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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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    Enter Portia, Nerrissa, Lorenzo, Iessica, and a man of
    Lor. Madam, although I speake it in your presence,
    You haue a noble and a true conceit
    Of god-like amity, which appeares most strongly
    1730In bearing thus the absence of your Lord.
    But if you knew to whom you shew this honour,
    How true a Gentleman you send releefe,
    How deere a louer of my Lord your husband,
    I know you would be prouder of the worke
    1735Then customary bounty can enforce you.
    Por. I neuer did repent for doing good,
    Nor shall not now: for in companions
    That do conuerse and waste the time together,
    Whose soules doe beare an egal yoke of loue.
    1740There must be needs a like proportion
    Of lyniaments, of manners, and of spirit;
    Which makes me thinke that this Anthonio
    Being the bosome louer of my Lord,
    Must needs be like my Lord. If it be so,
    1745How little is the cost I haue bestowed
    In purchasing the semblance of my soule;
    From out the state of hellish cruelty,
    This comes too neere the praising of my selfe,
    Therefore no more of it: heere other things
    1750Lorenso I commit into your hands,
    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.