The Merchant of Venice

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 4 Scene 1

page Act 4 Scene 1 Page 7

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DUKE

With all my heart.—Some three or four of you
150Go give him courteous conduct to this place.—
Meantime the court shall hear Bellario’s letter.
(reads)
“Your grace shall understand that at the receipt of your letter I am very sick, but in the instant that your messenger came, in loving visitation was with me a young doctor of Rome. His name is Balthazar. I acquainted him with the cause in controversy between the Jew and Antonio the merchant. We turned o'er many books together. He is furnished with my opinion, which—bettered with his own learning, the greatness whereof I cannot enough commend—comes with him at my importunity to fill up your grace’s request in my stead.I beseech you, let his lack of years be no impediment to let him lack a reverend estimation, for I never knew so young a body with so old a head. I leave him to your gracious acceptance, whose trial shall better publish his commendation.”

DUKE

With all my heart.—Three or four of you go welcome him.—In the meantime, I’ll read Bellario’s letter out loud.
(he reads)
“I’ve received your letter but I’m very sick at the moment. As it happened, when your messenger came, a young lawyer from Rome was visiting me. His name is Balthazar. I told him about the case of the Jew and Antonio the merchant, and we consulted many books together. He knows my legal opinions about this matter, and he has his own expert opinions as well. I’m sending him in my place to answer your request for someone to act as judge in this matter. Please don’t underestimate him because he’s so young. I never knew such a young man with such a mature head. I leave him to you. When you put him to the test, you’ll see how wonderful he really is. You hear what the wise and educated Bellario writes.”
Enter PORTIA for Balthazar, disguised as a doctor of law
PORTIA enters disguised as Balthazar, a lawyer.
You hear the learned Bellario, what he writes.
And here I take it is the doctor come.—
Give me your hand. Come you from old Bellario?
And this is the legal professor, I take it.—Let me shake your hand. Did old Bellario send you here?

PORTIA

I did, my lord.

PORTIA

Yes, my lord.

DUKE

   You are welcome. Take your place.
160Are you acquainted with the difference
That holds this present question in the court?

DUKE

Welcome. Please have a seat. Are you familiar with the case currently before the court?

PORTIA

I am informèd thoroughly of the cause.
Which is the merchant here, and which the Jew?

PORTIA

Yes, thoroughly. Which one is the merchant? And which one is the Jew?