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I would the gods had made thee poetical.

      — As You Like It, Act III Scene 2


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The Merchant of Venice

Act IV

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Scene 1. Venice. A court of justice.

Scene 2. The same. A street.


Act IV, Scene 1

Venice. A court of justice.

      next scene .

[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 1935
    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 1940
    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. 1945
  • Salerio. He is ready at the door: he comes, my lord.


  • 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 1950
    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, 1955
    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, 1960
    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. 1965
    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 1970
    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? 1975
    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; 1980
    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, 1985
    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; 1990
    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, 1995
    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. 2000
  • 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 2005
    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, 2010
    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. 2015
  • 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? 2020
  • 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, 2025
    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: 2030
    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? 2035
  • 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 2040
    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, 2045
    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, 2050
    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 2060
    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 2065
    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, 2070
    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: 2075
    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? 2080
  • 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. 2085
  • 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 2090
    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 2095
    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 2100
    acceptance, whose trial shall better publish his
  • 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] 2105
    Give me your hand. Come you from old Bellario?
  • Duke. You are welcome: take your place.
    Are you acquainted with the difference
    That holds this present question in the court? 2110
  • 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?
  • 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?
  • Portia. Do you confess the bond?
  • 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, 2125
    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; 2130
    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, 2135
    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 2140
    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 2145
    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; 2150
    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, 2155
    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: 2160
    '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! 2165
  • 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? 2170
    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: 2175
    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, 2180
    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 2185
    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 2190
    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. 2195
  • 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? 2200
  • 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? 2205
    '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! 2210
    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 2215
    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; 2220
    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, 2225
    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: 2230
    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: 2235
    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; 2240
    Would any of the stock of Barrabas
    Had been her husband rather than a Christian!
    We trifle time: I pray thee, pursue sentence.
  • Portia. A pound of that same merchant's flesh is thine: 2245
    The court awards it, and the law doth give it.
  • 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! 2250
  • 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 2255
    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!
  • 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 2265
    And let the Christian go.
  • Portia. Soft!
    The Jew shall have all justice; soft! no haste:
    He shall have nothing but the penalty. 2270
  • 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 2275
    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. 2280
  • 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. 2285
  • 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? 2290
  • 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: 2295
    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, 2300
    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. 2305
    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 2310
    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; 2315
    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, 2320
    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 2325
    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, 2330
    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, 2335
    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 2340
    The pardon that I late pronounced here.
  • Portia. Art thou contented, Jew? what dost thou say?
  • Portia. Clerk, draw a deed of gift.
  • Shylock. I pray you, give me leave to go from hence; 2345
    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, 2350
    To bring thee to the gallows, not the font.


  • 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, 2355
    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. 2365
  • 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: 2370
    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, 2375
    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; 2380
    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! 2385
    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, 2390
    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. 2395
  • 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, 2400
    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: 2405
    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. 2410
    [Exit Gratiano]
    Come, you and I will thither presently;
    And in the morning early will we both
    Fly toward Belmont: come, Antonio.


. previous scene      

Act IV, Scene 2

The same. A street.



  • Portia. Inquire the Jew's house out, give him this deed
    And let him sign it: we'll away to-night
    And be a day before our husbands home:
    This deed will be well welcome to Lorenzo. 2420


  • Gratiano. Fair sir, you are well o'erta'en
    My Lord Bassanio upon more advice
    Hath sent you here this ring, and doth entreat
    Your company at dinner. 2425
  • Portia. That cannot be:
    His ring I do accept most thankfully:
    And so, I pray you, tell him: furthermore,
    I pray you, show my youth old Shylock's house.
  • Nerissa. Sir, I would speak with you.
    [Aside to PORTIA]
    I'll see if I can get my husband's ring,
    Which I did make him swear to keep for ever.
  • Portia. [Aside to NERISSA] Thou mayst, I warrant. 2435
    We shall have old swearing
    That they did give the rings away to men;
    But we'll outface them, and outswear them too.
    Away! make haste: thou knowist where I will tarry. 2440
  • Nerissa. Come, good sir, will you show me to this house?