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Is, to come fairly off from the great debts,
Wherein my time, fomething too prodigal,
Hath left me gag'd: To you, Anthonio,
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.

Anth. I pray you, good Baffanio, let me know it;
And, if it ftand, as you yourself still do,

Within the eye of honour, be affur'd,

My purse, my perfon, my extreameft means,
Lye all unlock'd to your occafions.

Baff. In my school-days, when I had loft one fhaft,
I fhot his fellow of the felf-fame flight

The felf-fame way, with more advised watch,
To find the other; 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 loft: but if you please
To fhoot another arrow that self way

Which you did fhoot 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 reft debtor for the first.

Anth. 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 uttermoft,

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.


preft]-I am ready, prompt to undertake it.


Baff. In Belmont is a lady richly left,
And she is fair, and, fairer than that word,
Of wond'rous virtues; 'fometimes from her eyes
I did receive fair speechlefs meffages:
Her name is Portia; nothing undervalu'd
To Cato's daughter, Brutus' Portia.

Nor is the wide world ignorant of her worth;
For the four winds blow in from every coaft
Renowned fuitors: and her funny locks

Hang on her temples like a golden fleece;
Which makes her feat of Belmont, Colchos' ftrand,
And many Jafons come in queft of her.

O my Anthonio, had I but the means
To hold a rival place with one of them,
I have a mind prefages me fuch thrift,
That I fhould queftionless be fortunate.

Anth. Thou know'ft, that all my fortunes are at fea、 Nor have I money, nor commodity

To raise a prefent fum: therefore go forth,
Try what my credit can in Venice do;

That fhall be rack'd, even to the uttermoft,
To furnish thee to Belmont, to fair Portia.
Go, prefently enquire, and fo will I,

Where money is; and I no queftion make,
To have it of my truft, or for my fake.






A Room in Portia's Houfe at Belmont.

Enter Portia and Neriffa.

Por. By my troth, Neriffa, my little body is aweary of world.


fometimes &c.]-fome time ago; have occafionally received.

of my trust, or for my fake.]-on my bond, or out of friendship.


Ner. You would be, fweet madam, if your miferies were in the fame abundance as your good fortunes are: And yet, for aught I fee, they are as fick, that furfeit with too much, as they that ftarve with nothing: It is no mean happiness therefore, to be feated in the mean; fuperfluity comes fooner by white hairs, but competency lives longer, Por. Good fentences, and well pronounc'd.

Ner. They would be better, if well follow'd.

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 inftructions: 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 devife laws for the blood; but a hot temper leaps o'er a cold decree: fuch a hare is madnefs the youth, to skip o'er the meshes of good counsel the cripple. But this reafoning is not in fashion to chuse me a husband:-O me, the word chufe! I may neither chufe whom I would, nor refuse whom I diflike; fo is the will of a living daughter curb'd by the will of a dead father:Is it not hard, Neriffa, that I cannot chufe 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 chefts, of gold, filver and lead, (whereof who chufes his meaning, chufes you) will, no doubt, never be chofen by any rightly, but one "who you fhall rightly love. But what warmth is there in your affection towards any of these princely fuitors that are already come?

Por. I pray thee, over-name them; and as thou nam'st

who you shall rightly love.]-who fhall love you rightly; or whom you fhall rightly love.


them, I will defcribe them; and, according to my defcrip

tion, level at my affection.

Ner. First, there is the Neapolitan prince.

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Por. Ay, that's a colt, indeed, for he doth nothing but talk of his horfe; and he makes it a great appropriation to his own good parts, that he can fhoe him himself: I am much afraid my lady his mother play'd false with a smith.

Ner. Then, there is the county Palatine.

Por. He doth nothing but frown; as who should say, An if you will not have me, chufe: he hears merry tales, and fmiles not: I fear, he will prove the weeping philofopher when he grows old, being fo full of unmannerly 'fadness 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 fay you by the French lord, Monfieur Le Bon?

Por. God made him, and therefore let him pafs for a man. In truth, I know it is a fin 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: it a throftle fing, he falls ftrait a capering; he will fence with his own fhadow: if I should marry him, I fhould marry twenty husbands: If he would defpite me, I would forgive him; for if he love me to madness, I fhall never requite him.

Ner. What fay you then to Faulconbridge, the young baron of England?

Por. You know, I fay 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

a colt,]-a giddy, thoughtless youngster. fadnejsj-gravity.


proper man's picture; But, alas! who can converse with a dumb fhow? How oddly he is fuited! I think, he bought his doublet in Italy, his round hofe in 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 borrow'd a box of the ear of the Englishman, and fwore he would pay him again, when he was able: I think, the Frenchman became his furety, and feal'd under for another.


Ner. How like you the young German, the duke of Saxony's nephew?

Por. Very vilely in the morning, when he is fober; and moft vilely in the afternoon, when he is drunk when he is beft, he is a little worse than a man; and when he is worft, he is little better than a beast: an the worst fall that ever fell, I hope, I fhall make fhift to go without him.

Ner. If he fhould offer to chufe, and chufe 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 glafs of Rhenish wine on the contrary cafket; for, if the devil be within, and that temptation without, I know he will chufe it. I will do any thing, Neriffa, ere I will be marry'd to a spunge.

Ner. 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 fuit; unless you may be won by fome

and feal'd under for another.]-bound himself to give the Englishman another; alluding to the frequent affiftance, and conftant promises given by the French to the Scots, during their contests with the English.


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