Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed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,