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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    Not Peer Reviewed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 Portia, Nerrissa, Lorenzo, Iessica, and a
    1660man of Portias.
    Lor. Maddam, although I speake it in your presence,
    you haue a noble and a true conceite
    of god-like amitie, which appeares most strongly
    in bearing thus the absence of your Lord.
    1665But if you knew to whom you show 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
    then customarie bountie can enforce you.
    1670Por. I neuer did repent for dooing good,
    nor shall not now: for in companions
    that doe conuerse and wast the time together,
    whose soules doe beare an egall yoke of loue,
    there must be needes a like proportion
    1675of lyniaments, of manners, and of spirit;
    which makes me thinke that this Anthonio
    beeing the bosome louer of my Lord,
    must needes be like my Lord. If it be so,
    the Merchant of Venice.
    How little is the cost I haue bestowed
    1680in 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
    Lorenso I commit into your hands,
    1685The husbandry and mannage of my house,
    Vntill my Lords returne: for mine owne part
    I haue toward heauen breath'd a secret vowe,
    To liue in prayer and contemplation,
    Onely attended by Nerrissa heere,
    1690Vntill her husband and my Lords returne,
    There is a Monastry two miles off,
    And there we will abide. I doe desire you
    not to denie this imposition,
    the which my loue and some necessity
    1695now layes vpon you.
    Lorens. Madame, with all my hart,
    I shall obey you in all faire commaunds.
    Por. My people doe already know my mind,
    And will acknowledge you and Iessica
    1700in place of Lord Bassanio and my selfe.
    So far you well till we shall meete againe.
    Lor. Faire thoughts and happy houres attend on you.
    Iessi. I wish your Ladiship all harts content.
    Por. I thank you for your wish, and am well pleasd
    1705to wish it back on you: far you well Iessica. Exeunt.
    Now Balthaser, as I haue euer found thee honest true,
    So let me find thee still: take this same letter,
    and vse thou all th'indeuour of a man,
    In speede to Mantua, see thou render this
    1710into my cosin hands Doctor Belario,
    And looke what notes and garments he doth giue thee,
    bring them I pray thee with imagin'd speede
    vnto the Tranect, to the common Ferrie
    which trades to Venice; wast no time in words
    1715but get thee gone, I shall be there before thee.
    G. Baltha.
    The comicall Historie of
    Baltha. Madam, I goe with all conuenient speede.
    Portia Come on Nerrissa, I haue worke in hand
    That you yet know not of; weele see our husbands
    before they thinke of vs?
    1720Nerrissa. Shall they see vs?
    Portia. They shall Nerrissa: but in such a habite,
    that they shall thinke we are accomplished
    with that we lacke; Ile hold thee any wager
    when we are both accoutered like young men,
    1725ile 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
    into a manly stride; and speake of frayes
    1730like a fine bragging youth: and tell quaint lyes
    how honorable Ladies sought my loue,
    which I denying, they fell sicke and dyed.
    I could not doe withall: then ile repent,
    and wish for all that, that I had not killd them;
    1735And twenty 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,
    which I will practise.
    1740Nerriss. Why, shall we turne to men?
    Portia. Fie, what a question's that,
    if thou wert nere a lewd interpreter:
    But come, ile tell thee all my whole deuice
    when I am in my coach, which stayes for vs
    1745at the Parke gate; and therefore hast away,
    for we must measure twenty miles to day. Exeunt.