The Merchant of Venice By William Shakespeare Act I: Scene 3

SCENE III. Venice. A public place

[Enter BASSANIO and SHYLOCK.]

SHYLOCK.
Three thousand ducats; well?

BASSANIO.
Ay, sir, for three months.

SHYLOCK.
For three months; well?

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

SHYLOCK.
Antonio shall become bound; well?

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

SHYLOCK.
Three thousand ducats, for three months, and Antonio bound.

BASSANIO.
Your answer to that.

SHYLOCK.
Antonio is a good man.

BASSANIO.
Have you heard any imputation to the contrary?

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 but
men; there be land-rats and water-rats, land-thieves and
water-thieves, — I mean pirates, — and then there is the peril of
waters, winds, and rocks. The man is, notwithstanding,
sufficient. Three thousand ducats- I think I may take his bond.

BASSANIO.
Be assured you may.

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

BASSANIO.
If it please you to dine with us.

SHYLOCK.
Yes, to smell pork; to eat of the habitation which your
prophet, the Nazarite, conjured the devil into. I will buy with
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?

[Enter ANTONIO]

BASSANIO.
This is Signior 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. Cursed be my tribe
If I forgive him!

BASSANIO.
Shylock, do you hear?

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 signior;
Your worship was the last man in our mouths.

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 possess'd
How much ye would?

SHYLOCK.
Ay, ay, three thousand ducats.

ANTONIO.
And for three months.

SHYLOCK.
I had forgot; three months; you told me so.
Well then, your bond; and, let me see. But hear you,
Methought you said you neither lend nor borrow
Upon advantage.

ANTONIO.
I do never use it.

SHYLOCK.
When Jacob graz'd 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, —

ANTONIO.
And what of him? Did he take interest?

SHYLOCK.
No, not take interest; not, as you would say,
Directly interest; mark what Jacob did.
When Laban and himself were compromis'd
That all the eanlings which were streak'd and pied
Should fall as Jacob's hire, the ewes, being rank,
In end of autumn turned to the rams;
And when the work of generation was
Between these woolly breeders in the act,
The skilful shepherd peel'd 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 eaning time
Fall parti-colour'd lambs, and those were Jacob's.
This was a way to thrive, and he was blest;
And thrift is blessing, if men steal it not.

ANTONIO.
This was a venture, sir, that Jacob serv'd for;
A thing not in his power to bring to pass,
But sway'd and fashion'd by the hand of heaven.
Was this inserted to make interest good?
Or is your gold and silver ewes and rams?

SHYLOCK.
I cannot tell; I make it breed as fast.
But note me, signior.

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.
O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!

SHYLOCK.
Three thousand ducats; 'tis a good round sum.
Three months from twelve; then let me see the rate.

ANTONIO.
Well, Shylock, shall we be beholding to you?

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