Merchant of Venice (1923) Yale/Text/Act V

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Scene One

[Belmont. The Avenue to Portia’s House]

Enter Lorenzo and Jessica.


Lor. The moon shines bright: in such a night as this,
When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees
And they did make no noise, in such a night
Troilus methinks mounted the Troyan walls, 4
And sigh'd his soul toward the Grecian tents,
Where Cressid lay that night.

Jes.In such a night
Did Thisbe fearfully o'ertrip the dew,
And saw the lion's shadow ere himself, 8
And ran dismay'd away.

Lor.In such a night
Stood Dido with a willow in her hand
Upon the wild sea-banks, and waft her love
To come again to Carthage.

Jes.In such a night 12
Medea gather'd the enchanted herbs
That did renew old Æson.

Lor.In such a night
Did Jessica steal from the wealthy Jew,
And with an unthrift love did run from Venice, 16
As far as Belmont.

Jes.In such a night
Did young Lorenzo swear he lov'd her well,
Stealing her soul with many vows of faith,
And ne'er a true one.

Lor.In such a night 20
Did pretty Jessica, like a little shrew,
Slander her love, and he forgave it her.

Jes. I would out-night you, did nobody come;
But, hark! I hear the footing of a man. 24

Enter Messenger [Stephano].

Lor. Who comes so fast in silence of the night?

Mes. A friend.

Lor. A friend! what friend? your name, I pray you, friend.

Mes. Stephano is my name; and I bring word 28
My mistress will before the break of day
Be here at Belmont: she doth stray about
By holy crosses, where she kneels and prays
For happy wedlock hours.

Lor.Who comes with her? 32

Mes. None, but a holy hermit and her maid.
I pray you, is my master yet return'd?

Lor. He is not, nor we have not heard from him.
But go we in, I pray thee, Jessica, 36
And ceremoniously let us prepare
Some welcome for the mistress of the house.

Enter Clown.

Clo. Sola, sola! wo ha, ho! sola, sola!

Lor. Who calls? 40

Clo. Sola! did you see Master Lorenzo?
Master Lorenzo! sola, sola!

Lor. Leave hollaing, man; here.

Clo. Sola! where? where? 44

Lor. Here.

Clo. Tell him there's a post come from my
master, with his horn full of good news: my
master will be here ere morning. 48


Lor. Sweet soul, let's in, and there expect their coming.
And yet no matter; why should we go in?
My friend Stephano, signify, I pray you,
Within the house, your mistress is at hand; 52
And bring your music forth into the air.

[Exit Stephano.]

How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!
Here will we sit, and let the sounds of music
Creep in our ears; soft stillness and the night 56
Become the touches of sweet harmony.
Sit, Jessica: look, how the floor of heaven
Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold:
There's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st 60
But in his motion like an angel sings,
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubins;
Such harmony is in immortal souls;
But, whilst this muddy vesture of decay 64
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.

[Enter Musicians.]

Come, ho! and wake Diana with a hymn:
With sweetest touches pierce your mistress' ear,
And draw her home with music. 68

Jes. I am never merry when I hear sweet music.

Play music.

Lor. The reason is, your spirits are attentive:
For do but note a wild and wanton herd,
Or race of youthful and unhandled colts, 72
Fetching mad bounds, bellowing and neighing loud,
Which is the hot condition of their blood;
If they but hear perchance a trumpet sound,
Or any air of music touch their ears, 76
You shall perceive them make a mutual stand,
Their savage eyes turn'd to a modest gaze
By the sweet power of music: therefore the poet
Did feign that Orpheus drew trees, stones, and floods;
Since nought so stockish, hard, and full of rage, 81
But music for the time doth change his nature.
The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds, 84
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus:
Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music. 88

Enter Portia and Nerissa [at a distance].

Por. That light we see is burning in my hall.
How far that little candle throws his beams!
So shines a good deed in a naughty world.

Ner. When the moon shone, we did not see the candle. 92

Por. So doth the greater glory dim the less:
A substitute shines brightly as a king
Until a king be by, and then his state
Empties itself, as doth an inland brook 96
Into the main of waters. Music! hark! Muisc.

Ner. It is your music, madam, of the house.

Por. Nothing is good, I see, without respect:
Methinks it sounds much sweeter than by day. 100

Ner. Silence bestows that virtue on it, madam.

Por. The crow doth sing as sweetly as the lark
When neither is attended, and I think
The nightingale, if she should sing by day, 104
When every goose is cackling, would be thought
No better a musician than the wren.
How many things by season season'd are
To their right praise and true perfection! 108
Peace, ho! the moon sleeps with Endymion,
And would not be awak'd! Music ceases.

Lor.That is the voice,
Or I am much deceiv'd, of Portia.

Por. He knows me, as the blind man knows the cuckoo, 112
By the bad voice.

Lor.Dear lady, welcome home.

Por. We have been praying for our husbands' welfare,
Which speed, we hope, the better for our words.
Are they return'd?

Lor.Madam, they are not yet; 116
But there is come a messenger before,
To signify their coming.

Por.Go in, Nerissa:
Give order to my servants that they take
No note at all of our being absent hence; 120
Nor you, Lorenzo; Jessica, nor you.

A tucket sounds.

Lor. Your husband is at hand; I hear his trumpet:
We are no tell-tales, madam; fear you not.

Por. This night methinks is but the daylight sick;
It looks a little paler: 'tis a day, 125
Such as the day is when the sun is hid.

Enter Bassanio, Antonio, Gratiano, and their Followers.

Bass. We should hold day with the Antipodes,
If you would walk in absence of the sun. 128

Por. Let me give light, but let me not be light;
For a light wife doth make a heavy husband,
And never be Bassanio so for me:
But God sort all! You are welcome home, my lord. 132

Bass. I thank you, madam. Give welcome to my friend:
This is the man, this is Antonio,
To whom I am so infinitely bound.

Por. You should in all sense be much bound to him,
For, as I hear, he was much bound for you. 137

Ant. No more than I am well acquitted of.

Por. Sir, you are very welcome to our house:
It must appear in other ways than words, 140
Therefore I scant this breathing courtesy.

Gra. [To Nerissa.] By yonder moon I swear you do me wrong;
In faith, I gave it to the judge's clerk:
Would he were gelt that had it, for my part, 144
Since you do take it, love, so much at heart.

Por. A quarrel, ho, already! what's the matter?

Gra. About a hoop of gold, a paltry ring
That she did give me, whose poesy was 148
For all the world like cutlers' poetry
Upon a knife, 'Love me, and leave me not.'

Ner. What talk you of the posy, or the value?
You swore to me, when I did give it you, 152
That you would wear it till your hour of death,
And that it should lie with you in your grave:
Though not for me, yet for your vehement oaths,
You should have been respective and have kept it. 156
Gave it a judge's clerk! no, God's my judge,
The clerk will ne'er wear hair on's face that had it.

Gra. He will, an if he live to be a man.

Ner. Ay, if a woman live to be a man. 160

Gra. Now, by this hand, I gave it to a youth,
A kind of boy, a little scrubbed boy,
No higher than thyself, the judge's clerk.
A prating boy, that begg'd it as a fee: 164
I could not for my heart deny it him.

Por. You were to blame,—I must be plain with you,—
To part so slightly with your wife's first gift;
A thing stuck on with oaths upon your finger, 168
And riveted so with faith unto your flesh.
I gave my love a ring and made him swear
Never to part with it; and here he stands.
I dare be sworn for him he would not leave it 172
Nor pluck it from his finger for the wealth
That the world masters. Now, in faith, Gratiano,
You give your wife too unkind a cause of grief:
An 'twere to me, I should be mad at it. 176

Bass. [Aside.] Why, I were best to cut my left hand off,
And swear I lost the ring defending it.

Gra. My Lord Bassanio gave his ring away
Unto the judge that begg'd it, and indeed 180
Deserv'd it too; and then the boy, his clerk,
That took some pains in writing, he begg'd mine;
And neither man nor master would take aught
But the two rings.

Por.What ring gave you, my lord? 184
Not that, I hope, which you receiv'd of me.

Bass. If I could add a lie unto a fault,
I would deny it; but you see my finger
Hath not the ring upon it; it is gone. 188

Por. Even so void is your false heart of truth.
By heaven, I will ne'er come in your bed
Until I see the ring.

Ner.Nor I in yours,
Till I again see mine.

Bass.Sweet Portia, 192
If you did know to whom I gave the ring,
If you did know for whom I gave the ring,
And would conceive for what I gave the ring,
And how unwillingly I left the ring, 196
When naught would be accepted but the ring,
You would abate the strength of your displeasure.

Por. If you had known the virtue of the ring,
Or half her worthiness that gave the ring, 200
Or your own honour to contain the ring,
You would not then have parted with the ring.
What man is there so much unreasonable,
If you had pleas'd to have defended it 204
With any terms of zeal, wanted the modesty
To urge the thing held as a ceremony?
Nerissa teaches me what to believe:
I'll die for 't but some woman had the ring. 208

Bass. No, by my honour, madam, by my soul,
No woman had it; but a civil doctor,
Which did refuse three thousand ducats of me,
And begg'd the ring, the which I did deny him, 212
And suffer'd him to go displeas'd away;
Even he that did uphold the very life
Of my dear friend. What should I say, sweet lady?
I was enfore'd to send it after him; 216
I was beset with shame and courtesy;
My honour would not let ingratitude
So much besmear it. Pardon me, good lady,
For, by these blessed candles of the night, 220
Had you been there, I think you would have begg'd
The ring of me to give the worthy doctor.

Por. Let not that doctor e'er come near my house.
Since he hath got the jewel that I lov'd, 224
And that which you did swear to keep for me,
I will become as liberal as you;
I'll not deny him anything I have;
No, not my body, nor my husband's bed. 228
Know him I shall, I am well sure of it:
Lie not a night from home; watch me like Argus:
If you do not, if I be left alone,
Now by mine honour, which is yet mine own, 232
Ill have that doctor for my bedfellow.

Ner. And I his clerk; therefore be well advis'd
How you do leave me to mine own protection.

Gra. Well, do you so: let not me take him, then; 236
For if I do, I'll mar the young clerk's pen.

Ant. I am the unhappy subject of these quarrels.

Por. Sir, grieve not you; you are welcome notwithstanding.

Bass. Portia, forgive me this enforced wrong; 240
And in the hearing of these many friends,
I swear to thee, even by thine own fair eyes,
Wherein I see myself,—

Por.Mark you but that!

In both my eyes he doubly sees himself; 244
In each eye, one: swear by your double self,
And there's an oath of credit.

Bass.Nay, but hear me:
Pardon this fault, and by my soul I swear
I never more will break an oath with thee. 248

Ant. I once did lend my body for his wealth,
Which, but for him that had your husband's ring,
Had quite miscarried: I dare be bound again,
My soul upon the forfeit, that your lord 252
Will never more break faith advisedly.

Por. Then you shall be his surety. Give him this,
And bid him keep it better than the other.

Ant. Here, Lord Bassanio; swear to keep this ring.

Bass. By heaven! it is the same I gave the doctor!

Por. I had it of him: pardon me, Bassanio,
For, by this ring, the doctor lay with me.

Ner. And pardon me, my gentle Gratiano; 260
For that same scrubbed boy, the doctor's clerk,
In lieu of this last night did lie with me.

Gra. Why, this is like the mending of highways
In summer, where the ways are fair enough. 264
What! are we cuckolds ere we have deserv'd it?

Por. Speak not so grossly. You are all amaz'd:
Here is a letter; read it at your leisure;
It comes from Padua, from Bellario: 268
There you shall find that Portia was the doctor,
Nerissa, there, her clerk: Lorenzo here
Shall witness I set forth as soon as you
And even but now return'd; I have not yet 272
Enter'd my house. Antonio, you are welcome;
And I have better news in store for you
Than you expect: unseal this letter soon;
There you shall find three of your argosies 276
Are richly come to harbour suddenly.
You shall not know by what strange accident
I chanced on this letter.

Ant.I am dumb.

Bass. Were you the doctor and I knew you not? 280

Gra. Were you the clerk that is to make me cuckold?

Ner. Ay; but the clerk that never means to do it,
Unless he live until he be a man.

Bass. Sweet doctor, you shall be my bedfellow: 284
When I am absent, then lie with my wife.

Ant. Sweet lady, you have given me life and living;
For here I read for certain that my ships
Are safely come to road.

Por.How now, Lorenzo! 288
My clerk hath some good comforts too for you.

Ner. Ay, and I'll give them him without a fee.
There do I give to you and Jessica,
From the rich Jew, a special deed of gift, 292
After his death, of all he dies possess'd of.

Lor. Fair ladies, you drop manna in the way
Of starved people.

Por.It is almost morning,
And yet I am sure you are not satisfied 296
Of these events at full. Let us go in;
And charge us there upon inter'gatories,
And we will answer all things faithfully.

Gra. Let it be so: the first inter'gatory 300
That my Nerissa shall be sworn on is,
Whether till the next night she had rather stay,
Or go to bed now, being two hours to day:
But were the day come, I should wish it dark, 304
That I were couching with the doctor's clerk.
Well, while I live I'll fear no other thing
So sore as keeping safe Nerissa's ring. Exeunt.





Footnotes to Act V

Scene One

4 Troilus: cf. Shakespeare's play on the theme
7 Thisbe: cf. Midsummer Night's Dream
10 willow: emblem of slighted love
11 waft: beckoned
14 renew: rejuvenate
Æson: father of Jason
31 crosses: those along the roadside
39 sola: imitating the post horn
41, 42 Cf. n.
49 expect: await
51 signify: make it known
58, 59 the floor of heaven, etc.; cf. n.
59 patines: thin plates, used in celebration of the Eucharist
62 quiring: singing in harmony
70 attentive: absorbed, concentrated
87 Erebus: mythological dark place under Earth
99 respect: regard to circumstances
103 attended: given attention
107 by . . . season'd: by proper time matured
109 Endymion: Selene, the Moon, saw him asleep and loved him
121 S. d. tucket: toccata, a flourish on trumpets
127, 128 Cf. n.
132 sort: dispose
141 breathing courtesy: words of welcome
148 poesy: posy on inside of ring
150 Upon a knife: they put mottoes on knives
151 What: why
156 respective: considerate, careful
162 scrubbed: stunted
172 leave: give up
174 masters: owns
176 be mad: run mad
201 contain: retain
205 wanted the: who would have so wanted
206 To: as to
ceremony: anything held sacred
210 civil doctor: doctor of civil law
217 shame . . . courtesy: shame at trespassing against good manners
219 besmear: soil
229 well: very
230 Argus: he had a hundred eyes
245 double: full of duplicity
249 wealth: welfare
253 advisedly: deliberately
286 living: means of life
288 road: harbor
296, 297 satisfied . . . at full: fully informed
298 charge . . . upon inter'gatories: question us on oath
306 fear: concern myself over