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SCENE changes to BELMONT.
Three Caskets are set out, one of gold, another of filver,
and another of lead.
Enter Portia and Neriffa.
Por. Y my troth, Nerissa, my little body is weary
of this great world.
miseries were in the same abundance as your good fortunes are; and yet, for aught I see, they are as fick, that surfeit with too much, as they that starve with nothing ; therefore it is no mean happiness to be seated in the mean ; superfluity comes sooner by white hairs, but competency lives longer.
Por. Good sentences, and well pronounc'd.
Por. If to do, were as easie as to know what were good to do, chappels had been churches ; and poor mens cottages, Princes' palaces. He is a good divine, that follows his own instructions; I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done, than to be one of the twenty to follow my 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 fashion to chuse me a husband : O me, the word, chuse! I may neither chuse 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, Nerisa, that I cannot chuse 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, filver, and lead, (whereof who chuses his meaning, chuses you) will no doubt never be chosen by any rightly, but one whom you fall 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 nam'ft 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 Dolt, indeed, for he doth nothing but talk of his horse ; (3) 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.
Ner. Then, there is the Count Palatine.
Por. He doth nothing but frown, as who should say, if you
will not have me, chuse: he hears merry tales, and smiles not; I fear, he will prove the weeping philosopher when he grows old, being so 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 say you by the French Lord, Monsieur Le Boun?
Por. 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 throftle fing, he falls ftrait a capering; he will fence with his
(3) Ay, that's a Colt, indeed, for be doth nothing but talk of his horse ;] Tho' all the Editions agree in this Reading, I can perceive neither Humour, nor Reasoning, in it: How does talking of Horses, or knowing how to shoe them, make a Man e'er the more a Colt? Or, if a Smith and a Lady of Figure were to have an Affair together, would a Colt be the issue of their Caresses? This seems to me to be Portia's Meaning. What do you tell me of the Neapolitan Prince, he is such a stupid Dunce, that, instead of saying fine things to me, he does Nothing but talk of his Horses. The Word, Dolt, which I have substituted, fully answers this Idea; and fignifies one of the most stupid and blockist of the Vulgar: and in this Acceptation it is used by our Author,
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.
Ner. What say you then to Faulconbridge, the young Baron of England?
Por. You know, I say nothing to him, for he underftands not me, nor I him ; he hath neither Latin, French, nor Italian; and you may come into the court and swear, that I have a poor pennyworth in the Englis. He is a proper man's picture, but, alas ! who can converse with a dumb fhow ? how oddly he is suited ! I think, he bought his doublet in Italy, his round hofe in France, his bonnet in Germany, and his behaviour
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 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 ?
Por. Very vilely in the morning when he is fober, and most vilely in the afternoon when he is drunk when he is belt, he is a little worse than a man ; and when he is worst, he is little better than a beaft; and the worst fall that ever fell, I hope, I shall make thift to go without him.
Ner. If he should offer to chufe, and chuse 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 the devil be within, and that temptation without, I know, he will chuse it. I will do any thing, Neris Ja, 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 deterVOL.II,
minations, which is, indeed, to return to their home, and to trouble you with no more fuit ; unlefs you may be won by some other fort than your father's impofition, depending on the caskets.
Por. If I live to be as old as Sibylla, I will die as chaste as Diana, unless I be obtain'd by the manner of my father's will: I am glad, this parcel of wooers are fo reasonable ; for there is not one among them but I doat on his very absence, and wish 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 company of the Marquifs of Mountferrat?
Por. Yes, yes, it was Bafanio; as I think, he was so call'd.
Ner. True, Madam ; he, of all the men that ever my foolish eyes look'd upon, was the best deserving a fair lady.
Por. I remember him well, and I remember him worthy of thy praise. How now? what news?
Enter a Servant. Ser. The four strangers seek for you, madam, to take their leave; and there is a fore-runner come from a fifth, the 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 heart as I can bid the other four farewel, I should be glad of his approach ; if he have the condition of a faint, and the complexion of a devil, I had rather he should shrive me, than wive me. Come, Nerisa. Sirrah, go before; while we shut the gate upon one wooer, another knocks at the door.
[Exeunt. SCENE, a publick Place in Venice.
Enter Bassanio and Shylock. .
'Hree thousand ducats? well. ·
Bal. Ay, Sir, for three months. Shy. For three months ? well.
Baf. For the which, as I told you, Anthonio fhall be bound.
Shy. Anthonio fhall become bound? well.
Shy. Three thousand ducats for three months, and
Bas. Your answer to that.
Bal. Have you heard any imputation to the contrary
Shy. No, no, no, no; my meaning, in saying he is a good man, is to have you understand me, that he is sufficient : yet his means are in supposition : he hath an Argofie bound to Tripolis, another to the Indies; I understand moreover upon the Ryalto, he hath a third at Mexico, a fourth for England; and other ventures he hath, squander'd abroad. But ships are but boards, failors but men; there be land-rats, and water-rats, waterthieves and land-thieves; I mean, pirates ; and the there is the peril of waters, winds and rocks. The man is, notwithstanding, fufficient; three thousand ducats? I think, I may take his bond.
Baf. Be assur’d, you may.
Shy. I will be assur’d, I may; and that I may be afsur'd, I will bethịnk me; may I speak with Anthonio?
Baf. If it please you to dine with us.