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Shy. Till thou canst rail the seal from off my bond, Thou but offend'st thy lungs to speak so loud: Repair thy wit, good youth, or it will fall To cureless ruin.-I stand here for law.
Duke. This letter from Bellario doth commend A young and learned doctor to our court:Where is he?
Ner. 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. Mean time, 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 furnish'd with my opinion; which, better'd 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 learnd Bellario, what he
writes : And here, I take it, is the doctor come.
Enter PORTIA, dressed like a Doctor of Laws. Give me your hand: Came you from old Bellario?
Por. I did, my lord.
Duke. You are welcome: take your place.
Por. I am inform'd thoroughly of the cause.
Duke. Antonio and old Shylock, both stand forth.
Shylock is my name.
Do you confess the bond?
Por. The quality of mercy is not strain’d 17;
15 To impugn is to oppose, to controvert.
16 i.e. within his reach or control. The phrase is thought to be derived from a similar one in the monkish Latin of the middle age. There are frequent instances of its use in the Paston Letters in the same sense. So in Powell's History of Wales, 1587.- Laying for his excuse that he had offended manie noblemen of England, and therefore would not come in their danger.' Again in Shakspeare's Venus and Adonis:
Come not within his danger by your will.' 17 Shakspeare probably recollected the following verse of Ecclesiasticus, xxxv. 20, in composing these beautiful lines : • Mercy is seasonable in the time of affliction, as clouds of rain in the time of drought.'
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Shy. My deeds upon my head? I crave the law,
Bass. 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 20. And, I beseech you, Wrest once the law to your authority:
18 So in K. Edward III. a Tragedy, 1596 :
And Kings approach the nearest unto God,
By giving life and safety anto men.' And Thomas Achely quoted in England's Parnassus, under the head · Mercie :'
• Then come we nearest to the Gods on hie,
Giving forthe sentence of our lawes with mercie.' 19 Portia referring the Jew to the Christian doctrine of Salvation, and the Lord's Prayer, is a little out of character.
20 i.e. malice oppressed honesty, a true man in old language is an honest man. We now call the jury good men and true.
led for ablished; ho power in Ven;
To do a great right, do a little wrong ;
Por. It must not be; there is no power in Venice
Shy. A Daniel come to judgment! yea, a Daniel !O wise young judge, how do I honour thee!
Por. I pray you, let me look upon the bond.
Shy. An oath, an oath, I have an oath in heaven:
Why, this bond is forfeit;
Shy. When it is paid according to the tenour.
Ant. Most heartily I do beseech the court
Why then, thus it is.
Shy. O noble judge! O excellent young man!
Por. For the intent and purpose of the law
Shy. 'Tis very true: 0) wise and upright judge! How much more elder art thou than thy looks!
Por. 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.
Por. It is so. Are there balance here, to weigh The flesh?
Shy. I have them ready.
Shy. Is it so nominated in the bond ?
Por. It is not so express'd; But what of that? 'Twere good you do so much for charity.
Shy. I cannot find it; 'tis not in the bond.
Ant. But little; I am arm’d, and well prepar’d. -
Bass. Antonio, I am married to a wife,