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The Merchant of Venice - Act 5, scene 1
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Navigate this workThe Merchant of Venice - Act 5, scene 1
Act 5, scene 1
Portia and Nerissa return to Belmont. When Bassanio and Gratiano also return, bringing Antonio with them, Portia and Nerissa “discover” that their husbands have given away their rings. Antonio steps in and pleads with Portia to forgive Bassanio. At this request, the women return the rings to their husbands and reveal that Portia was the lawyer who saved Antonio. Portia also tells Antonio that three of his ships have successfully returned and tells Lorenzo that he is Shylock’s heir.Enter Lorenzo and Jessica.
2408 The moon shines bright. In such a night as this,
2409 When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees
2410 And they did make no noise, in such a night
2411 Troilus, methinks, mounted the Trojan walls
2412 5 And sighed his soul toward the Grecian tents
2413 Where Cressid lay that night.
JESSICA 2414 In such a night
2415 Did Thisbe fearfully o’ertrip the dew
2416 And saw the lion’s shadow ere himself
2417 10 And ran dismayed away.
LORENZO 2418 In such a night
2419 Stood Dido with a willow in her hand
2420 Upon the wild sea-banks, and waft her love
2421 To come again to Carthage.
JESSICA 2422 15 In such a night
2423 Medea gathered the enchanted herbs
2424 That did renew old Aeson.
LORENZO 2425 In such a night
2426 Did Jessica steal from the wealthy Jew,
2427 20 And with an unthrift love did run from Venice
2428 As far as Belmont.
JESSICA 2429 In such a night
2430 Did young Lorenzo swear he loved her well,
p. 1832431 Stealing her soul with many vows of faith,
2432 25 And ne’er a true one.
LORENZO 2433 In such a night
2434 Did pretty Jessica, like a little shrew,
2435 Slander her love, and he forgave it her.
2436 I would out-night you did nobody come,
2437 30 But hark, I hear the footing of a man.
Enter ⌜Stephano,⌝ a Messenger.
2438 Who comes so fast in silence of the night?
STEPHANO 2439 A friend.
2440 A friend? What friend? Your name, I pray you,
2442 35 Stephano is my name, and I bring word
2443 My mistress will before the break of day
2444 Be here at Belmont. She doth stray about
2445 By holy crosses, where she kneels and prays
2446 For happy wedlock hours.
LORENZO 2447 40 Who comes with her?
2448 None but a holy hermit and her maid.
2449 I pray you, is my master yet returned?
2450 He is not, nor we have not heard from him.—
2451 But go we in, I pray thee, Jessica,
2452 45 And ceremoniously let us prepare
2453 Some welcome for the mistress of the house.
Enter ⌜Lancelet, the⌝ Clown.
LANCELET 2454 Sola, sola! Wo ha, ho! Sola, sola!
LORENZO 2455 Who calls?
LANCELET 2456 Sola! Did you see Master Lorenzo? Master
2457 50 Lorenzo, sola, sola!
p. 185LORENZO 2458 Leave holloaing, man! Here.
LANCELET 2459 Sola! Where, where?
LORENZO 2460 Here!
LANCELET 2461 Tell him there’s a post come from my master
2462 55 with his horn full of good news. My master will
2463 be here ere morning, sweet soul.⌜Lancelet exits.⌝
LORENZO, ⌜to Jessica⌝
2464 Let’s in, and there expect their coming.
2465 And yet no matter; why should we go in?—
2466 My friend ⌜Stephano,⌝ signify, I pray you,
2467 60 Within the house, your mistress is at hand,
2468 And bring your music forth into the air.
2469 How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank.
2470 Here will we sit and let the sounds of music
2471 Creep in our ears; soft stillness and the night
2472 65 Become the touches of sweet harmony.
2473 Sit, Jessica. Look how the floor of heaven
2474 Is thick inlaid with patens of bright gold.
2475 There’s not the smallest orb which thou behold’st
2476 But in his motion like an angel sings,
2477 70 Still choiring to the young-eyed cherubins.
2478 Such harmony is in immortal souls,
2479 But whilst this muddy vesture of decay
2480 Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.
⌜Enter Stephano and musicians.⌝
2481 Come, ho! and wake Diana with a hymn.
2482 75 With sweetest touches pierce your mistress’ ear,
2483 And draw her home with music.
2484 I am never merry when I hear sweet music.
2485 The reason is, your spirits are attentive.
2486 For do but note a wild and wanton herd
p. 1872487 80 Or race of youthful and unhandled colts,
2488 Fetching mad bounds, bellowing and neighing loud,
2489 Which is the hot condition of their blood,
2490 If they but hear perchance a trumpet sound,
2491 Or any air of music touch their ears,
2492 85 You shall perceive them make a mutual stand,
2493 Their savage eyes turned to a modest gaze
2494 By the sweet power of music. Therefore the poet
2495 Did feign that Orpheus drew trees, stones, and
2497 90 Since naught so stockish, hard, and full of rage,
2498 But music for the time doth change his nature.
2499 The man that hath no music in himself,
2500 Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
2501 Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils;
2502 95 The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
2503 And his affections dark as ⌜Erebus.⌝
2504 Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music.
Enter Portia and Nerissa.
2505 That light we see is burning in my hall.
2506 How far that little candle throws his beams!
2507 100 So shines a good deed in a naughty world.
2508 When the moon shone we did not see the candle.
2509 So doth the greater glory dim the less.
2510 A substitute shines brightly as a king
2511 Until a king be by, and then his state
2512 105 Empties itself as doth an inland brook
2513 Into the main of waters. Music, hark!
2514 It is your music, madam, of the house.
2515 Nothing is good, I see, without respect.
2516 Methinks it sounds much sweeter than by day.
2517 110 Silence bestows that virtue on it, madam.
2518 The crow doth sing as sweetly as the lark
2519 When neither is attended, and I think
2520 The nightingale, if she should sing by day
2521 When every goose is cackling, would be thought
2522 115 No better a musician than the wren.
2523 How many things by season seasoned are
2524 To their right praise and true perfection!
2525 Peace—how the moon sleeps with Endymion
2526 And would not be awaked!
LORENZO 2527 120 That is the voice,
2528 Or I am much deceived, of Portia.
2529 He knows me as the blind man knows the cuckoo,
2530 By the bad voice.
LORENZO 2531 Dear lady, welcome home.
2532 125 We have been praying for our husbands’ welfare,
2533 Which speed we hope the better for our words.
2534 Are they returned?
LORENZO 2535 Madam, they are not yet,
2536 But there is come a messenger before
2537 130 To signify their coming.
PORTIA 2538 Go in, Nerissa.
2539 Give order to my servants that they take
2540 No note at all of our being absent hence—
2541 Nor you, Lorenzo—Jessica, nor you.
⌜A trumpet sounds.⌝
2542 135 Your husband is at hand. I hear his trumpet.
2543 We are no tell-tales, madam, fear you not.
2544 This night methinks is but the daylight sick;
p. 1912545 It looks a little paler. ’Tis a day
2546 Such as the day is when the sun is hid.
Enter Bassanio, Antonio, Gratiano, and their followers.
2547 140 We should hold day with the Antipodes
2548 If you would walk in absence of the sun.
2549 Let me give light, but let me not be light,
2550 For a light wife doth make a heavy husband,
2551 And never be Bassanio so for me.
2552 145 But God sort all! You are welcome home, my lord.
⌜Gratiano and Nerissa talk aside.⌝
2553 I thank you, madam. Give welcome to my friend.
2554 This is the man, this is Antonio,
2555 To whom I am so infinitely bound.
2556 You should in all sense be much bound to him,
2557 150 For as I hear he was much bound for you.
2558 No more than I am well acquitted of.
2559 Sir, you are very welcome to our house.
2560 It must appear in other ways than words;
2561 Therefore I scant this breathing courtesy.
GRATIANO, ⌜to Nerissa⌝
2562 155 By yonder moon I swear you do me wrong!
2563 In faith, I gave it to the judge’s clerk.
2564 Would he were gelt that had it, for my part,
2565 Since you do take it, love, so much at heart.
2566 A quarrel ho, already! What’s the matter?
2567 160 About a hoop of gold, a paltry ring
2568 That she did give me, whose posy was
p. 1932569 For all the world like cutler’s poetry
2570 Upon a knife, “Love me, and leave me not.”
2571 What talk you of the posy or the value?
2572 165 You swore to me when I did give ⌜it⌝ you
2573 That you would wear it till your hour of death,
2574 And that it should lie with you in your grave.
2575 Though not for me, yet for your vehement oaths,
2576 You should have been respective and have kept it.
2577 170 Gave it a judge’s clerk! No, God’s my judge,
2578 The clerk will ne’er wear hair on ’s face that had it.
2579 He will, an if he live to be a man.
2580 Ay, if a woman live to be a man.
2581 Now, by this hand, I gave it to a youth,
2582 175 A kind of boy, a little scrubbèd boy,
2583 No higher than thyself, the judge’s clerk,
2584 A prating boy that begged it as a fee.
2585 I could not for my heart deny it him.
2586 You were to blame, I must be plain with you,
2587 180 To part so slightly with your wife’s first gift,
2588 A thing stuck on with oaths upon your finger,
2589 And so riveted with faith unto your flesh.
2590 I gave my love a ring and made him swear
2591 Never to part with it, and here he stands.
2592 185 I dare be sworn for him he would not leave it
2593 Nor pluck it from his finger for the wealth
2594 That the world masters. Now, in faith, Gratiano,
2595 You give your wife too unkind a cause of grief.
2596 An ’twere to me I should be mad at it.
2597 190 Why, I were best to cut my left hand off
2598 And swear I lost the ring defending it.
2599 My Lord Bassanio gave his ring away
2600 Unto the judge that begged it, and indeed
2601 Deserved it, too. And then the boy, his clerk,
2602 195 That took some pains in writing, he begged mine,
2603 And neither man nor master would take aught
2604 But the two rings.
PORTIA 2605 What ring gave you, my lord?
2606 Not that, I hope, which you received of me.
2607 200 If I could add a lie unto a fault,
2608 I would deny it, but you see my finger
2609 Hath not the ring upon it. It is gone.
2610 Even so void is your false heart of truth.
2611 By heaven, I will ne’er come in your bed
2612 205 Until I see the ring!
NERISSA, ⌜to Gratiano⌝ 2613 Nor I in yours
2614 Till I again see mine!
BASSANIO 2615 Sweet Portia,
2616 If you did know to whom I gave the ring,
2617 210 If you did know for whom I gave the ring,
2618 And would conceive for what I gave the ring,
2619 And how unwillingly I left the ring,
2620 When naught would be accepted but the ring,
2621 You would abate the strength of your displeasure.
2622 215 If you had known the virtue of the ring,
2623 Or half her worthiness that gave the ring,
2624 Or your own honor to contain the ring,
2625 You would not then have parted with the ring.
2626 What man is there so much unreasonable,
2627 220 If you had pleased to have defended it
2628 With any terms of zeal, wanted the modesty
2629 To urge the thing held as a ceremony?
2630 Nerissa teaches me what to believe:
2631 I’ll die for ’t but some woman had the ring!
2632 225 No, by my honor, madam, by my soul,
2633 No woman had it, but a civil doctor,
2634 Which did refuse three thousand ducats of me
2635 And begged the ring, the which I did deny him
2636 And suffered him to go displeased away,
2637 230 Even he that had held up the very life
2638 Of my dear friend. What should I say, sweet lady?
2639 I was enforced to send it after him.
2640 I was beset with shame and courtesy.
2641 My honor would not let ingratitude
2642 235 So much besmear it. Pardon me, good lady,
2643 For by these blessèd candles of the night,
2644 Had you been there, I think you would have begged
2645 The ring of me to give the worthy doctor.
2646 Let not that doctor e’er come near my house!
2647 240 Since he hath got the jewel that I loved,
2648 And that which you did swear to keep for me,
2649 I will become as liberal as you:
2650 I’ll not deny him anything I have,
2651 No, not my body, nor my husband’s bed.
2652 245 Know him I shall, I am well sure of it.
2653 Lie not a night from home. Watch me like Argus.
2654 If you do not, if I be left alone,
2655 Now by mine honor, which is yet mine own,
2656 I’ll have that doctor for ⌜my⌝ bedfellow.
2657 250 And I his clerk. Therefore be well advised
2658 How you do leave me to mine own protection.
2659 Well, do you so. Let not me take him, then,
2660 For if I do, I’ll mar the young clerk’s pen.
2661 I am th’ unhappy subject of these quarrels.
2662 255 Sir, grieve not you. You are welcome
2664 Portia, forgive me this enforcèd wrong,
2665 And in the hearing of these many friends
2666 I swear to thee, even by thine own fair eyes,
2667 260 Wherein I see myself—
PORTIA 2668 Mark you but that!
2669 In both my eyes he doubly sees himself,
2670 In each eye one. Swear by your double self,
2671 And there’s an oath of credit.
BASSANIO 2672 265 Nay, but hear me.
2673 Pardon this fault, and by my soul I swear
2674 I never more will break an oath with thee.
2675 I once did lend my body for his wealth,
2676 Which but for him that had your husband’s ring
2677 270 Had quite miscarried. I dare be bound again,
2678 My soul upon the forfeit, that your lord
2679 Will never more break faith advisedly.
2680 Then you shall be his surety. Give him this,
⌜Giving Antonio a ring.⌝
2681 And bid him keep it better than the other.
2682 275 Here, Lord Bassanio, swear to keep this ring.
2683 By heaven, it is the same I gave the doctor!
2684 I had it of him. Pardon me, Bassanio,
2685 For by this ring, the doctor lay with me.
2686 And pardon me, my gentle Gratiano,
2687 280 For that same scrubbèd boy, the doctor’s clerk,
2688 In lieu of this, last night did lie with me.
⌜She shows a ring.⌝
2689 Why, this is like the mending of highways
2690 In summer, where the ways are fair enough!
2691 What, are we cuckolds ere we have deserved it?
2692 285 Speak not so grossly.—You are all amazed.
⌜She hands a paper to Bassanio.⌝
2693 Here is a letter; read it at your leisure.
2694 It comes from Padua from Bellario.
2695 There you shall find that Portia was the doctor,
2696 Nerissa there, her clerk. Lorenzo here
2697 290 Shall witness I set forth as soon as you,
2698 And even but now returned. I have not yet
2699 Entered my house.—Antonio, you are welcome,
2700 And I have better news in store for you
2701 Than you expect. Unseal this letter soon.
⌜Handing him a paper.⌝
2702 295 There you shall find three of your argosies
2703 Are richly come to harbor suddenly.
2704 You shall not know by what strange accident
2705 I chancèd on this letter.
ANTONIO 2706 I am dumb.
2707 300 Were you the doctor and I knew you not?
2708 Were you the clerk that is to make me cuckold?
2709 Ay, but the clerk that never means to do it,
2710 Unless he live until he be a man.
BASSANIO, ⌜to Portia⌝
2711 Sweet doctor, you shall be my bedfellow.
2712 305 When I am absent, then lie with my wife.
2713 Sweet lady, you have given me life and living;
2714 For here I read for certain that my ships
2715 Are safely come to road.
p. 203PORTIA 2716 How now, Lorenzo?
2717 310 My clerk hath some good comforts too for you.
2718 Ay, and I’ll give them him without a fee.
⌜Handing him a paper.⌝
2719 There do I give to you and Jessica,
2720 From the rich Jew, a special deed of gift,
2721 After his death, of all he dies possessed of.
2722 315 Fair ladies, you drop manna in the way
2723 Of starvèd people.
PORTIA 2724 It is almost morning,
2725 And yet I am sure you are not satisfied
2726 Of these events at full. Let us go in,
2727 320 And charge us there upon inter’gatories,
2728 And we will answer all things faithfully.
2729 Let it be so. The first inter’gatory
2730 That my Nerissa shall be sworn on is
2731 Whether till the next night she had rather stay
2732 325 Or go to bed now, being two hours to day.
2733 But were the day come, I should wish it dark
2734 Till I were couching with the doctor’s clerk.
2735 Well, while I live, I’ll fear no other thing
2736 So sore as keeping safe Nerissa’s ring.