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The importance of the arduous task Portia had engaged in gave this tender lady courage. First of all she addressed herself to Shylock; and allowing that he had a right by the Venetian law to have the forfeit expressed in the bond, she spoke so sweetly of the noble quality of mercy, that any heart but the unfeeling Shylock's would have been softened; saying:

“The quality of mercy is not strain'd,

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath : it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes :
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The thronéd monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway ;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render

The deeds of mercy.” Shylock answered her only by desiring to have the penalty forfeited in the bond.

“ Is he not able to pay the money?" asked Portia.

Bassanio then offered the Jew the payment of the three thousand ducats as many times over as he should desire. But Shylock refused, and still insisted upon having a pound of Antonio's flesh. Bassanio begged the learned young counsellor to endeavor to wrest the law a little, to save Antonio's life. But Portia gravely answered that laws once established must never be altered. Shylock, hearing Portia say that the law might not be altered, thought that she was pleading in his favor, and he said, “ A Daniel is come to judgment! O wise young judge, how I do honor you! How much elder are you

than
your

looks!" Portia now desired Shylock to let her look at the bond; and when she had read it, she said, “ This bond is forfeited, and by this the Jew may lawfully claim a pound of flesh, to be by him cut off nearest Antonio's heart.” Then she said to Shylock, “ Be merciful: take the money, and bid me tear the bond.” But the cruel Shylock would show no mercy; and he said, “ By my soul I swear, there is no power in the tongue of man to alter me.”

“Why, then, Antonio,” said Portia, "you must prepare your bosom for the knife.” While Shylock was sharpening a long knife with great eagerness to cut off the pound of flesh, Portia said to Antonio, “ Have you anything to say?” Antonio with a calm resignation replied that he had but little to say, for he had prepared his mind for

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death. Then he said to Bassanio, “ Give me your hand, Bassanio! Fare you well! Grieve not that I am fallen into this misfortune for you. Commend me to your honorable wife, and tell her how I have loved you!”

Bassanio in the deepest affliction replied, “Antonio, I am married to a wife, who is as dear to me as life itself; but life itself, my wife, and all the world, are not esteemed with me above your life: I would lose all, I would sacrifice all to this devil here, to deliver you.”

Portia heard this, and though the kind-hearted lady was not at all offended with her husband for expressing the love he owed to so true a friend as Antonio in these strong terms, yet she could not help answering, “ Your wife would give you little thanks, if she were present, to hear you make this offer.”

And then Gratiano, who loved to copy what his lord did, thought he must make a speech like Bassanio's; and Nerissa, who was writing in her clerk's dress by the side of Portia, heard him say: “I have a wife, whom I protest I love; I wish she were in heaven, if she could but entreat some power there to change the cruel temper of this currish Jew.” “It is well you wish this behind her back, else you would have but an unquiet house," said Nerissa.

Shylock now cried out impatiently, “We trifle time; I pray pronounce the sentence.” And now

all was awful expectation in the court, and every heart was full of grief for Antonio.

Portia asked if the scales were ready to weigh the flesh; and she said to the Jew, “Shylock, you must have some surgeon by, lest he bleed to death." Shylock, whose whole intent was that Antonio should bleed to death, said, “ It is not so named in the bond.” Portia replied, “ It is not so named in the bond, but what of that? It were good you did so much for charity.” To this all the answer Shylock would make was, “ I cannot find it; it is not in the bond."

“ Then,” said Portia, “a pound of Antonio's flesh is thine. The law allows it, and the court awards it. And you may cut this flesh from off his breast. The law allows it, and the court awards it.” Again Shylock exclaimed, “O wise and upright judge! A Daniel is come to judgment!” And then he sharpened his long knife again, and looking eagerly on Antonio, he said, “ Come, prepare!”

• Tarry a little, Jew,” said Portia ; " there is something else. This bond here gives you no drop of blood; the words expressly are, “a pound of flesh.' If in the cutting off the pound of flesh you shed one drop of Christian blood, your lands and goods are by the law to be confiscated to the state of Venice.”

Now as it was utterly impossible for Shylock to cut off the pound of flesh without shedding some of

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