The Merchant of Venice eText - Act I

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Act I

Scene I

Original Text Modern Translation

[Venice]

Enter Antonio, Salerio, and Solanio.

ANTONIO:
In sooth, I know not why I am so sad;
It wearies me; you say it wearies you;
But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,
What stuff 'tis made of, whereof it is born,
I am to learn;(5)
And such a want-wit sadness makes of me,
That I have much ado to know myself.
ANTONIO:
Really, I don’t know why I’m so sad;
It wearies me; you say it wearies you;
But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,
What it’s made of, where it started,
I must find out;
And sadness makes me so crazy
That I don’t know who I am.
SALERIO:
Your mind is tossing on the ocean;
There, where your argosies, with portly sail,—
Like signiors and rich burghers on the flood,(10)
Or, as it were, the pageants of the sea,—
Do overpeer the petty traffickers,
That curt'sy to them, do them reverence,
As they fly by them with their woven wings.
SALERIO:
Your mind is tossing on the ocean,
Where your ships, with full sails —
Like gentlemen and rich citizens on the water,
Or as if they were in a procession of the sea—
Look over the minor merchants,
That bow to them, pay them respect,
As they fly by them with their woven wings.
SOLANIO:
Believe me, sir, had I such venture forth,(15)
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 doubt
Would make me sad.
SOLANIO:
Believe me, sir, if I had such venture out there,
The better part of my thoughts would
Be with my hope of their safe arrival. I’d be
Still plucking the grass to know where the wind blows,
Looking over maps for ports and piers and roads;
And every object that would make me afraid of
Misfortune to my ships,
Would make me sad without a doubt.
SALERIO:
My wind, cooling my broth,
Would blow me to an ague, when I thought
What harm a wind too great might do at sea.(25)
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,(30)
And see the holy edifice of stone,
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 waters with my silks,(35)
And, in a word, but even now worth this,
And now worth nothing? Shall I have the thought
To think on this; and shall I lack the thought
That such a thing, bechanc'd, would make me sad?
But tell not me; I know, Antonio(40)
Is sad to think upon his merchandise.
SALERIO:
My breath, cooling my soup,
Would make me ill, when I thought about
The damage a mighty wind might do at sea.
I shouldn’t see the time pass in the sands of an hour-glass
But I’d be thinking about shallows and sandbars,
And seeing my wealthy ship of war run aground,
Lowering her high top sails lower than her hull
To sink. Even if I went to church
And saw the holy building of stone,
I’d be thinking right away about dangerous rocks,
Which, touching only my gentle vessel's side,
Would scatter all her spices across the water,
Spreading my silk cargo across the roaring waters,
And, in a word, one minute worth this amount of money,
And now worth nothing. If I had the mind
To think about all this, and if I lacked the mind to see
That such a thing could happen, wouldn’t it make me sad?
But don’t tell me; I know Antonio
Is sad to think about his shipments.
ANTONIO:
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:(45)
Therefore my merchandise makes me not sad.
ANTONIO:
Believe me, no; I thank my fortune for it,
My cargos are not all loaded on one ship,
Or going to one place, and my whole estate is not
Based on the fortune of this present year;
So, my shipments don’t make me sad.
SALANIO:
Why, then you are in love.
SALANIO:
ANTONIO:
Fie, fie!
ANTONIO:
Nonsense, nonsense!
SALANIO:
Not in love neither? Then 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 Janus,
Nature hath fram'd strange fellows in her time:
Some that will evermore peep through their eyes,
And laugh, like parrots, at a bag-piper;(55)
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.

Here comes Bassanio, your most noble kinsman,
Gratiano, and Lorenzo: Fare you well;(60)
We leave you now with better company.
SALANIO:
Not in love either? Then let’s say you are sad
Because you are not happy; and it’s easy to say that
Because you laugh and leap and say you are happy,
Because you are not sad. Now, looking at both sides,
Nature has made strange fellows in her time:
Some that will peep through their eyes forever,
And laugh like parrots at a bag-piper,
And the others of such sour disposition
That they'll never smile
Although a wise old man swears that the joke is funny.

Here comes Bassanio, your most noble relative,
Gratiano, and Lorenzo. Goodbye,
We leave you now in better company.

SALERIO:
I would have stay'd till I had made you merry,
If worthier friends had not prevented me.
SALERIO:
I’d have stayed until I had made you happy,
If worthier friends hadn’t stopped me.
ANTONIO:
Your worth is very dear in my regard.
I take it, your own business calls on you,(65)
And you embrace the occasion to depart.
ANTONIO:
I appreciate your concern.
I see your own business needs you,
And you take this opportunity to leave.
SALERIO:
Good morrow, my good lords.
SALERIO:
Good morning, my good lords.
BASSANIO:
Good signiors both, when shall we laugh? say,
when?
You grow exceeding strange: must it be so?(70)
BASSANIO:
Good gentlemen, when are we getting together? Say when.
You’re turning into strangers; has it come to that?
SALERIO:
We'll make our leisures to attend on yours.
SALERIO:
We'll wait until you’re free.

Exeunt Salerio, and Solanio.

LORENZO:
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.
LORENZO:
My Lord Bassanio, since you have found Antonio,
We’ll leave you; but, at dinnertime,
Please remember where we’re meeting.
BASSANIO:
I will not fail you.(75)
BASSANIO:
I won’t forget.
GRATIANO:
You look not well, 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 chang'd.
GRATIANO:
You don’t look well, Mr. Antonio;
You’re thinking too much about the world;
They lose it that buy it with a lot of worry.
Believe me, you’ve changed drastically.
ANTONIO:
I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano;(80)
A stage, where every man must play a part,
And mine a sad one.
ANTONIO:
I only think of the world as the world, Gratiano;
A stage, where every man must play a part,
And my part is a sad one.
GRATIANO:
Let me play the fool!
With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come;
And let my liver rather heat with wine,(85)
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, whose visages
Do cream and mantle like a standing pond;
And do a wilful stillness entertain,
With purpose to be dress'd in an opinion(95)
Of wisdom, gravity, profound conceit;
As who should say, I am Sir Oracle,
And, when I ope my lips, let no dog bark!
O, my Antonio, I do know of these,
That therefore only are reputed wise,(100)
For saying nothing; who, 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,(105)
For this fool-gudgeon, this opinion.
Come, good Lorenzo:— Fare ye well, awhile:
I'll end my exhortation after dinner.
GRATIANO:
Let me play the fool;
Let old wrinkles come with happiness and laughter;
And let my liver get hot with wine rather
Than my heart turns cold with depressing groans.
Why should a man who’s hot-blooded
Sit like a statue of his grandfather,
Sleeping when he’s awake, and creeping into jaundice
By being spiteful? I tell you what, Antonio—
You are my friend, and it’s my friendship that speaks—
There is a kind of men whose faces
Look foamy and covered like a standing pond,
And who maintain a stubborn silence,
So that people will think they have
Wisdom, seriousness, profound ideas,
Such as saying “I am Sir Fortune Teller,
And when I open my lips, don’t let any dog bark.”
Oh, my Antonio, I know about these men
That are only considered wise
Because they say nothing; when, I am very sure,
If they should speak, they would almost damn those ears
Which, hearing them, would call their brothers fools.
I'll tell you more about this another time.
But don’t fish for this foolish worthless guppy,
This opinion of mine, with this depressing bait.
Come, good Lorenzo. Goodbye until later;
I'll end my speech after dinner.
LORENZO:
Well, we will leave you
then till dinner-time.(110)
I must be one of these same dumb wise men,
For Gratiano never lets me speak.
LORENZO:
OK, we’ll leave you then until dinnertime.
I must be one of these same dumb wise men,
Because Gratiano never lets me speak.
GRATIANO:
Well, keep me company but two years more,
Thou shalt not know the sound of thine own tongue.
GRATIANO:
Well, keep me company for only two more years, and
You’ll never know the sound of your own voice.
ANTONIO:
Farewell: I'll grow a talker for this gear.(115)
ANTONIO:
Goodbye, I'll be a better talker by dinner.
GRATIANO:
Thanks, i' faith; for silence is only commendable
In a neat's tongue dried, and a maid not vendible.
GRATIANO:
Thanks, really, because silence is only commendable
In a cow’s dried tongue, and in a girl who’s not for sale.

[Gratiano and Lorenzo exit.]

ANTONIO:
Is that any thing now?
ANTONIO:
Is that anything to think about now?
BASSANIO:
Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of nothing, more
than any man in all Venice: his reasons are as two grains(120)
of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff; you shall seek all
day ere you find them; and when you have them they are
not worth the search.
BASSANIO:
Gratiano speaks an infinite deal about nothing, more than
any man in all Venice. His reasons are like two grains of wheat hidden
In two bushels of cornhusks: you can look all day before you find
them, and when you have them, they aren’t worth the search.
ANTONIO:
Well; tell me now, what lady is the same
To whom you swore a secret pilgrimage,(125)
That you to-day promis'd to tell me of?
ANTONIO:
Well, tell me now about the lady,
The one you swore to make a secret trip to,
The one you promised to tell me about today?
BASSANIO:
'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:(130)
Nor do I now make moan to be abridg'd
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 gag'd. To you, Antonio,(135)
I owe the most in money and in love;
And from your love I have a warranty
To unburthen all my plots and purposes,
How to get clear of all the debts I owe.
BASSANIO:
You know, Antonio,
How much I have wasted my money
By putting on a fancier appearance
Than my small funds could support;
I don’t come to you now to ask that you
Forgive my debts, because my chief concern
Is to make good on these great debts
Which my behavior, sometimes reckless
And wasteful, has left me broke. To you, Antonio,
I owe the most, in money and in friendship,
And, from your friendship, I have a guarantee
To get rid of all my plots and intentions as to
How to get clear all the debts I owe.
ANTONIO:
I pray you, good Bassanio, let me know it;(140)
And, if it stand, as you yourself still do,
Within the eye of honour, be assur'd,
My purse, my person, my extremest means,
Lie all unlock'd to your occasions.
ANTONIO:
Please, good Bassanio, tell me;
And if it is, honorable, as you yourself still are,
Be assured that my purse, my person,
My utmost ability can be used for your benefit.
BASSANIO:
In my schooldays, when I had lost one shaft,(145)
I shot his fellow of the self-same flight
The self-same way, with more advised watch,
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 which I owe is lost: but if you please
To shoot another arrow that self way
Which you did shoot the first, I do not doubt,
As I will watch the aim, or to find both,(155)
Or bring your latter hazard back again,
And thankfully rest debtor for the first.
BASSANIO:
When I was in school, when I had lost one arrow,
I shot another one of identical length
In an identical way, with more thoughtful care,
To find the one I lost, and by risking both, I often
Found both. I’m telling you about this childhood event,
Because I say next is as pure and innocent.
I owe you a lot, and, like a willful youth,
I have lost what I owe you, but if you will please
Lend me money in the identical way
That you lent me the first money, I don’t doubt,
As I’ll be more careful, to find both sums,
Or I’ll bring your second loan back again
And just owe you thankfully for the first.
ANTONIO:
You know me well, and herein spend but time,
To wind about my love with circumstance;
And, out of doubt, you do me now more wrong(160)
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 your knowledge may by me be done,
And I am prest unto it: therefore speak.(165)
ANTONIO:
You know me well, and waste time here
To twist a story about my friendship with examples;
And, no doubt, you insult me
By questioning the limits of my friendship
As if you had wasted everything I have.
You only have say to me what I should do
That you think I can do,
And I am committed to it; so, ask me.
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:
Her name is Portia; nothing undervalued(170)
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;(175)
Which makes her seat of Belmont, Colchos' strand,
And many Jasons come in quest of her.
O, my Antonio! had I but the means
To hold a rival place with one of them,
I have a mind presages me such thrift,(180)
That I should questionless be fortunate.
BASSANIO:
In Belmont, there is a rich heiress
And she is beautiful and, more beautiful than that word,
She has wonderful virtues. Sometimes, I receive
Beautiful, silent messages from her eyes.
Her name is Portia—the poet’s daughter and
The assassin’s Portia fall short by comparison.
The wide world is not ignorant of her worth,
Because the four winds blow in famous men who
Want to marry her from every coast, and her golden curls
Hang on her head like a golden fleece,
Which makes Belmont, her home, a rich island in a lake,
And many sailors and heroes come to find her.
Oh, my Antonio! If I only had the means
To compete with one of them,
I have a mind that predicts such good luck for me
That I will undoubtedly be a very lucky one.
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;(185)
That shall be rack'd, even to the uttermost,
To furnish thee to Belmont, to fair Portia.
Go, presently inquire, and so will I,
Where money is; and I no question make,
To have it of my trust, or for my sake.(190)
ANTONIO:
You know that all my funds are invested in ships
At sea; I don’t have the money or goods
To raise such a large sum; So, go out,
See what my credit in Venice can do for you,
Credit that shall be stretched, even to the outer limits,
To supply you for your trip to Belmont to beautiful Portia.
Go now and ask where money can be found,
And I will too, and I will not object
To borrowing it on my account or in my name.

Exeunt.

Scene II

Original Text Modern Translation

[Belmont]

Enter Portia with her waiting woman Nerissa.

PORTIA:
By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is a-weary of
this great world.
PORTIA:
Honestly, Nerissa, my little body is weary 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 that surfeit with too much,(5)
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.
NERISSA:
You would be, sweet madam, if your miseries were as abundant
as your good fortunes are; and yet, for all I see, they that are sick
from over-eating are as sick as those that starve with nothing.
It’s not an insignificant happiness, therefore, to be well situated in
regard to financial resources: having more than enough comes
at some time or other to old men, but having a sufficient income lasts longer.
PORTIA:
Good sentences, and well pronounced.
PORTIA:
Good sentences, and well said.
NERISSA:
They would be better, if well followed.(10)
NERISSA:
They would be better sentences, if you followed them well.
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 what were good to
be done, than be one of the twenty to follow mine own(15)
teaching. The brain may devise laws for the 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
the cripple. But this reasoning is not in the fashion to
choose me a husband:—O me, the word choose! I may(20)
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?
PORTIA:
If knowing what to do were as easy as knowing what was good to do,
chapels would have been churches, and poor men's cottages would have
been princes' palaces. It is a good prophet that follows his own instructions;
It’s easier for me to teach twenty people what was good to do than to be one
of that twenty and follow my own teaching. The brain may come up with
laws to control society, but one hot temper jumps over a cold law;
Madness the Youth is just such a jumper, skipping over the nets of Good
Advice the Cripple. But thinking this way is not the way to
choose a husband for me. Oh, me, the word “choose!” I cannot
choose someone I like or refuse someone I dislike;
so is the behavior of a living daughter curbed by the will of a dead father.
Isn’t it hard, Nerissa, that I cannot choose one or refuse none?
NERISSA:
Your father was ever virtuous; and holy men at their(25)
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,)
will, no doubt, never be chosen by any rightly, but one
who you shall rightly love. But what warmth is there in(30)
your affection towards any of these princely suitors that
are already come?
NERISSA:
Your father was always a holy man, and holy men have good
ideas when they die; so the lottery that he has thought up in these
three chests, made of gold, of silver, and of lead, by means of which
whoever chooses the right chest chooses you, will, no doubt, never be
chosen by the right man except the one you shall rightly love. But
what warmth is there in your affections towards any of these princes
that have already come to try?
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.(35)
PORTIA:
Please say their names again, and, as you name them, I’ll
describe them; and, according to my description, you can figure
out how I feel about them..
NERISSA:
First, there is the Neapolitan prince.
NERISSA:
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 appropriation to his
own good parts that he can shoe him himself: I am much
afraid my lady his mother played false with a smith.(40)
PORTIA:
Yes, he’s a cunning fellow indeed, because he doesn’t do a thing
but talk about his horse; and he makes it a great attribute to
his own good qualities that he can shoe him himself; I am very afraid,
my lady, his mother had an affair with a blacksmith.
NERISSA:
Then, is there the county Palatine.
NERISSA:
Then there is the Count Palatine.
PORITA:
He doth nothing but frown; as who should say, An you
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 unmannerly sadness in his youth.(45)
I had rather be married to a death's head with a bone in his
mouth, than to either of these. God defend me from these
two!
PORITA:
He doesn’t do a thing but frown, as someone would say, “If you will
not have me, choose.” He hears happy tales and doesn’t smile:
I’m afraid he will probably be the weeping philosopher when he grows old,
being so full of rude sadness in his youth. I would rather be married
to a skull with a bone in his mouth than to either of
these princes. God defend me from these two!
NERISSA:
How say you by the French lord, Monsieur Le Bon?
NERISSA:
What do you have to say about the French lord, Monsieur Le Bon?
PORTIA:
God made him, and therefore let him pass for a man.(50)
In truth, I know it is a sin to be a mocker; but, he! why, he
hath 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; he will
fence with his own shadow: if I should marry him I should(55)
marry twenty husbands: If he would despise me I would forgive
him; for if he love me to madness I shall never requite
him.
PORTIA:
God made him, and so let him pass for a man. In
truth, I know it is a sin to be a mocker, but him! Why, he has 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
thrush sings, he starts dancing right away; he will fence with
his own shadow; if I should refuse him, I would be refusing twenty
husbands. If he would only despise me, I would forgive him, because if he
loves me like crazy, I’ll never be able to return such love.
NERISSA:
What say you then to Falconbridge, the young baron
of England?(60)
NERISSA:
What do you say then about Falconbridge, the young baron of
England?
PORTIA:
You know I say nothing to him; for he understands not
me, nor I him: he hath neither Latin, French, nor Italian;
and you will come into the court, and swear that I have a
poor pennyworth in the English. He is a proper man's picture;
but, alas! who can converse with a dumb show? How(65)
oddly he is suited! I think he bought his doublet in Italy,
his round hose in France, his bonnet in Germany and his
behaviour everywhere.
PORTIA:
You know I say nothing to him, because he doesn’t understand me,
and I don’t understand him: He doesn’t know Latin, French, or Italian, and you
will come into the court and swear that I only know a penny’s worth
of English. He’s the picture of a proper man, but alas, who can
talk with someone who can’t talk? How oddly he is dressed! I think he
bought his shirt in Italy, his hose in France, his hat
in Germany, and his behavior everywhere.
NERISSA:
What think you of the Scottish lord, his neighbour?
NERISSA:
What do you think about the Scottish lord, his neighbor?
PORTIA:
That he hath a neighbourly charity in him; for he borrowed(70)
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.
PORTIA:
I think that he has neighborly charity in him, because he borrowed
a moneybox from the Englishman, and swore he would pay him
again when he was able; I think the Frenchman became his guarantor
and it was sealed by another.
NERISSA:
How like you the young German, the Duke of Saxony's
nephew?(75)
NERISSA:
How do you like the young German, the Duke of Saxony's nephew?
PORTIA:
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 a 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.(80)
PORTIA:
Very disgusting in the morning when he is sober, and most
disgusting in the afternoon when he is drunk: when he is best, he is
a little worse than a man, and when he is worst, he is little
better than a beast. If the worst that could happen happens, I hope I’ll
be able to go on without him.
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.
NERISSA:
If he offers to choose, and chooses the right chest,
you would be refusing to perform your father's will, if you
refused 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(85)
devil be within and that temptation without, I know he
will choose it. I will do anything, Nerissa, ere I will be
married to a sponge.
PORTIA:
So, for fear of the worst, please set a deep
glass of Rhenish wine on the wrong chest; because if the devil were
within the chest and that temptation on top of it, I know he will choose it. I
will do anything, Nerissa, before I’ll be married to a sponge.
NERISSA:
You need not fear, lady, the having any of these
lords: they have acquainted me with their determinations:(90)
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.
NERISSA:
You don’t need to be afraid, lady, of having any of these lords;
they have told me their intentions, which is
indeed to go back to their homes, and to trouble you with no more
suits, unless you may be won by some other way than your father's
command, that getting you depends on the chests.
PORTIA:
If I live to be as old as Sibylla I will die as chaste as(95)
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.
PORTIA:
If I live to be as old as Sibylla the witch, I’ll die as pure as
Diana the goddess of purity, unless I am obtained by the letter of my father's will.
I am glad this batch of would-be husbands are so reasonable; because there isn’t
one of them that I am not foolishly in love with his very absence, and I pray God
grant them a fair departure.
NERISSA:
Do you not remember, lady, in your father's time,(100)
a Venetian, a scholar and a soldier that came hither in
company of the Marquis of Montferrat?
NERISSA:
Don’t you not remember, lady, in your father's time, a Venetian, a
scholar and a soldier, that came here in the company of the Marquis
of Montserrat?
PORTIA:
Yes, yes, it was Bassanio; as I think, so was he
called.
PORTIA:
Yes, yes, it was Bassanio, I think, or so he was called.
NERISSA:
True, madam; he, of all the men that ever my foolish(105)
eyes looked upon, was the best deserving a fair lady.
NERISSA:
True, madam; he, that, of all the men that I have ever seen
with my foolish eyes, was the most deserving of a beautiful lady.
PORTIA:
I remember him well; and I remember him worthy
of thy praise.

Enter a Servingman.

How now! what news?
PORTIA:
I remember him well, and I remember him worthy of your praise.

How is it now! What’s the news?

SERVINGMAN:
The four strangers seek for you, madam, to take(110)
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.
SERVINGMAN:
The four strangers are looking for you, madam, to say their goodbyes,
and there is a messenger come from a fifth, the Prince of
Morocco, who brings word the Prince, his master, will be here
tonight.
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(115)
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.(120)
PORTIA:
If I could welcome the fifth with as good a heart as I
can bid the other four goodbye, I would be happy of his
arrival; if he has the condition of a saint and the complexion
of a devil, I would rather he heard my confession than marry me.
Come, Nerissa. Servant, go ahead of me.
While we shut the gate on one would-be husband, another knocks at the
door.

Exeunt.

Scene III

Original Text Modern Translation

[Venice]

Enter Bassanio with Shylock the Jew.

SHYLOCK:
Three thousand ducats,—well.
SHYLOCK:
Three thousand dollars; right?
BASSANIO:
Ay, sir, for three months.
BASSANIO:
Yes, sir, for three months.
SHYLOCK:
For three months,—well.
SHYLOCK:
For three months; right?
BASSANIO:
For the which, as I told you, Antonio shall be
bound.(5)
BASSANIO:
For which, as I told you, Antonio shall be obligated.
SHYLOCK:
Antonio shall become bound,—well.
SHYLOCK:
Antonio shall be obligated; right?
BASSANIO:
May you stead me? Will you pleasure me? Shall I
know your answer?
BASSANIO:
Will you help me? Will you make me happy? Can I know your
answer?
SHYLOCK:
Three thousand ducats, for three months, and Antonio
bound.(10)
SHYLOCK:
Three thousand dollars, for three months, and Antonio obligated.
BASSANIO:
Your answer to that.
BASSANIO:
Your answer to that.
SHYLOCK:
Antonio is a good man.
SHYLOCK:
Antonio is a good man.
BASSANIO:
Have you heard any imputation to the contrary?
BASSANIO:
Have you heard any suggestion to the contrary?
SHYLOCK:
Ho! no, no, no, no;—my meaning in saying he is a
good man, is, to have you understand me that he is sufficient:(15)
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, squander'd abroad. But
ships are but boards, sailors but men: there be land-rats and(20)
water-rats, land-thieves and water-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.
SHYLOCK:
Hey, no, no, no, no: my meaning in saying he is a good man
is to have you understand me, that he is sufficiently credit-worthy,
yet his money is all tied up: he has a large merchant ship going to
Tripoli, another to the Indies; I understand, moreover, in the Marketplace,
he has a third to Mexico, a fourth to England, and other ventures he
has wasted abroad. But ships are only boards of wood, sailors only
men; there are land-rats and water rats, land-thieves and
water-thieves,—I mean pirates,—and then there is the peril of
waters, winds, and rocks. The man is, in spite of all this, sufficiently
credit worthy. Three thousand dollars - I think I may take his promise to pay.
BASSANIO:
Be assured you may.(25)
BASSANIO:
Be assured you may.
SHYLOCK:
I will be assured I may; and that I may be assured, I
will bethink me. May I speak with Antonio?
SHYLOCK:
I’ll be assured that I may; and, that I may be assured, I
will think it over. May I speak with Antonio?
BASSANIO:
If it please you to dine with us.
BASSANIO:
If it pleases you to dine with us.
SHYLOCK:
Yes, to smell pork; to eat of the habitation which your
prophet, the Nazarite, conjured the devil into! I will buy(30)
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?
SHYLOCK:
Yes, to smell pork; to eat in the temple that your
prophet, the Nazarene, conjured the devil into. I’ll buy with
you, sell with you, talk with you, walk with you, and so
following; but I’ll not eat with you, drink with you, nor pray
with you. What’s the news in the Marketplace? Who’s coming here?

Enter Antonio.

BASSANIO:
This is Signior Antonio.(35)
BASSANIO:
This is Mr. Antonio.
SHYLOCK:
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.(40)
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,(45)
Which he calls interest. Cursed be my tribe
If I forgive him!
SHYLOCK:
He looks like a flattering tax collector!
I hate him because he is a Christian;
But more, because, in his low simplicity,
He lends out money free, and brings down
The rate of interest with us here in Venice.
If I can catch him once at a disadvantage,
I’ll feed the ancient grudge I bear him until it’s fat.
He hates our sacred nation; and he abuses me,
Even there where merchants congregate most of the time,
Insulting me, my bargains, and my well-won success,
Which he calls interest. Cursed be my tribe of Israel
If I forgive him!
BASSANIO:
Shylock, do you hear?
BASSANIO:
Shylock, do you hear me?
SHYLOCK:
I am debating of my present store:
And, by the near guess of my memory,(50)
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
Do you desire?—Rest you fair, good signior:(55)
Your worship was the last man in our mouths.
SHYLOCK:
I am debating about my present monies,
And, by the nearest guess, I remember that
I cannot instantly raise up the whole sum
Of three thousand dollars. What about that?
Tubal, a wealthy Hebrew of my tribe,
Will supply me. But wait! How many months
Do you want?

Relax, good sir;
We were just talking about you.

ANTONIO:
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 possess'd(60)
How much you would?
ANTONIO:
Shylock, although I don’t lend or borrow
By taking or by giving excess money,
Still, to supply the urgent wants of my friend,
I'll break a custom.

Does he know
How much you want?

SHYLOCK:
Ay, ay, three thousand ducats.
SHYLOCK:
Yes, yes, three thousand dollars.
ANTONIO:
And for three months.
ANTONIO:
And for three months.
SHYLOCK:
I had forgot;—three months. You told me so.
Well then, your bond; and, let me see. but hear you:(65)
Methought you said, you neither lend nor borrow,
Upon advantage.
SHYLOCK:
I had forgotten; three months; you told me so.
Well then, your promise to pay; and, let me see. But listen,
I thought you said you don’t lend or borrow
By charging interest.
ANTONIO:
I do never use it.
ANTONIO:
I never charge interest.
SHYLOCK:
When Jacob graz'd his uncle Laban's sheep,
This Jacob from our holy Abram was(70)
(As his wise mother wrought in his behalf)
The third possessor; ay, he was the third.
SHYLOCK:
When Jacob grazed his uncle Laban's sheep,—
This Jacob was the son of our holy Abraham,
As his wise mother said he was,
The third possessor; yes, he was the third,—
ANTONIO:
And what of him? did he take interest?
ANTONIO:
And what about him? Did he charge interest?
SHYLOCK:
No, not take interest; not, as you would say,
Directly interest: mark what Jacob did.(75)
When Laban and himself were compromis'd
That all the eanlings which were streak'd 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,(80)
Between these woolly breeders, in the act,
The skilful shepherd pill'd me certain wands,
And, in the doing of the deed of kind,
He stuck them up before the fulsome ewes;
Who, then conceiving, did in eaning-time(85)
Fall party-colour'd lambs, and those were Jacob's.
This was a way to thrive, and he was blest;
And thrift is blessing, if men steal it not.
SHYLOCK:
No, not charge interest; not, as you would say,
Directly charge interest; listen to what Jacob did.
When Laban and he agreed
That all the lambs which were streaked and multicolored
Should be given to Jacob, the ewes, being divided,
Were bred with the rams at the end of autumn;
And just when the rams and the ewes
Were in the act of procreation,
The skilful shepherd peeled certain sticks,
And, at the moment of mating,
He stuck them up before the fat ewes,
Who, then conceiving, did in lambing time
Gave birth to multicolored lambs, and those were Jacob's.
This was a way to thrive, and he was blest;
And good luck is blessing, if men don’t steal it.
ANTONIO:
This was a venture, sir, that Jacob serv'd for;
A thing not in his power to bring to pass,(90)
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?
ANTONIO:
This was an enterprise, sir, that Jacob worked for;
A thing that was not in his power to bring to pass,
But swayed and fashioned by the hand of heaven.
Are you telling me this to make interest good?
Or is your gold and silver ewes and rams?
SHYLOCK:
I cannot tell; I make it breed as fast:
But note me, signior.(95)
SHYLOCK:
I cannot tell; I make it breed as fast as ewes and rams.
But listen to me, sir.
ANTONIO:
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;(100)
O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!
ANTONIO:
Pay attention, Bassanio,
The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
An evil soul producing holy witness
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
A good apple rotten at the heart.
Oh,, what a good outside lying has!
SHYLOCK:
Three thousand ducats;—'tis a good round sum.
Three months from twelve, then let me see; the rate.
SHYLOCK:
Three thousand dollars; it’s a good round sum.
Three months from twelve; then let me see the rate.
ANTONIO:
Well, Shylock, shall we be beholden to you?
ANTONIO:
Well, Shylock, shall we be indebted to you?
SHYLOCK:
Signior Antonio, many a time and oft,(105)
In the Rialto you have rated me
About my moneys, and my usances:
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,(110)
And spet 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 monies; you say so;(115)
You, that did void your rheum upon my beard,
And foot me, as you spurn a stranger cur
Over your threshold; monies is your suit.
What should I say to you? Should I not say,
Hath a dog money? is it possible(120)
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 spat on me on Wednesday last;(125)
You spurn'd me such a day; another time
You call'd me—dog; and for these courtesies
I'll lend you thus much moneys?'
SHYLOCK:
Mr. Antonio, many times and often
In the Marketplace you have abused me
About my monies and my interest rates;
I still have taken it with a patient shrug,
Because suffering is the badge of all our tribe;
You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog,
And spat on my Jewish clothes,
And all because of using of that which is my own.
Well then, it now appears you need my help;
Come on, then; you come to me, and you say
“'Shylock, we would have money.” You say so:
You that spit on my beard,
And kick me as you spurn a strange dog
On your doorstep; money is what you ask for.
What should I say to you? Shouldn’t I say
“Has a dog got money? Is it possible
A dog can lend you three thousand dollars?” Or
Shall I bend low and, in a bondman's voice,
With soft breathing and whispering humbleness,
Say this:—
“Fair sir, you spit on me on Wednesday last;
You spurned me such a day; another time
You called me dog; and for these courtesies
I'll lend you thus much money?”
ANTONIO:
I am as like to call thee so again,
To spit on thee again, to spurn thee too.(130)
If thou wilt lend this money, lend it not
As to thy friends; (for when did friendship take
A breed for barren metal of his friend?)
But lend it rather to thine enemy;
Who, if he break, thou mayst with better face(135)
Exact the penalty.
ANTONIO:
I am likely to call you so again,
To spit on you again, to spurn you too.
If you will lend this money, don’t lend it
As if to your friends,— because when did friendship take
Race as pure proof of his friend’s worthiness?—
But lend it rather to your enemy,
Who, if he defaults may face
Exact the penalty better.
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(140)
Of usance for my monies, and you'll not hear me:
This is kind I offer.
SHYLOCK:
Why, look, how you get angry!
I wish to be friends with you, and have your friendship,
Forget the shames that you have stained me with,
Supply you need right now, and don’t pay a jot
Of interest for my money, and you'll not hear me complain:
I offer you kindness.
BASSANIO:
This were kindness.
BASSANIO:
This was kindness?
SHYLOCK:
This kindness will I show:
Go with me to a notary, seal me there(145)
Your single bond; and, in a merry sport,
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(150)
Of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken
In what part of your body pleaseth me.
SHYLOCK:
I will show you this kindness.
Go with me to a notary, seal your single promise
to pay me there; and, in a happy sport,
If you don’t repay me on such a day,
In such a place, such sum or sums as are
Expressed in the conditions, let the penalty
Be an equal pound
Of your beautiful flesh, to be cut off and taken
In whatever part of your body that pleases me.
ANTONIO:
Content, in faith; I'll seal to such a bond,
And say there is much kindness in the Jew.
ANTONIO:
Happily, in faith; I'll put my seal to such a promise to pay,
And say there is much kindness in the Jew.
BASSANIO:
You shall not seal to such a bond for me;(155)
I'll rather dwell in my necessity.
BASSANIO:
You shall not put your seal to such a promise to pay
For me; I’d rather live in my poverty.
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.(160)
ANTONIO:
Why, don’t be afraid, man; I won’t default in payment;
Within the next two months, that's a month before
This promise to pay expires, I expect to get a return
Of three times three of the value of this promise to pay.
SHYLOCK:
O father Abram, what these Christians are,
Whose own hard dealings teaches them suspect
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?(165)
A pound of man's flesh, taken from a man,
Is not so estimable, profitable neither,
As flesh of muttons, beefs, or goats. I say,
To buy his favour, I extend this friendship;
If he will take it, so; if not, adieu;(170)
And, for my love, I pray you wrong me not.
SHYLOCK:
Oh, father Abraham, what are these Christians,
Whose own hard dealings teach them to suspect
The thoughts of others. Please, tell me this;
If he should break his promise, what should I gain
By taking his forfeit?
A pound of man's flesh, taken from a man,
Is not so valuable, or profitable either,
As flesh of mutton, beef, or goat. I say,
To buy his good will, I extend this friendship;
If he will take it, okay; if not, goodbye;
And, for my friendship, please don’t insult me.
ANTONIO:
Yes, Shylock, I will seal unto this bond.
ANTONIO:
Yes, Shylock, I’ll put my seal to this promise to pay.
SHYLOCK:
Then meet me forthwith at the notary's;
Give him direction for this merry bond,
And I will go and purse the ducats straight;(175)
See to my house, left in the fearful guard
Of an unthrifty knave; and presently
I will be with you.
SHYLOCK:
Then meet me immediately at the notary's;
Give him directions for confirming this happy promise to pay,
And I’ll go and get the dollars right away,
Check on my house, left in the care
Of an unlucky rogue, and I’ll be with you
Soon.

Exit.

ANTONIO:
Hie thee, gentle Jew.
This Hebrew will turn Christian; he grows kind.(180)
ANTONIO:
Hurry, gentle Jew.

This Hebrew will become a Christian: he’s getting kind.

BASSANIO:
I like not fair terms and a villain's mind.
BASSANIO:
I don’t like 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.
ANTONIO:
Come on; in this transaction, there can be no fear;
My ships come home a month before the due date.

Exeunt.