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SCENE II.-Portia's House at Belmont. The three Caskets of gold, silver, and lead, are set out. PORTIA, BASSANIO, NERISSA, and GRATIANO, R, Singers,
Musicians, Pages, and other Attendants, discovered. Bass. (c.) I am enjoin'd by oath to observe three things: First, never to unfold to any one Which casket 'twas I chose ; next, if I fail Of the right casket, never in my life To woo a maid in way of marriage ; lastly, If I do fail in fortune of my choice, Immediately to leave you, and begone.
Por. (c.) To these injunctions every one doth swear, That comes to hazard for my worthless self.
Bass. And so have I address'd me.--Fortune now
To my heart's hope !
Por. I pray you, tarry; pause a day or two
Before you hazard; for, in choosing wrong,
I lose your company; therefore, forbear a while :
There's something tells me, but it is not love,
I would not lose you : and you know yourself,
Hate counsels not in such a quality.
I could teach you
How to choose right, but then I am forsworn;
So will I never be : so may you miss me
But if you do, you'll make me wish a sin,
That I had been forsworn.
I speak too long : but 'tis to peize the time;
To eke it, and to draw it out in length,
To stay you from election.
Bass. Let me choose ;
For, as I am, I live upon the rack.
Come, let me to my fortune and the caskets.
Por. Away then: I am lock'd in one of them ;
If you do love me, you will find me out.-
Nerissa, and the rest, stand all aloof.- [They retire.
Let music sound while he doth make his choice :
Then, if he lose, he makes a swan-like end,
Fading in music : that the comparison
May stand more proper, my eye shall be the stream,
And wat'ry death-bed for him.
[Music-Bassanio stands surveying the caskets. Bass. Some good direct my judgment !--Let me see.--“Who chooseth me, shall gain what many men desire."
That may be meant
Of the fool multitude, that choose by show;
The world is still deceived with ornament.
In law, what plea so tainted and corrupt,
But, being season'd with a gracious voice,
Obscures the show of evil ? In religion,
What damned error, but some sober brow
Will bless it, and approve it with a text,
Hiding the grossness with fair ornament?
Thus ornament is but the guiled shore
To a most dang’rous sea ; the beauteous scarf
Veiling an Indian beauty.-
Therefore, thou gaudy gold,
Hard food for Midas, I will none of thee.
“Who chooseth me, shall get as much as he deserves."
And well said too; for who shall go about
To cozen fortune, and be honourable
Without the stamp of merit ?
0, that estates, degrees, and offices,
Were not deriv'd corruptly! and that clear honour
Were purchas'd by the merit of the wearer!
How many then should cover, that stand bare ?
How many be commanded, that command ?
And how much honour
Pick'd from the chaff and ruin of the times,
To be new varnish'd ?" Much as he deserves”-
I'll not assume desert.-
“Who chooseth me, must give and hazard all he hath."
I'll none of thee, thou pale and common drudge
'Tween man and man: but thou, thou meagre lead,
Which rather threat'nest, than dost promise aught,
Thy plainness moves me more than eloquence,
And here choose I ; Joy be the consequence !
Por. (L.) How all the other passions fleet to air !
O love, be moderate, allay thy ecstacy;
I feel too much thy blessing; make it less,
For fear I surfeit!
Bass. (c.) [Opening the leaden casket.] What find I here!
Fair Portia's counterfeit ? Here is the scroll,
The continent and summary of my fortune.
[Reads.]- You that choose not by the view,
Chance as fair, and choose as true!
Since this fortune falls to you,
Be content, and seek no new.
If you be well pleas'd with this,
And hold your fortune for your bliss,
Turn you where your lady is,
And claim her with a loving kiss.
A gentle scroll ;-Fair lady, by your leave;
I come by note, to give, and to receive;
Yet doubtful whether what I say be true,
Until confirm’d, sign’d, ratified by you.
Por. (L. c.) You see me, Lord Bassanio, where I stand,
Such as I am : though, for myself alone,
I would not be ambitious in my wish,
To wish myself much better ; yet, for you,
I would be trebled twenty times myself;
A thousand times more fair, ten thousand times
That only to stand high on your account,
I might in virtues, beauties, livings, friends,
Exceed account. But now I was the lord
Of this fair mansion, master of my servants,
Queen o'er myself : and even now, but now
This house, these servants, and this same myself,
Are yours, my lord ; I give them with this ring;
Which when you part from, lose, or give away,
Let it presage the ruin of your love,
And be my vantage to exclaim on you.
Bass. Madam, you have bereft me of all words,
Only my blood speaks to you in my veins :
But when this ring
Parts from this finger, then parts life from hence;
0, then be bold to say, Bassanio's dead.
Ner. (Comes forward with Gratiano, R.] My lord and
lady, it is now our time,
That have stood by, and seen our wishes prosper,
good joy! Good joy, my lord and lady!
Gra. (R. C.) My lord Bassanio, and my gentle lady,
I wish you all the joy that you can wish;
For, I am sure, you can wish none from me:
And, when your honours mean to solemnize
The bargain of your faith, I do beseech you,
Even at that time I may be married too.
Bass. With all my heart, so thou can’st get a wife.
Gra. I thank your lordship; you have got me one.
My eyes, my lord, can look as swift as yours :
You saw the mistress, I beheld the maid ;
You lov’d, I lov'd; for intermission
No more pertains to me, my lord, than you
Your fortune stood upon the caskets there ;
And so did mine too, as the matter falls :
For wooing here, until I sweat again;
And swearing, till my very roof was dry
With oaths of love; at last--if promise last-
I got a promise of this fair one here,
To have her love, provided that your fortune
Achiev'd her mistress.
Por. (L. c.) Is this true, Nerissa ?
Ner. Madam, it is, so you stand pleas'd withal.
Bass. And do you, Gratiano, mean good faith?
Gra. Yes, 'faith my lord.
Bass. Our feast shall be much honour'd in your mar-
riage. [Bassanio and Portia retire up the Stage. Gra. We'll play with them, the first boy, for a thousand ducats.
Ner. What, and stake down?
Gra. No; we shall ne'er win at that sport, and stake
But who come’s here ? Lorenzo, and his infidel ?
What, and my old Venetian friend, Solanio ?
Enter LORENZO, Jessica, and SOLANIO, L.
Bass. (c.) Lorenzo, and Solanio, welcome hither;
If that the youth of my new interest here
Have power to bid you welcome :-by your leave,
I bid my very friends and countrymen,
Sweet Portia, welcome.
Por. (c.) So do I, my lord ;
They are entirely welcome.
Lor. I thank your honour :-for my part, my lord,
My purpose was not to have seen you here;
But meeting with Solanio by the way,
He did entreat me, past all saying nay,
To come with him along.
Sol. I did, my lord,
And I have reason for it. Signior Antonio
Commends him to you.
[Gives Bassanio a letter. Buss, [1.. to Sol.] Ere I ope his letter, I pray you tell me how my good friend doth
Sol. (L.) Not sick, my lord unless it be in mind ;
Nor well, unless in mind : his letter there
Will shew you his estate.
Gra. [Back ground.] Nerissa, cheer yon stranger, bid
her welcome. Your hand, Solanio; what's the news from Venice ? How doth thąt royal merchant, good Antonio ? I know he will be glad of our success; We are the Jasons, we have won the fleece. Sol. Would you had won the fleece that he hath lost !
[They retire up the stage. Por. (R.) There are some shrewd contents in yon
That steal the colour from Bassanio's cheek :
Some dear friend dead; else nothing in the world
Could turn so much the constitution
Of any constant man. What, worse and worse -
[Crosses to him.
With leave, Bassanio ; I am half yourself,
And I must freely have the half of any thing
That this same paper brings you.
Bass. (L. c.) 0, sweet Portia,
Here are a few of the unpleasantst words,
That ever blotted paper! Gentle lady
When I did first impart my love to you,
I freely told you, all the wealth I had
Ran in my veins, I was a gentleman;
And then I told you true : and yet, dear lady,
Rating myself at nothing, you shall see
How much I was a braggart: when I told you
My state was nothing, I should then have told you
That I was worse than nothing; for, indeed,
I have engaged myself to a dear friend
Engag'd my friend to his mere enemy,
To feed my means. Here is a letter, lady;
The paper, as the body of my friend,
And every word in it a gaping wound,
But is it true, Solanio ?
Have all his ventures fail'd? What, not one hit?
From Tripolis, from Mexico, and England ?
And not one vessel ’scape the dreadful touch
Of merchant-marring rocks?
Sol. (L. c.) Not one, my lord.
Besides, it should appear, that if he had
The present money to discharge the Jew,
He would not take it: never did I know
A creature, that did bear the shape of man,