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BASS. In my school-days, when I had lost one shaft,
I shot his fellow of the selfsame flight1

The selfsame way with more advised watch,

To find the other; and by adventuring both
I oft found both. I urge this childhood proof,
Because what follows is pure innocence.

I owe you much; and, like a wilful youth,
That which I owe is lost: but, if you please
To shoot another arrow that self way

Which you did shoot the first, I do not doubt,
As2 I will watch the aim, or to find both

Or bring your latter hazards back again,
And thankfully rest debtor for the first.

ANT. You know me well; and herein spend but time

To wind about my love with circumstance;

And out of doubt you do me now more wrong

In making question of my uttermost
Than if you had made waste of all I have:
Then, do but say to me what I should do,
That in your knowledge may by me be done,
And I am prest unto it: therefore speak.
BASS. In Belmont is a lady richly left ;

And she is fair, and, fairer than that word,
Of wondrous virtues: sometimes from her eyes
I did receive fair speechless messages.

Her name is Portia ; nothing undervalued
To Cato's daughter, Brutus' Portia :

Nor is the wide World ignorant of her worth;
For the four winds blow in from every coast
Renowned suitors; and her sunny locks
Hang on her temples like a golden fleece;

Which makes her seat of Belmont Colchos' strand,
And many Jasons come in quest of her.
O my Antonio, had I but the means
To hold a rival place with one of them,

I have a mind presages me such thrift®
That I should questionless' be fortunate.
ANT. Thou know'st that all my fortunes are at sea;
Neither have I money nor commodity
To raise a present sum: therefore

1 feather.

2 for so. success.


3 venture.
7 out of question.

go forth; 4 prompt.

8 goods.





5 in time past.

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Sc. I

Try what my credit can in Venice do:
en uk 82A180
That shall be rack'd, even to the uttermost, 24 foile I
To furnish thee to Belmont, to fair Portia.
Go, presently1 inquire, and so will I,
Where money is; and I no question make well do
To have it of my trust, or for my sake.



SCENE II. Belmont. PORTIA'S House.

Enter PORTIA with her Waiting-woman NERISSA. POR. By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is a-weary of this great World.

NER. You would be, sweet Madam, if your miseries were in the same abundance as your good fortunes are: and yet, for aught I see, they are as sick that surfeit with too much as they that starve with nothing. It is no mean happiness, therefore, to be seated in the mean: superfluity comes sooner by white hairs, but competency lives longer.

POR. Good sentences,2 and well pronounc'd.
NER. They would be better, if well follow'd.

POR. If to do were as easy as to know what were good
to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men's
cottages Princes' palaces. It is a good divine that
follows his own instructions: I can easier teach twenty
what were good to be done than be one of the twenty
to follow mine own teaching. The brain may devise
laws for the blood; but a hot temper leaps o'er a cold
decree such a hare is Madness the youth, to skip o'er
the meshes of Good-Counsel the cripple. But this
reasoning is not in the fashion to choose me a husband.
O me, the word choose! I may neither choose whom
I would nor refuse whom I dislike; so is the will of
a living daughter curb'd by the will of a dead father.
Is it not hard, Nerissa, that I cannot choose one nor
refuse none?


NER. Your father was ever virtuous; and holy men, at their death, have good inspirations: therefore the lottery, that he hath devis'd in these three chests of

2 saws.

1 forthwith, out of hand.


gold, silver, and lead, whereof who chooses his meaning chooses you, will no doubt never be chosen by any rightly but one who shall rightly love. But what warmth is there in your affection towards any of these princely suitors that are already come?

POR. I pray thee, over-name them; and, as thou nam'st them, I will describe them; and, according to my description, level at1 my affection.

NER. First, there is the Neapolitan Prince.


POR. Ay; that's a colt indeed, for he doth nothing but talk of his horse; and he makes it a great appropriation2 to his own good parts that he can shoe him himself. I am much afeard my Lady his mother play'd false with a smith.

NER. Then is there the County Palatine.

POR. He doth nothing but frown; as who should say An you will not have me, choose. He hears merry tales, and smiles not: I fear he will prove the Weeping Philosopher when he grows old, being so full of unmannerly sadness in his youth. I had rather be married to a Death's-head with a bone in his mouth than to either of these. God defend me from these two!

NER. How say you by the French Lord, Monsieur
Le Bon ?


POR. God made him, and therefore let him pass for a
man. In truth, I know it is a sin to be a mocker: but,
he! why, he hath a horse better than the Neapolitan's ;
a better bad-habit of frowning than the Count Palatine:
he is every man in no man: if a throstle sing, he falls
straight a-capering; he will fence with his own shadow.
If I should marry him, I should marry twenty husbands.
If he would despise me, I would forgive him; for, if he
love me to madness, I shall never requite him.
NER. What say you then to Falconbridge, the young
Baron of England?


POR. You know I say nothing to him; for he understands not me, nor I him: he hath neither Latin, French, nor Italian; and you will come into the Court, and swear1 that I have a poor pennyworth in the English. He is

2 acquisition.

8 of, to, about.

1 guess you. II: GG

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bear me witness.

Sc. II


Sc. II

a proper man's picture; but, alas, who can converse with a dumb-show? How oddly he is suited! I think he bought his doublet in Italy, his round' hose in France, his bonnet in Germany, and his behaviour every where.

NER. What think you of the Scottish Lord, his neighbour?

POR. That he hath a neighbourly charity in him; for he borrow'd a box of the ear of the Englishman, and swore he would pay him again, when he was able: I think the Frenchman became his surety, and seal'd under2 for another.


NER. How like you the young German, the Duke of
Saxony's nephew?

POR. Very vilely in the morning, when he is sober; and
most vilely in the afternoon, when he is drunk: when
he is best, he is a little worse than a man; and when
he is worst, he is little better than a beast. An the
worst fall that ever fell, I hope I shall make shift to
go without him.

NER. If he should offer to choose, and choose the right casket, you should refuse to perform your father's will, you should refuse to accept him.



POR. Therefore, for fear of the worst, I pray thee set a deep glass of Rhenish wine on the contrary casket; for, if the Devil be within, and that temptation without, I know he will choose it. I will do any thing, Nerissa, ere I'll be married to a sponge.

NER. You need not fear, Lady, the having any of these Lords: they have acquainted me with their determinations; which is, indeed, to return to their home, and to trouble you with no more suit, unless you may be won by some other sort3 than your father's imposition,* depending on the caskets.


POR. If I live to be as old as Sibylla," I will die as chaste as Diana, unless I be obtain'd by the manner of my father's will. I am glad this parcel of wooers are so reasonable; for there is not one among them but I doat on his very absence; and I pray God grant them a fair departure.

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NER. Do you not remember, Lady, in your father's time
a Venetian, a scholar and a soldier, that came hither
in company of the Marquess of Montferrat?
POR. Yes, yes; it was Bassanio: as I think, so was he

NER. True, Madam: he, of all the men, that ever my foolish eyes look'd upon, was the best deserving a fair lady.

POR. I remember him well; and I remember him worthy of thy praise.

Enter a Serving-man.

How now! what news?


SERV. The four strangers seek for you, Madam, to take their leave: and there is a forerunner come from a fifth, the Prince of Morocco; who brings word the Prince his master will be here to-night.

POR. If I could bid the fifth welcome with so good heart as I can bid the other four farewell, I should be glad of his approach: if he have the condition of a Saint and the complexion of a Devil, I had rather he should shrive me than wive me. Come, Nerissa.

Sirrah, go before.

Whiles we shut the gate upon one wooer, another
knocks at the door.

SCENE III. A Public Place in Venice.


SHY. Three thousand ducats; well.
BASS. Ay, Sir, for three months.
SHY. For three months; well.

BASS. For the which, as I told you, Antonio shall be


SHY. Antonio shall become bound; well.

BASS. May you stead me? will you pleasure me? shall I know your answer?

SHY. Three thousand ducats for three months, and

Antonio bound.

BASS. Your answer to that.


Sc. II

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