1597 The Merchant Of Venice
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Which you did shoot the first, I do not doubt,
As I will watch the aim, or to find both,
Or bring your latter hazard back again
And thankfully rest debtor for the first.
ANTONIO. You know me well, and herein spend but time
To wind about my love with circumstance;
And out of doubt you do me now more wrong
In making question of my uttermost
Than if you had made waste of all I have.
Then do but say to me what I should do
That in your knowledge may by me be done,
And I am prest unto it; therefore, speak.
BASSANIO. In Belmont is a lady richly left,
And she is fair and, fairer than that word,
Of wondrous virtues. Sometimes from her eyes
I did receive fair speechless messages.
Her name is Portia- nothing undervalu'd
To Cato's daughter, Brutus' Portia.
Nor is the wide world ignorant of her worth;
For the four winds blow in from every coast
Renowned suitors, and her sunny locks
Hang on her temples like a golden fleece,
Which makes her seat of Belmont Colchos' strond,
And many Jasons come in quest of her.
O my Antonio, had I but the means
To hold a rival place with one of them,
I have a mind presages me such thrift
That I should questionless be fortunate.
ANTONIO. Thou know'st that all my fortunes are at sea;
Neither have I money nor commodity
To raise a present sum; therefore go forth,
Try what my credit can in Venice do;
That shall be rack'd, even to the uttermost,
To furnish thee to Belmont to fair Portia.
Go presently inquire, and so will I,
Where money is; and I no question make
To have it of my trust or for my sake. Exeunt
Belmont. PORTIA'S house
Enter PORTIA with her waiting-woman, NERISSA
PORTIA. By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is aweary of this
NERISSA. You would be, sweet madam, if your miseries were in the
same abundance as your good fortunes are; and yet, for aught I
see, they are as sick that surfeit with too much as they that
starve with nothing. It is no mean happiness, therefore, to be
seated in the mean: superfluity come sooner by white hairs, but
competency lives longer.
PORTIA. Good sentences, and well pronounc'd.
NERISSA. They would be better, if well followed.
PORTIA. If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do,
chapels had been churches, and poor men's cottages princes'
palaces. It is a good divine that follows his own instructions; I
can easier teach twenty what were good to be done than to be one
of the twenty to follow mine own teaching. The brain may devise
laws for the blood, but a hot temper leaps o'er a cold decree;
such a hare is madness the youth, to skip o'er the meshes of good
counsel the cripple. But this reasoning is not in the fashion to
choose me a husband. O me, the word 'choose'! I may neither
choose who I would nor refuse who I dislike; so is the will of a
living daughter curb'd by the will of a dead father. Is it not
hard, Nerissa, that I cannot choose one, nor refuse none?
NERISSA. Your father was ever virtuous, and holy men at their death
have good inspirations; therefore the lott'ry that he hath
devised in these three chests, of gold, silver, and lead- whereof
who chooses his meaning chooses you- will no doubt never be
chosen by any rightly but one who you shall rightly love. But
what warmth is there in your affection towards any of these
princely suitors that are already come?
PORTIA. I pray thee over-name them; and as thou namest them, I will
describe them; and according to my description, level at my
NERISSA. First, there is the Neapolitan prince.
PORTIA. Ay, that's a colt indeed, for he doth nothing but talk of
his horse; and he makes it a great appropriation to his own good
parts that he can shoe him himself; I am much afear'd my lady his
mother play'd false with a smith.
NERISSA. Then is there the County Palatine.
PORTIA. He doth nothing but frown, as who should say 'An you will
not have me, choose.' He hears merry tales and smiles not. I fear
he will prove the weeping philosopher when he grows old, being so
full of unmannerly sadness in his youth. I had rather be married
to a death's-head with a bone in his mouth than to either of
these. God defend me from these two!
NERISSA. How say you by the French lord, Monsieur Le Bon?
PORTIA. God made him, and therefore let him pass for a man. In
truth, I know it is a sin to be a mocker, but he- why, he hath a
horse better than the Neapolitan's, a better bad habit of
frowning than the Count Palatine; he is every man in no man. If a
throstle sing he falls straight a-cap'ring; he will fence with
his own shadow; if I should marry him, I should marry twenty
husbands. If he would despise me, I would forgive him; for if he
love me to madness, I shall never requite him.
NERISSA. What say you then to Falconbridge, the young baron of
PORTIA. You know I say nothing to him, for he understands not me,
nor I him: he hath neither Latin, French, nor Italian, and you
will come into the court and swear that I have a poor pennyworth
in the English. He is a proper man's picture; but alas, who can
converse with a dumb-show? How oddly he is suited! I think he
bought his doublet in Italy, his round hose in France, his bonnet
in Germany, and his behaviour everywhere.
NERISSA. What think you of the Scottish lord, his neighbour?
PORTIA. That he hath a neighbourly charity in him, for he borrowed
a box of the ear of the Englishman, and swore he would pay him
again when he was able; I think the Frenchman became his surety,
and seal'd under for another.
NERISSA. How like you the young German, the Duke of Saxony's
PORTIA. Very vilely in the morning when he is sober; and most
vilely in the afternoon when he is drunk. When he is best, he is
a little worse than a man, and when he is worst, he is little
better than a beast. An the worst fall that ever fell, I hope I
shall make shift to go without him.
NERISSA. If he should offer to choose, and choose the right casket,
you should refuse to perform your father's will, if you should
refuse to accept him.
PORTIA. Therefore, for fear of the worst, I pray thee set a deep
glass of Rhenish wine on the contrary casket; for if the devil be
within and that temptation without, I know he will choose it. I
will do anything, Nerissa, ere I will be married to a sponge.
NERISSA. You need not fear, lady, the having any of these lords;
they have acquainted me with their determinations, which is
indeed to return to their home, and to trouble you with no more
suit, unless you may be won by some other sort than your father's
imposition, depending on the caskets.
PORTIA. If I live to be as old as Sibylla, I will die as chaste as
Diana, unless I be obtained by the manner of my father's will. I
am glad this parcel of wooers are so reasonable; for there is not
one among them but I dote on his very absence, and I pray God
grant them a fair departure.
NERISSA. Do you not remember, lady, in your father's time, a
Venetian, a scholar and a soldier, that came hither in company of
the Marquis of Montferrat?
PORTIA. Yes, yes, it was Bassanio; as I think, so was he call'd.
NERISSA. True, madam; he, of all the men that ever my foolish eyes
look'd upon, was the best deserving a fair lady.
PORTIA. I remember him well, and I remember him worthy of thy
Enter a SERVINGMAN
How now! what news?
SERVINGMAN. The four strangers seek for you, madam, to take their
leave; and there is a forerunner come from a fifth, the Prince of
Morocco, who brings word the Prince his master will be here
PORTIA. If I could bid the fifth welcome with so good heart as I
can bid the other four farewell, I should be glad of his
approach; if he have the condition of a saint and the complexion
of a devil, I had rather he should shrive me than wive me.
Come, Nerissa. Sirrah, go before.
Whiles we shut the gate upon one wooer, another knocks at the
Venice. A public place
Enter BASSANIO With SHYLOCK the Jew
SHYLOCK. Three thousand ducats- well.
BASSANIO. Ay, sir, for three months.
SHYLOCK. For three months- well.
BASSANIO. For the which, as I told you, Antonio shall be bound.
SHYLOCK. Antonio shall become bound- well.
BASSANIO. May you stead me? Will you pleasure me? Shall I know your
SHYLOCK. Three thousand ducats for three months, and Antonio bound.
BASSANIO. Your answer to that.
SHYLOCK. Antonio is a good man.
BASSANIO. Have you heard any imputation to the contrary?
SHYLOCK. Ho, no, no, no, no; my meaning in saying he is a good man
is to have you understand me that he is sufficient; yet his means
are in supposition: he hath an argosy bound to Tripolis, another
to the Indies; I understand, moreover, upon the Rialto, he hath a
third at Mexico, a fourth for England- and other ventures he
hath, squand'red abroad. But ships are but boards, sailors but
men; there be land-rats and water-rats, water-thieves and
land-thieves- I mean pirates; and then there is the peril of
waters, winds, and rocks. The man is, notwithstanding,
sufficient. Three thousand ducats- I think I may take his bond.
BASSANIO. Be assur'd you may.
SHYLOCK. I will be assur'd I may; and, that I may be assured, I
will bethink me. May I speak with Antonio?
BASSANIO. If it please you to dine with us.
SHYLOCK. Yes, to smell pork, to eat of the habitation which your
prophet, the Nazarite, conjured the devil into! I will buy with
you, sell with you, talk with you, walk with you, and so
following; but I will not eat with you, drink with you, nor pray
with you. What news on the Rialto? Who is he comes here?