When Mercy Seasons Justice

The quality of mercy is not strained;

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

Upon the place beneath:



It is twice bless’d;

It blesses him that gives and him that takes;

‘Tis the mightiest in the mightiest, It becomes

The throned monarch better than his crown,

His scepter shows the the force of temporal power,

The attribute to awe and majesty,

Wherein doth sit the dread of and fear of kings;


But mercy is above this scepter’d sway,-

It is enthroned in the heart of kings,

It is an attribute to God himself;

And earthly power doth then show likest God;

When mercy seasons justice.


Portia’s speech, from A Merchant of Venice, Act IV, scene 1, William Shakespeare



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