Page images

To find the other forth; 1 and by adventuring 2 both,
I oft found both. I urge this childhood proof, ?
Because what follows is pure innocence. 4
I owe you much, and, like a wilful youth, 5
That which I owe is lost; but if you please
To shoot another arrow that self

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 6 back again,
And thankfully rest debtor for the first.

Antonio. 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 8 unto it: therefore, speak.

Bassanio. In Belmont is a lady richly left,
And she is fair, and, fairer than that word,
Of wondrous virtues: sometimes 10 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' il strand,
And many Jasons come in quest of her.


1. i. e, to find the other out, to so many words, and not to address discover the other.

yourself direct to my love. 2. To adventure, to venture, to risk. 8. Prest, ready; the old French

3. I bring forward this example word now written prêt. taken from the amusements of child 9. i. e, endowed. hood.

10. Sometimes, formerly, in other 4. In reply to Antonio's: If it times. stand within the eye of honour. 11. The ship Argo sailed to Colchis,

5. And as usually happens with to fetch the golden fleece; this was a young man who follows his own effected by Jason, the commander, will.

by means of Medea, the King's 6. i. e. the sum last ventured. daughter, whom he afterwards 7. To use so much circumlocution, married.




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.

Antonio. Thou knows't 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, 3 even to the uttermost,
To furnish thee to Belmont, to fair Portia.
Go, presently 4 inquire, and so will I,
Where money is, and I no question make,
To have it of my trust, or for my sake. 6

(Exeunt. SCENE II. Belmont. An Apartment in PORTIA's House.

Enter PORTIA and NERISSA. Portia. By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is aweary of this great world.

Nerissa. 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: 6. superfluity comes sooner by white hairs, but competency lives longer.

Por. Good sentences, and well pronounced.
Ner. They would be better, if well followed.

Poro 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: 8 such a hare is madness, the youth,


1. To maintain myself as rival security, or out of good will or reagainst one of her suitors.

gard to me. 2. My mind foretells me such 6. To be situated in the middle, prosperity.

to enjoy all in moderation. 3. To rack, to stretch, to extend. 7. To come by, to obtain, to gain,

4. Presently, at present, now, im- to acquire. mediately. Obsolete in this sense. 8. i. e. a decree, or law, made

5. To procure it either on my in cold blood, deliberately.

What traitor hears me, and says not, amen?!
England hath long been mad, and scarr'd herself;
The brother blindly shed the brother's blood,
The father rashly slaughter'd his own son,
The son, compelld, been butcher to the sire;
All this divided York and Lancaster,
Divided, in their dire division.
0, now, let Richmond and Elizabeth,
The true succeeders of each royal house,
By God's fair ordinance conjoin together!
And let their heirs, (God, if thy will be so)
Enrich the time to come with smooth-fac'd peace,
With smilling plenty, and fair prosperous days!
Abate 2 the edge of traitors, gracious Lord,
That would reduces these bloody days again,
And make poor England weep in streams of blood!
Let them not live to taste this land's increase,
That would with treason wound this fair land's peace!
Now civil wounds are stopp'd, peace lives again:
That she may long live here, God say amen! (Exeunt.

1. Whoever hears me, and says not amen, is a traitor.

2. i. e. diminish, or take away.

3. To reduce, to bring back; an obsolete sense of the word, derived from its original reducere.


[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

to skip o'er the meshes of good counsel, the cripple. 1 But this reasoning is not in the fashion 2 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?

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

Portia. I pray thee, over-name 4 them, and as thou namest them, I will describe them; and, according to my description, level at my affection. 5

Ner. First, there is the Neapolitan prince.

Por. Ay, that 's a colt, 6 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 afraid, my lady his mother played false with a smith.

Ner. Then, is there the county Palatine. 8

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 ?

1. Mad youth skips over limping

7. And he considers it as a pegood counsel as a hare does over culiar attainment in the enumeration the net spread for him.

of his own good qualities, that be 2. i. e. is not of the sort.

can shoe his horse himself. 3. Will, inclination, and will, testament.

8. County was formerly the same 4. To over-name, to name one after as count. This is an allusion to the the other.

Count Albertus Alasco, a Polish Pa5. Conjecture, or try to guess my latine, who was in London in 1583, love for them.

6. A colt is a young male horse. 9. An, a contraction of and if; As here used it means, a young also frequently used before if as a foolish fellow.

contraction of and.

« PreviousContinue »