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To wind about my love with circumstance;
you had made waste of all I have.
Bas. In Belmont is a lady richly left,
Anthonio, had I but the means
sea, Nor have I money, nor commodity To raise a present fum; therefore, go forth; Try what 'my credit can in Venice do ; That shall bé rack'd even to the uttermost, To furnish thee to Belmont, to fair Portia : Go, presently enquire, and so will I, Where money is; and I no question make, To have it of my trust, or for my fake. Exeunt.
Three Caskets are set out, one of gold, another of silver, and
another of lead.
Enter Portia and Nerissa. Por. Y my troth, Nerissa, my little body is weary
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 fee, 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 easy as to know what were good to do, chaples had been churches ; and poor men's 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, silver, and lead, (whereof who chuses his mean. ing, chuses 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? Por. I
pray thee, over-name them; and as thou nam'st 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 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 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 fay, 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 pafs for a man; in truth, I know, it is a sin to be a mocker; but, he ! why, he hath a horfe 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 fing, he falls ftrait 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. Ner. What say you then to Faulconbridge, the
young Baron of England ?
Por. You know, I say nothing to him, for he understands 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 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 behaviour every where.
Ner. What think you of the Scotish 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 French man 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 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.
Ner. If he should offer to chuse, and chuse the right cafket, you should refufe 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 cafket; for if the devil be within, and that temptation without, I know, he will chuse it. I will do any thing, Nerissa, 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 de
* I think, the Frenchman became his surety,] Alluding to the conftant Assistance, or rather constant Promises of Affistance, that the French
gave the Scots in their Quarrels with the English. This Alliance is here humouroully satirized.
terminations, terminations, which is, indeed, to return to their home, and to trouble you with no more fuit; unless you may be won by some other sort than your father's imposition, 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 so 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 Bassanio; as I think, he was so call'd.
Ner. True, Madam; he, of all the men that ever my foolilh 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 saint, and the complexion of a devil, I had rather he should shrive me, than wive me. Come, Neriffa. Sirrah, go before; while we shut the gate upon one wooer, another knocks at the door. [.Exeunt.