Page images

he borrowed a box of the ear of the Englishman, and swore he would pay him again, when he was able. I think the Frenchman became his surety, and sealed under for another.

Ner. How like you the young German,' the duke of Saxony's nephew?

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

Ner. 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.

Por. 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 will be married to a sponge.

Ner. You need not fear, lady, the having any of these lords. They have acquainted me with their determination; 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.

Por. 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 among them but I dote on his very absence, and I pray God grant them a fair departure.

Ner. 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 Montferrat?

Por. Yes, yes, it was Bassanio; as I think, so was he called.

1 The duke of Bavaria visited London, and was made a knight of the Garter, in Shakspeare's time. Perhaps, in this enumeration of Portia's suitors, there may be some coyert allusion to those of queen Elizabeth.

Ner. True, madam; he, of all the men that ever foolish eycs looked upon, was the best deserving a fair lady.


Por. I remember him well; and I remember him worthy of thy praise.-How now! What news?

Enter a Servant.

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-night.

Por. If I could bid the fifth welcome with so good 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 rather he should shrive me than wive me. Come, Nerissa.— Sirrah, go before.-Whiles we shut the gate upon one wooer, another knocks at the door. [Exeunt.

SCENE III. Venice. A public Place.


Shy. Three thousand ducats,—well.

Bass. Ay, sir, for three months.

Shy. For three months,―well.

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

Shy. Antonio shall become bound,-well.

Bass. May you stead me? Will you pleasure me? Shall I know your answer?

Shy. Three thousand ducats, for three months, and Antonio bound.

Bass. Your answer to that.
Shy. Antonio is a good man.

Bass. Have you heard any imputation to the contrary?

Shy. Ho, 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 understand, moreover, upon the Rialto, he hath a third at Mexico, a fourth for England, -and other ventures he hath, squandered abroad. But ships are but boards, sailors but men; there be land-rats, and water-rats, water-thieves, and land-thieves; I 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. Bass. Be assured you may.

Shy. I will be assured I may; and that I may be assured, I will bethink me. May I speak with Antonio?

Bass. If it please you to dine with us.

Shy. 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?


Bass. This is seignior Antonio.

Shy. [Aside.] How like a fawning publican he looks!

I hate him, for he is a Christian.

But more, for that, in low simplicity,

He lends out money gratis, and brings down

The rate of usance here with us in Venice.

If I can catch him once upon the hip,

I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him.

He hates our sacred nation; and he rails,
Even there where merchants most do congregate,
On me, my bargains, and my well-won thrift,
Which he calls interest. Cursed be my tribe,
If I forgive him.


Shylock, do

you hear?

Shy. I am debating of my present store; And, by the near guess of my memory,

I cannot instantly raise up the gross

Of full three thousand ducats. What of that?
Tubal, a wealthy Hebrew of my tribe,
Will furnish me. But soft; how many months
you desire?-Rest you fair, good seignior;

Your worship was the last man in our mouths.
Ant. Shylock, albeit I neither lend nor borrow,
By taking, nor by giving of excess,

Yet, to supply the ripe wants' of my friend,
I'll break a custom.-Is he yet possessed,
How much you would?


Ay, ay, three thousand ducats.

Ant. And for three months.

Shy. I had forgot,-three months, you told me so. Well then, your bond; and, let me see, but hear


Methought you said, you neither lend nor borrow
Upon advantage.

[blocks in formation]

Shy. When Jacob grazed his uncle Laban's sheep, This Jacob from our holy Abraham was

(As his wise mother wrought in his behalf,)

The third possessor; ay, he was the third.

Ant. And what of him? Did he take interest? Shy. No, not take interest; not, as you would say, Directly interest. Mark what Jacob did.

When Laban and himself were compromised,

That all the eanlings which were streaked, and pied,
Should fall as Jacob's hire; the ewes, being rank,
In the end of autumn turned to the rams;
And when the work of generation was
Between these woolly breeders in the act,
The skilful shepherd peeled me certain wands,

1 Wants come to the height, which admit no longer delay. 2 Informed.

3 Young lambs just dropped, or eaned. but the Saxon etymology demands ean.

This word is usually spelled yean,
It is applied particularly to ewes.

And in the doing of the deed of kind,'
He stuck them up before the fulsome ewes ;
Who, then conceiving, did in eaning time
Fall party-colored lambs, and those were Jacob's.
This was a way to thrive, and he was blessed;
And thrift is blessing, if men steal it not.

Ant. This was a venture, sir, that Jacob served for;

A thing not in his power to bring to pass,

But swayed, and fashioned, by the hand of Heaven. Was this inserted to make interest good?

Or is your gold and silver, ewes and rams?

Shy. I cannot tell; I make it breed as fast.But note me, seignior.


Mark you this, Bassanio;

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!

Shy. Three thousand ducats,-'tis a good round sum Three months from twelve, then let me see the rate. Ant. Well, Shylock, shall we be beholden to you? Shy. Seignior Antonio, many a time and oft,

In the Rialto, you have rated me

About my moneys, and my usances.2
Still have I borne it with a patient shrug;
For sufferance is the badge of all our tribe.
You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog,
And spit upon my Jewish gaberdine,
And all for use of that which is mine own.
Well then, it now appears, you need my help.
Go to, then; you come to me, and you say,
Shylock, we would have moneys; you say so;
You, that did void your rheum upon my beard,
And foot me, as you spurn a stranger cur
Over your threshold; moneys is your suit.
What shall I say to you? Should I not say,
Hath a dog money? Is it possible

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »