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Gra.

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 3 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; who, 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's gudgeon, this opinion. Come, good Lorenzo:-Fare ye well, a while; I'll end my exhortation after dinner.

Lor. 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.

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

Ant. Farewell: I'll grow a talker for this gear 4. 3 i.e. an obstinate silence.

Gear usually signifies matter, subject, or business in general. It is here, perhaps, a colloquial expression of no very determined import. It occurs again in this play, Act ii. Sc. 2: If Fortune be a woman, she's a good wench for this gear.'

Gra. Thanks, i'faith; for silence is only com

mendable In a neat's tongue dried, and a maid not vendible.

[Exeunt GRA. and LOR. Ant. Is that any thing now?

Bass. 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.

Ant. Well; tell me now, what lady is this same
To whom you swore a secret pilgrimage,
That you to-day promis’d to tell me of?

Bass. 'Tis not unknown to you, Antonio,
How much I have disabled mine estate,
By something showing a more swelling port 5
Than

my faint means would grant continuance:
Nor do I now make moan to be abridg'd
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 unburthen all my plots, and purposes, How to get clear of all the debts I owe.

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

Bass. In my school-days, when I had lost one shaft,

5 Port is state or equipage. So in The Taming of a Shrew, Act i. Sc. 1.

• Thou shalt be master, Tranio, in my stead,
Keep house, and port, and servants, as I should.'

I shot his fellow of the selfsame flight
The selfsame way, with more advised watch,
To find the other forth; and, by advent'ring 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. 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 prest7 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 8 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

6 This method of finding a lost arrow is prescribed by P. Crescentius in his treatise De Agricultura, lib. X. C. xxviii. and is also mentioned in Howel's Letters, vol. i. p. 183, edit. 1655, 12mo.

? Prest, that is, ready; from the old French word of the same orthography, now. prét.

Formerly.

8

Hang on her temples like a golden fleece;
Which makes her seat of Belmont, Colchos' strand,
And
many

Jasons come in quest of her. 0

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 go forth,

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. (Exeunt.

Try what

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 1, 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 over 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 :-0 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?

' i.e. superfluity sooner acquires white hairs; becomes old. Ve still say, how did he come by it?

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 you 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 colt3, 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 play'd false with a smith.

2 The Neapolitans, in the time of Shakspeare, were eminently skill'd in all that belongs to horsemanship.

3 Colt is used for a witless heady gay youngster; whence the phrase used for an old man too juvenile, that he still retains his colt's tooth.

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