The Merchant of Venice
by William Shakespeare
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The Merchant of Venice Easiest-to-Read Edition
Table of Contents
Venice, a Street
Enter ANTONIO, SALARINO, and SOLANIO
In sooth (truth), I know not why I am so sad.
It wearies me; you say it wearies you.
But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,
What stuff ’tis made of, whereof it is born,
I am to learn.
And such a want-wit sadness makes of me
That I have much ado to know myself.
Your mind is tossing on the ocean,
There, where your argosies with portly sail,
argosies with portly sail=large merchant ships with inflated sails
Like signors and rich burghers on the flood—
the flood=the sea
Or, as it were, the pageants of the sea—
pageants=stages like floats
Do overpeer the petty traffickers
petty traffickers=small ships
That curtsy to them [and] do them reverence
As they (argosies) fly by them with their woven wings.
Believe me, sir, had I such venture forth,
venture forth=business afoot
The better part of my affections would
Be with my hopes abroad. I should be still
Plucking the grass to know where sits the wind,
Peering in maps for ports and piers and roads.
And every object that might make me fear
Misfortune to my ventures out of doubt
out of doubt=undoubtedly
Would make me sad.
[If I had such a shipping business] My wind cooling my broth
Would blow me to an ague when I thought
What harm a wind too great at sea might do.
I should not see the sandy hourglass (sand in an hourglass) run
But I should think of shallows and of flats
And see my wealthy (loaded with merchandise) Andrew docked in sand,
Vailing her high top lower than her ribs
To kiss her burial [ground]. Should I (if I had such a business I would) go to church
And see the holy edifice of stone
And [would I] not bethink me straight of dangerous rocks,
Which, touching but my gentle vessel’s side,
Would scatter all her spices on the stream (water),
Enrobe the roaring waters with my silks,
And, in a word, but, even now, worth this
And, now, worth nothing? Shall I have the thought
To think on this, and shall I lack the thought
That such a thing bechanced would make me sad?
bechanced=should it happen
But tell not me. I know Antonio
Is sad to think upon his merchandise.
Believe me, no. I thank my fortune for it—
My ventures are not in one bottom trusted,
Nor to one place, nor is my whole estate
[dependent] Upon the fortune of this present year.
Therefore my merchandise makes me not sad.
Why, then, you are in love.
Not in love neither? Then let us say you are sad
Because you are not merry—and ’twere as easy
For you to laugh and leap and say you are merry
Because you are not sad. Now, by two-headed Janus,
(Janus could be both happy and sad at the same time)
Nature hath framed strange fellows in her time -
Some that will evermore peep through their eyes
And laugh like parrots at a bagpiper
And other of such vinegar aspect
That they’ll not show their teeth in way of smile,
Though Nestor swear the jest be laughable.
(Nestor was the oldest and wisest of the Greek gods)
Enter BASSANIO, LORENZO, and GRATIANO
Here comes Bassanio, your most noble kinsman,
Gratiano, and Lorenzo. Fare ye well.
We leave you now with better company.
I would have stayed till I had made you merry
If worthier friends had not prevented me.
worthier friends=Bassanio, Lorenzo, and Gratiano
Your worth is very dear in my regard.
I take it your own business calls on you
And you embrace th' occasion to depart.
(to BASSANIO, LORENZO, GRATIANO)
Good morrow, my good lords.
(to SALARINO and SOLANIO)
Good signors both, when shall we laugh? Say, when?
You grow exceeding strange. Must it be so?
We’ll make our leisures to attend on yours.
Exeunt SALARINO and SOLANIO
My Lord Bassanio, since you have found Antonio,
We two will leave you. But at dinnertime
I pray you have in mind where we must meet.
I will not fail you.
You look not well, Signor Antonio.
You have too much respect upon the world.
respect upon the world=concern for business affairs
They lose it that do buy it with much care.
Believe me, you are marvelously changed.
I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano,
A stage where every man must play a part
And mine a sad one.
Let me play the fool.
With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come,
And let my liver rather heat with wine
Than my heart cool with mortifying groans.
(groans were thought to draw heat from the heart)
Why should a man whose blood is warm within
Sit like his grandsire cut in alabaster,
grandsire cut in alabaster=grandfather’s statue on a grave
Sleep when he wakes and creep into the jaundice
creep into the jaundice=turn yellow
By being peevish? I tell thee what, Antonio—
I love thee, and ’tis my love that speaks—
There are a sort of men whose visages
Do cream and mantle like a standing pond,
cream and mantle=stiffly cover, such as with scum on a stagnant pond
And do a willful stillness entertain
With purpose to be dressed in an opinion
Of wisdom, gravity, profound conceit,
profound conceit=deep thought
As who should say (as if to say), “I am Sir Oracle,
And, when I ope my lips, let no dog bark!”
O, my Antonio, I do know of those
That therefore only are reputed wise
For saying nothing, when I am very sure,
If they should speak, [they] would almost damn those ears
Which, hearing them, would call [even] their [own] brothers fools.
Matthew 5:22 – whoever calls his brother a fool shall be punished
I’ll tell thee more of this another time,
But fish not with this melancholy bait
For this fool gudgeon, this opinion.—
gudgeon=small, gullible fish
Come, good Lorenzo.—Fare ye well awhile.
I’ll end my exhortation after dinner.
Well, we will leave you then till dinnertime.
I must be (it must be that I am) one of these same dumb wise men,
For Gratiano never lets me speak.
Well, keep me company but two years more,
[and] Thou shalt not know the sound of thine own tongue.
Farewell. I’ll grow a talker for this gear.
gear=conversation (was pertinent in its own day – some think that “year” is meant)
Thanks, i' faith, for silence is only commendable
In (in the case of) a neat’s tongue dried and a maid not vendible.
(man too old and no maid available)
Exeunt GRATIANO and LORENZO
Is that anything [to listen to] now?
Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of nothing, more than any man in all Venice. His reasons are as two grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff—you shall seek all day ere (before) you find them, and, when you have them, they are not worth the search.
Well, tell me now what lady is the same,
To whom you swore a secret pilgrimage,
That you today promised to tell me of?
'Tis not unknown to you, Antonio,
How much I have disabled mine estate
By something showing a more swelling port
swelling port=splendid life-style
Than my faint means would grant continuance.
Nor do I now make moan to be abridged
From such a noble rate. But my chief care
rate=manner of living
Is to come fairly off from the great debts
Wherein my time something too prodigal
Hath left me gaged. To you, Antonio,
I owe the most in money and in love,
And from your love I have a warranty
a warranty=an obligation
To unburden all my plots and purposes
How to get clear of all the debts I owe.
I pray you, good Bassanio, let me know it,
And, if it stand, as you yourself still do
Within the eye of honor, be assured
My purse, my person, my extremest means
Lie all unlocked to your occasions.
In my school days, when I had lost one shaft,
I shot his fellow of (on) the selfsame flight
The selfsame way with more advisèd watch
To find the other [already shot] forth—and, by adventuring both,
I oft found both. I urge this childhood proof
Because what follows is pure innocence.
I owe you much, and, like a willful youth,
That which I owe is lost, but, if you please
To shoot another arrow that self way
Which you did shoot the first, I do not doubt,
As I will watch the aim, or (either) to find both
Or bring your latter hazard back again (repaid)
And thankfully rest debtor [only] for the first.
You know me well and herein spend but time
To wind about my love with circumstance,
And out of doubt you do me now more wrong
In making question of my uttermost
uttermost=the most that I can do
Than if you had made waste of all I have.
Then, do but say to me what I should do
That in your knowledge may by me be done,
And I am pressed unto it. Therefore speak.
In Belmont is a lady richly left,
And she is fair and—fairer than that word (better still)—
Of wondrous virtues. Sometimes (formerly) from her eyes
I did receive fair speechless messages.
Her name is Portia, nothing undervalued (in no way inferior)
To Cato’s daughter, Brutus' Portia.
Nor is the wide world ignorant of her worth,
For the four winds blow in from every coast
Renownèd suitors, and her sunny locks
Hang on her temples like a golden fleece,
Which makes her seat of Belmont Colchis' strand,
Colchis=country where Jason won the golden fleece
And many Jasons come in quest of her.
O, my Antonio, had I but the means
To hold a rival place with one of them,
I have a mind presages me such thrift
presages me such thrift=foretells such success
That I should questionless be fortunate!
Thou know’st that all my fortunes are at sea.
Neither have I money nor commodity
To raise a present sum. Therefore, go forth,
Try what my credit can in Venice do—
That shall be racked even to the uttermost
racked=stretched to the point of torture
To furnish thee to [go to] Belmont, to fair Portia.
furnish thee=supply thee
Go presently inquire, and so will I,
Where money is, and I no question make
(I have no doubt I’ll have it)
To have it of my trust or for my sake.
of my trust or for my sake=on credit or on my word
Belmont. A room in Portia’s house
Enter PORTIA and NERISSA
By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is aweary of this great world.
You would be, sweet madam, if your miseries were in the same abundance as your good fortunes are. And, yet, for aught I see, they are as sick that surfeit (are overfed) with too much as they that starve with nothing. It is no mean happiness, therefore, to be seated in the mean. Superfluity comes sooner by white hairs (brings white hair sooner), but competency (sufficiency) lives longer.
Good sentences and well pronounced.
They would be better if well followed.
If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been (would have been) churches and poor men’s cottages princes' palaces. It is a good divine (clergyman) that follows his own instructions. I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done than be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching. The brain may devise laws for the blood (passions), but a hot temper leaps o'er a cold decree. Such a hare (“hot temper”) is madness the youth—to skip o'er the meshes of good counsel (“cold decree”), the cripple (youths cripple themselves by ignoring good counsel - ?). But this reasoning is not in the fashion to choose me a husband. O me, the word “choose!” I may neither choose whom I would nor refuse whom I dislike—so is the will of a living daughter curbed by the will of a dead father. Is it not hard, Nerissa, that I cannot choose one nor refuse none?
Your father was ever (always) virtuous, and holy men at their death have good inspirations (exalted ideas). Therefore, the lottery that he hath devised in these three chests (later referred to as caskets) of gold, silver, and lead, whereof who chooses his meaning chooses you, will no doubt never be chosen by any rightly but one who shall rightly love. But what warmth is there in your affection towards any of these princely suitors that are already come?
I pray thee, overname them, and, as thou namest them, I will describe them, and, according to my description, level at my affection.
level at my affection=guess how well I like them
First, there is the Neapolitan prince.
Ay, that’s a colt indeed, for he doth nothing but talk of his horse, and he makes it a great appropriation to his own good parts that he can shoe him himself. I am much afeard my lady his mother played false with a smith (blacksmith).
Then there is the County Palatine (a count having royal privileges, as in a palace).
He doth nothing but frown, as who should say (as if to say), “An (if) you will not have me, choose [someone else].” He hears merry tales and smiles not. I fear he will prove the weeping philosopher (such as Heraclitus, known for melancholy) when he grows old, being so full of unmannerly sadness in his youth. I had rather be married to a death’s-head with a bone in his mouth (skull and crossbones) than to either of these. God defend me from these two!
How say you by the French lord, Monsieur le Bon?
God made him, and, therefore, let him pass for a man. In truth, I know it is a sin to be a mocker, but he!—why, he hath a horse better than the Neapolitan’s, a better bad habit of frowning than the Count Palatine. He is every man in no man. If a throstle (thrush) sing, he falls straight a-capering. He will fence with his own shadow. If I should marry him, I should marry twenty husbands. If he would despise me, I would forgive him (give him up), for, if he love me to madness, I shall never requite him (be even with him).
What say you then to Falconbridge, the young baron of
You know I say nothing to him, for he understands not me, nor I him. He hath neither Latin, French, nor Italian, and you will come into the court and swear that I have a poor pennyworth in the English. He is a proper man’s picture, but, alas, who can converse with a dumb show (theatrical presentation without speech)? How oddly he is suited! I think he bought his doublet (coat) in Italy, his round hose (short pants) in France, his bonnet in Germany, and his behavior everywhere.
What think you of the Scottish lord, his neighbor?
That he hath a neighborly charity in him, for he borrowed a box of the ear (blow on the head) of the Englishman and swore he would pay him again when he was able. I think the Frenchman became his surety and sealed under for another (guaranteed he would be insurance to give the Scottish lord another blow on the head).
How like you the young German, the Duke of Saxony’s nephew?
Very vilely in the morning, when he is sober, and most vilely in the afternoon, when he is drunk. When he is best he is a little worse than a man, and when he is worst he is little better than a beast. And the worst fall that ever fell (if ever we marry and he dies), I hope I shall make shift (contrive) to go [on] without him.
If he should offer to choose and choose the right casket, you should (would) refuse to perform your father’s will if you should refuse to accept him.
Therefore, for fear of the worst, I pray thee, set a deep glass of rhenish wine on the contrary casket, for if the devil be within and that temptation without, I know he will choose it. I will do anything, Nerissa, ere (before) I’ll be married to a sponge.
You need not fear, lady, the having any of these lords. They have acquainted me with their determinations, which is indeed to return to their home and to trouble you with no more suit unless you may be won by some other sort than your father’s imposition depending on the caskets.
If I live to be as old as Sibylla (Sibylla lived as many years as the number of grains of sand that she held in her hand), I will die as chaste as Diana (Jupiter granted Diana permission to live in perpetual celibacy) unless I be obtained by the manner of my father’s will. I am glad this parcel of wooers are so reasonable, for there is not one among them but I dote on his very absence. And I pray God grant them a fair departure.
Do you not remember, lady, in your father’s time a Venetian, a scholar and a soldier, that came hither in company of the Marquess of Montferrat?
Yes, yes, it was Bassanio—as I think he was so called.
True, madam. He, of all the men that ever my foolish eyes looked upon, was the best deserving a fair lady.
I remember him well, and I remember him worthy of thy praise.
Enter a SERVINGMAN
How now, what news?
The four strangers seek for you, madam, to take their leave, and there is a forerunner come from a fifth, the Prince of Morocco, who brings word the prince his master will be here tonight.
If I could bid the fifth welcome with so good a heart as I can bid the other four farewell, I should be glad of his approach. If he have the condition (disposition) of a saint and the complexion of a devil, I had rather he should shrive me (hear my confession) than wive me. Come, Nerissa.—(to SERVANT) Sirrah, go before. Whiles we shut the gates upon one wooer, another knocks at the door.
A public place
Enter BASSANIO and SHYLOCK
Three thousand ducats ($20,000 or so), well.
Ay, sir, for three months.
For three months, well.
For the which, as I told you, Antonio shall be bound (under obligation).
Antonio shall become bound, well.
May you stead me? Will you pleasure me? Shall I know your answer?
(can you supply me?)
Three thousand ducats for three months and Antonio bound.
Your answer to that?
Antonio is a good man.
Have you heard any imputation to the contrary?
Ho, no, no, no, no. My meaning in saying he is a good man is to have you understand me that he is sufficient. Yet, his means are in supposition. He hath an argosy (large ship) bound to Tripolis, another to the Indies. I understand, moreover, upon the Rialto (center of commercial activity in Venice), he hath a third at Mexico, a fourth for England, and other ventures he hath squandered (scattered) abroad. But ships are but boards, sailors but men. There be land rats and water rats, water thieves and land thieves—I mean pirates (“pi-rats”)—and then there is the peril of waters, winds, and rocks. The man is notwithstanding (nevertheless) sufficient. Three thousand ducats. I think I may take his bond.
Be assured you may.
I will be assured I may, and that I may be assured,
I will bethink me. May I speak with Antonio?
If it please you to dine with us.
Yes—to smell pork, to eat of the habitation which your prophet the Nazarite conjured the devil into (Jesus cast devils into a herd of swine). I will buy with you, sell with you, talk with you, walk with you, and so following (and so on), but I will not eat with you, drink with you, nor pray with you. What news on the Rialto? Who is he comes here?
This is Signor Antonio.
(aside) How like a fawning publican (tax collector) he looks!
I hate him, for he is a Christian,
But more for that in low simplicity
He lends out money gratis and brings down
The rate of usance (usury) here with us in Venice.
If I can catch him once upon the hip,
upon the hip=at my mercy (a wrestling term)
I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him.
He hates our sacred nation, and he rails (speaks abusively)
sacred nation=Jews, specially chosen by God
Even there where merchants most do congregate (that is, the Rialto),
On me, my bargains, and my well-won thrift,
Which he calls “interest.” Cursèd be my tribe (the tribe of Israel)
If I forgive him!
Shylock, do you hear?
I am debating of my present store,
And by the near guess of my memory
I cannot instantly raise up the gross
Of full three thousand ducats. What of that?
Tubal, a wealthy Hebrew of my tribe,
Will furnish me. But soft! How many months
Do you desire?
(to ANTONIO) Rest you fair (be at ease), good signor.
Your worship was the last man in our mouths.
Shylock, albeit I neither lend nor borrow
By taking nor by giving of excess,
Yet, to supply the ripe wants of my friend,
I’ll break a custom.
(to BASSANIO) Is he yet possessed [of]
How much ye would [desire]?
Ay, ay, three thousand ducats.
And for three months.
I had forgot—three months.
(to BASSANIO) You told me so.
(to ANTONIO) Well then, your bond, and let me see—But hear you,
Methought you said you neither lend nor borrow
Upon advantage (with interest).
I do never use it.
When Jacob grazed his uncle Laban’s sheep—
This Jacob from our holy Abram was,
As his wise mother wrought (arranged for) in his behalf,
The third possessor, ay, he was the third (Abraham, Isaac, and, third, Jacob)—
And what of him? Did he take interest?
No, not take interest—not as you would say
Directly interest. Mark what Jacob did:
When Laban and himself were compromised (agreed)
That all the eanlings which were streaked and pied
Should fall as Jacob’s hire (income), the ewes, being rank,
In the end of autumn turnèd to the rams.
And when the work of generation was
Between these woolly breeders in the act,
The skillful shepherd peeled me certain wands (sticks),
And, in the doing of the deed of kind,
deed of kind=act of procreation
He stuck them up before (in front of) the fulsome (lustful) ewes,
Who then conceiving did in eaning time
Fall (give birth to) parti-colored lambs—and those were Jacob’s.
(whatever the mother saw at the time of conception was thought physically to impress itself on her offspring)
This was a way to thrive, and he was blessed,
And thrift is blessing, if men steal it not.
thrift=profit (a blessing if men don’t steal to get it)
This was a venture, sir, that Jacob served for—
(Jacob served Laban for seven years instead of paying a dowry for Rachel)
A thing not in his power to bring to pass
But swayed and fashioned by the hand of heaven.
swayed and fashioned=governed and shaped
Was this inserted [into the Bible story] to make interest [look] good,
Or is your gold and silver [your wealth not in ducats but in] ewes and rams?
I cannot tell. I make it breed as fast.
I cannot tell=I make money either way
But note me, signor—
ANTONIO (to Bassanio)_
Mark you this, Bassanio,
The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
An evil soul producing holy witness
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
A goodly apple rotten at the heart.
Oh, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!
Three thousand ducats—’tis a good round sum.
Three months from twelve, then. Let me see. The rate—
Well, Shylock, shall we be beholding to you?
Signor Antonio, many a time and oft
In the Rialto you have rated me
About my moneys and my usances.
Still have I borne it with a patient shrug,
For sufferance is the badge of all our tribe.
You call me misbeliever, cutthroat dog,
And spat upon my Jewish gaberdine—
gabardine=cloth for making Jewish costumes
And all for use of that which is mine own.
Well, then, it now appears you need my help.
Go to, then! You come to me and you say,
“Shylock, we would have moneys.” You say so!—
You, that did void your rheum upon my beard
And foot me as you spurn a stranger cur
foot me=kick me
Over your threshold! Moneys is your suit.
What should I say to you? Should I not say,
“Hath a dog money? Is it possible
A cur can lend three thousand ducats?” Or
Shall I bend low and in a bondman’s key (slave’s tone)
With bated breath and whispering humbleness
“Fair sir, you spat on me on Wednesday last;
You spurned me such a day; another time
You called me ’dog'—and for these courtesies
I’ll lend you thus much moneys?”
I am as like to call thee so again,
To spit on thee again, to spurn thee, too.
If thou wilt lend this money, lend it not
As to thy friends, for when did friendship take
A breed for barren metal of his friend?
a breed for barren metal of his friend=money, gaining interest, from his friend
But lend it rather to thine enemy,
Who, if he break, thou mayst with better face
Exact the penalty.
Why, look you how you storm!
I would be friends with you and have your love,
Forget the shames that you have stained me with,
Supply your present wants and take no doit
Of usance for my moneys—and you’ll not hear me!
doit=small coin=tiny amount
This is kind I offer.
kind=a natural loan without the complexities of usury
This were kindness.
This kindness will I show.
Go with me to a notary, seal me there
Your single bond, and—in a merry sport—
If you repay me not on such a day,
In such a place, such sum or sums as are
Expressed in the condition, let the forfeit
Be nominated for an equal pound
Of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken
In what part of your body pleaseth me.
Content, in faith. I’ll seal to such a bond
And say there is much kindness in the Jew.
You shall not seal to such a bond for me!
I’ll rather dwell in my necessity.
necessity=the bare necessities
Why, fear not, man. I will not forfeit it.
Within these two months—that’s a month before
This bond expires—I do expect return
Of thrice three times the value of this bond.
O, Father Abram, what these Christians are,
Whose own hard dealings teaches them suspect
The thoughts of others!—Pray you, tell me this:
If he should break his day, what should I gain
By the exaction of the forfeiture?
A pound of man’s flesh taken from a man
Is not so estimable, profitable neither,
As flesh of muttons, beefs, or goats. I say,
To buy his favor I extend this friendship.
If he will take it, so. If not, adieu.
And for my love I pray you wrong me not.
Yes, Shylock, I will seal unto this bond.
Then meet me forthwith at the notary’s.
Give him direction for this merry bond,
And I will go and purse the ducats straight,
See to my house left in the fearful guard
Of an unthrifty knave, and presently
unthrifty knave=careless youngster
I will be with you.
Hie (hasten) thee, gentle Jew.
The Hebrew will turn Christian. He grows kind.
I like not fair terms and a villain’s mind.
Come on. In this there can be no dismay.
My ships come home a month before the day.
Belmont. A room in Portia’s house
Flourish cornets. Enter the Prince of MOROCCO, a tawny Moor, all in white, and three or four followers accordingly, with PORTIA, NERISSA, and their train
Mislike me not for my complexion,
The shadowed livery of the burnished sun,
shadowed livery=dark-colored costume
To whom I am a neighbor and near bred.
near bred=closely related
Bring me the fairest creature northward born,
Where Phoebus' fire scarce thaws the icicles,
And let us make incision for your love
To prove whose blood is reddest, his or mine.
I tell thee, lady, this aspect (look) of mine
Hath feared (caused fear in) the valiant. By my love I swear
The best-regarded virgins of our clime
Have loved it (his aspect), too. I would not change this hue
Except to steal your thoughts, my gentle queen.
In terms of choice I am not solely led
By nice direction of a maiden’s eyes.
Besides, the lottery of my destiny
Bars me the right of voluntary choosing.
But if my father had not scanted me
And hedged me (fenced me in) by his wit to yield myself
His wife who wins me by that means I told you,
his wife who wins=to be the wife of him who wins
that means I told you=her father’s test
Yourself, renownèd Prince, then stood as fair
As any comer I have looked on yet
comer=comer for my affection
For my affection.
Even for that I thank you.
Therefore, I pray you lead me to the caskets
To try my fortune. By this scimitar
That slew the Sophy and a Persian prince
That won three fields of Sultan Suleiman,
I would o'erstare the sternest eyes that look,
Outbrave the heart most daring on the earth,
Pluck the young sucking cubs from the she-bear,
Yea, mock the lion when he roars for prey,
To win the lady. But, alas the while!
If Hercules and Lychas play at dice
Which is the better man? The greater throw
May turn, by (thanks to) fortune, from the weaker hand.
(fortune can make a servant the winner)
So is Alcides beaten by his page,
And so may I, blind fortune leading me,
Miss that which one unworthier may attain
And [I] die with grieving.
You must take your chance
And either not attempt to choose at all
Or swear, before you choose, if you choose wrong
Never to speak to lady afterward
In way of marriage. Therefore be advised.
Nor will not. Come, bring me unto my chance.
(nor will I ever woo another to be my wife)
First, forward to the temple [to take the oath]. After dinner
Your hazard shall be made.
Good fortune then!—
To make me blessed or cursed’st among men.
(most blessed or most cursed)
Venice. A street
Enter LAUNCELOT the clown, alone
Certainly my conscience will serve me to run from (abandon) this Jew, my master. The fiend (Satan) is at mine elbow and tempts me, saying to me, “Gobbo (Launcelot’s family name),” “Launcelot Gobbo,” “Good Launcelot,” or “Good Gobbo,” or “Good Launcelot Gobbo” —“use your legs, take the start (get going), run away.” My conscience says, “No. Take heed, honest Launcelot. Take heed, honest Gobbo,” or as aforesaid, “Honest Launcelot Gobbo, do not run. Scorn running. Withe thy heels.” (withe=tie together) Well, the most courageous (his courage gets others in trouble, not himself) fiend bids me pack (run away). “Fia!” says the fiend [and] “away!” says the fiend. “For the heavens (for heaven’s sake), rouse up a brave mind,” says the fiend, “and run.” Well, my conscience, hanging about the neck of my heart (timidly), says very wisely to me, “My honest friend Launcelot, being an honest man’s son”—or rather an honest woman’s son, for indeed my father did something smack (flavorful), something grow to (something that erects). He had a kind of taste (his father was a lecher).—Well, my conscience says, “Launcelot, budge not.” “Budge!” says the fiend. “Budge not,” says my conscience. “Conscience,” say I, “you counsel well.” “Fiend,” say I, “you counsel well.” To be ruled by my conscience I should stay with the Jew my master, who, God bless the mark, is a kind of devil. And to run away from the Jew I should be ruled by the fiend, who, saving your reverence, is the devil himself. Certainly the Jew is the very devil incarnation (incarnate). And in my conscience, my conscience is but a kind of hard conscience, to offer to counsel me to stay with the Jew. The fiend gives the more friendly counsel. I will run, fiend. My heels are at your command. I will run.
Enter Old GOBBO with a basket
Master young man, you, I pray you, which is the way to
(aside) O heavens, this is my true-begotten (begetting) father, who, being more than sand-blind—high-gravel blind, knows me not. I will try confusions with him.
Master young gentleman, I pray you, which is the way to
Turn up on your right hand at the next turning, but at the next turning of all on your left. Marry (by the Virgin Mary), at the very next turning turn of no hand, but turn down indirectly to the Jew’s house.
By God’s sonties (saints), ’twill be a hard way to hit. Can you tell me whether one Launcelot that dwells with him [still] dwells with him or no?
Talk you of young Master Launcelot? (aside) Mark me now. Now will I raise the waters.—Talk you of young Master Launcelot?
No “master,” sir, but a poor man’s son. His father, though I say ’t, is an honest exceeding poor man and, God be thanked, well to live (alive and well).
Well, let his father be what he will, we talk of young
Your worship’s friend and [merely] Launcelot, sir.
But I pray you, ergo (therefore), old man, ergo, I beseech you, talk you of young Master Launcelot?
Of Launcelot, an ’t please your mastership.
Ergo, Master Launcelot. Talk not of Master Launcelot, Father, for the young gentleman, according to Fates and Destinies and such odd sayings, the Sisters Three and such branches of learning, is indeed deceased, or as you would say in plain terms, gone to heaven.
Marry, God forbid! The boy was the very staff of my age, my very prop.
(to audience) Do I look like a cudgel or a hovel-post (post supporting a shed), a staff or a prop?
Do you know me, Father?
Alack the day, I know you not, young gentleman. But I pray you, tell me, is my boy, God rest his soul, alive or dead?
Do you not know me, Father?
Alack, sir, I am sand-blind. I know you not.
Nay, indeed, if you had your eyes, you might [still] fail of the knowing me. It is a wise father that knows his own child. Well, old man, I will tell you news of your son. Give me your blessing. Truth will come to light. Murder cannot be hid long—a man’s son may [hide the truth], but in the end truth will out.
Pray you, sir, stand up. I am sure you are not Launcelot, my boy.
Pray you, let’s have no more fooling about it, but give me your blessing. I am Launcelot, your boy that was, your son that is, your child (in second childhood) that shall be.
I cannot think you are my son.
I know not what I shall think of that. But I am Launcelot, the Jew’s man, and I am sure Margery, your wife, is my mother.
Her name is Margery, indeed. I’ll be sworn, if thou be Launcelot, thou art mine own flesh and blood.(feels the back of LAUNCELOT’s head) Lord worshipped might he be (God be praised), what a beard hast thou got! Thou hast got more hair on thy chin than Dobbin my fill-horse (horse that goes between shafts) has on his tail.
It should seem, then, that Dobbin’s tail grows backward. I am sure he had more hair on his tail than I had of my face when I last saw him.
Lord, how art thou changed! How dost thou and thy master agree? I have brought him a present. How 'gree you now?
Well, well, but, for mine own part, as I have set up my rest (staked everything, term from a card game) to run away, so I will not rest till I have run some ground. My master’s a very Jew. Give him a present. Give him a halter (hangman’s noose). I am famished in his service. You may tell every finger I have with my ribs (tell every rib with your finger). Father, I am glad you are come. Give me your present to one Master Bassanio, who indeed gives [servants] rare new liveries (servants’ clothing). If I serve not him, I will run as far as God has any ground.—O, rare fortune! Here comes the man.—[Go] to him, Father, for I am a Jew if I serve the Jew any longer.
Enter BASSANIO with LEONARDO and another follower or two
(to a follower) You may do so, but let it be so hasted that supper be ready at the farthest by five of the clock. See these letters delivered, put the liveries to making (being made), and desire Gratiano to come anon to my lodging.
To him, Father.
(to BASSANIO) God bless your worship!
Gramercy (from grand merci – many thanks). Wouldst thou aught (anything) with me?
Here’s my son, sir, a poor boy—
Not a poor boy, sir, but the rich Jew’s man that would, sir, as my father shall specify—
He hath a great infection (blunder for affection/desire), sir, as one would say, to serve—
Indeed the short and the long is, I serve the Jew and have a desire, as my father shall specify—
His master and he, saving your worship’s reverence, are scarce cater-cousins (friendly cousins)—
To be brief, the very truth is that the Jew, having done me wrong, doth cause me, as my father, being, I hope, an old man, shall fructify (blunder for certify) unto you—
I have here a dish of doves that I would bestow upon your worship, and my suit is—
In very brief, the suit is impertinent (blunder for pertinent) to myself, as your worship shall know by this honest old man—and, though I say it, though old man, yet poor man, my father.
One speak for both. What would you?
Serve you, sir.
That is the very defect (blunder for effect – gist) of the matter, sir.
I know thee well. Thou hast obtained thy suit (request and also new livery).
Shylock thy master spoke with me this day
And hath preferred thee, if it be preferment
To leave a rich Jew’s service to become
The follower of so poor a gentleman [as myself].
The old proverb (“the grace of God is enough”) is very well parted (divided) between my master Shylock and you, sir—you have “the grace of God,” sir, and he hath “enough.”
Thou speak’st it well.—Go, father, with thy son.—
Take leave of thy old master and inquire
My lodging out.
Give him a livery
More guarded (ornamented) than his fellows'. See it done.
Father, in. I cannot get a service, no. I have ne'er a tongue in my head. (I had to rely on my father to speak for me) (reading his own palm) Well, if any man in Italy have a fairer table (part of the palm) which doth offer to swear [to tell the truth] upon a book, [I am much mistaken]. I shall have good fortune. Go to, here’s a simple line of life (lifeline on the palm). Here’s a small trifle of wives. Alas, fifteen wives is nothing! Eleven widows and nine maids is a simple coming-in (modest income) for one man. And then to ’scape drowning thrice and to be in peril of my life with the edge of a feather-bed—here are simple ’scapes. Well, if Fortune be a woman, she’s a good wench for this gear (business).—Father, come. I’ll take my leave of the Jew in a twinkling.
Exit LAUNCELOT the clown with Old GOBBO
I pray thee, good Leonardo, think on this (he hands him a piece of paper).
These things being bought and orderly bestowed (put away),
Return in haste, for I do feast (entertain) tonight
My best esteemed acquaintance. Hie thee, go.
My best endeavours shall be done herein.
(to LEONARDO) Where is your master?
Yonder, sir, he walks.
I have a suit to you.
You have obtained it.
You must not deny me. I must go with you to Belmont.
Why, then you must. But hear thee (listen), Gratiano.
Thou art too wild, too rude and bold of voice,
Parts that become thee happily enough
And (that) in such eyes as ours appear not faults,
But where thou art not known, why, there they show
Something too liberal. Pray thee, take pains
To allay with some cold drops of modesty
Thy skipping spirit, lest through thy wild behavior
I be misconstrued in the place I go to
And lose my hopes.
Signor Bassanio, hear me.
If I do not put on a sober habit,
Talk with respect, and swear but now and then,
Wear prayer books in my pocket, look demurely—
Nay more - while grace is saying, hood mine eyes
Thus with my hat and sigh and say, “Amen”—
Use all the observance of civility
Like one well studied in a sad ostent
To please his grandam, never trust me more.
Well, we shall see your bearing.
Nay, but I bar (exempt) tonight. You shall not gauge me
By what we do tonight.
No, that were pity.
I would entreat you rather to put on
Your boldest suit of mirth, for we have friends
That purpose (intend) merriment. But fare you well.
I have some business.
And I must [go] to Lorenzo and the rest,
But we will visit you at supper time.
A room in Shylock’s house
Enter JESSICA and LAUNCELOT the clown
I am sorry thou wilt leave my father so.
Our house is hell, and thou, a merry devil,
Didst rob it of some taste of tediousness.
But fare thee well. There is a ducat for thee,
And, Launcelot, soon at supper shalt thou see
Lorenzo, who is thy new master’s guest.
Give him this letter.
(gives LAUNCELOT a letter)
Do it secretly.
And so farewell. I would not have my father
See me in talk with thee.
Adieu! Tears exhibit (blunder for inhibit) my tongue. Most beautiful pagan, most sweet Jew! If a Christian do not play the knave and get thee, I am much deceived. But adieu. These foolish drops do something drown my manly spirit. Adieu.
Farewell, good Launcelot.
Alack, what heinous sin is it in me
To be ashamed to be my father’s child!
But though I am a daughter to his blood,
I am not to his manners. O, Lorenzo.
If thou keep promise, I shall end this strife,
Become a Christian and thy loving wife.
Enter GRATIANO, LORENZO, SALARINO, and SOLANIO
Nay, we will slink away in supper time,
Disguise us at my lodging, and return,
All in an hour.
We have not made good preparation.
We have not spoke us yet of torchbearers.
'Tis vile, unless it may be quaintly ordered,
And, better, in my mind not undertook.
'Tis now but four o'clock. We have two hours
To furnish us.
Enter LAUNCELOT with a letter
Friend Launcelot, what’s the news?
(giving LORENZO the letter)
An (if) it shall please you to break [break the seal] up this, it shall seem to signify (have news).
I know the hand. In faith, ’tis a fair hand,
And whiter than the paper it writ on
Is the fair hand that writ.
Love news, in faith?
(to LORENZO) By your leave, sir (with your permission I will depart).
Whither goest thou?
Marry, sir, to bid my old master the Jew to sup tonight with my new master the Christian.
(giving LAUNCELOT money)
Hold here, take this. Tell gentle Jessica
I will not fail her. Speak it privately.—
Will you prepare you for this masque tonight?
I am provided of a torchbearer.
Exit LAUNCELOT the clown
Ay, marry, I’ll be gone about it (get things ready) straight (straightaway).
And so will I.
Meet me and Gratiano
At Gratiano’s lodging some (approximately an) hour hence.
'Tis good we do so.
Exeunt SALARINO and SOLANIO
Was not that letter from fair Jessica?
I must needs tell thee all. She hath directed
How I shall take her from her father’s house,
What gold and jewels she is furnished with,
What page’s suit she hath in readiness.
If e'er the Jew her father come to heaven,
It will be for his gentle daughter’s sake,
And never dare Misfortune cross her foot
Unless she (Misfortune) do it under this excuse,
That she (Jessica) is issue to a faithless Jew.
Come, go with me.
(gives GRATIANO the letter)
Peruse this as thou goest.
Fair Jessica shall be my torchbearer [disguised as a page].
Before Shylock’s house
Enter SHYLOCK the Jew and his man LAUNCELOT that was the clown
Well, thou shalt see, thy eyes shall be thy judge,
The difference of (between) old Shylock and Bassanio.—
What, Jessica!—Thou shalt not gormandize
As thou hast done with me.—What, Jessica!—
And [all you ever do is] sleep and snore and rend apparel out—
rend apparel out=wear out your apparel
Why, Jessica, I say!
Who bids thee call? I do not bid thee call.
Your worship was wont to tell me that I could do nothing without bidding.
(without having been bid)
Call you? What is your will?
I am bid forth to supper, Jessica.
There are my keys.—But wherefore (why) should I go?
I am not bid for love. They flatter me.
But yet I’ll go in hate to feed upon
The prodigal Christian.—Jessica, my girl,
Look to my house. I am right loath to go.
There is some ill a-brewing towards my rest,
For I did dream of money bags tonight.
(it was unlucky to dream of money)
I beseech you, sir, go. My young master doth expect your reproach (blunder for approach).
So do I his.
And they have conspired together. I will not say you shall see a masque, but, if you do, then it was not for nothing that my nose fell a-bleeding (a prediction of bad luck) on Black Monday last at six o'clock i' th' morning falling out (the same bloody nose as I had four years ago) that year on Ash Wednesday was four year in th' afternoon (clownish nonsense talk).
What, are there masques? Hear you me, Jessica.
Lock up my doors, and, when you hear the drum
And the vile squealing of the wry-necked fife (fife player),
(wry-necked – the neck twists to play the fife from the side)
Clamber not you up to the casements then
casements=windows on hinges
Nor thrust your head into the public street
To gaze on Christian fools with varnished faces,
with varnished faces=wearing painted masks
But stop my house’s ears—I mean my casements.
Let not the sound of shallow foppery enter
My sober house. By Jacob’s staff, I swear,
(Jacob had only his staff before he got rich)
I have no mind of feasting forth tonight,
But I will go.—Go you before me, sirrah.
Say I will come.
I will go before, sir.—
Mistress, look out at window, for all this (despite all that Shylock has said).
There will come a Christian by
Will be worth a Jewess' eye.
SHYLOCK (to Jessica)
What says that fool (Launcelot) of Hagar’s offspring, ha?
(Hagar was a gentile, and her offspring, Ishmael, became an outcast)
His words were, “Farewell, mistress.” Nothing else.
The patch is kind enough but a huge feeder,
Snail-slow in profit, and he sleeps by day
More than the wildcat. Drones hive not with me.
(drone bees do not find shelter with me)
Therefore, I part with him and part with him
To one that would have him help to waste
His borrowed purse. Well, Jessica, go in.
Perhaps I will return immediately.
Do as I bid you. Shut doors after you.
Fast bind, fast find.
fast bind=close everything up, and then you will find things where you left them
A proverb never stale in thrifty mind.
Farewell, and, if my fortune be not crossed,
I have a father, you a daughter, lost.
Before Shylock’s house
Enter the masquers GRATIANO and SALARINO
This is the penthouse under which Lorenzo
Desired us to make stand.
His hour is almost past.
And it is marvel he outdwells his hour,
For lovers ever run before the clock.
Oh, ten times faster Venus' pigeons fly
(time flies when love is new)
(pigeons were associated with Venus)
To seal love’s bonds new made than they are wont
[in order]To keep obligèd faith (marriage vows) unforfeited (unbroken).
That ever holds. Who riseth from a feast
With that keen appetite that he sits down [with]?
Where is the horse that doth untread again
His tedious measures with the unbated fire
That he did pace them first? All things that are
Are with more spirit chasèd than enjoyed.
How like a younger [son, as in the parable of the prodigal son] or a prodigal
The scarfèd bark puts from (leaves) her native bay,
scarfed bark=ship decked with streamers
Hugged and embracèd by the strumpet wind!
How like the prodigal doth she return
With overweathered ribs and ragged sails
Lean, rent, and beggared by the strumpet wind!
beggared=made to look poorly
Here comes Lorenzo. More of this hereafter.
Sweet friends, your patience for my long abode (delay).
Not I but my affairs have made you wait.
When you shall please to play the thieves for wives,
(Lorenzo was arranging to steal Jessica)
I’ll watch as long for you then. Approach.
Here dwells my father Jew.—Ho! Who’s within?
Enter JESSICA above (on a balcony), disguised as a boy
Who are you? Tell me for more certainty,
Albeit (even though) I’ll swear that I do know your tongue.
Lorenzo, and thy love.
Lorenzo certain, and my love indeed—
For who love I so much? And now who knows
But you, Lorenzo, whether I am yours?
Heaven and thy thoughts are witness that thou art.
Here, catch this casket. It is worth the pains.
I am glad ’tis night, [and] you do not look on me,
For I am much ashamed of my exchange,
But love is blind, and lovers cannot see
The pretty follies that themselves commit,
For, if they could, Cupid himself would blush
To see me thus transformèd to a boy.
Descend, for you must be my torchbearer (in disguise).
What, must I hold a candle to my shames?
They in themselves, good sooth, are too too light.
Why, ’tis an office of discovery, love,
office of discovery=job to light the way
And I should be obscured.
So are you, sweet,
Even in the lovely garnish of a boy.
But come at once,
For the close night doth play the runaway (speeds on),
And we are stayed (waited) for at Bassanio’s feast.
I will make fast the doors and gild myself
With some more ducats and be with you straight.
Exit JESSICA above
Now, by my hood, a gentle and no Jew.
(hood – meaning unclear)
Beshrew me but I love her heartily.
beshrew me but I=devil take me if I do not
For she is wise, if I can judge of her,
And fair she is, if that mine eyes be true,
And true she is, as she hath proved herself,
And, therefore, like herself—wise, fair, and true—
Shall she be placèd in my constant soul.
What, art thou come?—On, gentlemen (including Jessica), away!
Our masquing mates by this time for us stay.
Exit LORENZO with JESSICA and SALARINO
Fie, fie, Gratiano! Where are all the rest?
'Tis nine o'clock. Our friends all stay for you.
No masque tonight. The wind is come about.
Bassanio presently will go aboard.
I have sent twenty out to seek for you.
I am glad on ’t. I desire no more delight
Than to be under sail and gone tonight.
A room in Portia’s house
Flourish cornets. Enter PORTIA with the Prince of MOROCCO and both their trains
(to servant) Go draw aside the curtains and discover
The several caskets to this noble prince.—
(A curtain is drawn showing a gold, silver, and lead casket)
(to MOROCCO) Now make your choice.
The first, of gold, which this inscription bears:
“Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.”
The second, silver, which this promise carries:
“Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.”
This third, dull lead, with warning all as blunt:
“Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.”
How shall I know if I do choose the right?
The one of them contains my picture, Prince.
If you choose that, then I am yours withal.
withal=along with the picture
Some god direct my judgment! Let me see.
I will survey th' inscriptions back again.
What says this leaden casket?
“Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.”
Must give—for what? For lead? Hazard for lead?
This casket threatens. Men that hazard all
Do it in hope of fair advantages.
A golden mind stoops not to shows of dross.
dross=the byproduct of smelting
I’ll then nor give nor hazard aught for lead.
nor . . . nor=neither . . . nor
What says the silver with her virgin hue?
“Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.”
“As much as he deserves!”—pause there, Morocco,
And weigh thy value with an even hand.
If thou beest rated by thy estimation,
Thou dost deserve enough, and yet enough
May not extend so far as to the lady,
And yet to be afeard of my deserving
Were but a weak disabling of myself.
As much as I deserve! Why, that’s the lady.
I do in birth deserve her, and in fortunes,
In graces, and in qualities of breeding.
But more than these, in love I do deserve.
What if I strayed no further, but chose here?
Let’s see once more this saying graved in gold,
“Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.”
Why, that’s the lady. All the world desires her.
From the four corners of the earth they come
To kiss this shrine, this mortal breathing saint.
The Hyrcanian deserts and the vasty wilds
Hyrcanian deserts=deserts near the Caspian Sea
Of wide Arabia are as thoroughfares now
For princes to come view fair Portia.
The watery kingdom, whose ambitious head
Spits in the face of heaven, is no bar
To stop the foreign spirits, but they come
(spirits didn’t like to cross water)
As o'er a brook to see fair Portia.
One of these three contains her heavenly picture.
Is ’t like (likely) that lead contains her? 'Twere damnation
To think so base a thought. It were too gross
To rib her cerecloth in the obscure grave.
to rib her cerecloth=for enclosing with lead her shroud
Or shall I think in silver she’s immured,
Being ten times undervalued (of less value) to tried gold?
O sinful thought! Never so rich a gem
Was set in worse than gold. They have in England
A coin that bears the figure of an angel
Stamped in gold, but that’s insculped upon.
But here an angel in a golden bed
Lies all within.—Deliver me the key.
Here do I choose, and thrive I as I may!
(giving MOROCCO a key)
There, take it, Prince, and if my form lies there
Then I am yours.
MOROCCO opens the golden casket
O, hell, what have we here?
A carrion Death (rotting scull), within whose empty eye
There is a written scroll. I’ll read the writing.
“All that glisters is not gold—
Often have you heard that told.
Many a man his life hath sold
But my outside to behold.
Gilded tombs do worms enfold.
Had you been as wise as bold,
Young in limbs, in judgment old,
Your answer had not been inscrolled.
(this would not have been your answer, which lies in a different casket)
Fare you well. Your suit is cold—
Cold, indeed, and labor lost.”
Then, farewell, heat, and welcome, frost!
Portia, adieu. I have too grieved a heart
To take a tedious leave. Thus losers part.
Exit MOROCCO with his train
A gentle riddance.—Draw the curtains, go.—
Let all of his complexion choose me so.
Venice. A street
Enter SALARINO and SOLANIO
Why, man, I saw Bassanio under sail.
With him is Gratiano gone along,
And in their ship I am sure Lorenzo is not.
The villain Jew with outcries raised the Duke,
Who went with him to search Bassanio’s ship.
He came too late. The ship was under sail.
But there the Duke was given to understand
That in a gondola were seen together
Lorenzo and his amorous Jessica.
Besides, Antonio certified the Duke
They were not with Bassanio in his ship.
I never heard a passion so confused,
So strange, outrageous, and so variable,
As the dog Jew did utter in the streets.
“My daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter,
Fled with a Christian! O, my Christian ducats!
Justice, the law, my ducats, and my daughter!
A sealèd bag, two sealèd bags of ducats,
Of double ducats, stol'n from me by my daughter!
And jewels—two stones, two rich and precious stones—
Stol'n by my daughter! Justice, find the girl!
She hath the stones upon her and the ducats.”
Why, all the boys in Venice follow him,
Crying, “His stones, his daughter, and his ducats!”
Let good Antonio look he keep his day (repays his loan on time),
Or he shall pay for this.
Marry, well remembered.
I reasoned with a Frenchman yesterday
Who told me, in the narrow seas (English Channel) that part
The French and English, there miscarried
miscarried=came to harm
A vessel of our country richly fraught.
I thought upon Antonio when he told me
And wished in silence that it were not his.
You were best to tell Antonio what you hear.
Yet, do not suddenly, for it may grieve him.
A kinder gentleman treads not the earth.
I saw Bassanio and Antonio part.
Bassanio told him he would make some speed
Of his return. He answered, “Do not so.
Slubber not business for my sake, Bassanio,
But stay the very riping of the time,
And, for the Jew’s bond which he hath of me,
Let it not enter in your mind of love.
Be merry and employ your chiefest thoughts
To courtship and such fair ostents of love
As shall conveniently become you there,”
And, even there, his eye being big with tears,
Turning his face he put his hand behind him,
And with affection wondrous sensible
He wrung Bassanio’s hand. And so they parted.
I think he only loves the world for him.
I pray thee, let us go and find him out
And quicken his embracèd heaviness
With some delight or other.
Do we so.
Belmont. A room in Portia’s house
Enter NERISSA and a servant
Quick, quick, I pray thee. Draw the curtain straight.
The Prince of Arragon hath ta'en his oath
And comes to his election presently.
election=choice of caskets
Flourish cornets. Enter the Prince of ARRAGON, his train, and PORTIA
Behold, there stand the caskets, noble Prince.
If you choose that wherein I am contained,
Straight shall our nuptial rites be solemnized,
But if you fail, without more speech, my lord,
You must be gone from hence immediately.
I am enjoined by oath to observe three things:
First, never to unfold to any one
Which casket ’twas I chose; next, if I fail
Of the right casket, never in my life
To woo a maid in way of marriage; lastly,
If I do fail in fortune of my choice,
Immediately to leave you and be gone.
To these injunctions every one doth swear
That comes to hazard for my worthless self.
And so (on these terms) have I addressed me. Fortune [assist me] now
To my heart’s hope! Gold, silver, and base lead.
“Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.”
You shall look fairer ere (before) I give or hazard.
What says the golden chest? Ha, let me see.
“Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.”
“What many men desire”—that “many” may be meant
By the fool multitude that choose by show,
Not learning more than the fond (foolish) eye doth teach,
Which pries not to th' interior, but, like the martlet,
martlet=martin, a bird
Builds in the weather on the outward wall,
Even in the force and road of casualty.
in the force and road of casualty=within the power and path of misfortune
I will not choose what many men desire,
Because I will not jump with common spirits
And rank me with the barbarous multitudes.
Why, then, to thee, thou silver treasure house.
Tell me once more what title thou dost bear.
“Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves,”
And well said, too, for who shall go about
To cozen fortune and be honorable
Without the stamp of merit? Let none presume
To wear an undeservèd dignity.
(“ed” at the end of a word is sometimes pronounced, sometimes not, depending on whether or not it completes the five feet of iambic pentameter. Similarly, “tion” and “sion” are sometimes two syllables, sometimes one)
O, that estates, degrees, and offices
(status, ranks, and official positions)
Were not derived corruptly and that clear honor
Were purchased by the merit of the wearer!
How many then should cover [with a hat] that stand bare,
bare=without a hat, in honor of their social superior
How many be commanded that command!
How much low peasantry would then be gleaned
From the true seed of honor! And how much honor
Picked from the chaff and ruin of the times
To be new varnished! Well, but to my choice.
“Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.”
I will assume desert (deserving).—Give me a key for this,
And instantly unlock my fortunes here.
ARRAGON opens the silver casket
Too long a pause for that which you find there.
What’s here? The portrait of a blinking idiot
Presenting me a schedule! I will read it.—
How much unlike art thou to Portia!
How much unlike my hopes and my deservings!
“Who chooseth me shall have as much as he deserves”!
Did I deserve no more than a fool’s head?
fool’s head=head of a jester
Is that my prize? Are my deserts no better?
To offend and judge are distinct offices
And of opposèd natures.
(that Arragon made the wrong choice is not in itself offensive)
What is here?
“The fire seven times tried this,
seven times – an echo of Psalm XII, 6
Seven times tried that judgment is,
That did never choose amiss.
Some there be that shadows kiss.
Such have but a shadow’s bliss.
There be fools alive, iwis,
Silvered o'er, and so was this.
silvered over=gray headed but not therefore wise
Take what wife you will to bed,
I will ever be your head.
So be gone. You are sped.”
Still more fool I shall appear
By (because of) the time I linger here.
With one fool’s head I came to woo,
But I go away with two.
two=his own plus one more from the casket
Sweet, adieu. I’ll keep my oath
Patiently to bear my wroth.”
Exeunt ARRAGON and his train
Thus hath the candle singed the moth.
O these deliberate fools! When they do choose,
They have the wisdom by their wit to lose.
The ancient saying is no heresy:
Hanging and wiving go by destiny.
Come, draw the curtain, Nerissa.
Where is my lady?
Here. What would my lord (a retort to “my lady”)?
Madam, there is alighted at your gate
A young Venetian, one that comes before
To signify th' approaching of his lord,
From whom he bringeth sensible regreets (tangible greetings),
To wit—besides commends (compliments) and courteous breath (speech)—
Gifts of rich value. Yet (up to now), I have not seen
So likely an ambassador of love.
A day in April never came so sweet
To show how costly-summer (lavish summer) was at hand
As this fore-spurrer comes before his lord.
spurrer=a rider with spurs
No more, I pray thee. I am half afeard
Thou wilt say anon he is some kin to thee [and therefore low class],
Thou spend’st such high-day (holiday) wit in praising him.
Come, come, Nerissa, for I long to see
Quick Cupid’s post that comes so mannerly.
Bassanio, Lord Love, if thy will it be!
Venice. A street
Enter SOLANIO and SALARINO
Now, what news on the Rialto?
Why, yet it lives there unchecked (only a rumor) that Antonio hath a ship of rich lading (cargo) wrecked on the narrow seas. The Goodwins I think they call the place—a very dangerous [sand] flat and fatal, where the carcasses of many a tall ship lie buried, as they say, if my gossip report be an honest woman of her word.
I would (wish) she were as lying a gossip in that as ever knapped (nibbled) ginger or made her neighbors believe she wept for the death of a third husband, but it is true, without any slips of prolixity or crossing the plain highway of talk (departing from plain speech), that the good Antonio, the honest Antonio—O, that I had a title good enough to keep his name company!
Come, the full stop (come, come, get to the point).
Ha, what sayest thou? Why, the end is he hath lost a ship.
I would it might prove the end of his losses.
Let me say “Amen” betimes (while there is yet time), lest the devil cross my prayer, for here he (the devil) comes in the likeness of a Jew.
How now, Shylock? What news among the merchants?
You knew—none so well, none so well as you—of my daughter’s flight.
That’s certain. I, for my part, knew the tailor that made the wings she flew withal.
(Jessica fled in tailor-made boys’ clothing)
And Shylock, for his own part, knew the bird was fledged (ready to fly), and then it is the complexion (disposition) of them all to leave the dam (mother).
She is damned for it.
That’s certain—if the devil (Shylock) may be her judge.
My own flesh and blood to rebel!
Out upon it, old carrion! Rebels it at these years?
(Solanio takes Shylock’s “my own flesh and blood” to refer to himself)
I say my daughter is my flesh and blood.
There is more difference between thy flesh and hers than between jet and ivory, more between your bloods than there is between red wine and rhenish. But tell us, do you hear whether Antonio have had any loss at sea or no?
There I have another bad match!—a bankrupt, a prodigal who dare scarce show his head on the Rialto, a beggar that was used to come so smug upon the mart. Let him look to his bond. He was wont to call me usurer. Let him look to his bond. He was wont to lend money for a Christian courtesy [without interest]. Let him look to his bond.
Why, I am sure, if he forfeit thou wilt not take his flesh.
What’s that good for?
To bait fish withal. If it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge. He hath disgraced me and hindered me half a million [ducats], laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation (the Jews), thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies—and what’s his reason? I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And, if you wrong us, shall we not [take] revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his (the Christian’s) humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his (the Jew’s) sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge. The villainy you teach me I will execute—and it shall go hard, but I will better the instruction.
Enter a MAN from ANTONIO
(to SOLANIO and SALARINO) Gentlemen, my master Antonio is at his house and desires to speak with you both.
We have been up and down to seek him.
Here comes another of the tribe. A third cannot be matched (cannot be found to match them) unless the devil himself turn Jew.
Exeunt SOLANIO, SALARINO, and MAN
How now, Tubal? What news from Genoa? Hast thou found my daughter?
I often came where I did hear of her but cannot find her.
Why, there, there, there, there! A diamond gone cost me two thousand ducats in Frankfurt—the curse never fell upon our nation till now! I never felt it till now—Two thousand ducats in that, and other precious, precious jewels. I would my daughter were dead at my foot and the jewels in her ear! Would she (I wish she) were hearsed (coffined) at my foot and the ducats in her coffin! No news of them (Jessica and Lorenzo)? Why, so. And I know not what’s spent in the search. Why thou, loss upon loss! The thief gone with so much, and so much to find the thief—and no satisfaction, no revenge. Nor no ill luck stirring but what lights on my shoulders, no sighs but of my breathing, no tears but of my shedding.
Yes, other men have ill luck too. Antonio, as I heard in
What, what, what? Ill luck, ill luck?
[He] Hath an argosy cast away coming from Tripolis.
I thank God, I thank God! Is ’t true, is ’t true?
I spoke with some of the sailors that escaped the wreck.
I thank thee, good Tubal. Good news, good news! Ha, ha, heard in Genoa.
Your daughter spent in Genoa, as I heard, in one night fourscore ducats.
Thou stickest a dagger in me. I shall never see my gold again. Fourscore ducats at a sitting! Fourscore ducats!
There came diverse of Antonio’s creditors in my company (accompanying me) to Venice that swear he cannot choose but break (go bankrupt).
I am very glad of it. I’ll plague him. I’ll torture him. I am glad of it.
One of them showed me a ring that he had of (from) your daughter [in exchange] for a monkey.
Out upon her! Thou torturest me, Tubal. It was my turquoise. I had it of Leah when I was a bachelor. I would not have given it for a wilderness of monkeys.
But Antonio is certainly undone.
Nay, that’s true, that’s very true. Go, Tubal, fee me (engage for me) an officer. Bespeak him a fortnight before (engage him two weeks in advance).—I will have the heart of him if he forfeit, for were he (when he is) out of Venice I can make what merchandise (profits) I will.—Go, go, Tubal, and meet me at our synagogue. Go, good Tubal. At our synagogue, Tubal.
Belmont. A room in Portia’s house
Enter BASSANIO, PORTIA, GRATIANO, NERISSA, and all their trains, including a SINGER
(to BASSANIO) I pray you, tarry. Pause a day or two
Before you hazard, for in choosing wrong
I lose your company. Therefore, forbear awhile.
There’s something tells me—but it is not love—
I would not lose you, and, you know, yourself
Hate counsels not in such a quality (in such a manner as I am speaking to you).
But lest you should not understand me well—
And yet a maiden hath no tongue but thought—
I would detain you here some month or two
Before you venture for me. I could teach you
How to choose right, but I am then forsworn (breaking my oath).
So will I never be. So may you miss me.
But, if you do, you’ll make me wish a sin,
That I had been forsworn (that I had broken my oath). Beshrew (devil take) your eyes,
They have o'erlooked me and divided me.
One half of me is yours, the other half yours—
Mine own, I would say, but, if mine, then yours,
And so all yours. Oh, these naughty times
Put bars between the owners and their rights!
And so, though yours, not yours. Prove it so.
Let Fortune go to hell for it, not I.
I speak too long, but ’tis to peize the time,
To eke (augment) it and to draw it out in length,
To stay you from election.
Let me choose,
For as I am, I live upon the rack (torture instrument).
Upon the rack, Bassanio? Then confess
What treason there is mingled with your love.
None but that ugly treason of mistrust
Which makes me fear th' enjoying of my love.
There may as well be amity and life
'Tween snow and fire as treason and my love.
Ay, but I fear you speak upon the rack
Where men enforcèd do speak anything.
Promise me life, and I’ll confess the truth.
Well, then, confess and live.
“Confess and love”
Had been the very sum of my confession.
O, happy torment, when my torturer
Doth teach me answers for deliverance!
But let me [go] to my fortune and the caskets.
Away, then. I am locked in one of them.
(her picture is in one casket)
If you do love me, you will find me out.
Nerissa and the rest, stand all aloof.
Let music sound while he doth make his choice.
Then, if he lose, he makes a swanlike end,
(it was thought that swans sing before dying)
Fading in music. That the comparison
May stand more proper, my eye shall be the stream
And watery deathbed for him. He may win,
And what is music then? Then music is
Even as the flourish when true subjects bow
To a new-crownèd monarch. Such it is
As are those dulcet sounds in break of day
(music was played under the bridegroom’s window)
That creep into the dreaming bridegroom’s ear
And summon him to marriage. Now he goes
With no less presence but with much more love
Than young Alcides (Hercules), when he did redeem [by killing the sea monster]
The virgin tribute [to be] paid by howling Troy
virgin tribute=king’s daughter, who was to be sacrificed to a sea monster
To the sea monster. I stand for sacrifice.
The rest aloof are the Dardanian (Trojan) wives,
With bleared (tear-streaked) visages come forth to view
The issue (outcome) of th' exploit.—Go, Hercules!
Live thou (if you live), I live. With much, much more dismay
I view the fight than thou that makest the fray.
A song, the whilst BASSANIO comments on the caskets to himself
Tell me where is fancy bred.
Or (whether) in the heart or in the head?
How begot, how nourishèd?
It is engendered in the eyes,
With gazing fed, and fancy dies
In the cradle where it lies.
Let us all ring fancy’s knell
I’ll begin it.—Ding, dong, bell.
Ding, dong, bell.
So may the outward shows be least themselves.
be least themselves=be least like their inward natures
The world is still (always) deceived with ornament.
In law, what plea so tainted and corrupt [is there]
But, being seasoned with a gracious voice,
Obscures the show of evil? In religion,
What damnèd error [is there] but some sober brow
Will bless it and approve it with a text (the Bible),
Hiding the grossness with fair ornament?
There is no vice so simple but assumes
Some mark of virtue on his (its) outward parts.
How many cowards [are there], whose hearts are all as false
As stairs of sand, wear yet upon their chins
The beards of Hercules and frowning Mars,
Who, inward searched, have livers white as milk (that is, are cowards),
And these assume but valor’s excrement (beards, long hair)
To render them redoubted. Look on beauty,
And you shall see ’tis purchased by the weight,
(cosmetics were sold by weight)
Which therein works a miracle in nature,
Making them lightest that wear most of it.
So are those crispèd snaky golden locks,
Which maketh such wanton gambols (frolics) with the wind,
Upon supposèd fairness, often known
(upon a supposedly beautiful person)
To be the dowry of a second head,
second head=head whose hair made a wig
The skull that bred them [being now] in the sepulcher (grave). Thus ornament is but the guilèd shore
To a most dangerous sea, the beauteous scarf
Veiling an Indian beauty—in a word,
The seeming truth which cunning times put on
To entrap the wisest. Therefore, then, thou gaudy gold,
Hard food for Midas, I will none of thee.
(everything that Midas touched turned to gold, including food)
Nor none of thee, thou pale and common drudge (silver coin)
'Tween man and man. But thou, thou meagre lead,
Which rather threaten’st than dost promise aught,
(lead threatens because it was used in making coffins)
THY paleness moves me more than eloquence,
And here choose I. Joy be the consequence!
(aside) How all the other passions fleet to air
As doubtful thoughts and rash-embraced despair
And shuddering fear and green-eyed jealousy!
O love, be moderate. Allay thy ecstasy.
In measure rein thy joy. Scant this excess.
I feel too much thy blessing. Make it less,
For fear I surfeit (overindulge).
(opening the lead casket)
What find I here?
Fair Portia’s counterfeit! What demigod
Hath come so near creation? Move these eyes?
Or whether, riding on the balls of mine,
Seem they in motion? Here are severed (parted) lips,
Parted with sugar breath. So sweet a bar
Should sunder such sweet friends. Here in her hairs,
The painter plays the spider and hath woven
A golden mesh t' entrap the hearts of men
Faster than gnats in cobwebs. But her eyes—
How could he see to do them? Having made one,
Methinks it should have power to steal both his
And leave itself unfurnished. Yet look how far
The substance of my praise doth wrong this shadow
In underprizing it, so far this shadow [in turn]
Doth limp behind the substance. Here’s the scroll,
The continent (container) and summary of my fortune.
“You that choose not by the view,
Chance as fair and choose as true.
Since this fortune falls to you,
Be content and seek no new.
If you be well pleased with this
And hold your fortune for (as) your bliss,
Turn you where your lady is
And claim her with a loving kiss.”
A gentle scroll. Fair lady, by your leave,
I come by note (the scroll) to give and to receive.
Like one of two contending in a prize
That thinks he hath done well in people’s eyes,
Hearing applause and universal shout,
Giddy in spirit, still gazing in a doubt
Whether these peals of praise be his (for him) or no
So, thrice fair lady, stand I even so,
As doubtful whether what I see be true
Until confirmed, signed, ratified by you.
You see me, Lord Bassanio, where I stand
Such as I am. Though for myself alone
I would not be ambitious in my wish
To wish myself much better, yet for you
I would be trebled twenty times myself—
A thousand times more fair, ten thousand times more rich—
[so] That only to stand high in your account
I might in virtue, beauties, livings, friends
Exceed account. But the full sum of me
Is sum of something which, to term in gross,
to term in gross=to state in full
Is an unlessoned girl, unschooled, unpracticed,
Happy in this: she is not yet so old
But she may learn. Happier than this:
She is not bred so dull but she can learn.
Happiest of all is that her gentle spirit
Commits itself to yours to be directed
As from her lord, her governor, her king.
Myself and what is mine to you and yours
Is now converted. But now (just now) I was the lord
Of this fair mansion, master of my servants,
Queen o'er myself, and even now, but now,
This house, these servants, and this same myself
Are yours, my lord’s. I give them with this ring,
Which, when you part from, lose, or give away,
Let it presage the ruin of your love
And be my vantage to exclaim on (denounce) you.
(gives BASSANIO a ring)
Madam, you have bereft me of all words.
Only my blood speaks to you in my veins,
And there is such confusion in my powers
As, after some oration fairly spoke
By a belovèd prince, there doth appear
[joy] Among the buzzing pleasèd multitude,
Where every something, being blent together,
Turns to a wild of nothing, save of joy,
Expressed and not expressed, but when this ring
Parts from this finger, then parts life from hence.
O, then be bold to say Bassanio’s dead!
My lord and lady, it is now our time,
our time=the time for us
That have stood by and seen our wishes prosper,
To cry, “Good joy, good joy, my lord and lady!”
My Lord Bassanio and my gentle lady,
I wish you all the joy that you can wish,
For I am sure you can wish none from me,
And when your honors mean to solemnize
your honors=Portia and Bassanio
The bargain of your faith, I do beseech you
Even at that time I may be married, too.
With all my heart, so thou canst get a wife.
so=so long as
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 loved, I loved. For intermission
No more pertains to me, my lord, than you.
Your fortune stood upon the casket 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
roof=roof of his mouth
With oaths of love, at last—if promise last—
I got a promise of this fair one here
To have her love, provided that your [good] fortune
Achieved her mistress.
Is this true, Nerissa?
Madam, it is, so [long as] you stand pleased withal.
And do you, Gratiano, mean good faith?
Yes, faith, my lord.
Our feast shall be much honored in your marriage.
(to NERISSA) We’ll play (gamble) with them the first boy for a thousand ducats.
What, and stake down (put down a stake to cover the bet)?
No, we shall ne'er win at that sport and stake down. But who comes here? Lorenzo and his infidel? What, and my old Venetian friend Salerio?
Enter LORENZO, JESSICA, and SALERIO, a messenger from Venice
Lorenzo and Salerio, welcome hither,
If that the youth of my new interest here
my new interest=my now belonging to Portia’s household
Have power to bid you welcome.
By your leave,
(with your permission)
I bid my very friends and countrymen,
Sweet Portia, welcome.
So do I, my lord.
They are entirely welcome.
(to BASSANIO) I thank your honor. For my part, my lord,
My purpose was not to have seen you here.
But, meeting with Salerio by the way,
He did entreat me, past all saying nay,
To come with him along.
I did, my lord.
And I have reason for it. Signor Antonio
Commends him[self] to you.
(gives BASSANIO letter)
Ere I ope his letter,
I pray you tell me how my good friend doth.
Not sick, my lord, unless it be in mind,
Nor well, unless in mind. His letter there
Will show you his estate.
BASSANIO opens the letter and reads it
Nerissa, cheer yond stranger. Bid her welcome.
Your hand, Salerio. What’s the news from Venice?
How doth that royal merchant, good Antonio?
I know he will be glad of our success.
We are the Jasons, we have won the fleece.
fleece=golden wool, sought by Jason, from a mythical ram
I would you had won the fleece that he hath lost.
There are some shrewd contents in yond same paper
That steals the color from Bassanio’s cheek.
Some dear friend dead, else nothing in the world
Could turn so much the constitution
Of any constant man. What, worse and worse?
With leave, Bassanio, I am half yourself,
And I must freely have the half of anything
That this same paper brings you.
O, sweet Portia,
Here are a few of the unpleasant’st words
That ever blotted paper. Gentle lady,
When I did first impart my love to you,
I freely told you, all the wealth I had
Ran in my veins. I was a gentleman,
And then I told you true. And yet, dear lady,
Rating myself at nothing, you shall see
How much I was a braggart. When I told you
My state was nothing, I should then have told you
That I was worse than nothing, for, indeed,
I have engaged myself to a dear friend,
[and have] Engaged my friend to his mere enemy
To feed my means.
Here is a letter, lady,
The paper as [parallel to] the body of my friend,
And every word in it a gaping wound,
Issuing life blood.—But is it true, Salerio?
Have all his ventures failed? What, not one hit?
From Tripolis, from Mexico and England,
From Lisbon, Barbary, and India?
And not one vessel ’scape the dreadful touch
Of merchant-marring rocks?
Not one, my lord.
Besides, it should appear that if he had
The present money to discharge the Jew,
He (Shylock) would not take it. Never did I know
A creature that did bear the shape of man
So keen and greedy to confound a man.
confound a man=take revenge on Bassanio
He plies the duke at morning and at night
And doth impeach the freedom of the state
(blame the laws that should protect him)
If they deny him justice. Twenty merchants,
The duke himself, and the magnificoes
Of greatest port have all persuaded with him,
But none can drive him from the envious plea
Of forfeiture, of justice, and his bond.
When I was with him, I have heard him swear
To Tubal and to Chus, his countrymen,
That he would rather have Antonio’s flesh
Than twenty times the value of the sum
That he did owe him, and I know, my lord,
If law, authority, and power deny not,
It will go hard with poor Antonio.
Is it your dear friend that is thus in trouble?
The dearest friend to me, the kindest man,
The best conditioned and unwearied spirit
In doing courtesies, and one in whom
The ancient Roman honor more appears
honor=dignitas, a Roman concept meaning worth
Than any that draws breath in Italy.
What sum owes he the Jew?
For me, three thousand ducats.
What, no more?
Pay him six thousand and deface the bond!
Double six thousand, and then treble that,
Before a friend of this description
Shall lose a hair through Bassanio’s fault.
First, go with me to church and call me wife,
And then away to Venice to your friend,
For never shall you lie by Portia’s side
With an unquiet soul. You shall have gold
To pay the petty debt twenty times over.
When it is paid, bring your true friend along.
My maid Nerissa and myself meantime
Will live as maids and widows.
(to NERISSA – or, maybe, Bassanio) Come, away! For you shall hence (come back – or go away) upon your wedding day.
(to BASSANIO) Bid your friends welcome, show a merry cheer.
Since you are dear bought, I will love you dear.
But let me hear the letter of your friend.
“Sweet Bassanio, my ships have all miscarried. My creditors grow cruel. My estate is very low. My bond to the Jew is forfeit. And since in paying it, it is impossible I should live, all debts are cleared between you and me if I might but see you at my death. Notwithstanding, use your pleasure. If your love do not persuade you to come, let not my letter.”
O love, dispatch all business and be gone!
Since I have your good leave to go away,
I will make haste. But till I come again,
No bed shall e'er be guilty of my stay,
No rest be interposer ’twixt us twain.
Venice. A street
Enter SHYLOCK, SOLANIO, ANTONIO, and the jailer
Jailer, look to him. Tell not me of mercy.
This is the fool that lent out money gratis [unlike the Jews, who charge interest].
Jailer, look to him.
Hear me yet, good Shylock.
I’ll have my bond. Speak not against my bond.
I have sworn an oath that I will have my bond.
Thou calledst me dog before thou hadst a cause.
But, since I am a dog, beware my fangs.
The duke shall grant me justice.
—I do wonder,
Thou naughty jailer, that thou art so fond
To come abroad with him at his request.
I pray thee, hear me speak.
I’ll have my bond. I will not hear thee speak.
I’ll have my bond, and, therefore, speak no more.
I’ll not be made a soft and dull-eyed fool
To shake the head, relent, and sigh, and yield
To Christian intercessors. Follow not.
intercessors=those who intervene
I’ll have no speaking. I will have my bond.
It is the most impenetrable cur
That ever kept with men.
Let him alone.
I’ll follow him no more with bootless prayers.
He seeks my life. His reason well I know.
I oft delivered from his forfeitures
(penalties for delinquent loans)
Many that have at times made moan to me.
Therefore, he hates me.
I am sure the duke
Will never grant this forfeiture to hold.
The duke cannot deny the course of law,
For the commodity that strangers have
With us in Venice, if it be denied,
Will much impeach the justice of his state,
Since that the trade and profit of the city
Consisteth of all nations. Therefore, go.
These griefs and losses have so bated me
That I shall hardly spare a pound of flesh
Tomorrow to my bloody creditor.—
Well, jailer, on.
—Pray God Bassanio come
To see me pay his debt, and then I care not.
Belmont. A room in Portia’s house
Enter PORTIA, NERISSA, LORENZO, JESSICA, and BALTHAZAR, a man of PORTIA’s
Madam, although I speak it in your presence,
You have a noble and a true conceit
Of godlike amity, which appears most strongly
In bearing thus the absence of your lord,
But, if you knew to whom you show this honor,
to whom=to Antonio
How true a gentleman you send relief [to],
How dear a lover of my lord your husband [is],
I know you would be prouder of the work
Than customary bounty can enforce you.
customary bounty=your usual generosity (prouder than usual)
enforce=urge upon you
I never did repent for doing good,
Nor shall not now, for, in companions
That do converse and waste the time together,
Whose souls do bear an equal yoke of love,
There must be needs a like proportion
Of lineaments, of manners, and of spirit,
Which makes me think that this Antonio,
Being the bosom lover of my lord,
Must needs be like my lord. If it be so,
How little is the cost I have bestowed
In purchasing the semblance of my soul (namely, Bassanio)
From out the state of hellish cruelty!
This comes too near the praising of myself.
Therefore, no more of it. Hear other things.
Lorenzo, I commit into your hands
The husbandry and manage of my house
Until my lord’s return. For mine own part,
I have toward heaven breathed a secret vow
To live in prayer and contemplation,
Only attended by Nerissa here
Until her husband and my lord’s return.
There is a monastery two miles off,
And there will we abide. I do desire you
Not to deny this imposition,
The which my love and some necessity
Now lays upon you.
Madam, with all my heart.
I shall obey you in all fair commands.
My people do already know my mind
And will acknowledge you and Jessica
In place of Lord Bassanio and myself.
So fare you well till we shall meet again.
Fair thoughts and happy hours attend on you!
I wish your ladyship all heart’s content.
I thank you for your wish and am well pleased
To wish it back on you. Fare you well, Jessica.
Exeunt JESSICA and LORENZO
As I have ever found thee honest [and] true,
So let me find thee still.
(gives BALTHAZAR a letter)
Take this same letter,
And use thou all th' endeavour of a man-
In-speed to Padua. See thou render this
Into my cousin’s hands, Doctor Bellario (a lawyer),
And look what notes and garments he doth give thee.
Bring them, I pray thee, with imagined speed
(speed fast as thought)
Unto the traject, to the common ferry
traject=ferry (from Italian traghetto)
Which trades to Venice. Waste no time in words,
But get thee gone. I shall be there before thee.
Madam, I go with all convenient speed.
Come on, Nerissa, I have work in hand
That you yet know not of. We’ll see our husbands
Before they think of us.
Shall they see us?
They shall, Nerissa, but in such a habit
That they shall think we are accomplishèd
With that we lack. I’ll hold thee any wager,
When we are both accoutred like young men,
I’ll prove the prettier fellow of the two
And wear my dagger with the braver grace
And speak between the change of man and boy
With a reed voice and turn two mincing steps
Into a manly stride and speak of frays
Like a fine bragging youth and tell quaint lies,
How honorable ladies sought my love,
Which I, denying, they fell sick and died—
I could not do withal! (I couldn’t help myself)—Then I’ll repent
And wish for all that, that I had not killed them,
And twenty of these puny lies I’ll tell,
[so] That men shall swear I have discontinued school
Above a twelvemonth
(been out of school more than a year – Portia’s joke).
I have within my mind
A thousand raw tricks of these bragging jacks
Which I will practice.
Why, shall we turn to men?
Nerissa’s meaning: turn into men, dressed as males
Meaning of Portia’s response: turn toward men on the side
Fie, what a question’s that
If thou wert near a lewd interpreter!
But come, I’ll tell thee all my whole device
When I am in my coach, which stays for us
At the park gate. And, therefore, haste away,
For we must measure twenty miles today.
Belmont. A garden at Portia’s house
Enter LAUNCELOT the clown and JESSICA
Yes, truly, for look you, the sins of the father are to be laid upon the children (Exodus 34:7 and others). Therefore, I promise you, I fear [for] you. I was always plain with you, and so now I speak my agitation (blunder for ?) of the matter. Therefore, be o' good cheer, for truly I think you are damned. There is but one hope in it that can do you any good, and that is but a kind of bastard hope, neither.
And what hope is that, I pray thee?
Marry, you may partly hope that your father got you not, that you are not the Jew’s daughter.
marry=by the Virgin Mary
That were a kind of bastard hope, indeed. So the sins of my mother should be visited upon me.
Truly, then, I fear you are damned both by father and mother. Thus, when I shun Scylla your father, I fall into Charybdis your mother. Well, you are gone (done for) both ways.
Scylla and Charybdis – in Greek mythology ship-wrecking monsters on two sides of a channel
I shall be saved by my husband. He hath made me a
Truly, the more to blame he. We were Christians eno' before, e'en as many as could well live one by (beside) another. This making Christians will raise the price of hogs. If we grow all to be pork-eaters, we shall not shortly have a rasher on the coals for money (at any price).
I’ll tell my husband, Launcelot, what you say. Here he comes.
I shall grow jealous of you shortly, Launcelot, if you thus get my wife into corners.
Nay, you need not fear us, Lorenzo. Launcelot and I are out [of favor with each other]. He tells me flatly there is no mercy for me in heaven because I am a Jew’s daughter, and he says you are no good member of the commonwealth (nation), for in converting Jews to Christians you raise the price of pork.
I shall answer that better to the commonwealth than you can the getting up of the Negro’s belly. The Moor is with child by you, Launcelot.
It is much that the Moor should be more than reason (more than reasonable expectation), but if she be less than an honest woman, she is, indeed, more than I took her for.
How every fool can play upon the word (Moor – more)! I think the best grace of wit will shortly turn into silence, and discourse [will] grow commendable in none only but parrots. Go in, sirrah. Bid them prepare for dinner.
That is done, sir. They have all stomachs.
(that is, they are already prepared)
Goodly Lord, what a wit-snapper are you! Then bid them prepare dinner (instead of prepare FOR dinner).
That is done, too, sir. Only “Cover!” (lay the table) is the word [instead of prepare dinner].
Will you cover (put on your hat) then, sir?
Not so, sir, neither. I know my duty [and it doesn’t include covering].
Yet more quarreling with occasion! Wilt thou show the whole wealth of thy wit in an instant? I pray thee, understand a plain man in his plain meaning. Go to thy fellows, bid them cover the table, serve in the meat, and we will come in to dinner.
For the table, sir, it shall be served in (picking up on “serve in the meat”). For the meat, sir, it shall be covered (served in a covered dish). For your coming in to dinner, sir, why, let it be as humours and conceits shall govern.
O dear discretion, how his words are suited (adapted to suit the occasion)!
The fool hath planted in his memory
An army of good words, and I do know
A many fools that stand in better place (jesters that have better jobs),
Garnished like him (with as good a vocabulary), that for a tricksy word (a play on words)
Defy the matter (change the subject). How cheerest thou, Jessica?
And now, good sweet, say thy opinion.
How dost thou like the Lord Bassanio’s wife?
Past all expressing. It is very meet
The Lord Bassanio live an upright life,
For, having such a blessing in his lady,
He finds the joys of heaven here on earth,
And, if on earth he do not merit it,
In reason (it stands to reason) he should never come to heaven.
Why, if two gods should play some heavenly match
And on the wager lay two earthly women
And Portia one, there must be something else
Pawned (staked) with the other, for the poor rude world
Hath not her fellow.
Even such a husband
Hast thou of me as she is for a wife.
Nay, but ask my opinion, too, of that!
I will anon. First let us go to dinner.
Nay, let me praise you while I have a stomach (appetite for it).
No, pray thee, let it serve for table talk.
Then, howsome'er thou speak’st ’mong other things,
I shall digest it.
Well, I’ll set you forth (serve you up for dinner).
Venice. A court of justice
Enter the DUKE, the magnificoes (Venetian leaders), ANTONIO, BASSANIO, GRATIANO, SALERIO, and others
What, is Antonio here?
Ready, so please your grace.
I am sorry for thee. Thou art come to answer
A stony adversary, an inhuman wretch
Incapable of pity, void and empty
From any dram of mercy.
dram - literally, an eighth of an ounce
I have heard
Your grace hath 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 armed
To suffer with a quietness of spirit
The very tyranny and rage of his.
Go, one, and call the Jew into the court.
He is ready at the door. He comes, my lord.
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 exacts the penalty—
Which is a pound of this poor merchant’s flesh—
Thou wilt not only loose the forfeiture
loose the forfeiture=waive the penalty
But—touched 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
Eno' 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 trained
To offices of tender courtesy.
We all expect a gentle answer, Jew.
gentle=befitting a gentleman
I have possessed 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 humour. Is it answered?
What if my house be troubled with a rat
And I be pleased to give ten thousand ducats
To have it baned? What, are you answered yet?
Some men there are love not a gaping pig,
gaping pig=roasted pig on a spit
Some that are mad if they behold a cat,
And others, when the bagpipe sings i' th' nose,
Cannot contain their urine. For affection,
Mistress of passion, sways it to the mood
Of what it likes or loathes. Now, for your answer:
[just] As there is no firm reason to be rendered
Why he (a person) cannot abide a gaping pig,
Why he [cannot abide] a harmless necessary cat,
Why he [cannot abide] a woollen bagpipe but of force
of force=of necessity
Must yield to such inevitable shame
As to offend, himself being offended,
So can I give no reason - nor I will not
(More than a lodged hate and a certain loathing
I bear Antonio) - that I follow thus
A losing suit against him. Are you answered?
This is no answer, thou unfeeling man,
To excuse the current of thy cruelty.
I am not bound to please thee with my answers.
Do all men kill the things they do not love?
Hates any man the thing he would not kill?
Every offense is not a hate at first.
What, wouldst thou have a serpent sting thee twice?
I pray you, think you question (argue) with the Jew?
You may as well go stand upon the beach
And bid the main flood bate (abate) 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 fretten with the gusts of heaven.
You may as well do anything 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 farther means,
But with all brief and plain conveniency
Let me have judgment and the Jew his will.
(to SHYLOCK) For thy three thousand ducats here is six.
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 bond.
How shalt thou hope for mercy, rendering none?
(“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”)
What judgment shall I dread, doing no wrong?
You have among you many a purchased 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 seasoned 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, fie upon your law—
There is no force in the decrees of Venice.
I stand for (await) judgment. Answer, shall I have it?
Upon my power I may dismiss this court,
Unless Bellario, a learnèd doctor,
Whom I have sent for to determine this,
Come here today.
My lord, here stays without (outside)
A messenger with letters from the doctor,
New come from Padua.
Bring us the letter. Call the messenger.
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.
I am a tainted wether of the flock,
tainted wether=diseased sheep
Meetest for death. The weakest kind of fruit
Drops earliest to the ground, and so let me.
You cannot better be employed, Bassanio,
Than to live still and write mine epitaph.
Enter NERISSA, disguised as a clerk
Came you from Padua, from Bellario?
From both, my lord. Bellario greets your grace.
(gives DUKE a letter)
SHYLOCK sharpens a knife on the bottom of his shoe
(to SHYLOCK) Why dost thou whet thy knife so earnestly?
To cut the forfeiture (pound of flesh) from that bankrupt there.
Not on thy sole, but on thy soul, harsh Jew,
Thou makest thy knife keen. But no metal can—
No, not the hangman’s axe—bear half the keenness
Of thy sharp envy (malice). Can no prayers pierce thee?
No, none that thou hast wit enough to make.
O, be thou damned, inexecrable dog,
And for thy life let justice be accused!
(Justice should not have you to live so long)
Thou almost makest me waver in my faith
To hold opinion with Pythagoras
Pythagoras – Greek philosopher of the 6th century B.C.E.
That souls of animals infuse themselves
Into the trunks of men. Thy cur-rish spirit
Governed a wolf who, hanged for human slaughter,
for human slaughter=for slaughtering humans
Even from the gallows did his fell soul fleet,
And, whilst thou layest in thy unhallowed dam (unholy mother),
Infused itself in thee, for thy desires
Are wolvish, bloody, starved, and ravenous.
Till thou canst rail the seal from off my bond,
rail=affect by cursing
Thou but offend’st thy lungs to speak so loud.
Repair thy wit (intelligence), good youth, or it will fall
To cureless ruin. I stand here for law.
This letter from Bellario doth commend
A young and learnèd doctor to our court.
Where is he?
He attendeth here hard by
To know your answer whether you’ll admit him.
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.
“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 (doctor of law) of Rome. His name is Balthazar. I acquainted him with the cause in controversy between the Jew and Antonio, the merchant. We turned o'er many books together. He is furnished with my opinion, which—bettered with his own 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 (to his gaining) 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.”
Enter PORTIA for Balthazar, disguised as a doctor of law
You hear the learned Bellario, what he writes,
And here, I take it, is the doctor come.—
Give me your hand. Come you from old Bellario?
I did, my lord.
You are welcome. Take your place.
Are you acquainted with the difference
That holds this present question in the court?
I am informèd thoroughly of the cause.
Which is the merchant here and which the Jew?
Antonio and old Shylock, both stand forth.
Is your name Shylock?
Shylock is my name.
Of a strange nature is the suit you follow,
Yet in such rule that the Venetian law
Cannot impugn you as you do proceed.—
(to ANTONIO) You stand within his danger, do you not?
Ay, so he says.
Do you confess the bond?
Then must the Jew be merciful.
On what compulsion must I? Tell me that.
The quality of mercy is not strained.
(mercy is not under anyone’s command)
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed—
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest. It becomes
The thronèd monarch better than his crown.
His scepter 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 sceptered sway.
It is enthronèd 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,
(it is God’s mercy, not justice, that gets us to heaven)
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
render=give in return
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea,
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence 'gainst the merchant there.
My deeds upon my head (I take responsibility for my actions without the expectation of mercy). I crave the law,
The penalty, and forfeit of my bond.
Is he not able to discharge (pay) the money?
Yes, here I tender it for him in the court—
Yea, twice the sum. If that will not suffice,
I will be bound to pay it ten times o'er,
On forfeit of my hands, my head, my heart.
If this will not suffice, it must appear
That malice bears down truth (overthrows righteousness).—
And I beseech you,
Wrest once the law to your authority.
(subject the law to your authority)
To do a great right, do a little wrong
And curb this cruel devil of his will.
It must not be. There is no power in Venice
Can alter a decree establishèd.
'Twill be recorded for a precedent,
And many an error by the same example
Will rush into the state. It cannot be.
A Daniel come to judgment, yea, a Daniel!—
O wise young judge, how I do honor thee!
(Daniel acted as a judge in the case of Susanna, who was falsely accused)
I pray you, let me look upon the bond.
(giving PORTIA a document)
Here ’tis, most reverend doctor, here it is.
Shylock, there’s thrice thy money offered thee.
An oath, an oath, I have an oath in heaven.
Shall I lay perjury upon my soul?
No, not for Venice.
Why, this bond is forfeit!
And lawfully by this the Jew may claim
A pound of flesh to be by him cut off
Nearest the merchant’s heart.—Be merciful.
Take thrice thy money. Bid me tear the bond.
When it is paid according to the tenor.
It doth appear you are a worthy judge.
You know the law. Your exposition
Hath been most sound. I charge you by the law,
Whereof you are a well-deserving pillar,
Proceed to judgment. By my soul I swear
There is no power in the tongue of man
To alter me. I stay here on my bond.
Most heartily I do beseech the court
To give the judgment.
Why then, thus it is:
You must prepare your bosom for his knife.
O noble judge! O excellent young man!
For, the intent and purpose of the law
Hath full relation to the penalty,
Which here appeareth due upon the bond.
'Tis very true. O wise and upright judge!
How much more elder art thou than thy looks!
(to ANTONIO) Therefore, lay bare your bosom.
Ay, his breast.
So says the bond. Doth it not, noble judge?
“Nearest his heart”—those are the very words.
It is so. Are there balance (scales) here to weigh
I have them ready.
Have by some surgeon, Shylock, on your charge,
on your charge=at your expense
To stop his wounds lest he do bleed to death.
Is it so nominated (specified) in the bond?
It is not so expressed, but what of that?
'Twere good you do so (that) much for charity.
(it would be good for you to be charitable)
I cannot find it. 'Tis not in the bond.
(to ANTONIO) You, merchant, have you anything to say?
But little. I am armed (ready) and well prepared.—
Give me your hand, Bassanio. Fare you well.
Grieve not that I am fall'n to this for you,
For herein Fortune shows herself more kind
Than is her custom. It is still (regularly) her use
To let the wretched man outlive his wealth,
[and] To view with hollow eye and wrinkled brow
An [his old] age of (in) poverty—from which lingering penance
penance=self-punishment for one’s sins
Of such misery doth she cut me off.
Commend me to your honorable wife.
Tell her the process of Antonio’s end.
Say how I loved you. Speak me fair in death,
And when the tale is told, bid her be judge
Whether Bassanio had not once a love.
Repent but you (grieve only) that you shall lose your friend,
And he repents not that he pays your debt.
For if the Jew do cut but deep enough,
I’ll pay it presently with all my heart.
Antonio, I am married to a wife
Which is as dear to me as life itself,
But life itself, my wife, and all the world
Are not with me esteemed above thy life.
I would lose all—ay, sacrifice them all
Here to this devil—to deliver you.
Your wife would give you little thanks for that
If she were by to hear you make the offer.
I have a wife, whom I protest I love.
I would she were in heaven, so she could
Entreat some power to change this cur-rish Jew.
'Tis well you offer it behind her back.
The wish would make else an unquiet house.
These be the Christian husbands. I have a daughter.
Would any of the stock of Barabbas
Barabbas – Jewish criminal crucified with Jesus
Had been her husband rather than a Christian!—
We trifle time. I pray thee, pursue sentence.
A pound of that same merchant’s flesh is thine.
The court awards it, and the law doth give it.
Most rightful judge!
And you must cut this flesh from off his breast.
The law allows it, and the court awards it.
Most learnèd judge, a sentence! Come, prepare.
Tarry a little. There is something else.
This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood.
The words expressly are “a pound of flesh.”
Take then thy bond, take thou thy pound of flesh,
But in the cutting it if thou dost shed
One drop of Christian blood, thy lands and goods
Are by the laws of Venice confiscate
Unto the state of Venice.
O upright judge!—Mark, Jew.—O learnèd judge!
Is that the law?
Thyself shalt see the act.
For as thou urgest justice, be assured
Thou shalt have justice more than thou desirest.
O learnèd judge!—Mark, Jew, a learnèd judge!
I take this offer then: pay the bond thrice
And let the Christian go.
Here is the money.
The Jew shall have all justice. Soft, no haste.
He shall have nothing but the penalty (the pound of flesh).
O Jew! An upright judge, a learnèd judge!
Therefore prepare thee to cut off the flesh.
Shed thou no blood, nor cut thou less nor more
But just a pound of flesh. If thou takest more
Or less than a just pound, be it but so much
As makes it light or heavy in the substance
Or the division of the twentieth part
Of one poor scruple—nay, if the scale do turn
But in the estimation of a hair,
Thou diest and all thy goods are confiscate.
A second Daniel!—A Daniel, Jew!
Now, infidel, I have you on the hip (at my mercy).
Why doth the Jew pause? Take thy forfeiture.
Give me my principal (the original loan – 3,000 ducats), and let me go.
I have it ready for thee. Here it is.
He hath refused it in the open court.
He shall have merely justice and his bond.
A Daniel, still say I, a second Daniel!—
I thank thee, Jew, for teaching me that word.
Shall (must) I not have barely (all) my principal?
Thou shalt have nothing but the forfeiture
To be so taken at thy peril, Jew.
Why, then, the devil give him good of it!
I’ll stay no longer question.
(I’ll await no further determination of the case)
The law hath yet another hold on you.
It is enacted in the laws of Venice,
If it be proved against an alien (non-citizen)
That by direct or indirect attempts
He seek the life of any citizen,
The party 'gainst the which he doth contrive
Shall seize one half his goods. The other half
Comes to the privy coffer of the state,
privy coffer=money for the use of the Duke
And the offender’s life lies in the mercy
Of the Duke only, 'gainst (regardless of) all other voice.
In which predicament I say thou stand’st,
For it appears, by manifest (obvious) proceeding,
That indirectly—and directly, too—
Thou hast contrived against the very life
Of the defendant, and thou hast incurred
The danger formerly by me rehearsed.
(the penalty formerly by me cited)
Down, therefore, and beg mercy of the Duke.
Beg that thou mayst have leave to hang thyself,
And, yet, thy wealth being forfeit to the state,
Thou hast not left the value of a cord (hanging rope).
Therefore, thou must be hanged at the state’s charge.
That thou shalt see the difference of our spirit,
I pardon thee thy life before thou ask it.
[as] For half thy wealth, it is Antonio’s.
The other half comes to the general state,
Which humbleness may drive unto a fine.
(humble behavior on your part may reduce the penalty to a fine)
Ay, for the state, not for Antonio.
for the state=with respect to the state’s portion
Nay, take my life and all. Pardon not that.
You take my house when you do take the prop
That doth sustain my house. You take my life
When you do take the means whereby I live.
(Ecclesiasticus 34:23 He that taketh away his neighbor’s living slayeth him)
What mercy can you render him, Antonio?
A halter gratis, nothing else, for God’s sake.
(free rope for hanging)
So please my lord the Duke and all the court,
To quit the fine for one half of his goods
I am content, so he will let me have
The other half in use to render it
Upon his death unto the gentleman
That lately stole his daughter.
Two things provided more: that for this favor
He presently become a Christian;
The other, that he do record a gift,
Here in the court, of all he dies possessed
Unto his son Lorenzo and his daughter.
He shall do this, or else I do recant
The pardon that I late pronouncèd here.
Art thou contented, Jew? What dost thou say?
I am content.
Clerk, draw a deed of gift.
I pray you, give me leave to go from hence.
I am not well. Send the deed after me,
And I will sign it.
Get thee gone, but do it.
In christening shalt thou have two godfathers.
Had I been judge, thou shouldst have had ten more [to make a jury of twelve]—
To bring thee to the gallows, not to the [baptismal] font.
(to PORTIA) Sir, I entreat you home with me to dinner.
I humbly do desire your grace of pardon.
I must away this night toward Padua,
And it is meet I presently set forth.
I am sorry that your leisure serves you not.—
Antonio, gratify this gentleman,
For in my mind you are much bound to him.
Exit DUKE and his train
(to PORTIA) Most worthy gentleman, I and my friend
Have by your wisdom been this day acquitted
Of grievous penalties, in lieu whereof
Three thousand ducats due unto the Jew
We freely cope (match) your courteous pains withal.
And stand indebted, over and above,
In love and service to you evermore.
He is well paid that is well satisfied,
And I, delivering you, am satisfied
And therein do account myself well paid.
My mind was never yet more mercenary.
(my mind does not dwell on money)
I pray you, know me when we meet again.
I wish you well, and so I take my leave.
Dear sir, of force I must attempt (urge) you further.
Take some remembrance of us as a tribute,
Not as a fee. Grant me two things, I pray you:
Not to deny me and to pardon me.
You press me far and, therefore, I will yield.
Give me your gloves. I’ll wear them for your sake.
And, for your love, I’ll take this ring (a gift from Portia) from you.
Do not draw back your hand. I’ll take no more,
And you in love shall not deny me this.
This ring, good sir—alas, it is a trifle.
I will not shame myself to give you this.
I will have nothing else but only this.
And now methinks I have a mind to it.
There’s more depends on this than on the value.
The dearest ring in Venice will I give you
And find it out by proclamation.
Only for this, I pray you, pardon me.
I see, sir, you are liberal in offers.
You taught me first to beg, and now methinks
You teach me how a beggar should be answered.
Good sir, this ring was given me by my wife,
And, when she put it on, she made me vow
That I should neither sell nor give nor lose it.
That ’scuse serves many men to save their gifts.
An if your wife be not a madwoman
And know how well I have deserved the ring,
She would not hold out enemy forever
For giving it to me. Well, peace be with you.
Exeunt PORTIA and NERISSA
My Lord Bassanio, let him have the ring.
Let his deservings and my love withal
Be valued against your wife’s commandment.
(giving GRATIANO the ring)
Go, Gratiano, run and overtake him.
Give him the ring and bring him, if thou canst,
Unto Antonio’s house. Away, make haste.
Come, you and I will thither presently,
And in the morning early will we both
Fly toward Belmont. Come, Antonio.
Venice. A street
Enter PORTIA and NERISSA, both disguised
Inquire the Jew’s house out. Give him this deed,
(deed of gift for Lorenzo and Jessica)
And let him sign it. We’ll away tonight
And be a day before our husbands home.
(be home a day before our husbands)
This deed will be well welcome to Lorenzo.
(giving PORTIA BASSANIO’s ring)
Fair sir, you are well o'erta'en.
My Lord Bassanio upon more advice
Hath sent you here this ring and doth entreat
Your company at dinner.
That cannot be.
His ring I do accept most thankfully,
And so I pray you tell him. Furthermore,
(and I pray you tell him so)
I pray you show my youth (Nerissa) old Shylock’s house.
That will I do.
Sir, I would speak with you.
(aside to PORTIA)
I’ll see if I can get my husband’s ring,
Which I did make him swear to keep forever.
(aside to NERISSA)
Thou mayst, I warrant. We shall have old swearing
That they did give the rings away to men,
But we’ll outface them and outswear them, too.
Away, make haste. Thou know’st where I will tarry.
Come, good sir. Will you show me to this house?
Belmont. Avenue to Portia’s house
Enter LORENZO and JESSICA
The moon shines bright. In such a night as this,
When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees
And they did make no noise, in such a night
Troilus methinks mounted the Trojan walls
And sighed his soul toward the Grecian tents
Where Cressid lay that night.
In such a night
Did Thisbe fearfully o'ertrip the dew
And saw the lion’s shadow ere (in front of) himself
And ran dismayed away.
In such a night
Stood Dido with a willow in her hand
willow – emblem of slighted love
Upon the wild sea banks, and waft her love
waft=waved with the willow branch
To come again to Carthage.
In such a night
Medea gathered the enchanted herbs
That did renew old Æson.
In such a night
Did Jessica steal from the wealthy Jew
And with an unthrift love did run from Venice
As far as Belmont.
In such a night
Did young Lorenzo swear he loved her well,
Stealing her soul with many vows of faith
And ne'er a true one.
In such a night
Did pretty Jessica, like a little shrew,
Slander her love, and he forgave it her.
I would outnight you, did nobody come.
But, hark, I hear the footing of a man.
Enter STEPHANO, a messenger
Who comes so fast in silence of the night?
A friend? What friend? Your name, I pray you, friend?
Stephano is my name, and I bring word
My mistress will before the break of day
Be here at Belmont. She doth stray about
By holy crosses, where she kneels and prays
holy crosses=wayside crosses
For happy wedlock hours.
Who comes with her?
None but a holy hermit and her maid.
I pray you, is my master yet returned?
He is not, nor we have not heard from him.—
(double negative, common in Shakespeare’s day)
But go we in, I pray thee, Jessica,
And ceremoniously let us prepare
Some welcome for the mistress of the house.
Enter LAUNCELOT the clown
Sola, sola! Wo, ha, ho! Sola, sola! (hunting calls)
Sola! Did you see Master Lorenzo? Master Lorenzo, sola, sola!
Leave holloaing, man. Here.
Sola! Where, where?
Tell him there’s a post come from my master with his horn full of good news.
(postmen used a horn to announce their coming)
My master will be here ere morning.
Sweet soul, let’s in, and there expect their coming.
And, yet, no matter. Why should we go in?—
My friend Stephano, signify (notify), I pray you,
Within the house, your mistress is at hand.
And bring your music (musicians) forth into the air.
How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!
Here will we sit and let the sounds of music
Creep in our ears. Soft stillness and the night
Become the touches of sweet harmony.
Sit, Jessica. Look how the floor of heaven
Is thick inlaid with patens of bright gold.
patens=golden plates used in church services
There’s not the smallest orb which thou behold’st
But in his motion like an angel sings,
(old-style cosmology referred to “music of the spheres”)
Still choiring to the young-eyed cherubins (angels).
Such harmony is in immortal souls,
But whilst this muddy vesture of decay
muddy vesture of decay=clothing of the mortal flesh
Doth grossly close it (one’s immortal soul) in, we cannot hear it.
Come, ho, and wake Diana with a hymn!
With sweetest touches pierce your mistress' ear
And draw her home with music.
I am never merry when I hear sweet music.
The reason is your spirits are attentive,
For do but note a wild and wanton herd
Or race of youthful and unhandled colts,
Fetching mad bounds, bellowing and neighing loud,
Which is the hot condition of their blood—
If they but hear perchance a trumpet sound
Or any air of music touch their ears,
You shall perceive them make a mutual stand,
Their savage eyes turned to a modest gaze
By the sweet power of music. Therefore, the poet
Did feign that Orpheus drew trees, stones, and floods
Since naught so stockish, hard, and full of rage,
But music for the time doth change his nature.
The man that hath no music in himself
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds
nor…not – double negative
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils.
The motions of his spirit are dull as night
And his affections dark as Erebus.
Erebus=a place of darkness beneath earth’s surface
Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music.
Enter PORTIA and NERISSA
That light we see is burning in my hall.
How far that little candle throws his beams!
So shines a good deed in a naughty world.
When the moon shone we did not see the candle.
So doth the greater glory dim the less.
A substitute shines brightly as a king
Until a king be by, and then his state
Empties itself, as doth an inland brook
Into the main of waters (ocean). Music, hark.
It is your music, madam, of the house.
Nothing is good, I see, without respect.
Methinks it sounds much sweeter than by day.
Silence bestows that virtue on it, madam.
The crow doth sing as sweetly as the lark
When neither is attended, and I think
The nightingale, if she should sing by day
When every goose is cackling, would be thought
No better a musician than the wren.
How many things, by season, seasoned are
seasoned are=are seasoned
To their right praise and true perfection!
Peace! How the moon sleeps with Endymion
Endymion=a sleeping shepherd loved by the moon
And would not be awaked.
That is the voice,
Or I am much deceived, of Portia.
He knows me as the blind man knows the cuckoo—
By the bad voice.
Dear lady, welcome home.
We have been praying for our husbands' welfare,
Which speed, we hope, the better for our words.
Are they returned?
Madam, they are not yet,
But there is come a messenger before
To signify their coming.
Go in, Nerissa.
Give order to my servants that they take
No note at all of our being absent, hence.—
Nor you, Lorenzo.—Jessica, nor you.
A tucket (trumpet) sounds
Your husband is at hand. I hear his trumpet.
We are no tell-tales, madam. Fear you not.
This night methinks is but the daylight sick.
It looks a little paler. 'Tis a day
Such as the day is when the sun is hid.
Enter BASSANIO, ANTONIO, GRATIANO, and their followers
(to PORTIA) We should hold day with the Antipodes,
If you would walk in absence of the sun.
(if you walked outside at night, you would create daylight at night, and
the opposite side of the globe would have be nighttime during their daylight)
Let me give light, but let me not be light.
For a light wife doth make a heavy husband,
And never be Bassanio so for me.
But God sort all! You are welcome home, my lord.
I thank you, madam. Give welcome to my friend.
This is the man, this is Antonio,
To whom I am so infinitely bound.
You should in all sense be much bound to him,
For as I hear he was much bound (put in jail) for you.
No more than I am well acquitted of (freed from).
Sir, you are very welcome to our house.
It must appear in other ways than words.
Therefore, I scant this breathing courtesy.
(to NERISSA) By yonder moon I swear you do me wrong.
In faith, I gave it to the judge’s clerk.
Would he were gelt that had it, for my part (for all I care),
Since you do take it, love, so much at heart.
A quarrel, ho, already? What’s the matter?
About a hoop of gold, a paltry ring
That she did give me, whose posy was
For all the world like cutler’s poetry
Upon a knife, “Love me and leave me not.”
(cutlery was often etched with posies)
What talk you of the posy or the value?
You swore to me when I did give it you
That you would wear it till your hour of death
And that it should lie with you in your grave.
Though not for me, yet for your vehement oaths
You should have been respective and have kept it.
Gave it a judge’s clerk! No, God’s my judge.
The clerk will ne'er wear hair on ’s face that had it.
He will, an if he live to be a man.
Ay, if a woman live to be a man.
Now, by this hand, I gave it to a youth,
A kind of boy, a little scrubbèd boy
No higher than thyself, the judge’s clerk,
A prating boy that begged it as a fee.
I could not for my heart deny it him.
You were to blame. I must be plain with you.
[how wrong you were]To part so slightly with your wife’s first gift,
A thing stuck on with oaths upon your finger
And so riveted with faith unto your flesh.
I gave my love a ring and made him swear
Never to part with it, and here he stands.
I dare be sworn for him he would not leave it
Nor pluck it from his finger for the wealth
That the world masters. Now, in faith, Gratiano,
You give your wife too unkind a cause of grief.
An ’twere to me, I should be mad at it.
(aside) Why, I were best to cut my left hand off
And swear I lost the ring defending it.
My Lord Bassanio gave his ring away
Unto the judge that begged it and, indeed,
Deserved it, too, and then the boy, his clerk,
That took some pains in writing, he begged mine.
And neither man nor master would take aught
But the two rings.
What ring gave you my lord?
Not that, I hope, which you received of me.
If I could add a lie unto a fault
I would deny it, but you see my finger
Hath not the ring upon it. It is gone.
Even so void is your false heart of truth.
By heaven, I will ne'er come in your bed
Until I see the ring.
Nor I in yours
Till I again see mine.
If you did know to whom I gave the ring,
If you did know for whom I gave the ring
And would conceive for what I gave the ring
And how unwillingly I left the ring
When naught would be accepted but the ring,
You would abate the strength of your displeasure.
If you had known the virtue of the ring,
Or half her worthiness that gave the ring,
Or your own honor to contain the ring,
You would not then have parted with the ring.
What man is there so much unreasonable,
If you had pleased to have defended it
With any terms of zeal, wanted (lacked) the modesty
To urge [you to keep] the thing held as a ceremony?
Nerissa teaches me what to believe.
I’ll die for ’t but [I think] some woman has the ring.
No, by my honor, madam, by my soul,
No woman had it but a civil doctor,
Which did refuse three thousand ducats of me
And begged the ring, the which I did deny him
And suffered him to go displeased away—
Even he that did uphold the very life
Of my dear friend. What should I say, sweet lady?
I was enforced to send it after him.
I was beset with shame and courtesy.
My honor would not let ingratitude
So much besmear it. Pardon me, good lady,
For by these blessèd candles of the night (stars),
Had you been there I think you would have begged
The ring of me to give the worthy doctor.
Let not that doctor e'er come near my house!
Since he hath got the jewel that I loved
And that which you did swear to keep for me,
I will become as liberal as you.
I’ll not deny him anything I have,
No, not my body, nor my husband’s bed.
Know him I shall, I am well sure of it.
Lie not a night from home. Watch me like Argus [who had a hundred eyes].
If you do not, if I be left alone,
Now, by mine honor—which is yet mine own—
I’ll have that doctor for my bedfellow.
(to GRATIANO) And I his clerk. Therefore, be well advised
How you do leave me to mine own protection.
Well, do you so, let not me take him (get hold of him), then,
For, if I do, I’ll mar the young clerk’s pen.
I am th' unhappy subject of these quarrels.
Sir, grieve not you. You are welcome notwithstanding.
Portia, forgive me this enforcèd wrong (this wrong that I was forced to commit),
And, in the hearing of these many friends,
I swear to thee, even by thine own fair eyes
Wherein I see myself—
Mark you but that (listen to that)!
In both my eyes he doubly sees himself—
In each eye, one. Swear by your double self,
And there’s an oath of (to give you) credit!
Nay, but hear me.
Pardon this fault, and by my soul I swear
I never more will break an oath with thee.
I once did lend my body for his wealth (welfare),
Which, but for him (Balthazar) that has your husband’s ring,
Had quite miscarried (had been ruined). I dare be bound again,
My soul upon the forfeit, that your lord
Will never more break faith advisedly.
(giving ANTONIO a ring)
Then you shall be his surety. Give him this,
And bid him keep it better than the other.
(giving BASSANIO PORTIA's ring)
Here, Lord Bassanio. Swear to keep this ring.
By heaven, it is the same I gave the doctor!
I had it of him. Pardon me, Bassanio,
For by this ring the doctor lay with me.
(taking out a ring)
And pardon me, my gentle Gratiano,
For that same scrubbèd boy, the doctor’s clerk,
In lieu of this (in return for this), last night did lie with me.
Why, this is like the mending of highways
In summer where the ways are fair enough!
What, are we cuckolds ere we have deserved it?
Speak not so grossly.—You are all amazed.
(takes out a letter)
Here is a letter. Read it at your leisure.
It comes from Padua, from Bellario.
There you shall find that Portia was the doctor,
Nerissa there her clerk. Lorenzo here
Shall witness I set forth as soon as you,
And even but now returned. I have not yet
Entered my house.—Antonio, you are welcome.
And I have better news in store for you
Than you expect.
(gives ANTONIO another letter)
Unseal this letter soon.
There you shall find three of your argosies
Are richly come to harbor suddenly.
You shall not know by what strange accident
I chancèd on this letter.
I am dumb.
(to PORTIA) Were you the doctor and I knew you not?
(to NERISSA) Were you the clerk that is to make me cuckold?
Ay, but the clerk that never means to do it
Unless he live until he be a man.
(to PORTIA) Sweet doctor, you shall be my bedfellow.
When I am absent, then lie with my wife.
Sweet lady, you have given me life and living.
For here I read for certain that my ships
Are safely come to road (harbor).
How now, Lorenzo?
My clerk hath some good comforts, too, for you.
Ay, and I’ll give them him without a fee.
(gives LORENZO a document)
There do I give to you and Jessica,
From the rich Jew, a special deed of gift,
After his death, of all he dies possessed of.
Fair ladies, you drop manna in the way
Of starvèd people.
It is almost morning,
And, yet, I am sure you are not satisfied
Of these events at full. Let us go in,
And charge us there upon interr'gatories,
And we will answer all things faithfully.