Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Janelle Jenstad
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The Merchant of Venice (Folio 1, 1623)

The Merchant of Venice.
The husbandry and mannage of my house,
Vntill my Lords returne; for mine owne part
I haue toward heauen breath'd a secret vow,
To liue in prayer and contemplation,
1755Onely attended by Nerrissa heere,
Vntill her husband and my Lords returne:
There is a monastery too miles off,
And there we will abide. I doe desire you
Not to denie this imposition,
1760The which my loue and some necessity
Now layes vpon you.
Lorens. Madame, with all my heart,
I shall obey you in all faire commands.
Por. My people doe already know my minde,
1765And will acknowledge you and Iessica
In place of Lord Bassanio and my selfe.
So far you well till we shall meete againe.
Lor. Faire thoughts & happy houres attend on you.
Iessi. I wish your Ladiship all hearts content.
1770Por. I thanke you for your wish, and am well pleas'd
To wish it backe on you: faryouwell Iessica.
Now Balthaser, as I haue euer found thee honest true,
So let me finde thee still: take this same letter,
And vse thou all the indeauor of a man,
1775In speed to Mantua, see thou render this
Into my cosins hand, Doctor Belario,
And looke what notes and garments he doth giue thee,
Bring them I pray thee with imagin'd speed
Vnto the Tranect, to the common Ferrie
1780Which trades to Venice; waste no time in words,
But get thee gone, I shall be there before thee.
Balth. Madam, I goe with all conuenient speed.
Por. Come on Nerissa, I haue worke in hand
That you yet know not of; wee'll see our husbands
1785Before they thinke of vs?
Nerrissa. Shall they see vs?
Portia. They shall Nerrissa: but in such a habit,
That they shall thinke we are accomplished
With that we lacke; Ile hold thee any wager
1790When we are both accoutered like yong men,
Ile proue the prettier fellow of the two,
And weare my dagger with the brauer grace,
And speake betweene the change of man and boy,
With a reede voyce, and turne two minsing steps
1795Into a manly stride; and speake of frayes
Like a fine bragging youth: and tell quaint lyes
How honourable Ladies sought my loue,
Which I denying, they fell sicke and died.
I could not doe withall: then Ile repent,
1800And wish for all that, that I had not kil'd them;
And twentie of these punie lies Ile tell,
That men shall sweare I haue discontinued schoole
Aboue a twelue moneth: I haue within my minde
A thousand raw tricks of these bragging Iacks,
1805Which I will practise.
Nerris. Why, shall wee turne to men?
Portia. Fie, what a questions that?
If thou wert nere a lewd interpreter:
But come, Ile tell thee all my whole deuice
1810When I am in my coach, which stayes for vs
At the Parke gate; and therefore haste away,
For we must measure twentie miles to day.

Enter Clowne and Iessica.

Clown. Yes truly; for looke you, the sinnes of the Fa-
1815ther are to be laid vpon the children, therefore I promise
you, I feare you, I was alwaies plaine with you, and so
now I speake my agitation of the matter: therfore be of
good cheere, for truly I thinke you are damn'd, there is
but one hope in it that can doe you anie good, and that is
1820but a kinde of bastard hope neither.
Iessica. And what hope is that I pray thee?
Clow. Marrie you may partlie hope that your father
got you not, that you are not the Iewes daughter.
Ies. That were a kinde of bastard hope indeed, so the
1825sins of my mother should be visited vpon me.
Clow. Truly then I feare you are damned both by fa-
ther and mother: thus when I shun Scilla your father, I
fall into Charibdis your mother; well, you are gone both
1830Ies. I shall be sau'd by my husband, he hath made me
a Christian.
Clow. Truly the more to blame he, we were Christi-
ans enow before, e'ne as many as could wel liue one by a-
nother: this making of Christians will raise the price of
1835Hogs, if wee grow all to be porke-eaters, wee shall not
shortlie haue a rasher on the coales for money.

Enter Lorenzo.
Ies. Ile tell my husband Lancelet what you say, heere
he comes.
1840Loren. I shall grow iealous of you shortly Lancelet,
if you thus get my wife into corners?
Ies. Nay, you need not feare vs Lorenzo, Launcelet
and I are out, he tells me flatly there is no mercy for mee
in heauen, because I am a Iewes daughter: and hee saies
1845you are no good member of the common wealth, for
in conuerting Iewes to Christians, you raise the price
of Porke.
Loren. I shall answere that better to the Common-
wealth, than you can the getting vp of the Negroes bel-
1850lie: the Moore is with childe by you Launcelet?
Clow. It is much that the Moore should be more then
reason: but if she be lesse then an honest woman, shee is
indeed more then I tooke her for.
Loren. How euerie foole can play vpon the word, I
1855thinke the best grace of witte will shortly turne into si-
lence, and discourse grow commendable in none onely
but Parrats: goe in sirra, bid them prepare for dinner?
Clow. That is done sir, they haue all stomacks?
Loren. Goodly Lord, what a witte-snapper are you,
1860then bid them prepare dinner.
Clow. That is done to sir, onely couer is the word.
Loren. Will you couer than sir?
Clow. Not so sir neither, I know my dutie.
Loren. Yet more quarrellng with occasion, wilt thou
1865shew the whole wealth of thy wit in an instant; I pray
thee vnderstand a plaine man in his plaine meaning: goe
to thy fellowes, bid them couer the table, serue in the
meat, and we will come in to dinner.
Clow. For the table sir, it shall be seru'd in, for the
1870meat sir, it shall bee couered, for your comming in to
dinner sir, why let it be as humors and conceits shall go-
Exit Clowne.
Lor. O deare discretion, how his words are suted,
The foole hath planted in his memory
1875An Armie of good words, and I doe know
A many fooles that stand in better place,
Garnisht like him, that for a tricksie word
Defie the matter: how cheer'st thou Iessica,
And now good sweet say thy opinion,