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Bass. 'Tis not unknown to you, Antonio,
I owe the most, in money and in love,
Ant. I pray you, good Bassanio, let me know it;
My purse, my person, my extremest means,
Bass. In my school-days, when I had lost one shaft,
I shot his fellow of the self-same flight
The self-same way with more advised watch,
Which you did shoot the first, I do not doubt,
As I will watch the aim, or to find both
Ant. You know me well, and herein spend but time
To wind about my love with circumstance;
Than if you had made waste of all I have:
Bass. In Belmont is a lady richly left;
Nor is the wide world ignorant of her worth,
O my Antonio, had I but the means
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 go forth;
154. circumstance, explana
160. prest unto, prepared for.
162. that word, i.e. the word 'fair.'
175. thrift, success.
To furnish thee to Belmont, to fair Portia.
SCENE II. Belmont. A room in PORTIA'S house. Enter PORTIA and NERISSA.
Por. By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is aweary 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 and well pronounced. Ner. They would be better, if well followed. 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: 20 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 curbed 183. presently, forthwith.
II. sentences, maxims.
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 30 men at their death have good inspirations: therefore the lottery, that he hath devised in these three chests of 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 namest them, I will describe them; and, according to my description, level at 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 appropriation to his own good parts, that he can shoe him himself. I am much afeard my lady his mother played false with a smith.
Ner. Then there is the County Palatine.
Por. He doth nothing but frown, as who should say 'If 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'shead with a bone in his mouth than to either of these. God defend me from these two!
41. level, guess.
46. appropriation, acquired excellence, (to, added to).
49. County Palatine, Count of the Palatinate (Pfalzgraf).
51. choose, i.e. it is your
concern, not mine.
53. the weeping philosopher, Heraclitus of Ephesus, whose fundamental maxim was the instability of all things (πάντα ῥεῖ).
Ner. How say you by the French lord, Monsieur Le Bon?
Por. God made him, and therefore let him 60 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?
that I have a poor
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 swear pennyworth in the English. picture, but, alas, who can converse with a dumbshow? How oddly he is suited! I think he bought his doublet in Italy, his round hose in 80 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 borrowed 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 sealed under for another.
Ner. How like you the young German, the Duke of Saxony's nephew?
80. round, i.e. artificially stuffed with bombast, a French fashion.
89. sealed under, subscribed to a bond, pledged himself.