A line-by-line translation

The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice Translation Act 3, Scene 2

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Enter BASSANIO, PORTIA, GRATIANO, NERISSA, and all their trains, including a SINGER

PORTIA

[To BASSANIO] I pray you, tarry. Pause a day or two Before you hazard, for in choosing wrong I lose your company. Therefore forbear awhile. There’s something tells me—but it is not love— I would not lose you, and you know yourself Hate counsels not in such a quality. But lest you should not understand me well— And yet a maiden hath no tongue but thought— I would detain you here some month or two Before you venture for me. I could teach you How to choose right, but I am then forsworn. So will I never be. So may you miss me. But if you do, you’ll make me wish a sin, That I had been forsworn. Beshrew your eyes, They have o'erlooked me and divided me. One half of me is yours, the other half yours— Mine own, I would say. But if mine, then yours, And so all yours. Oh, these naughty times Put bars between the owners and their rights! And so, though yours, not yours. Prove it so. Let Fortune go to hell for it, not I. I speak too long, but ’tis to peize the time, To eke it and to draw it out in length, To stay you from election.

PORTIA

[To BASSANIO] Please, take your time. Wait a day or two before you take the risk, because if you choose incorrectly then you will have to leave me. So wait a while. For some reason—but not because of love—I don't think I'd . It's not hate that would make me feel this way. But just so that I'm clear, even though it's not a young woman's place to speak her thoughts, I would like to keep you here for a month or two before you make your choice. I could tell you what the right casket is, but I've sworn not to. I will never tell you the right choice, so there's a chance you will make the wrong choice. And if you do, you'll make me wish I had sinned and broken my oath not to reveal the correct casket. Darn your eyes—in looking upon me they have divided me in two. One half of me is yours, and the other half is yours—I mean mine. Well, if that half of me is mine, then it is yours, too, so all of me is yours. Oh, it's wrong that you are kept from what is yours! Although I am yours, I am not yet officially yours. Make it so I am. Let Lady Luck go to hell for this game of chance, not me. I'm talking too much, but I'm doing that just to waste time, to draw out the minutes and stretch out the seconds, keeping you from making your decision.

BASSANIO

Let me choose, For as I am, I live upon the rack.

BASSANIO

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PORTIA

Upon the rack, Bassanio? Then confessWhat treason there is mingled with your love.

PORTIA

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BASSANIO

None but that ugly treason of mistrust Which makes me fear th' enjoying of my love. There may as well be amity and life 'Tween snow and fire, as treason and my love.

BASSANIO

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PORTIA

Ay, but I fear you speak upon the rackWhere men enforcèd do speak anything.

PORTIA

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BASSANIO

Promise me life, and I’ll confess the truth.

BASSANIO

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PORTIA

Well then, confess and live.

PORTIA

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BASSANIO

“Confess and love” Had been the very sum of my confession. O happy torment, when my torturer Doth teach me answers for deliverance! But let me to my fortune and the caskets.

BASSANIO

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PORTIA

Away, then. I am locked in one of them. If you do love me you will find me out.— Nerissa and the rest, stand all aloof. Let music sound while he doth make his choice. Then if he lose he makes a swanlike end, Fading in music. That the comparison May stand more proper, my eye shall be the stream And watery deathbed for him. He may win, And what is music then? Then music is Even as the flourish when true subjects bow To a new-crownèd monarch. Such it is As are those dulcet sounds in break of day That creep into the dreaming bridegroom’s ear And summon him to marriage. Now he goes With no less presence but with much more love Than young Alcides, when he did redeem The virgin tribute paid by howling Troy To the sea monster. I stand for sacrifice. The rest aloof are the Dardanian wives, With blearèd visages come forth to view The issue of th' exploit.—Go, Hercules! Live thou, I live. With much, much more dismay I view the fight than thou that makest the fray.

PORTIA

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A song, the whilst BASSANIO comments on the caskets to himself

SINGER

[sings] Tell me where is fancy bred. Or in the heart or in the head? How begot, how nourishèd?

SINGER

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ALL

Reply, reply.

ALL

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SINGER

[sings] It is engendered in the eyes, With gazing fed, and fancy dies In the cradle where it lies. Let us all ring fancy’s knell I’ll begin it.—Ding, dong, bell.

SINGER

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ALL

Ding, dong, bell.

ALL

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BASSANIO

So may the outward shows be least themselves. The world is still deceived with ornament. In law, what plea so tainted and corrupt But, being seasoned with a gracious voice, Obscures the show of evil? In religion, What damnèd error, but some sober brow Will bless it and approve it with a text, Hiding the grossness with fair ornament? There is no vice so simple but assumes Some mark of virtue on his outward parts. How many cowards whose hearts are all as false As stairs of sand wear yet upon their chins The beards of Hercules and frowning Mars, Who, inward searched, have livers white as milk, And these assume but valor’s excrement To render them redoubted. Look on beauty, And you shall see ’tis purchased by the weight, Which therein works a miracle in nature, Making them lightest that wear most of it. So are those crispèd snaky golden locks Which maketh such wanton gambols with the wind, Upon supposèd fairness, often known To be the dowry of a second head, The skull that bred them in the sepulcher. Thus ornament is but the guilèd shore To a most dangerous sea, the beauteous scarf Veiling an Indian beauty—in a word, The seeming truth which cunning times put on To entrap the wisest. Therefore then, thou gaudy gold, Hard food for Midas, I will none of thee. Nor none of thee, thou pale and common drudge 'Tween man and man. But thou, thou meagre lead, Which rather threaten’st than dost promise aught, Thy paleness moves me more than eloquence, And here choose I. Joy be the consequence!

BASSANIO

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PORTIA

[aside] How all the other passions fleet to air, As doubtful thoughts, and rash-embraced despair, And shuddering fear, and green-eyed jealousy! O love, be moderate. Allay thy ecstasy. In measure rein thy joy. Scant this excess. I feel too much thy blessing. Make it less, For fear I surfeit.

PORTIA

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BASSANIO

[opening the lead casket] What find I here? Fair Portia’s counterfeit! What demigod Hath come so near creation? Move these eyes? Or whether, riding on the balls of mine, Seem they in motion? Here are severed lips, Parted with sugar breath. So sweet a bar Should sunder such sweet friends. Here in her hairs, The painter plays the spider and hath woven A golden mesh t' entrap the hearts of men Faster than gnats in cobwebs. But her eyes— How could he see to do them? Having made one, Methinks it should have power to steal both his And leave itself unfurnished. Yet look how far The substance of my praise doth wrong this shadow In underprizing it, so far this shadow Doth limp behind the substance. Here’s the scroll, The continent and summary of my fortune. [reads] “You that choose not by the view, Chance as fair and choose as true. Since this fortune falls to you, Be content and seek no new. If you be well pleased with this And hold your fortune for your bliss, Turn you where your lady is And claim her with a loving kiss.” A gentle scroll. Fair lady, by your leave, I come by note to give and to receive. Like one of two contending in a prize That thinks he hath done well in people’s eyes, Hearing applause and universal shout, Giddy in spirit, still gazing in a doubt Whether these pearls of praise be his or no— So, thrice fair lady, stand I even so, As doubtful whether what I see be true Until confirmed, signed, ratified by you.

BASSANIO

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PORTIA

You see me, Lord Bassanio, where I stand Such as I am. Though for myself alone I would not be ambitious in my wish To wish myself much better, yet for you I would be trebled twenty times myself— A thousand times more fair, ten thousand times more rich— That only to stand high in your account I might in virtue, beauties, livings, friends Exceed account. But the full sum of me Is sum of something which, to term in gross, Is an unlessoned girl, unschooled, unpracticèd; Happy in this—she is not yet so old But she may learn. Happier than this— She is not bred so dull but she can learn. Happiest of all is that her gentle spirit Commits itself to yours to be directed As from her lord, her governor, her king. Myself and what is mine to you and yours Is now converted. But now I was the lord Of this fair mansion, master of my servants, Queen o'er myself. And even now, but now, This house, these servants, and this same myself Are yours, my lord’s. I give them with this ring, Which when you part from, lose, or give away, Let it presage the ruin of your love And be my vantage to exclaim on you. [gives BASSANIO a ring]

PORTIA

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BASSANIO

Madam, you have bereft me of all words. Only my blood speaks to you in my veins. And there is such confusion in my powers As after some oration fairly spoke By a belovèd prince there doth appear Among the buzzing pleasèd multitude, Where every something, being blent together, Turns to a wild of nothing, save of joy, Expressed and not expressed. But when this ring Parts from this finger, then parts life from hence. O, then be bold to say Bassanio’s dead!

BASSANIO

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NERISSA

My lord and lady, it is now our time,That have stood by and seen our wishes prosper,To cry, “Good joy, good joy, my lord and lady!”

NERISSA

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GRATIANO

My Lord Bassanio and my gentle lady, I wish you all the joy that you can wish, For I am sure you can wish none from me. And when your honors mean to solemnize The bargain of your faith, I do beseech you Even at that time I may be married too.

GRATIANO

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BASSANIO

With all my heart, so thou canst get a wife.

BASSANIO

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GRATIANO

I thank your lordship, you have got me one. My eyes, my lord, can look as swift as yours. You saw the mistress, I beheld the maid. You loved, I loved. For intermission No more pertains to me, my lord, than you. Your fortune stood upon the casket there, And so did mine too, as the matter falls. For wooing here until I sweat again, And swearing till my very roof was dry With oaths of love, at last—if promise last— I got a promise of this fair one here To have her love, provided that your fortune Achieved her mistress.

GRATIANO

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PORTIA

Is this true, Nerissa?

PORTIA

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NERISSA

Madam, it is, so you stand pleased withal.

NERISSA

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BASSANIO

And do you, Gratiano, mean good faith?

BASSANIO

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GRATIANO

Yes, faith, my lord.

GRATIANO

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BASSANIO

Our feast shall be much honored in your marriage.

BASSANIO

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GRATIANO

[to NERISSA] We’ll play with them the first boy for a thousand ducats.

GRATIANO

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NERISSA

What, and stake down?

NERISSA

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GRATIANO

No, we shall ne'er win at that sport and stake down. But who comes here? Lorenzo and his infidel? What, and my old Venetian friend Salerio?

GRATIANO

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Enter LORENZO, JESSICA, and SALERIO, a messenger from Venice

BASSANIO

Lorenzo and Salerio, welcome hither, If that the youth of my new interest here Have power to bid you welcome. [to PORTIA] By your leave, I bid my very friends and countrymen, Sweet Portia, welcome.

BASSANIO

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PORTIA

So do I, my lord.They are entirely welcome.

PORTIA

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LORENZO

[to BASSANIO] I thank your honor. For my part, my lord, My purpose was not to have seen you here. But meeting with Salerio by the way, He did entreat me, past all saying nay, To come with him along.

LORENZO

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SALERIO

I did, my lord. And I have reason for it. Signor AntonioCommends him to you. [gives BASSANIO letter]

SALERIO

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BASSANIO

Ere I ope his letter,I pray you tell me how my good friend doth.

BASSANIO

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SALERIO

Not sick, my lord, unless it be in mind,Nor well, unless in mind. His letter there Will show you his estate.

SALERIO

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BASSANIO opens the letter and reads it

GRATIANO

[indicating JESSICA] Nerissa, cheer yond stranger. Bid her welcome.— Your hand, Salerio. What’s the news from Venice? How doth that royal merchant, good Antonio? I know he will be glad of our success. We are the Jasons, we have won the fleece.

GRATIANO

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SALERIO

I would you had won the fleece that he hath lost.

SALERIO

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PORTIA

There are some shrewd contents in yond same paper That steals the color from Bassanio’s cheek. Some dear friend dead, else nothing in the world Could turn so much the constitution Of any constant man. What, worse and worse?— With leave, Bassanio, I am half yourself, And I must freely have the half of anything That this same paper brings you.

PORTIA

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BASSANIO

O sweet Portia, Here are a few of the unpleasant’st words That ever blotted paper. Gentle lady, When I did first impart my love to you, I freely told you, all the wealth I had Ran in my veins. I was a gentleman, And then I told you true. And yet, dear lady, Rating myself at nothing, you shall see How much I was a braggart. When I told you My state was nothing, I should then have told you That I was worse than nothing, for indeed I have engaged myself to a dear friend, Engaged my friend to his mere enemy To feed my means. Here is a letter, lady, The paper as the body of my friend, And every word in it a gaping wound, Issuing life blood.— But is it true, Salerio? Have all his ventures failed? What, not one hit? From Tripolis, from Mexico and England, From Lisbon, Barbary, and India? And not one vessel ’scape the dreadful touch Of merchant-marring rocks?

BASSANIO

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SALERIO

Not one, my lord. Besides, it should appear that if he had The present money to discharge the Jew, He would not take it. Never did I know A creature that did bear the shape of man So keen and greedy to confound a man. He plies the duke at morning and at night, And doth impeach the freedom of the state If they deny him justice. Twenty merchants, The duke himself, and the magnificoes Of greatest port have all persuaded with him. But none can drive him from the envious plea Of forfeiture, of justice, and his bond.

SALERIO

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JESSICA

When I was with him I have heard him swear To Tubal and to Chus, his countrymen, That he would rather have Antonio’s flesh Than twenty times the value of the sum That he did owe him. And I know, my lord, If law, authority, and power deny not, It will go hard with poor Antonio.

JESSICA

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PORTIA

Is it your dear friend that is thus in trouble?

PORTIA

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BASSANIO

The dearest friend to me, the kindest man, The best conditioned and unwearied spirit In doing courtesies, and one in whom The ancient Roman honor more appears Than any that draws breath in Italy.

BASSANIO

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PORTIA

What sum owes he the Jew?

PORTIA

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur a

BASSANIO

For me, three thousand ducats.

BASSANIO

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consecte

PORTIA

What, no more? Pay him six thousand and deface the bond! Double six thousand, and then treble that, Before a friend of this description Shall lose a hair through Bassanio’s fault. First go with me to church and call me wife, And then away to Venice to your friend. For never shall you lie by Portia’s side With an unquiet soul. You shall have gold To pay the petty debt twenty times over. When it is paid, bring your true friend along. My maid Nerissa and myself meantime Will live as maids and widows. Come, away! For you shall hence upon your wedding day. Bid your friends welcome, show a merry cheer. Since you are dear bought, I will love you dear. But let me hear the letter of your friend.

PORTIA

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BASSANIO

[reads] “Sweet Bassanio, my ships have all miscarried. My creditors grow cruel. My estate is very low. My bond to the Jew is forfeit. And since in paying it, it is impossible I should live, all debts are cleared between you and I if I might but see you at my death. Notwithstanding, use your pleasure. If your love do not persuade you to come, let not my letter.”

BASSANIO

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PORTIA

O love, dispatch all business and be gone!

PORTIA

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipi

BASSANIO

Since I have your good leave to go away, I will make haste. But till I come again, No bed shall e'er be guilty of my stay, No rest be interposer ’twixt us twain.

BASSANIO

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Exeunt

The merchant of venice
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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.