Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

Of what it likes or loathes. Now, for your answer.
As there is no firm reason to be rendered,
Why he cannot abide a gaping pig;
Why he, a harmless, necessary cat ;
Why he, a woollen bagpipe; but of force
Must yield to such inevitable shame,
As to offend, himself being offended;
So can I give no reason, nor I will not,
More than a lodged hate, and a certain loathing
I bear Antonio, that I follow thus
A losing suit against him. Are you answered ?

Bass. This is no answer, thou unfeeling man,
To excuse the current of thy cruelty.

Shij. I am not bound to please thee with my answer.
Bass. Do all men kill the things they do not love?
Shy. Hates any man the thing he would not kill ?
Bass. Every offence is not a hate at first.
Shy. What, wouldst thou have a serpent sting thee

twice? Ant. I pray you,

think

you question with the Jew.
You may as well go stand upon the beach,
And bid the main flood bate his usual height;
You may as well use question with the wolf,
Why he hath made the ewe bleat for the lamb;
You may as well forbid the mountain pines
To wag their high tops, and to make no noise,
When they are fretted with the gusts of heaven;
You may as well do any thing most hard,
As seek to soften that, (than which what's harder ?)
His Jewish heart.— Therefore I do beseech

you,
Make no more offers, use no further means,
But, with all brief and plain conveniency,
Let me have judgment, and the Jew his will.

Bass. For thy three thousand ducats here is six.
Shy. If every ducat in six thousand ducats

1 It was usual to cover with woollen cloth the bag of this instrument The old copies read woollen : the conjectural reading swollen was proposed by sir J. Hawkins. 2 Converse.

Were in six parts, and every part a ducat,
I would not draw them; I would have my bond.
Duke. How shalt thou hope for mercy, rend'ring

none?
Shy. What judgment shall I dread, doing no wrong?
You have among you many a purchased slave,
Which, like your asses, and your dogs, and mules, ,
You use in abject and in slavish parts,
Because you bought them.—Shall I say to you,
Let them be free; marry them to your heirs ?
Why sweat they under burdens ? Let their beds
Be made as soft as yours, and let their palates
Be seasoned with such viands? You will answer,
The slaves are ours.--So do I answer you.
The pound of flesh, which I demand of him,
Is dearly bought; 'tis mine, and I will have it.
If

you deny me, fie upon your law! ! There is no force in the decrees of Venice. I stand for judgment: answer; shall I have it?

Duke. Upon my power I may dismiss this court, ,
Unless Bellario, a learned doctor,
Whom I have sent for to determine this,
Come here to-day.
Salar.

My lord, here stays without
A messenger with letters froin the doctor,
New come from Padua.

Duke. Bring us the letters; call the messenger.
Bass. Good cheer, Antonio! What, man? cour-

age yet!

The Jew shall have my flesh, blood, bones, and all,
Ere thou shalt lose for me one drop of blood.

Ant. I am a tainted wether of the flock,
Meetest for death; the weakest kind of fruit
Drops earliest to the ground, and so let me.
You cannot better be employed, Bassanio,
Than to live still, and write mine epitaph.

faith,

Enter Nerissa, dressed like a Lawyer's Clerk. Duke. Came you from Padua, from Bellario? Ner. From both, my lord. Bellario greets your grace.

[Presents a letter. Bass. Why dost thou whet thy knife so earnestly? Shy. To cut the forfeiture from that bankrupt there.

Gra. Not on thy sole, but on thy soul, harsh Jew, Thou mak’st thy knife keen; but no metal can, No, not the hangman's axe, bear half the keenness Of thy sharp envy. Can no prayers pierce thee?

Shy. No, none that thou hast wit enough to make.

Gra. O, be thou damned, inexorable dog!
And for thy life let justice be accused.
Thou almost mak'st me waver in

iny
To hold opinion with Pythagoras,
That souls of animals infuse themselves
Into the trunks of men. Thy currish spirit,
Governed a wolf, who, hanged for human slaughter,
Even from the gallows did his fell soul fleet,
And, whilst thou lay'st in thy unhallowed dam,
Infused itself in thee ; for thy desires
Are wolfish, bloody, starved, and ravenous.

Shy. Till thou canst rail the seal from off my bond,
Thou but offend'st thy lungs to speak so loud.
Repair thy wit, good youth, or it will fall
To cureless ruin.--I stand here for law.

Duke. This letter from Bellario doth commend
A young and learned doctor to our court.
Where is he?
Ner.

He attendeth here hard by,
To know your answer, whether you'll admit him.

Duke. With all my heart; some three or four of you,
Go, give him courteous conduct to this place.-
Mean time the court shall hear Bellario's letter.

[Clerk reads.] Your grace shall understand, that, at the receipt of your letter, I am very sick ; but in the instant that your messenger came, in loving visitation was with me a young doctor of Rome; his name is Bal

[ocr errors]

thasar. I acquainted him with the cause in controversy between the Jew and Antonio the merchant; we turned o'er many books together; he is furnished with my opinion; which, bettered with his own learning, (the greatness whereof I cannot enough commend,) comes with him, at my importunity, to fill up your grace's request in my stead. I beseech you, let his lack of years be no impediment to let him lack a reverend estimation ; for 1 never knew so young a body with so old a head. I leave him to your gracious acceptance, whose trial shall better publish his commendation.

Duke. You hear the learned Bellario, what he writes. And here, I take it, is the doctor come.

Enter Portia dressed like a Doctor of Laws.
Give me your hand. Came you from old Bellario?

Por. I did, my lord.
Duke.

You are welcome; take your place
Are you acquainted with the difference
That holds this present question in the court ?

Por. I am informed thoroughly of the cause.
Which is the merchant here, and which the Jew?

Duke. Antonio and old Shylock, both stand forth.
Por. Is your name Shylock ?
Shy.

Shylock is my name. Por. Of a strange nature is the suit you

follow ;
Yet in such rule, that the Venetian law
Cannot impugn you, as you do proceed-
You stand within his danger, do you not ?

[To Antonio. Ant. Ay, so he says. Por.

Do you confess the bond ? Ant. I do. Por.

Then must the Jew be merciful. Shy. On what compulsion must I ? Tell me that. Por.: The quality of mercy is not strained;

1 To impugn is to oppose, to controvert

2 i. e. within his reach or control. The phrase is thought to be derived from a similar one in the monkish Latin of the middle age.

It droppeth, as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath : it is twice blessed ;
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes.
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest ; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings;
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's,
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,-
That in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation ; we do pray

for

mercy ; And that same prayer doth teach us all to render The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much, To mitigate the justice of thy plea; Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice Must needs give sentence 'gainst the merchant there.

Shy. My deeds upon my head! I crave the law, The penalty and forfeit of my bond.

Por. Is he not able to discharge the money?

Bass. Yes, here I tender it for him in the court; Yea, twice the sum. If that will not suffice, I will be bound to pay it ten times o'er On forfeit of my hands, my head, my heart. If this will not suffice, it must appear That malice bears down truth.' And I beseech you, Wrest once the law to your authority; To do a great right, do a little wrong; And curb this cruel devil of his will.

Por. It must not be; there is no power in Venice Can alter a decree established; 'Twill be recorded for a precedent ; And many an error, by the same example, Will rush into the state. It cannot be.

1 1. e. malice oppressed honesty; a true man, in old language, is an honest man. We now call the jury good men and true.

VOL. II. 30

« ZurückWeiter »