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The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice Translation Act 1, Scene 3

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Enter BASSANIO and SHYLOCK

SHYLOCK

Three thousand ducats, well.

SHYLOCK

Three thousand ducats, eh?

BASSANIO

Ay, sir, for three months.

BASSANIO

Yes, sir, for three months.

SHYLOCK

For three months, well.

SHYLOCK

For three months, eh?

BASSANIO

For the which, as I told you, Antonio shall be bound.

BASSANIO

And, as I told you, Antonio will be the guarantor of the loan.

SHYLOCK

Antonio shall become bound, well.

SHYLOCK

Antonio will, eh?

BASSANIO

May you stead me? Will you pleasure me? Shall I know your answer?

BASSANIO

Can you help me out? Will you agree to the loan? Can I hear your answer?

SHYLOCK

Three thousand ducats for three months, and Antonio bound.

SHYLOCK

Three thousand ducats for three months, and Antonio will be bound to guarantee the loan.

BASSANIO

Your answer to that?

BASSANIO

What's your answer to that offer?

SHYLOCK

Antonio is a good man.

SHYLOCK

Antonio is a good man.

BASSANIO

Have you heard any imputation to the contrary?

BASSANIO

Have you heard anyone say otherwise about him?

SHYLOCK

Ho, no, no, no, no. My meaning in saying he is a good man is to have you understand me that he is sufficient. Yet his means are in supposition. He hath an argosy bound to Tripolis, another to the Indies. I understand moreover, upon the Rialto, he hath a third at Mexico, a fourth for England, and other ventures he hath squandered abroad. But ships are but boards, sailors butmen. There be land rats and water rats, water thieves and land thieves—I mean pirates—and then there is the peril of waters, winds, and rocks. The man is notwithstanding sufficient.

SHYLOCK

Oh no, no, no, no I haven't. I just meant to suggest that is a sufficient guarantor for the loan. But, his wealth isn't certain at the moment. He has one ship bound for Tripoli and another for the Indies. Moreover, the word around the Rialto is that he has a third ship in Mexico, a fourth bound for England, and other ventures he has invested his money in abroad. Ships are just wood, and sailors are just men. There are rats on land and sea, and thieves on land and sea, including pirates. And then there is also the matter of dangerous waters, winds, and rocks. But in spite of all these risks, he is still a sufficient guarantor. 

BASSANIO

Be assured you may.

BASSANIO

You can be sure of that.

SHYLOCK

I will be assured I may, and that I may be assured,I will bethink me. May I speak with Antonio?

SHYLOCK

I will be sure, and I will figure out how I can be completely sure. May I speak with Antonio?

BASSANIO

If it please you to dine with us.

BASSANIO

Would you like to have dinner with Antonio and me?

SHYLOCK

Yes—to smell pork, to eat of the habitation which your prophet the Nazarite conjured the devil into. I will buywith you, sell with you, talk with you, walk with you, and so following, but I will not eat with you, drink with you, nor pray with you. What news on the Rialto? Who is he comes here?

SHYLOCK

Oh yes, I'd love to eat pork with you, the animal into which your Jesus exorcised the devil. I will buy and sell with you, talk with you, walk with you, and so forth, but I will neither eat, nor drink, nor pray with you. What's the news on the Rialto? Who is the man coming here?

Enter ANTONIO

BASSANIO

This is Signor Antonio.

BASSANIO

This is Mr. Antonio.

SHYLOCK

[aside] How like a fawning publican he looks! I hate him for he is a Christian, But more for that in low simplicity He lends out money gratis and brings down The rate of usance here with us in Venice. If I can catch him once upon the hip, I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him. He hates our sacred nation, and he rails, Even there where merchants most do congregate, On me, my bargains and my well-won thrift, Which he calls “interest.” Cursèd be my tribe If I forgive him!

SHYLOCK

[To himself] He looks like someone who wants to take my money but then ask me for a favor! I hate him because he is a Christian, but I hate him even more because he lends out money without charging interest, which forces me to lower the interest rates that I loan at. If I get the better of him just once, I will satisfy my old grudge against him. He hates us Jews, and he speaks badly of me, my bargains, and my hard-won money in the company of other merchants, talking about "interest." May my Jewish tribe be cursed if I forgive him!

BASSANIO

Shylock, do you hear?

BASSANIO

Shylock, are you listening?

SHYLOCK

I am debating of my present store, And by the near guess of my memory I cannot instantly raise up the gross Of full three thousand ducats. What of that? Tubal, a wealthy Hebrew of my tribe, Will furnish me. But soft! How many months Do you desire? [to ANTONIO] Rest you fair, good signor. Your worship was the last man in our mouths.

SHYLOCK

I am thinking about how much money I have right now, and as best as I can remember, I can't raise the gross sum of three thousand ducats right now. But that doesn't matter. Tubal, a wealthy Jew of my tribe, will supply the rest of the money. But wait! How many months do you want the money for?

[To ANTONIO]
 Hello, good sir. We were just talking about you.

ANTONIO

Shylock, albeit I neither lend nor borrow By taking nor by giving of excess, Yet to supply the ripe wants of my friend, I’ll break a custom. [to BASSANIO] Is he yet possessed How much ye would?

ANTONIO

Shylock, I normally don't lend or borrow money with interest, but in order to help my needy friend, I'll break my custom.

[To BASSANIO]
 Does he know how much money you want yet?

SHYLOCK

Ay, ay, three thousand ducats.

SHYLOCK

Yes, yes, three thousand ducats.

ANTONIO

And for three months.

ANTONIO

And for three months.

SHYLOCK

I had forgot—three months. [to BASSANIO] You told me so. [to ANTONIO] Well then, your bond, and let me see—But hear you, Methought you said you neither lend nor borrowUpon advantage.

SHYLOCK

I had forgotten—three months.

[To BASSANIO]
 You told me that.

[To ANTONIO]
 Well then, and you'll be the guarantor on behalf of Bassanio, let's see—but listen, I thought you said you don't lend or borrow money with interest.

ANTONIO

I do never use it.

ANTONIO

I never do.

SHYLOCK

When Jacob grazed his uncle Laban’s sheep— This Jacob from our holy Abram was, As his wise mother wrought in his behalf, The third possessor, ay, he was the third—

SHYLOCK

In the Bible, when Jacob looked after his uncle Laban's sheep—this is the Jacob who was descended from our holy ancestor Abram, and his wise mother made him his father's heir so that he was the third to possess God's promise

ANTONIO

And what of him? Did he take interest?

ANTONIO

And what about him? Did he charge interest?

SHYLOCK

No, not take interest—not as you would say Directly interest. Mark what Jacob did: When Laban and himself were compromised That all the eanlings which were streaked and pied Should fall as Jacob’s hire, the ewes, being rank, In the end of autumn turnèd to the rams. And when the work of generation was Between these woolly breeders in the act, The skillful shepherd peeled me certain wands. And in the doing of the deed of kind He stuck them up before the fulsome ewes, Who then conceiving did in weaning time Fall parti-colored lambs—and those were Jacob’s. This was a way to thrive, and he was blessed. And thrift is blessing, if men steal it not.

SHYLOCK

No, he didn't. He didn't exactly charge interest, as you would say. But listen to what Jacob did do: when he and Laban agreed that all the streaked and spotted sheep would be his, it was the end of autumn and so the sheep were starting to mate. And when the wooly sheep were starting to couple off together to breed, the skillful shepherd Jacob put some dappled sticks in front of the ewes while they were conceiving. When they gave birth, they produced streaked and spotted lambs, and those became Jacob's. Jacob became very prosperous in this way, and he was blessed. Profit is a blessing, if it is not obtained by stealing.

ANTONIO

This was a venture, sir, that Jacob served for— A thing not in his power to bring to pass But swayed and fashioned by the hand of heaven. Was this inserted to make interest good? Or is your gold and silver ewes and rams?

ANTONIO

But that was something that wasn't in Jacob's power to bring about; it happened through the hand of God. Did you tell this story to imply that it is good to charge interest? Is your gold and silver like a bunch of ewes and rams?

SHYLOCK

I cannot tell: I make it breed as fast.But note me, signor—

SHYLOCK

Maybe: I make the money multiply as fast as sheep. But listen, sir—

ANTONIO

Mark you this, Bassanio, The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose. An evil soul producing holy witness Is like a villain with a smiling cheek, A goodly apple rotten at the heart. Oh, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!

ANTONIO

Take note, Bassanio: even the devil can quote the Bible for his own purpose.  An evil soul quoting holy words is like a villain who pretends to be good, a good-looking apple with a rotten core. What a good appearance falsehood can have!

SHYLOCK

Three thousand ducats—’tis a good round sum. Three months from twelve, then. Let me see. The rate—

SHYLOCK

Three thousand ducats: that's a good, round number. Three months out of the twelve that make up the year, then. Let me see. The rate—

ANTONIO

Well, Shylock, shall we be beholding to you?

ANTONIO

Well, Shylock, will we be in your debt?

SHYLOCK

Signor Antonio, many a time and oft In the Rialto you have rated me About my moneys and my usances. Still have I borne it with a patient shrug, For sufferance is the badge of all our tribe. You call me misbeliever, cutthroat dog, And spet upon my Jewish gaberdine— And all for use of that which is mine own. Well then, it now appears you need my help. Go to, then! You come to me and you say, “Shylock, we would have moneys.” You say so!— You, that did void your rheum upon my beard And foot me as you spurn a stranger cur Over your threshold! Moneys is your suit. What should I say to you? Should I not say, “Hath a dog money? Is it possible A cur can lend three thousand ducats?” Or Shall I bend low and in a bondman’s key With bated breath and whispering humbleness Say this: “Fair sir, you spet on me on Wednesday last; You spurned me such a day; another time You called me ’dog'—and for these courtesies I’ll lend you thus much moneys?”

SHYLOCK

Sir Antonio, many times you have criticized me about my money and habit of charging interest in the Rialto. I have endured it all with patience and a shrug, because we Jews are known for our ability to endure. You say I believe in the wrong religion, call me a cut-throat dog, and spit on my Jewish clothing, all because I use my own money to make profit. And now it appears that you need my help. Okay, then! You come to me and you say, "Shylock, I need money." You tell me this! You who spat on my beard and kicked me as you'd kick a stray dog away from your threshold! You ask for money. What should I say to you? Shouldn't I say, "Does a dog have money? Is it possible for a dog to lend you three thousand ducats?" Or should I get bend to my knees and with bated breath humbly whisper, "Fair sir, you spat on me last Wednesday; you spurned me then; another time you called me a dog—and for all this courtesy you've shown me, I will gladly lend you this much money?"

ANTONIO

I am as like to call thee so again, To spet on thee again, to spurn thee too. If thou wilt lend this money, lend it not As to thy friends, for when did friendship take A breed for barren metal of his friend? But lend it rather to thine enemy, Who, if he break, thou mayst with better face Exact the penalty.

ANTONIO

I am likely to call you such names again, spit on you again, and spurn you, too. If you decide to lend this money, don't do it as if we are your friends. After all, when have friends ever charged each other interest? Lend me the money as your enemy and if I break my part of the agreement you can more happily punish me.

SHYLOCK

Why, look you how you storm! I would be friends with you and have your love, Forget the shames that you have stained me with, Supply your present wants and take no doit Of usance for my moneys—and you’ll not hear me! This is kind I offer.

SHYLOCK

Why, look at your temper! I would be friends with you and have your affection, forget about how you have shamed me, lend you what you need and take no interest—but you won't listen to me! I'm giving you a kind offer.

BASSANIO

This were kindness.

BASSANIO

That would be kind.

SHYLOCK

This kindness will I show. Go with me to a notary, seal me there Your single bond, and—in a merry sport— If you repay me not on such a day, In such a place, such sum or sums as are Expressed in the condition, let the forfeit Be nominated for an equal pound Of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken In what part of your body pleaseth me.

SHYLOCK

I'll show you this kindness. Go with me to a notary and sign an agreement: if you do not repay me the agreed-upon amount of money on the agreed-upon day, in the agreed-upon place, you will forfeit to me one pound of your fair flesh, to be cut off from whatever part of your body I choose.

ANTONIO

Content, in faith. I’ll seal to such a bond,And say there is much kindness in the Jew.

ANTONIO

Sure, why not? I'll agree to such a deal, and I'll admit there is much kindness in Jews.

BASSANIO

You shall not seal to such a bond for me!I’ll rather dwell in my necessity.

BASSANIO

I won't let you agree to such a deal on my behalf! I'd rather deal with my poverty.

ANTONIO

Why, fear not, man. I will not forfeit it. Within these two months—that’s a month before This bond expires—I do expect return Of thrice three times the value of this bond.

ANTONIO

Don't worry, man. I won't have to give up the pound of flesh. I expect to make nine times the amount of this contract within these next two months, and that's a month before I have to pay him back.

SHYLOCK

O Father Abram, what these Christians are, Whose own hard dealings teaches them suspect The thoughts of others!— Pray you, tell me this: If he should break his day, what should I gain By the exaction of the forfeiture? A pound of man’s flesh taken from a man Is not so estimable, profitable neither, As flesh of muttons, beefs, or goats. I say, To buy his favor I extend this friendship. If he will take it, so. If not, adieu. And for my love I pray you wrong me not.

SHYLOCK

Oh, Father Abram, what strange people these Christians are! They suspect the worst in others because of their own trickery. Please, tell me this: if he fails to pay me back in time, what would I gain by taking a pound of his flesh? A pound of flesh taken from a man is not worth very much, and isn't as profitable as mutton, beef, or goat flesh. I'm telling you, I'm giving him this kind offer to be friendly. If he will accept the offer, good. If not, goodbye. And for this kindness I show you, I ask you not to think poorly of me.

ANTONIO

Yes, Shylock, I will seal unto this bond.

ANTONIO

Yes, Shylock, I will enter into this contract

SHYLOCK

Then meet me forthwith at the notary’s. Give him direction for this merry bond, And I will go and purse the ducats straight, See to my house left in the fearful guard Of an unthrifty knave, and presently I will be with you.

SHYLOCK

Then meet me right away at the notary's office. Explain to him this happy agreement, and I will go immediately to gather up the ducats from my house, which I've left guarded by a careless clown. Then, soon, I'll meet you.

ANTONIO

Hie thee, gentle Jew.

ANTONIO

Take care, gentle Jew.

Exit SHYLOCK

The Hebrew will turn Christian. He grows kind.

This Hebrew must be turning Christian, because he's getting kinder.

BASSANIO

I like not fair terms and a villain’s mind.

BASSANIO

I don't like fair terms when they're thought up by a villain's mind.

ANTONIO

Come on. In this there can be no dismay.My ships come home a month before the day.

ANTONIO

Come on. There's nothing bad about this. My ships will come home with the money a month before I have to pay him.

Exeunt

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Matt cosby
About the Translator: Matt Cosby
Matt Cosby graduated from Amherst College in 2011, and currently works as a writer and editor for LitCharts. He is from Florida but now lives in Portland, Oregon, where he also makes art, plays the piano, and goes to dog parks.