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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

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

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


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. hand: Came


from old Bellario? Por. I did, my lord.

Give me your

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

Por. I am inform’d thoroughly of the cause. Which is the merchant here, and which the Jew?

Duke. Antonio and old Shylock, both stand forth.
Por. Is your name Shylock ?

Shylock is my name. Por. Of a strange nature is the suit you

Yet in such rule, that the Venetian law
Cannot impugn 15 you, as you do proceed.--
You stand within his danger 16,



[To ANTONIO. Ant. Ay, so he says. Por.

Do you confess the bond ? Ant. I do. Por.

Then must the Jew be merciful. Shy. On what compulsion must I ? tell me that.

Por. The quality of mercy is not strain'd 17;
It droppeth, as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless'd;
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes :
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown:
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,

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 aflliction, as clouds of rain in the time of drought.'

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 18. 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 19. 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.

Shy. My deeds upon my head ? I crave the law, The penalty and forfeit of my bond.

Por. Is he not able to discharge the money?

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:

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18 So in K. Edward III. a Tragedy, 1596 :

And Kings approach the nearest unto God,

By giving life and safety unto men.' And Thomas Achely quoted in England's Parnassus, under the head · Mercie :'

• Then come we nearest to the Gods on hie,
When we are farthest from extremitie,

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.

To do a great right, do a little wrong ;
And curb this cruel devil of his will.

Por. 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.

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


the bond. Shy. Here 'tis, most reverend doctor, here it is. Por. Shylock, there's thrice thy money offer'd thee.

Shy. 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.

Shy. 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.

Ant. Most heartily I do beseech the court
To give the judgment.

Why then, thus it is.
You must prepare your bosom for his knife :

Shy. O noble judge! O excellent young man!

Por. For the intent and purpose of the law
Hath full relation to the penalty,
Which here appeareth due upon the bond.

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Shy. 'Tis very true: O 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


Por. It is so. Are there balance here, to weigh
The flesh?

Shy. I have them ready.
Por. Have by some surgeon, Shylock, on your

To stop his wounds, lest he do bleed to death.

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.
Por. Come, merchant, have you any thing to say?

Ant. But little; I am arm'd, and well prepar'd. -
Give me your hand, Bassanio; fare


Grieve not that I am fallen to this for
For herein fortune shows herself more kind
Than is her custom: it is still her use,
To let the wretched man out-live 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 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 not 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.

Bass. Antonio, I am married to a wife,


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