The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare, chapter name ACT 1 SCENE 1—VENICE. SAINT MARK'S PLACE.





PRINCE OF MOROCCO (Suitors to Portia)


ANTONIO       (the Merchant of Venice)

BASSANIO (his Friend)

SALANIO (Friends to Antonio and Bassanio)



LORENZO (in love with Jessica)


TUBAL (a Jew, his Friend)

LAUNCELOT GOBBO (a Clown, servant to Shylock)

OLD GOBBO (Father to Launcelot)

LEONARDO (Servants to Bassanio)


BALTHAZAR (Servant to Portia)      .


PORTIA (a rich Heiress).

NELISSA (her Waiting Maid)

JESSICA (Daughter to Shylock)

Magnificoes of Venice, Officers of the Court of Justice, Gaoler, Servants, and other Attendants.




Various groups of Nobles, Citizens, Merchants, Foreigners, Water-Carriers, Flower Girls, &c., pass and repass. Procession of the Doge, in state, across the square.

ANTONIO, SALARINO, and SALANIO come forward.

Ant. In sooth, I know not why I am so sad;

It wearies me; you say, it wearies you;

But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,

What stuff 'tis made of, whereof it is born,

I am to learn;

And such a want-wit sadness makes of me,

That I have much ado to know myself.

Salar. Your mind is tossing on the ocean;

There, where your argosies with portly sail,

Like signiors and rich burghers on the flood,

Do overpeer the petty traffickers,

That curt'sy to them, do them reverence,

As they fly by them with their woven wings.

Sal. Believe me, Sir, had I such venture forth,

The better part of my affections would

Be with my hopes abroad. I should be still

Plucking the grass, to know where sits the wind;

Peering in maps, for ports, and piers, and roads;

And every object that might make me fear

Misfortune to my ventures, out of doubt,

Would make me sad.

Salar. My wind, cooling my broth,

Would blow me to an ague, when I thought

What harm a wind too great might do at sea.

I should not see the sandy hour-glass run,

But I should think of shallows and of flats;

And see my wealthy Andrew dock'd in sand,

Vailing her high-top lower than her ribs,

To kiss her burial.

Shall I have the thought

To think on this? and shall I lack the thought

That such a thing, bechanc'd, would make me sad?

But tell not me; I know Antonio

Is sad to think upon his merchandize.

Ant. Believe me, no: I thank my fortune for it,

My ventures are not in one bottom trusted,

Nor to one place; nor is my whole estate

Upon the fortune of this present year:

Therefore my merchandize makes me not sad.

Salar. Why, then, you are in love.

Ant. Fie, fie!

Salar. Not in love, neither? Then let us say you are sad,

Because you are not merry: an 'twere as easy

For you to laugh and leap, and say you are merry,

Because you are not sad.

Sal. Here comes Bassanio, your most noble kinsman,

Gratiano, and Lorenzo: Fare you well;

We leave you now with better company.

Salar. I would have staid till I had made you merry,

If worthier friends had not prevented me.

Ant. Your worth is very dear in my regard.

I take it your own business calls on you,

And you embrace the occasion to depart.


Salar. Good morrow, my good lords.

Bas. Good signiors, both, when shall we laugh? Say, when?

You grow exceeding strange: Must it be so?

Salar. We'll make our leisures to attend on yours.


Lor. My lord Bassanio, since you have found Antonio,

We two will leave you; but at dinner-time

I pray you have in mind where we must meet.

Bas. I will not fail you.

Gra. You look not well, Signor Antonio;

You have too much respect upon the world:

They lose it that do buy it with much care.

Believe me, you are marvellously chang'd.

Ant. I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano;

A stage, where every man must play a part,

And mine a sad one.

Gra. Let me play the fool:

With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come;

And let my liver rather heat with wine,

Than my heart cool with mortifying groans.

Why should a man, whose blood is warm within,

Sit like his grandsire, cut in alabaster?

Sleep when he wakes? and creep into the jaundice

By being peevish? I tell thee what, Antonio,

I love thee, and it is my love that speaks;—

There are a sort of men, whose visages

Do cream and mantle like a standing pond:

And do a wilful stillness entertain,

With purpose to be dress'd in an opinion

Of wisdom, gravity, profound conceit;

As who should say, 'I am Sir Oracle,

And when I ope my lips let no dog bark!'

O, my Antonio, I do know of these,

That therefore only are reputed wise

For saying nothing; when I am very sure,

If they should speak, 'twould almost damn those ears

Which, hearing them, would call their brothers fools.

I'll tell thee more of this another time:

But fish not with this melancholy bait,

For this fool gudgeon, this opinion.

Come, good Lorenzo:—Fare ye well, a while;

I'll end my exhortation after dinner.

Lor. Well, we will leave you, then, till dinner-time:

I must be one of these same dumb wise men,

For Gratiano never lets me speak.

Gra. Well, keep me company but two years more,

Thou shalt not know the sound of thine own tongue.

Ant. Farewell: I'll grow a talker for this gear.

Gra. Thanks, i'faith; for silence is only commendable

In a neat's tongue dried, and a maid not vendible.


Ant. Is that any thing now?

Bas. Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of nothing, more than any man in all Venice. His reasons are as two grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff; you shall seek all day ere you find them; and when you have them they are not worth the search.

Ant. Well; tell me now, what lady is the same

To whom you swore a secret pilgrimage,

That you to-day promis'd to tell me of?

Bas. 'Tis not unknown to you, Antonio,

How much I have disabled mine estate,

By something showing a more swelling port

Than my faint means would grant continuance.

To you, Antonio, I owe the most in money and in love;

And from your love I have a warranty

To unburthen all my plots and purposes,

How to get clear of all the debts I owe.

Ant. I pray you, good Bassanio, let me know it;

And, if it stand, as you yourself still do,

Within the eye of honour, be assur'd

My purse, my person, my extremest means,

Lie all unlock'd to your occasions.

Bas. In my school-days, when I had lost one shaft

I shot his fellow of the self-same flight

The self-same way, with more advised watch

To find the other forth; and by adventuring both

I oft found both. I urge this childhood proof,

Because what follows is pure innocence.

I owe you much; and, like a wasteful youth,

That which I owe is lost: but if you please

To shoot another arrow that self way

Which you did shoot the first, I do not doubt,

As I will watch the aim, or to find both,

Or bring your latter hazard back again,

And thankfully rest debtor for the first.

Ant. You know me well; and herein spend but time,

To wind about my love with circumstance;

Then do but say to me what I should do,

That in your knowledge may by me be done,

And I am prest unto it: therefore speak.

Bas. In Belmont is a lady richly left,

And she is fair, and, fairer than that word,

Of wond'rous virtues. Sometimes from her eyes

I did receive fair speechless messages:

Her name is Portia; nothing undervalued

To Cato's daughter, Brutus' Portia.

Nor is the wide world ignorant of her worth;

For the four winds blow in from every coast

Renowned suitors.

O, my Antonio! had I but the means

To hold a rival place with one of them,

I have a mind presages me such thrift.

That I should questionless be fortunate.

Ant. Thou know'st that all my fortunes are at sea;

Neither have I money, nor commodity

To raise a present sum: therefore go forth,

Try what my credit can in Venice do;

That shall be rack'd, even to the uttermost,

To furnish thee to Belmont, to fair Portia.

Go, presently inquire, and so will I,

Where money is; and I no question make,

To have it of my trust, or for my sake.