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  • Title: The Merchant of Venice (Quarto 1, 1600)
  • 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    Not Peer Reviewed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 (Quarto 1, 1600)

    Enter Bassanio, Portia, Gratiano, and all
    their traynes.
    Portia. I pray you tarry, pause a day or two
    Before you hazard, for in choosing wrong
    I loose your companie; therefore forbeare a while,
    1285Theres something tells me (but it is not loue)
    I would not loose you, and you know your selfe,
    Hate counsailes not in such a quallity;
    But least you should not vnderstand me well,
    And yet a mayden hath no tongue, but thought,
    1290I would detaine you heere some moneth or two
    before you venture for me. I could teach you
    how to choose right, but then I am forsworne,
    So will I neuer be, so may you misse me,
    But if you doe, youle make me wish a sinne,
    1295That I had beene forsworne: Beshrow your eyes,
    They haue ore-lookt me and deuided me,
    One halfe of me is yours, the other halfe yours,
    Mine owne I would say: but if mine then yours,
    And so all yours; ô these naughty times
    1300puts barres betweene the ovvners and their rights,
    And so though yours, not yours, (proue it so)
    Let Fortune goe to hell for it, not I.
    I speake too long, but tis to peize the time,
    To ech it, and to draw it out in length,
    1305To stay you from election.
    Bass. Let me choose,
    For as I am, I liue vpon the racke.
    Por. Vpon the racke Bassanio, then confesse
    vvhat treason there is mingled with your loue.
    1310Bass. None but that vgly treason of mistrust,
    vvhich makes me feare th'inioying of my Loue,
    There may as well be amity and life
    Tweene snow and fire, as treason and my loue.
    Por. I but I feare you speake vpon the racke
    1315vvhere men enforced doe speake any thing.
    Bass. Promise me life, and ile confesse the truth.
    Portia. Well then, confesse and liue.
    Bass. Confesse and loue
    had beene the very sum of my confession:
    1320O happy torment, when my torturer
    doth teach me aunsweres for deliuerance:
    But let me to my fortune and the caskets.
    Portia. Away then, I am lockt in one of them,
    If you doe loue me, you will finde me out.
    1325Nerryssa and the rest, stand all aloofe,
    Let musique sound while he doth make his choyse,
    Then if he loose he makes a Swan-like end,
    Fading in musique. That the comparison
    may stand more proper, my eye shall be the streame
    1330and watry death-bed for him: he may win,
    And what is musique than? Than musique is
    euen as the flourish, when true subiects bowe
    to a new crowned Monarch: Such it is,
    As are those dulcet sounds in breake of day,
    1335That creepe into the dreaming bride-groomes eare,
    And summon him to marriage. Now he goes
    vvith no lesse presence, but with much more loue
    Then young Alcides, when he did redeeme
    The virgine tribute, payed by howling Troy
    1340To the Sea-monster: I stand for sacrifice,
    The rest aloofe are the Dardanian vviues:
    With bleared visages come forth to view
    The issue of th'exploit: Goe Hercules,
    Liue thou, I liue with much much more dismay,
    1345I view the fight, then thou that mak'st the fray.
    A Song the whilst Bassanio comments on the caskets
    to himselfe.
    Tell me where is fancie bred,
    Or in the hart, or in the head,
    1350How begot, how nourished? Replie, replie.
    It is engendred in the eye,
    With gazing fed, and Fancie dies:
    In the cradle where it lies
    Let vs all ring Fancies knell.
    1355Ile begin it.
    Ding, dong, bell.
    Ding, dong, bell.
    Bass. So may the outward showes be least themselues,
    The world is still deceau'd with ornament
    1360In Law, what plea so tainted and corrupt,
    But being season'd with a gracious voyce,
    Obscures the show of euill. In religion
    What damned error but some sober brow
    vvill blesse it, and approue it with a text,
    1365Hiding the grosnes with faire ornament:
    There is no voyce so simple, but assumes
    Some marke of vertue on his outward parts;
    How many cowards whose harts are all as false
    As stayers of sand, weare yet vpon their chins
    1370The beards of Hercules and frowning Mars,
    vvho inward searcht, haue lyuers white as milke,
    And these assume but valours excrement
    To render them redoubted. Looke on beauty,
    And you shall see tis purchast by the weight,
    1375vvhich therein works a miracle in nature,
    Making them lightest that weare most of it:
    So are those crisped snaky golden locks
    vvhich maketh such wanton gambols with the wind
    Vpon supposed fairenes, often knowne
    1380To be the dowry of a second head,
    The scull that bred them in the Sepulcher.
    Thus ornament is but the guiled shore
    To a most dangerous sea: the beautious scarfe
    vailing an Indian beauty; In a word,
    1385The seeming truth which cunning times put on
    To intrap the wisest. Therefore then thou gaudy gold,
    Hard food for Midas, I will none of thee,
    Nor none of thee thou pale and common drudge
    tweene man and man: but thou, thou meager lead
    1390vvhich rather threatenst then dost promise ought,
    thy palenes moues me more then eloquence,
    and heere choose I, ioy be the consequence.
    Por. How all the other passions fleet to ayre,
    As doubtfull thoughts, and rash imbrac'd despaire:
    1395And shyddring feare, and greene-eyed iealousie.
    O loue be moderate, allay thy extasie,
    In measure raine thy ioy, scant this excesse,
    I feele too much thy blessing, make it lesse
    for feare I surfeit.
    1400Bas. What finde I heere?
    Faire Portias counterfeit. What demy God
    hath come so neere creation? moue these eyes?
    Or whither riding on the balls of mine
    seeme they in motion? Heere are seuerd lips
    1405parted with suger breath, so sweet a barre
    should sunder such sweet friends: heere in her haires
    the Paynter playes the Spyder, and hath wouen
    a golden mesh tyntrap the harts of men
    faster then gnats in cobwebs, but her eyes
    1410how could he see to doe them? hauing made one,
    me thinkes it should haue power to steale both his
    and leaue it selfe vnfurnisht: Yet looke how farre
    the substance of my praise doth wrong this shadow
    in vnderprysing it, so farre this shadow
    1415doth limpe behind the substance. Heeres the scroule,
    the continent and summarie of my fortune.
    You that choose not by the view
    Chaunce as faire, and choose as true:
    Since this fortune falls to you,
    1420Be content, and seeke no new.
    If you be well pleasd with this,
    and hold your fortune for your blisse,
    Turne you where your Lady is,
    And claime her with a louing kis.
    1425A gentle scroule: Faire Lady, by your leaue,
    I come by note to giue, and to receaue,
    Like one of two contending in a prize
    That thinks he hath done well in peoples eyes:
    Hearing applause and vniuersall shoute,
    1430Giddy in spirit, still gazing in a doubt
    vvhether those peales of praise be his or no,
    So thrice faire Lady stand I euen so,
    As doubtfull whether what I see be true,
    Vntill confirmd, signd, ratified by you.
    1435Por. You see me Lord Bassanio where I stand,
    such as I am; though for my selfe alone
    I would not be ambitious in my wish
    to wish my selfe much better, yet for you,
    I would be trebled twentie times my selfe,
    1440a thousand times more faire, tenne thousand times
    more rich, that onely to stand high in your account,
    I might in vertues, beauties, liuings, friends
    exceede account: but the full summe of me
    is sume of something: which to terme in grosse,
    1445is an vnlessond girle, vnschoold, vnpractized,
    happy in this, she is not yet so old
    but she may learne: happier then this,
    shee is not bred so dull but she can learne;
    happiest of all, is that her gentle spirit
    1450commits it selfe to yours to be directed,
    as from her Lord, her gouernour, her King.
    My selfe, and what is mine, to you and yours
    is now conuerted. But now I was the Lord
    of this faire mansion, maister of my seruants,
    1455Queene ore my selfe: and euen now, but now,
    this house, these seruaunts, and this same my selfe
    are yours, my Lords, I giue them with this ring,
    vvhich when you part from, loose, or giue away,
    let it presage the ruine of your loue,
    1460and be my vantage to exclaime on you.
    Bass. Maddam, you haue bereft me of all words,
    onely my blood speakes to you in my vaines,
    and there is such confusion in my powers,
    as after some oration fairely spoke
    1465by a beloued Prince, there doth appeare
    among the buzzing pleased multitude.
    Where euery somthing beeing blent together,
    turnes to a wild of nothing, saue of ioy
    exprest, and not exprest: but when this ring
    1470parts from this finger, then parts life from hence,
    ô then be bold to say Bassanios dead.
    Ner. My Lord and Lady, it is now our time
    that haue stoode by and seene our wishes prosper,
    to cry good ioy, good ioy my Lord and Lady.
    1475Gra. My Lord Bassanio, and my gentle Lady,
    I wish you all the ioy that you can wish:
    for I am sure you can wish none from me:
    and when your honours meane to solemnize
    the bargaine of your fayth: I doe beseech you
    1480euen at that time I may be married to.
    Bass. With all my hart, so thou canst get a wife.
    Gra. I thanke your Lordship, you haue got me one.
    My eyes my Lord can looke as swift as yours:
    you saw the mistres, I beheld the mayd:
    1485You lou'd, I lou'd for intermission,
    No more pertaines to me my lord then you;
    your fortune stood vpon the caskets there,
    and so did mine to as the matter falls:
    for wooing heere vntill I swet againe,
    1490and swearing till my very rough was dry
    with oathes of loue, at last, if promise last
    I got a promise of this faire one heere
    to haue her loue: prouided that your fortune
    atchiu'd her mistres.
    1495Por. Is this true Nerrissa?
    Ner. Maddam it is, so you stand pleasd withall.
    Bass. And doe you Gratiano meane good fayth?
    Gra. Yes faith my Lord.
    Bass. Our feast shalbe much honored in your mariage.
    1500Gra. Wele play with them the first boy for a thousand ducats.
    Ner. What and stake downe?
    Gra. No, we shall nere win at that sport and stake downe.
    But who comes heere? Lorenzo and his infidell?
    vvhat, and my old Venecian friend Salerio?
    Enter Lorenzo, Iessica, and Salerio a messenger
    from Venice.
    Bassa. Lorenzo and Salerio, welcome hether,
    if that the youth of my newe intrest heere
    haue power to bid you welcome: by your leaue
    1510I bid my very friends and countrymen
    sweet Portia welcome.
    Por. So doe I my Lord, they are intirely welcome.
    Lor. I thanke your honour, for my part my Lord
    my purpose was not to haue seene you heere,
    1515but meeting with Salerio by the way
    he did intreate me past all saying nay
    to come with him along.
    Sal. I did my Lord,
    and I haue reason for it, Signior Anthonio
    1520commends him to you.
    Bass. Ere I ope his Letter
    I pray you tell me how my good friend doth.
    Sal. Not sicke my Lord, vnlesse it be in mind,
    nor well, vnlesse in mind: his letter there
    1525vvill show you his estate.
    open the letter.
    Gra. Nerrissa, cheere yond stranger, bid her welcom.
    Your hand Salerio, what's the newes from Venice?
    How doth that royall Merchant good Anthonio?
    I know he will be glad of our successe,
    1530We are the Iasons, we haue wone the fleece.
    Sal. I would you had won the fleece that he hath lost.
    Por. There are some shrowd contents in yond same paper
    That steales the colour from Bassanios cheeke,
    Some deere friend dead, else nothing in the world
    1535could turne so much the constitution
    of any constant man: what worse and worse?
    With leaue Bassanio I am halfe your selfe,
    and I must freely haue the halfe of any thing
    that this same paper brings you.
    1540Bass. O sweete Portia,
    heere are a few of the vnpleasant'st words
    that euer blotted paper. Gentle Lady
    when I did first impart my loue to you,
    I freely told you all the wealth I had
    1545ranne in my vaines, I was a gentleman,
    and then I told you true: and yet deere Lady
    rating my selfe at nothing, you shall see
    how much I was a Braggart, when I told you
    my state was nothing, I should then haue told you
    1550that I was worse then nothing; for indeede
    I haue ingag'd my selfe to a deere friend,
    ingag'd my friend to his meere enemie
    to feede my meanes. Heere is a letter Lady,
    the paper as the body of my friend,
    1555and euery word in it a gaping wound
    issuing life blood. But is it true Salerio
    hath all his ventures faild, what not one hit,
    from Tripolis, from Mexico and England,
    from Lisbon, Barbary, and India,
    1560and not one vessell scape the dreadfull touch
    of Merchant-marring rocks?
    Sal. Not one my Lord.
    Besides, it should appeare, that if he had
    the present money to discharge the Iew,
    1565hee would not take it: neuer did I know
    a creature that did beare the shape of man
    so keene and greedie to confound a man.
    He plyes the Duke at morning and at night,
    and doth impeach the freedome of the state
    1570if they deny him iustice. Twentie Merchants,
    the Duke himselfe, and the Magnificoes
    of greatest port haue all perswaded with him,
    but none can driue him from the enuious plea
    of forfaiture, of iustice, and his bond.
    1575Iessi. When I was with him, I haue heard him sweare
    to Tuball and to Chus, his country-men,
    that he would rather haue Anthonios flesh
    then twentie times the value of the summe
    that he did owe him: and I know my lord,
    1580if law, authoritie, and power denie not,
    it will goe hard with poore Anthonio.
    Por. Is it your deere friend that is thus in trouble?
    Bass. The deerest friend to me, the kindest man,
    the best conditiond and vnwearied spirit
    1585in dooing curtesies: and one in whom
    the auncient Romaine honour more appeares
    then any that drawes breath in Italie.
    Por. What summe owes he the Iew?
    Bass. For me three thousand ducats.
    1590Por. What no more, pay him six thousand, & deface the bond:
    double sixe thousand, and then treble that,
    before a friend of this discription
    shall lose a haire through Bassanios fault.
    First goe with me to Church, and call me wife,
    1595and then away to Venice to your friend:
    for neuer shall you lie by Portias side
    vvith an vnquiet soule. You shall haue gold
    to pay the petty debt twenty times ouer.
    When it is payd, bring your true friend along,
    1600my mayd Nerrissa, and my selfe meane time
    vvill liue as maydes and widdowes; come away,
    for you shall hence vpon your wedding day:
    bid your freends welcome, show a merry cheere,
    since you are deere bought, I will loue you deere.
    1605But let me heare the letter of your friend.
    Sweet Bassanio, my ships haue all miscaried, my Creditors growe
    cruell, my estate is very low, my bond to the Iewe is forfaite, and since in
    paying it, it is impossible I should liue, all debts are cleerd betweene you
    and I if I might but see you at my death: notwithstanding, vse your plea-
    1610sure, if your loue do not perswade you to come, let not my letter.
    Por. O loue! dispatch all busines and be gone.
    Bass. Since I haue your good leaue to goe away,
    I will make hast; but till I come againe,
    no bed shall ere be guiltie of my stay,
    1615nor rest be interposer twixt vs twaine.