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    Act 1, Scene I

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    Chapter 1
    SCENE I. Venice. A street.

    In sooth, I know not why I am so sad:
    It wearies me; you say it wearies you;
    But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,
    What stuff 'tis made of, whereof it is born,
    I am to learn;
    And such a want-wit sadness makes of me,
    That I have much ado to know myself.

    Your mind is tossing on the ocean;
    There, where your argosies with portly sail,
    Like signiors and rich burghers on the flood,
    Or, as it were, the pageants of the sea,
    Do overpeer the petty traffickers,
    That curtsy to them, do them reverence,
    As they fly by them with their woven wings.

    Believe me, sir, had I such venture forth,
    The better part of my affections would
    Be with my hopes abroad. I should be still
    Plucking the grass, to know where sits the wind,
    Peering in maps for ports and piers and roads;
    And every object that might make me fear
    Misfortune to my ventures, out of doubt
    Would make me sad.

    My wind cooling my broth
    Would blow me to an ague, when I thought
    What harm a wind too great at sea might do.
    I should not see the sandy hour-glass run,
    But I should think of shallows and of flats,
    And see my wealthy Andrew dock'd in sand,
    Vailing her high-top lower than her ribs
    To kiss her burial. Should I go to church
    And see the holy edifice of stone,
    And not bethink me straight of dangerous rocks,
    Which touching but my gentle vessel's side,
    Would scatter all her spices on the stream,
    Enrobe the roaring waters with my silks,
    And, in a word, but even now worth this,
    And now worth nothing? Shall I have the thought
    To think on this, and shall I lack the thought
    That such a thing bechanced would make me sad?
    But tell not me; I know, Antonio
    Is sad to think upon his merchandise.

    Believe me, no: I thank my fortune for it,
    My ventures are not in one bottom trusted,
    Nor to one place; nor is my whole estate
    Upon the fortune of this present year:
    Therefore my merchandise makes me not sad.

    Why, then you are in love.

    Fie, fie!

    Not in love neither? Then let us say you are sad,
    Because you are not merry: and 'twere as easy
    For you to laugh and leap and say you are merry,
    Because you are not sad. Now, by two-headed Janus,
    Nature hath framed strange fellows in her time:
    Some that will evermore peep through their eyes
    And laugh like parrots at a bag-piper,
    And other of such vinegar aspect
    That they'll not show their teeth in way of smile,
    Though Nestor swear the jest be laughable.


    Here comes Bassanio, your most noble kinsman,
    Gratiano and Lorenzo. Fare ye well:
    We leave you now with better company.

    I would have stay'd till I had made you merry,
    If worthier friends had not prevented me.

    Your worth is very dear in my regard.
    I take it, your own business calls on you
    And you embrace the occasion to depart.

    Good morrow, my good lords.

    Good signiors both, when shall we laugh? say, when?
    You grow exceeding strange: must it be so?

    We'll make our leisures to attend on yours.

    Exeunt Salarino and Salanio

    My Lord Bassanio, since you have found Antonio,
    We two will leave you: but at dinner-time,
    I pray you, have in mind where we must meet.

    I will not fail you.

    You look not well, Signior Antonio;
    You have too much respect upon the world:
    They lose it that do buy it with much care:
    Believe me, you are marvellously changed.

    I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano;
    A stage where every man must play a part,
    And mine a sad one.

    Let me play the fool:
    With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come,
    And let my liver rather heat with wine
    Than my heart cool with mortifying groans.
    Why should a man, whose blood is warm within,
    Sit like his grandsire cut in alabaster?
    Sleep when he wakes and creep into the jaundice
    By being peevish? I tell thee what, Antonio--
    I love thee, and it is my love that speaks--
    There are a sort of men whose visages
    Do cream and mantle like a standing pond,
    And do a wilful stillness entertain,
    With purpose to be dress'd in an opinion
    Of wisdom, gravity, profound conceit,
    As who should say 'I am Sir Oracle,
    And when I ope my lips let no dog bark!'
    O my Antonio, I do know of these
    That therefore only are reputed wise
    For saying nothing; when, I am very sure,
    If they should speak, would almost damn those ears,
    Which, hearing them, would call their brothers fools.
    I'll tell thee more of this another time:
    But fish not, with this melancholy bait,
    For this fool gudgeon, this opinion.
    Come, good Lorenzo. Fare ye well awhile:
    I'll end my exhortation after dinner.

    Well, we will leave you then till dinner-time:
    I must be one of these same dumb wise men,
    For Gratiano never lets me speak.

    Well, keep me company but two years moe,
    Thou shalt not know the sound of thine own tongue.

    Farewell: I'll grow a talker for this gear.

    Thanks, i' faith, for silence is only commendable
    In a neat's tongue dried and a maid not vendible.


    Is that any thing now?

    Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of nothing, more
    than any man in all Venice. His reasons are as two
    grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff: you
    shall seek all day ere you find them, and when you
    have them, they are not worth the search.

    Well, tell me now what lady is the same
    To whom you swore a secret pilgrimage,
    That you to-day promised to tell me of?

    'Tis not unknown to you, Antonio,
    How much I have disabled mine estate,
    By something showing a more swelling port
    Than my faint means would grant continuance:
    Nor do I now make moan to be abridged
    From such a noble rate; but my chief care
    Is to come fairly off from the great debts
    Wherein my time something too prodigal
    Hath left me gaged. To you, Antonio,
    I owe the most, in money and in love,
    And from your love I have a warranty
    To unburden all my plots and purposes
    How to get clear of all the debts I owe.

    I pray you, good Bassanio, let me know it;
    And if it stand, as you yourself still do,
    Within the eye of honour, be assured,
    My purse, my person, my extremest means,
    Lie all unlock'd to your occasions.

    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,
    To find the other forth, 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,
    As I will watch the aim, or to find both
    Or bring your latter hazard back again
    And thankfully rest debtor for the first.

    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.

    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!

    Thou know'st that all my fortunes are at sea;
    Neither have I money nor commodity
    To raise a present sum: therefore go forth;
    Try what my credit can in Venice do:
    That shall be rack'd, even to the uttermost,
    To furnish thee to Belmont, to fair Portia.
    Go, presently inquire, and so will I,
    Where money is, and I no question make
    To have it of my trust or for my sake.


    SCENE II: Belmont. A room in PORTIA'S house.

    Enter PORTIA and NERISSA

    By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is aweary of
    this great world.

    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.

    Good sentences and well pronounced.

    They would be better, if well followed.

    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 curbed
    by the will of a dead father. Is it not hard,
    Nerissa, that I cannot choose one nor refuse none?

    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 rightly love. But what
    warmth is there in your affection towards any of
    these princely suitors that are already come?

    I pray thee, over-name them; and as thou namest
    them, I will describe them; and, according to my
    description, level at my affection.

    First, there is the Neapolitan prince.

    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.

    Then there is the County Palatine.

    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's-head with a bone in his mouth
    than to either of these. God defend me from these

    How say you by the French lord, Monsieur Le Bon?

    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.

    What say you, then, to Falconbridge, the young baron
    of England?

    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 that I have a poor pennyworth in the English.
    He is 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
    behavior every where.

    What think you of the Scottish lord, his neighbour?

    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.

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

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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 sort than your father's
    imposition depending on the caskets.

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

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

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

    True, madam: he, of all the men that ever my foolish
    eyes looked upon, was the best deserving a fair lady.

    I remember him well, and I remember him worthy of
    thy praise.

    Enter a Serving-man

    How now! what news?

    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.

    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 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.

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