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Robin. Now the hungry lion roars,


And, farewell, friends; Thus, Thisby ends. Adieu, adieu, adieu. The. Moonshine and Lion are left to bury [355 the dead.


Puts the wretch that lies in woe In remembrance of a shroud.


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 shall 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.





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 loud,


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].


So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.


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 you 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.







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 prodaction 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 supposed 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 as 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 of 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 crnelty of "Gerputus the Jew” with Shakespeare's play is slight and doubtful in the extreme. Our author 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 (ft. 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.






nothing, more than any man in all Venice. His reasons are as two grains of wheat hid in (118 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




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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

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

yours. (Ereunt Salarino and Salanio. Lor. My Lord Bassanio, since you have found

Antonio, 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'a.
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 repated wise For saying nothing, when, I am very sure, If they should speak, would almost damn those Which, hearing them, would call their brothers

fools. 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, i' faith, for silence is only

commendable Is 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




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

Ant. I pray you, good Bassanio, let me know 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

bat 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.
Om Antonio, had I but the means
To hold a rival place with one of them,






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at sea;




I have a mind presages me such thrift,

Por. He doth nothing but frown, as who [s That I should questionless be fortunate! should say, “If you will not have me, choose. Ant. Thou know'st that all my fortunes are He hears merry tales and smiles not. 'I fear he

will prove the weeping philosopher when he Neither have I money nor commodity

grows old, being so full of unmannerly sadness To raise a present sum. Therefore go forth ; in his youth. I had rather be married to a (se Try what my credit can in Venice do.

death's-head with a bone in his mouth than to That shall be rack'd, even to the uttermost, either of these. God defend me from these To furnish thee to Belmont, to fair Portia. two! Go, presently inquire, and so will I,

Ner. How say you by the French lord, MonWhere money is; and I no question make sieur Le Bon ? To have it of my trust or for my sake.

Por. God made him, and therefore let him (Exeunt. pass for a man. In truth, I know it is a sin to

be a mocker ; but, he! why, he hath a horse SCENE II. (Belmont. A room in Portia's house.] better than the Neapolitan's, a better bad habit Enter PORTIA with her waiting-woman, NERISSA.

of frowning than the Count Palatine. He is

every man in no man. If a throstle sing, he Por. By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is falls straight a capering. He will fence with aweary of this great world.

his own shadow. If I should marry him, I Ner. You would be, sweet madam, if your should marry twenty husbands. If he would miseries were in the same abundance as your despise me,

I would forgive him, for if he love good fortunes are ; and yet, for aught I see, they me to madness, I shall never requite him. are as sick that surfeit with too much as they [6 Ner. What say you, then, to Falconbridge, that starve with nothing. It is no mean bap- the

young baron of England ? piness, therefore, to be seated in the mean. Por. You know I say nothing to him, for Superfluity comes sooner by white hairs, but he understands not me, nor I him. He hath competency lives longer.

neither Latin, French, nor Italian, and you will Por. Good sentences and well pronounc'd. come into the court and swear that I have a [73 Ner. They would be better, if well followed. poor pennyworth in the English. He is a proper

Por. If to do were as easy as to know what man's picture, but, alas, who can converse with were good to do, chapels had been churches and a dumb-show? How oddly he is suited! I poor men's cottages princes' palaces. It is a think he bought his doublet in Italy, his round good divine that follows his own instructions ; [15 hose in France, his bonnet in Germany, and [

can easier teach twenty what were good to be his behaviour everywhere. done, than to be one of the twenty to follow mine Ner. What think you of the Scottish lord own teaching. The brain may devise laws for his neighbour? the blood, but a hot temper leaps o'er a cold Por. That he hath a neighbourly charity in (as decree; such a hare is madness the youth, to [30 him, for he borrowed a box of the ear of the skip o'er the meshes of good counsel the crip- Englishman and swore he would

pay him again ple. But this reasoning is not in the fashion to when he was able. I think the Frenchman be choose me a husband. O me, the word choose! came his surety and seal'd under for another. I may neither choose who I would nor refuse Ner. How like you the young German, the who I dislike; so is the will of a living (25 Duke of Saxony's nephew ? daughter curb'd by the will of a dead father. Por. Very vilely in the morning, when he is Is it not hard, Nerissa, that I cannot choose sober, and most vilely in the afternoon, when one nor refuse none ?

he is drunk. When he is best, he is a little Ner. Your father was ever virtuous, and worse than a man, and when he is worst, he is holy men at their death have good inspirations ; little better than a beast. An the worst fall [95 therefore the lottery that he hath devised in that ever fell, I hope I shall make shift to go these three chests of gold, silver, and lead, withont him. whereof who chooses his meaning chooses you, Ner. If he should offer to choose, and choose will, no doubt, never be chosen by any rightly (35 the right casket, you should refuse to perform but one who you shall rightly love. But what your father's will, if you should refuse to 101 warmth is there in your affection towards any

accept him. of these princely suitors that are already come? Por. Therefore, for fear of the worst, I pray

Por. I pray thee, over-name them; and as thee, set a deep glass of rhenish wine on the thou namest them, I will describe them; and, [40 contrary casket, for if the devil be within and according to my description, level at my affec- that temptation without, I know he will_(166 tion.

choose it. I will do anything, Nerissa, ere I'll Ner. First, there is the Neapolitan prince. be married to a sponge.

Por. Ay, that's a colt indeed, for he doth Ner. You need not fear, lady, the having nothing but talk of his horse ; and he makes it any of these lords. They have acquainted me a great appropriation to his own good parts, (4,5 with their determinations; which is, in- (110 that he can shoe him himself. I am much deed, to return to their home and to trouble afeard my lady his mother played false with you with no more suit, unless you may be won a smith.

by some other sort than your father's imposiNer. Then there is the County Palatine. tion depending on the caskets.


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