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  • Title: The Merchant of Venice (Folio 1, 1623)
  • Editor: Janelle Jenstad

  • Copyright Janelle Jenstad. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Janelle Jenstad
    Not Peer Reviewed

    The Merchant of Venice (Folio 1, 1623)

    The Merchant of Venice.
    95By being peeuish? I tell thee what Anthonio,
    I loue thee, and it is my loue that speakes:
    There are a sort of men, whose visages
    Do creame and mantle like a standing pond,
    And do a wilfull stilnesse entertaine,
    100With purpose to be drest in an opinion
    Of wisedome, grauity, profound conceit,
    As who should say, I am sir an Oracle,
    And when I ope my lips, let no dogge barke.
    O my Anthonio, I do know of these
    105That therefore onely are reputed wise,
    For saying nothing; when I am verie sure
    If they should speake, would almost dam those eares
    Which hearing them would call their brothers fooles:
    Ile tell thee more of this another time.
    110But fish not with this melancholly baite
    For this foole Gudgin, this opinion:
    Come good Lorenzo, faryewell a while,
    Ile end my exhortation after dinner.
    Lor. Well, we will leaue you then till dinner time.
    115I must be one of these same dumbe wise men,
    For Gratiano neuer let's me speake.
    Gra. Well, keepe me company but two yeares mo,
    Thou shalt not know the sound of thine owne tongue.
    Ant. Far you well, Ile grow a talker for this geare.
    120Gra. Thankes ifaith, for silence is onely commendable
    In a neats tongue dri'd, and a maid not vendible.
    Ant. It is that any thing now.
    Bas. Gratiano speakes an infinite deale of nothing,
    more then any man in all Venice, his reasons are two
    125graines of wheate hid in two bushels of chaffe: you shall
    seeke all day ere you finde them, & when you haue them
    they are not worth the search.
    An. Well: tel me now, what Lady is the same
    To whom you swore a secret Pilgrimage
    130That you to day promis'd to tel me of?
    Bas. Tis not vnknowne to you Anthonio
    How much I haue disabled mine estate,
    By something shewing a more swelling port
    Then my faint meanes would grant continuance:
    135Nor do I now make mone to be abridg'd
    From such a noble rate, but my cheefe care
    Is to come fairely off from the great debts
    Wherein my time something too prodigall
    Hath left me gag'd: to you Anthonio
    140I owe the most in money, and in loue,
    And from your loue I haue a warrantie
    To vnburthen all my plots and purposes,
    How to get cleere of all the debts I owe.
    An. I pray you good Bassanio let me know it,
    145And if it stand as you your selfe still do,
    Within the eye of honour, be assur'd
    My purse, my person, my extreamest meanes
    Lye all vnlock'd to your occasions.
    Bass. In my schoole dayes, when I had lost one shaft
    150I shot his fellow of the selfesame flight
    The selfesame way, with more aduised watch
    To finde the other forth, and by aduenturing both,
    I oft found both. I vrge this child-hoode proofe,
    Because what followes is pure innocence.
    155I owe you much, and like a wilfull youth,
    That which I owe is lost: but if you please
    To shoote another arrow that selfe way
    Which you did shoot the first, I do not doubt,
    As I will watch the ayme: Or to finde both,
    160Or bring your latter hazard backe againe,
    And thankfully rest debter for the first.
    An. You know me well, and herein spend but time
    To winde about my loue with circumstance,
    And out of doubt you doe more wrong
    165In making question of my vttermost
    Then if you had made waste of all I haue:
    Then doe but say to me what I should doe
    That in your knowledge may by me be done,
    And I am prest vnto it: therefore speake.
    170Bass. In Belmont is a Lady richly left,
    And she is faire, and fairer then that word,
    Of wondrous vertues, sometimes from her eyes
    I did receiue faire speechlesse messages:
    Her name is Portia, nothing vndervallewd
    175To Cato's daughter, Brutus Portia,
    Nor is the wide world ignorant of her worth,
    For the foure windes blow in from euery coast
    Renowned sutors, and her sunny locks
    Hang on her temples like a golden fleece,
    180Which makes her seat of Belmont Cholchos strond,
    And many Iasons come in quest of her.
    O my Anthonio, had I but the meanes
    To hold a riuall place with one of them,
    I haue a minde presages me such thrift,
    185That I should questionlesse be fortunate.
    Anth. Thou knowst that all my fortunes are at sea,
    Neither haue I money, nor commodity
    To raise a present summe, therefore goe forth
    Try what my credit can in Venice doe,
    190That shall be rackt euen to the vttermost,
    To furnish thee to Belmont to faire Portia.
    Goe presently enquire, and so will I
    Where money is, and I no question make
    To haue it of my trust, or for my sake.

    Enter Portia with her waiting woman Nerissa.

    Portia. By my troth Nerrissa, my little body is a wea-
    rie of this great world.
    Ner. You would be sweet Madam, if your miseries
    were in the same abundance as your good fortunes are:
    200and yet for ought I see, they are as sicke that surfet with
    too much, as they that starue with nothing; it is no smal
    happinesse therefore to bee seated in the meane, super-
    fluitie comes sooner by white haires, but competencie
    liues longer.
    205Portia. Good sentences, and well pronounc'd.
    Ner. They would be better if well followed.
    Portia. If to doe were as easie as to know what were
    good to doe, Chappels had beene Churches, and poore
    mens cottages Princes Pallaces: it is a good Diuine that
    210followes his owne instructions; I can easier teach twen-
    tie what were good to be done, then be one of the twen-
    tie to follow mine owne teaching: the braine may de-
    uise lawes for the blood, but a hot temper leapes ore a
    colde decree, such a hare is madnesse the youth, to skip
    215ore the meshes of good counsaile the cripple; but this
    reason is not in fashion to choose me a husband: O mee,
    the word choose, I may neither choose whom I would,
    nor refuse whom I dislike, so is the wil of a liuing daugh-
    ter curb'd by the will of a dead father: it is not hard Ner-
    220rissa, that I cannot choose one, nor refuse none.
    Ner. Your father was euer vertuous, and holy men
    at their death haue good inspirations, therefore the lot-
    terie that hee hath deuised in these three chests of gold,
    siluer, and leade, whereof who chooses his meaning,