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    Act 4, Scene I

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    Chapter 18
    Previous Chapter
    SCENE I. Venice. A court of justice.

    Enter the DUKE, the Magnificoes, ANTONIO, BASSANIO, GRATIANO, SALERIO, and others
    DUKE
    What, is Antonio here?

    ANTONIO
    Ready, so please your grace.

    DUKE
    I am sorry for thee: thou art come to answer
    A stony adversary, an inhuman wretch
    uncapable of pity, void and empty
    From any dram of mercy.

    ANTONIO
    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 arm'd
    To suffer, with a quietness of spirit,
    The very tyranny and rage of his.

    DUKE
    Go one, and call the Jew into the court.

    SALERIO
    He is ready at the door: he comes, my lord.

    Enter SHYLOCK

    DUKE
    Make room, and let him stand before our face.
    Shylock, the world thinks, and I think so too,
    That thou but lead'st this fashion of thy malice
    To the last hour of act; and then 'tis thought
    Thou'lt show thy mercy and remorse more strange
    Than is thy strange apparent cruelty;
    And where thou now exact'st the penalty,
    Which is a pound of this poor merchant's flesh,
    Thou wilt not only loose the forfeiture,
    But, touch'd with human gentleness and love,
    Forgive a moiety of the principal;
    Glancing an eye of pity on his losses,
    That have of late so huddled on his back,
    Enow to press a royal merchant down
    And pluck commiseration of his state
    From brassy bosoms and rough hearts of flint,
    From stubborn Turks and Tartars, never train'd
    To offices of tender courtesy.
    We all expect a gentle answer, Jew.

    SHYLOCK
    I have possess'd your grace of what I purpose;
    And by our holy Sabbath have I sworn
    To have the due and forfeit of my bond:
    If you deny it, let the danger light
    Upon your charter and your city's freedom.
    You'll ask me, why I rather choose to have
    A weight of carrion flesh than to receive
    Three thousand ducats: I'll not answer that:
    But, say, it is my humour: is it answer'd?
    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 answer'd yet?
    Some men there are love not a gaping pig;
    Some, that are mad if they behold a cat;
    And others, when the bagpipe sings i' the 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:
    As there is no firm reason to be render'd,
    Why he cannot abide a gaping pig;
    Why he, a harmless necessary cat;
    Why he, a woollen bagpipe; but of force
    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 answer'd?

    BASSANIO
    This is no answer, thou unfeeling man,
    To excuse the current of thy cruelty.

    SHYLOCK
    I am not bound to please thee with my answers.

    BASSANIO
    Do all men kill the things they do not love?

    SHYLOCK
    Hates any man the thing he would not kill?

    BASSANIO
    Every offence is not a hate at first.

    SHYLOCK
    What, wouldst thou have a serpent sting thee twice?

    ANTONIO
    I pray you, think you question with the Jew:
    You may as well go stand upon the beach
    And bid the main flood bate his usual height;
    You may as well use question with the wolf
    Why he hath made the ewe bleat for the lamb;
    You may as well forbid the mountain pines
    To wag their high tops and to make no noise,
    When they are 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.

    BASSANIO
    For thy three thousand ducats here is six.

    SHYLOCK
    What judgment shall I dread, doing
    Were in six parts and every part a ducat,
    I would not draw them; I would have my bond.

    DUKE
    How shalt thou hope for mercy, rendering none?

    SHYLOCK
    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 burthens? let their beds
    Be made as soft as yours and let their palates
    Be season'd with such viands? You will answer
    'The slaves are ours:' so do I answer you:
    The pound of flesh, which I demand of him,
    Is dearly bought; 'tis mine and I will have it.
    If you deny me, fie upon your law!
    There is no force in the decrees of Venice.
    I stand for judgment: answer; shall I have it?

    DUKE
    Upon my power I may dismiss this court,
    Unless Bellario, a learned doctor,
    Whom I have sent for to determine this,
    Come here to-day.

    SALERIO
    My lord, here stays without
    A messenger with letters from the doctor,
    New come from Padua.

    DUKE
    Bring us the letter; call the messenger.

    BASSANIO
    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.

    ANTONIO
    I am a tainted wether of the flock,
    Meetest for death: the weakest kind of fruit
    Drops earliest to the ground; and so let me
    You cannot better be employ'd, Bassanio,
    Than to live still and write mine epitaph.

    Enter NERISSA, dressed like a lawyer's clerk

    DUKE
    Came you from Padua, from Bellario?

    NERISSA
    From both, my lord. Bellario greets your grace.

    Presenting a letter

    BASSANIO
    Why dost thou whet thy knife so earnestly?

    SHYLOCK
    To cut the forfeiture from that bankrupt there.

    GRATIANO
    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. Can no prayers pierce thee?

    SHYLOCK
    No, none that thou hast wit enough to make.

    GRATIANO
    O, be thou damn'd, inexecrable dog!
    And for thy life let justice be accused.
    Thou almost makest me waver in my faith
    To hold opinion with Pythagoras,
    That souls of animals infuse themselves
    Into the trunks of men: thy currish spirit
    Govern'd a wolf, who, hang'd for human slaughter,
    Even from the gallows did his fell soul fleet,
    And, whilst thou lay'st in thy unhallow'd dam,
    Infused itself in thee; for thy desires
    Are wolvish, bloody, starved 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
    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
    With all my heart. Some three or four of you
    Go give him courteous conduct to this place.
    Meantime the court shall hear Bellario's letter.

    Clerk
    [Reads]
    Your grace shall understand that at the receipt of
    your letter I am very sick: but in the instant that
    your messenger came, in loving visitation was with
    me a young doctor of Rome; his name is Balthasar. I
    acquainted him with the cause in controversy between
    the Jew and Antonio the merchant: we 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 a reverend
    estimation; for I never knew so young a body with so
    old a head. I leave him to your gracious
    acceptance, whose trial shall better publish his
    commendation.

    DUKE
    You hear the learn'd Bellario, what he writes:
    And here, I take it, is the doctor come.

    Enter PORTIA, dressed like a doctor of laws

    Give me your hand. Come you from old Bellario?

    PORTIA
    I did, my lord.

    DUKE
    You are welcome: take your place.
    Are you acquainted with the difference
    That holds this present question in the court?

    PORTIA
    I am informed thoroughly of the cause.
    Which is the merchant here, and which the Jew?

    DUKE
    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.

    PORTIA
    Is he not able to discharge the money?

    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 offer'd 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 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.

    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
    The flesh?

    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 any thing to say?

    ANTONIO
    But little: I am arm'd and well prepared.
    Give me your hand, Bassanio: fare you well!
    Grieve not that I am fallen 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 lingering 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 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 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.

    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, whom, 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
    These be the Christian husbands. I have a daughter;
    Would any of the stock of Barrabas
    Had been her husband rather than a Christian!

    Aside

    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 assured
    Thou shalt have justice, more than thou desirest.

    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.

    PORTIA
    Soft!
    The Jew shall have all justice; soft! no haste:
    He shall have nothing but the penalty.

    GRATIANO
    O Jew! an upright judge, a learned judge!

    PORTIA
    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 cut'st 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.

    GRATIANO
    A second Daniel, a Daniel, Jew!
    Now, infidel, I have you on the hip.

    PORTIA
    Why doth the Jew pause? take thy forfeiture.

    SHYLOCK
    Give me my principal, and let me go.

    BASSANIO
    I have it ready for thee; here it is.

    PORTIA
    He hath refused it in the open court:
    He shall have merely justice and his bond.

    GRATIANO
    A Daniel, still say I, a second Daniel!
    I thank thee, Jew, for teaching me that word.

    SHYLOCK
    Shall I not have barely my principal?

    PORTIA
    Thou shalt have nothing but the forfeiture,
    To be so taken at thy peril, Jew.

    SHYLOCK
    Why, then the devil give him good of it!
    I'll stay no longer question.

    PORTIA
    Tarry, Jew:
    The law hath yet another hold on you.
    It is enacted in the laws of Venice,
    If it be proved against an alien
    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;
    And the offender's life lies in the mercy
    Of the duke only, 'gainst all other voice.
    In which predicament, I say, thou stand'st;
    For it appears, by manifest proceeding,
    That indirectly and directly too
    Thou hast contrived against the very life
    Of the defendant; and thou hast incurr'd
    The danger formerly by me rehearsed.
    Down therefore and beg mercy of the duke.

    GRATIANO
    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;
    Therefore thou must be hang'd at the state's charge.

    DUKE
    That thou shalt see the difference of our spirits,
    I pardon thee thy life before thou ask it:
    For half thy wealth, it is Antonio's;
    The other half comes to the general state,
    Which humbleness may drive unto a fine.

    PORTIA
    Ay, for the state, not for Antonio.

    SHYLOCK
    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.

    PORTIA
    What mercy can you render him, Antonio?

    GRATIANO
    A halter gratis; nothing else, for God's sake.

    ANTONIO
    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 favour,
    He presently become a Christian;
    The other, that he do record a gift,
    Here in the court, of all he dies possess'd,
    Unto his son Lorenzo and his daughter.

    DUKE
    He shall do this, or else I do recant
    The pardon that I late pronounced here.

    PORTIA
    Art thou contented, Jew? what dost thou say?

    SHYLOCK
    I am content.

    PORTIA
    Clerk, draw a deed of gift.

    SHYLOCK
    I pray you, give me leave to go from hence;
    I am not well: send the deed after me,
    And I will sign it.

    DUKE
    Get thee gone, but do it.

    GRATIANO
    In christening shalt thou have two god-fathers:
    Had I been judge, thou shouldst have had ten more,
    To bring thee to the gallows, not the font.

    Exit SHYLOCK

    DUKE
    Sir, I entreat you home with me to dinner.

    PORTIA
    I humbly do desire your grace of pardon:
    I must away this night toward Padua,
    And it is meet I presently set forth.

    DUKE
    I am sorry that your leisure serves you not.
    Antonio, gratify this gentleman,
    For, in my mind, you are much bound to him.

    Exeunt Duke and his train

    BASSANIO
    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 your courteous pains withal.

    ANTONIO
    And stand indebted, over and above,
    In love and service to you evermore.

    PORTIA
    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.
    I pray you, know me when we meet again:
    I wish you well, and so I take my leave.

    BASSANIO
    Dear sir, of force I must attempt 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.

    PORTIA
    You press me far, and therefore I will yield.

    To ANTONIO

    Give me your gloves, I'll wear them for your sake;

    To BASSANIO

    And, for your love, I'll take this ring from you:
    Do not draw back your hand; I'll take no more;
    And you in love shall not deny me this.

    BASSANIO
    This ring, good sir, alas, it is a trifle!
    I will not shame myself to give you this.

    PORTIA
    I will have nothing else but only this;
    And now methinks I have a mind to it.

    BASSANIO
    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.

    PORTIA
    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 answer'd.

    BASSANIO
    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.

    PORTIA
    That 'scuse serves many men to save their gifts.
    An if your wife be not a mad-woman,
    And know how well I have deserved the ring,
    She would not hold out enemy for ever,
    For giving it to me. Well, peace be with you!

    Exeunt Portia and Nerissa

    ANTONIO
    My Lord Bassanio, let him have the ring:
    Let his deservings and my love withal
    Be valued against your wife's commandment.

    BASSANIO
    Go, Gratiano, run and overtake him;
    Give him the ring, and bring him, if thou canst,
    Unto Antonio's house: away! make haste.

    Exit Gratiano

    Come, you and I will thither presently;
    And in the morning early will we both
    Fly toward Belmont: come, Antonio.

    Exeunt
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