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William Shakespeare

"The Merchant of Venice"


except from

ACT IV. SCENE I. Venice. A court of justice.



Is your name Shylock?



Shylock is my name.



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?



Ay, so he says.



Do you confess the bond?



I do.



Then must the Jew be merciful.



On what compulsion must I? tell me that.



The quality of mercy is not strain'd,

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;

It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:

'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes

The throned monarch better than his crown;

His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,

The attribute to awe and majesty,

Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;

But mercy is above this sceptred sway;

It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,

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.



My deeds upon my head! I crave the law,

The penalty and forfeit of my bond.



Is he not able to discharge the money?



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 devil of his will.



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.



A Daniel come to judgment! yea, a Daniel!

O wise young judge, how I do honour thee!



I pray you, let me look upon the bond.




Here 'tis, most reverend doctor, here it is.



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



An oath, an oath, I have an oath in heaven:

Shall I lay perjury upon my soul?

No, not for Venice.



Why, this bond is forfeit;

And lawfully by this the Jew may claim

A pound of flesh, to be by him cut off

Nearest the merchant's heart. Be merciful:

Take thrice thy money; bid me tear the bond.



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 swear

There is no power in the tongue of man

To alter me: I stay here on my bond.



Most heartily I do beseech the court

To give the judgment.



Why then, thus it is:

You must prepare your bosom for his knife.



O noble judge! O excellent young man!



For the intent and purpose of the law

Hath full relation to the penalty,

Which here appeareth due upon the bond.



'Tis very true: O wise and upright judge!

How much more elder art thou than thy looks!



Therefore lay bare your bosom.



Ay, his breast:

So says the bond: doth it not, noble judge?

'Nearest his heart:' those are the very words.



It is so. Are there balance here to weigh

The flesh?



I have them ready.



Have by some surgeon, Shylock, on your charge,

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



Is it so nominated in the bond?



It is not so express'd: but what of that?

'Twere good you do so much for charity.



I cannot find it; 'tis not in the bond.



You, merchant, have you any thing to say?



But little: I am arm'd and well prepared.

Give me your hand, Bassanio: fare you well!

Grieve not that I am fallen to this for you;

For herein Fortune shows herself more kind

Than is her custom: it is still her use

To let the wretched man 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;

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.



Antonio, I am married to a wife

Which is as dear to me as life itself;

But life itself, my wife, and all the world,

Are not with me esteem'd above thy life:

I would lose all, ay, sacrifice them all

Here to this devil, to deliver you.



Your wife would give you little thanks for that,

If she were by, to hear you make the offer.



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.



'Tis well you offer it behind her back;

The wish would make else an unquiet house.



These be the Christian husbands. I have a daughter;

Would any of the stock of Barrabas

Had been her husband rather than a Christian!


We trifle time: I pray thee, pursue sentence.



A pound of that same merchant's flesh is thine:

The court awards it, and the law doth give it.



Most rightful judge!



And you must cut this flesh from off his breast:

The law allows it, and the court awards it.



Most learned judge! A sentence! Come, prepare!



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

One drop of Christian blood, thy lands and goods

Are, by the laws of Venice, confiscate

Unto the state of Venice.



O upright judge! Mark, Jew: O learned judge!



Is that the law?



Thyself shalt see the act:

For, as thou urgest justice, be assured

Thou shalt have justice, more than thou desirest.



O learned judge! Mark, Jew: a learned judge!




I take this offer, then; pay the bond thrice

And let the Christian go.



Here is the money.




The Jew shall have all justice; soft! no haste:

He shall have nothing but the penalty.



O Jew! an upright judge, a learned judge!



Therefore prepare thee to cut off the flesh.

Shed thou no blood, nor cut thou less nor more

But just a pound of flesh: if thou cut'st more

Or less than a just pound, be it but so much

As makes it light or heavy in the substance,

Or the division of the twentieth part

Of one poor scruple, nay, if the scale do turn

But in the estimation of a hair,

Thou diest and all thy goods are confiscate.



A second Daniel, a Daniel, Jew!

Now, infidel, I have you on the hip.



Why doth the Jew pause? take thy forfeiture.



Give me my principal, and let me go.



I have it ready for thee; here it is.



He hath refused it in the open court:

He shall have merely justice and his bond.



A Daniel, still say I, a second Daniel!

I thank thee, Jew, for teaching me that word.



Shall I not have barely my principal?



Thou shalt have nothing but the forfeiture,

To be so taken at thy peril, Jew.



Why, then the devil give him good of it!

I'll stay no longer question.



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;

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.



Beg that thou mayst have leave to hang thyself:

And yet, thy wealth being forfeit to the state,

Thou hast not left the value of a cord;

Therefore thou must be hang'd at the state's charge.



That thou shalt see the difference of our spirits,

I pardon thee thy life before thou ask it:

For half thy wealth, it is Antonio's;

The other half comes to the general state,

Which humbleness may drive unto a fine.



Ay, for the state, not for Antonio.



Nay, take my life and all; pardon not that:

You take my house when you do take the prop

That doth sustain my house; you take my life

When you do take the means whereby I live.



What mercy can you render him, Antonio?



A halter gratis; nothing else, for God's sake.



So please my lord the duke and all the court

To quit the fine for one half of his goods,

I am content; so he will let me have

The other half in use, to render it,

Upon his death, unto the gentleman

That lately stole his daughter:

Two things provided more, that, for this favour,

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.



He shall do this, or else I do recant

The pardon that I late pronounced here.



Art thou contented, Jew? what dost thou say?



I am content.



Clerk, draw a deed of gift.



I pray you, give me leave to go from hence;

I am not well: send the deed after me,

And I will sign it.



Get thee gone, but do it.



In christening shalt thou have two god-fathers:

Had I been judge, thou shouldst have had ten more,

To bring thee to the gallows, not the font.