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Then Portia rises in court and makes this lofty, never to be forgotten speech:

"The quality of mercy is not strained;

It droppeth, as the gentle rain from heaven,
Upon the place beneath; it is twice blessed;
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes;
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned 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 his 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, I have spoke this much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea;

Which, if thou follow, this strict court of Venice Must needs give sentence against the merchant there."

Shylock, with unforgiving spirit, replies:

"My deeds upon my head! I crave the law, The penalty and forfeit of my bond!”

Portia asks:

"Is not Antonio able to discharge the money?"

Bassanio replies:

"Yes; here I tender it for him in the court; Yea, twice the sum,

and still appealing to the Duke, says:

"To do a great right, do a little wrong, And curb this cruel devil of his will!”

Portia says:

"There is no power in Venice can altar a decree established."

And Shylock, lighting up with joy, replies: "A Daniel come to judgment! yea, a Daniel!”

Preparation is made to cut the pound of flesh from the breast of Antonio; and this brave old Christian merchant says to his dearest friend, Bassanio:

"Fare you well!


Grieve not that I am fallen to this for you;
For herein fortune shows herself more kind
Than is her custom; it is still her use

To let the wretched man outlive his wealth,
To view with hollow eye and wrinkled brow,
An age of poverty."

Portia, speaking to Shylock, says:

"Take thou thy pound of flesh;

But, in the cutting, if thou dost shed

One drop of Christian blood, thy lands and goods
Are, by the laws of Venice, confiscated
Unto the State of Venice!"

The Jew finding himself absolutely blocked consents to take the money offered.

Yet, Portia tells him that his property and life are now at the mercy of the Duke because he has conspired against the life of a citizen of Venice, and bids him:

"Down, therefore, and beg mercy of the Duke!"

Then the great Duke, judge of the court, speaks to Shylock:

"That thou shalt see the difference of our spirit, I pardon thee thy life before thou ask it; For half thy wealth, it is Antonio's,

The other half comes to the general state!"

Shylock bravely replies:

"Take my life and all, pardon not that;
You take my house, when you do take the prop
That doth sustain my house; you take my life
When you do take the means whereby I live!"

Then Antonio says if the Jew will give up all his property to Lorenzo and his daughter Jessica, and become a Christian, he the "Merchant of Venice," will be content.

Portia then triumphantly asks:

"Art thou content, Jew, what dost thou say?”

And poor old Shylock gasps:

"I am content."

Thus ends one of the most barefaced swindles of the ages; and my friend William is responsible for the nefarious and systematic machinery of roguery and persecution injected into the play to satisfy Christian hate against the wandering Jew.

In looking around the world even to-day, we might truthfully exclaim:

"O, Christianity! Christianity! how many crimes are committed in thy name!"

The fifth act of the "Merchant of Venice" winds up with harmonious love and prosperity for all concerned.

At the beautiful home of "Belmont," Bassanio, Portia, Lorenzo and Jessica, as well as Gratiano and Nerissa are married and living in blissful association.

In the moonlit, lovelit conversation between Lorenzo and his Jewish wife, Jessica, Shakspere wings in some of his finest classical allusions, a word banquet for all passion struck lovers.

Lorenzo seated amid waving trees, trailing vines and perfumed flowers illuminated by the mystic rays of Luna, says to Jessica:

"The moon shines bright; in such a night as this, When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees, And they did make no noise; in such a night, Troilus, methinks, mounted the Trojan walls, And sighed his soul towards the Grecian tents Where Cressid lay that night."

Jessica replies:

"In such a night

Did Thisbe fearfully o'ertrip the dew;
And saw the lion's shadow ere himself,
And ran dismayed away.”

Then Lorenzo talks:

"In such a night

Stood Dido with a willow in her hand
Upon the wild sea banks, and waved her love
To come again to Carthage."

And Jessica:

"In such a night

Medea gathered the enchanted herbs

That did renew old Aeson.”

Lorenzo then triumphant speaks:

"In such a night

Did Jessica steal from the wealthy Jew;

And with an unthrifty love did run from Venice, As far as Belmont."

Jessica satirically replies:

"In such a night

Did young Lorenzo swear he loved her well;
Stealing her soul with many vows of faith,
And ne'er a true one."

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