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SCENE II. Belmont.

A room in PORTIA's house

Enter PORTIA and NERISSA.

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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, 5 for aught I see, they are as sick that surfeit with too much

I 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 15 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 20 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 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 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 30 rightly love. But what warmth is there in your affection

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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 descrip35 tion, 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.

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 45 įn 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 thcrcfore let him pass for a

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-caper

ing: he will fence with his own shadow: if I should marry 55 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 requitc him.

Ner. What say you, then, to Falconbridge, the young baron of England ? Por. You know I say nothing to him, for he understands

nor I him: he hath neither Latin, French, nor Italian, and you will come into the court and swear that I have a poor pennyworth in the English. He is a proper

man's picture, but, alas, who can converse with a dumb 65 show ?

How oddly he is suited! I think he bought his

50 man.

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not me

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doublet in Italy, his round hose in France, his bonnet in Germany and his behaviour everywhere. Ner. What think you of the Spottish

lord, his neighbour ? Por. That he hath a neighbourly charity in him, for he 70 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? 75 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: and the worst fall that ever

fell, I hope I shall make shift to go without him. 80 Ner. If he should offer to choose, and choose the right

casket, you should refuse to perform your father's will, if 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 85 the devil be within and that temptation without, I know

he will choose it. I will do anything, 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; 90 which is, indeed, to return to their home and to trouble you

with no more suit, unless you may be won by some other sort 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 obtained by the manner of my

father's 95 will.

I am glad this parcel of wooers are so reasonable, for there is not one among them but I do on his very absence, and I pray God grant them a fair departure.

Ner. Do you not remember, lady, in your father's time, a Venetian, a scholar and a soldier, that came hither in 100 company of the Marquis of Montferrat ?

:

Por. Yes, yes, it was Bassanio; as I think, he was so called.

Ner. True, madam : he, of all the men that ever my foolish eyes looked upon, was the best deserving a fair lady. 105 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 110 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 a 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 115 complexion of a devil, I had rather he should shrive me

than wive me. Come, Nerissa. Sirrah, go before. Whiles we shut the gates upon one wooer, another knocks. at the door.

[Exeunt.

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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 bound.
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.

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Bass. Your answer to that.
Shy. Antonio is a good man.
Bass. Have you heard any imputation to the contrary?

. Shy. Oh, no, no, no, no: my meaning in saying he is a good man is to have you understand me that he is sufficient. 15 Yet his means are in supposition: he hath an argosy bound

to Tripolis, another to the Indies; I understand, moreover, upon the Rialto, he hath a third at Mexico, a fourth for England, and other ventures he hath, squandered abroad.

But ships are but boards, sailors but men: there be land20 rats and water-rats, water-thieves and land-thieves, I mean

pirates, and then there is the peril of waters, winds and rocks. The man is, notwithstanding, sufficient. Three thousand ducats; I think I may take his bond.

Bass. Be assured you may.

Shy. I will be assured I may; and, that I may be assured, I will bethink me. May I speak with Antonio?

Bass. If it please you to dine with us.

Shy. Yes, to smell pork; to eat of the habitation which your prophet the Nazarite conjured the devil into. I will 30 buy with you, sell with you, talk with you, walk with you,

and so following, but I will not eat with you, drink with you, nor pray with you. What news on the Rialto ? Who is he comes here?

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Enter ANTONIO.

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Bass. This is Signior Antonio.

Shy. [Aside] How like a fawning publican he looks!
I hate him for he is a Christian,
But more for that in low simplicity
He lends out money gratis and brings down

The rate of usance here with us in Venice. 40 If I can catch him once upon the hip,

I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him.
He hates our sacred nation, and he rails,

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