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As who should say, I am Sir Oracle,
For saying nothing; who, I am very sure,
If they should speak, would almost damn those ears,
But fish not, with this melancholy bait,
Lor. Well, we will leave you then till dinner-time:
Gra. Well, keep me company but two years more,
[Exeunt GRATIANO and LORENZO.
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
Bass. "Tis not unknown to you, Antonio,
How much I have disabled mine estate,
exhortation-] The humour of this consists in its being an allusion to the practice of the puritan preachers of these times: who being generally very long and tedious, were often found to put off that part of their sermon called exhortation till after dinner.-WARBURTON.
for this gear.] For this account, i. e. on account of Gratiano's lecture. g - a more swelling port, &c.] Port, in the present instance, comprehends the idea of expensive equipage, and external pomp of appearance.-MALONE.
From such a noble rate; but my chief care
Ant. I pray you, good Bassanio, let me know it;
Bass. In my school-days, when I had lost one shaft, I shot his fellow of the self-same flight
The self-same way, with more advised watch,
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:
h prest-] Ready-old French.
sometimes-] Formerly. These words in old English were synony
I did receive fair speechless messages:
Nor is the wide world ignorant of her worth;
O my Antonio, had I but the means
I have a mind presages me such thrift,
Ant. Thou know'st, that all my fortunes are at sea;
To raise a present sum: therefore go forth,
my credit can in Venice do;
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, 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 :-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 curb'd by the will of a dead father :-Is it not hard, Nerissa, that I cannot choose 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 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 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 played false with a smith.
Ner. Then, is there the countyTM Palatine.
Por. He doth nothing but frown; as who should say, An if you will not have me, choose: he hears merry tales,
a colt, indeed,] Colt is used for a witless youngster.-In the days of Shakspeare the Neapolitans were eminently skilled in all that belongs to horsemanship; nor have they even now forfeited their title to that praise.— STEEVENS. is there the county Palatine.] County and count in old language were
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
Por. God made him, and therefore let him pass for a 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 throstle sing, he falls straight 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 will 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 Scottish lord, his neighbour? Por. That he hath a neighbourly charity in him; for he borrowed 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?"
• I think the Frenchman became his surety,] Alluding to the constant assistance, or rather constant promises of assistance, that the French gave the Scots in their quarrels with the English. The alliance is here humourously satirized.-WARBURTON.
P the young German, &c.] Dr. Johnson supposes that in this enumeration of Portia's suitors, there may be some covert allusion to those of Queen Elizabeth.