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127. Venice. A Court of Justice.


Duke. SHYLOCK, 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 thought,
Thou'lt show thy mercy and remorse, more strange
Than is thy strange apparent cruelty;
And where thou now exact'st the penalty, -
Which is a pound of this poor merchant's flesh, -
Thou wilt not only loose the forfeiture,
But, touched 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;
Enough to press a royal merchant down,
And pluck commiseration of his state
From brassy bosoms, and rough hearts of flint,
From stubborn Turks, and Tartars, never trained
To offices of tender courtesy.
We all expect a gentle answer, Jew.

Shy. I have possessed 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;

say, it is my humor. Is it answered ?
Bass. This is no answer, thou unfeeling man,
To excuse the current of thy cruelty.

Shy. I am not bound to please thee with my answer.
Bass. Do all men kill the things they do not love?

Shy. Hates any man the thing he would not kill ?
Bass. Every offence is not a hate at first.
Shy. What, wouldst thou have a serpent sting thee twice?

Ant. 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 the ewe bleat for the lamb;
You may as well forbid the mountain pines

wag their high tops, and to make a noise,
When they are fretted with the gusts of heaven;
You may as well do any thing most hard,
As seek to soften that — than which what's harder ?..
His Jewish heart. Therefore, I do beseech you,
Make no more offers, use no further means,
But, with all brief and plain conveniency,
Let me have judgment, and the Jew his will.

Bass. For thy three thousand ducats here are six.

Shy. 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 ?

Shy. What judgment shall I dread, doing no wrong?
You have among you many a purchased slave,
Which, like your asses, and your dogs, and mules,
You use in abject and in slavish parts,
Because you bought them. Shall I say to you,
Let them be free, marry them to your heirs ?
Why sweat they under burdens ? let their beds
Be made as soft as yours, and let their palates
Be seasoned 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, is mine, and I will have it ;
If you deny me, fie upon your law!
There is no force in the decrees of Venice :
I stand for judgment: answer; shall I have it?

Duke. Upon my power,


dismiss this court,
Unless Bellario, a learned doctor,
Whom I have sent for to determine this,
Come here to-day.

Salar. My lord, here stays without
A messenger from doctor,
New come from Padua.

Duke. Call the messenger.

Enter Portia.
Give me your hand; came you from old Bellario?

Por. I did, my lord.

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

Por. I am informed thoroughly of the cause.
Whicn is the merchant here, and which the Jew?

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

Por. Of a strange nature is the suit you follow;
Yet in such rule, that the Venetian law
Cannot impugn you, as you do proceed.
You stand within his danger, do you not? (To Antonio.)

Ant. Ay, so he says.
Por. Do you confess the bond ?
Ant. I do.
Por. Then must the Jew be merciful.
Shy. On what compulsion must I ? Tell me that.

Por. The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth, as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blessed;

It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes ; • 'Tis mightiest in the mightiest ; it becomes

The thronéd monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,

Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings.
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the heart of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's,
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation ; we do pray for mercy,
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea ;
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence 'gainst the merchant there

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

Por. Is he not able to discharge the money?

Bass. Yes, here I tender it for him in the court; Yea, twice the sum: if that will not suffice, I will be bound to pay it ten times o'er, On forfeit of my hands, my head, my heart : If this will not suffice, it must appear That malice bears down truth. And I beseech you, Wrest once the law to your authority ; To do a great right, do a little wrong ; And curb this cruel monster of his will.

Por. It must not be; there is no power in Venice Can alter a decree established; 'Twill be recorded for a precedent; And many an error, by the same example, Will rush into the state; it cannot be.

Shy. A Daniel come to judgment! yea, a Daniel ! O wise young judge, how do I honor thee!

Por. I pray you, let me look upon the bond.
Shy. Here 'tis, most reverend doctor, here it is.
Por. Shylock, there's thrice thy money offered thee.
Shy. An oath, an oath, I have an oath in heaven;

Shall I lay perjury upon my soul?
No, not for Venice.

Por. Why, this bond is forfeit;
And lawfully by this the Jew may claim
A pound of flesh to be by him cut off
Nearest the merchant's heart. Be merciful ;
Take thrice thy money ; bid me tear the bond.

Shy. When it is paid according to the tenor.
It doth appear you are a worthy judge;
You know the law; your exposition
Hath been most sound; I charge you by the law
Whereof you are a well-deserving pillar,
Proceed to judgment; by my soul, I say
There is no power in the tongue of man
To alter


I stay here on my bond.
Ant. Most heartily I do beseech the court
To give the judgment.

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

Shy. O noble judge! O excellent young man!

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

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

Por. Therefore, lay bare your bosom.

Shy. Ay, his breast;
So says the bond - doth it not, noble judge ?
Nearest his heart; those are the very words.

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

Shy I have them ready.

Por. Have by some surgeon, Shylock, on your charge, To stop his wounds, lest he do bleed to death.

Shy. Is it so nominated in the bond ?

Por. It is not so expressed; but what of that? 'Twere good you do so much for charity.

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