Act 4, Scene 1

  1. The Duke of Venice, the Magnificoes, Antonio, Bassanio, Salerio, and others are on stage. Enter Shylock.

  2. Duke:

    Make room, and let him stand before our face.
    Shylock, the world thinks, and I think so too,
    That thou but leadest this fashion of thy malice
    To the last hour of act, and then ’tis thought
    Thou’lt show thy mercy and remorse, more strange
    Than is thy strange apparent cruelty.
    And where thou now exacts the penalty,
    Which is a pound of this poor merchant’s flesh,
    Thou wilt not only loose the forfeiture,
    But touched with human gentleness and love,
    Forgive a moiety of the principal.
    Glancing an eye of pity on his losses
    That have of late so huddled on his back
    (Enow to press a royal merchant down)
    And pluck commiseration of his state
    From brassy bosoms and rough hearts of flints,
    From stubborn Turks and Tartars, never trained
    To offices of tender courtesy.
    We all expect a gentle answer Jew.

  3. Shylock:

    I have possessed your Grace of what I purpose,
    And by our holy Sabbath have I sworn
    To have the due and forfeit of my bond.
    If you deny it, let the danger light
    Upon your charter and your city’s freedom.
    You’ll ask me why I rather choose to have
    A weight of carrion flesh than to receive
    Three thousand ducats? I'll not answer that.
    But say it is my humour; is it answered?
    What if my house be troubled with a rat,
    And I be pleased to give ten thousand ducats
    To have it bained? What, are you answered yet?
    Some men there are love not a gaping pig.
    Some that are mad if they behold a cat.
    And others, when the bagpipe sings i’ th’ nose,
    Cannot contain their urine. For affection,
    Master of passion, sways it to the mood
    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?

  4. Bassanio:

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

  5. Shylock:

    I am not bound to please thee with my answer.

  6. Bassanio:

    Do all men kill the things they do not love?

  7. Shylock:

    Hates any man the thing he would not kill?

  8. Bassanio:

    Every offence is not a hate at first.

  9. Shylock:

    What, wouldst thou have a serpent sting thee twice?

  10. Antonio:

    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 fretten with the gusts of heaven.
    You may as well do anything 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 farther means,
    But with all brief and plain conveniency
    Let me have judgment, and the Jew his will.

  11. Bassanio:

    For thy three thousand ducats here is six.

  12. Shylock:

    If every ducat in six thousand ducats
    Were in six parts, and every part a ducat,
    I would not draw them. I would have my bond.

  13. Duke:

    How shalt thou hope for mercy, rend’ring none?

  14. Shylock:

    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?

  15. Duke:

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

  16. Salerio:

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

  17. Duke:

    Bring us the letters. Call the messenger.

  18. Bassanio:

    Good cheer, Antonio. What man, courage yet.
    The Jew shall have my flesh, blood, bones and all,
    Ere thou shalt lose for me one drop of blood.

  19. Antonio:

    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.

  20. Enter Nerissa, disguised as a lawyer's clerk.

  21. Duke:

    Came you from Padua, from Bellario?

  22. Clerk (Nerissa):

    From both. My lord, Bellario greets your Grace.

    Gives a letter to the Duke, which he reads.
    Shylock sharpens his knife on the sole of his shoe.

  23. Bassanio:

    Why dost thou whet thy knife so earnestly?

  24. Shylock:

    To cut the forfeiture from that bankrupt there.

  25. Gratiano:

    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?

  26. Shylock:

    No, none that thou hast wit enough to make.

  27. Gratiano:

    O, be thou damned, inexecrable dog,
    And for thy life let justice be accused.
    Thou almost mak’st me waver in my faith,
    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.

  28. Shylock:

    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.

  29. Duke:

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

  30. Clerk (Nerissa):

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

  31. Duke:

    With all my heart. Some three or four of you
    Go give him courteous conduct to this place.

    Exit Attendants.

    Meantime, the court shall hear Bellario’s letter.


    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 Balthasar. 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 I 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.

    Enter Portia, disguised as Balthasar, dressed as a lawyer.

    You hear the learn’d Bellario what he writes —
    And here (I take it) is the doctor come.
    Give me your hand. Came you from old Bellario?

  32. Balthasar (Portia):

    I did, my lord.

  33. Duke:

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

  34. Balthasar (Portia):

    I am informèd throughly of the cause.
    Which is the merchant here? And which the Jew?

  35. Duke:

    Antonio and old Shylock, both stand forth.

  36. Balthasar (Portia):

    Is your name Shylock?

  37. Shylock:

    Shylock is my name.

  38. Balthasar (Portia):

    Of a strange nature is the suit you follow,
    Yet in such rule that the Venetian law
    Cannot impugn you as you do proceed.
    To Antonio. You stand within his danger, do you not?

  39. Antonio:

    Ay, so he says.

  40. Balthasar (Portia):

    Do you confess the bond?

  41. Antonio:

    I do.

  42. Balthasar (Portia):

    Then must the Jew be merciful.

  43. Shylock:

    On what compulsion must I? Tell me that.

  44. Balthasar (Portia):

    The quality of mercy is not strained,
    It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
    Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest,
    It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes.
    ’Tis mightiest in the mightiest, it becomes
    The thronèd 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 enthronèd 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.

  45. Shylock:

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

  46. Balthasar (Portia):

    Is he not able to discharge the money?

  47. Bassanio:

    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.
    To the Duke. 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.

  48. Balthasar (Portia):

    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.

  49. Shylock:

    A Daniel come to judgment! Yea, a Daniel!
    O wise young judge, how I do honour thee.

  50. Balthasar (Portia):

    I pray you let me look upon the bond.

  51. Shylock:

    Here ’tis, most reverend doctor, here it is.

  52. Balthasar (Portia):

    Shylock, there’s thrice thy money offered thee.

  53. Shylock:

    An oath, an oath, I have an oath in heaven.
    Shall I lay perjury upon my soul?
    No, not for Venice.

  54. Balthasar (Portia):

    Why, this bond is forfeit,
    And lawfully by this the Jew may claim
    A pound of flesh, to be by him cut off
    Nearest the merchant’s heart.
    To Shylock. Be merciful,
    Take thrice thy money, bid me tear the bond.

  55. Shylock:

    When it is paid according to the tenure.
    It doth appear you are a worthy judge:
    You know the law, your exposition
    Hath been most sound. I charge you by the law,
    Whereof you are a well-deserving pillar,
    Proceed to judgment. By my soul I swear,
    There is no power in the tongue of man
    To alter me. I stay here on my bond.

  56. Antonio:

    Most heartily I do beseech the court
    To give the judgment.

  57. Balthasar (Portia):

    Why then thus it is.
    You must prepare your bosom for his knife.

  58. Shylock:

    O noble judge! O excellent young man!

  59. Balthasar (Portia):

    For the intent and purpose of the law
    Hath full relation to the penalty,
    Which here appeareth due upon the bond.

  60. Shylock:

    ’Tis very true. O wise and upright judge,
    How much more elder art thou than thy looks!

  61. Balthasar (Portia):

    Therefore, lay bare your bosom.

  62. Shylock:

    Ay, his breast.
    So says the bond, doth it not, noble judge?
    “Nearest his heart”, those are the very words.

  63. Balthasar (Portia):

    It is so.
    Are there balance here to weigh the flesh?

  64. Shylock:

    I have them ready.

  65. Balthasar (Portia):

    Have by some surgeon, Shylock, on your charge,
    To stop his wounds, lest he do bleed to death.

  66. Shylock:

    Is it so nominated in the bond?

  67. Balthasar (Portia):

    It is not so expressed, but what of that?
    ’Twere good you do so much for charity.

  68. Shylock:

    I cannot find it, ’tis not in the bond.

  69. Balthasar (Portia):

    You, merchant, have you anything to say?

  70. Antonio:

    But little: I am armed and well prepared.
    Give me your hand Bassanio, fare you well.
    Grieve not that I am fall’n to this for you,
    For herein Fortune shows herself more kind
    Than is her custom. It is still her use
    To let the wretched man outlive his wealth,
    To view with hollow eye and wrinkled brow
    An age of poverty, from which ling’ring penance
    Of such misery doth she cut me off.
    Commend me to your honourable wife,
    Tell her the process of Antonio’s end.
    Say how I loved you, speak me fair in death,
    And when the tale is told, bid her be judge
    Whether Bassanio had not once a love.
    Repent but you that you shall lose your friend,
    And he repents not that he pays your debt.
    For if the Jew do cut but deep enough,
    I’ll pay it instantly with all my heart.

  71. Bassanio:

    Antonio, I am married to a wife
    Which is as dear to me as life itself.
    But life itself, my wife, and all the world,
    Are not with me esteemed above thy life.
    I would lose all, ay, sacrifice them all
    Here to this devil, to deliver you.

  72. Balthasar (Portia):

    Your wife would give you little thanks for that,
    If she were by to hear you make the offer.

  73. Gratiano:

    I have a wife whom I protest I love.
    I would she were in heaven, so she could
    Entreat some power to change this currish Jew.

  74. Clerk (Nerissa):

    ’Tis well you offer it behind her back,
    The wish would make else an unquiet house.

  75. Shylock:

    These be the Christian husbands! I have a daughter,
    Would any of the stock of Barabbas
    Had been her husband, rather than a Christian.
    We trifle time. I pray thee pursue sentence.

  76. Balthasar (Portia):

    A pound of that same merchant’s flesh is thine,
    The court awards it, and the law doth give it.

  77. Shylock:

    Most rightful judge!

  78. Balthasar (Portia):

    And you must cut this flesh from off his breast,
    The law allows it, and the court awards it.

  79. Shylock:

    Most learnèd judge, a sentence! To Antonio.

    Come, prepare.

  80. Balthasar (Portia):

    Tarry a little, there is something else.
    This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood,
    The words expressly are “a pound of flesh”:
    Take then thy bond, take thou thy pound of flesh.
    But in the cutting it, if thou dost shed
    One drop of Christian blood, thy lands and goods
    Are by the laws of Venice confiscate
    Unto the state of Venice.

  81. Gratiano:

    O learnèd judge! Mark Jew, a learnèd judge!

  82. Shylock:

    Is that the law?

  83. Balthasar (Portia):

    Thyself shalt see the Act.
    For as thou urgest justice, be assured
    Thou shalt have justice more than thou desirest.

  84. Gratiano:

    O learnèd judge! Mark Jew, a learnèd judge!

  85. Shylock:

    I take this offer then, pay the bond thrice
    And let the Christian go.

  86. Bassanio:

    Here is the money.

  87. Balthasar (Portia):

    The Jew shall have all justice. Soft, no haste,
    He shall have nothing but the penalty.

  88. Gratiano:

    O Jew, an upright judge, a learnèd judge!

  89. Balthasar (Portia):

    Therefore prepare thee to cut off the flesh.
    Shed thou no blood, nor cut thou less nor more
    But just a pound of flesh. If thou tak’st more
    Or less than a just pound , be it but so much
    As makes it light or heavy in the substance,
    Or the division of the twentieth part
    Of one poor scruple, nay, if the scale do turn
    But in the estimation of a hair,
    Thou diest, and all thy goods are confiscate.

  90. Gratiano:

    A second Daniel, a Daniel, Jew! Now, infidel, I have you on the hip.

  91. Balthasar (Portia):

    Why doth the Jew pause? Take thy forfeiture.

  92. Shylock:

    Give me my principal, and let me go.

  93. Bassanio:

    I have it ready for thee, here it is.

  94. Balthasar (Portia):

    He hath refused it in the open court,
    He shall have merely justice, and his bond.

  95. Gratiano:

    A Daniel still say I, a second Daniel!
    I thank thee, Jew, for teaching me that word.

  96. Shylock:

    Shall I not have barely my principal?

  97. Balthasar (Portia):

    Thou shalt have nothing but the forfeiture,
    To be so taken at thy peril Jew.

  98. Shylock:

    Why then the devil give him good of it. I’ll stay no longer question.


  99. Balthasar (Portia):

    Tarry Jew,
    The law hath yet another hold on you.
    It is enacted in the laws of Venice,
    If it be proved against an alien
    That by direct or indirect attempts
    He seek the life of any citizen,
    The party ’gainst the which he doth contrive
    Shall seize one half his goods. The other half
    Comes to the privy coffer of the state,
    And the offender’s life lies in the mercy
    Of the Duke only, ’gainst all other voice.
    In which predicament, I say, thou stand’st.
    For it appears by manifest proceeding
    That indirectly, and directly too,
    Thou hast contrived against the very life
    Of the defendant. And thou hast incurred
    The danger formerly by me rehearsed.
    Down therefore, and beg mercy of the Duke.

  100. Gratiano:

    Beg that thou may’st have leave to hang thyself,
    And yet, thy wealth being forfeit to the state,
    Thou hast not left the value of a cord,
    Therefore thou must be hanged at the state’s charge.

  101. Duke:

    That thou shalt see the difference of our spirit,
    I pardon thee thy life before thou ask it.
    For half thy wealth, it is Antonio’s,
    The other half comes to the general state,
    Which humbleness may drive unto a fine.

  102. Balthasar (Portia):

    Ay for the state, not for Antonio.

  103. Shylock:

    Nay, take my life and all, pardon not that.
    You take my house when you do take the prop
    That doth sustain my house. You take my life
    When you do take the means whereby I live.

  104. Balthasar (Portia):

    What mercy can you render him Antonio?

  105. Gratiano:

    A halter gratis, nothing else for God’s sake.

  106. Antonio:

    So please my lord the Duke, and all the court
    To quit the fine for one half of his goods
    I am content, so he will let me have
    The other half in use to render it,
    Upon his death, unto the gentleman
    That lately stole his daughter.
    Two things provided more: that for this favour
    He presently become a Christian,
    The other, that he do record a gift,
    Here in the court, of all he dies possessed
    Unto his son Lorenzo and his daughter.

  107. Duke:

    He shall do this, or else I do recant
    The pardon that I late pronouncèd here.

  108. Balthasar (Portia):

    Art thou contented Jew? What dost thou say?

  109. Shylock:

    I am content.

  110. Balthasar (Portia):

    Clerk, draw a deed of gift.

  111. Shylock:

    I pray you give me leave to go from hence.
    I am not well. Send the deed after me,
    And I will sign it.

  112. Duke:

    Get thee gone, but do it.

  113. Gratiano:

    In christ’ning thou shalt have two godfathers,
    Had I been judge, thou shouldst have had ten more,
    To bring thee to the gallows, not to the font.

  114. Exit Shylock.

  115. Duke:

    Sir, I entreat you home with me to dinner.

  116. Balthasar (Portia):

    I humbly do desire your Grace of pardon,
    I must away this night toward Padua,
    And it is meet I presently set forth.

  117. Duke:

    I am sorry that your leisure serves you not.
    Antonio, gratify this gentleman,
    For in my mind you are much bound to him.

  118. Exit the Duke, the Magnificoes, and other attendants.

  119. Bassanio:

    Most worthy gentleman, I and my friend
    Have by your wisdom been this day acquitted
    Of grievous penalties, in lieu whereof,
    Three thousand ducats due unto the Jew
    We freely cope your courteous pains withal.

  120. Antonio:

    And stand indebted over and above
    In love and service to you evermore.

  121. Balthasar (Portia):

    He is well paid that is well satisfied,
    And I delivering you, am satisfied,
    And therein do account myself well paid.
    My mind was never yet more mercenary.
    I pray you know me when we meet again.
    I wish you well, and so I take my leave.

  122. Bassanio:

    Dear sir, of force I must attempt you further,
    Take some remembrance of us as a tribute,
    Not as fee. Grant me two things, I pray you,
    Not to deny me, and to pardon me.

  123. Balthasar (Portia):

    You press me far, and therefore I will yield.
    Give me your gloves, I’ll wear them for your sake.
    And for your love I’ll take this ring from you.
    Do not draw back your hand, I’ll take no more,
    And you in love shall not deny me this.

  124. Bassanio:

    This ring good sir, alas, it is a trifle.
    I will not shame myself to give you this!

  125. Balthasar (Portia):

    I will have nothing else but only this,
    And now methinks I have a mind to it.

  126. Bassanio:

    There’s more depends on this than on the value.
    The dearest ring in Venice will I give you,
    And find it out by proclamation.
    Only for this, I pray you pardon me.

  127. Balthasar (Portia):

    I see sir, you are liberal in offers.
    You taught me first to beg, and now methinks
    You teach me how a beggar should be answered.

  128. Bassanio:

    Good sir, this ring was given me by my wife,
    And when she put it on, she made me vow
    That I should neither sell, nor give, nor lose it.

  129. Balthasar (Portia):

    That ’scuse serves many men to save their gifts.
    And if your wife be not a mad-woman,
    And know how well I have deserved this ring,
    She would not hold out enemy for ever
    For giving it to me. Well, peace be with you!

    Exit Portia (disguised as Balthasar) and Nerissa (disguised as the Clerk).

  130. Antonio:

    My Lord Bassanio, let him have the ring.
    Let his deservings, and my love withal
    Be valued ’gainst your wife’s commandment.

  131. Bassanio:

    Go Gratiano, run and overtake him,
    Give him the ring, and bring him if thou canst,
    Unto Antonio’s house. Away, make haste.

    Exit Gratiano.

    Come, you and I will thither presently,
    And in the morning early will we both
    Fly toward Belmont. Come Antonio.

  132. They exit.