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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    Not Peer Reviewed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 Bassanio, Portia, Gratiano, and all their traine.
    Por. I pray you tarrie, pause a day or two
    Before you hazard, for in choosing wrong
    I loose your companie; therefore forbeare a while,
    1345There's something tels me (but it is not loue)
    I would not loose you, and you know your selfe,
    Hate counsailes not in such a quallitie;
    But least you should not vnderstand me well,
    And yet a maiden hath no tongue, but thought,
    1350I would detaine you here some month 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,
    1355That 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 of mine then yours,
    And so all yours; O these naughtie times
    1360Puts bars betweene the owners 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 ich it, and to draw it out in length,
    1365To stay you from election.
    P3 Bass. Let
    174The Merchant of Venice.
    Bass. Let me choose,
    For as I am, I liue vpon the racke.
    Por. Vpon the racke Bassanio, then confesse
    What treason there is mingled with your loue.
    1370Bass. None but that vglie treason of mistrust.
    Which makes me feare the enioying of my loue:
    There may as well be amitie and life,
    'Tweene snow and fire, as treason and my loue.
    Por. I, but I feare you speake vpon the racke,
    1375Where men enforced doth speake any thing.
    Bass. Promise me life, and ile confesse the truth.
    Por. Well then, confesse and liue.
    Bass. Confesse and loue
    Had beene the verie sum of my confession:
    1380O happie torment, when my torturer
    Doth teach me answers for deliuerance:
    But let me to my fortune and the caskets.
    Por. Away then, I am lockt in one of them,
    If you doe loue me, you will finde me out.
    1385Nerryssa and the rest, stand all aloofe,
    Let musicke sound while he doth make his choise,
    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
    1390And watrie 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,
    1395That creepe into the dreaming bride-groomes eare,
    And summon him to marriage. Now he goes
    With no lesse presence, but with much more loue
    Then yong Alcides, when he did redeeme
    The virgine tribute, paied by howling Troy
    1400To the Sea-monster: I stand for sacrifice,
    The rest aloofe are the Dardanian wiues:
    With bleared visages come forth to view
    The issue of th' exploit: Goe Hercules,
    Liue thou, I liue with much more dismay
    1405I view the sight, then thou that mak'st the fray.
    Here Musicke.
    A Song the whilst Bassanio comments on the
    Caskets to himselfe.
    Tell me where is fancie bred,
    1410 Or in the heart, or in the head:
    How begot, how nourished. Replie, replie.
    It is engendred in the eyes,
    With gazing fed, and Fancie dies,
    In the cradle where it lies:
    1415 Let vs all ring Fancies knell.
    Ile begin it.
    Ding, dong, bell.
    All. Ding, dong, bell.
    Bass. So may the outward showes be least themselues
    1420The world is still deceiu'd with ornament.
    In Law, what Plea so tanted and corrupt,
    But being season'd with a gracious voice,
    Obscures the show of euill? In Religion,
    What damned error, but some sober brow
    1425Will blesse it, and approue it with a text,
    Hiding the grosenesse with faire ornament:
    There is no voice so simple, but assumes
    Some marke of vertue on his outward parts;
    How manie cowards, whose hearts are all as false
    1430As stayers of sand, weare yet vpon their chins
    The beards of Hercules and frowning Mars,
    Who inward searcht, haue lyuers white as milke,
    And these assume but valors excrement,
    To render them redoubted. Looke on beautie,
    1435And you shall see 'tis purchast by the weight,
    Which therein workes a miracle in nature,
    Making them lightest that weare most of it:
    So are those crisped snakie golden locks
    Which makes such wanton gambols with the winde
    1440Vpon supposed fairenesse, often knowne
    To be the dowrie 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
    1445Vailing an Indian beautie; In a word,
    The seeming truth which cunning times put on
    To intrap the wisest. Therefore then thou gaudie gold,
    Hard food for Midas, I will none of thee,
    Nor none of thee thou pale and common drudge
    1450'Tweene man and man: but thou, thou meager lead
    Which rather threatnest then dost promise ought,
    Thy palenesse moues me more then eloquence,
    And here choose I, ioy be the consequence.
    Por. How all the other passions fleet to ayre,
    1455As doubtfull thoughts, and rash imbrac'd despaire:
    And shuddring 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,
    1460For feare I surfeit.
    Bas. What finde I here?
    Faire Portias counterfeit. What demie God
    Hath come so neere creation? moue these eies?
    Or whether riding on the bals of mine
    1465Seeme they in motion? Here are seuer'd lips
    Parted with suger breath, so sweet a barre
    Should sunder such sweet friends: here in her haires
    The Painter plaies the Spider, and hath wouen
    A golden mesh t'intrap the hearts of men
    1470Faster then gnats in cobwebs: but her eies,
    How 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
    1475In vnderprising it, so farre this shadow
    Doth limpe behinde the substance. Here's the scroule,
    The continent, and summarie of my fortune.
    You that choose not by the view
    Chance as faire, and choose as true:
    1480 Since this fortune fals to you,
    Be 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,
    1485 And claime her with a louing kisse.
    Bass. A gentle scroule: Faire Lady, by your leaue,
    I come by note to giue, and to receiue,
    Like one of two contending in a prize
    That thinks he hath done well in peoples eies:
    1490Hearing applause and vniuersall shout,
    Giddie in spirit, still gazing in a doubt
    Whether those peales of praise be his or no.
    The Merchant of Venice. 175
    So thrice faire Lady stand I euen so,
    As doubtfull whether what I see be true,
    1495Vntill confirm'd, sign'd, ratified by you.
    Por. You see my Lord Bassiano 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,
    1500I would be trebled twenty times my selfe,
    A thousand times more faire, ten thousand times
    More rich, that onely to stand high in your account,
    I might in vertues, beauties, liuings, friends,
    Exceed account: but the full summe of me
    1505Is sum of nothing: which to terme in grosse,
    Is an vnlessoned girle, vnschool'd, vnpractiz'd,
    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;
    1510Happiest of all, is that her gentle spirit
    Commits 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
    1515Of this faire mansion, master of my seruants,
    Queene ore my selfe: and euen now, but now,
    This house, these seruants, and this same my selfe
    Are yours, my Lord, I giue them with this ring,
    Which when you part from, loose, or giue away,
    1520Let it presage the ruine of your loue,
    And be my vantage to exclaime on you.
    Bass. Maddam, you haue bereft me of all words,
    Onely my bloud speakes to you in my vaines,
    And there is such confusion in my powers,
    1525As after some oration fairely spoke
    By a beloued Prince, there doth appeare
    Among the buzzing pleased multitude,
    Where euery something being blent together,
    Turnes to a wilde of nothing, saue of ioy
    1530Exprest, and not exprest: but when this ring
    Parts from this finger, then parts life from hence,
    O then be bold to say Bassanio's dead.
    Ner. My Lord and Lady, it is now our time
    That haue stood by and seene our wishes prosper,
    1535To cry good ioy, good ioy my Lord and Lady.
    Gra. 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
    1540The bargaine of your faith: I doe beseech you
    Euen at that time I may be married too.
    Bass. With all my heart, so thou canst get a wife.
    Gra. I thanke your Lordship, you gaue got me one.
    My eyes my Lord can looke as swift as yours:
    1545You saw the mistres, I beheld the maid:
    You 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 too, as the matter falls:
    1550For wooing heere vntill I swet againe,
    And 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
    1555Atchieu'd her mistresse.
    Por. Is this true Nerrissa?
    Ner. Madam it is so, so you stand pleas'd withall.
    Bass. And doe you Gratiano meane good faith?
    Gra. Yes faith my Lord.
    1560Bass. Our feast shall be much honored in your mar-
    Gra. Weele play with them the first boy for a thou-
    sand ducats.
    Ner. What and stake downe?
    1565Gra. No, we shal nere win at that sport, and stake
    But who comes heere? Lorenzo and his Infidell?
    What and my old Venetian friend Salerio?
    Enter Lorenzo, Iessica, and Salerio.
    1570Bas. Lorenzo and Salerio, welcome hether,
    If that the youth of my new interest heere
    Haue power to bid you welcome: by your leaue
    I bid my verie friends and Countrimen
    Sweet Portia welcome.
    1575Por. So do I my Lord, they are intirely welcome.
    Lor. I thanke your honor; for my part my Lord,
    My purpose was not to haue seene you heere,
    But meeting with Salerio by the way,
    He did intreate mee past all saying nay
    1580To come with him along.
    Sal. I did my Lord,
    And I haue reason for it, Signior Anthonio
    Commends him to you.
    Bass. Ere I ope his Letter
    1585I pray you tell me how my good friend doth.
    Sal. Not sicke my Lord, vnlesse it be in minde,
    Nor wel, vnlesse in minde: his Letter there
    Wil shew you his estate.
    Opens the Letter.
    1590Gra. Nerrissa, cheere yond stranger, bid her welcom.
    Your hand Salerio, what's the newes from Venice?
    How doth that royal Merchant good Anthonio;
    I know he vvil be glad of our successe,
    We are the Iasons, we haue won the fleece.
    1595Sal. I would you had won the fleece that hee hath
    Por. There are some shrewd contents in yond same
    That steales the colour from Bassianos cheeke,
    1600Some deere friend dead, else nothing in the world
    Could 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
    1605That this same paper brings you.
    Bass. O sweet Portia,
    Heere are a few of the vnpleasant'st words
    That euer blotted paper. Gentle Ladie
    When I did first impart my loue to you,
    1610I freely told you all the wealth I had
    Ran in my vaines: I was a Gentleman,
    And then I told you true: and yet deere Ladie,
    Rating my selfe at nothing, you shall see
    How much I was a Braggart, when I told you
    1615My state was nothing, I should then haue told you
    That I vvas 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 Ladie,
    1620The paper as the bodie of my friend,
    And euerie word in it a gaping wound
    Issuing life blood. But is it true Salerio,
    176The Merchant of Venice.
    Hath all his ventures faild, what not one hit,
    From Tripolis, from Mexico and England,
    1625From Lisbon, Barbary, and India,
    And not one vessell scape the dreadfull touch
    Of Merchant-marring rocks?
    Sal. Not one my Lord.
    Besides, it should appeare, that if he had
    1630The present money to discharge the Iew,
    He would not take it: neuer did I know
    A creature that did beare the shape of man
    So keene and greedy to confound a man.
    He plyes the Duke at morning and at night,
    1635And doth impeach the freedome of the state
    If they deny him iustice. Twenty Merchants,
    The Duke himselfe, and the Magnificoes
    Of greatest port haue all perswaded with him,
    But none can driue him from the enuious plea
    1640Of forfeiture, of iustice, and his bond.
    Iessi. When I was with him, I haue heard him sweare
    To Tuball and to Chus, his Countri-men,
    That he would rather haue Anthonio's flesh,
    Then twenty times the value of the summe
    1645That he did owe him: and I know my Lord,
    If 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,
    1650The best condition'd, and vnwearied spirit
    In doing curtesies: and one in whom
    The ancient Romane honour more appeares
    Then any that drawes breath in Italie.
    Por. What summe owes he the Iew?
    1655Bass. For me three thousand ducats.
    Por. What, no more?
    Pay him sixe thousand, and deface the bond:
    Double sixe thousand, and then treble that,
    Before a friend of this description
    1660Shall lose a haire through Bassano's fault.
    First goe with me to Church, and call me wife,
    And then away to Venice to your friend:
    For neuer shall you lie by Portias side
    With an vnquiet soule. You shall haue gold
    1665To pay the petty debt twenty times ouer.
    When it is payd, bring your true friend along,
    My maid Nerrissa, and my selfe meane time
    Will liue as maids and widdowes; come away,
    For you shall hence vpon your wedding day:
    1670Bid your friends welcome, show a merry cheere,
    Since you are deere bought, I will loue you deere.
    But let me heare the letter of your friend.
    Sweet Bassanio, my ships haue all miscarried, my Credi-
    tors grow cruell, my estate is very low, my bond to the Iew is
    1675forfeit, and since in paying it, it is impossible I should liue, all
    debts are cleerd betweene you and I, if I might see you at my
    death: notwithstanding, vse your pleasure, if your loue doe not
    perswade you to come, let not my letter.
    Por. O loue! dispach all busines and be gone.
    1680Bass. Since I haue your good leaue to goe away,
    I will make hast; but till I come againe,
    No bed shall ere be guilty of my stay,
    Nor rest be interposer twixt vs twaine. Exeunt.