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As who should say, I am Sir Oracle,
And, when I ope my lips, let no dog bark !
O, my Antonio, I do know of these,
That therefore only are reputed wise,
For saying nothing; who, 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's gudgeon, this opinion.-
Come, good Lorenzo :-Fare ye well, a while;
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 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
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 ports
Than my faint means would grant continuance:
Nor do I now make moan to be abridg'd

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.

a more swelling port, &c.] Port, in the present instance, comprehends the idea of expensive equipage, and external pomp of appearance.-MALONE.

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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;
And 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 assured,
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 advent’ring 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,
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 :
Then do 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 wond'rous virtues; sometimesi from her eyes

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- prest-) Ready-old French.
sometimes-) Formerly. These words in old English were synony.

mous.

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.
O my Antonio, had I but the means
To hold a rival place with one of them,

have a mind presages me such thrift, That I should questionless be fortunate

Ant. Thou know'st, that all my fortunes are at sea; Nor 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. 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.

comes sooner by~-] i. e. Sooner acquires.

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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 county Palatine.

Por. He doth nothing but frown; as who should say, An if 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 !

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.

n is there the county Palatine.] County and count in old language were synonymous.

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 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 roưnd 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 ?"

proper]—is handsome. I think the Frenchman became his surety,] Alluding to the constant assistance, or rather constant promises of assistar that the French gave the Scots in their quarrels with the English. The alliance is here humourously satirized.-WARBURTON.

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.

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