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To wind about my love with circumstance;
And, out of doubt, you do me now more wrong,
In making question of my uttermoft,
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.

Bal. In Belmont is a lady richly left,
And she is fair, and, fairer than that word,
Of wond'rous virtues; sometimes from her eyes
I did receive fair speechless messages;
Her name is Portia, nothing undervalu'd
To Cato's daughter, Brutus' Portia :
Nor is the wide world ign'rant of her worth ;
For the four winds blow in from every coaft
Renowned suitors; and her funny 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 Anthonio, 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.
Anth. Thou know'st, that all my fortunes are at

sea,
Nor have I money, nor commodity
To raise a present fum; therefore, go forth;
Try what

my

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

SCENE

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Changes to BELMONT. Three Caskets are set out, one of gold, another of silver, and

another of lead.

Enter Portia and Nerissa. Por. Y my

, 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 fick, that surfeit with too much, as they that starve with nothing; therefore it is no mean happiness to be feated in the mean ; fuperfluity comes sooner by white hairs, but competency lives longer.

Por. Good sentences, and well pronounc'd.
Ner. They would be better, if well follow'd.

Por. If to do, were as easy as to know what were good to do, chaples lrad been churches, and poor men's cottages, Princes' palaces. He is a good divine, that follows his own instructions; I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done, than to be one of the twenty to follow my 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 fashion to chuse me a husband : O me, the word, chuse ! I may neither chuse whom I would, nor refuse whom I diflike; fo is the will of a living daughter curb’d by the will of a dead father: is it not hard, Nerisa, that I cannot chuse 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,

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say, if

gold, silver, and lead, (whereof who chuses his meaning, chuses 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, that are already come? Por. I

pray thee, over-name them; and as thou nam'ft them, I will describe them; and, according to my description, level at my affe&ion. Ner. Firlt, 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, play'd false with a smith.

Ner. Then, there is the Count Palatine.
Por. He doth nothing but frown, as who should
you

will not have me, chuse: he hears merry tales, and smiles not; I fear, he will

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 Boun?

Por. God made him, and therefore let him pass for a man; in truth, I know, it is a fin 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 fing, he falls strait a capering; he will fence with his own shadow; if I should marry him, I should marry twenty husbands. If he would defpise 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.

prove the

;

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 may 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 Scotish lord, his neighbour?

Por. That he hath a neighbourly charity in him for he borrow'd a box of the ear of the Englishman, and swore he would pay him again, when he was able. * I think, the French man became his surety, and fealed under for another.

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 beft, he is a little worse than a man; and when he is worst, he is little better than a beast; and the worst fall that ever fell, I hope, I shall make shift to go without him.

Ner. If he should offer to chuse, and chuse the right casket, you should refufe to perform your father's will, if you should refuse to accept him.

Pur. Therefore, for fear of the worst, I pray thee, set a deep glass of Rhenish wine on the contrary cafket; for if the devil be within, and that temptation without, I know, he will chuse it. I will do any thing, Nerisa, ere I will be marry'd to a spunge.

Ner. You need not fear, lady, the having any of these lords: they have acquainted me with their determinations, 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 impofition, depending on the caskets.

* I think, the Frenchman became his surety,] Alluding to the con

Allistance, or rather onstant Promises of Assistance, th: French gave the Scots in their Quarrels with the English. This Alliance is here humouroully satirized.

terminations,

Por. If I live to be as old as Sibylla, I will die as chaste as Diana, unless I be obtain'd by the manner of my father's will: I am glad, this parcel of wooers are so reasonable ; for there is not one among them but I doat on his very absence, and wish them a fair departure.

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 Marquiss of Mountferrat ?

Por. Yes, yes, it was Basanio; as I think, he was so 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. How now? what news?

Enter a Servant. Ser. The four strangers seek for you, madam, to take their leave; and there is a fore-runner 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 farewel, I should be glad of his approach; if he have the condition of a saint, and the complexion of a devil, I had rather he fhould shrive ine, than wive me. Come, Nerisa. Sirrah, go before ; while we shut the gate upon one wooer, another knocks at the door.

[Exeunt.

SCENE

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