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The bargain of your faith, I do beseech you,
Even at that time I may be married too.
Bass. With all my heart, so thou canst get a wife.
Gra. I thank your lordship; you have got me one.
My eyes, my lord, can look as swift as yours:
You saw the mistress, I beheld the maid;
You lov'd, I lov'd; for intermission
No more pertains to me, my lord, than you.
Your fortune stood upon the caskets there;
And so did mine too, as the matter falls :
For wooing here, until I sweat again;
And swearing, till my very roof was dry
With oaths of love; at last,-if promise last,-
I got a promise of this fair one here,
To have her love, provided that vour fortune
Achiev'd her mistress.
Ner. Madam, it is, so you stand pleas'd withal.
Bass. And do you, Gratiano, mean good faith?
Gra. Yes, faith, my lord.
Bass. Our feast shall be much honor'd in your marriage.
Lorenzo, Jessica and Salanio, bring a Letter from Antonio to Bassanio, acquainting him with his losses, and that the Bond to the Jew is forfeited. Bassanio is struck with horror at the tidings, and determines to leave Portia and proceed immediately to his friend; Portia insists that the marriage ceremony between them, shall be first solemnized, and furnishes him with money more than sufficient to discharge the Bond.
After the departure of Bassanio and his friends, Portia determines to follow them, and assist in saving Antonio from the Jew's malignity. She writes to her cousin Bellario, who is a Doctor of Law, and requests his advice on the nature of the Bond given by Antonio; fortified with Bellario's opinion, she goes to Venice, where assuming the disguise of a Doctor of Law, or Counsellor, with Nerissa as her clerk, she attends the Trial of the Merchant.
We are now introduced to the catastrophe of this magnificent Drama-the Trial Scene; and taken as an isolated Scene, it stands perhaps the most perfect piece of composition to be found in the whole range of Dramatic writing.
SCENE I.-Venice. A Court of Justice.
Enter the DUKE, the Magnificoes; ANTONIO, Bassanio, GratiaNG, SALARINO, SALANIO, and others.
Duke. What, is Antonio here?
Ant. Ready, so please your grace.
Duke. I am sorry for thee: thou art come to answer
A stony adversary, an inhuman wretch
Uncapable of pity, void and empty
From any dram of mercy.
Your grace has ta'en great pains to qualify
His rigorous course; but since he stands obdurate,
And that no lawful means can carry me
Out of his envy's reach, I do oppose
My patience to his fury; and am arm'd
To suffer, with a quietness of spirit,
The very tyranny and rage of his.
Duke. Go one, and call the Jew into the court.
Salan. He's ready at the door: he comes, my lord.
Duke. Make room, and let him stand before our face.--
Shylock, the world thinks, and I think so too,
That thou but lead'st this fashion of thy malice
To the last hour of act; and then, 'tis thought,
Thou'lt show thy mercy and remorse, more strange
Than is thy strange apparent cruelty :
And where thou now exact'st the penalty,
(Which is a pound of this poor merchant's flesh,)
Thou wilt not only lose the forfeiture,
But touch'd with human gentleness and love,
Forgive a moiety of the principal;
Glancing an eye of pity on his losses
That have of late so huddled on his back,
Enough to press a royal merchant down,
And pluck commiseration of his state
From brassy bosoms, and rough hearts of flint,
From stubborn Turks, and Tartars, never train'd
To offices of tender courtesy.
We all expect a gentle answer, Jew.
Shy. I have possess'd your grace of what I purpose;
And by our holy Sabbath have I sworn,
To have the due and forfeit of my bond:
If you deny it, let the danger light
Upon your charter, and your city's freedom.
You'll ask me, why I rather choose to have
A weight of carrion flesh, than to receive
Three thousand ducats: I'll not answer that:
But, say, it is my humor; Is it answer'd?
What if my house be troubled with a rat,
And I be pleas'd to give ten thousand ducats
To have it ban'd? What, are you answer'd yet?
Some men there are, love not a gaping pig;
Some, that are mad, if they behold a cat:
As there is no firm reason to be render'd,
Why he cannot abide a gaping pig;
Why he, a harmless necessary cat;
So can I give no reason, nor I will not,
More than a lodg'd hate, and a certain loathing
I bear Antonio, that I follow thus
A losing suit against him. Are you answer'd?
Bass. This is no answer, thou unfeeling man,
To excuse the current of thy cruelty.
Shy. I am not bound to please thee with my answer.
Bass. Do all men kill the things they do not love?
Shy. Hates any man the thing he would not kill?
Bass. Every offence is not a hate at first.
Shy. What, would'st thou have a serpent sting thee twice
Ant. I pray you, think you question with the Jew:
You may as well go stand upon the beach,
And bid the main flood bate his usual height;
You may as well use question with the wolf,
Why he hath made the ewe bleat for the lamb;
You may as well forbid the mountain pines
To wag their high tops, and to make no noise,
When they are fretted with the gusts of heaven;
You may as well do any thing most hard,
As seek to soften that (than which what's harder ?)
His Jewish heart :-Therefore, I do beseech you,
Make no more offers, use no further means,
But, with all brief and plain conveniency,
Let me have judgment, and the Jew his will.
Bass. For thy three thousand ducats here is six.
Shy. If every ducat in six thousand ducats,
Were in six parts, and every part a ducat,
I would not draw them, I would have my
Duke. How shalt thou hope for mercy, rend'ring none? Shy. What judgment shall I dread, doing no wrong?
You have among you many a purchas'd slave,
Which, like your asses, and your dogs, and mules,
You use in abject and in slavish parts,
Because you bought them :-Shall I say to you,
Let them be free, marry them to your heirs?
Why sweat they under burdens? let their beds
Be made as soft as yours, and let their palates
Be season'd with such viands? You will answer,
The slaves are ours :-So do I answer you;
The pound of flesh, which I demand of him,
Is dearly bought, 'tis mine, and I will have it :
If you deny me, fye upon your law!
There is no force in the decrees of Venice:
I stand for judgment: answer; shall I have it?
Duke. Upon my power, I may dismiss this court,
Unless Bellario, a learned doctor,
Whom I have sent for to determine this,
My lord, here stays without
A messenger with letters from the doctor,
New come from Padua.
Duke. Bring us the letters; call the messenger.
Bass. Good cheer, Antonio! What, man? courage yet!
The Jew shall have my flesh, blood, bones, and all,
Ere thou shalt lose for me one drop of blood.
Ant. I am a tainted wether of the flock,
Meetest for death; the weakest kind of fruit
Drops earliest to the ground, and so let me :
You cannot better be employ'd, Bassanio,
Than to live still, and write mine epitaph.
Enter NERISSA, dressed like a lawyer's clerk.
Duke. Came you from Padua, from Bellario?
Ner. From both, my lord: Bellario greets your grace.
Bass. Why dost thou whet thy knife so earnestly?
Shy. To cut the forfeiture from that bankrupt there.
Gra. Not on thy sole, but on thy soul, harsh Jew,
Thou mak'st thy knife keen: but no metal can,
No, not the hangman's axe, bear half the keenness
Of thy sharp envy. Can no prayers pierce thee?
Shy. No, none that thou hast wit enough to make.
Gra. O, be thou curs'd, inexorable dog!
And for thy life let justice be accus'd.
Thou almost mak'st me waver in my faith,
To hold opinion with Pythagoras,
That souls of animals infuse themselves
Into the trunks of men: thy currish spirit
Govern'd a wolf, for thy desires
Are wolfish, bloody, starv'd, and ravenous.
Shy. Till thou canst rail the seal from off my bond,
Thou but offend'st thy lungs to speak so loud:
Repair thy wit, good youth; or it will fall
To cureless ruin. I stand here for law.
Duke. This letter from Bellario doth commend A young and learned doctor to our court:Where is he?
He attendeth here hard by,
To know your answer, whether you'll admit him.
Duke. With all my heart :-some three or four of you, Go give him courteous conduct to this place.
Meantime, the court shall hear Bellario's letter.
[Clerk reads.]-Your grace shall understand, that, at the receipt of your letter, I am very sick: but in the instant that your messenger came, in loving visitation was with me a young doctor of Rome, his name is Balthasar: I acquainted him with the cause in controversy between the Jew and Antonio the merchant: we turn'd o'er many books together: he is furnish'd with my opinion; which, better'd with his
mon learning, (the greatness whereof I cannot enough commend, comes with him, at my importunity, to fill up your grace's request in my stead. I beseech you, let his lack of years be no impediment to let him lack a reverend estimation; for I never knew so young a body with so old a head. I leave him to your gracious acceptance, whose trial shall better publish his commendation.
Duke. You hear the learned Bellario, what he writes: And here, I take it, is the doctor come.
Enter PORTIA, dressed like a doctor of laws.
Give me your hand: Came you from old Bellario?
Por. I did, my lord.
You are welcome: take your place.
Are you acquainted with the difference
That holds this present question in the court?
Por. I am informed thoroughly of the cause.
Which is the merchant here, and which the Jew?
Duke. Antonio and old Shylock, both stand forth!
Por. Is your name Shylock?
Shylock is my name.
Por. Of a strange nature is the suit you follow ;
Yet in such a rule, that the Venetian law
Cannot impugn you, as you do proceed.-
You stand within his danger, do you not?
Ant. Ay, so he says.
Then must the Jew be merciful.
Shy. On what compulsion must I ? tell me that.
Por. The quality of mercy is not strain'd;
It droppeth, as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath : it is twice bless'd;
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes :
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this scepter'd sway,
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this-
That in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much,