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The bargain of your faith, I do beseech you,
Bass. With all my heart, so thou canst get a wife.
You lov'd, I lov'd; for intermission
No more pertains to me, my lord, than you.
To have her love, provided that vour fortune
Ner. Madam, it is, so you stand pleas'd withal.
Bass. And do you, Gratiano, mean good faith?
Gra. Yes, faith, my lord.
Bass. Our feast shall be much honor'd in your marriage.
Lorenzo, Jessica and Salanio, bring a Letter from Antonio to Bassanio, acquainting him with his losses, and that the Bond to the Jew is forfeited. Bassanio is struck with horror at the tidings, and determines to leave Portia and proceed immediately to his friend; Portia insists that the marriage ceremony between them, shall be first solemnized, and furnishes him with money more than sufficient to discharge the Bond.
After the departure of Bassanio and his friends, Portia determines to follow them, and assist in saving Antonio from the Jew's malignity. She writes to her cousin Bellario, who is a Doctor of Law, and requests his advice on the nature of the Bond given by Antonio; fortified with Bellario's opinion, she goes to Venice, where assuming the disguise of a Doctor of Law, or Counsellor, with Nerissa as her clerk, she attends the Trial of the Merchant.
We are now introduced to the catastrophe of this magnificent Drama-the Trial Scene; and taken as an isolated Scene, it stands perhaps the most perfect piece of composition to be found in the whole range of Dramatic writing.
SCENE I.-Venice. A Court of Justice.
Enter the DUKE, the Magnificoes; ANTONIO, BASSanio, Gratiang, SALARINO, SALANIO, and others.
Duke. What, is Antonio here?
Ant. Ready, so please your grace.
Duke. I am sorry for thee: thou art come to answer
A stony adversary, an inhuman wretch
Uncapable of pity, void and empty
From any dram of mercy.
I have heard
Your grace has ta'en great pains to qualify
His rigorous course; but since he stands obdurate,
And that no lawful means can carry me
My patience to his fury; and am arm'd
Duke. Go one, and call the Jew into the court.
Duke. Make room, and let him stand before our face.-
And where thou now exact'st the penalty,
(Which is a pound of this poor merchant's flesh,)
But touch'd with human gentleness and love,
Glancing an eye of pity on his losses
And pluck commiseration of his state
From brassy bosoms, and rough hearts of flint,
We all expect a gentle answer,
Shy. I have possess'd your grace of what I purposs;
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
More than a lodg'd hate, and a certain loathing,
A losing suit against him. Are you answer'd?
Shy. I am not bound to please thee with my answer.
Shy. What, would'st thou have a serpent sting thee twice!
You may as well go stand upon the beach,
And bid the main flood bate his usual height;
As seek to soften that (than which what's harder ?)
Bass. For thy three thousand ducats here is six.
I would not draw them, I would have my bond.
Duke. How shalt thou hope for mercy, rend'ring none?
Because you bought them :-Shall I say to you,
There is no force in the decrees of Venice:
Whom I have sent for to determine this,
Come here to-day.
My lord, here stays without
A messenger with letters from the doctor,
New come from Padua.
Duke. Bring us the letters; call the messenger.
Bass. Good cheer, Antonio! What, man? courage yet!
Ant. I am a tainted wether of the flock,
Enter NERISSA, dressed like a lawyer's clerk.
[Presents a letter.
Bass. Why dost thou whet thy knife so earnestly?
And for thy life let justice be accus'd.
That souls of animals infuse themselves
Are wolfish, bloody, starv'd, and ravenous.
Shy. Till thou canst rail the seal from off my bond,
To cureless ruin. I stand here for law.
Duke. This letter from Bellario doth commend
A young and learned doctor to our court :-
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.
Meantime, 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 Balthasar: I acquainted him with the cause in controversy between the Jew and Antonio the merchant: we turn'd o'er many books together: he is furnish'd with my opinion; which, better'd with his
mon 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.
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?
Ant. I do.
Do you confess the bond?
Then must the Jew be merciful.
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's