ACT II SCENE VIII

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The Merchant of Venice

 

ACT II SCENE VIIIVenice. A street.
[Enter SALARINO and SALANIO]
SALARINOWhy, man, I saw Bassanio under sail:
With him is Gratiano gone along;
And in their ship I am sure Lorenzo is not.
SALANIOThe villain Jew with outcries raised the duke,
Who went with him to search Bassanio’s ship.
SALARINOHe came too late, the ship was under sail:
But there the duke was given to understand
That in a gondola were seen together
Lorenzo and his amorous Jessica:
Besides, Antonio certified the duke10
They were not with Bassanio in his ship.
SALANIOI never heard a passion so confused,
So strange, outrageous, and so variable,
As the dog Jew did utter in the streets:
‘My daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter!
Fled with a Christian! O my Christian ducats!
Justice! the law! my ducats, and my daughter!
A sealed bag, two sealed bags of ducats,
Of double ducats, stolen from me by my daughter!
And jewels, two stones, two rich and precious stones,20
Stolen by my daughter! Justice! find the girl;
She hath the stones upon her, and the ducats.’
SALARINOWhy, all the boys in Venice follow him,
Crying, his stones, his daughter, and his ducats.
SALANIOLet good Antonio look he keep his day,
Or he shall pay for this.
SALARINOMarry, well remember’d.
I reason’d with a Frenchman yesterday,
Who told me, in the narrow seas that part
The French and English, there miscarried
A vessel of our country richly fraught:30
I thought upon Antonio when he told me;
And wish’d in silence that it were not his.
SALANIOYou were best to tell Antonio what you hear;
Yet do not suddenly, for it may grieve him.
SALARINOA kinder gentleman treads not the earth.
I saw Bassanio and Antonio part:
Bassanio told him he would make some speed

Of his return: he answer’d, ‘Do not so;
Slubber not business for my sake, Bassanio
But stay the very riping of the time;40
And for the Jew’s bond which he hath of me,
Let it not enter in your mind of love:
Be merry, and employ your chiefest thoughts
To courtship and such fair ostents of love
As shall conveniently become you there:’
And even there, his eye being big with tears,
Turning his face, he put his hand behind him,
And with affection wondrous sensible
He wrung Bassanio’s hand; and so they parted.
SALANIOI think he only loves the world for him.50
I pray thee, let us go and find him out
And quicken his embraced heaviness
With some delight or other.
SALARINODo we so.
[Exeunt]

Next: The Merchant of Venice, Act 2, Scene 9
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Explanatory Notes for Act 2, Scene 8
From The Merchant of Venice. Ed. Felix E. Schelling. New York: American Book Co.

Notice that in this scene the passionate outburst of Shylock on learning of Jessica’s unfilial conduct is reported by the unsympathetic gallants, Salarino and Salanio, and not represented directly. Are we to believe Salanio’s intimation that Shylock was more grieved at the loss of his ducats than that his daughter should have married a hated Christian? And would a direct representation of Shylock in his despair have drawn too deep a draft on our sympathies for the Jew? The gallants also mention the rumors that Antonio’s ventures may have miscarried, and apprise us of his loving, hearty leave-taking of Bassanio, now well on his happy way to Belmont.

10. certified, assured.

12. passion, commotion, passionate outcry. Compare Troilus and Cressida, v. 2. 1 81: “Your passion draws ears hither.”

25. keep his day, be punctual to his day of payment. Note how the unfilial conduct of Jessica, with the loss of his money, is mentioned here as hardening the Jew’s heart against Antonio. Notice also the rumor of misfortune to Antonio’s ships in the next speech.

27. reason’d, conversed with. See above, i. 2. 23.

30. fraught, freighted.

33. You were best to tell. No uncommon idiom for You had better or best tell. Compare 1 Henry VI. v. 3. 82: “I were best to leave him.” This line is readily scanned by regarding You were best as the first foot, either contracted to You’re best; or, better, speedily uttered as in ordinary speech:

39. Slubber, slur over.

40. riping, ripening.

42. mind of love, your loving mind; also explained, “Let me entreat you, of love [i.e. by our mutual love], that you take not the least thought of it.”

44. ostents, shows.

45. conveniently, suitably.

48. affection wondrous sensible, emotion wonderfully sensitive.

52. embraced heaviness, the sadness which has taken hold of him.

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How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice. Ed. Felix E. Schelling. New York: American Book Co., 1903.