would be thought
106No better a musician than the wren.
107. by season season'd are: are matured by favorable occasion.
107How many things by season season'd are
108To 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.
109Peace, ho! the moon sleeps with Endymion
110And would not be awaked.
110That is the voice,
111Or I am much deceived, of Portia.
112He knows me as the blind man knows the cuckoo,
113By the bad voice.
113Dear lady, welcome home.
114We have been praying for our husbands' healths,
115. Which speed: who thrive.
115Which speed, we hope, the better for our words.
116Are they return'd?
116Madam, they are not yet;
117But there is come a messenger before,
118To signify their coming.
118Go in, Nerissa;
119Give order to my servants that they take
120No note at all of our being absent hence;
121Nor you, Lorenzo; Jessica, nor you.
tucket: distinctive series of notes on a trumpet.
[A tucket sounds.]
122Your husband is at hand; I hear his trumpet:
123We are no tell-tales, madam; fear you not.
124This night methinks is but the daylight sick;
125It looks a little paler: 'tis a day,
126Such 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
127We should hold day with the Antipodes,
128If you would walk in absence of the sun.
129. not be light: not be wanton, unfaithful.
129Let me give light, but let me not be light;
130. heavy: sad, sorrowful.
130For a light wife doth make a heavy husband,
131And never be Bassanio so for me:
132. sort: decide, dispose.
132But God sort all! You are welcome home, my lord.
133I thank you, madam. Give welcome to my friend.
134This is the man, this is Antonio,
135To whom I am so infinitely bound.
136. in all sense: in every way, with every reason.
136You should in all sense be much bound to him.
137For, as I hear, he was much bound for you.
138No more than I am well acquitted of.
139Sir, you are very welcome to our house:
140It must appear in other ways than words,
141. scant: make brief. breathing courtesy: courteous speaking, utterance of welcome.
141Therefore I scant this breathing courtesy.
GRATIANO [To Nerissa.]
142By yonder moon I swear you do me wrong;
143In faith, I gave it to the judge's clerk:
144. gelt: gelded [castrated]. for my part: as far as I'm concerned.
144Would he were gelt that had it, for my part,
145Since you do take it, love, so much at heart.
146A quarrel, ho, already! what's the matter?
147About a hoop of gold, a paltry ring
148. posy: motto, sometimes in verse (posy ~ poesy), inscribed inside a ring.
148That she did give me, whose posy was
149For all the world like cutler's poetry
150. leave: part with.
150Upon a knife, "Love me, and leave me not."
151What talk you of the posy or the value?
152You swore to me, when I did give it you,
153That you would wear it till your hour of death
154And that it should lie with you in your grave:
155Though not for me, yet for your vehement oaths,
156. respective: mindful, careful.
156You should have been respective and have kept it.
157Gave it a judge's clerk! no, God's my judge,
158The clerk will ne'er wear hair on's face that had it.
159He will, an if he live to be a man.
160Ay, if a woman live to be a man.
161Now, by this hand, I gave it to a youth,
162. scrubbed: scrubby, stunted.
162A kind of boy, a little scrubbed boy,
163No higher than thyself; the judge's clerk,
164A prating boy, that begg'd it as a fee:
165I could not for my heart deny it him.
166You were to blame, I must be plain with you,
167To part so slightly with your wife's first gift:
168A thing stuck on with oaths upon your finger
169And so riveted with faith unto your flesh.
170I gave my love a ring and made him swear
171Never to part with it; and here he stands;
172I dare be sworn for him he would not leave it
173Nor pluck it from his finger, for the wealth
174. masters: possesses.
174That the world masters. Now, in faith, Gratiano,
175You give your wife too unkind a cause of grief:
176. mad: beside myself.
176An 'twere to me, I should be mad at it.
177Why, I were best to cut my left hand off
178And swear I lost the ring defending it.
179My Lord Bassanio gave his ring away
180Unto the judge that begg'd it and indeed
181Deserved it too; and then the boy, his clerk,
182That took some pains in writing, he begg'd mine;
183And neither man nor master would take aught
184But the two rings.
184What ring gave you my lord?
185Not that, I hope, which you received of me.
186If I could add a lie unto a fault,
187I would deny it; but you see my finger
188Hath not the ring upon it; it is gone.
189Even so void is your false heart of truth.
190By heaven, I will ne'er come in your bed
191Until I see the ring.
191Nor I in yours
192Till I again see mine.
193If you did know to whom I gave the ring,
194If you did know for whom I gave the ring
195And would conceive for what I gave the ring
196And how unwillingly I left the ring,
197When nought would be accepted but the ring,
198You would abate the strength of your displeasure.
199. virtue: power, efficacy.
199If you had known the virtue of the ring,
200Or half her worthiness that gave the ring,
201. contain: retain.
201Or your own honor to contain the ring,
202You would not then have parted with the ring.
203What man is there so much unreasonable,
204If 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.
205With any terms of zeal, wanted the modesty
206To urge the thing held as a ceremony?
207Nerissa teaches me what to believe:
208I'll die for't but some woman had the ring.
209No, by my honor, madam, by my soul,
210. civil doctor: doctor of civil law.
210No woman had it, but a civil doctor,
211Which did refuse three thousand ducats of me
212And begg'd the ring; the which I did deny him
213And suffer'd him to go displeased away;
214Even he that did uphold the very life
215Of my dear friend. What should I say, sweet lady?
216I was enforced to send it after him;
217I was beset with shame and courtesy;
218My honor would not let ingratitude
219So much besmear it. Pardon me, good lady;
220For, by these blessed candles of the night,
221Had you been there, I think you would have begg'd
222The ring of me to give the worthy doctor.
223Let not that doctor e'er come near my house:
224Since he hath got the jewel that I loved,
225And that which you did swear to keep for me,
226. liberal: (1) generous; (2) sexually free.
226I will become as liberal as you;
227I'll not deny him any thing I have,
228No, not my body nor my husband's bed:
229Know him I shall, I am well sure of it:
230. from: away from. Argus: a mythological hundred-eyed monster.
230Lie not a night from home; watch me like Argus:
231If you do not, if I be left alone,
232Now, by mine honor, which is yet mine own,
233I'll have that doctor for my bedfellow.
234And I his clerk; therefore be well advised
235How you do leave me to mine own protection.
236Well, do you so; let not me take him, then;
237. pen: With ribald second sense.
237For if I do, I'll mar the young clerk's pen.
238I am the unhappy subject of these quarrels.
239Sir, grieve not you; you are welcome notwithstanding.
240Portia, forgive me this enforced wrong;
241And, in the hearing of these many friends,
242I swear to thee, even by thine own fair eyes,
243Wherein I see myself
243Mark you but that!
244In 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.
245In each eye, one: swear by your double self,
246And there's an oath of credit.
246Nay, but hear me:
247Pardon this fault, and by my soul I swear
248I never more will break an oath with thee.
249. wealth: welfare.
249I once did lend my body for his wealth;
250Which, but for him that had your husband's ring,
251Had quite miscarried: I dare be bound again,
252My soul upon the forfeit, that your lord
253. advisedly: intentionally, deliberately.
253Will never more break faith advisedly.
254Then you shall be his surety. Give him this
255And bid him keep it better than the other.
256Here, Lord Bassanio; swear to keep this ring.
257By heaven, it is the same I gave the doctor!
258I had it of him: pardon me, Bassanio;
259For, by this ring, the doctor lay with me.
260And pardon me, my gentle Gratiano;
261For that same scrubbed boy, the doctor's clerk,
262. In lieu of: in return for.
262In 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.
263Why, this is like the mending of highways
264In summer, where the ways are fair enough:
265What, are we cuckolds ere we have deserved it?
266. amaz'd: bewildered.
266Speak not so grossly. You are all amaz'd:
267Here is a letter; read it at your leisure;
268It comes from Padua, from Bellario:
269There you shall find that Portia was the doctor,
270Nerissa there her clerk: Lorenzo here
271Shall witness I set forth as soon as you
272And even but now return'd; I have not yet
273Enter'd my house. Antonio, you are welcome;
274And I have better news in store for you
275Than you expect: unseal this letter soon;
276There you shall find three of your argosies
277Are richly come to harbour suddenly:
278You shall not know by what strange accident
279I chanced on this letter.
279I am dumb.
280Were you the doctor and I knew you not?
281Were you the clerk that is to make me cuckold?
282Ay, but the clerk that never means to do it,
283Unless he live until he be a man.
284Sweet doctor, you shall be my bed-fellow:
285When I am absent, then lie with my wife.
286Sweet lady, you have given me life and living;
287For here I read for certain that my ships
288. road: anchorage.
288Are safely come to road.
288How now, Lorenzo!
289My clerk hath some good comforts too for you.
290Ay, and I'll give them him without a fee.
291There do I give to you and Jessica,
292From the rich Jew, a special deed of gift,
293After his death, of all he dies possess'd of.
294Fair ladies, you drop manna in the way
295Of starved people.
295It is almost morning,
296And yet I am sure you are not satisfied
297Of these events at full. Let us go in;
298. charge us there upon inter'gatories: require us to answer all things under oath.
298And charge us there upon inter'gatories,
299And we will answer all things faithfully.
300Let it be so: the first inter'gatory
301That my Nerissa shall be sworn on is,
302. stay: wait.
302Whether till the next night she had rather stay,
303Or go to bed now, being two hours to day:
304But were the day come, I should wish it dark,
305That I were couching with the doctor's clerk.
306. fear: be concerned about.
306Well, while I live I'll fear no other thing
307. ring: with sexual suggestion.
307So sore as keeping safe Nerissa's ring.