The Merchant of Venice

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter Lorenzo and Jessica


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,
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count

And sighed his soul toward the Grecian tents

Where Cressid lay that night.


                         In such a night

Did Thisbe fearfully o'ertrip the dew,
overtrip (v.) skip over, pass lightly over

And saw the lion's shadow ere himself,

And ran dismayed away.


                         In such a night

Stood Dido with a willow in her hand

Upon the wild sea banks, and waft her love
bank (n.) 1 coast, shore
waft (v.) 1 beckon, wave [at], signal

To come again to Carthage.


                         In such a night

Medea gathered the enchanted herbs

That did renew old Aeson.


                         In such a night

Did Jessica steal from the wealthy Jew,

And with an unthrift love did run from Venice
unthrift (adj.) unthrifty, spendthrift, prodigal

As far as Belmont.


                         In such a night

Did young Lorenzo swear he loved her well,

Stealing her soul with many vows of faith,

And ne'er a true one.


                         In such a night

Did pretty Jessica, like a little shrew,

Slander her love, and he forgave it her.


I would out-night you, did nobody come;
out-night (v.) outdo in making references to the night

But hark, I hear the footing of a man.
footing (n.) 3 footfall, footsteps, strides

Enter Stephano


Who comes so fast in silence of the night?


A friend.


A friend? What friend? Your name I pray you, friend.


Stephano is my name, and I bring word

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.


                         Who comes with her?


None but a holy hermit and her maid.

I pray you, is my master yet returned?


He is not, nor we have not heard from him.

But go we in, I pray thee, Jessica,

And ceremoniously let us prepare

Some welcome for the mistress of the house.

Enter Launcelot


Sola, sola! Wo ha ho! Sola, sola!


Who calls?


Sola! Did you see Master Lorenzo? Master

Lorenzo! Sola, sola!


Leave holloaing, man! Here.
hallowing, hallooing, halloing, holloaing (n.) shouting, hallooing, crying out


Sola! Where? Where?




Tell him there's a post come from my
post (n.) 1 express messenger, courier See Topics: Frequency count

master, with his horn full of good news. My master will

be here ere morning.



Sweet soul, let's in, and there expect their coming.
expect (v.) await, wait for

And yet no matter, why should we go in?

My friend Stephano, signify, I pray you,
signify (v.) report, make known, declare

Within the house, your mistress is at hand,

And bring your music forth into the air.
music (n.) 1 musicians, players

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

Become the touches of sweet harmony.
become (v.) 1 be fitting, befit, be appropriate to See Topics: Frequency count
touch (n.) 7 fingering, handling, skill in playing

Sit, Jessica. Look how the floor of heaven

Is thick inlaid with patens of bright gold.
paten (n.) dish on which the bread is placed during the Mass; shining circle

There's not the smallest orb which thou beholdest
orb (n.) 1 sphere, planet, star, heavenly body

But in his motion like an angel sings,

Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubins;
cherubin (n.) 1 cherub, angel; or: cherubim, angels
choir, quire (v.) 2 sing in a choir, sing in chorus
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count

Such harmony is in immortal souls,

But whilst this muddy vesture of decay
muddy (adj.) 1 made of clay, resembling mud
vesture (n.) garment, clothing, garb, costume

Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.
grossly (adv.) 3 materially, physically, with substance

Enter Musicians

Come ho, and wake Diana with a hymn,

With sweetest touches pierce your mistress' ear,
touch (n.) 7 fingering, handling, skill in playing

And draw her home with music.



I am never merry when I hear sweet music.


The reason is your spirits are attentive.
spirit (n.) 4 intuition, perception, discernment

For do but note a wild and wanton herd
wanton (adj.) 3 unrestrained, undisciplined, boisterous, uncontrolled

Or race of youthful and unhandled colts
race (n.) 5 herd, host, company

Fetching mad bounds, bellowing and neighing loud,
fetch (v.) 2 take, perform, make

Which is the hot condition of their blood,
blood (n.) 4 spirit, vigour, mettle
condition (n.) 1 disposition, temper, mood, character
hot (adj.) 1 hot-tempered, angry, passionate

If they but hear perchance a trumpet sound,
perchance (adv.) 1 perhaps, maybe See Topics: Frequency count

Or any air of music touch their ears,

You shall perceive them make a mutual stand,
mutual (adj.) 1 common, general, omnipresent
stand (n.) 3 stop, pause, standing still

Their savage eyes turned to a modest gaze
savage (adj.) 1 fierce, ferocious, wild

By the sweet power of music. Therefore the poet

Did feign that Orpheus drew trees, stones, and floods,

Since naught so stockish, hard, and full of rage
stockish (adj.) blockish, wooden, stupid

But music for the time doth change his nature.

The man that hath no music in himself,

Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,

Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils,
spoil (n.) 1 plundering, pillaging, despoiling
stratagem (n.) 3 deed of violence, bloody act

The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
motion (n.) 1 inner movement, inward prompting, natural impulse, imagining

And his affections dark as Erebus.
dark (adj.) 1 sad, melancholic, gloomy

Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music.
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of] See Topics: Frequency count

Enter Portia and Nerissa


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.
naughty (adj.) 1 wicked, evil, vile


When the moon shone we did not see the candle.


So doth the greater glory dim the less.

A substitute shines brightly as a king
substitute (n.) subordinate, deputy, underling

Until a king be by, and then his state

Empties itself, as doth an inland brook

Into the main of waters. Music! hark!
main (n.) 1 open sea, ocean


It is your music, madam, of the house.
music (n.) 1 musicians, players


Nothing is good, I see, without respect;
respect (n.) 1 consideration, factor, circumstance

Methinks it sounds much sweeter than by day.
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count


Silence bestows that virtue on it, madam.


The crow doth sing as sweetly as the lark

When neither is attended, and I think
attend (v.) 7 listen [to], pay attention [to]

The nightingale, if she should sing by day,

When every goose is cackling, would be thought

No better a musician than the wren.

How many things by season seasoned are
season (n.) 2 opportunity, favourable moment

To their right praise and true perfection!
praise (n.) 1 praiseworthiness, merit, virtue


Music ceases

                         How the moon sleeps with Endymion,

And would not be awaked.


                         That is the voice,

Or I am much deceived, of Portia.


He knows me as the blind man knows the cuckoo,

By the bad voice.


                         Dear lady, welcome home.


We have been praying for our husbands' welfare,

Which speed we hope the better for our words.
speed (v.) 2 fare, manage, get on

Are they returned?


                         Madam, they are not yet,

But there is come a messenger before
before (adv.) 1 ahead, in advance

To signify their coming.
signify (v.) report, make known, declare


                         Go in, Nerissa,

Give order to my servants that they take

No note at all of our being absent hence,

Nor you, Lorenzo, Jessica, nor you.

A tucket sounds


Your husband is at hand, I hear his trumpet.

We are no tell-tales, madam; fear you not.


This night methinks is but the daylight sick,
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count

It looks a little paler. 'Tis a day

Such as the day is when the sun is hid.

Enter Bassanio, Antonio, Gratiano, and their followers


We should hold day with the Antipodes

If you would walk in absence of the sun.


Let me give light, but let me not be light,

For a light wife doth make a heavy husband,
heavy (adj.) 1 sorrowful, sad, gloomy See Topics: Frequency count

And never be Bassanio so for me.

But God sort all! You are welcome home, my lord.
sort (v.) 2 choose, find, arrange


I thank you, madam. Give welcome to my friend.

This is the man, this is Antonio,

To whom I am so infinitely bound.


You should in all sense be much bound to him,

For, as I hear, he was much bound for you.


No more than I am well acquitted of.
acquit (v.) 2 pay back, requite, settle the score with


Sir, you are very welcome to our house;

It must appear in other ways than words,

Therefore I scant this breathing courtesy.
breathing (adj.) 1 verbal, word-of-mouth
scant (v.) 3 give out sparingly, curtail, withhold [from]


(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

Since you do take it, love, so much at heart.


A quarrel ho, already! What's the matter?


About a hoop of gold, a paltry ring

That she did give me, whose posy was
posy (n.) short piece of poetry [often inscribed inside a ring]

For all the world like cutler's poetry

Upon a knife, ‘ Love me, and leave me not.’
leave (v.) 3 part with, lose, forsake


What talk you of the posy or the value?

You swore to me when I did give it you

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.
respective (adj.) 1 careful, attentive, considerate

Gave it a judge's clerk! No, God's my judge,

The clerk will ne'er wear hair on's face that had it!


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


Ay, if a woman live to be a man.


Now, by this hand, I gave it to a youth,

A kind of boy, a little scrubbed boy
scrubbed (adj.) short, undersized, stubby

No higher than thyself, the judge's clerk,

A prating boy that begged it as a fee;
prating (adj.) prattling, chattering, blathering

I could not for my heart deny it him.


You were to blame – I must be plain with you –
blame, to to be blamed, blameworthy

To part so slightly with your wife's first gift,
slightly (adv.) 2 easily, with little effort

A thing stuck on with oaths upon your finger

And so riveted 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
leave (v.) 3 part with, lose, forsake

Nor pluck it from his finger for the wealth

That the world masters. Now in faith, Gratiano,
master (v.) own, possess, have at one's disposal

You give your wife too unkind a cause of grief.

An 'twere to me, I should be mad at it.



Why, I were best to cut my left hand off

And swear I lost the ring defending it.


My Lord Bassanio gave his ring away

Unto the judge that begged it, and indeed

Deserved it too; and then the boy, his clerk

That took some pains in writing, he begged mine,

And neither man nor master would take aught
aught (n.) anything, [with negative word] nothing See Topics: Frequency count

But the two rings.


                         What ring gave you, my lord?

Not that, I hope, which you received of me?


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.


Even so void is your false heart of truth.
false (adj.) 2 disloyal, faithless, inconstant, unfaithful

By heaven, I will ne'er come in your bed

Until I see the ring.


                         Nor I in yours

Till I again see mine!


                         Sweet Portia,

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

When naught would be accepted but the ring,

You would abate the strength of your displeasure.


If you had known the virtue of the ring,
virtue (n.) 4 power, capability, efficacy, property

Or half her worthiness that gave the ring,

Or your own honour to contain the ring,
contain (v.) 1 retain, keep in one's possession

You would not then have parted with the ring.

What man is there so much unreasonable,

If you had pleased to have defended it

With any terms of zeal, wanted the modesty
modesty (n.) 1 moderation, restraint, discipline
want (v.) 1 lack, need, be without See Topics: Frequency count

To urge the thing held as a ceremony?
ceremony (n.) 3 sacred token, special symbol
urge (v.) 1 press, insist on, state emphatically

Nerissa teaches me what to believe,

I'll die for't but some woman had the ring!


No, by my honour, madam! By my soul

No woman had it, but a civil doctor,
civil (adj.) 4 of civil law

Which did refuse three thousand ducats of me

And begged the ring, the which I did deny him,

And suffered him to go displeased away,
suffer (v.) 1 allow, permit, let

Even he that had held up the very life

Of my dear friend. What should I say, sweet lady?

I was enforced to send it after him.

I was beset with shame and courtesy.
courtesy, cur'sy, curtsy (n.) 1 courteous service, polite behaviour, good manners

My honour would not let ingratitude

So much besmear it. Pardon me, good lady!
besmear (v.) 2 defile, sully, tarnish

For, by these blessed candles of the night,

Had you been there I think you would have begged

The ring of me to give the worthy doctor.


Let not that doctor e'er come near my house.
come near (v.) 1 enter, come in/into

Since he hath got the jewel that I loved,

And that which you did swear to keep for me,

I will become as liberal as you,
liberal (adj.) 1 overgenerous, licentious

I'll not deny him anything I have,

No, not my body nor my husband's bed.

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,

I'll have that doctor for my bedfellow.


And I his clerk. Therefore be well advised
advise, avise (v.) 2 warn, counsel, caution

How you do leave me to mine own protection.


Well, do you so. Let not me take him then!

For if I do, I'll mar the young clerk's pen.


I am th' unhappy subject of these quarrels.


Sir, grieve not you, you are welcome notwithstanding.


Portia, forgive me this enforced wrong;

And in the hearing of these many friends

I swear to thee, even by thine own fair eyes,

Wherein I see myself ...
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of] See Topics: Frequency count


                         Mark you but that!

In both my eyes he doubly sees himself,

In each eye one. Swear by your double self,

And there's an oath of credit.


                         Nay, but hear me.

Pardon this fault, and by my soul I swear

I never more will break an oath with thee.


I once did lend my body for his wealth,
wealth (n.) well-being, welfare, prosperity

Which but for him that had your husband's ring

Had quite miscarried. I dare be bound again,
miscarry (v.) 1 come to harm, perish, meet death

My soul upon the forfeit, that your lord

Will never more break faith advisedly.
advisedly (adv.) 3 deliberately, intentionally, with full awareness


Then you shall be his surety. Give him this,
surety (n.) 2 person undertaking a legal responsibility in relation to another, guarantor

And bid him keep it better than the other.


Here, Lord Bassanio. Swear to keep this ring.


By heaven, it is the same I gave the doctor!


I had it of him. Pardon me, Bassanio,

For by this ring the doctor lay with me.


And pardon me, my gentle Gratiano,
gentle (adj.) 2 courteous, friendly, kind

For that same scrubbed boy, the doctor's clerk,
scrubbed (adj.) short, undersized, stubby

In lieu of this last night did lie with me.
lie (v.) 4 sleep, go to bed


Why, this is like the mending of highways

In summer, where the ways are fair enough.

What, are we cuckolds ere we have deserved it?
cuckold (n.) [mocking name] man with an unfaithful wife See Topics: Frequency count


Speak not so grossly. You are all amazed.
grossly (adv.) 6 coarsely, indelicately, indecently

Here is a letter, read it at your leisure.

It comes from Padua from Bellario.

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 returned, I have not yet

Entered 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
argosy (n.) large merchant ship

Are richly come to harbour suddenly.

You shall not know by what strange accident

I chanced on this letter.


                         I am dumb!


Were you the doctor and I knew you not?


Were you the clerk that is to make me cuckold?
cuckold (n.) [mocking name] man with an unfaithful wife See Topics: Frequency count


Ay, but the clerk that never means to do it,

Unless he live until he be a man.


Sweet doctor, you shall be my bedfellow.

When I am absent, then lie with my wife.


Sweet lady, you have given me life and living,
living (n.) possessions, means of support, livelihood

For here I read for certain that my ships

Are safely come to road.
road (n.) 1 harbour, anchorage, roadstead


                         How now, Lorenzo?

My clerk hath some good comforts too for you.


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,

After his death, of all he dies possessed of.


Fair ladies, you drop manna in the way

Of starved people.


                         It is almost morning,

And yet I am sure you are not satisfied

Of these events at full. Let us go in,

And charge us there upon inter'gatories,
charge (v.) 2 entreat, exhort, enjoin
interrogatory (n.) interrogation, questioning, inquisition

And we will answer all things faithfully.


Let it be so. The first inter'gatory

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,

Till I were couching with the doctor's clerk.
couch (v.) 6 lie, sleep, go to bed

Well, while I live I'll fear no other thing

So sore as keeping safe Nerissa's ring.
sore (adj.) 2 serious, grievous, grave


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