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man, God warrant us; she for a woman, (326 God bless us.

Lys. She hath spied him already with those sweet eyes.

Dem. And thus she moans, videlicet :
This. Asleep, my love ?

What, dead, my dove ?
O Pyramus, arise!

Speak, speak! Quite dumb ?
Dead, dead ? A tomb
Must cover thy sweet eyes.

These lily lips,

This cherry nose,
These yellow cowslip cheeks,

Are gone, are gone!
Lovers, make moan.
His eyes were green as leeks.

O Sisters Three,
Come, come to me,
With hands as pale as milk ;

Lay them in gore,
Since you have shore
With shears his thread of silk.
Tongue, not a word !

Come, trusty sword;
Come, blade, my breast imbrue;

(Stabs herself.] And, farewell, friends;

Thus, Thisby ends.
Adieu, adieu, adieu.

(Dies.] The. Moonshine and Lion are left to bury (365 the dead.

Dem. Ay, and Wall too.

(Bot. Starting up.] No, I assure you ; the wall is down that parted their fathers. Will it please you to see the epilogue, or to hear a Bergomask dance between two of our company? (361

The. No epilogue, I pray you; for your play needs no excuse. Never excuse ; for when the players are all dead, there need none to be blamed. Marry, if he that writ it had played Pyramus and hang'd himself in Thisbe's gar- [365 ter, it would have been a fine tragedy; and so it is, truly; and very notably discharg'd. But, come, your Bergomask ; let your epilogue alone.

A dance.) The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve. Lovers, to bed ; 't is almost fairy time. I fear we sball out-sleep the coming morn As much as we this night have overwatch'd. This palpable-gross play hath well beguil'd The heavy gait of night. Sweet friends, to bed. A fortnight hold we this solemnity In nightly revels and new jollity. [Exeunt.

Enter ROBIN GOODFELLOW. Robin. Now the hungry lion roars,

And the wolf behowls the moon;
Whilst the heavy ploughman snores, 380

All with weary task fordone.
Now the wasted brands do glow,
Whilst the screech-owl, screeching

Puts the wretch that lies in woe

In remembrance of a shroud.

Now it is the time of night

That the graves, all gaping wide,
Every one lets forth his sprite,

In the church-way paths to glide.
And we fairies, that do run

By the triple Hecate's team
From the presence of the sun,

Following darkness like a dream,
Now are frolic. Not a mouse
Shall disturb this hallowed house.
I am sent with broom before,

To sweep the dust behind the door. Enter OBERON and TITANIA with their train. Obe. Through the house give glimmering light

By the dead and drowsy fire,
Every elf and fairy sprite

Hop as light as bird from brier ;
And this ditty, after me,

Sing, and dance it trippingly.
Tita. First, rehearse your song by rote,

To each word a warbling note.
Hand in hand, with fairy grace,
Will we sing, and bless this place.

(Song (and dance). Obe. Now, until the break of day,

Through this house each fairy stray.
To the best bride-bed will we,
Which by us shall blessed be;
And the issue there create
Ever shall be fortunate.
So shall all the couples three
Ever true in loving be;
And the blots of Nature's hand
Shall not in their issue stand ;
Never mole, hare-lip, nor scar,
Nor mark prodigious, such as are
Despised in nativity,
Shall upon their children be.
With this field-dew consecrate,
Every fairy take his gait,
And each several chamber bless,
Through this palace, with sweet peace;
And the owner of it blest
Ever shall in safety rest.
Trip away; make no stay;
Meet me all by break of day.

(Exeunt (Oberon, Titania, and train). Robin. If we shadows have offended,

Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumb’red here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend.
If yon pardon, we will mend.
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call.
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.



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On July 22, 1598, James Roberts entered The Marchaunt of Venyce or otherwise called the Jewe of Venyce in the Stationers' Register, and in the same year the play was named in Meres's list. These two references fix a later limit for the date of the play ; but no evidence equally strong has been found for an earlier. An entry in Henslowe's Diary notes the first production of “the Venesyon comodey" on August 25, 1594, in the theatre in which Shakespeare's company was then acting; and this has been interpreted as referring to The Merchant of Venice. But the frequency of plots from Italian sources makes the identification precarious. In 1594 Dr. Roderigo Lopez, a prominent Jewish physician, was hanged in London on a charge of treason and conspiracy to murder Queen Elizabeth and the Portuguese pretender, Antonio Perez. It has been sopposed that the present play was produced about this time in order to take advantage of the popular excitement stirred up by the enemies of Lopez against Jews; and a slight corroboration of this theory has been found in the occurrence of the name Antonio as that of the intended victim in both the history and the drama. But the maturity exhibited in the workmanship of the play has made scholars reluctant to accept so early a date, and it is probably not earlier than 1596.

Though registered in 1598, the comedy did not appear till 1600, when two quartos were published, one by James Roberts, the other by Thomas Heyes, both, apparently, printed by Roberts. The text of the First Folio is taken from Heyes's edition. Opinion is divided as to the comparative merits of Roberts's and Heyes's quartos. Though differing but slightly, they seem to be printed from independent transcripts of the same copy of the original manuscript, so that neither can claim a superior authority throughout. The present text is the result of an attempt to reach a3 nearly as possible their original from a comparison of the readings in each case of variation.

It seems likely that Shakespeare's immediate source was a lost play of whose existence we are aware from a passage in Gosson's School of Abuse (1579), in which he speaks of the prose play of the Jew shown at the Bull, “ representing the greediness worldly chusers, and bloody mindes of Usurers." This is plausibly interpreted as indicating a play combining the story of the caskets with that of the pound of flesh. The connection of a ballad of uncertain date on the cruelty of "Gernutus the Jew" with Shakespeare's play is slight and doubtful in the extreme. Our anthor or his immediate predecessor, however, in all probability did have access to the first novel of the fourth day in Ser Giovanni Fiorentino's Il Pecorone (1378), which combines the stories of the bond and the rings, and names Belmont as the lady's residence. In the fourteenth tale of Masuccio di Salerno (A. ca. 1470) a young man elopes with a miser's daughter who carries off her father's jewels; but the resemblance to the story of Jessica and Lorenzo is not strong enough to prove a connection. The only other document of importance as a possible immediate source is a declamation in The Orator by Alexander Silvayn, translated into English, and printed in 1596. After a summary of the story of the bond, Silvayn gives speeches by the Jew and the merchant, and the former of these may well have supplied hints for some of Shylock's lines. Besides the story of the caskets, however, both the underplots of Jessica and of Nerissa are absent from all of these extant versions of the story of the bond. Yet, so long as the play mentioned by Gosson remains undiscovered, it is impossible to say how much of the elaborate construction of The Merchant of Venice is due to Shakespeare, and how much to his unknown predecessor.

The constituent elements of the plot, when taken apart, are found to belong to several very old and widespread traditions. The story of the pound of flesh occurs in Oriental legend, in the Dolopathos, the Gesta Romanorum, the Cursor Mundi, and elsewhere. The story of the caskets appears in the romance of Barlaam and Josaphat, in the Speculum Historiale of Vincent of Beauvais, and in the Golden Legend of Jacobus de Voragine ; while somewhat similar tales on the deceptiveness of appearances are still more widespread.





TUBAL, a Jew, his friend. The PRINCE OF Morocco, suitors to Portia.

LAUNCELOT GOBBO, a clown, servant to Shylock. The PRINCE OF ARRAGON,

OLD GOBBO, father to Launcelot. ANTONIO, a merchant of Venice.

LEONARDO, servant to Bassanio. BASSANIO, his friend, suitor to Portia.



servants to Portia. SALARINO,

friends to Antonio and Bassanio. GRATLANO,

PORTIA, a rich heiress. SALERIO,

NEBISSA, her waiting-gentlewoman. LORENZO, in love with Jessica.

JESSICA, daughter to Shylock. SHYLOCK, a rich Jew. Magnificoes of Venice, Officers of the Court of Justice, Gaoler, Servants to Portia, and other attendants.

SCENE: Partly at Venice and partly at Belmont, the seat of Portia.]




ACT I (SCENE I. Venice. A street.] Enter ANTONIO, SALARINO, and SALANIO.

Ant. 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 't is 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.

Salar. 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 curtsy to them, do them reverence, As they fly by them with their woven wings. Salan. Believe me, sir, had I such venture

forth, 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 Misfortune to my ventures, out of doubt Would make me sad. Salar.

My wind cooling my broth 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, 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,

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 Is sad to think upon his merchandise. Ant. Believe me, no. I thanķ my fortune for

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.

Salar. Why, then you are in love.

Fie, fie! Salar. Not in love neither? Then let us say

you are sad, Because you are not merry ; and 't were as

easy 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, 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. Salan. Here comes Bassanio, your most noble

kinsman, 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.

Ant. Your worth is very dear in my regard.













I take it, your own business calls on you
And you embrace the occasion to depart.

Salar. Good morrow, my good lords.
Bass. Good signiors both, when shall we

laugh? Say, when ?
You grow exceeding strange. Must it be so ?
Salar. We'll make our leisures to attend on

yours. [Exeunt Salarino and Salanio. Lor. My Lord Bassanio, since you have found

We two will leave you ; but at dinner-time, 70
I pray you, have in mind where we must meet.

Bass. I will not fail you.
Gra. 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.
Ant. I hold the world but as the world,

A stage where every man must play a part,
And mine a sad one.

Let me play the fool !
With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come,
And let my liver rather heat with 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 jaun-

dice ! By being peevish? I tell thee what, Antonio

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
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 those
That therefore only are reputed wise
For saying nothing, when, I am very sure,
If they should speak, would almost damn those
Which, hearing them, would call their brothers

I 'll tell thee more of this another time;
But fish not with this melancholy bait
For this fool gudgeon, this opinion.
Come, good Lorenzo. Fare ye well awhile;
I'll end my exhortation after dinner.
Lor. Well, we will leave you then till dinner-

time. I must be one of these same dumb wise men, For Gratiano never lets me speak.

Gra. Well, keep me company but two years Thou shalt not know the sound of thine own

tongue. Ant. Farewell! I'll grow a talker for this

gear. Gra. Thanks, il faith, for silence is only

commendable a neat's tongue dri'd and a maid not vendible.

(Ereunt (Gratiano and Lorenzo). Ant. Is that any thing now? Bass. Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of


nothing, more than any man in all Venice. His reasons are as two grains of wheat hid in (116 two bushels of chaff ; you shall seek all day ere you find them, and when you have them, they are not worth the search.

Ant. Well, tell me now what lady is the To whom you swore a secret pilgrimage, That you to-day promis'd to tell me of ?

Bass. 'T is not unknown to you, Antonio, How much I have disabled mine estate By something showing a more swelling port 124 Than my faint means would grant continuance. 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, I owe the most, in money and in love, And from your love I have a warranty To unburden all my plots and purposes How to get clear of all the debts I owe. Ant. I pray you, good Bassanio, let me know

it; 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. Bass. In my school-days, when I had lost one

shaft, 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. 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 Or bring your latter hazard back again And thankfully rest debtor for the first. Ant. 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 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.

Bass. 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 undervalu'd
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'

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,












170 175

I have a mind presages me such thrift,
That I should questionless be fortunate !
Ant. 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,
Where money is; and I no question make
To have it of my trust or for my sake.






SCENE II. (Belmont. A room in Portia's house.) Enter PORTIA with her waiting-woman, NERISSA.

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

Ner. 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 as they [6 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.

Por. Good sentences and well pronounc'd. Ner. They would be better, if well followed.

Por. 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 ; [15 can easier teach twenty what were good to be done, than to be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching. The brain may devise laws for the blood, but a hot temper leaps o'er, a cold

cree ; such a hare is madness the youth, to [20 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 neither choose who I would nor refuse who I dislike; so is the will of a living [25 daughter curb'd by the will of a dead father. Is it not hard, Nerissa, that I cannot choose one nor refuse none ?

Ner. 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, will, no doubt, never be chosen by any rightly (35 but one who you shall rightly love. But what warmth is there in your affection towards any of these princely suitors that are already come?

Por. I pray thee, over-name them; and as thou namest them, I will describe them; and, [40 according to my description, level at my affection.

Ner. First, there is the Neapolitan prince.

Por. 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, [45 that he can shoe him himself. I am much afeard my lady his mother played false with a smith.

Ner. Then there is the County Palatine.

Por. He doth nothing but frown, as who [.. should say, “If 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. I had rather be married to a s death's-head with a bone in his mouth than to either of these. God defend me from these two!

Ner. How say you by the French lord, Monsieur Le Bon ?

Por. 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 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 marry twenty husbands. If he would despise me, I would forgive him, for if he love me to madness, I shall never requite him.

Ner. What say you, then, to Falconbridge, the

young baron of England ?

Por. 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 (1 poor pennyworth in the English. He is a proper man's picture, but, alas, who can converse with a dumb-show? How oddly he is suited! I think he bought his doublet in Italy, his round hose in France, his bonnet in Germany, and (so his behaviour everywhere.

Ner. What think you of the Scottish lord his neighbour?

Por. That he hath a neighbourly charity in [s him, for he borrowed a box of the ar of the Englishman and swore he would pay him again when he was able. I think the Frenchman became his surety and seal'd 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 a little worse than a man, and when he is worst, he is little better than a beast. An the worst fall [us 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 [101 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_(10 choose it. I will do anything, Nerissa, ere I'll be married to a sponge.

Ner. You need not fear, lady, the having any of these lords. They have acquainted me with their determinations; which is, in- (119 deed, to return to their home and to tronble you with no more suit, unless you may be won by some other sort than your father's imposition depending on the caskets.


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