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A Room in Portia's House.
Enter BASSANIO, PORTIA, GRATIANO, Nerissa, and
Attendants. The caskets are set out. 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: . But lest you should not understand me well, (And yet a maiden hath no tongue but thought,) I would detain you here some month or two, Before you venture for me. 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. Beshrew your eyes, They have o'er-look'd me, and divided me; One half of me is yours, the other half yours, Mine own, I would say; but if mine, then yours, And so all yours: O! these naughty times Put bars between the owners and their rights; And so, though yours, not yours.-Prove it so, Let fortune go to hell for it,—not I 40. 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.
Let me choose;
For, as I am, I live upon the rack.
Por. Upon the rack, Bassanio? then confess
What treason there is mingled with your love.
Bass. None, but that ugly treason of mistrust,
Which makes me fear the enjoying of my love:
There may as well be amity and life
"Tween snow and fire, as treason and my love.
Por. Ay, but, I fear, you speak upon the rack, Where men enforced do speak any thing.
Bass. Promise me life, and I'll confess the truth.
Por. Well then, confess, and live.
Confess, and love,
Had been the very sum of my confession:
O happy torinent, when my torturer
Doth teach me answers for deliverance!
But 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.Let musick sound, while he doth make his choice; Then, if he lose, he makes a swan-like end, Fading in musick: that the comparison May stand more proper, my eye shall be the stream, And wat'ry death-bed for him: He may win; And what is musick then? then musick is Even as the flourish when true subjects bow To a new-crowned monarch: such it is, As are those dulcet sounds in break of day,
That creep into the dreaming bridegroom's ear,
And summon him to marriage. Now he goes,
With no less presence 45, but with much more love,
Than young Alcides, when he did redeem
The virgin tribute paid by howling Troy
To the sea-monster: I stand for sacrifice,
The rest aloof are the Dardanian wives,
With bleared visages, come forth to view
The issue of the exploit. Go, Hercules!
Live thou, I live:~With much much more dismay
I view the fight, than thou that mak'st the fray.
Musick, whilst Bassanio comments on the caskets to
1. Tell me, where is fancy bred,
Or in the heart, or in the head ?
How begot, how nourished ?
Reply.] 2. It is engender'd in the eyes,
With gazing fed; and fancy dies
In the cradle where it lies :
Let us all ring fancy's knell;
I'll begin it, Ding, dong, bell,
All. Ding, dong, bell,
Bass.-So may the outward shows be least them-
The world is still deceiv'd 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?
There is no vice so simple, but assumes
Some mark of virtue on his outward parts.
How many cowards, whose hearts are all as false
As stairs of sand, wear yet upon their chins
The beards of Hercules, and frowning Mars;
Who, inward search'd, have livers white as milk?
And these assume but valour's excrement,
To render them redoubted. Look on beauty,
And you shall see 'tis purchas'd by the weight;
Which therein works a miracle in nature,
Making them lightest that wear most of it:
So are those crisped snaky golden locks,
Which make such wanton gambols with the wind,
Upon supposed fairness, often known
To be the dowry of a second head,
The scull that bred them, in the sepulchre.
Thus ornament is but the guiled shore
To a most dangerous sea; the beauteous scarf
Veiling an Indian beauty ; in a word,
The seeming truth which cunning times put on
To entrap the wisest. Therefore, thou gaudy gold,
Hard food for Midas, I will none of thee:
Nor none of thee, thou pale and common drudge
'Tween man and man: but thou, thou meager 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. How all the other passions fleet to air,
As doubtful thoughts, and rash-embrac'd despair,
And shudd'ring fear and green-ey'd jealousy.
O love, be moderate, allay thy ecstasy,
In measure rain thy joy 42, scant this excess;
I feel too much thy blessing, make it less,
For fear I surfeit!
What find I here?
[Opening the leaden casket. Fair Portia's counterfeit? What demi-god Hath come so near creation ? Move these eyes? Or whether, riding on the balls of mine, Seem they in motion? Here are sever'd lips, Parted with sugar breath; so sweet a bar Should sunder such sweet friends: Here in her
The painter plays the spider; and hath woven
A golden mesh to entrap the hearts of men,
Faster than gnats in cobwebs: But her eyes,
How could he see to do them? having made one,
Methinks, it should have power to steal both his,
And leave itself unfurnish'd 43: Yet look, how far
The substance of my praise doth wrong this shadow
In underprizing it, so far this shadow
Doth limp behind the substance.—Here's the scroll,
The continent and summary of my fortune.
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.