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Full text of "Shakespeare's The merchant of Venice"

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WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE. 



CA jVA dfa n scifoor. sua k ESP fa re 



SHAKESPEARE'S 

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 



t'OK USE ir>f i'UBI^IC A:NI3 HlUil SCHOOLS 



Wnil ANNOTATIONS BY 

(J. J. STEVENSON, M.A., D.Paed. 

Professor of English, Ontario Agricultural College, Guelph 



TORONTO 
THE COPP, CLARK COMPANY, LIMITED 



Copyright, Canada, 1917, by The Coi'P, Clakk Compaxv, J^imited 
Toronto, Ontario 



PKEFACE 



The Canadian School Shakespeare, as the name impHes, 
is intended for use in Public and High Schools in Canada; 
and the annotations have been prepared especially with a 
view to the requirements of pupils in these schools. Besides 
the explanation of difficulties in the text, the notes on each 
scene include a brief critical comment, to which are added 
a series of questions based on the study of the scene ; and 
following the annotations on each Act is a short summary 
or review. An Appendix to the volume contains examination 
questions from departmental and matriculation papers, and a 
list of composition subjects based on the play itself. 

Tlie Introduction to the play contains a note on metre, 
an analysis of the characters and plot, and such general 
information as the study of the play requires. As a matter 
of interest to the student an outline of the life of Shakespeare, 
with an account of the theatre in his time, is also included. 
As a result of certain interesting researches that were made 
a few years ago, some new light has been thrown upon the 
life of Shakespeare in London ; but within the limits of the 
brief outline which is required in a volume such as this, the 
editor has not thought it advisable to go into these details. 

The material is so arranged that the pupil in junior classes 

may easily obtain the help that he finds necessary ; while 

at the feame time the senior pupil will also find in the 

book all the assistance he requires in preparation for his 

examinations, 

iu 



CONTENTS 



William Shakespkakk {Fruntispiere) 

The Life of Shakespeare 

The Theatre in Shakespeare's Tiaii; 

The Metre of Shakespeare's Plavs 

Date; Sources of the Plot; Titlk 

"The Merchant of Venice" as» a Come 

The Structure of thr Play 

SouRi'Es OF Interest . 

The Choice of the Caskets 

Important Chauacters 

Time Analysis . 

Dramatis Person. k 

Text of "The Merchant <jf Venice" 

Notes on "The Merchant of Venice" 

Questions from Examination Papei:s 

Subjects for Comi'(>sition 



Vll 

viii 
ix 

xi-xii 
xii 
xiii 

XV 

xvii 

xxi 

xxvii 

xxix 

1 

93 

155 

IGl 



INTRODUCTION 



The Life of Shakespeare. 

William Shakespeare was born iu Stratfonl-on-Avon, in Warwick- 
shire, on April 23rd, 1564. His father, John Shakespeare, was, in 
early life, a prosperous citizen of Stratford ; his mother, Mary Arden, 
was the daughter of a well-to-do farmer of Warwickshire. Between 
the ages of seven and fourte^en, Shakespeare probably attended the 
Stratford Grammar School, where, among other things, he received 
some training in Latin. In the year 15S2, before he was nineteen years 
of age, he married Anne Hathaway, of Shottery, a woman who was 
some eight years his senior. Two of their children, Susanna and Judith, 
married, but only one of Shakespeare's grand-children reached maturity, 
and with her death in 1669 or 16-70 the poet's family became extinct. 

About the year 1586, »Shakespeare left Stratford and went to London, 
where he appears to have obtained employment in some capacity in 
connection with the London theatres. About 1588 he began making 
over old plays, and in 1590 he probably wrote his first original drama. 
During the next twenty years, from 1590 to 1610, he produced play 
after pl'ay, and there is abundant evidence to show tlie esteem in which 
he was hold by his contemporaries. In 1594 he was a member of the 
Earl of Leicester's Company of Players. When the Globe theatre was 
built in 1599, Shakespeare was one of the chief shareholders, and most 
of his plays were acted in this theatre. 

In the meantime he had begun to acquire property in Stratford. In 
1597 he had purchased the fine residence known as New Place, and 
from this time forward he appears to have looked more and more to 
Stratford as his home. About the year 1610 or 1611, he left Loudon 
and returned to Stratford with the apparent intention of living in ease 
and retirement on the competence which he had accumulated. A few 
years later, however, his health failed, and he died in April, 1616, in 
his fifty-second year. He was buried iu the chancel of the Church of 
the Holy Trinity, in Stratford. 

Shakespeare's literary career is generally, for the sake of convenience, 
divided into four periods, according to the character of the plays wliich 
he produced : 

(a) 15S8-1594. This is largely a period of apprenticeship. To this 
period belong, Loves Labour's Lost, Comedy of Errors, liichard JIL, 
and possibly Romeo and Juliet. 



Vlll THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 

{h) 1594-1600. Duriug this period most of the great comedies and 
the English historical plays were produced. To this period belong, 
A Midsummer Ni'jhCs Dream, The Mercliant of Venice, As You. Like It, 
Richard II. , Henry I V. , and Henry V. 

(c) 1600-1606. During this period most of the great tragedies were 
produced. To this period belong to Julitcs Ccesar, Hamlet, Othello, 
King Lear and Macbeth. 

{d) 1606-1612. This is a period of later tragedy and of serious comedy. 
To this period belong, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolamis, Cymbeline, 
The Tempest and A Winter's Tale. 

Shakespeare himself took no pains to preserve his plays in permanent 
form. In all only fifteen of his plays were printed during his lifetime. 
In 1623, however, seven years after his death, a complete collection of 
his plays, thirty-six in all, were published in what is known as The 
Folio of 1G23. 

Note. — A folio page is about the size of an ordinary page of foolscap 
(about 13"x8y), formed by folding the printer's sheet of paper once. 
When the printer's sheet is divided into four parts, the size of page 
is known as quarto ; when divided into eight parts it is octavo ; when 
divided into twelve parts it is duodecimo. The plays which were 
printed during Shakespeare's I'.fetime were published iu quarto volumes, 
as distinguished from the later folios. 

The Theatre in Shakespeare's Time. 

The first theatre in London was built in 1576, and was known as 
Tlie Theatre. Both this and other theatres which followed, The Curtain, 
The Globe, Blackfriars, and others, were built outside the city limits in 
order to escape the restrictions which were placed on the theatre by 
the Puritans. Most of the theatres were frame structures which were 
open to the sky, the only roofed part being the stage, or, at most, the 
raised seats next the walls. The better class of people occupied seats 
in the boxes overlooking the stage, or sat on stools or reclined on the 
rushes on the floor of the stage itself. The floor of the pit was merely 
hard earth, and it was not provided with seats. The admission to the 
pit was only a penny, and here the rabble crowded together, jostled 
each other, cracked nuts, ate apples, and laughed and joked and niade 
sport of the actors. 

The performance of the play began at three o'clock in the afternoon, 
and usually lasted two or three hours. The stage was hung with black 



THE METRE OF SHAKESPEARE S PLAYS IX 

to indicate tragedy, and with l)lue to indicate comedy. There was no 
curtain to mark the opening and closing of the scenes, and beyond a few 
simple articles of furniture, no scenery of any account was used. At 
the back of the stage was a sort of gallery or balcony, which served the 
purpose of an upper room, or any place which was raised above the 
level of the ordinary scene. A change of place was indicated by a board 
with the name painted on it, as, London, Venice, Rome, Sardis. A 
light blue Hag was used to indicate a day scene, — a dark flag to indicate 
a night scene. The women's parts in the play were acted by boys, and 
women did not appear even among the audience unless they wore masks. 
It was not until after the Restoration, that movable stage scenery was 
introduced, and that female parts were acted by women. 

The Metre of Shakespeare's Plays. 

The plays of Shakespeare are written in blank verse, that is, verse in 
which the lines do not rhyme. Each line contains five feet, consisting 
of two syllables each, with the accent falling on the second syllable. 
This measure is known as iambic pentameter. 

When we mark the divisions between feet and indicate tlie accents 
in a line of poetry, we are said to scan it. Where the metre is perfectly 
regular, the scansion presents no difficulty ; but very frequently the 
poet finds it necessary to vary his metre, either for the sake of avoiding 
monotony or for the purpose of producing certain special etlects. The 
following are the most important of the variations M'hich occur in the 
metre of Shakespeare : 

(a) Sometimes, especially after a pause, the accent falls upon the 
first syllable instead of the second, as, for example : 

Wo'e to / the ha'nd / that sh'ed / this co'st/ly blo'od ! 
What ju'dg/nieut sh'all / I dre'ad, / d'oing / no wro'ng ? 

{h) An extra syllable is frequently added, especially at the end of a 
line, as, for example : 

Art th'ou / some g'od, / some a'n/gel o'r / some de'v/il ? 
It dr'op/peth a's / the ge'n/tle ra'in / from he'av/en. 

(c) Sometimes a foot contains two unaccented syllables, as, for 
example, in the following lines : 

I am ne'v/er m'er/ry wh'en / I he'ar / sweet m'u/sic ; 

Let me see, / let me a'ee, / was u'ot / the lea'f / turu'd dow'n ? 



X THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 

In many cases, however, one of the unaccented syllables ia elided, or 
slurred over iu reading, as, for example, in the following' : 

Canst tho'u / not m'in/(i)ster t'o / a mi'nd / dise'ased ? 
We'll se'nd / Mark A'li / t(o)ny t'o / the Se'n/ate-ho'use. 
Macb'eth / doth m'urder sle'ep, / the i'n/n(o)cent sl'eep. 

{(I) Certain groups of letters which are now pronounced as one 
syllable, are sometimes pronounced as two syllables in Shakespeare, as, 
for example, in the following : 

The noble Brutus 
Hath to'ld / you Ca'es/ar was / amb'it / i-o'us. 
Misli'ke / me n'ot / for m'y / comple'x/i-o'n. 

(e) It frequently happens that among the accented syllables in a line 
of poetry some have a stronger stress than others ; and in order to scan 
a line, it is sometimes necessary to accent words which according to the 
sense have no stress, as, for example, in the case of the italicized words 
in the following : 

Throw phy's/ic to' / the do'gs ; / I'll no'ne / of i't ! 
There i's / a ti'de / iu th'e / affa'irs / of me'n. 

Rhyme is used by Shakespeare cliiefly for the purpose of giving 
emphasis to those lines in which the speaker expresses a purpose or 
decision, and it very frequently marks the close of a scene. Shakespeare 
used rhyme much more freely in his earlier than in his later plays. 

Prose. Shakespeare makes use of prose in his plays wherever the 
characters belong to a lower level of society, as, for example, the 
citizens in Jidiiis Ccesar, the porter in Macbeth, and Lancelot Gobbo, 
the clown, in The Merchant of Venice. Prose is also used in letters, 
as, for example, that of Bellario in The Merchant of Venice, and for 
rhetorical speeches, as in the case of the paper of Artemidorus and the 
oration of Brutus in Julius Ccesar. Sometimes also, prose is used for 
the purpose of producing a special dramatic effect, as in the case of 
Casca's assumed bluntness of manner in Julius CcBsar ; and in the scene 
in The Merchant of Venice where Shylock is *' tortured" by Tubal ; 
and in the sleep-walking scene in Macbeth, 



THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 



Date of the Play. 

The Merchant of Venice was first published by a printer 
named Roberts, in a quarto edition, in the year IGOO. But we 
know that it was written as early as 1598, for it is entered in 
the Stationers' Register {shmXixv to our copyright registi-ation) 
in July of that year ; and in n book called Palladis Taenia or 
WlVs Treasury, written by one Francis Meres, and published 
in September, 1598, it is also mentioned. There are some critics 
who argue that it must have been written as early as 1594 ; but 
the evidence for this date is very slight, and in all probability 
it was produced in the year 1596 or 1597. 

Sources of the Plot. 

Tlie Merchant of Venice contains two main stories — the bond 
stoiy and the caskets story ; and growing out of these are two 
minor stories — the elopement of Lorenzo and Jessica and the 
episode of the rings. The story of the pound of flesh and the 
story of the caskets are both very old, and they appear in 
various forms in different collections of medi;ev^al tales and 
romances. It appears certain, however, that Shakespeare 
obtained the material for the bond story, including the 
Rings' Episode, from a collection of tales entitled II Pecorone, 
compiled by an Italian named Ser Giovanni Fiorentino and 
published in 1558. The material for the caskets story he 
obtained from a collection of mediaeval tales called Gesta 
Ronuinoruin (The Deeds of the Romans), which was well known 
in Shakespeare's day. Nothing definite is known as to where 
Shakespeare obtained the material for the story of Lorenzo 
and Jessica. It may be, however, that the idea was suggested 
to him by the play entitled The Jew of Malta written by his 
contemporary, Christopher Marlowe, or by an Italian tale 
written during the preceding century which contains much 
the same story. 



Xll THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 

Shakespeare as a rule did not invent much of the material 
which he used in the construction of his plots. He simply took 
the material which he foiuid ready at hand and remoulded it 
in dramatic form. In the case of Tlie Merchant of Venice he 
used the bond story in II Pecorone as the basis of his plot. 
Then in place of the test to which the lover in the Italian story 
is subjected he substituted the story of the caskets ; and into 
these combined stories he wove the romance of Lorenzo and 
Jessica. Tlie outlines of the stories are borrowed ; but the 
language, the sentiments, the characters, and the wonderful 
skill with which the stories are woven into one, are all 
Shakespeare's own. 

The Title of the Play. 

There is no doubt that in giving the title The Merchant of 
Venice to the play, Shakespeare did not intend merely to name 
the play after Antonio ; for, as a matter of fact, Antonio is not 
so striking a character as either Shylock or Bassanio. The 
title is appropriate because it suggests the conditions which 
form the background of the plot as a whole. It was because 
Antonio was a rich merchant and occupied a position of 
influence on the Rialto that he came into contact with Shylock ; 
and it was in part because he was a rich merchant that 
Bassanio was able to borrow from him. It was, moreover, 
because he was a "merchant of Venice," — one whose ventures 
were "squandered abroad" — that it was possible for him to 
lose all his wealth at sea. In depicting the character of 
Antonio the dramatist has, to be sure, made much of his 
generous nature and his loyal friendship for Bassanio, but it is 
in reality because the plot turns upon the position and fortunes 
of "the merchant of Venice " that the play is named after him. 

"The Merchant of Venice" as a Comedy. 

Wlieu we speak of a Comedy we usually have in mind the 
kind of play that is cheerful in tone and that has a happy 
ending. But as a matter of fact the tone and the ending are 
in themselves always dependent upon other conditions in the 
play. In comedy as in tragedy the plot consists in the develop- 
ment of some difficulty which has to be overcome. If the hero 
or heroine is able to solve the problem, or overcome the 



THE STRUCTURE Xlll 

difficulty, the play ends happily, and usually in such cases the 
whole tone of the play is cheerful. To a play of this kind wo 
give the name of conu'dy. But if on the other hand, the hero 
or heroine is unable to meet the difficulty successfully, and is 
himself overcome by it, the play becomes a tragedy. The 
Merchant of Venice contains material for a great tragedy. 
Let us suppose, for instance, that Bassanio had been so lacking 
in experience and judgment as to choose the wrong casket : 
Portia in that case could never have gone to the assistance of 
Antonio. And, furthermore, if Portia herself had been unable 
to solve the problem of the bond, which had apparently baffled 
everyone else, Antonio would have been sacrificed and Shylock 
would have triumphed. It is because in these two crises in the 
play Bassanio and Portia in turn prove equal to the difficulty 
that presents itself, that the play is cheerful in tone and ends 
happily. The dramatist has at the same time, however, intro- 
duced comic elements, — the buffoonery of Launcelot, the wit of 
Portia, the humom* of the Rings' Episode, — that fall in with the 
prevailing tone of the play. If the play were transformed into 
a tragedy, a different setting must be provided for the great 
crises in the play. 

The Structure of the Play. 

In The Merchant of Venice Shakespeare has combined two 
main stories, the story of the bond and the story of the 
caskets, — and two minor stories, — the Elopement of Lorenzo 
and Jessica and the Rings' Episode. And although each of 
these four stories has a distinct interest of its own, so perfectly 
have they been interwoven that no one of the stories is in 
itself independent of the others, and each story contributes in 
its own way to the unity of the plot. 

The two main stories, the bond story and the caskets story, 
grow out of Bassanio's broken fortunes. In order to repair 
his loss of fortime he proposes to make suit to the wealthy 
Portia, with whom it happens he is really in love ; but before 
he can present himself as a suitor he nuist have money. Hence 
the necessity of the bond by means of which Antonio borrows 
money of Shylock. These two stories alternately occupy the 
interest of the audience during the first half of the play ; and 
both reach their crisis in the middle of the third Act, when 



XIV THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 

simultaneously with the success of Bassanio comes the news 
that Antonio's bond is forfeit. 

In the meantime, however, the dramatist has made use of 
special means to maintain a close connection between the two 
stories. To begin with, the clown, Launcelot Gobbo, who has 
been employed by Shylock, enters the service of Bassanio, and 
Shylock is glad to part with him because he will help to waste 
Bassanio's borrowed purse. At the same time, too, Shylock has 
been "bid forth to supper" by Bassanio, and he goes in hate 
to feed upon the prodigal Christian. Lorenzo, the guest of 
Bassanio, has in the meantime fallen in love with Shylock's 
daughter Jessica ; and the intrigue of the lovers is a means of 
connecting the two stories. And finally the flight of Jessica 
with a Christian and with a friend of Bassanio, and her theft 
of ducats and jewels, has the effect of enraging Shylock still 
further against Antonio, so as to make it certain that if the 
bond should fall due, he will exact the forfeiture. 

The crises of the two stories meet, as we have seen, in the 
centre of the play ; and as a result of the good judgment of 
Bassanio the problem of the caskets is successfully solved. The 
latter half of the play is then devoted mainly to the solution of 
the problem which the bond story presents. And now just as 
in the first half of the play Bassanio's need of money has 
helped to bring about the crisis in the affairs of Antonio, — so 
in the second half of the play his success in the choice of the 
caskets proves to be the means by which Antonio is rescued 
from his perilous position. Portia, now having the interests of 
Bassanio at heart, devises and carries out the plan by which 
Shylock is cheated of his revenge. At the same time, in order 
to preserve the balance of the play, Lorenzo and Jessica and 
Launcelot are transferred from Venice to Belmont, and their 
arrival just at the opportune time makes it easier for Portia to 
carry out her plans. At the close of the Trial Scene, further- 
more, the audience are reconciled all the more readily to the 
punishment that is meted out to Shylock, when it is remem- 
bered that Lorenzo and Jessica are to benefit by the deed of 
gift which Shylock is forced to dmw up in their favour. The 
Rings' Episode with which the play concludes is not so essential 
to the main plot as the Jessica story ; but it serves to relieve 
the intense strain of the latter half of the play : and besides as 



SOURCES OF INTEREST XV 

the play closes it furnishes an indisputable proof to Bassanio 
and Gratiano tliat Portia and Nerissa were in reality judge 
and clerk at the trial. 

To sum np, then, we have in the first half of the play the 
development of the caskets story and the bond story, both 
gi-owing out of Bassanio's loss of fortune; and these stories 
are closely connected, not only by the common interests of 
Bassanio and Antonio, but by the siibordinate incidents in the 
play, and in particular by the story of Lorenzo and Jessica. 
Tlie two main stories reach their crisis in the middle of the 
play ; and the success of Bassanio in the choice of the caskets 
brings with it also a solution of the difficulty in the bond story, 
inasnmch as it makes it possible for Portia to act as judge at 
the tiial of Antonio. The arrival of Lorenzo and Jessica at 
Belmont makes it easier for Portia to carry out her plan ; and 
at the same time Lorenzo and Jessica are, as it were, a sort of 
compensation for Shylock when sentence is pronounced upon 
him at the close of the trial. The Rings' Episode with which 
the story concludes, provides a happy ending for the play, and 
at the same time furnishes proof that Portia and Nerissa have 
indeed been present as judge and clerk respectively at the trial 
of Antonio. 

Sources of Interest in the Play. 

In The Merchant of Venice^ as in other dramas, the main 
sources of interest lie in the development of plot and the 
portrayal of character. But aside from these general sources 
of interest the dramatist has used special means to arouse and 
hold the attention of the audience. 

Unusual Situations and Incidents. In the first place, many of 
the situations or incidents in the play are in themselves so 
unusual or so picturescpie as to awaken and hold the interest. 
To begin with, the bargain between Antonio and Shylock in 
which a pound of flesh is named as the forfeiture is sufficiently 
strange to challenge the attention. In the Second Act the 
masque forms a picturesque setting for the elopement of 
Lorenzo and Jessica. Nothing could be moie romantic than 
the method by which Portia is to be won, and the choice of 
the caskets is made all the more striking by the fact that one 
of the suitors is "a tawnie Moor" and another a broken-down 



XVI THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 

Spanish prince. In the Trial Scene besides the strange nature 
of the suit, there is an added interest in the fact that Portia is 
the judge and that the wit of this "wise young judge" is 
matched against the cunning of Shylock. And, finally, the 
moonlight scene in Portia's grounds forms a picturesque 
conclusion to the series of unusual situations in the play. 

Dramatic Irony. When the words or actions of a character 
in the play have for the audience a significance the opposite of 
that which is intended, this double significance constitutes 
dramatic irony. In The MercJuint of Venice a number of the 
situations are in themselves ironical. The wealthy Antonio 
borrowing from his enemy Shylock, the deliberate Arragon 
choosing the casket with a death's head, Shylock insisting on 
"the very words" of the bond, these and other incidents in 
the play have a significance for the audience which they have 
not for the actors themselves, and in so far they are ironical. 
On two different occasions in the play this element of irony 
creates a humorous situation. In the Trial Scene both Bassanio 
and Gratiano swear that they would willingly sacrifice their 
wives in order to deliver Antonio ; and after the return to 
Belmont Gratiano adds to the humour of the situation by his 
unconscious description of Nerissa as "a prating boy" and "a 
little scrubbed boy no higher than thyself." 

Nemesis. In the course of any drama the author must see 
that the good qualities of his heroes are rewarded, and that 
the mistakes or crimes of which they are guilty are punished. 
Sometimes under certain conditions we feel that the piuiish- 
ment is peculiarly suited to the crime, and to this form of 
retributive justice^ we give the name of Nemesis. In The 
Merchant of Venice the element of nemesis appears in its most 
striking form in the case of Antonio and of Shylock respec- 
tively. In spite of the kindness and generosity of Antonio, 
the fact remains that he had treated Shylock unjustly: and 
furthermore, when he comes to borrow money of Shylock, we 
cannot help feeling that he is over-confident, and that in 
signing the bond he is running too great a risk. We are not 
surprised then when nemesis overtakes him, and in the "gaoler 
scene" in Act III. we feel that his humiliation is complete. 
But, on the other hand, Antonio's warm-hearted generosity 



THE CHOICE OF THE CASKETS XVll 

has won for him the admiration and affection of his friends : 
and the audience feel that it is only a matter of justice that 
some compensation should be made to him for all his losses and 
misfortunes. We know that he is to have one half of Shylock's 
goods in use until his death, and the audience is not ill-pleased 
to learn of the good news which Portia has in store for him 
at the close of the play, when she bids him unseal the letter 
announcing that three of his argosies have safely arrived in 
harbour. 

In the case of Shylock, nemesis takes on a more complicated 
form. "We know that Shylock had some good qualities, — 
among others his affection for his daugliter and for his dead 
wife Leah ; but to an Elizabethan audience the good elements 
in his character were far outweighed by his evil qualities, — his 
miserliness, his hatred of the Christians, and his desire for 
revenge upon Antonio. It was, then, only a form of nemesis, 
a judgment by which he was justly overtaken, when his own 
daughter forsook him and fled with a Christian, when he was 
robbed of money and jewels, and when finally he himself was 
forced to turn Christian and to leave the one half his goods in 
use to his hated enemy Antonio. But it is in the Trial Scene 
that the spirit of nemesis shows itself in its most striking form. 
Shylock will listen to no prayers for mercy : he will not accept 
the offer of thrice the money, but stands for justice and his 
bond. To all appeals on behalf of Antonio he returns the 
answer, " I cannot find it : it is not in the bond." And when at 
length his own weapons — his very words indeed, — are turned 
against him, it seems as if the judgment were peculiarly 
appropriate to the occasion. 

The Choice of the Caskets. 
The comparison of the three suitors in The MercTiant of 
Venice so as to show their characters and the motives which 
governed them in the choice of the caskets, is one of the chief 
elements of interest in the study of the play. In Act I., Scene 
II., we are told that the choice of the caskets is not a mere 
lottery, but the means devised by a wise and virtuous father 
to make certain that his daughter will be chosen only by the 
man who truly loves her. In order to make sure that no one 
will offer to choose the caskets unless he is willing to risk 



XVlll THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 

everything on the choice, the suitors are required to take an 
oath that if they fail they Mill never afterwai-cl speak to lady 
in way of marriage. As a result of this imposition, this 
"parcel of wooers," described by Portia in Scene II., have 
decided to return home. But just as their decision is an- 
nounced, a messenger brings woi'd of the arrival of the Prince 
of Morocco. 

Can you imagine the scene? Morocco is dark-skinned — 
"with the complexion of a devil," — but dressed with a magnifi- 
cence becoming a southern prince, and with a splendid retinue. 
He is vain, but his vanity is not wholly displeasing, because it 
is frank and open, and because it finds expression in his 
gallantry towards Portia. He swears "by his love"; Portia 
is his "gentle queen"; if he misses her he will "die with 
grieving," and if he wins he will be the most "blest among 
men ; " and Avhen he loses, he bows himself out of her presence 
with "too grieved a heart to take a tedious leave." 

"VVTien he comes at length to make his choice of the caskets, 
it is partly his vanity, and partly his gallantry, that proves his 
undoing. He cannot think that lead contains "her heavenly 
picture." And silver is not rich enough for Portia, although 
the inscription on the silver casket tempts him and makes him 
pause a moment to recount his own deservings. But it is the 
golden casket that appeals most strongly to his vanity. ' ' What 
many men desire" — this is the flame and Morocco is the moth! 
What every one wishes, the vain, boastful, showy, gallant 
Morocco must have, and he grows eloquent over the fancied 
picture of the suitors from "the four corners of the earth," 
over whom he, Morocco, will triumph. He chooses, — and 
Portia's wise father is vindicated. It is selfish vanity rather 
than love for Portia that leads him to choose as he does ; and 
when Portia, who sees through his shallow boastfulness, takes 
leave of him, there is no doubt a double meaning in her ironical 
farewell : 

" A gentle riddance ! Draw the curtains. Go ! 
Let all of his complexion choose nie so ! " 

The Prince of Arragon is a suitor of a different type, — a 
Spanish grandee, who seeks to repair his broken fortunes by 
marriage with Portia. It is evident that in his conversation 



THE CHOICE OF THE CASKETS XIX 

with Portia, he makes no effort to please her. He makes no 
recital of his virtues, and shows nothing of the open gallantry 
of Morocco. He deliberately repeats the conditions of his oath 
so as to be sure there is no mistake and at once sets himself to 
choose. Perhaps in giving this Spanish prince the name of 
Arragon, Shakespeare meant to give the audience a hint of his 
proud and arrogdiit character, which is shown in his speech. 
He dismisses the leaden casket in a word, as beneath his 
dignity; and the inscription, "who chooseth me must give 
and hazard all he hath " ; does not appeal to him, for it is not 
a part of his selfish nature to give or hazard for others. The 
inscription on the golden casket moves him to an expression 
of scorn for the "many men," — "the fool multitude," the 
" common spirits," and "barbarous multitudes," whom he held 
in contempt. But the silver casket with its bait of deserts 
appeals at on^e to his selfish pride, and he is moved to 
eloquence at the thought of his own deservings. His speech 
on "7»m7" has a splendid ring about it, even if the sentiment 
is connnonplace, until we discover that his idea of "merit" is 
not that of character, but merely that of noble birth. If he, 
Arragon, w^n-e allowed to set things right, his first task would 
be to pull down the "low peasantry" who have risen by real 
merit, and set up "the true seed of honour" — who but the 
proud Arragon himself? — in their place. And so Arragon 
chooses the silv^er casket, and in so doing he too makes it clear 
that it is not Portia that he worships, but his selfish idea of his 
own deserts. 

Arragon had taken an oath that if he should fail, he would, 
"without more speech" immediately be gone; but when he 
chooses wrongly he at once begins to find fault with the 
conditions : 

" Did I deserve no more than a fool's head ? 
Are my deserts no better?" 

This calls forth a rebuke from Portia, who reminds him that 
he who makes a mistake is not a fit person to sit in judgment 
upon his own misfortunes. And when he takes his leave, her 
opinion of his "merits" is shown by her stinging connnent : 

" O, these deliberate fools ! "When they do choose. 
They have the wisdom by their wit to lose. " 



XX THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 

Bassanio makes his choice under more favourable circum- 
stances than either Morocco or Arragon. He had visited 
Portia before, while her father was still alive, and from her 
eyes, even then, he *'did receive fair speechless messages." 
To Nerissa, who saw him then, " he of all men was the best 
deserving a fair lady," and Portia, who remembers him well, 
agrees that he is worthy of Nerissa's praise. The messenger 
whom he sends before, to announce his approach, brings 
"gifts of rich value ; " and we know that Bassanio himself was 
prepared " to hold a rival place," in outward show, with other 
suitors. We are told that Bassanio was a welcome suitor, and 
Portia, as far as her womanly modesty will permit, leaves him 
in no doubt as to her own anxiety that he will choose aright. 

Bassanio was from the outset less likely than either Morocco 
or Arragon, to be tempted by the *'out\vard shows" of the 
gold and silver caskets. He was "a soldier and a scholar;" 
and his own past experience in which he had "disabled his 
estate," had no doubt put him in a position to form sound 
judgments as to the real values of external appearances. 

This lesson had, indeed, been brought home to him by his 
preparation for this very event ; for when Shylock had 
attempted to justify himself by quoting from Scripture, 
Antonio had warned Bassanio especially, that outside appear- 
ances were not to be trusted : 

" Mark you this, Bassanio, 
The devil can cite Scripture for liis purpose. 
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." 

The song that is sung while Bassanio is choosing, helps to 
confirm the judgment at which he has already arrived. 
"What of love ? " says the singer ; " Is it a thing of the heart 
or of the head?" If it is a thing of the head only, merely 
dependent upon outward beauty which pleases the eyes, it 
cannot live. "So may the outward shows be least them- 
selves," comments Bassanio ; "The world is still deceived with 
ornament." It cannot be said that the song gave Bassanio 
any real hint as to which casket he should choose ; for to either 
Morocco or Arragon the words of the song would have meant 



IMPORTANT CHARACTERS XXI 

nothing. It is only because the song falls in with his own 
thoughts that it Ccills forth a response from Bassanio. 

And so he chooses the leaden casket. He is a soldier, and 
the leaden casket threatens. He is both a scholar and a man 
of the world and he has learned by experience that ornament 
is deceptive. But, more than all, he loves Portia truly, and 
the leaden casket calls upon him to "give" for her sake, while 
the gold and silver tempt him with offers of "gain." ^\"lien 
Portia, in the early part of the story, complained because she 
was unable "to choose one nor refuse none," Nerissa comforted 
her with the reflection that the caskets would "never be chosen 
rightly, but by one who should rightly love." When Bassanio 
chose the leaden casket, Nerissa's prediction came true. 

The Important Characters in "The Merchant 
of Venice." 
Antonio. Although the bond story arises out of the relations 
of Antonio to Shylock and Bassanio, yet Antonio himself does 
not in person play an important pai-t in The MercJidut of Venice', 
and his character as presented in the play is not difficult to 
analyse or to understand. From his relations with Shylock it 
appears that he is a merchant of influence on the Rialto ; and 
throughout the play we are given the impression that he 
possesses great wealth. His enmity towards Shylock seems to 
have grown wholly out of the fact that Shylock was a usurer, 
and that he oppressed those who came into his power. But 
Antonio in showing his contempt for Shylock li.ul apparently 
heaped U])on him personal indignities which aroused his bitter 
hatred. And when Shylock complains of his treatment Antonio 

replies : 

*' I am as like to call thee so (dog) ag-ain. 
To spit on thee again, to spurn thee too.'' 

Besides showing this spirit of intolerance towards Shylock, 
Antonio is over-confident as to his own fortimes ; and this 
blind confidence, as we have seen, brings with it its own 
nemesis. 

Aside from his relations towards Shylock, Antonio is best 
judged by the estimati(jn in which he is held by his friends. 
Salarino says of him, "a kinder gentleman treads not the 
earth." Bassanio describes him as "the best conditioned and 



XXll . THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 

unwearied spirit in doing courtesies," and Lorenzo in speaking 
to Portia regarding liini assures her that he is one to whom 
she might be proud to send rehef. In the beginning of the 
pUw he is represented as being overcome by i\n unacconntable 
sadness, and his mood throughout the drama is naturally not 
a cheerful one ; but in his friendship for Bassanio he gives 
evidence of a self-sacrificing generosity which in itself justifies 
the admiration and affection of his friends. 

Portia. It would be difficult to give a better summary of the 
qualities of Portia than that uttered by Bassanio when he 
describes her as "fair, and fairer than that word, of wondrous 
virtues." But to understand fully what these "wondrous 
virtues " are, it will be necessary to see Portia herself as she 
appears in the different scenes in the play. In the conversa- 
tion with Nerissa (Act I., Scene IT.), in which the different 
suitors are described, it is her keenness of intellect, and the 
play of wit and hiunour, that attracts us most strongly ; but 
at the same time beneath this playful exterior we feel that 
there is an undercurrent of seriousness, and that her vivacity 
in reality covers up her real feelings of anxiety concerning the 
conditions of her father's will. In the scenes in which Morocco 
and Arragon make their choice of the caskets we have a 
further illustration of Portia's attitude towards her unwel- 
come suitors, in the case of Morocco an amused tolerance, 
which gives way to genuine relief when he takes his departure ; 
and in the case of Arragon an ill-concealed contempt, which 
finds its expression at length in biting sarcasm. But with 
Bassanio it is different. She had already seen him in her 
father's time and the "fair speechless messages" in her eyes 
were in themselves a sufficient proof of her feelings towards 
him. When he comes as a suitor there is the inevitable 
struggle between love and modesty in which both feelings 
alternately find expression ; and throughout the scene all the 
womanly qualities in her nature, qualities of heart rather 
than of intellect, are revealed. In Act IV. her conduct of the 
Trial Scene shows not only keenness of intellect but self-control 
and firmness of will ; and these qualities of mind stand out aH 
the more clearly because they form a contrast to the girlish 
playfulness which she displays both in her preparation for her 
journey to Venice and in her conversation with Bassanio at 



IMPORTANT CHARACTERS XXlll 

the close of the trial. AVlien she returns again to Behnont 
she appeals for the moment in a relieclive mood. Perhaps she 
has been subdued by the events of the day, for the light of the 
candle shining in the distance reminds her of 'a good deed in 
a naughty world,' or perhaps she too has fallen under the spell 
of the music and the moonlight. But when Bassanio returns, 
her light-hearted raillery shows that she is the same Portia as 
of old, whose gaiety and vivacity of si)irit are not least among 
"the wondrous virtues" which Bassanio had foretold. 

"A perfect woman, nobly planned 
To wain, to comfort, and command ; 
And yet a spirit still and bright 
With something of an angel light." 

Shylock. In the pictiu'e which Shakespeare draws of fcJhy- 
lock he has represented him, in the main, as having the 
traditional qualities of the Jewish money-lender, — on the one 
hand a passion for his own race and religion, and on the other, 
a mean and sordid way of living which is the result of his 
miserly disposition. But while these are the outstanding 
features in Shylock's character, Shakespeare has so portrayed 
them that they seem to be natural qualities belonging to a veal 
human being, with hiunan weaknesses and human passions, 
rather than either a type or a Ccxricature of* a real individual. 

We first meet Shylock in the Borrowing Scene, in circiun- 
stances that cannot fail to bring out his long-standing, racial 
and personal prejudices. His hated enemy Antonio has come 
to him to borrow three thousand ducats, and Shylock sees in 
this occasion the opportimity of satisfying "the ancient 
grudge " which he bears Antonio. The causes of that grudge 
are made plain to the audience in the soliloquy of Shylock at 
the moment when Bassanio goes forward to greet Antonio : 

" I hate him for he is a Christian, 
But moie for that in low simplicity 
He lends out money gratis and brings down 
The rate of usance here with us in Venice. 



He hates our sacred nation, and he rails, 
Kven there whose mercliaiits most do congregate, 
On me, my bargains and my well- won tlirift. 
Which he calls interest." 



xxiv THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 

At the beginning of the scene it is evident that Shylock 
has no definite idea of how he can turn this opportmiity to 
advantage ; and when Antonio nrges his ie(iuest, Shylock 
reproaches him with the indignities which he has suffered 
from Antonio in the past. It is evidently Antonio's reply, 

" If thou wilt lend this money, lend it not 
As to thy friends ; for vlieii did friendship take 
A breed ofhwri^en vietal of his friend?" 

that gives Shylock the idea of taking interest in the form of a 
pound of flesh : for at once his whole tone changes and he 
attempts to disarm the suspicion of Antonio and Bassanio by 
speaking of the bond as a piece of "merry sport," and by 
assuring them that he wishes to buy the friendship of Antonio 
by lending him the money free of interest. 

In the scenes in which Shylock next appears in the play, we 
are given some insight into the character of his home life, — 
and we are left to judge how hard and sordid that home life 
must be. Jessica in speaking of her home says, "Our house is 
hell" ; and Launcelot declares that he is famished in Shylock's 
service. "When Shylock is about to set forth for supper, the 
directions which he gives to Jessica show how dull and narrow 
is the life which he forces her to lead ; and his parting threat, 
"Perhaps I will return immediately," shows the atmosphere 
of mean suspicion in which his household lives. 

In the beginning of Act III. we see Shylock again after he 
has learned of Jessica's elopement with Lorenzo, and just at 
the moment when further news is brought regarding Antonio's 
misfortunes. There is little need to analyse this scene to show 
the effect of these two incidents in arousing the passions of 
Shylock, — his hatred of the Christians, his grief over his losses, 
his eagerness for revenge, mingled with his blind fury at the 
flight of his daughter and his despair when he learns of the 
loss of his turquoise which had been given him by his dead 
wife Leah. It is probable that when Shylock first proposed 
the bond he intended only to humiliate Antonio ; but he is 
goaded by these losses as well as by the taunts of his enemies, 
to a frenzy which can be satisfied only by the life of Antonio, 
And Shakespeare has taken care to show that in this passion 
for revenge Shylock is only human. There are few passages 



IMPORTANT CHARACTERS XXV 

in the play as fine as that which Shakespeare puts into the 
mouth of vShylock in this seene in vindication of the human 
passions of the Jew. 

Tills scene provides an explanation for Shylock's conduct in 
the remainder of the i:>lay. "We are not surpiised that he 
refuses Antonio's plea for mercy, in the Gaoler Scene ; and in 
the Trial Scene his replies to the pleadings of the Duke and 
Portia alike are an assertion of his individual rights, for which 
his enemies in the court-rooih could with difficulty find an 
answer. Supposing it had been possible for the di'amatist to 
represent Shylock as taking a middle course involving merely 
the humiliation of Antonio without an attempt upon his life, 
our sympathies woidd, on the whole, have been with the Jew. 
It is because his blind hatred leads him to extremes of "hellish 
cruelty "that he fails to hold the sympathy of the audience. 
Even as it is, at the close of the Trial Scene the audience are 
left with a feeling of half pity for him as he gropes his way out 
of the court-room to the lonely life of his cheerless and deserted 
home. 

Jessica. In order that the audience may look with favour 
upon Jessica it is necessary that Shakespeare should represent 
her as being out of sympathy with Shylock and his mode of 
living. Shylock is a miser ; Jessica, on the other hand, spends 
money freely. She gives Launcelot a ducat for carrying a 
message to Lorenzo. She gilds herself with ducats upon leaving 
her father's house and squanders them recklessly. Shylock 
lives meanly ; Jessica complains that their house is hell, and is 
thankful that though she is a daughter to his blood she is not 
to his manners. Shylock is a Jew, but Jessica, on the other 
hand, is quite content to forsake the Jewish faith and become 
a Christian. But even in the effort to represent Jessica as 
being different from Shylock, the dramatist is in danger of 
alienating our sympathies from her upon another score: for 
no matter how mean and miserly Shylock may be, it is difficult 
to justify Jessica's conduct towards him. Shakespeare has 
attempted to meet this difficulty partially by putting into the 
mouth of Jessica a half apology for her conduct (Act II., 
Scene III., 11. l-t-15) ; and Shylock's very miserliness seems to 
form a sort of excuse for robbing him. But the chief thing 
upon which Shakespeare relies for this dramatic justification 



XXVI THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 

is the peisoiuil attractiveness of Jessica herself. Her beauty 
appeals to the artistic beauty-loving Lorenzo, and calls forth 
an exclamation of adniiratiini from Gratiano. In the Elope- 
ment Scene she shows a modesty that well becomes her ; and 
in the other scenes in which she appears, she shows that she is 
by no means lacking in wit and intelligence. It is she, not 
Lorenzo, wdio plans the details of the elopement, and in the 
moonlight scene in Act V. she proves herself to be a match for 
Lorenzo in the contest of wits in which the lovers engage. 
And even if there were no sufficient dramatic justification for 
her conduct toward Shylock it must not be forgotten that the 
audience is likely to be indulgent towards her because of the 
romantic part she plays in the story. To lovers in the drama 
much can be forgiven. 

Lorenzo is, for obvious reasons, of less dramatic importance 
in the play than Jessica. As far as we have an opportunity to 
judge of his character he is of a dreamy meditative nature, to 
whom the beauty of the music and the moonlight night at 
Portia's home strongly appeals. He is of a reflective turn of 
mind, as we judge from his conversation with Jessica, and is at 
the same time not without a sense of humour. But, true to his 
type, he is unthrifty, and he frankly confesses that the good 
news which Nerissa has brought to himself and Jessica from 
Venice comes to them like manna to starved people. 

Gratiano. The chief characteristics of Gratiano that make 
him a favourite character in the play are his high spirits and 
sense of humour. Bassanio, it is true, says of him that he 
"speaks an infinite deal of nothing, more than any man in all 
Venice," and on at least two occasions in the play he delivers a 
set speech apparently just for the pleasure of talking. But his 
high spirits are infectious, and even if he is "too wild, too 
rude and bold of voice " on certain occasions, his boisterous 
mirth, nevertheless, adds greatly to our enjoyment of the 
play. 

Nerissa forms a foil for Portia, just as Gratiano does for 
Bassanio. In her conversation with Portia in the beginning 
of the play she shows that she is vivacious and quick-witted. 
Portia, indeed, treats her rather as a friend and confidant than 
as her waiting-maid. Nerissa, on the other hand, enters into 



TIME ANALYSIS XXVll 

the spirit of all Poi't ia's plans and shares in the fun which is 
created by the Kings' Episode in the last Act of the play. 

Salarino and Salanio. Of these two characters all that can be 
said is that they tire lively talkative "gossips," who are keenly 
interested in the fortunes of Antonio and Bassanio. They do 
not take any inipoitant part in the action, but their gossip 
helps to show the turn that events are taking and we are 
able to judge by their feelings how the dramatist wishes the 
audience to view the incidents in the play. 

Launcelot Gobbo does not belong to the class of professional 
jesters. He is merely a serving-man who is a mixture of 
ignorance and buffoonery. His humour consists chiefly in his 
misuse of words and his fondness for using high-sounding 
expressions which have little or no meaning. Much of the 
amusement which the audience derives from Launcelot depends 
u\wn the buffoonery of the actor, who helps out Launcelot's 
words by gestures and actions which are equally ludicrous. 

Time Analysis. 

The action of The Merchant of Venice covers a period of a 
little over three months. In the first scene Antonio sends 
Bassanio out to borrow the money which he requires in order 
to prosecute his suit with Portia. Bassanio, tio doubt, goes at 
once to Shylock, and at the close of the First Act the bond is 
signed. About the middle of Act III. we learn that the three 
months have expired, and that the bond has become forfeit. 
Bassanio at once sets out for Venice, and Portia follows on 
the same day. Tlie trial, no doubt, takes place on the day 
following. Bassanio remains over night at Antonio's house, 
and in the meantime Portia and Nerissa make their way 
leisurely homeward. The following evening they arrive at 
Belmont. 

It is evident that the chief difficulty regarding the time 
element in the phiy lies in the necessity of making the 
audience feel that thi-ee months have actually passed between 
tlie time when the bond is signed in Act I., and the time when 
it falls due in Act III. In order to give the impression of the 
passage of time, Shakespeare employs two devices. In the first 
place he engages the attention of the audience by a series of 



XXVlll THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 

incidents, each of which in itself occupies some time. Launcelot 
leaves the service of Shylock to enter the service of Bassanio. 
Bassanio in the meantime is busied with pieparations for his 
journey, and among other things he plans a feast for his 
friends. Lorenzo and his companions make arrangements for 
a masque, under cover of which Jessica leaves her father's 
house. Bassanio sets sail, and in the meantime Shylock raises 
an outcry regarding his losses. At the same time that these 
incidents are going forward in Venice, Morocco and Arragon 
successively make their choice of the caskets, and Bassanio's 
arrival at Belmont is announced. All these details, spi-ead, as 
they are, over nine different scenes in Act II., help to suggest 
the passage of time. 

The second device which Shakespeare employs in order to 
give the impression that time is passing is the use of what is 
known as double time. That is to say, he speaks of coming 
events as near at hand and of past events as if they had taken 
place a considerable time before. In Act II., Scene I., for 
instance, he gives us the impression that Bassanio has been 
busy for some time in making preparations to set out for 
Belmont, and the reference to the feast which he intends to 
give to his "best esteemed acquaintance," suggests that the 
preparations are now nearly complete. In Scene VIII. the 
account which Salarino and Salanio give of the departure of 
Bassanio, and of Shylock's rage, implies that some time has 
elapsed since these events have taken place ; and there is also 
a suggestion in this scene that the time is fast approaching 
when Antonio's bond will become forfeit. Finally in Act III., 
Scene I., the news which Tubal brings regarding Lorenzo and 
Jessica again helps to give the impression that a further period 
of time has elapsed : and at the same time we are definitely 
told that it is now within a fortnight of the time when the 
bond will fall due. In the following scene, Salerio arrives at 
Belmont with a letter from Antonio announcing that the bond 
has become forfeit ; but the audience has been gi^adually 
prepared for the ill-news and when the announcement is 
made, it causes little surprise. 



DRAMATIS PERSONS 



friends to Antonio and Bassanio. 



The Duke of Venice. 

The Prince of Mouocco, ") . -r^ . 

m T> A ■ suitors to Portia. 

The Prince of Arragon, j 

Antonio, a IMerchant of Venice. 

Bassanio, his friend, suitor likewise to Portia. 

Salamo, 

Salarino, 

Gratiano, 

Salerio, 

Lorenzo, in love with Jessica. 

Shylock, a rich Jew. 

Tubal, a Jew, his friend, 

Launcelot Gobbo, the clown, servant to Shylock. 

Old Gobbo, father to Launcelot. 

Leonardo, servant to Bassanio. 

Balthasar, ") T^ ,. 

c, - servants to Portia. 

Stephano, j 

Portia, a rich heiress. 

Nerissa, her waiting-maid. 

Jessica, daughter to Shylock. 

Magnificoes of Venice, Ofhcers of the Court of .Justice, (Jaoler, 
Servants to Portia, and other Attendants. 

Scene : — Partly at Venice, avd parthj at Belmont, the seat of Portia, 
on the Coitinent. 



THE JVIEliCHANT OF VENICE 



ACT I 

Scene T. Venice. A street. 
Enter A'STOJ^ 10, Salarino, and Sala^ho. 

Antonio. In sootli, I know not wliy I am so sad : 
It wearies me ; 3'ou say it wearies you ; 
But how I cauglit it, found it, or came by it, 
What stuff 'tis made of, whereof it is born, 
I am to learn ; 

And such a want-wit sadness makes of me 
That I have much ado to know myself. 

Salarino. Your mind is tossing on the ocean ; 
There, where your argosies with portly sari, 
Like signiors and rich burghers on the flood, 10 

Or, as it were, the pageants of the sea, 
Do overpeer the petty traffickers, 
That curtsy to them, do them reverence, 
As they fly by them with their woven wings. 

Salanio. Believe me, sir, had I such venture forlli, 
The better part of my affections would 
Be with my hopes abroad. I should be still 
Plucking the grass, to know where sits the wind, 
Peering in maps for ports and piers and roads ; 
And every object that might make me fear 20 

Misfortune to my ventures out of doul)t 
Would make me sad. 

1 



2 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT I 

Salarino. My wind cooling my brotli 

Would blow me to an ague, when I thought 
What harm a wind too great at sea might do. 
I should not see the sandy hour-glass run, 
But I should think of shallows and of flats, 
And see my wealthy Andrew dock'd in sand, 
Vailing her high-top lower than her ribs 
To kiss her burial. Should I go to church 
And see the holy edifice of stone, 30 

And not bethink me straight of dangerous rocks, 
Which touching but my gentle vessel's side, 
Would scatter all her spices on the stream. 
Enrobe the roaring w^aters with my silks. 
And, in a word, but even now worth this, 
And now worth nothintr ? Shall I have the thoucrht 
To think on this, and shall I lack the thought 
That such a tliino^ bechanced would make me sad ? 

o 

But tell not me ; I know, Antonio 

Is sad to think upon his merchandise. 40 

A ntonio. Believe me, no : I thank my fortune for it, 
My ventures are not in one bottom trusted, 
Nor to one place ; nor is my whole estate 
Upon the fortune of this present year ; 
Therefore my merchandise makes me not sad. 

Salarino. Why, then you are in love. 

Antonio. Fie, fie ! 

Solar. Not in love neither ? Tlien let us say you are 
sad, 
Because you are not merry ; and 'twere as easy -50 

For you to laugh and leap and say you are merry, 
Because you are not sad. Now, by two-headed Jarnis, 
Nature hath framed stranore fellows in her time : 



SCENE l] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 3 

Some that will evermore peep through their eyes 

And laugh like parrots at a bag-piper, 

And other of such vinegar aspect 

That they'll not show their teeth in way of smile, 

Though Nestor swear the jest be laughable. 

Enter Bassanio, Lorenzo, and Gratiano. 

Sdkcnio. Here comes Bassanio, your must noblu 
kinsman, 60 

Gratiano and Lorenzo. Fare ye well ; 
We leave you now with better company. 

Salar. I would have stay'd till I had made you merry, 
If worthier friends had not prevented me. 

Antonio. Your worth is very dear in my regard. 
I take it, your own business calls on you 
And you embrace the occasion to depart. 

Salarino. Good morrow, my good lords. 

Bass. Good signiors both, when shall wc laugh ? say, 
when ? 70 

You grow exceeding strange : must it be so ? 

Salarino. We'll make our leisures to attend on yours. 

[Exeunt Sahirhio and Salanio. 

Lor. My Lord Bassanio, since you have found Antonio, 
We two will leave you ; but at dinner-time, 
I pray you, have in mind where we must meet. 

Bassanio. I will not fail you. 

Gratiano. You look not w^ell, Signior Antonio ; 
You have too much respect upon the world : 
They lose it that do buy it with much care : 
Believe me, you are marvellously changed. 80 

Anton io. I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano; 
A stage where every man must play a part. 
And mine a sad one. 



4 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT 1 

Gratiano. Let me play the fool : 

With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come, 
And let my liver rather heat witli wine 
Than my heart cool with mortifying groans. 
Why should a man, whose blood is warm within, 
Sit like his grandsire cut in alabaster ? 
Sleep when he wakes and creep into the jaundice 
By being peevish ? I tell thee what, Antonio — 90 

I love thee, and it is my love that speaks — 
There are a sort of men wliose visages 
Do cream and mantle like a standing pond. 
And do a wilful stillness entertain, 
With purpose to be dress'd in an opinion 
01 wisdom, gravity, profound conceit, 
As who should say ' I am Sir Oracle, 
And when I ope my lips let no dog bark !* 

my Antonio, I do know of these 

That therefore only are reputed wise 100 

For saying nothing, when, I am very sure. 

If they should speak, would almost damn those ears 

Which, hearing them, would call their brothers fools. 

I'll tell thee more of this another time ; 

But fish not, with this melancholy bait, 

For til is fool-gudgeon, this opinion. 

Come, good Lorenzo. Fare ye well awhile : 

I'll end my exhortation after dinner. 

Lorenzo. Well, we will leave you then till dinner-time: 

1 must be one of these same dumb wise men, no 
For Gratiano never lets me speak. 

Gratiano. Well, keep me company but two years moe. 
Thou shalt not know the sound of thine own tongue. 
Antonio. Farewell; I'll grow a talker for this gear. 



SCENE l] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 5 

Gra. Thanks, i' faith, for silence is only conunend'ible 
In a neat's tongue dried. [Exeunt Gratiano and Lor-nzo. 

Antonio. Is that any thing now ? 

Bassanio. Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of nothi'ig, 
more than any man in all Venice. His reasons are as 
two grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff: you 
shall seek all day ere you find them, and when you ha\^e 
them, they are not worth the search. 122 

Antonio. Well, tell me now what lady is the same 
To whom you swore a secret pilgrimage. 
That you to-day promised to tell me of ? 

Ba.'^.'^anio. 'Tis not unknown to you, Antonio, 
How much I have disabled mine estate. 
By something showing a more swelling port 
Than my faint means would grant continuance : 
Nor do I now make moan to be abridged 130 

From such a noble rate ; but my chief care 
Is to come fairly off from the great debts 
Wherein my time something too prodigal 
Hath left me gaged. To you, Antonio, 
I owe the most, in money and in love. 
And from your love I have a warranty 
To unburden all )ny plots and purposes 
How to get clear of all the debts I owe. 

Antonio. I pray you, good Bassanio, let me know it ; 
And if it stand, as you yourself still do, uo 

Within the eye of honour, be assured, 
My purse, my person, my extremest means. 
Lie all unlock'd to your occasions. 

Bctssanio. In my school-days, when I had lost one 
shaft 
I shot his fellow of the self-same flight 



6 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT I 

The self-same way, with more advised watcli, 

To find the other forth, and by adventuring both 

I oft found both : I urge this childhood proof, 

Because what follows is pure innocence. 150 

I owe you much, and, like a wilful youth, 

That wliich I owe is lost ; but if you please 

To shoot another arrow that self way 

Which you did slioot the first, I do not doubt, 

As I will watch the aim, or to find both 

Or bring your latter hazard back again 

And thankfully rest debtor for the first. 

Aiitonio. You know me well, and herein spend but 
time 
To wind about my love with circumstance ; 160 

And out of doubt you do me now more wrong 
In making question of my uttermost 
Than if you had made waste of all I have : 
Then do but say to me what I should do 
That in you knowledge may by me be done. 
And I am prest unto it : therefore, speak. 

Bassanio. In Belmont is a lady richly left ; 
And she is fair and, fairer than that word, 
Of wondrous virtues : sometimes from her eyes 
I did receive fair speechless messages : * 170 

Her name is Portia, nothing undervalued 
To Cato's daughter, Brutus' Portia : 
Nor is the wide world ignorant of her worth. 
For the four winds blow in from every coast 
Renowned suitors, and her sunny locks 
Hang on her temples like a golden fleece ; 
Which makes her seat of Belmont Colchos' strand, 
And many Jasons came in quest of her. 



SCENE II] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 7 

my Antonio, had I but tlie means 

To hold a rival place with one of them, iSO 

1 have a mind pi-esa^es me such tluift, 
That I should questionless be fortunate ! 

Antonio. Thou know'st that all my fortunes are at 
sea; 
Neither have I money nor commodity 
To raise a present sum : therefore go forth ; 
Try what my credit can in Venice do : 
That shall be rack'd, even to the uttermost, 
To furnish thee to Belmont, to fair Portia. 
Go, presently inquire, and so will I, 190 

Where money is, and I no question make 
To have it of my trust or for my sake. [Exeunt. 

Scene IT. Belmont. A room in Portuts lioiise. 
Enter Portia and Nerissa. 

Portia. By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is aweary 
of this great world. 

Nerissa. You would be, sweet madam, if your miseries 
were in the same abundance as your good fortunes, are : 
and yet, for aught I see, they are as sick tiiat surfeit 
with too much as they that starve with nothing. It is 
no mean happiness therefore, to be seated in the mean : 
superfluity comes sooner by white hairs, but competency 
lives longer. 

Portia. Good sentences and well pronounced. 10 

Nerissa. They would be better, if well followed. 

Portia. If to do were as easy as to know what were 
good to do, chapels had been churches and poor men's 
cottages princes' palaces. It is a good divine that follows 
his own instructions: I can easier teach twenty wliat 



8 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT I 

were good tp be done, tlian be one of the twenty to follow 
mine own teaching. The brain may devise laws for tlie 
blood, but a hot temper leaps o'er a cold decree : such a 
hare is madness the youth, to skip o'er the meshes of 
good counsel tlie cripple. But this reasoning is not in 
the fashion to choose me a husband. O me, the word 
' choose ! ' I may neither choose whom I would nor refuse 
whom I dislike ; so is the will of a living daughter curbed 
by the will of a dead father. Is it not hard,Nerissa, that 
I cannot choose one nor refuse none ? 25 

Nerissa. Your father was ever virtuous ; and holy 
men at their death have good inspirations : therefore the 
lottery, that he hath devised in these three chests of gold, 
silver and lead, whereof who chooses his meaning chooses 
you, wall, no doubt, never be chosen by any rightly but 
one who shall rightly love. But what w^armth is there 
in your affection towards any of these princely suitors 
that are already come ? 33 

Portia. I pray thee, over-name them; and as thou 
namest them, I will describe them ; and, according to my 
description, level at my affection. 

Xerissa. First, there is the Neapolitan prince. 

Portia. Ay, that's a colt indeed, for he doth nothing 
but talk of his horse ; and he makes it a great appropria- 
tion to his own good parts, that he can shoe him himself. 

Nerissa. Then there is the County Palatine. 41 

Portia. He doth nothing but frown, as who should 
say * If 3^ou will not have me, choose : ' he hears merry 
tales and smiles not : I fear he will prove the weeping 
philosopher when he grows old, being so full of unman- 
nerly sadness in his youth. I had rather be married to 



SCENE II] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 9 

a death's head with a bone in his mouth than to either of 
these. God defend me from these two ! 

Nerissd. How say you by the French lord, JMonsieur 
Le Bon ? 50 

Portia. God made him, and therefore let him pass for 
a man. In truth, I know it is a sin to be a mocker : but, 
he ! why, he hatli a horse better than the Neapolitan's, a 
better bad habit of frowning than the Count Palatine; 
he is every man in no man ; if a throstle sing, he falls 
straight a capering : lie will fence with his own shadow: 
if I should marry him, I should marry twenty husbands. 
If he would despise me, I would forgive him, for if he 
love me to madness, I shall never requite him. 

Nerissa. What say 3'ou then to Falconbridge, the 
young baron of England ? 61 

Portia. You know I say nothing to him, for he 
understands not me, nor I him : he hath neither Latin, 
.French, nur Italian, and you will come into the court and 
swear that I have a poor pennyworth in the Englisll 
He is a proper man's picture ; but, alas, who can con- 
verse with a dumb-show ? How oddly he is suited ! I 
tliink he bought his doublet in Italy, his round hose in 
France, his bonnet in Germany and his behaviour every 
where. 

Nerissa. What tliink you of tlie Scottish lord, his 
neighbour ? "l 

Portia. That he hatli a neighbourly charity in him, 
for he borrowed a box of the ear of the Englishman and 
swore lie would pay him again when lie was able: I 
think the Frenchman became his surety and sealed under 
for another. 



10 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT I 

Nerissa. How like you tlie yount^ German, the Duke 
of Saxony's nephew ? 

Portia. Very vilely in the morning, when lie is sober, 
and most vilely in the afternoon, when he is drunk: 
when he is best, he is a little worse than a man, and 
when lie is worst, he is little better than a beast : an the 
worst fall that ever fell, I hope I shall make shift to go 
without him. 84 

Nerissa. If he should offer to choose, and choose the 
right casket, you should refuse to perform your father's 
will, if you should refuse to accept him. 

Portia. Therefore, for fear of the worst, I pray thee, 
set a deep glass of Rhenish wine on the contrary casket, 
for if the devil be within and that temptation without, 
I know he will choose it. I will do any thing, Nerissa, 
ere I'll be married to a sponge. 92 

Nerissa. You need not fear, lady, the having any 
of these lords ; they have acquainted me with their 
determinations; which is, indeed, to return to their home 
and to trouble you with no more suit, unless you may be 
won by some other sort than your father's imposition 
depending on the caskets. 

Portia. If I live to be as old as Sibylla, I will die as 
chaste as Diana, unless I be obtained by the manner of 
my father's will. I am glad this parcel of wooers are so 
reasonable, for there is not one amono^ them but I dote 
on his very absence, and I pray God grant them a fair 
departure. 104 

Nerissa. Do you not remember, lady, in your father's 
time, a Venetian, a scholar and a soldier, that came 
hither in company of the Marquis of Montf errat ? 



SCENE III] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 11 

Portia. Yes, yes, it was Bassanio ; as I tliink, lie was 
so called. 

Nerisssi. True, madam : he, of all the men that ever 
my foolish eyes looked upon, was the best deserving a 
fair lady. 

Portia. I remember him well, and I remember him 

worthy of thy praise. 114 

Enter a Serving-man. 

How now 1 what news ? 

Serv. The four strangers seek for you, madam, to 
take their leave : and there is a forerunner come from a 
fifth, the Prince of Morocco, who brings word the prince 
his master will be here to-nifjht. 

Portia. If I could bid the fifth welcome with so good 
a heart as I can bid the other four farewell, I should be 
glad of his approach : if he have the condition of a 
saint and the complexion of a devil, I had ratlier he 
should shrive me than wive me. • 124 

Come, Nerissa. Sirrah, go before. 

Whiles we shut the gates upon one wotjer, another knocks 
at the door; [Exeunt. 

Scene III. Venice. A public placp. 
Enter Bassanio and Shylock. 
Shylock. Three thousand ducats ; well. 
Bassanio. Ay, sir, for three months. 
Shylock. For three months ; well. 

Bassanio. For the which, as I told you, Antonio shall 
be bound. 

Shylock. Antonio shall become bound ; well. 



12 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT I 

Bassanio. May 3-011 stead me? ^vill you pleasure me ? 
shall I know your answer ? 

SJii/lock. Three thousand ducats, for three months, 
and Antonio bound. , 10 

Ba-^sanio. Your answer to that. 

Shylock. Antonio is a good man. 

Bass. Have you heard any imputation to the con- 
trary ? 

Shyloch. 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 Indies; I under- 
stand, moreover, upon the Rialto, he hath a third at 
Mexico, a fourth for Entrland, 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 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. 

Bassanio. Be assured you may. 

Shyloch. 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. 30 

Shyloch. Yes, to smell pork ; to eat of the habitation 
which your prophet the Nazarite conjured the devil into. 
I 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 ? 



SCENE III] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 18 

Enter Aj<iiosio. 

Bassanio. This is Signior Antonio. 

Shy lock. [Aside] How like a fawning publican lie looks! 
I hate him for he is a Christian, 

But more for that in low simplicity 40 

He lends out money gratis and brings down 
The rate of usance here with us in Venice. 
If I can catch him 6nce 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 cons^reo^ate, 
On me, my bargains and my well-won thrift, 
Which he calls interest. Cursed be my ti-ibe, 
If I fororive him ! 

o 

Bassanio. Shy lock, do you hear? 50 

Shyloch. I am debating of my present store. 
And, by the near guess of my memory, 
I caimot instantly raise up the gross 
Of full three thousand ducats. What of that ? 
Tubal, a wealthy Hebrew of my tribe, 
Will furnish me. But sort ! how many months 
Do you desire ? [To Ant.] Rest you fair, good signior ; 
Your worship was the last man in our mouths. 

Antonio. Shy lock, although I neither lend nor borrow 
By taking nor by giving of excess, GO 

Yet, to supply the ripe wants of my friend, 
ril break a custom. [To Bassanio.] Is he yet possess'd 
How nmch ye would ? 

Shyloch. Ay, ay, three thousand ducats. 

Antonio. And for tliree months. 



14 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT I 

Shylocl'. I bad forgot ; tliree months ; you told iik^ so. 
Well then, your bond ; and let me see ; but hear you ; 
Methought you said you neither lend nor borrow 
Upon advantage. 

Antonio. I do never use it. 70 

SJiijlock. 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 — 

Antonio. And what of him ? did he take interest ? 

Shy lock. No, not take interest, not, as you would f^ay. 
Directly interest : mark what Jacob did 
When Laban and himself were compromised 
That all the eanlings which were streak 'd and pied 
Should fall as Jacob's hire. 80 

This was a way to thrive, and he was blest ; 
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 ? 
Or is your gold and silver ewes and rams ? 

Shyloch. I cannot tell ; I make it breed as fast : 
But note me, signior. 

Antonio. Mark you this, Bassanio, 90 

The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose. 
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 ! 

Shyloch Three thousand ducats ; 'tis a good round sum. 
Three months from twelve ; then, let me see ; the rate — 



SCENE III] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 15 

Antonio. Well, Shylock, shall we be beholding to you ^ 
Shylock. Signior Antonio, many a time and oft 

In the Rial to you have rated me 100 

About my moneys and my usances : 

Still have I borne it with a patient shrug, 

For sufferance is the bado^e 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. 

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 no 

And foot me as you spurn a stranger cur 

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. 

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 120 

You call'd me dog ; and for these courtesies 

I'll lend you thus much moneys ? ' 

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 nob 

As to thy friends; for when did frieixlship take 

A breed for barren metal of his friend ? 

But lend it rather to thine enemy, 



16 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT I 

Who if he break, thou maysfc witli better face 

Exact the penalty. 130 

Shylock Why, look you, how you storm ! 

I would be friends with you and have your love, 
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. 

Bassanio. This were kindness. 

Shylock. This kindness will I show. 

Go with me to a notary, seal me there 
Your single bond ; and, in a merry sport, 140 

If you repay me not on such a day. 
In such a place, such sum or sums as are 
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. 

A ntonio. Content, i' faith : I'll seal to such a bond 
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. MO 

Antonio. Why, fear not, man ; I will not forfeit it : 
Within these two months, that's a month before 
This bond expires, I do expect return 
Of thrice three times the value of this bond. 

Shylock. father Abram, what these Christians are, 
Wliose own hard dealings teaches them sus2:)ect 
The thoughts of others ! Pray you, tell me this ; 
If he should break his day, what should I gain 
By the exaction of the forfeiture ? 



SCENE l] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 17 

A pound of man's flesh taken from a man 160 

Is not so estimable, profitable neither, 

As flesh of muttO!is, beefs, or goats. I say, 

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. 

Shi/lock. Then meet me forthwith at the notary's ; 
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 170 

Of an unthrifty knave, and presently 
I will be with you. 

Antonio. Hie thee, gentle Jew. [^■^^'^ ^shulock. 

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; 
My ships come home a month before the day. [Exe.imt. 

ACT II 

Scene I. Belmont. A room in Portia's honse. 

Flourish of CorneU. Enter tho Pri\(^e of Morocco and his train; 
Portia, Nerissa, and others attending. 

Morocco. Mislike me not for my complexion, 
The shadow'd livery of the burnish'd sun. 
To whom I am a neighbour and near bred. 
Bring me the fairest creature northward born, 
Where Phcebus' Are scarce thaws the icicles. 
And let us make incision for your love, 
To prove whose blood is reddest, his or mine. 
I tell thee, lady, this aspect of mine 



18 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT II 

Hath fear'd the valiant : by my love, I swear 
The best-regarded virgins of our clime 10 

Have loved it too : I would not chantje this hue. 
Except to steal your thoughts, my gentle queen. 

Portia. In terms of choice I am not solely led 
By nice direction of a maiden's eyes ; 
Besides, the lottery of my destiny 
Bars me the right of voluntary choosing : 
But if my father had not scanted me, 
And hedged me by his wit, to yield myself 
His wife who wins me by that means I told you, 
Yourself, renowned prince, then stood as fair 20 

As any comer I have look'd on yet 
For my affection. 

Morocco. Even for that I thank you : 

Therefore, I pray you, lead me to the caskets 
To try my fortune. By this scimitar, 
That slew the Sophy and a Persian prince 
That won three fields of Sultan Solyman, 
I would outstare the sternest eyes that look. 
Outbrave the heart most daring on the earth, 
Pluck the young sucking cubs from the she-bear, 30 

Yea, mock the lion when he roars for prey, 
To win thee, lady. But, alas the while ! 
If Hercules and Lichas play at dice 
Which is the better man, the greater throw 
May turn by fortune from the weaker hand : 
So is Alcides beaten by his page ; 
And so may I, blind fortune leading me, 
Miss that which one unworthier may attain, 
And die witJi grieving. 



SCENE II] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 19 

Portia. You must take your chance, 40 

And either not attempt to choose at all 
Or swear, before you choose, if you choose wrong 
Never to speak to lady afterward 
In way of marriage : therefore be advised. 

Morocco. Nor will not. Come, bring me unto my 
chance. 

Pmiia. First, forward to the temple : after dinner 
Your hazard shall be made. 

Morocco. Good fortune then ! 

To make me blest or cursed 'st among men. 50 

[Cotmels, and exeunt. 

Scene II. Venice. A street. 

Enter Lauxcelot. 

Launcelot. Certainly my conscience will serve me to 
run from this Jew my master. The fiend is at mine elbow 
and tempts me, saying to me ' Gobbo, Launcelot Gobbo, 
good Launcelot,' or ' good Gobbo,' or ' * good Launcelot 
Gobbo, use your legs, take the start, run away.' My 
conscience says ' No ; take heed, honest Launcelot ; take 
heed, honest Gobbo,' or, as aforesaid, ' honest Launcelot 
Gobbo; do not run; scorn running with thy heels.' 
Well, the most courageous fiend bids me pack : * Via ! ' 
says the fiend ; * away ! ' says the fiend ; ' for the heavens, 
rouse up a brave mind,' says the fiend, ' and run.' Well, 
my conscience, hanging about the neck of my heart, says 
very wisely to me ' My honest friend Launcelot, being an 
honest man's son,' or rather an honest woman's son; for 
indeed my father did something smack, something grow 
to, lie had a kind of taste ; well, my conscience says 



20 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT II 

' Launcelot, budge not.' * Budge/ says the fiend. ' Budge 
not/ says my conscience. * Conscience/ says I, * you 
counsel well ; ' ' Fiend/ say I, * you counsel well : ' to be 
ruled by my conscience, I should stay with the Jew my 
master, who, God bless the mark, is a kind of devil ; and, 
to run away from the Jew, I should be ruled by the fiend, 
who, saving your reverence, is the devil himself. Cer- 
tainly tlie Jew is the very devil incarnal ; and, in my 
conscience, my conscience is but a kind of hard conscience, 
to offer to counsel me to stay with the Jew. The fiend 
gives the more friendly counsel : I will run, fiend ; my 
heels are at your command ; I will run. 

Enttr Old Gobbo, vith a basket. 

Gohho. Master young man, you, I pray you, which is 
the way to master Jew's ? 30 

Launcelot. [Aside] O heavens, this is my true-begotten 
father! who, being more than sand-blind, high-gravel- 
blind, knows me not : I will try confusions with him. 

Gohho. Master young gentleman, I pray you, which 
is the way to master Jew's ? 

Launcelot. Turn up on your right hand at the next 
turning, but, at the next turning of all, on your left; 
marry, at the very next turning, turn of no hand, but 
turn down indirectly to the Jew's house. 

Gohho. By God's sonties, 'twill be a hard way to hit. 
Can you tell me whether one Launcelot, that dwells with 
him, dwell with him or no ? 42 

Launcelot. Talk yon of young Master Launcelot ? 
[Asidel Mark me now ; now will I raise the w^aters. — Talk 
you of young Master Launcelot ? 



SCENE II] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 21 

Gobho. No master, sir, but a poor man's son : liis 
fathei*, though I say it, is an honest exceeding poor man 
and, God be thanked, well to live. 

Lmuicdot. Well, let his father be what a' will, we 
talk of young Master Lavnicelot. * 50 

Gohbo. Your worship's friend and Launcelot, sir. 

Launcdot. But I pray you, ergo, old man, ergo, I 
beseech you, talk you of young Master Launcelot ? 

Gohbo. Of Launcelot, an't please your mastership. 

Launcelot. Ergo, Master Launcelot. Talk not of 
Master Launcelot, fatlier ; for the young gentleman, 
according to Fate and Destinies and such odd sayings, 
the Sisters Three and such branches of learninir, is indeed 
deceased, or, as you would say in plain terms, gone to 
heaven. 60 

Gobbo. Marry, God forbid ! the boy was the very staff 
of my age, my very prop. 

Ldiincdot. Do I look like a cudgel .or a hovel-post, a 
staff or a prop ? Do you know me, father ? 

Gobbo. Alack the day, I know you not, young 
gentleman : but, I pray you, tell me, is my boy, God rest 
his soul, alive or dead ? 

Launcelot. Do you not know me, father ? 

Gobbo. Alack, sir, I am sand-blind ; I know you not. 

Launcelot. Nay, indeed, if you had your eyes, you 
miorht fail of the knowinof me : it is a wise father that 
knows his own child. Well, old man, I will tell you news 
of your son: give me your blessing: truth will come to 
light; murder cannot be hid long; a man's son may, but 
at the length truth will out. 



22 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT II 

Gobbo. Pray you, sir, stand up ; I am sure you are 
not Launcelot, my boy. 

La uncelot. Pray you, let's have no more fooling about 
it, but give me your blessing : I am Launcelot, your boy 
that was, your son that is, your child that shall be. 80 

Gobbo. I cannot* think you are my son. 

Launcelot. I know not what I shall think of that : 
but I am Launcelot, the Jew's man, and I am sure 
Margery your wife is my mother. 

Gobbo. Her name is Margery, indeed : I'll be sworn, 
if thou be Launcelot, thou art mine owti flesh and blood. 
Lord worshipped might he be ! what a beard hast thou 
got ! thou hast got more hair on thy chin than Dobbin 
my fill-horse has on his tail. 

Launcelot. It should seem then that Dobbin's tail 
grows backward : I am sure he had more hair of his 
tail than I have of my face when I last saw him. 92 

Gobbo. Lord, how art thou changed ! How dost thou 
and th}" master agree ? I have brought him a present. 
How 'gree you now ! 

Launcelot. Well, well : but, for mine own part, as I 
have set up my rest to run away, so I will not rest till 
I have run some ground. My master's a very Jew: give 
liim a present ! give him a halter : I am famished in his 
service ; you may tell every finger I have with my ribs. 
Father, I am glad you are come : give me your present 
to one Master Bassanio, who indeed gives rare new 
liveries : if I serve not him, I will run as far as God has 
any ground. O rare fortune ! here comes the man : to 
him, father; for I am a Jew, if I serve the Jew any 
longer. 



SCENE II] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 23 

Enter Bassa.nio, loith Leonardo and other followers. 

Bassanio. You may do so ; but let it be so hasted 
that supper be ready at the farthest by five of the clock. 
See these letters delivered ; put the liveries to making, 
and desire Gratiano to come anon to my lodging. no 

[Exit a Servant. 

Launcelot. To him, father. 

Gohho. God bless your worship ! 

Bassanio. Gramercy! wouldst thou auglit with me ? 

Gohho. Here's my son, sir, a poor boy, — 

Launcelot. Not a poor boy, sir, but the rich Jew's 
man ; that would, sir, as my father sliall specify — 

Gohho. He hath a great infection, sir, as one would 
say, to serve — 

Launcelot. Indeed, the short and the Ioup- is, I serve 
the Jew, and have a desire, as my father shall specify, — 

Gohho. His master and he, saving your worship's 
reverence, are scarce cater-cousins — 122 

Launcelot. To be brief, the very truth is that the Jew, 
having done me wrong, doth cause me, as my father, 
being, I hope, an old man, shall frutify unto you, — 

Gohho. I have here a dish of doves that I would 
bestow upon your worship, and my suit is — 

Launcelot. In very brief, the suit is impertinent to my- 
self, as your worsliip shall know by this honest old man; 
and, thougli I say it, though old man, yet poor man, my 
father. 

Bassanio. One speak for both. What would you ? 132 

Launcelot. Serve you, sir. 

Gohho. That is the very defect of tlie matter, sir. 



24 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT II 

Bassanio. I know theo well; thou liasfc obtain'd thy 
suit : 

Shylock thy master spoke with me this day, 
And hath preferr'd thee, if it be preferment 
To leav^e a rich Jew's service, to become 
The follower of so poor a gentleman. UO 

Launcelot The old proverb is very well parted 
between my master Sh^dock and you, sir : you have tlie 
grace of God, sir, and he hath enough. 

Bass. Thou speak'st it well. Go, father, with thy son. 
Take leave of thy old master and inquire 
My lodging out. Give him a livery 
More guarded than his fellows' : see it done. 

Launcelot Father, in. I cannot get a service, no ; I 
have ne'er a tongue in my head. Well, if any man in 
Italy have a fairer table which doth offer to swear upon 
a book, I shall have good fortune. Go to, here's a simple 
line of life : here's a small trifle of wives : alas, fifteen 
wives is nothing ! eleven widows and nine maids is a 
simple coming-in for one man: and then to 'scape 
drowning thrice, and to be in peril of my life with the 
edge of a feather-bed ; here are simple 'scapes. Well, if 
Fortune be a woman, she's a good wench for this gear. 
Father, come; I'll take my leave of the Jew in the 
twinkling of an eye. 159 

[Exeunt Launcelot and Old Gohbo. 

Bassanio. I pray thee, good Leonardo, think on this : 
These things being bought and orderly bestow'd 
Return in haste, for I do feast to-night 
My best-esteem'd acquaintance ; hie thee, go. 

Leonardo. My best endeavours shall be done herein. 



SCENE II] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 25 

Enter Gratiano. 

Gratiaiio. Where is your master ? 

Leonardo. Yonder, sir, he walks. [Exit. 

Gratiano. Signior Bassanio ! 

Bassanio. Gratiano ! 

Gratiano. I have a suit to you. 

Bassanio. You have obtain'd it. 170 

Gratiano. You must not deny me : I must go with 
you to Belmont. 

Bass. Why then you must. But hear thee, Gratiano ; 
Thou art too wild, too rude and bold of voice ; 
Parts that become thee happily enough 
And in such eyes as ours appear not faults ; 
But where thou art not known, why, there they show 
Something too liberal. Pray thee, take pain 
To allay with some cold drops of modesty 
Thy skipping spirit, lest through thy wild behaviour iso 
I be misconstrued in the place I go to 
And lose my hopes. 

Gratiano. Signior Bassanio, hear me : 

If I do not put on a sober habit, 
Talk with respect and swear but now and then, 
Wear prayer-books in my pocket, look demurely, 
Nay more, while grace is saying, hood mine eyes 
Thus with my hat, and sigh and say ' amen,' 
Use all tlie observance of civility, 

Like one w^ell studied in a sad ostent 190 

To please his grandam, never trust me more. 

Bassanio. Well, we shall see your bearing. 

Gra. Nay, but I bar to-night: you shall not gauge me 
By what we do to-night. 



26 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT II 

Bassanio. No, that were pity : 

I would entreat you ratlier to put on 
Your boldest suit of mirth, for we have friends 
That purpose merriment. But fare you well : 
I have some business. 

Gratiano. And I must to Lorenzo and the rest : 200 
But we will visit you at supper-time. [Exeunt. 

Scene III. The same. A room in Shylock's house. 
Enter Jessica and Launcelot. 

Jessica. I am sorry thou wilt leave my father so : 
Our house is hell, and tliou, a merry devil, 
Didst rob it of some taste of tediousness. 
But fare thee well, there is a ducat for thee : 
And, Launcelot, soon at supper shalt thou see 
Lorenzo, who is thy new master's guest : 
Give him this letter ; do it secretly ; 
And so farewell : I would not have my father 
See me in talk with thee 9 

Launcelot. Adieu ! tears exhibit my tongue. Most 
beautiful pagan, most sweet Jew, adieu : these foolish 
drops do something drown my manly spirit : adieu. 

Jessica. Farewell, good Launcelot. [Exit Launcelot. 

Alack, what heinous sin is it in me 
To be ashamed to be my father's child ! 
But though I am a daughter to his blood, 
I am not to his manners. O Lorenzo, 
If thou keep promise, I shall end this strife, 
Become a Christian and thy loving wife. [Exit. 



SCENE IV] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 27 

Scene IV. The same. A street. 
Enter Gbatiano, Lorenzo, Salarino, and Salanio. 

Lorenzo. Xay, we will slink away in supper-time, 
Distruise us at mv lodtrino^ and return 
All in an hour. 

Gratiano. We have not made good preparation. 

Salarino. We liave not spoke us yet of torch-bearers. 

Salanio. 'Tis vile, unless it may be quaintly order'd, 
And better in my mind nob undertook. 

Lorenzo. 'Tis now but four o'clock: we have two 
hours 
To furnish us. 10 

Enter Launcelot, with a letter. 
Friend Launcelot, what's the news ? 

Launcelot. An it shall please you to break up this, it 
.shall seem to signify. 

Lorenzo. I know the hand : in faith, 'tis a fair hand, 
And whiter than the paper it writ on 
Is the fair hand that w^rit. 

Gratiano. Love-news, in faith. 

Launcelot. By your leave, sir. 

Lorenzo. Whither goest thou ? 

Launcelot. Marry sir, to bid my old master the Jew 
to sup to-night with my new master the Christian. 21 

Lorenzo. Hold here, take this : tell gentle Jessica 
I will not fail her ; speak it priv^ately. [Exit Launcelot. 

Go, gentlemen, 

Will you prepare you for this masque to-night ? 
I am provided of a torch-bearer. 



28 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT II 

SaUtriiio. Ay, marry, I'll be ^one about it straight. 
Salanio. And so will I. 
Lorenzo. Meet me and Gratiano 

At Gratiano's lodging some hour hence. 30 

SalarinO. 'Tis good we do so. [Exeunt SalaHno and Salanio. 

Gratiano. Was not that letter from fair Jessica ? 

Lorenzo. I must needs tell thee all. She hath directed 
How I shall take her from her father's house, 
What gold and jewels she is furnish'd with, 
What page's suit she hath in readiness. 
If e'er the Jew her father come to heaven, 
It will be for his gentle daughter's sake : 
And never dare misfortune cross her foot, 
Unless she do it under this excuse, 40 

That she is issue to a faithless Jew. 
Come, go with me ; peruse this as thou goest : 
Fair Jessica shall be my torch-bearer. [Exeunt. 

Scene Y. The same. Before Shylock^s house. 
Enter Shylock and Launcelot. 

Shylock. Well, thou shalt see, thy eyes shall be thy 
judge, 
The difference of old Shylock and Bassanio : — 
What, Jessica ! — thou shalt not gormandize, 
As thou hast done with me : — What, Jessica ! — 
And sleep and snore, and rend apparel out : — 
Why, Jessica, I say ! 

Launcelot. Why, Jessica ! 

Shylock. Who bids thee call ? I do not bid thee call. 

Launcelot. Your worship was wont to tell me that I 
could do nothing withoui bidding. 1 1 



SCENE V] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 29 

^^ 

Enter Jessica. 

Jessica. Call you ? what is your will ? 

Shylock. I am bid forth to supper, Jessica : 
There are my keys. But wherefore should I go ? 
I am not bid for love ; they flatter me : 
But yet I'll go in hate, to feed upon 
Tlie prodigal Christian. Jessica, my girl, 
Look to my house. I am right loath to go : 
There is some ill a-brewing towards my rest, 
For I did dream of money-bags to-night. 20 

Latincelot. I beseech you, sir, go : my young master 
doth expect your reproach. 

Shylock. So do I his. 

Laitncelot. An they have conspired together, I will 
not say you shall see a masque ; but if you do, then it 
was not for nothing that my nose fell a-bleeding on 
Black-Monday last at six o'clock i' the morning, falling 
out that year on Ash- Wednesday was four year, in the 
afternoon. 

SJiy. What, are there masques ? Hear you me, Jessica: 
Lock up my doors ; and v^hen you hear the drum 
And the vile squealing of the wry-neck'd fife, 32 

Clamber not you up to the casements then, 
Nor thrust your head into the public street 
To gaze on Christian fools with varnish 'd faces, 
But stop my house's ears, I mean my casements : 
Let not the sound of shallow foppery enter 
My sober house. By Jacob's staff I swear, 
I have no mind of feasting forth to-night : 
But I will go. Go you before me, sirrah ; 40 

Say I will come. 



30 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT H 

Launcelot I will go before, sir. Mistress, look out 
at window, for all this; 

There will come a Christian by, 

Will be worth a Jewess' eye. [Exit. 

Shylock. What says that fool of Hagar's offspring, ha? 

Jes. His words were 'Farewell mistress;' nothing else. 

Shylock. The patch is kind enough, but a huge feeder ; 
Snail-slow in profit, and he sleeps by day 
More than the wild-cat ; drones hive not with me : 50 
Therefore I part with him, and part with him 
To one that I would have him help to waste 
His borrow'd purse. Well, Jessica, go in : 
Perhaps I will return immediately : 
Do as I bid you ; shut doors after you : 
Fast bind, fast find ; 
A proverb never stale in thrifty mind. [Exit. 

Jessica. Farewell ; and if my fortune be not crost, 
I have a father, you a daughter, lost. [Exit. 

Scene VI. The same. 
Enter Gratiano and Salarino, masqued. 

Gratiano. This is the pent-house under which Lorenzo 
Desired us to make stand. 

Salarino. His hour is almost past. 

Gratiano. And it is marvel he out-dwells his hour, 
For lovers ever run before the clock. 

Salarino. O, ten times faster Venus' pigeons fly 
To seal love's bonds new-made, than they are wont 
To keep obliged faith unforfeited ! 

Gratiano. That ever holds : who riseth from a feast 
With that keen appetite that he sits down ? lo 



SCENE Vl] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 31 

Where is the horse that doth untread ao^ain 
His tedious measures with the unbated fire 
That he did pace them first ? All things that are 
Are with more spirit chased than enjoy 'd. 
How like a younker or a prodigal 
The scarfed bark puts from her native bay, 
Hugg'd and embraced by the wanton wind ! 
How like the prodigal doth she return, 
With over-weather'd ribs and rao^ored sails, 
Lean, rent and beggar'd by the wanton wind ! 20 

Salarino. Here comes Lorenzo: more of this hereafter. 

Enter Lorenzo. 

Lorenzo. Sweet friends, your patience for my long 
abode ; 
Not I, but my affairs, have made you wait : 
When you shall please to play the thieves for wives, 
I'll watch as long for you then. Approach ; 
Here dwells my father Jew. Ho ! who's within ? 

Enter Jessica, above ^ in hoy' s' clothes, 

Jessica. Who are 3^ou ? Tell me, for more certainty. 
Albeit I'll swear that I do know your tongue. 

Lorenzo. Lorenzo, and thy love. 30 

Jessica. Lorenzo, certain, and my love indeed. 
For who love I so much ? And now who knows 
-But you, Lorenzo, whether I am yours ? 

Lorenzo. Heaven and thy thoughts are witness that 
thou, art. 

Jessica.. Here, catch this casket ; it is worth the pains. 
I am glad 'tis night, you do not look on me, 
For I am much ashamed of my exchange : 



32 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT II 

But love is blind and lovers cannot see 

The pretty follies that themselves commit ; 40 

For if they could, Cupid himself would blush 

To see me thus transformed to a boy. 

Lorenzo. Descend, for you must be my torch-bearer. 

Jessica. What, must I hold a candle to my shames ? 
They in themselves, good sooth, are too too light. 
Why, 'tis an office of discovery, love ; 
And I should be obscured. 

Lorenzo. So are you, sweet. 

Even in the lovely garnish of a boy. 
But come at once ; 50 

For the close night doth play the runaway, 
And we are stay'd for at Bassanio's feast. 

Jessica. I will make fast the doors, and gild myself 
With some more ducats, and be with you straight. 

[Exit above. 

Gratiano. Now, by my hood, a Gentile and no Jew. 

Lorenzo. Beshrew me but I love her heartily ; 
For she is wise, if I can judge of her. 
And fair she is, if that mine eyes be true, 
And true she is, as she hath proved herself, 
And therefore, like herself, wise, fair and true, 60 

Shall she be placed in my constant soul. 

Enter Jessica, below. 
What, art thou come ? On, gentleman ; away ! 
Our masquing mates by this time for us stay. 

[Exit with Jessica and Salarino. 
Enter Antonio. 

Antonio. Who's there ? 
Gratiano. Si^nior Antonio ! 



SCENE VIl] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 33 

Antonio. Fie, fie, Gratiano 1 "svhere are all the rest ? 
'Tis nine o'clock : our friends all sta\^ for you. 
No nicusque to-night ; the wind is come about ; 
Bassanio presently will go aboard : 
I have sent twenty out to seek for you. 7C 

Gratiano. I am crlad on't: I desire no more delicrht 
Than to be under sail and gone to-night. [Exeunt. 

Scene VII. Belmont. A room in Portias house. 

Flourish of cornets. Enter Portia, vitli the Prixce of Morocco, 
and their trains. 

Portia. Go draw aside the curtains and discover 
Tlie several caskets to this noble prince. 
Now make 3'our choice. 

Morocco. The first, of gold, who this inscription bears, 
' Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire ; ' 
The second, silver, which this promise carries, 

* Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves ; ' 
This third, dull lead, with w^arning all as blunt, 

* Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.' 
How shall I know if I do choose the right ? 10 

Portia. The one of them contains my picture, prince : 
If you choose that, then I am 3'ours withal. 

Morocco. Some god direct my judgment ! Let me see ; 
I will survey the inscriptions back again. 
What says this leaden casket ? 

* Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.' 
Must give ! for what ? for lead ! hazard for lead ? 
This casket threatens. Men tliat hazard all 

Do it in hope of fair advantages : 

A golden mnid stoops not to shows of dross; 20 



34 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT II 

I'll then nor give nor hazard aught for lead. 

What says the silver with her virgin hue ? 

' Who cliooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.* 

As much as he deserves ! Pause there, ]\Iorocco, 

And weigh thy value with an even hand : 

If thou be'st rated by thy estimation, 

Thou dost deserve enough ; and yet enough 

May not extend so far as to the lady : 

And yet to be afeard of my deserving 

Were but a weak disabling of myself. 30 

As much as I deserve ! Why, that's the lady : 

I do in birth deserve her, and in fortunes. 

In graces and in qualities of breeding ; 

But more than these, in love I do deserve. 

What if I stray'd no further, but chose here ? 

Let's see once more this saying graved in gold ; 

' Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.' 

Why, that's the lady ; all the world desires her ; 

From the four corners of the earth they come, 

To kiss this shrine, this mortal breathing saint : 40 

The Hyrcanian deserts and the vasty wilds 

Of wide Arabia are as throughfares now 

For princes to come view fair Portia : 

The watery kingdom, whose ambitious head 

Spits in the face of heaven, is no bar 

To stop the foreign spirits, but they come, 

As o'er a brook, to see fair Portia. 

One of these three contains her heavenly picture. 

Is 't like that lead contains her ? 'Tvvere damnation 

To think so base a thought : it were too gross 50 

To rib her cerecloth in the obscure grave. 

Or shall I think in silver she's immured, 



SCENE VIl] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 35 

Being ten times undervalued to tried gold ? 
O sinful thouglit ! Never so rich a gem 
Was set in worse than gold. They have in England 
A coin that bears tlie figure of an angel 
Stamped in gold, but that's insculp'd upon ; 
But here an angel in a golden bed 
Lies all witliin. Deliver me the key : 
Here do I choose, and thrive I as I may ! 60 

Portia. Tliere, take it, prince ; and if my form lie 
there. 
Then I am yours. [He unlocks the gokhn casket. 

Morocco. hell ! what have we here ? 

A carrion Death, within whose empty eye 
There is a written scroll : I'll read the writing. 

[Reads] " All that glisters is not gold ; 

Often have you heard that told : 
Many a man his life hath sold 
But my outside to behold : 70 

Gilded tombs do worms infold. 
Had 3'ou been as wise as bold, 
Young in limbs, in judgment old, 
Your answer had not been inscroU'd : 
Fare you well ; your suit is cold." 
Cold, indeed ; and labour lost : 
Then, farewell, heat, and welcome, frost ! 
Portia, adieu. I have too grieved a heart 
To take a tedious leave : tlms losers part. 

[Exit with his train. Flourish of Cometh 

Portia. A gentle riddance. Draw the curtains, go. so 
Let all of his complexion choose me so. {Exeunt. 



36 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT II 

Scene YIII. Venice. A street. 
Enter Salarixo and Salanio. 

Sdlarino. Why, man, I saw Bassanio under sail : 
With liiin is Gratiano gone along ; 
And in their ship I am sure Lorenzo is not. 

Salanio. The villain Jew with outcries raised the 
duke, 
Who went with him to search Bassanio's ship. 

Salcunno. He came too late, the ship was under sail : 
But there the duke was given to understand 
That in a gondola were seen too^ether 
Lorenzo and his amorous Jessica : 10 

Besides, Antonio certified the duke 
They were not with Bassanio in his ship. 

Salanio. I never heard a passion so confused, 
So strani^e, outrao-eous, and so variable. 
As the dog Jew did utter in the streets : 
' My daughter ! O my ducats ! O my daughter ! 
Fled with a Christian ! O my Christian ducats ! 
Justice ! the law ' my ducats, and my daughter ! 
A sealed bag, two sealed bags of ducats, 
Of double ducats, stolen from me by my daughter ! 20 
And jewels, two stones, two rich and precious stones. 
Stolen by my daughter ! Justice ! find the girl ; 
She hath the stones upon her, and the ducats.' 

Salarino. Why, all the boys in Venice follow him. 
Crying, his stones, his daughter, and his ducats. 

Salanio. Let good Antonio look he keep his day, 
Or he shall pay for this. 

Salarino. Marry, well remember 'd. 

I reason'd with a Frenchman yesterday, 



SCENE VIIl] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 37 

Who told me, in the narrow seas that part 30 

The French and Enghsh, there miscarried 
A vessel of onr country richly fraught : 
I thought upon Antonio when he told me, 
And wish'd in silence tliat it were nob his. 

Salanio. You were best to tell Antonio what you hear; 
Yet do nob suddenly, for it may grieve him. 

Salarino. A kinder gentleman treads not the earth, 
I saw Bassanio and Antonio part : 
Bassanio told hin\ he would'make some speed 
Of his reburn : he answer'd, ' Do not so ; 40 

Slubber not business for my sake, Bassanio, 
But stay the very riping of the time ; 
And for the Jew's bond which he hath of me, 
Let it not enter in your mind of love : 
Be merry, and employ your chief est thoughts 
To courtship and such fair ostents of love 
As shall conveniently become you there :' 
And even there, his eye being big with tears. 
Turning his face, he put his hand behind him. 
And with affection wondrous sensible 50 

He wrung Bassanio's hand ; and so they parted. 

Salanio. I think he only loves the world for him. 
1 pray thee, let us go and tind him oub 
And quicken his embraced heaviness 
With some delight or other. 

Salarino. Do we so. [Exeunt. 



38 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT II 

Scene IX. Belraont. A room in PorticCs house. 

Bhiter Nerissa xvith a Servitor. 

Ner. Quick, quick, I pray thee; draw the curtain 
straiglit : 
Tlie Prince of Arragon hath ta'en his oath, 
And comes to his election presently. 

Flourish of Cornets. Enter the Prtnce of Arragon, Portia, and 
their trains. 

Portia. Behold, there stand the caskets, noble prince; 
If you choose that wherein I am contain'd, 
Straight shall our nuptial rites be solenmized ; 
But if you fail, without more speech, my lord, 
You must be gone from hence immediately. 

Arragon, I am enjoin'd by oath to observe tliree 
things : 11 

First, never to unfold to any one 
Which casket 'twas I chose ; next, if I fail 
Of the right casket, never in my life 
To woo a maid in way of marriage : 
Lastly, 

If I do fail in fortune of my choice. 
Immediately to leave you and be gone. 

Portia. To these injunctions every one doth swear 
That comes to hazard for my worthless self. 20 

Arragon. And so have I address'd me. Fortune now 
To my heart's hope ! Gold ; silver ; and base lead. 
' Who choose th me must give and hazard all he hath.' 
You shall look fairer, ere I give or hazard. 
What says the golden chest ? ha ! let me see : 
' Who choose th me shall gain what many men desire/ 



SCENE IX] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 39 

What many men desire ! tliat ' many ' may be meant 

By the fool multitude, that choose by show, 

Not learning more than the fond eye doth teach ; 

Wliich pries not to tlie interior, but. like the martlet, 30 

Builds in the weather on the outward w^all, 

Even in the force and road of casualty. 

I will not choose wliat many men desire. 

Because I will not jump with common spirits 

And rank me with the barbarous multitudes. 

Why, then to thee, thou silver treasure-liouse ; 

Tell me once more what title thou dost bear : 

* Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves : ' 

And well said too ; for who shall go about 

To cozen fortune and be honourable 40 

Without the stamp of merit ? Let none presume 

To wear an undeserved dignity. 

O, that estates, degrees and offices 

Were not derived corruptly, and that clear honour 

Were purchased by the merit of the wearer ! 

How many tlien should cover that §tand bare ! 

How many be commanded that command ! 

How much low peasantry would then be glean'd 

From the true seed of honour ! and how much honour 

Pick'd from the chaff and ruin of the times 50 

To be new-varnish'd ! Well, but to my choice : 

' Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.' 

I will assume desert. Give me a key for this, 

And instantly unlock my fortunes here. 

{He opens tlce silver casket. 

Portia. Too long a pause for that which you find there. 

Arragon. What's here ? the portrait of a blinking idiot, 
Presenting me a schedule ■ I will read it. 



40 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT II 

How much unlike cart thou to Portia ! 

How much unHke my hopes and my deservings ! 

' Who cliooseth me sliall have as much as he deserves.' 60 

Did I deserve no more tlian a fool's liead ? 

Is that my prize ? are my deserts no better ? 

Portia. To offend, and judge, are distinct offices 
And of opposed natures. 

Arragon. What is here ? 

[Reads] " The fire seven times tried this : 

Seven times tried that judgment is, 

That did never choose amiss. 

Some there be that shadows kiss ; 

Such have but a sliadow's bliss : 70 

There be fools alive, I wis, 

Silver'd o'er ; and so was this. 

Take what wife you will to wed, 

I will ever be your head : 

So be gone : you are sped." 

Still more fool I shall appear 

By the time I linger here : 

With one fool's head I came to woo, 

But I go away with two. 

Sweet, adieu. I'll keep my oath, 80 

Patiently to bear my wroth. 

{Exeunt Arragon and train. 

Portia. Thus hath the candle singed the moth. 
O, these deliberate fools ! when they do choose, 
They have the wisdom by their wit to lose. 

Nerissa. The ancient saying is no heresy, 
Hanging and wiving goes by destiny. 

Portia. Come, draw the curtain, Nerissa. 



SCENE l] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 



41 



Enter a Servant. 

Servant Wliere ia my l;idy ? 

Portia. Here : what would my loi'd ? 

Servant. Madam, tliere is alighted at your gate 90 
A young Venetian, one that comes before 
To signify the approaching of his lord ; 
From whom he brinoreth sensible rcs^reets, 
To wit, besides commends and courteous breath, 
Gifts of rich value. Yet I have not seen 
So likely an ambassador of love : 
A day in April never came so sweet, 
To show how costly summer was at hand. 
As this fore-spurrer comes before his lord. 

Portia. No more, I pray thee : I am half afeard 100 
Thou wilt say anon he is some kin to thee, ■ 
Thou spend'st such high-day wit in praising him. 
Come, come, Nerissa ; for I long to see 
Quick Cupid's post that comes so mannerly. 

Nerissa. Bassanio, lord Love, if thy will it be ' [Exeunt. 

ACT III 



Scene I. Venice. A street. 



Enter Salanio and Salarino. 



Salanio. Now, what news on the Rialto ? 

Salariiio. Why, yet it lives there unchecked that 
Antonio hath a ship of rich lading wrecked on the 
narrow seas ; the Goodwins, I think they call the place ; 
a very dangerous flat and fatal, where the carcases of 
many a tall ship lie buried, as they say, if my gossip 
Report be an honest woman of her word. 



42 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT III 

Salanio. I would she were as lying a gossip in that 
as ever knapped ginger or made her neighboui-s believe 
she wept for the death of a third husband. But it is 
true, without any slips of prolixity or crossing the plain 
highway of talk, that the good Antonio, the honest 

Antonio, O that I had a title good enough to keep 

his name company ! — 

Salarino. Come, the full stop. 

Salanio. Ha ! what sayst thou ? Why, the end is, he 
hath lost a ship. 

Salarino. I would it might prove the end of his 
losses. 

Sal^anio. Let me say ' amen ' betimes, lest the devil 
cross my prayer, for here he comes in the likeness of a 
Jew. 22 

Enter Shylock. 

How now, Shylock ! what news among the merchants? 

Shylock. You knew, none so well, none so well as 
you, of my daughter's flight. 

Salarino. That's certain ; I, for my part, knew the 
tailor that made the wings she flew withal. 

Salanio. And Shylock, for his own part, knew the 
bird was fledged ; and then it is the complexion of them 
all to leave the dam. 30 

Shylock. My own flesh and blood to rebel ! 

Salarino. There is more difference between thy flesh 
and hers than between jet and ivory ; more between your 
bloods than there is between red wine and Rhenish. 
But tell us, do you hear whether Antonio have had any 
loss at sea or no ? 



SCENE l] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 43 

Shylock. There I have aiiotlier bad match : a bank- 
rupt, a prodigal, who dare scarce show his head on the 
Rialto: a beggar, that was used to come so smug upon 
the mart; let him look to his bond: he was wont to call 
me usurer ; let him look to his bond : he was wont to lend 
money for a Christian courtesy; let him look to his bond. 

Salarino. Wliy, I am sure, if he forfeit, thou wilt not 
take his flesh : what's that good for ? 44 

Shyloch. To bait fish withal : if it will feed nothing- 
else, it will feed my revenge. He hath disgraced me, 
and hindered me half a million ; laughed at my losses, 
mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my 
bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies; 
and what's his reason ? I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew 
eyes ? hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, 
aflections, passions ? fed with the same food, hurt with 
the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed 
by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same 
winter and sunnner, as a Christian is ? If you prick 
us, do we not bleed ? if you tickle us, do we not laugh ? 
if you poison us, do we not die ? and if you wi-ong us, 
shall we not revenge ? If we are like you in the rest, 
we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a 
Christian, what is his humility ? Revenge. If a Chris- 
tian wrong a Jew, w^hat should his sufferance be by 
Christian example ? Why, revenge. The villany you 
teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will 
better the instruction. G4 

Enter a Servant. 
Servant Gentlemen, my master Antonio is at his 
house and desires to speak with you both. 

Salarino. We have been up and down to seek him. 



44 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT III 

Enter Tubal. 

Salanio. Here comes another of tlie tribe: a third 
cannot be matched, unless tlie devil himself turn Jew. 69 

[Exeunt Salanio, Salarino, and Servant. 

Shy loch. How now, Tubal ! what news from Genoa ? 
hast thou found my daughter ? 

Tubal. I often came where I did hear of her, but 
cannot find her. 

Shylock. Why, there, there, there, there ! a diamond 
gone, cost me two thousand ducats in Frankfort ! The 
curse never fell upon our nation till now ; I never felt it 
till now ; two thousand ducats in that ; and other precious, 
precious jewels. I would my daughter were dead at my 
foot, and the jewels in her ear ! would she were hearsed 
at my foot, and the ducats in her coffin ! No news of 
them ? Why, so : and I know not what's spent in the 
search : why, thou loss upon loss ! the thief gone with so 
much, and so much to find the thief , and no satisfaction, 
no revenge : nor no ill luck stirring but what lights on 
my shoulders; no sighs but of my breathing; no tears 
but of my shedding. 

Tubal. Yes, other men have ill luck too : Antonio, as 
I heard in Genoa, — 

ShylocJc. What, what, what ? ill luck, ill luck ? 89 

Tubal. Hath an argosy cast away, coming from 
Tripolis. 

Shylock. I thank God, I thank God. Is 't true, is 't true ? 

Tubal. I spoke with some of the sailors that escaped 
the wreck. 

Shylock. I thank thee, good Tubal : good news, good 
news ! ha, ha ! where ? in Genoa ? 



SCENE li] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 45 

Tiibal. Your dautrhter spent in Genoa, as I lieard, in 
cue ni^rht fourscore ducats. 98 

Bhyloch. Tliou stickest a dagger in me : I sliall never 
see my gold again : fourscore ducats at a sitting ' four- 
score ducats ! 

TiihaL There came divers of Antonio's creditors in 
my company to Venice, that swear lie cannot choose but 
break. 

SJiylocl: I am very glad of it : I'll plague him ; I'll 
torture him : I am glad of it. 

Tubal. One of them showed me a ring that he had of 
your daughter for a monkey. 108 

Shjloch. Out upon her ! Thou torturest me, Tubal : 
it was my turc^uoise ; I had it of Leah when I was a 
bachelor : I w^ould not have given it for a wilderness of 
monkeys. 

Tubal. But Antonio is certainly undone. 

ShylocJc. Nay, that's true, that's very true. Go, Tubal, 
fee me an officer ; bespeak him a fortnight before. I will 
have the lieart of him, if he forfeit ; for, were he out of 
Venice, I can make what merchandise I will. Go, go, 
Tubal, and meet me at our synagogue; go, good Tubal, 
at our synagogue. Tubal. [Exeunt. 119 

Scene II. Belmont. A room in Portias house. 

Enter Bassanio, PoPwTIa, Gratiano, Nerissa, and Attendants. 

Pcn^tia. I pray you, tarr}^ : pause a day or two 
Before you hazard , for, in choosing wrong, 
I lose your company : therefore forbear awhile. 
There's somethincr tells me, but it is not lov^e, 
I would not lose you ; and you know yourself. 



46 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT III 

Hate counsels not in sucli a quality. 

But lest you should not understand me well, — 

And yet a maiden hath no tongue but thought, — 

I would detain you here some month or two 

Before j^ou venture for me. I could teach you lo 

How to choose right, but I am then forsworn ; 

So will I never be : so may you miss me ; 

But if you do, you'll make me wish a sin, 

That I had been forsworn. Beshrew your e^^es, 

They have o'erlooked me and divided me ; 

One half of me is 3'ours, the other half yours, 

Mine own, I would say ; but if mine, then yours, 

And so all yours. O, these naughty times 

Put bars between the owners and their rights ! 

And so, though yours, not yours. Prove it so, 20 

Let fortune go to hell for it, not I, 

I speak too long ; but 'tis to peize the time, 

To eke it and to draw it out in length, 

To stay you from election. 

Bdssanio. Let me choose ; 

For as I am, I live upon the rack. 

Portia. Upon the rack, Bassanio ! then confess 
What treason there is mingled with your love. 

Bassanio. None but that ugly treason of mistrust. 
Which makes me fear the enjoying of my lo\ e ; 30 

There may as well be amity and life 
'Tween snow and lire, as treason and my love. 

Portia. Ay, but I fear you speak upon the rack, 
Where men enforced do speak anything. 

Bassanio. Promise me life, and I'll confess the truth. 



SCENE II] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 47 

Portia. Well then, confess and live. 
Bassanio. * Confess ' and ' love ' 

Had been the very sum of my confession : 

happy torment, when my torturer 

Doth teach me answers for deliverance ! 40 

But let me to my fortune and the caskets. 

Portia. Away, then ! I am lock'd in one of tliem 
If you do love me, you will find me out. 
Nerissa and the rest, stand all aloof. 
Let music sound while he doth make his choice , 
Then, if he lose, he makes a swan-like end, 
Fading in music : that the comparison 
May stand more proper, my eye sliall be the stream 
And watery death-bed for him. He may win ; 
And what is music then ? Then music is 50 

Even as the flourish when true subjects bow 
To a new-crowned monarch : such it is 
As are those dulcet sounds in break of day 
That creep into the dreaming bridegroom's ear 
And summon him to marriage. Now he goes, 
With no less presence, but with much more love. 
Than young Alcides, when he did redeem 
The virgin tribute paid by howling Troy 
To the sea-monster : I stand for sacrifice ; 
The rest aloof are the Dardanian wives, 60 

With bleared visages, come forth to view 
The issue of the exploit. Go, Hercules ! 
Live thou, I live ; with mucli much more dismay 

1 view the fight than thou that makest the fray. 



48 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT III 

Mime, whilst Bassanio comments on the caskets to himself. 

Song. 

Tell me where is fancy bred, 
Or in the heart or in the head ? 
How begot, how nourished ? 
Reply, reply. 
It is engender'd in the eyes, 
With gazing fed ; and fancy dies 70 

In the cradle where it lies. 

Let us all ring fancy's knell : 
I'll begin it, — Ding, dong, bell. 

All. Dino- donpf, bell. 
Bas. So may the outward shows be least themselves : 
The world is still deceived with ornament. 
In law, what plea so tainted and corrupt 
But, being season'd ^\dth a gracious voice, 
Obscures the show of evil ? In religion. 
What damned error, but some sober brow 80 

Will bless it and approv^e it with a text, 
Hiding the grossness with fair ornament ? 
There is no vice so simple but assumes 
Some mark of virtue on his outward parts : 
How many cowards, whose hearts are all as false 
As stairs of sand, wear yet upon their chins 
The beards of Hercules and frownins: Mars, 
Who, inward search'd, have livers white as milk ; 
And these assume but valour's excrement 
To render them redoubted ! Look on beauty, 90 

And you shall see 'tis purchased by the weight ; 
Which therein works a miracle in nature, 
Making them lightest that wear most of it : 



SCENE II] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 49 

So are those crisped snaky golden locks 

Which make such wanton gambols with the wind, 

Upon supposed fairness, often known 

To be the dowry of a second head, 

The skull that bred them in the sepulchre. 

Thus ornament is but the guiled sliore 

To a most dangerous sea ; the beauteous scarf lOO 

Veiling an Indian beauty ; in a word. 

The seeming truth which cunning times put on 

To entrap the wisest. Therefore, thou gaudy gold, 

Hard food for Midas, I will none of thee ; 

Nor none of thee, thou pale and common drudge 

'Tween man and man : but thoii, thou meagre lead, 

Which rather threatenest than dost promise aught. 

Thy paleness moves me more than eloquence ; 

And here choose I : joy be the consequence ! 

Portia. [Aside]. How all the other passions fleet to air, 
As doubtful thoughts, and rash-embraced despair, m 
And shuddering fear, and green-eyed jealousy ! 

love, be moderate ; allay thy ecstasy ; 
In measure rain thy joy ; scant this excess. 

1 feel too much thy blessing: make it less, 
For fear I surfeit. 

Bassanio. What find I here ? 

[Opening the leaden casket. 

Fair Portia's counterfeit ! What demi-god 

Hath come so near creation ? Move these eyes ? 

Or whether, riding on the balls of mine, 120 

Seem they in motion ? Here are sever'd lips. 

Parted with sugar breath : so sweet a bar 

Should sunder such sweet friends. Here in her hairs 

The painter plays the spider and hath woven 



50 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT III 

A golden mesh to entrap the hearts of men 
Faster than gnats in cobwebs; but her eyes, — 
How could he see to do them ? having made one, 
Methinks it should have power to steal both his 
And leave itself unfurnish'd. Yet look, how far 
The substance of my praise doth wrong this shadow 130 
In underprizing it, so far this shadow 
Doth limp beliind the substance. Here's the scroll. 
The continent and summary of my fortune. 
[Heads] " You that choose not by the view. 
Chance as fair and choose as true ! 
Since this fortune falls to you. 
Be content and seek no new. 
If you be well pleased with this 
And hold your fortune for your bliss. 
Turn you where your lady is 140 

And claim her with a loving kiss." 
A gentle scroll. Fair lady, by your leave ; 
I come by note, to give and to receive. 
Like one of two contending in a prize, 
That thinks he hath done well in people's eyes. 
Hearing applause and universal shout, 
Giddy in spirit, still gazing in a doubt 
Whether those peals of praise be his or no, 
So, thrice-fair lady, stand I, even so ; 
As doubtful whether what I see be true, 150 

Until confirm 'd, sign'd, ratified by you. 

Portia. You see me, Lord Bassanio, where I stand, 
Such as I am : though for myself alone 
I would not be ambitious in my wish. 
To wish myself much better ; yet, for you 
I would be trebled twenty times myself ; 



SCENE II] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 51 

A thousand times more fair, ten thousand times more rich ; 

That only to stand high in your account. 

I might in virtues, beauties, hvings, friends, 

Exceed account ; but the full sum of me 160 

In sum of — sometliing, which, to term in gross. 

Is an unlesson'd girl, unscliool'd, unpractised ; 

Happy in this, she is not yet so old 

But she may learn ; happier than this. 

She is not bred so dull but she can learn ; 

Happiest of all is that her gentle spirit 

Commits itself to yours to be directed. 

As from her lord, her governor, her king. 

Myself and what is mine to you and yours 

Is nov/ converted : but now I was the lord 170 

Of this fair mansion, master of my servants, 

Queen o'er myself ; and even now, but now, 

This house, these servants and this same myself 

Are yours, my lord : I give them with this ring ; 

Which when you part from, lose, or give away, 

Let it presage the ruin of your love 

And be my vantage to exclaim on you. 

Bassanio. Madam, you have bereft me of all words. 
Only my blood speaks to you in my veins ; 
And there is such confusion in my powers 180 

As, after some oration fairly spoke 
By a beloved prince, there doth appear 
Among the buzzing pleased multitude ; 
Where every something, being blent together, 
Turns to a wild of nothing, save of joy, 
Express'd and not express'd. But when this ring 
Parts from this finger, then parts life from hence : 
O, then be bold to say Bassanio's dead ! 



52 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT III 

Nerissa. My lord and lady, it is now our time, 
That liave stood by and seen our wishes prosper, 190 

To cry, good joy : good joy, my lord and lady ! 

Gratiano. My lord Bassanio and my gentle lady, 
I wish you all the joy that you can wish ; 
For I am sure you can wish none from me : 
And when your honours mean to solemnize 
The bargain of your faith, I do beseech you, 
Even at that time I may be married too. 

Bassanio. With all my heart, so thou canst get a wife. 

Gratiano. I thank your lordship, you have got 
me one. 200 

My eyes, my lord, can look as swift as yours : 
You saw the mistress, I beheld the maid ; 
You loved, I loved, for intermission 
No more pertains to me, my lord, than you. 
Your fortune stood upon the casket there, 
And so did mine too, as the matter falls ; 
For wooing: here until I sweat acjain. 
And swearing till my very roof was dry 
With oaths of love, at last, if promise last, 
I got a promise of this fair one here 210 

To have her love, provided that your fortune 
Achieved her mistress. 

Portia. Is this true, Nerissa ? 

Nerissa. Madam, it is, so you stand pleased withal. 

Bassanio. And do you, Gratiano, mean good faith ? 

Gratiano. Yes, faith, my lord. 

Bassanio. Our feast shall be much honour 'd in your 
marriage. 

Gratiano. But who comes here ? Lorenzo and his 
infidel ? 220 

What, and my old Venetian friend Salerio ? 



SCENE II] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 53 

Enter Lorenzo, Jessica, and Salerio, a messenger from Venice. 

Bassanio. Lorenzo and Salerio, welcome hither ; 
If that the youth of my new interest here 
Have power to bid you welcome. By your leave, 
I bid my very friends and countrymen. 
Sweet Portia, welcome. 

Portia. So do I, my lord : 

They are entirely welcome. 

Lorenzo. I thank your honour. For my part, my lord, 
My purpose was not to have seen you here ; 230 

But meeting with Salerio by the way, 
He did intreat me, past all saying nay. 
To come with him along. 

Salerio. I did, my lord ; 

And I have reason for it. Signor Antonio 

Commiends him to you. [Gives Bassanio a letter. 

Bassamio. Ere I ope his letter, 

I pray you, tell me how my good friend doth. 

Salerio. Not sick, my lord, unless it be in mind ; 
Nor well, unless in mind : his letter there 240 

Will show you his estate. 

Gratiano. Nerissa, cheer yon stranger; bid her 
welcome. 
Your hand, Salerio: what's the news from Venice ? 
How doth that royal merchant, good Antonio ? 
I know he will be glad of our success ; 
We are the Jasons, we have won the fleece. 

Salerio, I would you had won the fleece that he hath 
lost. 

Portia. There are some shrewd contents in yon same 
paper, 251 



54 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT III 

That steals the colour from Bassanio's cheek : 
Some dear friend dead ; else nothing in the world 
Could turn so much the constitution ■ 

Of any constant man. What, worse and worse ! 
With leave, Bassanio ; I am half yourself, 
And I must freely have the half of anything 
That this same paper brings you. 

Bassanio. O sweet Portia, 

Here are a few of the unpleasant'st words 260 

That ever blotted paper ! Gentle lady, 
When I did first impart my love to you, 
I freely told you, all the wealth I had 
Ran in my veins, I was a gentleman ; 
And then I told you true : • and yet dear lady. 
Rating myself at nothing, you shall see 
How much I was a braggart. When I told you 
My state was nothing, I should then have told you 
That I was worse than nothing ; for indeed 
I have engaged myself to a dear friend, 270 

Engaged my friend to his mere enemy, 
To feed my means. Here is a letter, lady ; 
The paper as the body of my friend, 
And every word in it a gaping wound. 
Issuing life-blood. But is it true, Salerio ? 
Have all his ventures fail'd ? What, not one hit ? 
From Tripolis, from Mexico and England, 
From Lisbon, Barbary and India ? 
And not one vessel 'scape the dreadful touch 
Of merchant-marring rocks ? 280 

Salerio. Not one, my lord. 

Besides, it should appear, that if he had 
The present money to discharge the Jew, 



SCENE II] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 55 

He would not take it. Never did I know 

A creature, that did bear the sliape of man, 

So keen and greedy to confound a man : 

He plies the duke at morning and at night, 

And doth impeach the freedom of the state, 

If they deny him justice : twenty merchants, 

The duke himself, and the magnificoes 290 

Of greatest port, have all persuaded with him ; 

But none can drive him from the envious plea 

Of forfeiture, of justice and his bond. 

Jessica. When I was with him I have heard him swear 
To Tubal and to Chus, his countrymen, 
That he would rather have Antonio's flesh 
Than twenty times the value of the sum 
That he did owe him : and I know, my lord, 
If law, authority and power deny not. 
It will go hard with poor Antonio. 300 

Portia. Is it your dear friend that is thus in trouble ? 

Bassanio. The dearest friend to me, the kindest man. 
The best-condition'd and unwearied spirit 
In doing courtesies, and one in wliom 
The ancient Roman honour more appears 
Than any that draws breath in Italy, 

Portia. What sum owes he the Jew ? 

Bassanio. For me three thousand ducats. 

Portia. What, no more ? 

Pay him six thousand, and deface the bond ; 310 

Double six thousand, and then treble that, 
Before a friend of this description 
Shall lose a hair through Bassanio's fault. 
First go with me to church and call me wife, 



56 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT III 

And then away to Venice to your friend ; 

For never shall you lie by Portia's side 

With an unquiet soul. You shall have gold 

To pay the petty debt twenty times over : 

Wlien it is paid, bring your true friend along. 

My maid Nerissa and myself meantime 320 

Will live as maids and widows. Come, away ! 

For you shall hence upon your wedding-day : 

Bid 3^our friends welcome, show a merry cheer : 

Since you are dear bought, I will love you dear. 

But let me hear the letter of your friend. 

Bassanio. [Reads] " Sweet Bassanio, my ships have all 
miscarried, my creditors grow cruel, my estate is very 
low, my bond to the Jew is forfeit ; and since in paying 
it, it is impossible I should live, all debts are cleared 
between you and I, if I might but see you at my death. 
Notwithstanding, use your pleasure : if your love do not 
persuade you to come, let not my letter." 332 

Portia. O love, dispatch all business, and be gone ! 

Bassanio. Since I have your good leave to go away, 
I will make haste : but, till I come again. 

No bed shall e'er be guilty of my stay. 

No rest be interposer 'twixt us twain. [Exeunt. 

Scene III. Venice. A street. 
Enter Shylock, Salarino, Antonio, and Gaoler. 

Shylock. Gaoler, look to him : tell not me of merc}^ ; 
This is the fool that lent out money gratis : 
Gaoler, look to him. 

Antonio. Hear me yet, good Shylock. 



SCENE III] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 57 

Shylock. I'll have my bond ; speak not against my 
bond : 
I have sworn an oath tliat I will have my bond. 
Thou call'dst me dog before thou hadst a cause ; 
But, since I am a dog, beware my fangs : 
The duke shall grant me justice. I do wonder, lo 

Thou naughty gaoler, that thou art so fond 
To come abroad with him at his request. 

Antonio. I pray thee, hear me speak. 

Shylock. I'll have my bond; I will not hear thee speak; 
I'll have my bond ; and therefore speak no more. 
I'll not be made a soft and dull-eyed fool. 
To shake the head, relent, and sigh, and yield 
To Christian intercessors. Follow not ; 
I'll have no speaking , I will have m}^ bond. [Exit. 

Salarino. It is the most impenetrable cur 20 

That ever kept with men. 

Antonio. Let him alone: 

I'll follow him no more with bootless prayers. 
He seeks my life ; his reason well I know : 
I oft deliver'd from his forfeitures 
Many that have at times made moan to me ; 
Therefore he hates me. 

Salarino. I am sure the duke 

Will never grant this forfeiture to hold. 

Anton io. The duke cannot deny the course of law : .so 
For the commodity that strangers have 
With us in Venice, if it be denied. 
Will much impeach the justice of his state ; 
Since that the trade and profit of the city 
Consisteth of all nations. Therefore, go : 



58 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT III 

These griefs and losses have so bated me, 

That I sliall hardly spare a pound of flesh 

To-morrow to my bloody creditor. 

Well, gaoler, on. Pray God, Bassanio come 

To see me pay his debt, and then I care not ! {Ejceunt. 40 

Scene IV. Belmont. A room in Portia's house. 
Enter Portia, Nerissa, Lorenzo, Jessica, cmd Balthasar, 

Lorenzo. Madam, although I speak it in your presence. 
You have a noble and a true conceit 
Of god-like amity ; which appears most strongly 
In bearing thus the absence of your lord. 
But if you knew to whom you show this honour, 
How true a gentleman you send relief, 
How dear a lover of my lord your husband, 
I know you would be prouder of the work 
Than customary bounty can enforce you. 

Portia. I never did repent for doing good, 10 

Nor shall not now : for in companions 
That do converse and waste the time together, 
Whose souls do bear an equal yoke of love. 
There must be needs a like proportion 
Of lineaments, of manners and of spirit ; 
Which makes me think that this Antonio, 
Being the bosom lover of my lord, 
Must needs be like my lord. If it be so, 
How little is the cost I have bestow'd 
In purchasing the semblance of my soul 20 

From out the state of hellish misery ! 
This comes too near the praising of myself : 
Therefore no more of it : hear other things. 
Lorenzo, I commit into your hands 



SCENE IV] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 69 

The husbandry and manage of iny house 

Until my lord's return : for mine own part, 

I have toward heaven breatlied a secret vow 

To live in prayer and contemplation, 

Only attended by Nerissa here, 

Until her husband and my lord's return : 30 

There is a monastery two miles off: 

And there will we abide. I do desire you 

Not to deny this imposition, 

The which my love and some necessity 

Now lays upon you. 

Lorenzo. Madam, with all my heart : 

I shall obey you in all fair commands. 

Portia. My people do already know my mind, 
And will acknowledge you and Jessica 
In place of Lord Bassanio and myself. 40 

And so farewell, till we shall meet again. 

Lorenzo. Fair thoughts and happy hours attend on 
you! 

Jessica. I wisli your ladysliip all lieart's content. 

Portia. I thank you for your wisli, and am well 
pleased 
To wish it back on you : fare you well, Jessica. 

[Exeunt Jessica and Lorenzo. 
Now Balthasar, 

As I have ever found thee honest-true. 

So let me find thee still. Take tliis same letter, 50 

And use thou all the endeavour of a man 

In speed to Padua ! see tliou render this 

Into my cousin's hand, Doctor Bellario ; 

And, look, what notes and garments he doth give thee, 

Bring them, I pray thee, witli imagined speed 



60 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT III 

Unto the tranect, to the common ferry 

Wliich trades to Venice. Waste no time in words, 

But get thee gone : I shall be there before thee. 

Balthasar. Madam, I go with all' convenient speed. 

[Exit. 

Portia. Come on, Nerissa ; I have work in hand 60 
That you yet know not of : we'll see our husbands 
Before they think of us. 

Nerissa. Shall they see us ? 

Portia. They shall, Nerissa; but in such a habit, 
That they shall think we are accomplished 
With that we lack. I'll hold thee any wager. 
When we are both accoutred like young men, 
I'll prove the prettier fellow of the two, 
And wear my dagger with the braver grace, 
And speak between the change of man and boy 70 

With a reed voice, and turn two mincing steps 
Into a manly stride, and speak of frays 
Like a fine bragging youth, and tell quaint lies, 
How honourable ladies sought my love. 
Which I denying, they fell sick and died ; 
I could not do withal ; then I'll repent. 
And wish, for all that, that I had not kill'd them ; 
And twenty of these puny lies I'll tell, 
That men shall swear I have discontinued school 
Above a twelvemonth. I have within my mind 80 

A thousand raw tricks of these bragging Jacks, 
Which I will practise. 
But come, I'll tell thee all my whole device 
When I am in my coach, which stays for us 
At the park gate ; and therefore haste away, 
I'or we must measure twenty miles to-day. [Exeunt. 



SCENE V] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 61 

Scene V. The same. A garden. 
Enter Launcelot and Jessica. 

Launcelot Yes, truly ; for, look you, the sins of the 
father are to be laid upon the cliildren : therefore, I 
promise ye, I fear you. I was ahva3^s plain with you, 
and so now I speak my agitation of tlie matter : there- 
fore be of good cheer, for trul}^ I think you are damned. 
There is but one hope in it that can do you any good ; 
and that is but a kind of base hope neither. 

Jessica. And what hope is that, I pray thee ? 

Launcelot. Marry, you may partly hope that you are 
not tlie Jew's daughter. 10 

Jessica. That were a kind of base hof)e, indeed ; so 
the sins of my mother should be visited upon me. 

Launcelot. Truly then I fear you are damned both 
by father and mother: thus when I shun Scylla, your 
father, I fall into Charybdis, your motlier : well, you are 
gone both ways. 

Jessica. I shall be saved by my husband ; he hath 
made me a Christian. 

Launcelot. Truly, the more to blame he : we were 
Christians enow before ; e'en as many as could well live, 
one by another. This making of Christians will raise the 
price of hogs : if we grow all to be pork-eaters, we shall 
not shortly have a rasher on the coals for money. 

Enter Lorenzo. 

Jessica. I'll tell my Imsband, Launcelot, what you 
sa}^ : here he comes. 25 

Lorenzo. I shall grow jealous of you shortly, 
Launcelot. 



62 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT III 

Jessica. Nay, you need not fear us, Lorenzo : Launce- 
lot and I are out. He tells uie flatl}^ tliere is no mercy 
for me in heaven, because I am a Jew's daughter: and 
he says, you are no good member of the conmionwealth, 
for in converting Jews to Christians, you raise the price 
of pork. 

Lm^enzo. I think the best grace of wit will shortly 
turn into silence, and discourse grow commendable in 
none only but parrots. Go in, sirrah : bid them prepare 
for dinner. 

Launcelot. That is done, sir ; they have all stomachs. 

Lorenzo. Goodly Lord, what a wit-snapper are you ! 
then bid them prepare dinner. 40 

Launcelot. That is done too, sir ; only * cover ' is the 
word. 

Lorenzo. Will you cover then, sir ? 

Launcelot. Not so, sir, neither ; I know my duty. 

Lorenzo. Yet more quarrelling with occasion ! Wilt 
thou show the whole wealth of thy wit in an instant ? I 
pray thee, understand a plain man in his plain meaning : 
go to thy fellows; bid them cover tlie table, serve in the 
meat, and we will come in to dinner. 

Launcelot. For the table, sir, it shall be served in ; 
for the meat, sir, it shall be covered ; for your coming in 
to dinner, sir, why, let it be as humours and conceits shall 
govern. [Exit. 

Lorenzo. O dear discretion, how his words are suited ! 
The fool hath planted in his memory 55 

An army of good words ; and I do know 
A many fools, that stand in better place, 
Garnish'd like him, tliat for a tricksy word 



SCENE l] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 63 

Defy the matter. How cheer'st thou, Jessica ? 

And now, good sweet, say thy opinion, 60 

How dost thou like the Lord Bassanio's wife ? 

Jessica. Past all expressing. It is very meet 
The Lord Bassanio live an upright life ; 
For, having such a blessing in his lady, 
He finds the joys of heaven here on earth ; 
And if on earth he do not mean it, then 
In reason he should never come to heaven. 
Why, if two gods sliould play some heavenly match 
And on the wager lay two earthly women, 
And Portia one, there must be something else 70 

Pawn'd with the other, for the poor rude world 
Hath not her fellow. 

Lorenzo. Even such a husband 

Hast thou of me as she is for a wife. 

Jessica. Nay, but ask my opinion too of that. 

Lorenzo. I will anon : first, let us go to dinner. 

Jessica. Nay, let me praise you while I have a stomach. 

Lorenzo. No, pray thee, let it serve for table-talk ; 
Then, howsoe'er thou speak'st, 'mong other things 
I shall digest it. 80 

Jessica. Well, I'll set you forth. [Exeunt. 

ACT IV. 

Scene I. Veiiice. A court of justice. 

Enter the Duke, the Magnificoes, Antonio, Bassanio, Gratiano, 
Salerio, and others. 

Duke. . What, is Antonio here ? 
Antonio. Ready, so please your grace. 
DtiJce. I am sorry for thee : thou art come to answer 
A stony adversary, an inhuman wretch 



64 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT IV 

Uncapable of pity, void and empty 
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 
Out of his envy's reach, I do oppose 10 

My patience to his fury, and am arm'd 
To suffer, with a quietness of spirit, 
The verv tyranny and rage of his. 

Duke. Go one, and call the Jew into court. 

Salerio. He is ready at the door : he comes, my lord. 

Enter Shvlock. 

Duke. Make room, and let him stand before our face. 
Shy lock, the world thinks, and I think so too, 
That thou but lead'st this fashion of thy malice 
To the last hour of act ; and then 'tis thouo^ht 
Thou'lt show thy mercy and remorse more strange 20 
Than is thy strange apparent cruelty ; 
And where thou now exact'st the penalty, 
Which is a pound of this poor merchant's flesh. 
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, 
Enow to press a royal merchant down 
And pluck commiseration of his state 30 

From brassy bosoms and rough hearts of flint, 
From stubborn Turks and Tartars, never train'd 



SCENE l] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 65 

To offices of tender courtesy. 

We all expect a gentle answer, Jew. 

Shylock. 1 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 
Upon your charter and your city's freedom, 
^u'll ask me, why I rather choose to have 40 

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 ? 
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 ; 
Some, when they hear the bagpipe : for affection. 
Mistress of passion, sways it to the mood 50 

Of what it likes or loathes. Now, for your answer : 
As there is no firm reason to be render'd, 
Why he cannot abide a gaping pig ; 
Why he, a harmless necessary cat ; 
Why he, a woollen bag- pipe ; but of force 
Must yield to such inevitable shame 
As to offend, himself being offended ; 
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 60 

A losing suit against him. Are you answer'd ? 

Basfianio. This is no answer, thou unfeeling man, 
To excuse the current of thy cruelty. 



jy 



Xi 



66- THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT IV 

^ 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. 

i Shylock What, wouldst thou have a serpent sting 
thee twice ? 70 

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 
Why he hath made tlie 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, 80 

As seek to soften that — than which what's harder ? — 
His Jewish heart : therefore, I do beseech you, 
Make no more ofiers, use no farther means, 
But with all brief and plain conveniency 
Let me have judgment and the Jew his will. 

Bassanio. For thy three thousand ducats here is six. 
/ Shylock. If every ducat in six thousand ducats 
-^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 ? 91 

/ Shylock. What judgment shall I dread, doing no 



wronor ? 



You have among you many a purchased slave, 



SCENE l] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 67 

Which, Hke youK asses and }'our dogs and mules, 

You use in abject and in slavisli parts, 

Because you bought tlieni : sliall I say to you, 

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 lOO 

Be season'd with such viands ? You will answer 

' The slaves are ours : ' so do I answer you : 

The pound of flesh, which I demand of him, 

Is dearly bought ; 'tis mine and I will have it. 

If 3^ou deny me, fie upon your law ! 

There is no force in the decrees of Venice. 

I stand for judgment : answer ; shall I have, it ? 

Did-e. Upon my power I may dismiss this court, 
Unless Bellario, a learned doctor, 

Whom I have sent for to determine this, 110 

Come here to-day. 

Salerio. My lord, liei'e stays without 

A messenger with letters from the doctor, 
New come from Padua. 

Duke. Bring us letters ; call the messenger. 

Bassanio. Good cheer, Antonio ! What, mm, courage 
yet! 
The Jew shall have my flesh, blood, bones, and all, 
Ere thou shalt lose for me one drop of blood. 

AiitoTiio. I am a tainted wether of the flock, 120 

Meetest for death : the weakest kind of fruit 
Drops earliest to the ground ; and so let me : 
You cannot better be employ 'd, Bassanio, 
Than to live still and write mine epitaph. 



68 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT IV 

Enter Nertssa, dressed like a lawyer'' s clerk. 
Diike. 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. 130 

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 
Of thy sharp envy. Can no prayers pierce thee ? 

Shylock. No, none that thou has wit enough to make. 

Gratiano. 0, be thou damn'd, inexorable dog ! 
And for thy life let justice be accused. 
Thou almost makest me waver in my faith 
To hold opinion with Pythagoras, 

That souls of animals infuse themselves 140 

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, 
And, whilst thou lay'st in thy unhallow'd dam, 
Infused itself in thee ; for thy desires 
Are wolfish, 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 : 
; Repair thy wit, good youth, or it will fall 
To cureless ruin. I stand here for law. 150 

Duke. This letter from Bellario doth commend 
A young and learned doctor to our court. 
Where is he ? 



SCENE l] THE M 

Nerissa. He r 
To know your ans 

Duke. With f 
Go o'ive him cc 
Meantime the 

Clerh r 
receipt o^ 
that yc 
me a 
acqr 
th' 

IT 



VENICE [act IV 

both stand forth. 

'lock is my name, 
you follow ; 



190 
^ond ? 



M. 



i^- 



SCENE l] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 71 

To mitigate the justice of thy jDlea ; 

Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice 

Must needs give sentence 'gainst the merchant there. 

Shyloch. My deeds upon my liead ' 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 liim in the court ; 
Yea, twice the sum : if that will not suffice, 221 

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, 
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 : 230 

'Twill be recorded for a precedent, 
And many an error In' the same example 
Will rush into the state : it cannot be. 
[^^^^ / Shyloch. A Daniel come to judgment ! yea, a Daniel ! 
O wise young judge, how I do honour thee ! 

Portia. I pray you, let me look upon the bond. 
-c^-^w^-vviS/iy^ocA:. Here 'tis, most reverend doctor, here it is. 

Portia. Shylock, there's thrice thy money offer'd thee. 

SJtylocl:. An oath, an oath, I have an oath in heaven : 
i Shall I lay perjury upon my soul ? 240 

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 




72 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT IV 

Nearest tlio merchant's lieart. Be merciful : 
Take tlirice thy money ; bid me tear the bond. 

SJn/Iock. 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, 250 
Whereof you are a well-deserving pillar, 
Proceed to judgment: by my soul I swear 
Tliere 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 
To give the judgment. 

Portia. Why then, thus it is : 

You must prepare your bosom for his knife. 

Shy lock. O noble judge ! O excellent young man ! 

Portia. For the intent and purpose of the law 260 
Hath full relation to the penalt}^ 
Which here appeareth due upon the bond. 

Shyloch 'Tis very true : O wise and upright judge ! 
How much more elder art thou than thy looks ! 

Portia. Therefore lay bare your bosom. 

Shyloch. 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 ? 270 

\ Shyloch. I have them ready. 

Portia. Have by some surgeon, Shy lock, on your 
charore, 

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



SCENE l] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 73 

j^A^v, j Shylock. Is it so nominated in the bond ? 

Portia. It is not so expi-ess'd : but what of that ? 
'Twere good you do so much for charity, 
ji^vv^ J Shylock. I cannot find it ; 'tis not in the bond. 

Portia. You, merchant, have you anything to say ? 

Antonio. But little : I am arm'd and well prepared. 
Give me your liand, Bassanio : fare you well ! 281 

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 
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 ; 290 

Say how I loved you, speak me fair in death ; 
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, 
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, 300 

Are not with me esteem'd above thy life : 
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. 



74. THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT IV 

Gratmno. 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. 

Npfissa. 'Tis well you offer it behind her back ; 310 
The wish would make else an unc^uiet house. 

Shylock. [Aside] These be the Christian husbands. I 
have a daughter ; 
Would any of the stock of Barrabas 
Had been her husband rather than a Christian ! 
[Aloud] We trifle time : I pray thee, pursue sentence. 

Fortia. A pound of that same merchant's flesh is 
thine : 
The court awards it, and the law doth give it. 

Shylock. Most rightful judge ! 320 

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 ! 

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 330 

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 ; 

Shylock. Is that the law ? 



SCENE l] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 75 

Portia. Tliyself sluilt see tlie 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 ! 341 

Shyluck. I take this offer, then ; jxay the bond thrice 
And let the Christian go. 

Bassanio. Here is the money. 

Portia. Soft ! 
The Jew shall have all justice ; soft ! no haste : 
He sliall have nothing but the penalty. 

Gratia/no. O Jew ! an upright judge, a learned judge ! 

Portia.. Therefore prepare thee to cut off the flesli. 
Shed thou no blood, nor cut thou less nor more .350 

But just a pound of flesh : if thou cut'st more 
Or less than a just pound, be it but so much 
As makes it light or heavy in the substance, 
Or the division of the twentieth part 
Of one poor scruple, nay, if tlie scale do turn 
But in the estimation of a hair, 
Thou diest and all thy goods are confiscate. 

Gratiano. A second Daniel, a Daniel, Jew ! 
Now, infidel, I have thee on the hip. 

Portia. Wliat doth the Jew pause? take thy forfeiture. 

SJiyloch. Give me my principal, and let me go. 3GI 

Bassanio. I have it ready for thee ; here it is. 

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 teachinor me that word. 



76 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT IV 



H,^ 



Shyloch. Shall I not have barely my principal ? 
Port id. Thou shalt have nothinij but the forfeiture, 
To be so taken at thy peril, Jew. 

^ ■ Shyloch Why, then the devil give him good of it ! 370 
I'll stay no longer question. 

Portia. Tarry, Jew : 

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, 
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 ; 380 

And the offender's life lies in the mercy 
Of the duke only, 'gainst all other voice. 
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 
The danger formerly by me rehearsed. 
Down therefore and beg mercy of the duke. 

Gratiano. Beg that thou mayst have leave to hang 
thyself: 391 

And yet, thy wealth being forfeit to the state, 
Thou hast not left the value of a cord ; 
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 ; 



SCENE l] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 77 

The other half comes to the general state, 
Which humbleness may drive unto a fine. 

Portia. Ay, for the state, not for Antonio. 400 

^^uW Shylock. Nay, take my life and all ; pardon not tliat: 
You take my house when 3'ou do take the prop 
Tliat doth sustain my house ; you take my life 
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 aU the court 
To quit the fine for one half of his goods, 
I am content ; so he will let me have 410 

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. 
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 
The pardon that I late pronounced here. 420 

Portia. Art thou contented, Jew ? what dost thou say? 
^ Shylock. I am content. 

Portia. Clerk, draw a deed of gift. 

SJiyloch. I pray you, give me leave to go from hence ; 
1 am not w^ll : send the deed after me, 
And I will sign it. 

Duke. Get thee gone, but do it. 



78 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT IV 

Gratiano. In christening slialt thou have two god- 
fathers 
Had I been judge, tliou shouldst have liad ten more, 430 
To bring thee to the gallows, not the font. {Exit Shyloch. 

Duke. Sir, I entreat you home with me to dinner. 

Portia. 1 liumbly do desire your grace of pardon : 
I must away this night toward Padua, 
And it is meet I presently set forth. 

Duke. I am sorry tliat your leisure serves you not. 
Antonio, gratify this gentleman, 
For, in my mind, you are much bound to him. 

[Exeunt Duke and Jiis train. 

Bassanio. Most worth}^ gentleman, I and my friend 
Have by your wisdom been this day acquitted 440 

Of grievous penalties ; in lieu wdiereof, 
Three thousand ducats, due unto the Jew, 
We freely cope your courteous pains withal. 

Antonio. And stand indebted, over and above, 
In love and service to you evermore. 

Portia. He is w^ell paid that is well satisfied ; 
And I, delivering you, am satisfied 
And therein do account myself wxll paid : 
My mind was never yet more mercenary. 
I pray you, know me when w^e meet again : 450 

I w^ish 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, 
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 w ill yield. 



SCENE l] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 79 

[To Antonio] Give me your gloves, I'll wear them for 

your sake ; 
[To BassfDiio] And, for your love, I'll take this ring from 
you : 46 J 

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 ! 
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, 470 

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 beo^ii^ar should be answer'd. 

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. 481 

An if your wife be not a mad-woman, 
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 Avith you ! 

[Exeunt Portia and JVeWs.sa. 

Anto7iio. My Lord Bassanio, let him have the ring : 
Let his deservings and my love withal 
Be valued 'gainst your wife's commandment. 



80 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT IV y 

Basfianio. Go, Gratiano, run and overtake him ; 
Give him the ring, and bring him, if thou canst, 490 

Unto Antonio's house : away ! make liaste. [Exit Gratiano. 
Come, you and I will thither presently ; 
And in the morning early will we both 
Fly toward Belmont : come, Antonio. [Exeunt. 

Scene II. The same. A street. 

Enter Portia and Nerissa. 

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 liome : 
This deed will be well welcome to Lorenzo. 

Enter Gratiano. 

Gratiano. Fair sir, 3^ou are well o'erta'en : 
My Lord Bassanio upon more advice 
Hath sent you here this ring, and doth entreat 
Your company at dinner. 

Portia. That cannot be : 10 

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. 

Gratiano. That will I do. 

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 may'st, I warrant. We 
shall have old swearing 
That they did give the rings away to men ; 20 



SCENE l] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 81 

But we'll outface them, and outswear them too. 

[Aloud] Away ! make haste : thou know'st where I will 

tarry. 
Nerissa. Come, good sir, will you shew me to this 

house ? [Exeunt. 

ACT Y 

Scene I. Belmont. Avenue to Porticos house. 
Enter Lorenzo and Jessica. 

Lorenzo. The moon shines briorht : in such a nicyht as 
this, 
When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees'" 
And they did make no noise, in such a night 
Troilus methinks mounted the Troyan walls 
And sicrh'd his soul toward the Grecian tents. 
Where Cressid lay that night. 

Jessica. In such a night 

Did Thisbe fearfully o'ertrip the dew 
And saw the lion's shadow ere himself 10 

And ran dismay 'd away. 

Lorenzo. In such a night 

Stood Dido with a willow in her hand 
Upon the A\'ild sea banks and waft her love 
To come aojain to Carthao^e. 

Jessica. In such a night 

Medea gather'd the enchanted herbs 
That did renew old iEson. 

Lorenzo. In such a night 

Did Jessica steal from the wealthy Jew . 20 

And with an unthrift love did run from Venice 
As far as Belmont. 



82 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT V 

Jessica. In such a night 

Did young Lorenzo swear he loved lier well, 
Stealing her soul with many vows of faith 
And ne'er a true one. 

Lorenzo. In such a night 

Did pretty Jessica, like a little shrew, 
Slander her love, and he forgave it her. 

Jessica. I would out-night you, did no body come ; 30 
But, hark, I hear the footing of a man. 

Enter Stephano. 

Lorenzo. Who comes so fast in silence of the niglit ? 

Stephano. A friend. 

Lorenzo. A friend ! what friend ? your name, I pray 
you, friend ? 

Ste2')hano. Stephano is my name ; and I bring word 
My mistress will before the break of day 
Be here at Belmont : she doth stray about 
By holy crosses, where she kneels and prays 
For happy wedlock hours. 40 

Lorenzo. Who comes with her ? 

Stephano. None but a holy hermit and her maid. 
I pray you, is my master yet return'd ? 

Lorenzo. He is not, nor we have not heard from him 
But go we in, I pray thee, Jessica, 
And ceremoniously let us prepare 
Some welcome for the mistress of the house. 

Enter Launcelot. 
Launcelot. Sola, sola ! wo ha, ho ! sola, sola ! 
Lorenzo. Who calls ? 



SCENE l] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 83 

Launcelot. Sola ! did you sec Master Lorenzo ? INlaster 
Lorenzo, sola, sola ! 51 

Lorenzo. Leave hollaing, man : here. 

Launcelot Sola ! where ? where ? 

Lorenzo. Here. 

Launcelot. Tell him there's a post come from my 
master, with his horn full of good news: my master 
will be here ere morning. [Exit. 

Lorenzo. Sweet soul, let's in, and there expect their 
comincr. 
And yet no matter : wliy should we go in ? . 60 

My friend Stephano, signify, I pray j^ou, 
Within the house, your mistress is at hand ; 
And bring your music forth into the air. [Exit Stephano. 
How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank ! 
Here will we sit and let the sounds of music 
Creep in our ears : soft stillness and the night 
Become the touches of sweet harmony. 
Sit, Jessica. Look how the floor of heaven 
Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold : 
There's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st 70 

But in his motion like an angel sings, 
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubins ; 
Such harmony is in immortal souls ; 
But wliilst tliis muddy vesture of decay 
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it. 

Enter Musicians. 

Come, ho ! and wake Diana with a h\nTin : 

With sweetest touches pierce your mistress' ear 

And draw her home with music. [Music. 



84 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT V 

Jessica. I am never merry when I hear sweet music. 

Lomizo. Tlie reason is, your spirits are attentive : 80 
For do but note a wild and wanton herd, 
Or race of youthful and unhandled colts, 
Fetching mad bounds, bellowing and neighing loud, 
Which is the hot condition of their blood ; 
If they but hear perchance a trumpet sound, 
Or any air of music touch their ears, 
You shall perceive them make a mutual stand, 
Their savage eyes turn'd to a modest gaze 
By the sweet power of music ; therefore the poet 
Did feign that Orpheus drew trees, stones and floods ; 90 
Since nought so stockish, hard and full of rage, 
But music for the time doth change his nature. 
The man that hath no music in himself, 
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, 
Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils ; 
The motions of his spirit are dull as night 
And his affections dark as Erebus : 
Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music. 

Entey^ Portia and Nerissa. 

Portia. That light we see is burning in my hall. 
How far that little candle throws his beams ! loo 

So shines a good deed in a naughty world. 

Nerissa. When the moon shone, we did not see the 
candle. 

Portia. So doth the greater glory dim the less : 
A substitute shines brightly as a king 
Until a king be by, and then his state 
Empties itself, as doth an inland brook 
Into the main of waters. Music ! hark ! 



SCENE l] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 85 

Nerissa. It is your music, madam, of the house. 

Portia. Nothing is good, I see, without respect : no 
Methinks it sounds much sweeter tluin by day. 

Nerissa. Silence bestows that virtue on it madam. 

Portia. Tlie crow doth sing as sweetly as the lark 
When neither is attended, and I think 
The nightingale, if she should sing by day. 
When every goose is cackling, would be thought 
No better a musician than the wren. 
How many things by season season'd are 
To their right praise and true perfection ! 
Peace, ho ! the moon sleeps with Endymion 120 

And would not be awaked. [Music ceases. 

Lorenzo. That is the voice, 

Or I am much deceived, of Portia. 

Portia. He knows me as the blind man knows the 
cuckoo, 
By the bad voice. 

Lorenzo. Dear lady, welcome home. 

Portia, We have been praying for our husbands' 
healths, 
Which speed, wo hope, the better for our words. 130 

Are they return'd ? 

Lorenzo. ^ladam, they are not yet ; 

But there is come a messenger before, 
To signify their coming. 

Portia.. Go in, Nerissa ; 

Give order to my servants that they take 
No note at all of our being absent hence ; 
Nor you, Lorenzo ; Jessica, nor yoa [A tucket sounds. 



86 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT V 

Lorenzo. Your husband is at hand ; I hear his 
trumpet ; 140 

We are no tell-tales, madam ; fear you not. 

Portia. This night methinks is but the daylight sick ; 
It looks a little paler : 'tis a day, 
Such as the day is when the sun is hid. 

Enter Bassanio, Antonio, Gratiano, and their followers. 

Bassanio. We should hold day with the Antipodes, 
If you would walk in absence of the sun. 

Portia. Let me give light, but let me not be light ; 
For a light wife doth make a heavy husband. 
And never be Bassanio so for me : 
But God sort all ! You .re welcome home, my lord. 150 

Bassanio. I thank you, madam. Give welcome to 
my friend. 
This is the man, this is Antonio, 
To whom I am so infinitely bound. 

Portia. You should in all sense be much bound to him. 
For, as I hear, he was much bound for you. 

Antonio. No more than I am well acquitted of. 

Portia. Sir, you are very welcome to our house : 
It must appear in other ways than words, 
Therefore I scant this breathing courtesy. leo 

Gratiano. [To Nerissa] 'By yonder moon I swear you 
do me wrong ; 
In faith, I gave it to the judge's clerk : 
Would he were dead that had it, for my part, 
Since you do take it, love, so much at heart. 

Portia. A quarrel, ho, already ! what's the matter ? 

Gratiano. About a hoop of gold, a paltry ring 
That she did give me, whose posy was 



SCENE I] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE SIT 

For all the world like cutler's poetry 

Upon a kuife, ' Love me, and leave me not.' 170 

Nerissa. What talk you of the posy or the value ? 
You swore to me, when I did give it you, 
That you would wear it till your hour of death 
And that it should lie with you in your grave : 
Though not for me, yet for your vehement oaths, 
You should have been respective and have kept it. 
Gave it a judge's clerk ! no, God's my judge, 
The clerk will ne'er wear hair on's face that had it. 

Gratiano. He will, an if he live to be a man. 

Nerissa. Ay, if a woman live to be a man. iso 

Gratiano. Now, by this hand, I gave it to a youth, 
A kind of boy, a little scrubbed boy, 
No higher than thyself, the judge's clerk, 
A prating bo}^, that begg'd it as a fee : 
I could not for my heart deny it him. 

Portia. You were to blame, I must be plain witli you. 
To part so slightly with your wife's first gift ; 
A thing stuck on with oaths upon your finger 
And so riveted with faith unto your flesh. 
I gave my love a ring and made him swear 190 

Never to part with it ; and here he stands ; 
I dare be sworn for him he would not leave it 
Nor pluck it from his finger, for the wealth 
That the world masters. Now, in faith, Gratiano, 
You give your wife too unkind a cause of grief : 
An 'twere to me, I should be mad at it. 

Bassanio. [Aside] Why, I were best to cut my left 
liand off 
And swear I lost the ring defending it. 



88 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT V 

Gratiano. My Lord Bassanio gave his ring away 200 
Unto tlio judge that begg'd it and indeed 
Deserved it too ; and then tlie boy, his clerk, 
Tliat took some pains in writing, he begg'd mine; 
And neither man nor master would take aught 
But the two rings. 

Portia. What ring gave you, my lord ? 

Not that, I hope, which you received of nie. 

Bassanio. If I could add a lie unto a fault, 
I would deny it ; but you see my finger 
Hath not the ring upon it ; it is gone. 210 

Portia. Even so void is your false heart of truth. 
By heaven, I will never be your wife 
Until I see the ring. 

Nerissa. No, nor I yours 

Till I again see mine. 

Bassanio. Sweet Portia, 

If you did know to whom I gave the ring. 
If you did know for whom I gave the ring, 
And would conceive for what I gave the ring, 
And how unwillingly I left the ring, 220 

When nought would be accepted but the ring. 
You would abate the strength of your displeasure. 

Portia. If you had known the virtue of the ring, 
Or half her worthiness that gave the ring, 
Or your own honour to contain the ring, 
You would not then have parted with the ring. 
What man is there so much unreasonable, 
If you had pleased to have defended it 
With any terms of zeal, wanted the modesty 
To urge the thing held as a ceremony ? 230 



SCENE l] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 89 

Nerissa teaches me what to believe : 

I'll die for't but some woman had the ring. 

Bassanio. No, by my honour, madam, by my soul, 
No woman had it, but a civil doctor, 
Which did refuse three thousand ducats of me 
And begg'd the ring ; the which I did den}^ him 
And sufFer'd liim to go displeased away ; 
Even he that did uphold tlie very life 
Of my dear friend. What should I say, sweet lady ? 
I was enforced to send it after him ; 240 

I was beset with shame and courtesy ; 
My honour would not let ingratitude 
So much besmear it. Pardon me, good lady ; 
For, by these blessed candles of the night, 
Had you been there, I think you would have begg'd 
The ring of me to give the worthy doctor. 

Portia. Let not that doctor e'er come near my house : 
Since he hath got the jewel that I loved, 
And that which you did swear to keep for me, 
I will become as liberal as you ; 250 

I'll not deny him any thing I have. 

Nerissa. Nor I his clerk ; therefore be well advised 
How you do leave me to mine own protection. 

Antonio. I am the unhappy subject of these quarrels. 

Portia. Sir, grieve not you; you are welcome not- - 
withstanding. 

Bassanio. Portia, forgive me this enforced wrong ; 
And, in the hearing of these many friends, 
I swear to thee, even by thine own fair eyes. 
Wherein I see myself — 2G0 

Portia. Mark you but that ! 

In both my eyes he doubly sees himself ; 



90 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT V 

In each eye, one : swear by your double self, 
And there's an oath of credit. 

Bassanio. Nay, but hear me : 

Pardon this fault, and by my soul I swear 
I never more will break an oath with thee. 

Antonio. I once did lend my body for his wealth ; 
Whicli, but for him that had your husband's ring. 
Had quite miscarried : I dare be bound again, 27b 

My soul upon the forfeit, tliat 3'our lord 
Will never more break faith advisedly. 

Portia. Then you shall be his surety. Giv^e him this 
And bid him keep it better than the other. 

Antonio. Here, Lord Bassanio ; swear to keep this 
ring. 

Bassanio. By heaven, it is the same I gave the doctor! 

Portia. You are all amazed : 
Here is a letter : read it at 3'our leisure ; 
It comes from Padua, from Bellario : 2S0 

There 3^ou shall find that Portia was the doctor, 
Nerissa there her clerk : Lorenzo here 
Shall witness I set forth as soon as you 
And even but now return'd : I have not yet 
Enter'd my house. Antonio, you are welcome ; 
And I have better news in store for you 
Than you expect : unseal this letter soon ; 
There you shall find three of your argosies 
Are richly come to harbour suddenly : 
You shall not know by what strange accident 290 

I chanced on this letter. 

Antonio. I am dumb. 

Bassanio. Were you the doctor and I knew you not ? 



SCENE l] THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 91 

Gratia DO. ' Were you tlie clerk and 3^et I knew ^-on 
not? 

Antonio. Sweet lady, you have given me life and 
livincr ; 
For here I read for certain that my ships 
Are safel}^ come to road. 

Portia. How now, Lorenzo ! 300 

My clerk hath some good comforts, too, for you. 

Nerissa. Ay, and I'll give them him without a fee. 
There do I give to 3^ou and Jessica, 
From the rich Jew, a special 'deed of gift, 
After his death, of all he dies possess'd of. 

Loi^enzo. Fair ladies, you drop manna in the way 
Of starved people. 

Portia. It is almost morning. 

And 3'et I am sure you are not satisfied 
Of these events at full. Let us go in ; 310 

And charge us there upon inter 'gatories, 
And we will answer all things faithfully. 

Gratiano. Well, while I live I'll fear no other thing 
So sore as keeping safe Nerissa's ring. [Exeunt. 



NOTES 



Act I.— Scene I. 

The first half of Scene I. is intended to give the audience 
some idea of the mood of the play as a whole, and at the same 
time to introduce them to Antonio, "The Merchant of Venice," 
and give them some necessary information as to his fortunes. 
In the sadness of Antonio the audience is given a suggestion of 
the ill-fortune which overtakes him in the course of the play ; 
and in spite of his assurances that his "ventures" have nothing 
to do with his sadness, w^e cannot help feeling that" the street- 
gossips, Salarino and Salanio, have in fact come very near the 
truth in their suggestion that "Antonio is sad to think upon 
his merchandise." 

In the second half of the scene the audience makes the 
acquaintance of Bassanio, Lorenzo, and Gratiano ; and in that 
part of the conversation in which Bassanio confides his plans 
to Antonio, we are given a charming picture of Portia, which 
prepares the audience for the scene which is to follow. 

2. it. My sadness. 

5. am to learn. Have yet to learn. 

6. want-wit. Stupid fellow. 

7. much ado. Much trouble. 

to know myself. To recognize myself. 

9. argosies. Large merchant vessels. The word argosy is 
derived from Rcigicsa, the name of a port on the Adriatic near 
Venice, which carried on a large trade with England. 

portly. Puffed out by the wind. 

10. signiors. Noblemen. 

IL pageants. Antonio's vessels are compared to the gaily 
decorated barges or floats which formed part of the shows 
which w'ere common, on the Thames or in the streets of 
London, in Shakespeare's day. 

93 



94 NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT I 

12. ovcrpeer. Look down upon the little trading vessels. 
18. do them reverence. Pay respect to thcni. 

14. they. The large vessels of Antonio. 

15. venture. Literally, something that is risked. Here, the 
vessels, exposed to danger. 

16. I should be so concerned about my vessels that T (;ould 
think of little else. 

affections. Feelings. 

17. still. Always. 

18. To find out in what direction the wind was blowing, by 
holding up a blade of grass or by throwing some loose grass in 
the air. 

19. roads. Roadsteads, where ships may ride safely at 
anchor. 

22-3. If I should blow upon my broth to cool it I should be 
reminded of a wind at sea and that would make me shake 
with fear. 

25. the sandy hour-glass. The hour-glass consists of two 
compartments, one of which is filled with sand. It takes an 
hour for the sand to run from the upper to the lower compart- 
ment. In Shakespeare's time, hour-glasses were placed in 
churches near the pulpit so that the minister might estimate 
the length of his sermon. 

27. Andrev/. Here, the name of a vessel, 
docked in sand. Held fast in the sand. 

28. Vailing-. Lowering. The vessel is turned over on its side 
so that the top of the main-mast is lower than the sides (ribs). 

29. her burial. The sand she is buried in. 
32. but. Merely. 

34. Enrobe. Clothe, cover. 

35. in a word. To sum it all up. 

worth. The vessel at one moment is worth so much, and the 
next moment worth nothing. 

86-8. Can I think of this without at the same time thinking 
that if such a thing should happen to me it would make me 
sad? 



SCENE l] NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 95 

42. bottom. Vessel. ' 

43-4. I have not risked all my wealth upon what may happen 
this year. 

52. Janus. A Roman deity, the god of gates and door's. He 
is represented, as having two faces, the one grave, the other 
laughing. The word Ja?M6ar?/ is derived from "Janus." 

54. peep. Wliy is this word appropriate ? 

55. like parrots. In a senseless fashion. 

at a bag-piper. Related to "laugh," not to "parrots." 

56. other. Others. 

vinegar aspect. Sour expression of face. 

58. Nestor. The oldest and gravest of the Greek heroes 
who fought at Troy. 

64. prevented. Used here in the literal sense of " come in a- 
head of me," "anticipated me." 

65. I have a high opinion of your worth ! 

67. embrace the occasion. Are glad of the opportunity. 
69. laugh. Be merry together. 

71. We see very little of you. Must you really go now ? 

72. We shall arrange to be at leisure when you are. 

78. You have too much regard for worldly affairs. 

79. lose it. Lose the enjoyment of it. 

84. old wrinkles. This may mean either "the wrinkles of old 
age," or "plenty of wrinkles." Old is used very freipiently by 
Shakespeare in this latter sense. 

86. mortifying. Producing death. It was believed at one 
time that sighs and groans drained the blood from the 
heart. 

88. alabaster. AVhite marble. Over many of the tombs in 
Shakespeare's day there wei-e placed nicirble images of those 
who were buried below. In a niche in the wall over Shakes- 
peare's own grave in Trinity church, Stratford, there is an 
image of the poet "cut in alabaster." 

89. jaundice. A disease which causes the skin to become 
yellow. It is sometimes brought on l)y violent emotion. 



96 NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT 

92-3. The serious expression on the faces of these men is 
compared to the dull surface of the stagnant pond that is 
covered with scum. 

cream and mantle. Become coated with scum. 

94-6. They are determined to keep silent in order that they 
may gain a reputation (opinion) for wisdom, gravity and 
profound thoughtfulness (conceit). 

97. As who should say. As if some one should say. WJio is 
an indefinite pronoun. 

Sir Oracle. The word oracle is applied to any one who speaks 
words of great wisdom. Sir in this case expresses contempt. 

100-1. "Even a fool when he holdeth his peace is counted 
wise; and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of under- 
standing." Proverbs, xxii., 28. 

101. when. T\Tiereas. 

102. Supply it before icould. 

102-3. If they should speak, those who heard them would be 
sure to call them fools, and thus come under the condemnation 
mentioned in Scripture. See 3Iatthew, v., 22. "Whosoever 
shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." 

105-6. Do not try to gain a reputation for wisdom by 
appearing melancholy. 

gudgeon. A fish that is easily caught, and not worth any- 
thing. 

108. exhortation. Sermon. There is perhaps a humorous 
reference to the long sermons of the Puritan clergy. 

112. moe. More. In older English inoe was used with 
reference to number, while more was used with reference to 
quantity. 

114. for this gear. Either " for this occasion "or " as a result 
of this stuff that you have been speaking." Gear means, 
literally, material prepared ; and it is commonly used in the 
sense of stuff, matter, business, affair. 

116. neat's tongue. Ox tongue. 

117. Is that any thing now? Is there any sense in w^hat 
Gratiano has been saying ? 

127. disabled mine estate. Weakened my resources. 



SCENE l] NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 97 

128-9. Living in somewhat greater splendour than my 
scanty income would permit me to keep up. 

something. To some extent, somewhat ; used adverbially. 

130-1. I am not complaining because I have to give up this 
extravagant style of living. 

132. to come fairly off. To free myself honourably. 

133-4. In which my life (time), which has been somewhat 
too extravagant, has left me involved. 

134. g-aged. Pledged, involved. 

136-7. Knowing your love for me, I am warranted in con- 
fiding my plans and purposes to you. 

140-1. If it is something that may be looked upon as 
honourable. 

143. occasions. Necessities'. 

146. of the self -same flight. Of the same weight and length, 
and feathered in the same way. 

147. advised. Careful. 

149. childhood proof. Experiment from my life as a child 
(Latin, probare, to test, to try). 

150. Because what I am about to say is just as innocent and 
free from deceit as my atteinpt in cliildhood to find the lost 
arrow. 

153. self. Selfsame. 

155-6. or . . . or. Either . . . or. 

160. In approaching the subject in this roundabout way, 
instead of appealing directly to my love. 

To wind about. As in the case of a hunter who approaches 
his game in a roundabout way so as to escape being seen. 

circumstance. Circumlocution. 

162. In doubting that I am willing to do my utmost to luMp 
you. 

166. prest unto it. Ready for it. (Fr. j^rdt, ready). 

167. Belmont. An imaginai*y place. 

richly left. One who has had great riches left to her. 
168-9. To have wondrous virtues is better (fairer) than to be 
merely beautiful (fair). 



98 NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT I 

IGS). sometimes. In former times. 

172. Portia, the daughter of Cato the Roman patriot, was 
the wife of Marcus Brutus, who led the conspiracy against 
Caesar. 

175-8. Colchos, or Colchis, was a country in Asia on the 
shores of the Black Sea. In the grove of Ares (Mars) in 
Colchis there was fastened to an oak tree a golden fleece, 
which was guarded by a dragon. This golden fleece was 
finally carried off by Jason, who sailed to Colchis, with a band 
of Greek heroes, in his famous ship the Argo. The story of 
Jason is told at length in Kingsley's Greek Heroes. 

181. I have a mind icKich foretells (presages) me such 
success (thrift). 

185. commodity. JNIerchandise. 

188. rack'd. Stretched. 

190. presently. Inimodiately. 

191. I no question make. I have no doubt. 

192. What is the difference between "of my trust" and 
*'for my sake"? 

Questions. 

1. What do you learn about Antonio {<i) from his conversa- 
tion with Salarino and Salanio, and {h) from his conversation 
with Bassanio ? 

2. («) What is it that leads Gratiano to make the long 
speech beginning, "Let me play the fool " ? 

(h) In what mood is he when he speaks it ? What impression 
does this speech give you of his character ? 

3. (a) Bassanio confesses that he has lived in an extravagant 
style, and that he has wasted the money which he h;is already 
borrowed from Antonio. How is it then that with faults so 
great as these he is able to gain and hold the sympathy of the 
audience ? 

(b) "Bassanio is after all, a mere adventurer who is attracted 
to Portia because of her wealth." 

Do you agree with this statement ? Support your view by 
references to the text. 

4. Compare the statement contained in lines 41-45 with that 
contained in lines 183-186. Can you reconcile these statements? 



SCENE it] notes ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 99 

Scene II. 

Folk)wing the description of Portia in Scene I., it is not 
difficult for ns to picture the "room in Portia's house" in 
Behnont. The furnishings of the room itself are no douht rich, 
but in keeping with the character of the owner. Portia we 
know is "fair" in the double sense of })eing both fair-haired 
and beautiful : Nerissa, as the name signifies, is dark, in 
contrast to her mistress. Portia, like Antonio, is sad, or 
rather "aweary of this great world"; and her weariness is 
plainly due to her anxiety as to the "choosing" of a husband. 
The conversation with Nerissa not only helps to bring out the 
characters of Portia and Nerissa, but gives us some insight 
into the circumstances of the "lottery" ; and at the same time 
it prepares the way for a favourable reception of Bassanio, 
when the time at length comes for him to present liimself as a 
suitor. 

1. By my troth. Truly, troth. Truth. 

7. in the mean. In a middle position, neither rich nor poor. 

8-9. The man who has more money than he needs becomes 
gray-haired from the worry of looking after it ; the man who 
has just sufficient for his needs has fewer anxieties and lives 
longer. 

10. sentences. Maxims. "When we say that a p( rson is 
aeiitcntions, what do we mean? 

13. chapels. A chapel is a smaller i)lace of worsliii) than a 
chinch. 

17-20. The intellect, or reason, may lay down rules by which 
our bodily passions should be controlled ; but when we are 
carried away by our passions we break the rules which we 
made for ourselves in our cooler moments. Our reason may 
be compared to an old cripple who sets a trap or net to catch 
a hare : and the passions of youth may be compared to the 
hare which jumps over the net. 

20-1. This moralizing is not likely to help me in choosing a 
husband, fashion. Way. 

23-4. Note the pun on iclll. 

25. The double negative was connnon in Shakespeare's time. 



100 NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT I 

28. lottery. Nei-issa speaks of it as a lottery because the 
element of chance enters into it. 

29. chooses his meaning-. The choice of the caskets, as it 
appears later in the play, is a test of the characters of the 
different suitors. 

36. level at my affection. Guess what my feelings are towards 
them. 

38. colt. A wild, headstrong young fellow. 

39-40, appropriation to his own good parts. Addition to his own 
good qualities. 

41. County Palatine. vShakespeare uses Count and County 
with the same meaning. The word Palatine literally means 
"belonging to the palace." The County Palatine is then a 
Count who rules over lands connected with the king's palace. 

43. choose. This may mean either, " Choose whomsoever you 
wish ; I don't care," or " Choose your weapons, to fight me." 

44-5. the weeping philosopher. Heraclitus of Ephesus, who 
lived about 513 B.C., was called the weeping philosopher 
because of his gloomy views of life. 

•17. a death's head. Skull and crossbones. 

49. by. Regarding. 

55. every man in no man. He has all the qualities of other 
men, but has no mind of his own. 

throstle. Thrush. 

55-6. he falls straight a capering. He begins straightway to 
dance. 

59. requite him. Return his love. 

60. Nerissa asks : " What is your opinion of Falconbridge ? " 
Portia in her reply puns on the expression say to. 

66. a proper man's picture. The picture of a handsome (proper) 
man. 

67. suited. Dressed. 

Q8. doublet. A close-fitting jacket, which was worn under 
the cloak. 

round hose. Breeches, padded at the knees so that they were 
round in shape. 



SCENE II] NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 101 

69. bonnet. Coshering for the head. 

72. charity. Friendliness. 

73-4. Portia suggests that the Scottish lord is inferior in 
courage to the Englishman. 

75. The figure is taken fioni a business transaction in which 
one man goes security for another. The French were the 
allies of the Scotch in their quarrels with the English. 

sealed under. Signed his name and affixed his seal, as in the 
case of a legal docinnent. 

82. an the worst fall. If the worst happen. 

89. contrary. Wrong. 

97. sort. Way, method. 

imposition. The conditions which he has impose'd. 

99. Sibylla. The word sihyl is a general term meaning 
prophetess. The reference here is to the Sibyl of Cumae (in 
southern Italy). She is said to have obtained from Apollo the 
promise that the years of her life should be as many in number 
as the grains of sand she was able to hold in her hand. 

100. Diana. The virgin goddess, who was regarded as the 
symbol of chastity. 

107. Montferrat. Near Genoa. 

116. four. This is an error. Tliere were six in all. 

122. condition of a saint. Goodness, saintly disposition. 

123. complexion of a devil. Black skin. 

123-4. I should prefer to have him for my father-confessor 
than for my husband. 

12.5. Sir4-ah. A form of address used tow^ards inferiois. 

126, Whiles. "While. Whiles is the old genitive case form, 
with an adverbial value. 

Questions. 

1. (o) In the conversation between Nerissa and Poi-tia what 
information is given as to the character of the "lottery" ])y 
\vhich Portia is to be won ? 

(b) How does Portia regard this lottery ? 



102 NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT I 

2. (a) We are told before the close of the scene that the 
suitors Avhoin Nerissa iianies have decided to return to their 
homes. What reason is given for their decision? 

(/;) ^^^lat is the dramatist's purpose in introducing a detailed 
descrii^tion of these suitors into this scene ? 

8. (a) In the reference to Bassanio (11. 105-114), what further 
information is given regarding his charactei- ? 

(h) ^Vhat has Bassanio already said (in Scene I.) regarding 
his former visit to Portia ? 

(c) AVhy is the reference to Bassanio introduced into this 
scene ? 

Scene III. 

Under ordinary circumstances the plan of Antonio to borrow 
money on his credit should have been carried out without 
difficulty. But, unfortunately, Bassanio, who evidently knew 
nothing of Antonio's relations to the money-lenders on the 
Rialto, goes to the one man with whom Antonio is on terms 
of bitter enmity. The enmity of Antonio and Shylock is due 
partly to the hatred which existed between Jew and Christian, 
but chiefly to the fact that Antonio does not believe in taking 
interest on loans, — especially w^hen money is lent to a friend, — 
and that he has shown his hatred towards Shylock openly on 
the Rialto. Shylock sees in the request of Bassanio an 
opportunity to revenge himself on his enemy ; but the idea of 
taking interest in the form of a pound of flesh evidently does 
not at once occur to him. It is only when he is driven to 
justify the taking of interest by reference to the example of 
Jacob that he conceives the idea of the bond. At first sight it 
might appear unreasonable that a bond such as this should 
ever have been proposed, and that when proposed it should 
have been accepted by Antonio. But in the course of the 
conversation regarding the conduct of Jacob, Antonio had 
said in effect : — " Interest in the form of flesh and blood in the 
case of sheep and goats, where there is a natural increase, 
may perhaps be justified ; but the taking of interest on money, 
which is barren, is a different thing ; and, besides, one should 
not take interest from a friend." "But," replies Shylock, 
"I wish to be friends with you and to buy your favour by 



SCENE III] NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 103 

doing you this kindness; and just because you agree that 
interest in the case of flesh and blood is all right, let us say in 
this case, merely as a piece of merry sport, that the interest 
will be a pound of your flesh." Bassanio is shrewd enough to 
suspect the motives of Shylock, but Antonio is confident of 
the return of his vessels, and he is, at the same time, too proud, 
ptnhaps, to show any secret misgivings that he may have 
before either his friend Bassanio or the Jew ; and so, in spite 
of the protests of Bassanio, he consents to put his seal to the 
bond. 

1. ducat. A coin worth between four and five shillings of 
Elizabethan money. Three thousand ducats would be the 
equivalent of about $25,000 in modern currency. A ducat is, 
literally, a coin issued by a duchy. 

4. the which. In Elizabethan English the waCs frequently 
used before whicJi to make the pronoun more definite. 

5. bound. As a surety. 

7. May you. Are you able ? 
stead me. Be of use to me ; assist me. 
pleasure me. Do me this favour ? 
12. good. Financially sound. 

17. in supposition. Doubtful. It is not certain that his ships 
will return safely : we can only suppose that they will. 

18. Tripolis. A port in Syria which carried on an extensive 
trade with Venice; not to be confused with Tripoli in north 
Africa. 

the Indies. The West Indies. 

19. the Rialto. The Exchange of Venice was situated upon 
the ishmd known as Blalto (Ital. viva cdta, high bank). The 
name Rialto is also applied to a bridge over the Grand Canal, 
built in 1588-91 ; but the reference in this case is to the 
Exchange, not to the bridge. 

21. squandered. Scattei-ed. 

28. assured. Shylock uses the word in a stronger sense than 
Bassanio. 

29. bethink me. Think it over. 
31-2. See Matthew, viii., 28-32. 



104 NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT I 

32. Nazarite. Tii the ti'anslations of the Bible j^revious to the 
aiithori/.cil version of 1611, "Nazarite" is always used in place 
of "Nazaiene." 

conjured. Conjure (pr. kun'-jer) means "to influence by 
mauic " : conjure (pr. kon-jic'r) means " to call upon by 
oath." In which sense is the word here used? 

8G. Supply that before co})ies. 

37. Signior, or signor, is the English form of the Italian 
Siynore, which is equivalent of Sir or Mr. 

38. publican. The Roman tax-gatherer, who was bitterly 
hated by the Jews. 

fawning. Courting favour by cringing. The Roman publican 
was more likely to be insolent than fawning, in his treatment 
of the Jews. But possibly Shakespeare is thinking of the 
abject humility of the publican in the New Testament parable 
{Luke, xviii., 10-14:). 

40. for that. Because. 

low simplicity. Contemptible foolishness. 

41. gratis. Fiee of charge. 

42. usance. Interest. 

43. If I can get an advantage over him. The metaphor is 
taken from wrestling. 

44. feed fat. Satisfy to the full. 

46. there. On the Rialto. 

47. thrift. Profits. 

57. Rest you fair. Rest is used in the sense of keejj, and the 
expression means, " God keep you fortunate." 

60. excess. Interest : the amount paid in excess of the 
principal. 

61. ripe. Pressing. 

62. possess'd. Informed. 

68. Methought. It seemed to me. 

69. Upon advantage. By taking or giving interest. 

70. It is not my custom. 
71-80. See Genesis, xxvii.-xxx. 

78. were compromised. Had come to an agreement. 



SCENE III] NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 105 

79. eanlings. New-born lambs. 

pied. Spotted. 

86. Wjis this story inserted in the Bible in order to justify 
the taking of interest? 

89. note me. Listen to what I have to say. Antonio, how- 
ever, does not listen, bnt tiu'ns to talk to Bassanio. 

91. vSee Matthew, iv., 4-6. 

92. producing' holy "witness. Quoting Scriptuie as evidence'. 
98. beholding. Beholden, obliged. 

101. usances. Interest. 

102. Still. Always. 

103. sufferance. Endurance. 

badge. Distinguishing mark. In Venice the outward Inidge 
of the Jew was a yellow cap, which in accordance with 
Venetian law he was compelled to wear. 

105. gaberdine. Cloak. 

108. Go to. Away with you ! 

110. void your rheum. Spit. 

111. foot me. Kick me out of the way. 

116. in a bondman's key. In the tone of voice Avhich a slave 
might use. 

117. With bated breath. Scarcely breathing ; hated means 
''lessened." 

127. breed. Increase. It might be all right, Antonio argues, 
to take the "breed" or natural increase of sheep or goats, but 
metal is " barren" and does not increase. 

129-80. Reconstruct the clause so as to make it gram- 
matically correct. 

face. Appearance of justice. 

131. doit. A Dutch coin worth less than half a farthing. 

148. the condition. The conditions of the contract. 

144. nominated for. Stated as. 

equal. Exact. 

150. dwell. Remain. 

i5i^. return. When his ships conic back. 



106 XOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT I 

156. Supply fo before suspcvt. 

158. break his day. Fail to ineet his payments at the time 
appointed. 

1()1. estimable. Valuable. 

1(12. muttons, beefs. In Shakespeai-e's time the words 
"imitton" and "beef" wei-e sometimes applied to the living 
animals, where we should now say "sheep" and "ox." 

lot. so. Well and good. 

165. wrong" me not. Do not be so unjust as to suspect nie. 

170. Left in charge of a cai-eless fellow (unthrifty knave) 
whom I am afraid (fearful) to trust. 

171. presently. Immediately. 
173. Hie thee. Hasten. 

Questions. 

1. In his speech beginning, "How like a fawning publican 
he looks ! " Shylock gives thiee reasons for his hatred of 
Antonio. What are these reasons? 

2. "At the beginning of the scene Shylock apparently has in 
mind no definite plan of revenge. The idea of the bond in 
which the forfeit should be a pound of flesh, is evidently the 
outcome of his conversation with Bassanio and Antonio." 
What evidence do you find in the scene to justify this point of 
view ? 

3. (a) Point out any details in the scene which throw light 
upon (i) Antonio's treatment of Shylock in the past, and (ii) 
his feelings towards Shylock in the present scene. 

(6) Do you consider that the conduct of Antonio in this scene 
is in any way open to criticism ? 

4. Under ordinary circiunstances it would seem a naost 
unnatural thing that any man should propose to take interest 
in the form of a pound of flesh. By what means has Shakes- 
peare contrived to make this appear to be a very natural 
proposal ? 

5. In view of the fact that Shylock apparently has good 
reasons for wishing to disarm the suspicions of Antonio and 
Bassanio, how do you account for his outburst of passion in 
lines 99-122? 



SCENE l] NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 107 

SuM.MAKY OF Act I. 

In Act I. the audience is introduced to the four leading 
characters in the play, — Antonio, Bassanio, Shylock, and 
Portia. In the sadness of Antonio, in the beginning of Scene 
I., there is a vague hint of approaching misfortune, which 
gives to the audience a suggestion as to the mood of the play 
as a whole. In the first two scenes of the play the foundations 
of the casket story are laid. In the conversation between 
Portia and Nerissa we are given an insight into the character 
of the "lottery" by which Portia is to be chosen ; and at the 
very outset our sympathies are enlisted on the side of Bassanio. 
Out of the casket story there grows the story of the pound of 
flesh; for it is because of the "ripe wants" of Bassanio that 
Antonio is led to sign the bond in borrowing money from 
Shylock, Act I. thus serves as an introduction ta the play as 
a whole, inasmuch as it introduces us to the main characters in 
the play, and gives us an insight into the plans of Bassanio and 
of Shylock, out of which the two main stories in the play are 
developed. 

Act II.— Scene I. 

In Scene I. we are given an opportunity to judge of the 
character of Morocco, — the first of the suitors who makes a 
choice of the caskets. But before making any study of his 
character it is worth while for us to try to jjicture the scene 
itself, — the room in Portia's house, Portia and her train, the 
Moorish prince and his followers. The stage direction of the 
first folio describes Morocco as a "tawnie Moor, all in white," 
and we can imagine what a striking contrast the Moorish 
prince and his train, with dark faces set off with white turbans, 
would form to Portia and her retinue. The magnificence of 
Morocco's followers is no doubt in keeping with the fine 
bearing and handsome figure of the prince. In spite of his 
v^anity and love of display, we are pleased with the galhintry 
of Moi'occo, and notwithstanding his boastfulness, there is 
something in the boyish fiankness of his manner that attracts 
us. For obvious reasons we do not wish him to many Portia, 
but strangely enough we have little anxiety as to the outcome 
of his choice. 

1. Mislike. Dislike. 



108 NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT II 

2. livery. Dross, gai-b ; the unifonu worn by a servant to 
show to what house h(^ belonged. ISIorocco explains that his 
dark complexion is merely the dress which his master the sun 
has given him to wear. 

burnished. Glowing. 

8. near bred. Near which I have been brought up. 

4. fairest. Of the lightest complexion. 

5. PhcEbus, The sun-god. 

6. make incision. Cut into the veins to draw blood. 

7. reddest. Red blood was considered a sign of courage. 

8. aspect. Countenance, outward appearance. 

9. fear'd. Frightened, terrified. 

10. best-regarded. Those held in greatest esteem. 

clime. Country. 

13-4. Portia explains that in making a choice she is not 
wholly influenced by any fine distinctions as to the outward 
appearance of her suitors. Her eyes, if she depended upon 
them, would no doubt give her critical (nice) directions as to 
which one she should choose. 

15-6. Besides, she adds, T am not permitted to choose of my 
own free ^vill : my destiny is to be decided by lottery. 

17. scanted. Restricted, limited. 

18. hedged. Set a limit to my actions. 
wit. Here, wisdom, judgment. 

19. His wife who. The Avife of him who. 

20. stood as fair. Would have stood as good a chance. Past 
subjunctive. 

21. Note the touch of humoiu- here. AATio are the different 
suitors to whom she refers ? 

23. Even for that. To the vain Morocco, Portia's answer 
was not so flattering as he might have wished. 

25. scimitar. A short curved sword. 

26. the Sophy, or Sufi. The Shah of Persia. 



SCENE l] NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 109 

27. That. The antecedent is " Prince, "' not "scimitar." 

fields. Battles. 

Sultan Solyman. Solyman the Magnificent, Sultan of 
Turkey (1490-1566), who was defeated by the Persians in 
1535. 

32. alas the while ! An expression of regret that times have 
changed. Com[)are, " Woe the while ! " -' Woe the day ! " 

SS. Hercules and Lichas. Hercides was a hero of Greek 
mythology, famous for his great strength. Lichas was his 
attendant, or page. 

33-9. If they play at dice to decide which is the stronger, 
Lichas may win, although he is in reality so much weaker 
than Hercules. So also, argues Morocco, the choosing of the 
right casket is all a matter of chance, and although I am so 
much better than all the other suitors, I may nevertheless 
lose. 

36. Alcides. Hercules was also called Alcides, because of the 
fact that the name of his grandfather was Alcaeus. 

44. be advised. Take heed what you do. 

45. Nor will not. Neither will T speak to lady afterward. 
The double negative is used for the sake of emphasis. 

47. temple. The church or chapel where the oath must be 
taken. 

50. blest. Most blest. 

Questions. 

1. (a) By what means does Morocco attempt to win the 
admiration of Portia? 

(b) "His boastfulness is rendered less disagreeable because 
of his show of gallantry towards Portia." Explain. 

(c) "Morocco evidently considered that the choice of the 
right casket was purely a matter of chance, rather than a test 
of character." Justify this statement by reference to the 
text. 

2. In lines 40-44 Portia states one of the most important 
conditions of the "lottery." What was the object of Portia's 
father in imposing this condition ? 



110 NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT II 

Scene II. 

This scene affords relaxation and amusement for the audience. 
The entertainment which Launcelot piovides is, however, not 
of a higli order intellectually. He does not possess the ready 
wit of the professional jester, but his fun consists chiefly in 
absurdities of speech and in good-natured buffoonery which is 
brought out in the acting of the play. 

During the course of the scene we are given some hint of the 
preparations which Bassanio is making to prosecute his suit 
with Portia, and we learn at the same time that he is planning 
that very evening to give a feast to his "best-esteemed 
acquaintance" before he sets out for Belmont. 

8. with thy heels. To scorn anything with the heels is to kick 
up the heels at it in contempt. Launcelot no doubt intends 
" with thy heels " to be taken with "running." 

9. pack. Be off. 

' Via ! ' Away with you. 

15-6. His father, he means to say, was not quite honest. In 
speaking of his dishonesty Launcelot compai'es it to the 
unpleasant taste of milk which has become burned in the 
bottom of the pan. 

15. did something smack. Had a somewhat unpleasant taste. 

grow to. Literally, stuck to the bottom of the pot or pan. 

2L God bless the mark. If I may be pardoned for saying so. 
The expression is said to have originated in the habit of 
"blessing" birthmarks in new-born infants. A birthmark 
was supposed to be due to the influence of evil spirits, and 
the blessing, with the sign of the cross, was intended to 
counteract this evil influence. 

23. saving- your reverence. This is used with practically the 
same meaning as "God bless the mark" in line 21. 

24. incarnal. Some texts have "incarnation." Launcelot of 
course means incarnate, i.e., in the flesh. 

32. sand-blind. This word is a corruption of sam-hlind, that 
is, " semi blind." Launcelot uses the word sand in its ordinary 
meaning. 

high. Quite. 



SCENE it] notes ox the merchant of VENICE 111 

33. confusions. Conclusions. 

38. marry. 3Iary ; ca mild form of oath. 

40. sonties. Tliis may be a coriuption of either (1) s(ti)ifs, or 
(2) sajicfifics. 

44. raise the waters. Raise a storm ; or, perhaps, bring tears 
to his eyes. 

48. well to live. Either, in good health, or, a go(xl-living man. 

49. a'. He. 

52. erg-o. ThiM-efore. This is a Latin woid whieh Laimoeh^fc 
has picked up, and which lie uses in order to show off befoi-e 
Old Gobbo. 

54. an't. If it. 

56. father. The woi'd "father" was commoidy used in 
addressing an old man, and Old Gobbo evidently takes it in 
this sense. 

57-8. Launcelot uses these high-sounding phrases which he 
has heard at the play-houses, Avithout much idea of what they 
mean. 

the sisters three. The three Fates, in Greek mythology. 

63. hovel-post. A post holding up the roof of a hovel or shed. 

87. Lord worshipped might he be ! Merely an exclamation of 
surprise. Launcelot has knelt down with the back of his head 
towards his father, who mistakes his long hair for a beard. 

89. fill-horse. Shaft-horse. "Fill" is another form of the 
word "thill," a shaft. 

97. set up my rest. Determined. The origin of the expression 
is uncertain. It is possible that the phrase was originally 
used in gaming, where " to set up one's rest" meant "to stake 
everything." 

100. tell. Count. 

101. me. To please me. 
103. liveries. Uniforms. 
110. anon. By and by. 

113. Gramercy ! Many thanks (Fr. grand Diei'ci). 

116. specify. Certify. 

117. infection. Affection, desire. 



112 NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT II 

122. cater-cousins. Close friends. The origin of the expression 
is doubtful. Perhaps it was originally applied to people Avho 
were on sufficiently intimate terms to " cater " to one another. 

125. frutify. Certify. 

126. a dish of doves. Doves were a common article of food 
in Italy. 

128. impertinent. Launcelot of course means pertijient. 

134. defect. Effect, issue. 

188. preferr'd. Recommended. 

preferment. Promotion. 

141. The old proverb. "The grace of God is gear enough." 

parted. Shared. 

147. guarded. With more braid or facings. The braid with 
which a gcirinent was trimmed was said to " guard " or protect 
the edges of the cloth. Bassanio's purpose in making Launce- 
lot's hvery more guarded was no doubt to mark him out as a 
jester. 

148. Launcelot of course means the bpposite of what he says. 

150. a fairer table. Better fortune. The "table" is the palm 
of the hand from which one's fortune is told. 

which doth offer, etc. Two interpretations are possible. 
Which may refer to man, in which case there is a reference to 
the old custom of holding up the hand in taking an oath, — 
with the resvilt that the man's "table" would be displayed. 
On the other hand, which may refer to table, and in this case 
the meaning must be that the " table " is to be trusted, as upon 
oath, that he shall have good fortune. 

151. Go to. Away with you. Launcelot is addressing an 
imaginary person. 

simple. Used ironically here and in the remainder of the 
speech. 

157. for this gear. See the note on Act I, Scene I, 1. 114. 

163. acquaintance. This is plural. 

hie thee. Hasten. 

175. Parts. Qualities. 

178. Something too liberal. Somewhat too free. 



SCENE III] NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE ] 13 

184. sober habit. Serious manner. 
186. demurely. Soberly. 

189. Use all the observance of civility. Pay attention to all the 
requirements of good breeding. 

190. Like one who has made a study of looking serious in 
order to please his grandmother. 

Questions. 

1. (a) Point out the expressions in this scene which are likely 
to prejudice the audience still further against Shylock. 

(h) What is it that attracts Launcelot to the service. ()f 
Bassanio ? 

(c) How does Bassanio regard Launcelot? 

2. Old Gobbo does not appeiir elsewhere in the pUiy. AVhat 
then is the purpose of introducing him in this scene ? 

Scene III. 

Under ordinary circumstances an audience would naturally 
be prejudiced against the daughter of Shylock. But Shake- 
speare has represented her as beautiful and has besides made 
it clear to us that though she is a daughter to his blood she is 
not to his manners. As a matter of fact, Shylock appears to 
us all the more miserly and mean when his home is such that 
his own daughter is moved to say, "Our house is hell." But 
here the dramatist is on delicate ground, for no matter how 
miserly Shylock may have been, the audience has a deep-rooted 
feeling that Jessica should be loyal to her father. The drama- 
tist however disarms our criticism by showing that Jessica did 
in reality possess these filial feelings, and that her duty towards 
her father is at "strife" with her love for Lorenzo. 

3. some taste of tediousness. A little of its dreariness. 

10. exhibit. Prohibit, or inhibit ; prevent, restrain. 

11. adieu. Note the pun. 

17. manners. His disposition which shows itself in his way 
of living. 

18. strife. Her love for Lorenzo in conflict with her duty 
towards her father. 



114 NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT II 

Questions. 

1. Point out the details of this scene that are intended to 
give the audience a favourable impression of Jessica. 

2. What interpretation does the dramatist intend us to put 
upon the speech of Launcelot? 

Scene IV. 

This scene prepares the way for the elopement of Lorenzo 
and Jessica. Lorenzo has proposed that in the midst of the 
feast which Bassanio is giving to his friends, they " slink away " 
unperceived, put on their masks, and return to the banquet in 
disguise. At first Lorenzo's companions raise objections, but 
just at this moment Launcelot comes in with a letter from 
Jessica. Gratiano at once guesses Lorenzo's secret ; and now 
that they see the reasons for Lorenzo's proposal, the three 
friends are quite eager to go forward with the masque. In 
Lorenzo's speech at the close of the scene we get another 
glimpse into the character of Jessica. It is she, and not the 
dreamy Lorenzo, who has planned all the details of the elope- 
ment, and has directed how he shall take her from her father's 
house. 

1. Nay. Lorenzo's companions have evidently been raising 
objections. 

5. We have not yet engaged torch-bearers for ourselves. 

6. It will be a poor affair unless we arrange it with some 
taste and skill. 

quaintly. Prettily, gracefully, artistically. In modern Eng- 
lish the word quaint has come to have the meaning of odd, 
old-fashioned. 

12. break up. Break open the seal. 

12-.3. Jessica had told Launcelot to deliver the letter "secretly." 
Does he do so ? 

22. this. Probably some money. 

25. masque. A masquerade in which the actors wore masques 
and carried torches. 



SCENE V] NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 115 

38. gentle. Possibly a pun on the word Gentile. 

39. May misfortune never dare to cross her path. 

40. she. Misfortune. 

41. faithless. Unbelieving. 

Questions. 

1. How do you account for the fact that Gratiano, Salarino, 
and Salanio change their minds so suddenly regarding the 
masque ? 

2. "^^^at Launcelot does is more expressive than what he 
says, in this scene." Explain. 

3. Point out any details in this scene that are" intended to 
prepare the audience for the two following scenes. 

Scene Y. 

In Scene V. the audience is given a further glimpse into 
Shylock's home life and an insight into his relations towards 
his daughter Jessica. In his reference to Launcelot we see 
something of his miserly disposition ; and the mean suspicion 
with which he regards his own daughter forms some justifica- 
tion for her conduct towards him. 

1. Emphasize see. 

4. What, Jessica ! Shy lock calls Jessica. What and ichy 
(1. 7), are exclamations intended to attract her attention. 

g-ormandize. Eat like a ghitton. 

13. bid forth. Invited out. 

19. a-brewing. The prefix a is derived from the ])rt'position 
on which governed the gerund hreiclng. 

towards my rest. To prevent me from being at ease. 

20. to-nig-ht. Last night. 

22. reproach. Launcelot means rf7>^>rof/r/< ; but Shylock pi-efers 
to take the word reprodch literally. 

26-9. There is, of course, no sense in what Launcelot says. 

27. Black Monday. On Easter Monday in the year 1360 the 
army of Edward III. was besieging Paris, and the day was 



liU NOTES ON 'J'HE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT II 

SO bittt'ily cold that many men died on hoiseback. Easter 
Monday was thereafter very connnonly spoken of as Black 
Monday. 

28. Ash Wednesday. The first day of Lent. 

32. wry-neck'd fife. The old English fife had a curved mouth- 
piece and hence may be described as "wry-neck'd"; but 
perhaps the di*aniatist has in mind the fact that the fifer is 
"wry-necked" while he is i)laying it. 

33. casements. Windows opening on hinges. 

35. varnish'd. Painted or, perhaps, covered with a masque. 

38. Jacob's staff. A reference to Genesis, xxxii., 10, where 
Jacob says, "For with my staff I passed over this Jordan." 

45. Who will be worth your looking at. There is a play upon 
the expression, "Worth a Jew's eye," — that is, worth a great 
deal of money. In the days when it was a common practice to 
extort money from wealthy Jews by threats of torture, the 
unfortunate victim was sometimes forced to pay large sums on 
the penalty of losing an eye if he failed to pay. 

46. The Israelites were the descendants of Isaac the son 
of Abraham by his wife Sarah. The Ishmaelites were the 
descendants of Ishmael, the son of Abraham by Hagar, his 
bondwoman. After the birth of Isaac, Sarah, who was jealous 
of Hagar, persuaded Abraham to send Hagar and her son 
Ishmael away. The Jew, therefore, looked upon the descen- 
dants of Hagar as outcasts, and Shylock uses the term "fool 
of Hagar's offspring " as equivocal to, " Gentile fool." 

48. patch. Fool, clown. The professional jester wore a 
motley coat, which looked as if it were made of "patches" of 
different colours. 

49. profit. Profitable Avork. 

50. drones. Drones are the male bees, which do no work 
and are cast out of the hive by the worker-bees at the end of 
the season. 

56. If you close the house firmly or tightly (fast), you will 
find it fast closed upon your return. 

58. crost. thwarted, interfered with. 



SCENE Vl] NOTES OX THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 117 

Questions. 

1. (a) Shylock says to Laiincelot, "Thou shalt not gorman- 
dize, as thou hast done with me." Wliat has L^iunceloi 
aheady said (Act II., Sc. II.) as to the fare in Shylock's home •' 

(/>) WHiat reason does Shylock give for "parting Avith'' 
Launcelot ? 

2. (a) "I am bid forth to supper, Jessica." On wliat two 
occasions has Shylock's invitation to supper already been 
mentioned in the play? 

{b) 'UTiat reason does Shylock give for accepting? 

3. (a) AVhat do you gather from this scene regarding 
Shylock's feelings towards Jessica ? 

{b) Do you find anything to criticise in Jessica's conduct 
towards her father ? 

(c) TMiy did Shylock say, "Perhaps I will return immedi- 
ately"? 

4. " At several points in the scene Shylock sets out, but after 
he has gone a few steps he returns." In what parts of the 
scene should the actor, in your opinion, i-epresent Shylock as 
setting forth ? 

Scene VI. 

In order to add interest to the elopement of Jessica, the 
dramatist has made use of a number of special devices in this 
present scene. The comments of Salarino and Gratiano as 
they wait for the tardy Lorenzo in front of Shylock's house, 
are especially suited to a love scene. Tlie mascpierade too adds 
an element of picturesqueness to the elopement ; and the fact 
that Jessica assumes the disguise of a boy gives the excuse for 
an exchange of banter, in which Ave see another side of her 
character. An elopement is sometimes rendei'ed exciting 
because there is a certain amount of danger in it ; but in this 
case it is the theft of jewels iind ducats that help to su]iply the 
romantic element. Tlie actual masipierade is, to be suie, never 
caii'ied otit, but the preparations that have been made for it 
have served their purpose ; and the scene closes with a refei- 
ence to the love affair of Bassanio, in which more important 
issues are at stake. 



118 NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT 11 

I. pent-house. Literally, a loan-to, a shed. Here, probably 
a house with a sloping roof jii-ojecting over the street. Pent- 
house is a corruption of the word pe/t^ice, (O. F. apentis, 
a shed). 

4-5. It is strange that he is late, for lovers are always ahead 
of time. 

6. Venus' pigeons. The doves which drew the chariot of 
Venus, the goddess of love. 

6-8. Salarino is explaining how it is that "lovers ever run 
before the clock." Newly betrothed lovers, he says in effect, 
are much more eager to keep their engagements, and so 
confirm their betrothal, than they are to keep other engage- 
ments to which they have pledged their word. 

7. To seal love's bonds. To make sm-e of their betrothal, just 
as one puts his seal to a legal document (bond) to make it 
binding. 

8. obliged faith. He is probably thinking here of people who 
are married as compared with those who are merely betrothed. 

9. That ever holds. That is true in all cases. 

11-12. No horse ever comes back from a journey with the 
same spirit with which he set out. Shakespeare may perhaps 
have been thinking of the manoeuvres which in former times 
horses were put through at tournaments or at the circus. 

II. untread. Retrace. 

12. His tedious measures. His paces which have now become 
wearisome. 

unbated. Undiminished. 

13. that are. That exist. 

15. younker. Young man, youth (Dutch jong, young, and 
heer, gentleman). 

16. scarfed. Either decked with flags, or fitted out fieshly 
with sails. 

17. wanton. Playful, sportive. 

19. over- weather 'd ribs. The sides w^orn by the wind and 
waves. 
2.3. abode. Delay. 
28. for more certainty. In order that I may be more certain. 



SCENE Vl] NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 119 

29. Albeit. Although. 

38. exchange. Change of dress. 

45. good sooth. In truth, 
light. Giddy, foolish. 

46. The duty (office) of the torch-bearer is to show (discover) 
the way. 

49. garnish. Dress. 

51. the close night. The darkness which conceals us and 
keeps our secrets. 
53. gild. Here, supply myself with gold. 

55. hood. The hood was no doubt part of Gi-atiano's disguise, 
a Gentile. A pun on the word gentle, meaning ''well-born." 

56. Beshrew me. Plague upon me ; a mild form of oath, 
but I love her. If I do not love her. 

61. constant. Faithful, steadfast. 

66. Fie, fie. Shame upon you for delaying so long. 

^. come about. Veered, taken a favt)urable change. 

69. presently. At once. 

71. on't. Of it. 

Questions. 

1. In Scene IV., line 8, Lorenzo says, "Tis now but four 
o'clock." By reference to Scenes II., IV. and VI., show (a) av 
what hour the supper was to be held, {h) at what hour the 
masque was to take place, (c) where Loienzo and his friends 
were to meet at supper time, and {d) where they were to meet 
when ready for the masque. 

2. (a) On what other occasion in the play does Gratiano 
indulge in moralizing? 

(6) Is there anything in the first part of this scene that 
would lead you to think that Gratiano's speech (11. 9-20) is 
spoken in a playful rather than a serious mood ? 

3. (a) What means does the dramatist use in this scene to 
give the alidience a favourable impression of Jessica ? 

(6) "Instead of condemning Jessica for robbing her father 
of gold and jewels, the audience are leady to approve of her 
action." How do vou account for this? 



120 NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT II 

Scene VII. 

In a i)r('vi()us iscfiie we were introduced to tlie Prince <)f 
Morocco and had an opportunity to form an estimate of his 
character. In this scene his character is put to the test, and 
we are interested in seeing whether or not our former estimate 
was a just one. For a more detailed study of JNIorocco as lie 
appears in these two scenes, see page xviii of the Introduction. 

1. discover. Reveal. 

2. several. Different. 

8. all as blunt. Quite as harsh as the lead is dull. 

12. withal. As well, in addition. 

13. May some god direct nie to judge rightly. Direct is 
suhjunctive expressing a wish. 

20. golden. Noble. 

dross. The impurities which are drained off %\'hen metal is 
being refined. 

22. virgin hue. Clear white colour, suggesting i)urity. 

2."5. even. Impartial. 

26. rated by thy estimation. Judged by your leal value (Lcit. 
cesf'ujw, lvalue); or perhaps, judged by the o})inion in which 
others hold you. 

30. disabling. Disparagement, underiating. 

30. graved. Engraved,- cut. 

40. shrine. A sacred place, usually a church, which is 
hallowed by its association with some saint. The refei-ence 
here is, no doubt, to the image of the saint within the shrine. 

this mortal breathing saint. The images of the saints in the 
shrines were made of marble ; but Portia is a living human 
(mortal) saint. 

41. Hyrcanian deserts. Hyrcania was a district in Persia, 
south-east of the Caspian sea. 

vasty. Desolate. 

42. throughfares. Thoroughfares. 

44-5. The spray is thrown so high that it seems as if the 
ocean were trying to reach the clouds. 
49. like. Likely. 



SCENE VIl] NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 121 

5(J-1. It would be too coarse a metal to foi'ui a coHin to 
inclose her shroud in the ^ravi' where it could not he seen. 

cerecloth. Cloth dii)|>('d in melted wax, in which it was 
customary to wrap the dead body. 

52. immured. Inclosed ; literally, walled in. 

53. At the period when the play was written, gold was 
worth ten times as much as silver. 

56. an angel. The coin known as an angel was woi'th about 
ten shillings. Upon one side it bore the image of the 
archangel Michael slaying the dragon. 

57. insculp'd upon. Bears the image engraved on the outside. 

60. thrive I as I may. Let the result be whatsoever it will. 

65. A carrion Death. A skull. The word ca;v'/o/i. is ordinarily 
used in speaking of puti-efying flesh. In this case Morocco 
uses it merely to express his feelings of disgust. 

74. inscroll'd. Wiitten in this scroll. If he had chosen 
wisely, he would, instead, have found Portia's picture in the 
casket. 

75. cold. Deiid, ended. 

80. A gentle riddance. We cire glad to get i-id of him so 
easily. 

81. complexion. Used here with a double meaning, leferi-ing 
to the colour of his skin ami to his disposition. 

Questions. 

1. In what respect is Morocco's reasoning, in lines 1.V20, 
at fault? 

2. To what extent did Morocco's gallanti-y iuHueuce his 
judgment in his choice of the caskets ? 

3. How does the expression, "Why, that's the lady," in line 
31 differ in meaning from the same expressicm in line 38? 
Show this difference of meaning by your reading. 

4. Express the ideas contained in the inscription (11. 67-75) in 
your own language. 



122 NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT II 

SCENIO YIII. 

In this scene we see the eiTect of the elopement upon Shylock. 
When he discovers his loss he at once jumps to the conclusion 
that Bassanio, the friend of Lorenzo, had something to do with 
the elopement and the loss of his ducats and jewels ; and it is a 
natiual thing to suppose that he will attempt to revenge 
himself upon Antonio when the occasion offers. Ominously 
enough, just at this juncture a hint is thrown out that one of 
Antonio's richest vessels has been lost ; and as if to arouse our 
sympathy for Antonio, the scene concludes with an account of 
his unselfish affection for his frend Bassanio. 

4. raised. Aroused. 

9. gondola. A Venetian boat. 

13. passion. An outburst of emotion. 

28. well-remember'd. I am glad you thought of that. It 
reminds me of something I wanted to tell you. 

29. reason'd. Talked. 

30. the narrow seas. The English (channel. 
32. fraught. Laden. 

3.5. You were best. It would be (were) best for you. 
41. Slubber. To do a thing carelessly ; hence, to spoil by 
being in t(Jo great a hiu-ry. 
44. mind of love. Loving mind. 

46. ostents. Shows, outward appearances. 

47. conveniently. Suital>ly. 
50. affection. Feelings, 
sensible. Sensitive. 

54. quicken. Enliven, cheer. 

embraced heaviness. His sadness to ^vhich he seems to cling. 

Questions. 

1. Judging by his outcries (11. 16-2.8) what are the real reasons 
for Shylock's passion ? 

2. Why is it that Shylock is likely to try to revenge himself 
on Antonio (11. 26-27) for his daughter s flight ? 

3. Wliat is the dramatist's piu'pose in mentioning the Vene- 
tian vessel that has miscarried in the English Channel (29-32) ? 



SCENE IX] NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 128 

Scene IX. 

The greater pait of this scene is devoted to the choice of the 
caskets by Arragoii ; and a detailed study of his character as 
revealed in the scene will be found in the Introduction, page 
xviii. Arragon has no sooner taken his departure than a 
servant enters with news of the arrival of a messenger from 
Bassanio. The "young Venetian" who is the forerunner of 
Bcissanio lias evidently created a favourable impression, if 
we are to judge by the air of importance with which the 
servant of Portia announces his arrival. 

4. his election. His choice of the caskets. 
7. Straight. Straightway, at once. 
21. address'd me. Prepared myself to choose. 
21-2. Fortune now to my heart's hope. May fortune give me 
what I most desire. 

27-8. meant by. Meant for. 

29. fond. Foolish. 

30. martlet. The martin, which builds under the eaves of 
houses and barns. 

32. In the place whei-e it is exposed to the full force of 
accidents (casualty). 

34. jump. Agiee. 

35. barbarous multitudes. Tlu^ ciowd of counnoii jieople who 
are rude in manner. 

39. go about. Make the effoit. 

40. cozen. Cheat. 

39-41. Arragon says in effect, "A man who is lacking in 
merit cannot succeed (cozen fortune) except by dishonourable 
means. 

43. estates. Social position. As used here the woid has no 
reference to piopeity. 

degrees. Distinctions in lank. 

46. cover. Put on their hats, in the presence of thost' whom 
they have found t(j be unworthy of their respect. 

48-51. How many men of humble birth would be deprived of 
their high rank, which rightfully belongs to the nobility ; and 



124 NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT H 

how iii.iny iiu'u of noble birth who have lost their lank and 
fortuiu', would be restored to tlidr rightful place. There is a 
confusion of figures here. Glcdued, seed, and chajf rofvv to the 
separation of wheat from chaff ; while neir-varnished'an^gests 
the brightening up of something that has been allowed to 
become dull from neglect. 

oH. assume desert. Assume that I am deserving. 

55. Too long- a pause. You have wasted your time in deliber- 
ating. 

56. blinking. The eyes are weak and lacking in intelligence. 

57. schedule. Written paper, scroll. 

63-4. Arragon has shown poor judgment in choosing and 
now he finds fault with the result. Portia reminds him that 
he who makes mistakes (offends) is, by the very nature of 
things, unfitted to be a judge. 

offices. Duties, functions. 

69. shadows. In the case of Arragon, the shadow which he 
worshipped was his own "merit" or deserving. 

71. I wis is derived from the old English adverb iivis meaning 
"certainly." Owing to its resemblance to the expression / 
7vist, meaning "I knew," the notion arose that the i of iivis 
was a pronoun and that wis was a present tense form of the 
verb tvlst. As here used, the expression may mean either 
certainly, or I knoiv. 

75. you are sped. You are done with ; your fate is decided. 

81. wroth. Here, misery, disappointment. 

84. wit. Cleverness. Portia is sarcastic. 

85. heresy. False doctrine. 

89. what would my lord ? "What do you wish, my lord ? Portia 
is making fim of the pompous manner of her servant. 

93. sensible regreets. Substantial greetings in the form of 
rich gifts. 

sensible. Such as appeal to the senses. 

94. To wit. Namely. 

commends and courteous breath. Salutations and courteous 
words. 



SCENE IX] NOTES OX THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 125 

95. Yet. Thus far, up to this tiuie. 
9(i. likely. Promising. 
98. costly. Rich, splendid. 

102. high-day. Holiday ; hence, luuisual, niakiug- a si)ecial 
display. 

104. post. Speedy messenger. 

105. O Love, if it be thy nill, may it be Bassanio who has 
come. 

Questions. 

1. Which of the conditions mentioned by Portia and Ari-agon 
in 11. 5-18 have already been stated earlier in the play? Give 
definite references. 

2. In what way does Portia show her dislike of Arragon in 
this scene? 

3. Portia says, in referring to Arragon, "O these deliberate 
fools!" Justify the use of the word deliberate as applied to 
Arragon. 

4. Arragon condemns people who choose by show, and he 
argues that honour should in all cases be "i)urchased by the 
merit of the wearer.' What is there, then, in his speech to 
which the audience can take exception? 

5. The arrival of Arragon had not been previously announced 
in the play. What ])urpo.se, then, is served by the announce- 
ment of the approach of Bassanio? 

Summary of Act II. 

In Act IT. two different suitors, Morocco and Arragon, make 
their choice of the caskets. jNIoiocco chooses the golden casket 
partly because of its showy exterior and partly because the 
inscription appeals to his vanity. Arragon, on the other 
hand, is attracted by the silver casket, because it promises to 
give him "as much as he deserves," and he holds a nigh 
opinion of his own merit. In the meantime Bassanio is 
making elaborate preparations for his expedition to Belmont; 
and at the same time Lorenzo is carrying on an intrigue 
which ends in his elopement with Jessica on the very nignt 
that Bassanio sets sail for Belmont. The tact that his 



126 NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT III 

daughter has eh)ped with a Christian, together with the loss 
of money and jewels which she has carried off, enrages 
Shylock beyond measure. Unhai)|)ily at this very time comes 
the rumour that one of Antonio's ships has been lost, and the 
friends of Antonio are uneasy at the thought that Shylock 
may attempt to revenge himself on Antonio for the loss of his 
money and jewels. 

Act III.— Scene I. 

This scene forms the natural sequel to Scene VIII. of the 
previous Act. We learn now for a certainty that Antonio has 
lost "A ship of rich lading," and we are given a hint (11. 18-19) 
that this may not prove to be the end of his losses (11. 90-91). 
At the same time w^e see very clearly the effect which the flight 
of Jessica is likely to have in intensifying Shylock's desire for 
revenge. When Shylock first prepared the bond it is doubtful 
whether he intended to do more than humiliate Antonio if he 
were given the opportunity ; but now that he is driven to a 
frenzy by the news which Tubal has brought to him regarding 
Jessica, he resolves to "have the heart of him if he forfeit." 
This is one of the most dramatic scenes in the play, and with- 
out this scene it would be difficult to undeistand the motives 
of Shylock in actually insisting upon the forfeit of the pound 
of flesh. 

2. it lives there unchecked. The report has not been denied. 

4. the Goodwins. Famous shallows about twenty-five square 
miles in extent, off the coast of Kent. These sand-banks are 
said to have been formed during the reign of AVilliani the 
Conqueror, when the sea ovei'flowed part of the estates of Earl 
Godwin. 

6-7. my gossip Report. Rumour is represented as a talkative 
old woman. 

9. knapped. Gnawed, nibbled. 

11. without any slips of prolixity. Without forgetting myself 
and going into tedious details. 

crossing the plain highway of talk. Wandering away from the 
subject instead of going straight to the point. 

15. the full stop. Come to the end of your stoi'y. 

27. the wings. The boy's clothing. 



SCENE l] NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 127 

29. complexion. Xatiu'e, disposition. 
34. Rhenish, ^^^lite in colour. 

37. match. Bargain. 

38. prodigal. Ready to lend his money so freely to liis friends. 

39. smug. Self-satisfied. 

40. mart. Exchange, money-market. 

51. dimensions. Physical size. 

52. affections. Feelings. 

60. what is his humility? What kind of meekness does he 
show ? 

61. sufferance. Endurance. 

63. I shall do my best to improv^e upon this teaching, 
but. If not. 

75. Frankfort. In Germany ; famous for its fairs. 

76. The curse. The reference is probably to one of the several 
curses in the Old Testament, which are pronounced upon the 
children of Israel if they fail to keep the Law. See Leviticus^ 
xxvi., .3^3-39; also Deuterononiij, xxviii., 15-68. 

79. hearsed. In her coffin. 

81. Why, so. It's just what I might have expected. 

102. divers. Several. 

108. for a monkey. In payment for a monkey that she had 
bought. 

110. turquoise. A precious stone, blue in colour, and supposed 
to possess certain mysterious virtues. For instance it was 
supposed to brighten or fade according to the health of the 
wearer. 

Leah. Shylock's dead w^ife. 

115. fee me an officer. Engage an officer to arrest Antonio 
when the bond falls due. 

118. synagogue. The Jewish place of worship. 

Questions. 

1. Judging from ^vhat Shylock says in this scene, what Avere 
his motives in wishing to torture Antonio? 



128 NOTES OX THE MEllCHANT OF VEXICE [ACT III 

2. " 111 the course of this scene the dramatist puts into the 
nioiiUi of Shylock a passionate plea for justice to the Jewish 
po()i)le." 

{(i) Sum up this plea briefly in your own words. 
(h) Point out any rhetorical devices which the dramatist has 
used in order to strengthen his plea. 

3. What significan'-e do you attach to the fact that Antonio 
is at his house and has sent for his friends ? 

4. In the case of each of the following passages show the 
dramatic significance of the italicized expressions :— 

(a) Antonio, as I heard in Genoa, hath an argosy cast away, 
coniiny from Tripolls. 

(b) There came divers of Anfonio\'i creditors in my company 
to Venice. 

(c) It was my turquoise ; / h(id it of Leah when I ivds a 
bachelor. 

(d) Go, go, Tubal, and meet me at our si/itaf/ofjue. 

Scene II. 

The greater part of Scene II. has to do with Bassanio's choice 
of the caskets, a detailed study of which w^ill be foimd in the 
Introduction, page xx. To make the pleasure of the audience at 
Bassanio's success all the more complete we learn now for the 
first time, that the fortunes of Gratiano and Nerissa depended 
likewise upon Bassanio's choice ; and this two-fold connection, 
as w^e shall see later, contributes a good deal to our enjoyment 
of the final scenes in the play. The fortunes of Bassanio have 
now reached their highest point ; and as if to make the situation 
more dramatic by contrast with Bassanio's happiness, at this 
moment Salerio arrives, in comjiany with Lorenzo and Jessica, 
bearing the ill-news that Antonio's ships have all been lost and 
that his bond to the Jew is forfeit. It now becomes necessary 
for Bassanio to explain the situation to Portia, and it is to her 
that the audience now naturally turns for a solution of the 
difficulties of the I3lay. 

6. Hate does not give advice of that kind. 

8. A maiden cannot speak what she thinks. 

11. I am then forsworn. I should then have broken my oath. 



SCENE II] NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 129 

14. Beshrew. A plague upon. 

15. o'erlooked. Bewitched, cast a spell. 
18. naughty. Wicked. 

21. Let fortune take the blame for it. 

22. peize. Literally, to weigh down ; hence, to retard, to 
make it go more slowly. 

23. To eke it. To add to it, to increase it. 

26-8. The rack was a wooden frame upon which prisoners 
were stretched and tortmvd. This was a common method of 
punishment in the case of those who were suspected of treason. 

29. mistrust. Fear that I shall choose wrongly. 

30. fear the enjoying. Fear lest I shall not enjoy. 
SI. enforced. Forced to confess. 

anything. Anything, whether ti'ue or not, which may i)ut an 
end to their torture. 

38. Had been the very sum. AVould have summed up com- 
pletely. 

46. a swan-like end, A reference to the old belief that the 
swan sang before its death. 

53-5. It was at one time the custom for musicians, hired for 
the occasion, to awaken the bridegroom on his wedding day by 
playing under his window. 

dulcet. Sweet. 

55-63. According to the Greek myth, Laomedon, king of 
Troy, had offended Poseidon (Neptime) the god of the sea ; 
whereupon Poseidon sent a sea-monster to ravage the coasts. 
When the Trojans consulted the oracle they were advised to 
try to appease Poseidon by sacrificing one of their maidens to 
the monster. The lot fell upon Hesione, the daughter of 
Laomedon, and she wis about to be sacrificed when Hercules 
appeared on the scene. He offered to slay the monster and 
rescue Hesione, on conditi(m that Laomedon should giv^e him 
as a reward the horses which Tros, the father of Laomedon, 
had received fi-oni Zeus. Hercules slew the monster as he had 
agreed, but Laomedon failed to keep his promise and was 
afterwards slain by Hercules. 

56. no less presence. As noble a bearing. 



130 NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT III 

much more love. Hercules rescued Hesione only for the sake 
of the If ward. 

57. Alcides. See note on Act II., Scene I., 1. 36. 

58. howling. Weeping, lamenting. 

50. I stand for sacrifice. I rejiresent the \Mctini, Hesione. 

60. Dardanian. Ti'ojan. Dardanus was the mythical ancestor 
of the Trojans. 

61. bleared. Tear-stained. 

65. fancy. The kind of love that is little more than a passing 
fancy. 

66. Or . . . or. A\Tiether . . . or. 

69-71. When we fall in love with some person or thing 
merely because it is pleasing to the eye, our love will not last 
long. 

75. So. Referring to the idea of the song. 

least themselves. WTiat Bassanio means to say is that objects 
are sometimes in reality quite different from what the outward 
shows would seem to indicate. They cannot be depended on. 

76. still. Always, constantly. 

77-9. An advocate with a pleasing voice is able to conceal 
much of the evil in the case which he is pleading. The gram- 
matical construction is confused. As it stands, But (that not), 
which stands iov jylea, is the subject of obscures: but in reality 
it is the "gracious voice" that "obscures the show of evil." 

80. sober brow. Grave-looking divine. 

81. approve it. Prove it, justify it. 

83. so simple. So thoroughly and entirely a vice. 

but assumes. Tliat it does not assume ; as not to assume. 

81. his. Its. 

85. all. Quite, altogether. 

87. Mars. The god of War. 

88. have livers white as milk. Are cowards. Red blood was 
considered a sign of courage. 

89. valour's excrement. The outward appearance of courage, 
excrement. Outgrowth, referring to the beard. 



SCENE II] NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 131 

90. To render them redoubted. To make them objects of fear. 

91. A reference to fcilse hair, which was sold by weight. 

93. lightest. Most giddy or frivolous in character; also 
lightest in colour because the locks of hair were "golden." 

95. wanton. Playful. 

96. fairness. Beauty. 

known. Completes are and refers to locks. 

97. dowry. Literally, the goods which a wife brings to her 
husband as a marriage portion. Here, the property which 
belonged to another person's head. 

98. A nominative absolute construction. 

99. guiled. Treacherous. 

100. scarf. Kerchief, head-dress. 

101. an Indian beauty. Dark hair and complexion were in 
disfavour in Shakespeare's time, perhaps because Queen 
Elizabeth was fair-complexioned. Hence the Indian beauty 
with dark hair and swarthy skin Avould be considered ugly, 
according to Elizabethan standards. 

104. Midas. In return for a service which Midas, king of 
Phrygia, had performed, Dionysius (Bacchus) agreed to grant 
him any favour which he might ask. Midas in his greed for 
wealth asked that everything he touched might tiun to gold. 
Dionysius gi-anted his request ; but to the dismay of IMidas 
even the food which he touched turned into gold and he was 
in danger of starving to death. He begged Dionysius to take 
back his favour, and he was told to bathe in the river Pactolus. 
As a result he was restored to his former condition, but the 
sand of the river thereafter was mixed with gold. 

10.5. drudge. Coins are made of silver, and it is compared to a 
servant who does the drudgery of business. 

106. meagre. Poor, having nothing to make it attractive. 

110. fleet to air. Quickly vanish. 

111. rash-embraced. To which I yielded too quickly. 

112. green-eyed. Because people of a jealous disposition are 
said to be sickly and jaundiced in appearance. 

118. counterfeit. Likeness. 



1.32 NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT III 

118-9. This portrait is so lifelike that it seems as if the 
painter had. nearly created another Portia. 

128. to steal both his. To hold hiui fascinated so that he couid 
not look away from it to paint the other eye. 

129. unfurnish'd. Without the other eye as a companion. 

129-.32. Just as my praise fails to do justice to the picture, so 
the picture fails to do justice to the real Portia. 

133. continent. That which contains it. 

135. You that are so fortunate in the risk you have taken, 
and that choose as truly as you have done. 

139. And consider (hold) your fortune to be a happy one. 

142. gentle. Kind. 

143. by note. As directed in the scroll. 
159. livings. Worldly possessions. 

161. to term in gross. To state at its gross value. 
170. converted. 31ade over, changed, 
but now. Only a moment ago. 

176. presage. Foretell. 

177. It will be my privilege to complain of you. 

179. I cannot express my feelings in words, but my blood 
runs faster in my veins. 

184-6. It is impossible to hear what the separate individuals 
are saying; you can hear only the pleased "buzzing' of the 
multitude. 

186. Expressed in the confused buzzing, but not expressed 
in distinct words. 

194. from me. There is a play on words here. On the surface 
Gratiano says "You do not need any good wishes from me," 
but he means, no doubt, "You cannot by wishing take any joy 
away from me." 

198. so. If. 

203-4. Delay (intermission) is not one of my qualities any 
more than it is yours. 

205. stood. Depended. 

208. roof. Roof of my mouth. 



' 



SCENE II] NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 133 

209. if promise last. If Nerissa holds to her promise. 

220. infidel. His Jewish bride. 

221. Salerio. There are some critics who argue that Shakes- 
peare was not likely to introduce a new character at this stage 
in the play, and that Salerio is probably a misprint for Salanio. 
But Salerio appears in all the early editions of the play. 

223-4. If I have the right to bid you welcome to a household 
in which I myself have so recently been given an interest. 
236. Commends him to you. Sends his salutations. 
241. estate. Condition. 

245. royal. Both noble and wealthy, like ii king. 
247. the Jasons. See note on Act I., Scene II., 11. 175-8. 
250. shrewd. Sharp, unpleasant ; literally, accursed. 

254. constitution. Disposition, temper of mind. 

255. constailt. Self-controlled. 

271. mere. Absolute, thorough. In modern English mere is 
used only in speaking of petty, trifling things. 

272. To feed my means. To furnish myself with money. 
276. hit. Success. Or hit may be a participle. "Has not 

one hit the mark?" 
278. Barbary. The Barbary States in the north of Africa. 

286. confound. Ruin. 

287. plies. Urges, presses his case. 

288. impeach. Lay a charge against. In England many 
towns and cities held charters from the king granting them 
freedom upon certain conditions. For the purpose of his 
story Shakespeare speaks of Venice as if it were an English 
town which had been granted a charter upon condition that 
the rights of aliens would be respected ; and Shylock threatens 
that if justice is denied to him he will bring action to have the 
charter taken away. But as a matter of history Venice was a 
free, self-governed state, and the freedom of the city did not 
depend upon a charter from any higher power. 

290-1. magnificoes of greatest port. The nobles of greatest 
importance. 
292. envious. Malicious. 



134 NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT III 

303. Supply 7Hos^ before "unwearied." 
308. For me. On my account. 
323. cheer. Countenance. 

3SS. dispatch. Hasten, as distinguished from despatch, mean- 
ing either to send off, or to execute. 

Questions. 

1. Portia says to Bassanio, " I pray you tarry ; pause a day 
or two before you choose." 

(a) Why does she wish him to pause ? 

(b) Why is he not wilUng to do so ? 

2. (a) Show clearly what bearing the song has upon the 
choice of the caskets. 

(b) The charge is sometimes made that Portia by means of 
this song gave Bassanio a clue as to which was the right casket. 
How would you answer this charge ? 

3. (a) On what occasion earlier in the play has Bassanio been 
warned against trusting to the ' ' outward shows " of things ? 

(b) "The world is still deceived with ornament." Bassanio 
attempts to prove this by citing four different examples. 
Enumerate them. 

(c) What is there in (i) the inscription, and (ii) the leaden 
casket itself, that leads Bassanio to choose it? 

4. One might suppose that Portia would be somewhat 
displeased, if not shocked, to find that Bassanio was in debt 
and that it would require the immediate payment of at least 
three thousand ducats to meet Antonio's obligations to 
Shylock. How has Shakespeare provided against this 
difficulty ? 

Scene III. 

In the " Borrowing Scene " in Act I. when Shylock reproaches 
Antonio wdth the indignities which he has heaped upon him in 
the past, Antonio replies : 

"I am as like to call thee so again. 
To spit on thee again, to spurn thee too." 



SCENE III] NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 135 

And though our sympathies are, as a whole, with Antonio, 
yet we cannot help feeling that Shylock has been treated 
unjustly. In this scene Shylock has his revenge, and the once 
proud Antonio is driven to beg mercy of his hated enemy. 
Yet while we feel that he has himself brought these misfor- 
tunes on his own head our sympathies are aroused in his 
behalf and we are reminded (11. 24-26) that Shylock's hatred is 
due to other causes than the mere desire to revenge the 
indignities that he has suffered. 

This scene is, in a sense, a preparation for the Trial Scene to 
follow. Shylock, we see, is relentless. Antonio himself admits 
that "the duke cannot deny the course of law," and for the 
moment our only hope lies in the arrival of Bassanio, who is in 
a position to make a further appeal to the avarice of the Jew. 

11. naughty. Good-for-nothing. 

fond. Foolish. 

16. dull-eyed. Stupid. 

20. It. The neuter pronoun is used to express contempt, 
impenetrable. No appeals have any effect on him. 

21. kept. Lived, dwelt. 

25. forfeitures. Penalties for non-payment. 

31-3. These lines present difficulty. As it stands, commodity 
must be taken to mean "adv^antages," or "privileges," and in 
this case it is the denial of these privileges that will call in 
question the freedom of the state. It (1. 32) thus refers to 
commoditi/. Some editors, howev^er, prefer to wi'ite the 
passage with a comma after law (1. 30), and a colon or semi- 
colon after Veriice, and to substitute 'Twill for Will (1. 33). 
The meaning then is "the duke cannot deny the course of law 
on account of the trade (commodity) that strangers have with 
us in Venice. If it (the course of law) be denied, it will cast a 
doubt upon the freedom of the state." 

commodity. Either privileges or trade, according to the 
punctuation. 

34-5. The trade from which the city gains its profit is carried 
on with all nations. 

36. bated. Reduced me in flesh. 



136 NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT III 

Questions. 

1. By reference to Act I., vScene ITT., and Act IT I,, Scene I., 
as well as to the present scene, show clearly what Shylock's 
different motives were in insisting on his bond. 

2. Antonio himself has not appeared in the play since the 
departure of Bassanio (Act II., Scene VI.). Upon what 
occasions lias he been referred to in the meantime ? 

Scene IV. 

The chief purpose of this scene is to give the audience some 
necessary information relative to the plans of Portia and 
Nerissa. Lorenzo and Jessica are to be left iu charge of 
Portia's house during her absence ; Balthasar is despatched to 
Padua with a letter in which Portia asks her cousin Bellario 
for a legal opinion on Antonio's case ; and Portia playfully 
discloses to Nerissa her plan to set out for Venice in disguise 
in order to be present at the trial of Antonio. 

2-3. You have a true and noble understanding of the highest 
kind of friendship. 

9. Than your ordinary goodness of heart would lead you 
to be. 

12. waste. Spend, pass. 

13. Just as the yoke, in the case of oxen, is borne equally by 
both and at the same time holds them together, so love, in the 
case of two friends, is shared equally and forms a bond which 
unites them more closely. 

14. needs. Of necessity. The genitive of the noun need has 
survived with this adverbial use. 

a like proportion. A similarity. It is doubtfu. whether 
Shakespeare meant to say that the similarity was to be in 
proportion to the love, or whether the qualities of the one 
companion were to be in proportion to the same qualities in 
the other. 

15. lineaments. The idea seems to be that where two people 
think and act alike, even the lines of their faces will at length 
come to bear a resemblance. Lineaments in Shakespeare's 
time was, however, used in speaking of the limbs as well as of 
the features. 



SCENE IV] NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 137 

20. the semblance of my soul. If wliat Portia has just said is 
true, then Antonio must closely i-esemble Bassanio, whom she 
refers to as her " soul " because he is as dear to her as her very 
sold. 

20-1. There is a reference here to the deliverance of soids 
from purgatoi y. 

22. This. This reference to what T have done. 

25. husbandry. Care. 

manage. Management. 

33. imposition. The duty that is imposed upon you. 

54. notes. Bearing upon Antonio's case. 

garments. To be used in disguising tliemselves for the trial. 

55. imagined speed. All the speed imaginable. 

56. tranect. Some editions have traject. Both %voids are 
used of the ferry. 

57. trades. Passes back and forth. 
64. habit. Dress. 

65-6. They shall think we possess the qualities of men, in 
which we are lacking. 

69. braver grace. More gallant manner. 

71. a reed voice. A shrill piping voice. 

mincing. Delicate, with a show of affectation. 

78. quaint. Ingenious, artfid. 

76. I could not do withal. An idiomatic exj)ression meaning 
" I could not do anything to help it. 

78. puny. Petty. 

81. raw. Crude, clumsy. 

Jacks. Fellows, — a term of contempt. 

Questions. 

1. "Our good opinion of Antonio is due not so much to 
what he himself says and does as to what his most intimate 
friends say of him." In addition to what Loretr/o says of 
Antonio in this scene, refer to other occasions in the play in 
which Antonio's friends speak of his good qualities. 

2. In order that Portia might appear in the court in disguise 
and conduct the case in behalf of Antonio, why was it necessary 
that she shoidd consult her cousin, Doctor Bellario ? 



138 NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT III 

Scene V. 

This scene does not contribute anything to the development 
of the plot : but it provides relaxation for the audience, and 
at tlie same time it helps to give the impression that a 
sufficient interval of time has passed to enable Portia and\ 
Nerissa to reach Venice before the Trial Scene begins. 

1. Yes, truly. In answer to some remark of Jessica's. 

8. I fear you. I am concerned as to what will come of you. 

4. agitation. Cogitation. 

14-5. Scylla and Charybdis were two rocks between Italy 
and Sicily. Upon the rock nearest to Italy dwelt Scylla, a 
fearful monster ; upon the other rock dwelt Charybdis, who 
thrice every day swallowed the waters of the sea and thrice 
threw them up again. The rocks were separated only by a 
narrow channel, through which ships had to pass ; and in 
trying to avoid the one monster they were in danger of falling 
a prey to the other. 

16. gone. Lost. 

23. rasher. A thin slice of bacon. 

29. are out. Have quarrelled. 

34-5. The best quality of wit will be silence ; that is, the 
wittiest person will be he who keeps silence. 

38. stomachs. Appetites. 

41-4. Launcelot plays upon the two meanings of cover, — to 
lay the cloth, and to put on one's hat. 

44. my duty. To keep my head uncovered in presence of my 
superiors. 

45. quarrelling with occasion. Taking a contrary meaning 
out of everything that happens to be said. 

52. humours and conceits. Whims and fancies. 

54. discretion. He calls upon discretion, or good judgment, 
because Launcelot has shown none of it in the use of his words. 

suited. That is, ill-suited to the sense. 

57. A many fools. A nudtitude of fools. In older English 
many was sometimes used as a noun. 

in better place. In higher rank in life. 



SCENE V] NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 139 

58. Garnish'd like him. This may mean, furnished with a 
sii])i>ly of words such as he has ; bub the more probable mean- 
ing is, furnished with as httle discretion as he has. 

a tricksy word. A word iipon which they can pun. 

59. Defy the matter. Disregard the sense. 

How cheers't thou ? What cheer ? How are you faring ? 
Q6. mean it. Mean to hve an upright hfe. Some editors 
prefer the reading merit it. 

71. Pawn'd. Thrown in as an additional state, 
rude. Because there are few women such as Poilia. 

72. fellow. Equal. 

77. stomach. A play on the word : — appetite for "my dinner, 
and inclination to praise her. 
81. set you forth. Give you your character. 

Questions. 

1. When did Launcelot last appear in the play ? A^Hiy is he 
introduced at this point in the play ? 

2. (a). What purpose does this scene serve in the play ? 

(b). 'WiViit impression do you get of Loi-enzo from this 
scene ? 

Summary op Act III. 

In the beginning of Act III. we learn that the report as to 
the loss of one of Antonio's ships has been confirmed ; and in 
this same scene Tubal brings news of the loss of still another. 
Shylock, too, has heard fui-ther particulars regarding his 
daughter's flight, and he is alternately swayed by grief at his 
own losses and by desire for revenge upon Antonio. In the 
meantime, to the great joy of Poi'tia, Bassanio has been 
successful in his choice of the caskets ; but in the midst of his 
rejoicing, he receives word that the three months have expired 
and that Antonio's bond has become forfeit. Portia at once 
offers Bassanio money "to pay the petty debt twenty times 
over,'* and" urges hira to make haste to Venice. No sooner 
is he gone than she conceives the bold plan of going to Venice 
herself to act as judge in place of her cousin, the learned 
Bellaiio, who has been sent for to try the case. Slie keeps her 



140 NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT IV 

plan scciel, iiiid after installing Lorenzo and Jessica in charge 
of the liou.se and sending a message to Bellaiio, she and Nerissa 
set out for Venice. The Act closes with a glimpse into Portia's 
houseliold in her absence. In this closing scene our attention 
is for the moment diverted from the more serious matters in 
hand ; and at the same time we are given the impression that 
sufficient time has elapsed to enable Portia to reach Venice in 
time for the opening of the trial. 

Act IV.— Scene I. 

The Trial Scene opens upon a crowded court-room ; for the 
unusual case of Shylock and Antonio has attracted widespread 
attention. We have been prepared in previous scenes for the 
course which Shylock intends to follow. "We know that, 
whatever may happen, he is determined to exact the forfeiture, 
and that no appeals for mercy from the Duke or from Antonio's 
friends can turn him from his purpose. But we are interested, 
nevertheless, in the arguments by which he is able to meet these 
appeals. 

With the entrance of Portia the case at once assumes a new 
interest, for it is to Portia as judge that the audience must now 
look for the deliverance of Antonio. But, as w^e might have 
expected, Shylock takes his stand more firmly than ever upon 
his rights under the Venetian charter, and upon the conditions 
of the bond itself. As the trial proceeded it must have seemed 
to those who were looking on, as if Antonio's case were becom- 
ing more hopeless every moment ; for Shylock rejects in turn 
Portia's appeals to his mercy and to his avarice, and when he 
takes his stand upon the strict letter of the law and the strict 
wording of the bond, he is upheld by Portia. But when the 
crisis at length comes, the reasons for Portia's action at once 
becomes clear to us. She has in the first place forced Shylock 
to declare his purpose in such a way as to make it apparent 
that it is Antonio's life rather than strict justice that he is 
seeking; and to this situation the old Venetian law which 
every one but the learned Bellario had forgotten, is found to 
apply. She has in the second place driven Shylock to demand 
the fulfilment of the strict letter of the bond, and in so doing 
she has opened up a way of escape for Antonio. For since 



SCENE l] NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 141 

Shylock takes his stand upon "the very words " of the bond 
he can have no ground of complaint when Portia in turn 
insists that he shall have "nothing but the forfeitiu-e." 

It is a question whether or not Shakespeare intended the 
audience to feel any pity for Shylock when he leaves the 
court at the close of the trial scene ; but it must not be for- 
gotten that to an Elizabethan audience at least, the misfor- 
tunes of Shylock still had their compensations. His life had 
been spared by the Duke ; he was still left in possession of half 
of his goods, while the whole of his property was to go to 
Lorenzo and Jessica upon his death ; and, better than all else, 
he had been forced to tui-n Christian and might now hope for 
salvation in accordance with the Christian faith. 

1. What. An exclamation intended to call the court to order. 

5. Uncapable. Incapable. 

6. From. Of. 

dram. Particle ; a dram is a very small weight. 

7. qualify. 3Ioderate, soften. 

8. rigorous course. Harsh course of action. 

9. that. Since. 
M). envy. Malice. 

18, tyranny. Relentless cruelty, 
his. His spiiit. 

10. Make room. The coiu?t-room is crowded. 

17-19. It is thought that you are carrying out your malice in 
this fashion only till you reach the final stage in the action. 

20. remorse. Pity. 

21. apparent. Seeming. 

24. loose the forfeiture. Let the i^enalty go unclaimed. 

26. moiety. A portion. 

28. huddled. Crowded together. 

29. Enow, Enough, 

30. commiseration of his state. Pity for his condition. 
iiS. offices. Duties. 

35. possess'd. Informed. 



142 NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT IV 

38-9. See note on Act III., Scene II., 11. 288-9. 
41. carrion. Dead, decaying. 
43. humour. Whim. 

46, ban'd. Destroyed, poisoned. 

47. a gaping pig. A reference to the custom of serving a 
roast pig at table upon feast days, with a lemon or a roasted 
apple in its open (gaping) mouth. 

49-51. In Shakespeare's time the word affection was used 
with reference to the effect which an object produced upon the 
senses. The sight of a gaping pig, for instance, produced a 
feeling of displeasure. The word pctf^Hion, on the other hand, 
was used to refer only to the feelings, without reference to the 
senses. The passage then means, "Our feelings (passions) are 
swayed in one direction or another according as an object 
pleases or displeases our senses." 

55. woollen. The woollen covering of the bagpipe. 

56-7. He himself is annoyed by the sight of the offensive 
object ; and in showing his dislike for it he gives annoyance to 
other people. 

59. lodged. Settled, certain. Fixed. 

63. current. Course. 

66-70. Bassanio says "Even if you do hate Antonio, you 
need not go so far as to kill him." Shylock replies, "If yovi 
hate any one, you do want to kill him. Otherwise you do not 
hate him." "But," answers Bassanio, "A man may wrong 
you without your hating him in that way. Hatred does not 
come all at once." To this Shylock retorts, "You surely 
would not give your enemy a chance to wrong you a second 
time ? " 

71. think you question. Remember that you are arguing. 

74. the main flood. The ocean. 

bate. Fall short of, decrease. 

78. no noise. Any noise. 

79. fretten. Fretted, disturbed. 

84. As briefly and as plainly as is convenient to the court. 
89. draw them. Take them from the bag which Bassanio is 
holding out. 



SCENE l] NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 143 

92-3. Shylock assumes that when he is acting within his 
legal rights he cannot be doing any wrong. 

96. You use in the performance of base, menial duties. 

101. such. Such as you enjoy. 

108. Upon my pow^er. In accordance Avith my authority as 
duke. 

120. tainted. Touched by disease. 

wether. A young (male) sheep. 

131. The suggestion is that Shylock's ho\iL is as hard as his 
sole, 

132. hangman. Executioner. 
Vd\. envy. Malice. 

135. wit. Cleverness. 

136. inexorable. Unrelenting, merciless. Another reading is 
inexecrable, meaning, "too bad for cursing." 

137. Justice is to blame for letting you live at all. 

139. Pythagoras. A Greek philosopher and mathematician 
who lived about 520 B.C. He is said to have preached the 
doctrine of transmigration of souls. 

142-3. The grammatical construction is confused. 

147. Till you can destroy the legality of my bond by your 
scolding. 

166. bettered. Improved. 

168-9. at my importunity. At my lu-gent reipiest. 

to fill up. To comply with. 

170. to let him lack. Such as would cause him to lack. 

172-.3. whose trial, etc. This test to which he is put will show 
the praise he deserves, better than my words. 

179. difference. Dispute. 

180. Tliat keeps this case before the court. 

184. Merely a formal question to introduce the case. 

187. in such rule. Ii- such regidar form. 

1S8. impugn. Oppose. 

189. danger. A legal term meaning "power to harm." 

191. confess the bond. Admit that it is genuine. 



144 NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT IV 

194. IIow can I be compelled? 

195. ]\rercy, by its very nature is not a forced (sti-ained) 
quality, which you can compel a man to show. 

201-3. The king's sceptre is a symbol of his earthly power 
upon which depends his awe and majesty which makes him 
feared and dreaded by his subjects. 

201. sceptre. The staff or mace which is the symbol of royal 
authority. 

temporal. Here, worldly, earthly. 

202. The attribute to. The quality that is essential to. 

208. seasons. Moderates, tempers. 

217. My deeds upon my head. I am willing to suffer the 
consequences of my deeds. I do not need the mercy you 
speak of. 

225. That malice bears down truth. That Shylock's malice is 
stronger than his desire for justice. 

truth. Honesty of purpose. 

226. Force the law to give way to your authority. 

2^. A Daniel. A reference to a Hebrew book entitled 
Susannah and the Elders, in which Daniel is represented as 
having delivered a woman suffering under a false accusation. 

242. Why. This word does not express surprise : it is 
equivalent to some such expression as " 'Tis true." 

247. tenour. The conditions contained in it. 

260-1. The law does not mention a case exactly like this : 
but the law is intended to cover all such cases, even though 
the penalty is an unusual one. 

272-3. on your charge. At your expense. 

280. arm'd. With fortitude. 

284. use. Custom. 

290. process. Manner. 

291. speak me fair. Speak well of me. 

297. with all my heart. Note the play on words. 
299. Which. Which was formerly used to refer to either 
persons or things. 



SCENE l] NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 145 

314. the stock of Barrabas. The descendants of Ban-abas, 
even though he was a robber and a -murderer. See Matthew^ 
xxvii., 16. 

316. pursue sentence. Follow with the judgment. 

324. A sentence ! An excellent judgment. 

327. jot. The smallest particle. From the Greek iota, the 
name of the letter i, the smallest letter in the alphabet. 

332. confiscate. Confiscated. 

352. a just pound. An exact pound. 

356. estimation. Value, weight. 

371. stay. Wait for. 

question. Argument. 

379. seize. Take possession of ; a legal tei-m. 

380. privy coffer. Money which was not part of the public 
funds used in the administration of government. 

privy. Private, 
coffer. Treasury. 

382. 'gainst all other voice. No one else having the right to 
pardon him. 

383. predicament. Situation, plight. 

400. Portia wishes to make sure that Antonio's share is not 
to be interfered with. 

409. To quit. To give up. 

411. in use. That is, Antonio is to have the use of the money 
during Shylock's lifetime; and upon Shylock's death it is to be 
handed over to Lorenzo. 

419. recant. Recall, take back. 

433. I desire pardon of your grace. This idiom was conunon 
in Shakespeare's time. 

437. gratify. Rewaid. 

443. cope. Requite, withal. With. 

4.50. know me. Recognize me ; remember me. 

452. I am compelled to try to persuade you. 

454. as a tribute. As a mark of your esteem. 



146 NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT IV 

482. An if. An is a shortened form of and, meaning if. As 
used here it strengthens the force of if. 

487. withval. Besides, in addition. 

Questions. 

1. In 11. 6-8 Antonio says, "I have heard your grace hath 
ta'en great pains to qualify his rigorous cause." Refer to a 
previous passage in the play in which the Duke's efforts in 
behalf of Shylock are mentioned. 

2. (a) What arguments does the Duke put forth in the 
attempt to influence Shylock (11. 16-34, and 11. 90-91) ? 

(h) State briefly in your own words Shylock's answer in 
each case. 

3. (a) Compare the attitude of Antonio towards Shylock in 
this scene with that of Gratiano. 

(b) How do you account for Antonio's apparent resignation 
to his fate ? 

4. Portia first appeals to Shylock's mercy, then to his 
avarice, — then to both together. What answer does Shylock 
make to each of these appeals ? 

5. Point out the different expressions in the scene that help 
to show Portia's attitude towards the Venetian law. 

6. What is Portia's real purpose in asking Shylock to provide 
a surgeon lest Antonio should bleed to death ? 

7. AYhat is the dramatic purpose of the speeches of Bassanio 
and Gratiano in 11. 298-311 ? 

8. "Portia really upsets the bond upon a quibble; for it is 
unreasonable to suppose that a pound of flesh does not include 
the blood that goes with it, and it is unreasonable to expect 
that Shylock would be able to cut off an exact pound." Point 
out the special circumstances of the case that make this quibble 
of Portia's appear reasonable. 

9. In 11. 342, 361, 370, and 424-6, Shylock successively modifies 
his demands. Show definitely the reason for his changed 
attitude in each case. 



SCENE II] NOTES OX THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 147 

Scene II. 
This short scene is necessary to give us some idea of the 
plans of Portia and Neiissa, and to prepare the way for the 
Rings' Episode in the final scene of the play. 

6. you are well o'erta'en. I am glad I have overtaken yon. 

7. upon more advice. Upon further consideration. 

19. old swearing-. Plenty of swearing. Old was used 
frequently in Shakespeare's time as an intensive. 
21. outface them. Put on a bolder face ; shame them. 

23. tarry. Wait for you. 

24. shew me. Conduct me. 

Question. 
In the preceding scene Shylock had said, "Send the deed 
after me and I will sign it." How has the dramatist turned 
this circumstance to account in the present scene in furthering 
the action of the play ? 

Summary of Act IV. 
In the middle of Act III. the pioblem of the choice of the 
caskets was successfully solved; but at the same time the 
crisis in the bond story was also reached. As we saw in 
the early part of the play, Bassanio's success was made possible 
only by the fact that Antonio was willing to undertake the 
risk of signing the bond. It seems only fitting, then, that as 
Bassanio has indirectly been the cause of bringing Antonio 
into this difficulty, he should, if possible, be the means of 
i-elieving him from it. Now it happens that in choosing the 
right casket he has made it possible for Portia to come to the 
assistance of Antonio, he thus provides the means, indirectly, 
for Antonio's relief. Practically the whole of Act IV. is 
devoted to the Trial Scene, and throughout the trial the chief 
interest of the audience lies in Portia's conduct of the case. 
(See introduction to Scene I.). Indeed so well does Portia act 
her part as judge that for the time being, the real Poitia is 
forgotten ; but no soc^ier is the trial over than the other side 
of her nature reasserts itself, and in her playful efforts to get 
her husband's ring the gayer and blighter side of the real 
Portia again reappears. 



148 NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [aCT V 

Act v.— Scene I. 

Tliis scene is not essential to the action of the play, but it 
provides relief from the intense emotions of the Tiial Scene 
which preceded it and helps to bring the play to a 'happy 
ending.' The Rings' Episode forms the chief interest in the 
scene, and as a background for this humorous situation we 
have the beautiful grounds of Portia's mansion bathed in soft 
moonlight, and gentle strains of music, with which Lorenzo has 
planned to welcome Portia home. And when the storm which 
Portia and Nerissa have raised about their rings has blown 
over, there is good news in store for Antonio, and "manna" 
for the unthrifty Lorenzo, and a happy reunion for the lovers 
who have been so rudely separated by the misfortunes of 
Antonio. 

5-7. Troilus was one of the sons of Priam, king of Troy. 
Cressida, according to one version of the story, was a Grecian 
maiden who was taken pi-isoner by the Trojans. She and 
Troilus fell in love, and swore to be faithful to each other, 
whatever might befall. In the course of time Cressida was 
exchanged by the Trojans for another pi-isoner, and was taken 
back to the Grecian camp. Here she met with Diomede, and 
forgetting her vows to Troilus she became enamoured of the 
Greek youth. 

9-11. Pyramus and Thisbe were two Babylonish lovers. 
Their parents would not allow them to see each other, and 
they were forced to meet secietly. On one occasion they had 
agreed to meet at the tomb of Ninus, outside the city walls. 
Thisbe arrived first at the meeting-place, but was frightened 
away by a lion. In her haste she dropped her mantle, and the 
lion which had recently slain an ox, tore it with its bloody 
jaws. When Pyramus reached the spot, seeing the blood- 
stained mantle, he fancied that Thisbe had been slain, and in 
his grief he took his own life. When Thisbe at length returned 
and found Pyramus slain, she also killed herself. 

13-5. In the course of his wanderings after the fall of Troy, 
the Trojan heio ^neas came to the city of Carthage, in 
Northern Africa. Dido, the Queen of Carthage, fell in love 
with him ; and so great was her grief and disappointment 
when he sailed away from Carthage that she threw herself 
upon a funeral pyre and perished in the flames. 



SCENE l] NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 149 

13. a willow. Tlie emblem of unrequited love. 

14. waft. Waved. 

17-8. Medea was the daughter of Aetes the king of Colchis. 
When Jason came to Colchis in search of the Golden Fleece, 
Medea fell in love with him, and it was through her aid that 
he was able to carry off the coveted fleece. By means of the 
magic powers which she possessed she succeeded in restoring 
Aeson, the aged father of Jason, to youth. As the stoiy goes, 
she made a potion from enchanted herbs which she gathered 
by moonlight. A part of this potion she gave Aeson to drink, 
and the other part she poured into a vein which she had 
opened in his neck. 

20. steal. Note the double mccining here. 

21. unthrift love. A spendthrift lover. 
28. shrew. A scolding woman. 

30. out-night you. Out-do you in talking of "such a night." 

34-.5. Lorenzo makes fun of the self-importance of Stephano. 

39. holy crosses. Wayside crosses are very common in Italy. 

48. Launcelot is imitating the sound of a horn announcing 
the arrival of a courier or "post." 

56. horn. The post-horn, with peihaps a leference to a 
cornucopia, or horn of plenty. 

58. expect. Await. 

61. signify. Announce, make known. 

67. Become. Are suitable for. 

69. patines. A^jxduie is a small gold plate used in celebrating 
the mass in the Roman Catholic church. The stars here are 
compared to patines. 

70-2. A reference to the popular belief in " the nmsic of the 
spheres." Each star as it moves on its course makes sweet 
music, singing in harmony with the cherubim. 

But. A pronoun, equivalent to ivhich not. 

his. Its. 

quiring-. The same as choiring ; singing. 

young--eyed. Either, youthful, fresh-faced, or with clear 
vision. 



150 NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT V 

cherubins. The Hebrew plurtal of cherub is che'ruhim. The 
form cherubins is due to French influence. 

73. Tlie human soul, too, makes music, but while it (the soul) 
is inclosed in this coarse (gross) impure body we cannot hear 

the music. 

vesture of decay. The body, which, is as it were, the garment 
in which the soul is dressed, and which is subject to decay. 

76. Diana. The goddess of the moon. Lorenzo speaks of the 
moon as being asleep, perhaps because it is behind a cloud. 

80. attentive. You are giving attention to the music, so that 
you have no chance to think of other things. 

81. wanton. Unrestrained. 

82. unhandled. Unbroken. 

83. Fetching. Making. 

87. make a mutual stand. Come to a stop, as if by common 
consent. 

88. savage. Wild, 
modest. Mild. 

89. the poet. Probably the poet Ovid, who tells the story of 
Orpheus in his Metamorplioses. 

90. Orpheus. Tlie son of the muse Calliope. His music was 
so enchanting that the wild beasts, rocks, and trees moved 
from their places to the sound of his harp, and the rivers even 
flowed backwards in their course to hear him. 

91. stockish. Dull and lifeless, like a block of wood. 

92. his. Its. 

95. spoils. Plundering, theft. 

96. The motions of his spirit. The workings of his mind. 

97. Erebus. The underworld ; a place of darkness through 
which the spirits of the dead pass on their way to Hades. 

101. naughty. Wicked. 

106-7. his state empties itself. His splendour is no longer 
noticed. 

108. the main of waters. The ocean. 

109. music. Musicians. 



<l 



SCENE l] NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 151 

110. without respect. Without reference to the circuiiistaiices 
which accompany it. 

114. attended. Listened to with attention. 

118-9. It is only when the time is suitable for us to see things 
at their best, that we are able to praise them rightly and realize 
what their true qualities are. 

120. The moon is behind a cloud. 

Endymion. A beautiful youth who fell into an endless sleep 
on the side of jMount Latnius. Selene (Diana), the goddess of 
the moon, was so charmed by his beauty that she came down 
and kissed him and lay by his side as he slept. 

138. tucket. A flourish of trumpets. 

145-6. WTiile the people on the opposite side of the earth 
(the Antipodes) are having day, it is night here ; but if yoii 
would walk abroad when the sun is no longer shining, it would 
still be day with us. 

147. Note the quibble in light on the double sense of bright 
and Jickle. 
150. sort. Dispose. 

160. Therefore I cut short this courtesy which consists 
merely in words. 

168. posy. Another form oij)oesy\ referring to the motto or 
verse inscribed on the inner side of the ring. 

169. cutler's poetry. The mottoes inscribed on knife blades. 
176. respective. Mindful that this was not an ordinary ring. 
182. scrubbed. Stunted. 

184. prating. Talkative. 

189. with faith. With solemn promises. 

225. contain. Keep. 

230. ceremony. Sacred pledge. 

234. a civil doctor. A doctor of civil law. 

241, courtesy. The desire to show pi()})er courtesy to him. 

243. besmear it. Stain it. 

244. candles of the nig-ht. Stars. 
252. advised. Heedful. 



152 NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE [ACT V 

263. double. Deceitful. 

264. an oath of credit. An ocith that can be trusted. 

270. Had quite miscarried. Would have been Avholly lost. 
Miscarried refers to 2chich, i.e., my body. 

272. advisedly. Deliberately. 

287. soon. Quickly. 

297. living'. Soniethinj< on Avhich to live. 

299. road. Harbour. 

306. manna. See E.rodus, xvi. 

311. charge us there upon inter' gatories. A legal phrase. Make 
US take the oath to answer your ({uestions (interrogatories) 
truly. 

Questions. 

1. (a) "WHiat evidences do you find in the play that Loienzo 
possesses some sense of humour ? 

(b) It has been said of Lorenzo that he is of a dreamy, 
artistic temjieiament, but that at the same time he is inclined 
to be thriftless. Show by reference to the play what justifica- 
tion there is for this statement. 

2. "Besides helping to provide a humorous ending for the 
play the Rings' Episode serves another important dramatic 
purpose." Explain. 

3. Portia has thought it necessary to provide Bassanio and 
Gratiano with definite proof that she and Nerissa had acted 
the part of judge and judge's clerk respectively in the Trial 
Scene. What proof does she provide? 

4. (a) Antonio returns to Belmont with Bassanio. Refer to 
the passage earlier in the play in which Portia expressed a 
wish that he should come. 

(b) Portia has brought good news to Antonio. After all that 
has happened, Antonio's good fortune seems too good to be 
true. How is it that the audience is willing to credit Portia's 
announcement ? 



SCENE l] NOTES ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 153 

SuMiviARY OF Act V. 

The main action of the play is complete at the close of the 
trial in Act IV., and the moonlight scene, together with the 
farcical situation of the Rings' Episode, are intended to relieve 
the feelings of the audience after the strain of the Tiial Scene. 
It is in Act V., moreover, that Lorenzo appears in his true 
character — a dreamy artistic nature, whose poetical fancies ai-e 
stirred by the sounds of nnisic and the beauty of the moon- 
light night. Even if only for the fine poetical passages which 
it contains, this Act forms a delightful conclusion to the play. 



QUESTIONS ON "THE MERCHANT OP VENICE 

FRO^[ EXAMINATIOX PAPERS 



Senior High School Entrance, Senior Public School Diplomas, 
and Entrance into the Model Schools 

1. Lorenzo. Madam, although I speak it in your presence, 
You have a noble and a true conceit 

Of god-like amity ; which appears most strongly 
In bearing thus the absence of your lord. 
But if you knew to whom you show this honour, 
How true a gentleman you send relief, 
How dear a lover of my lord your husband, 
I know you would be prouder of the work 
Than customary bounty can enforce you. 
(a) State briefly the circumstances which caused Lorenzo to 
address Portia as above. 

(6) Describe the nature of the honour shown and the relief sent 
by Portia to which Lorenzo refers in lines 5 and 6. 

{c) On what grounds does Portia explain her desire to aid thus 
an unknown person ? 

{d) How does Lorenzo chance to ])e in Portia's house at this 
time? 

(e) Explain "true conceit" (1. 2); "god-like amity" (1. 3); 
*' How dear a lover " (1. 7) ; " customary bounty " (1, 9). 

2. By whom, and in what connection is each of the following 
passages spoken ? 

(«) Had I but the means 

To hold a rival place with one of them, 

I have a mind presages me such thrift, 

That I should questionless be fortunate ! 
(6) If he will take it, so ; if not, adieu ; 

And, for my love, I pray you wrong me not. 
(c) Take this same letter, 

And use thou all the endeavour of a man 

In speed to Padua : see thou render this 

Into my cousin's hand. 

155 



156 QUESTIONS ON "THE MERCHANT OF VENICE" 

(d) When she put it on she made me vow 

That I should neither sell nor give nor lose it. 

3. State briefly j'^our estimate of the character of Antonio, 
supporting your conclusions by references to the play. 

4. 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 
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 ? 
What if my house be troubled with a rat, 
And I be pleased to give ten thousand ducats 
To have it baned ? 

(a) To what remarks of the duke is Shylock here replying ? 

(b) Give the substance of Shylock's reply to the question 
suggested in the last three lines. 

(c) Describe briefly the conduct of Gratiano during the trial. 

(d) Explain: "possess'd" (1. 1); "our holy Sabbath" (1. 2); 
"your charter and your city's freedom" (1. 5). 

5. Outline briefly the story of the caskets as given in The 
Merchant of Venice. 

Junior Matriculation 

1. (a) Give the substance of Portia's comment on each of any 
three of the diflerent suitors named to her by Nerissa. 

(6) What do we learn about Portia's character and ability from 
her comments on these suitors ? 

(c) State the terms of the sentence passed on Shylock. Discuss 
the justice of each of these terms. 

2. (a) Give in your own words the arguments by which Portia 
tries to persuade the Jew to be merciful. 

(b) Why have these arguments no eff'ect on Shylock ? 



QUESTIONS OX ''THE MtRCHAXT OF VEXICE " 157 

(c) Name the four sejjarate stories that Sliakospeare uses in The 
Mercha)it of I'enice. 

(d) Show very briefly how he has woven them into one unified 
story. 

3. (a) What are the various causes of Shylock's hatred of 
Antonio ? 

(h) By what means does Shakespeare preserve our sympatliy for 
Shylock in spite of his blood-thirstiness ? 

4. (a) I speak too long ; but 'tis to prize the time 

To eke it, and to draw it out in length, 
To stay you from election. 

Who is the speaker, and to whom are the lines addressed ? 
Explain the italicized expressions. 

(h) In such a night 

Stood Dido with a willow in her hand 
Upon the wild sea-banks. 

Under what circumstances are these lines spoken ? Who was 
Dido ? Why is she represented " with a willow in her hand'"' ? 

5. (a) Gentlemen, 

Will you prepare you for this masque to-night ? 
I am provided of a torch-bearer. 
Who is the speaker ? To whom does he refer in the last line ? 
What is the meaning of " masque "' ? 

(b) . . . . . for in companions 

That do converse and waste the time together^ 
Whose souls do hear an equal yuhe of love. 
There must he needs a Wke proportion 
Of lineaments^ of manners, and of spirit. 

Who is the speaker ? What companions does the speaker 
have in mind in making the statement? Explain the italicized 
expressions. 

6. What purpose is served in the play by the introduction of 
Jessica? Indicate the three chief occasions on whicli she appears 
on the stage, and tell what she says and does on each of these 
occa.sions. 



158 QUESTIONS ON "THE MERCHANT OF VENICE" 

7. Give ill detail the substance of what each <>f the three suitors 
says in arriving at a decision as to which casket to choose. 

8. Give in not more than twenty lines the substance of either 
the opening scene in TJie Merchant of Venice or the Trial scene. 

9. Name four of Portia's suitors who fail to try the test of the 
caskets. Give one characteristic of each, preferably in Portia's 
own words. 

Entrance into the Normal Schools 

1. Give, in order, the various stages in Portia's management of 
the case against Shylock in the Trial scene. 

2. What purpose does each of the following serve in the develop- 
ment of the play : 

(a) The conversation between Portia and Nerissa in Act I. 
(h) The conversation between Shylock and Tubal in Act III. 

(c) The incident of the rings. 

3. Give the reasons that governed the choice of the caskets by 
Morocco or Arragon or Bassanio. 

4. (a) Describe the means provided by Portia's father to test 
her suitors. 

(h) Give the reasons of the tliree chief suitors for their respective 
choices. 

(o) Show whether the interpretation (»f each proves the wisdom 
of the test. 

(d) Describe the tre'itment of Shylock by his household and 
friends. 

5. («) State Shylock's motives in exacting the pound of flesh, 
and any circumstances found in the play that wt)uld influence him 
in so doing. 

(h) What induced a good business man like Antonio to sign such 
a bond ? 

(c) Explain Portia's method of conducting the case in the Trial 
scene. 

6. (o) Carefully outline the drift of the conversation of Bassanio, 
Shylock, and Antonio, in The Merchant of Venice, Act I., Scene 3, 
the scene of the negotiations for the loan. 



QUESTIONS ON "THE MERCHANT OF VENICE" 159 

(6) Point out details of the scene that serve to leave the 
impression that Antonio is running a serious risk in signing such 
a bond as Shylock proposes. 

7. Mention the purposes served in the play by Launcelot. 

8. Give an outline of what is said and done in the scene in 
which Bassanio makes choice of the caskets, from his entrance to 
the point where he is congratulated by his friends. 

Honour Matriculation and Entrance into the Faculties 
of Education 

1. (a) Show how Shakespeare brings out progressively in the 
Trial scene the evil of Shylock's nature, so that he should merit his 
punishment in the main. 

(h) Show, })y comparing the speeches of the three suitors, that 
the choice of the caskets is a test of character. 

2. (a) Nerissa believed that the "lottery" of the caskets was a 
"good inspiration" of Portia's father, (i) State the c<mditions of 
the "lottery," (ii) What evidence is there in the play that her 
faith in the "inspiration " was justified ? 

(6) What is the dramatic purpose in The Merchant of Venice of 
(i) Antonio's melancholy, Act I., Scene 1 ; (ii) the arrival, im- 
mediately after Bassanio has chosen successfully, of Antonio's 
letter telling him that his "bond to the Jew is forfeit ?" 

(c) What are the two chief jnotives of Shylock ? Do they ever 
conflict with each other ? If so, which proves the stronger ? Give 
references to support your answer in each case. 

3. (a) What is the dramatic purpose of the speeches of the three 
suitors of Portia, made immediately before they choose ? Suj)port 
your answer by references to the speeches. 

(6) "Shylock says the finest things in the play and he has the 
advantage in the argument throughout." Show, by references to 
the play, how far you think this statement is justified by the facts. 

4. (a) What qualities in the character of Shylock are exhibited 
(i) in Act I., Scene 3, where Bassanio and Antonio come to borrow 
the money ; (ii) in Act II., Scene 5, where Shylock tells Jessica he 



160 QUESTIONS ON "THE MERCHANT OF VENICE" 

is bid forth to supper ; (iii) in Act III., Scene 1., where Shylock 
discovers the flight of his daughter ? 

(h) What are the merits of Portia's speech on Mercy that make 
it so widely known ? 

5. Give an estimate of the character of Bassanio as represented 
in The Merchant of Venice. 

6. ' ' That such a bond should be proposed, that when proposed 
it should be accepted, that it should be seriously entertained by a 
court of justice, that if entertained at all it should be upset on so 
frivolous a pretext as the omission of the reference to the shedding 
of blood ; these form a series of impossible circumstances tliat any 
dramatist might despair of presenting with even an approach to 
naturalness." 

State in a sentence or two in each case how Shakespeare 
succeeded in overcoming each of these difhculties in connection 
with the story of the pound of flesh in The Merchant of Venice. 

7. Point out the various means whereby in The Merchant of 
Venice Shakespeare {a) evokes in tlie reader a measure of sympathy 
with Shylock, and (6) excites detestation of him. 

8. (a) Refer to any indications of Portia's feelings with respect 
to each of the three suitors. 

(6) State the important details of that portion of the scene 
following Bassanio's successful choice. 

9. "Shylock is great in every scene where he appears, yet 
each later scene exhibits him in a new element or aspect of 
greatness." 

By reference to the various scenes in which Shylock appears, 
estimate the truth of this statement. 

10. (a) Show how the main stories of The Merchant of Venice 
are woven into a unity. 

(6) What is contributed to this unified plot by the Lorenzo and 
Jessica story ? 

11. Show that the scene in The Merchant of Venice, in which 
Bassanio makes his choice, is the meeting place of the four stories 
in the play. 



SUBJECTS FOR SHORT CLASS 
COMPOSITIONS 



1. The Story of Jason (Act I., Scene I., 11. 175-8). 

2. Why Shylock and Antonio are Enemies. 

3. Bassanio's Former Visit to Belmont (his impressions of 
Portia ; Portia's impressions of him). 

4. The Bond (how it came that such a bond, was ever proposed, 
and that Antonio was willing to sign it). 

5. Bassanio and Antonio (Bassanio's past life ; why he wishes 
to borrow of Antonio). ^ 

6. Morocco and Portia (the opinion each has of the other). 

7. Bassanio's Plans, Preparations, and Departure. 

8. The Masque (why it was held ; who took part in it ; the 
arrangements). 

9. Shylock at Home. 

10. Launcelot (why he left Shylock's service ; why Bassanio 
employed him ; how he was employed). 

11. Jessica's Treatment of her Father. 

12. The Elopement (how planned and how carried out). 

13. The Prince of Arragon (Portia's oj)inion of him ; why he 
chose the silver casket). 

14. Tubal (who he is ; tlie news he brings ; liis attitude towards 
Shylock). 

15. Jessica's Elopement (its effect upon Shylock). 

161 



162 SUBJECTS FOR SHORT CLASS COMPOSITIONS 

16. The Choice of the Caskets as a Test of Character. 

17. Bassanio's Reasons for Choosing the Leaden Casket. 

18. "The Casket Scene is the dramatic centre of the play.' 

19. Antonio's Fortunes (his Avealth ; his confidence ; the news of 
his losses). 

20. Portia's Plans to help Antonio (her arrangements regarding 
her house, her journey, her message to Bellario). 

21. How Shylock Justifies his Treatment of Antonio. 

22. Portia's Conduct of the Trial Scene. 

23. Shylock's Punishment. 

24. Lorenzo and Jessica (Tubal's story ; why they came to 
Belmont). 

25. The Rings' Story. * 

26. Gratiano (the part he plays in The Merchant of Venice). 




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