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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 80 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: Came you from old Bellario?

Por. I did, my lord.

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

Por. I am informed throughly 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 my name.
Por. 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,2 do you not?

[T. ANT.

i Cannot impugn you,] To impugn, is to oppose, to controvert. So, in The Tragedy of Darius, 1603:

“ Yet though my heart woold fain impugn my word.” Again:

“If any press timpugn what I impart.” Steevens. 2 You stand within his danger,] i.e. within his reach or control. This phrase originates from another in the lowest Latin, that of. ten occurs in monastic records. Thus, (as Mr. Tyrwhitt has observed on a passage in Chaucer) See Hist. Abbat. Pipwell. ap. Monast. Angl. t. i, p. 815: “ Nec audebant Abbates eidem resistere, quia aut pro denariis aut pro bladis semper fuerunt Abbates in langerio dicti Officialis.” Thus also, in the Coruysor's Play, among the collection of Whitsun Mysteries, represented at Ches

See MS. Harl. 1013, p. 106:


Do you

Ant. Ay, so he says.

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 ;3
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 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 scepter'd 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: 5 we do pray for mercy;


- Two detters some time there were

Oughten money to an usurere, “ The one was in his daungere

• Fyve hundred poundes tolde.” Steevens. There are frequent instances in The Paston Letters of the use of this phrase in the same sense; whence it is obvious, from the common language of the time, that to be in DEBT and to be in DANGER, were synonymous terms. Henlev.

Again, in Powel'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.Malone.

3 The quality of mercy is not strain'd; &c.] In composing these beautiful lines, it is probable that Shakspeare recollected the following verse in Ecclesiasticus, xxxv, 20: “Mercy is seasonable in the time of affliction, as clouds of rain in the time of drought.”

Douce. 4 And earthly power doth then show likest God's,

When mercy zeasons justice.] So, in King Edward III, a tragedy, 1596:

And kings approach the nearest unto God,
“By giving life and safety unto men.” Malone.

in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation:] Portia referring the Few to the Chris-

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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 ʼgainst the merchant there.

Shy. My deeds upo my head!6 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:7 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.8 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.

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 upon 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? tian doctrine of salvation, and the Lord's Prayer, is a little out of character. Blackstone.

6 My deeds upon my head!] An imprecation adopted from that of the Jews to Pilate: “ His blood be on us, and our children!"

Henley. 7 Yea, twice the sum:] We should read_thrice the sum.-Portia, a few lines below, says

Shylock, there's thrice thy money offer'd thee.” And Shylock himself supports the emendation:

“I take his offer then;-pay the bond thrice.” The editions, indeed, read-this offer; but Mr. Steevens has already proposed the alteration we ought to adopt. Ritson.

malice bears down truth.] Malice oppresses honesty; a true man in old language is an honest man. We now call the jury good men and true. Johnson.


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! () 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.

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 very words.

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 charge, 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 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 out-live his wealth,
To view with hollow eye, and wrinkled brow,
An age of poverty; from which lingering penance
Of such a 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,
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.

Por. Your wife would give you little thanks for that, If she were by, to hear you make the offer.

Gra. 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.

Ner. 'Tis well you offer it behind her back; The wish would make else an unquiet house. Shy. These be the christian husbands; I have a daugh

ter; 'Would, any of the stock of Barrabas 1 Had been her husband, rather than a Christian! [Aside. We trifle time; I pray thee, pursue sentence.

Por. A pound of that same merchant's flesh is thine;

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Of such a misery-] The first folio destroys the measure by omitting the particle-a; which, nevertheless, is found in the corrected second folio, 1632. Steevens.

- the stock of Barrabas -] The name of this robber is differently spelt as well as accented in The New Testament ; (MÀ πετον, αλλά τον Βαραββάν. ήν δε ο Βαραββάς ληστής s] but Shakespeare seems to have followed the pronunciation usual to the theatre, Barabbas being sounded Barabas throughout Marlowe's Few of Malta. Our poet might otherwise have written:

“Would any of Barabbas' stock had been
“Her husband, rather than a Christian!" Steevens.

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