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The Merchant of Venice

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Act I, Scene 3

Venice. A public place.



  • Shylock. Three thousand ducats; well.
  • Bassanio. For the which, as I told you, Antonio shall be bound.
  • Shylock. Antonio shall become bound; well. 330
  • Bassanio. May you stead me? will you pleasure me? shall I
    know your answer?
  • Shylock. Three thousand ducats for three months and Antonio bound.
  • Shylock. Antonio is a good man. 335
  • Bassanio. Have you heard any imputation to the contrary?
  • Shylock. Oh, no, no, no, no: my meaning in saying he is a
    good man is to have you understand me that he is
    sufficient. Yet his means are in supposition: he
    hath an argosy bound to Tripolis, another to the 340
    Indies; I understand moreover, upon the Rialto, he
    hath a third at Mexico, a fourth for England, and
    other ventures he hath, squandered abroad. But ships
    are but boards, sailors but men: there be land-rats
    and water-rats, water-thieves and land-thieves, I 345
    mean pirates, and then there is the peril of waters,
    winds and rocks. The man is, notwithstanding,
    sufficient. Three thousand ducats; I think I may
    take his bond.
  • Shylock. I will be assured I may; and, that I may be assured,
    I will bethink me. May I speak with Antonio?
  • Bassanio. If it please you to dine with us.
  • Shylock. Yes, to smell pork; to eat of the habitation which
    your prophet the Nazarite conjured the devil into. I 355
    will buy with you, sell with you, talk with you,
    walk with you, and so following, but I will not eat
    with you, drink with you, nor pray with you. What
    news on the Rialto? Who is he comes here?


  • Shylock. [Aside] How like a fawning publican he looks!
    I hate him for he is a Christian,
    But more for that in low simplicity
    He lends out money gratis and brings down 365
    The rate of usance here with us in Venice.
    If I can catch him once upon the hip,
    I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him.
    He hates our sacred nation, and he rails,
    Even there where merchants most do congregate, 370
    On me, my bargains and my well-won thrift,
    Which he calls interest. Cursed be my tribe,
    If I forgive him!
  • Shylock. I am debating of my present store, 375
    And, by the near guess of my memory,
    I cannot instantly raise up the gross
    Of full three thousand ducats. What of that?
    Tubal, a wealthy Hebrew of my tribe,
    Will furnish me. But soft! how many months 380
    Do you desire?
    [To ANTONIO]
    Rest you fair, good signior;
    Your worship was the last man in our mouths.
  • Antonio. Shylock, although I neither lend nor borrow 385
    By taking nor by giving of excess,
    Yet, to supply the ripe wants of my friend,
    I'll break a custom. Is he yet possess'd
    How much ye would?
  • Shylock. Ay, ay, three thousand ducats. 390
  • Shylock. I had forgot; three months; you told me so.
    Well then, your bond; and let me see; but hear you;
    Methought you said you neither lend nor borrow
    Upon advantage. 395
  • Shylock. When Jacob grazed his uncle Laban's sheep—
    This Jacob from our holy Abram was,
    As his wise mother wrought in his behalf,
    The third possessor; ay, he was the third— 400
  • Antonio. And what of him? did he take interest?
  • Shylock. No, not take interest, not, as you would say,
    Directly interest: mark what Jacob did.
    When Laban and himself were compromised
    That all the eanlings which were streak'd and pied 405
    Should fall as Jacob's hire, the ewes, being rank,
    In the end of autumn turned to the rams,
    And, when the work of generation was
    Between these woolly breeders in the act,
    The skilful shepherd peel'd me certain wands, 410
    And, in the doing of the deed of kind,
    He stuck them up before the fulsome ewes,
    Who then conceiving did in eaning time
    Fall parti-colour'd lambs, and those were Jacob's.
    This was a way to thrive, and he was blest: 415
    And thrift is blessing, if men steal it not.
  • Antonio. This was a venture, sir, that Jacob served for;
    A thing not in his power to bring to pass,
    But sway'd and fashion'd by the hand of heaven.
    Was this inserted to make interest good? 420
    Or is your gold and silver ewes and rams?
  • Shylock. I cannot tell; I make it breed as fast:
    But note me, signior.
  • Antonio. Mark you this, Bassanio,
    The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose. 425
    An evil soul producing holy witness
    Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
    A goodly apple rotten at the heart:
    O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!
  • Shylock. Three thousand ducats; 'tis a good round sum. 430
    Three months from twelve; then, let me see; the rate—
  • Antonio. Well, Shylock, shall we be beholding to you?
  • Shylock. Signior Antonio, many a time and oft
    In the Rialto you have rated me
    About my moneys and my usances: 435
    Still have I borne it with a patient shrug,
    For sufferance is the badge of all our tribe.
    You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog,
    And spit upon my Jewish gaberdine,
    And all for use of that which is mine own. 440
    Well then, it now appears you need my help:
    Go to, then; you come to me, and you say
    'Shylock, we would have moneys:' you say so;
    You, that did void your rheum upon my beard
    And foot me as you spurn a stranger cur 445
    Over your threshold: moneys is your suit
    What should I say to you? Should I not say
    'Hath a dog money? is it possible
    A cur can lend three thousand ducats?' Or
    Shall I bend low and in a bondman's key, 450
    With bated breath and whispering humbleness, Say this;
    'Fair sir, you spit on me on Wednesday last;
    You spurn'd me such a day; another time
    You call'd me dog; and for these courtesies
    I'll lend you thus much moneys'? 455
  • Antonio. I am as like to call thee so again,
    To spit on thee again, to spurn thee too.
    If thou wilt lend this money, lend it not
    As to thy friends; for when did friendship take
    A breed for barren metal of his friend? 460
    But lend it rather to thine enemy,
    Who, if he break, thou mayst with better face
    Exact the penalty.
  • Shylock. Why, look you, how you storm!
    I would be friends with you and have your love, 465
    Forget the shames that you have stain'd me with,
    Supply your present wants and take no doit
    Of usance for my moneys, and you'll not hear me:
    This is kind I offer.
  • Shylock. This kindness will I show.
    Go with me to a notary, seal me there
    Your single bond; and, in a merry sport,
    If you repay me not on such a day,
    In such a place, such sum or sums as are 475
    Express'd in the condition, let the forfeit
    Be nominated for an equal pound
    Of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken
    In what part of your body pleaseth me.
  • Antonio. Content, i' faith: I'll seal to such a bond 480
    And say there is much kindness in the Jew.
  • Bassanio. You shall not seal to such a bond for me:
    I'll rather dwell in my necessity.
  • Antonio. Why, fear not, man; I will not forfeit it:
    Within these two months, that's a month before 485
    This bond expires, I do expect return
    Of thrice three times the value of this bond.
  • Shylock. O father Abram, what these Christians are,
    Whose own hard dealings teaches them suspect
    The thoughts of others! Pray you, tell me this; 490
    If he should break his day, what should I gain
    By the exaction of the forfeiture?
    A pound of man's flesh taken from a man
    Is not so estimable, profitable neither,
    As flesh of muttons, beefs, or goats. I say, 495
    To buy his favour, I extend this friendship:
    If he will take it, so; if not, adieu;
    And, for my love, I pray you wrong me not.
  • Antonio. Yes Shylock, I will seal unto this bond.
  • Shylock. Then meet me forthwith at the notary's; 500
    Give him direction for this merry bond,
    And I will go and purse the ducats straight,
    See to my house, left in the fearful guard
    Of an unthrifty knave, and presently
    I will be with you. 505
  • Antonio. Hie thee, gentle Jew.
    [Exit Shylock]
    The Hebrew will turn Christian: he grows kind.
  • Bassanio. I like not fair terms and a villain's mind.
  • Antonio. Come on: in this there can be no dismay; 510
    My ships come home a month before the day.