1597 The Merchant Of Venice
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To hold opinion with Pythagoras
That souls of animals infuse themselves
Into the trunks of men. Thy currish spirit
Govern'd a wolf who, hang'd for human slaughter,
Even from the gallows did his fell soul fleet,
And, whilst thou layest in thy unhallowed dam,
Infus'd itself in thee; for thy desires
Are wolfish, bloody, starv'd and ravenous.
SHYLOCK. Till thou canst rail the seal from off my bond,
Thou but offend'st thy lungs to speak so loud;
Repair thy wit, good youth, or it will fall
To cureless ruin. I stand here for law.
DUKE OF VENICE. This letter from Bellario doth commend
A young and learned doctor to our court.
Where is he?
NERISSA. He attendeth here hard by
To know your answer, whether you'll admit him.
DUKE OF VENICE. With all my heart. Some three or four of you
Go give him courteous conduct to this place.
Meantime, the court shall hear Bellario's letter.
CLERK. [Reads] 'Your Grace shall understand that at the receipt
of your letter I am very sick; but in the instant that your
messenger came, in loving visitation was with me a young doctor
of Rome- his name is Balthazar. I acquainted him with the cause
in controversy between the Jew and Antonio the merchant; we
turn'd o'er many books together; he is 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 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
Enter PORTIA for BALTHAZAR, dressed like a Doctor of Laws
DUKE OF VENICE. YOU hear the learn'd Bellario, what he writes;
And here, I take it, is the doctor come.
Give me your hand; come you from old Bellario?
PORTIA. I did, my lord.
DUKE OF VENICE. You are welcome; take your place.
Are you acquainted with the difference
That holds this present question in the court?
PORTIA. I am informed throughly of the cause.
Which is the merchant here, and which the Jew?
DUKE OF VENICE. Antonio and old Shylock, both stand forth.
PORTIA. Is your name Shylock?
SHYLOCK. Shylock is my name.
PORTIA. Of a strange nature is the suit you follow;
Yet in such rule that the Venetian law
Cannot impugn you as you do proceed.
You stand within his danger, do you not?
ANTONIO. Ay, so he says.
PORTIA. Do you confess the bond?
ANTONIO. I do.
PORTIA. Then must the Jew be merciful.
SHYLOCK. On what compulsion must I? Tell me that.
PORTIA. The quality of mercy is not strain'd;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway,
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this-
That in the course of justice none of us
Should see salvation; we do pray for mercy,
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea,
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence 'gainst the merchant there.
SHYLOCK. My deeds upon my head! I crave the law,
The penalty and forfeit of my bond.
BASSANIO. 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. And, I beseech you,
Wrest once the law to your authority;
To do a great right do a little wrong,
And curb this cruel devil of his will.
PORTIA. It must not be; there is no power in Venice
Can alter a decree established;
'Twill be recorded for a precedent,
And many an error, by the same example,
Will rush into the state; it cannot be.
SHYLOCK. A Daniel come to judgment! Yea, a Daniel!
O wise young judge, how I do honour thee!
PORTIA. I pray you, let me look upon the bond.
SHYLOCK. Here 'tis, most reverend Doctor; here it is.
PORTIA. Shylock, there's thrice thy money off'red thee.
SHYLOCK. An oath, an oath! I have an oath in heaven.
Shall I lay perjury upon my soul?
No, not for Venice.
PORTIA. 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.
SHYLOCK. When it is paid according to the tenour.
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.
ANTONIO. Most heartily I do beseech the court
To give the judgment.
PORTIA. Why then, thus it is:
You must prepare your bosom for his knife.
SHYLOCK. O noble judge! O excellent young man!
PORTIA. For the intent and purpose of the law
Hath full relation to the penalty,
Which here appeareth due upon the bond.
SHYLOCK. 'Tis very true. O wise and upright judge,
How much more elder art thou than thy looks!
PORTIA. Therefore, lay bare your bosom.
SHYLOCK. Ay, his breast-
So says the bond; doth it not, noble judge?
'Nearest his heart,' those are the very words.
PORTIA. It is so. Are there balance here to weigh
SHYLOCK. I have them ready.
PORTIA. Have by some surgeon, Shylock, on your charge,
To stop his wounds, lest he do bleed to death.
SHYLOCK. Is it so nominated in the bond?
PORTIA. It is not so express'd, but what of that?
'Twere good you do so much for charity.
SHYLOCK. I cannot find it; 'tis not in the bond.
PORTIA. You, merchant, have you anything to say?
ANTONIO. But little: I am arm'd and well prepar'd.
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 her use
To let the wretched man outlive his wealth,
To view with hollow eye and wrinkled brow
An age of poverty; from which ling'ring penance
Of such misery doth she cut me off.
Commend me to your honourable wife;
Tell her the process of Antonio's end;
Say how I lov'd 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 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 instantly with all my heart.
BASSANIO. 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 esteem'd above thy life;
I would lose all, ay, sacrifice them all
Here to this devil, to deliver you.
PORTIA. Your wife would give you little thanks for that,
If she were by to hear you make the offer.
GRATIANO. I have a wife who I protest I love;
I would she were in heaven, so she could
Entreat some power to change this currish Jew.
NERISSA. 'Tis well you offer it behind her back;
The wish would make else an unquiet house.
SHYLOCK. [Aside] These be the Christian husbands! I have a
Would any of the stock of Barrabas
Had been her husband, rather than a Christian!-
We trifle time; I pray thee pursue sentence.
PORTIA. A pound of that same merchant's flesh is thine.
The court awards it and the law doth give it.
SHYLOCK. Most rightful judge!
PORTIA. And you must cut this flesh from off his breast.
The law allows it and the court awards it.
SHYLOCK. Most learned judge! A sentence! Come, prepare.
PORTIA. 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.
GRATIANO. O upright judge! Mark, Jew. O learned judge!
SHYLOCK. Is that the law?
PORTIA. Thyself shalt see the act;
For, as thou urgest justice, be assur'd
Thou shalt have justice, more than thou desir'st.
GRATIANO. O learned judge! Mark, Jew. A learned judge!
SHYLOCK. I take this offer then: pay the bond thrice,
And let the Christian go.
BASSANIO. Here is the money.