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A stage, where every man must play a part,
And mine a sad one.
Gra.

Let me play the fool:
With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come,
And let my liver rather heat with wine,
Than my heart cool with mortifying groans.
Why should a man, whose blood is warm within,
Sit like his grandsire cut in alabaster?
Sleep when he wakes, and creep into the jaundice
By being peevish? I tell thee what, Antonio, -
I love thee, and it is my love that speaks;
There are a sort of men, whose visages
Do cream and mantle, like a standing pond,
And do a wilful stillness entertain,
With purpose to be dress'd in an opinion
Of wisdom, gravity, profound conceit;
As who should say, “I am Sir Oracle,
And, when I ope my lips, let no dog bark!"
0! my Antonio, I do know of these,
That therefore only are reputed wise,
For saying nothing; when, I am very sure,
If they should speak, would almost damn those ears,
Which, hearing them, would call their brothers fools.
I'll tell thee more of this another time:
But fish not, with this melancholy bait,
For this fool-gudgeon, this opinion.
Come, good Lorenzo. - Fare ye well, awhile:
I'll end my exhortation after dinner.

Lor. Well, we will leave you, then, till dinner-time.
I must be one of these same dumb wise men,
For Gratiano never lets me speak.

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.

Gra. Thanks, i' faith; for silence is only commendable In a neat's tongue dried, and a maid not vendible. [Exeunt GRATIAXO and LORENZO.

Ant. It 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 the same
To whom you swore a secret pilgrimage,
That you to-day promis'd to tell me of?

Bass. 'Tis not unknown to you, Antonio,
How much I have disabled mine estate,
By something showing a more swelling port
Than my faiot means would grant continuance:
Nor do I now make moan to be abridg’d
From such a noble rate; but my chief care
Is to come fairly off from the great debts,
Wherein my time, something too prodigal,
Hath left me gaged. To you, Antonio,
I owe the most, in money, and in love;
Aud from your love I have a warranty
To unburthen all my plots and purposes,
How to get clear of all the debts I owe.

Ant. I pray you, good Bassanio, let me know it;
And if it stand, as you yourself still do,
Within the eye of honour, be assur’d,
My purse, my person, my extremest means,
Lie all unlock'd to your occasions.

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,
To find the other forth; and by adventuring both,
I oft found both. I urge this childhood proof,
Because what follows is pure innocence.
I owe you much, and, like a wilful youth,
That which I owe is lost; but if you please
To shoot another arrow that self way
Which you did shoot the first, I do not doubt,
As I will watch the aim, or to find both,

Then,

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 wiod 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:

but say to me what I should do, That in your knowledge may by me be done, And I am prest unto it: therefore, speak.

Bass. In Belmont is a lady richly left,
And she is fair, and, fairer than that word,
Of wondrous virtues: sometimes from her eyes
I did receive fair speechless messages.
Her name is Portia; nothing undervalued
To Cato's daughter, Brutus' Portia,
Nor is the wide world ignorant of her worth,
For the four winds blow in from every coast
Renowned suitors; and her sunny locks
Hang on her temples like a golden fleece;
Which makes her seat of Belmont Colchos' strand,
And many Jasons come in quest of her.
0, my Antonio! had I but the means
To hold a rival place with one of them,
I have a mind presages me such thrift,
That I should questionless be fortunate.

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;
Try what my credit can in Venice do:
That shall be rack'd, even to the uttermost,
To furnish thee to Belmont, to fair Portia.
Go, presently inquire, and so will I,
Where money is, and I no question make,
To have it of my trust, or for my sake.

[Exeunt.

SCENE II.
Belmont. An Apartment 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 prioces' 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 curbed 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 whom you shall rightly love. But what warmth is there in your affection towards any of these princely suitors tbat 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 bis 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 county Palatine.

Por. He doth nothing but frown, as who should say, 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 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 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 húsbands. 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 bim: 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? 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 bis surety, and sealed under for another.

Ner. How like you the young German, the duke of Saxony's nephew?

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