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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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    The comicall Historie of
    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
    will 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,
    who 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,
    1375which therein works a miracle in nature,
    Making them lightest that weare most of it:
    So are those crisped snaky golden locks
    which 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,