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I oft found both. I urge this childhood proof,28
did shoot the first, I do not doubt, -
Ant. You know me well, and herein spend but time,
Bass. In Belmont is a lady richly left;
Jasons come in quest of her.
Antonio ! had I but the means
Ant. Thou know'st that all my fortunes are at sea;
26 The Poet elsewhere has childhood in the sense of chilelish.
27 Circumstance is circumlocution. Thus, in Hamlet, i. 5: " And so, with. out more circumstance at all, I hold it fit that we shake hands and part.”
28 Prest is prompt, ready; from an old French word. Spenser has it repeatedly in the same sense. The Latin præsto is the origin of it.
29 Sometimes and sometime were used indifferently in the sense of for merly.
30 The larguage is awkwird: as one of them,"' we sh uld say.
Go, presently inquire, and so will I,
A Room in PORTIA's House.
Enter PORTIA and NERISSA.
Por. By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is a-weary 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 small happiness, therefore, 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, 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 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 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 – doubt never be chosen by any rightly, but one whom you shall rightly love. But what warmth is there in
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.
- will no
1 Troth is but an old form of truth.
2 That is, superfluity sooner acquires white hairs; becomes old. We still sav, how did he come by it? — The qnartos have“ no mean hippiness,” which makes a poor jingle with "seated in the mean."
8 This use of bloorl was very common. See page 92, note 9.
Por Ay, that's a colts 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 is there the County Palatine.
An you will not have me, choose. He hears merry tales, and smiles not: I fear he will prove the weeping philosopher when he grows old, being so full of unma
mannerly 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 Bon?
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 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 penny-worth in the English. He is a proper man's picture;' but, alas, who can converse with a dumb show ? îo How oddly he is suited! I think he bought his doublet in Italy, his round hose in France, his bonnet in Germany, 1 and his behaviour everywhere.
6 The Neapolitans were eminently skilled in horsemanship. — Colt is used for a witless, heady, gay youngster.
The weeping philosopher" was Heraclitus of Ephesus, who became a complete recluse, and retreated to the mountains, where he lived on pot-herbs. He was called "the weeping philosopher" because he mourned over the follies of mankind, just as Democritus was called “ the laughing philosopher" because he laughed at them. Perhaps Portia has in mind the precept,“ Rejuice with those that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.'
? By and of were among the words not fully differentiated in the Poet's time. So again, in Act ii. scene 9: “That many may be meant by the fool multitude." See page 33, note 18.
8 Would for should ; the two words being often used indifferently. So a little after: “You should refuse to perform.' See preceding note and reference.
9 A proper man is a handsome man.
11 Bonnet and hat have changed places with each other, since the Poet's time.
Ner. What think you of the Scottish lord,12 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 seald under for another. 13
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. An the worst fall that ever fell, I hope I shall make shift to go without him.
Ner. If he should offer to choose, and choose 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 ; 14 for, if the Devil be within, and that temptation without, I know he will choose it. I will do any thing, Nerissa, ere I will be married to a sponge.
Ner. You need not fear, lady, the having any of these lords : they have acquainted me with their determination; which is, indeed, to return to their home, and to trouble you with no more suit, unless you may be won by some other sort than your father's imposition,15 depending on the caskets.
Por. If I live to be as old as Sibylla, 16 I will die as chaste as Diana, unless I be obtained by the manner of my
12 So in the quartos. In the folio Scottish was changed to other; doubtless on account of King James.
13 To seal was to subscribe; as Antonio afterwards says, “ I'll seal to such a bond.” The principal sealed to a bond, his surety sealed under. The meaning therefore is, that the Frenchman became surety for another box of the ear, to be given in repayment of the first.
14 The wrong casket. So, in King John, iv. 2: “Standing on slippers which his nimble haste had falsely thrust upon contrary feet.”
15 Sort appears to be here used in the sense of lot; from the Latin sors. So, in Troilus and Cressida, i. 3: “Let blockish Ajax draw the sort to fight with Hector.” — “Your father's imposition" means the conditions imposed by your father.
16 Shakespeare here turns the word sibyl into' a proper name. That he knew it to be a generic, not an individual name, appears in Othello, iii. 4: “A sibyl, that had number'd in the world the Sun to course two hundred compasses, in her prophetic fury sew'd the work." Bacon, in his Essay Of Delays, also uses the word as a proper name: "Fortune is like the market where, many times, if you can stay a little, the price will fall; and again, it is sometimes like Sibylla's offer, which at first offereth the commodity at the full, then consumeth part and part, and still holdeth up the price.” Íhe particular Sibyl referred to by Portia is probably the Cumæan Sibyl, so named from Cumæ in Italy, where she had her prophetic seat. Apollo fell in love with her, and offered to grant any request she might make. Her request was that she might live as many years as she held grains of sand in her hand. She forgot to ask for the continuance of her beauty also, and so had a rather hard bargain of it.
will. I am glad this parcel of wooers are so reasonable; fur there is not one among them but I dote on his very absence, and I pray God grant them a fair departure. 17
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 Marquess of Montferrat?
Por. Yes, yes; it was Bassanio: as I think, so was he 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.
Enter a Servant. How now! what news ?
Serv. The four strangers 18 seek for you, Madam, to take their leave; and there is a forerunner 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 farewell, I should be glad of his approach: if he have the condition of a saint 19 and the complexion of a devil, I had rather he should shrive me than wive me. Come, Nerissa. Sirrah, before. Whiles we shut the gate upon one wooer, another knocks at the door.
SCENE III. Venice. A public Place.
Enter BASSANIO and SHYLOCK. Shy. Three thousand ducats, — well. Bass. Ay, sir, for three months. Shy. For three months, — well. Bass. For the which, as I told you, Antonio shall be bound. Shy. Antonio shall become bound, — well.
Bass. May you stead me? Will you pleasure me? Shall I know your answer?
17 So in the quartos: the folio," I wish them a fair departure.". The change was made in pursuance of a statute, passed in the first year of James, 1603-4, against desecrating the sacred names. I prefer what the Poet's cwn genius dictated, to what was done by Act of Parliament.
18 An oversight, perhaps. There were six of them.
19 Condition is temper, disposition. So used continually by Shakespeare, and other writers of his time.
20 Devils were imagined and represented as of dark colour. So, in Othello, Iago says to Brabantio, " The Devil will make a grandsire of you,” referring to the Moor's colour. — Shrift is confession.
1 Another instance of the undifferentiated use of words. Instead of may, we should use can or will. See note 8, preceding scene.