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Let me play the fool:
Sleep when he wakes? and creep into the jaundice
But fish not, with this melancholy bait,
Come, good Lorenzo:-Fare ye well, a while;
Lor. Well, we will leave you then till dinner-time:
Gra. Well, keep me company but two years more, Thou shalt not know the sound of thine own tongue. Ant. Farewell: I'll grow a talker for this gear *.
3 i. e. an obstinate silence.
Gear usually signifies matter, subject, or business in general. It is here, perhaps, a colloquial expression of no very determined import. It occurs again in this play, Act ii. Sc. 2: 'If Fortune be a woman, she's a good wench for this gear,'
Gra. Thanks, i'faith; for silence is only com
In a neat's tongue dried, and a maid not vendible. [Exeunt GRA. and LOR.
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,
Ant. I pray you, good Bassanio, let me know it;
Bass. In my school-days, when I had lost one shaft,
5 Port is state or equipage. So in The Taming of a Shrew, Act i. Sc. 1.
'Thou shalt be master, Tranio, in my stead,
I shot his fellow of the selfsame flight
The selfsame way, with more advised watch,
Which you did shoot the first, I do not doubt,
Or bring your latter hazard back again,
Ant. You know me well; and herein spend but time,
To wind about my love with circumstance;
Than if you had made waste of all I have:
Nor is the wide world ignorant of her worth;
6 This method of finding a lost arrow is prescribed by P. Crescentius in his treatise De Agricultura, lib. x. c. xxviii. and is also mentioned in Howel's Letters, vol. i. p. 183, edit. 1655, 12mo.
7 Prest, that is, ready; from the old French word of the same orthography, now prét.
Hang on her temples like a golden fleece;
O my Antonio, had I but the means
Ant. Thou know'st, that all my fortunes are at sea; Neither have I money, nor commodity
To raise a present sum: therefore go forth,
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 hairs1, 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 i. e. superfluity sooner acquires white hairs; becomes old. We still say, how did he come by it?
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 prince2.
Por. Ay, that's a colt3, 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.
2 The Neapolitans, in the time of Shakspeare, were eminently skill'd in all that belongs to horsemanship.
Colt is used for a witless heady gay youngster; whence the phrase used for an old man too juvenile, that he still retains his colt's tooth.