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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.
Anth. Farewel; I'll grow a talker for this gear.
Gra. Thanks, i'faith; for silence is only commendable In a neats tongue dry'd, and a maid not vendible.
[Exeunt Gra. and Loren. Anth. Is that any thing now?
Bal. 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.
Anth. Well ; tell me now, what lady is the fame,
sir. 'Tis not unknown to you, Anthonio,
much I have disabled mine estate,
Than my faint means would grant continuance ;
Anth. I pray you, good Bafanio, let me know it;
Bal. In my school days, when I had lost one shaft, I shot his fellow of the self-fame flight ; The self-fame way, with more advised watch, To find the other forth ; by ventring both, I oft found both. I urge this childhood proof,
Because what follows is pure innocence.
Anth. You know me well ; and herein spend but time,
Bass. In Belmont is a lady richly left,
Anth. Thou know st, that all my fortunes are at sea;
SCENE changes to BEL MONT. Three Caskets are set out, one of gold, another of silver,
and another of lead.
Enter Portia and Nerissa. Per.
Y my troth, Nerisa, my little body is weary
your miseries were in the fame 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 ; therefore it is no mean happiness to be seated in the mean ; superfluity comes sooner by white hairs, but competency lives longer.
For. Good sentences, and well pronounced.
Per. If to do, were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches ; and poor mens 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 chose 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, 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, silver, and lead, (whereof who chases 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'st 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 Dolt, indeed, for he doth nothing bat 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 Pa/aline.
Por. He doth nothing but frown, as who should fay, if you will not have e me, chuse: he hears merry tales, and smiles not ; I fear, he will prove the weeping phi. losopher 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 Lc Boun ?
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 Thould marry twenty husbands. If he would despise me, I would forgive him ; for if he love me to madness, I shall never rees quite him.
Ner. What fay you then to Faulconbrlige, the young Baron of England ?
Por. You know, I fay 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
Ner. What think you of the Scottish 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 Frenchman became his surety, and sealed
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 best, 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 refuse to perform your father's will, if you should refuse to accept him.
Por. Therefore, for fear of the worst, I pray thee, set a deep glass of Rhenish wine on the contrary casket; for if the devil be within, and that temptation without, I know, he will chase 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 imposition, depending on the cakets.
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 Mountserrat ?
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 looked upon, was the best deserving a fair lady.
Por. I remember him well, and I remember him wor. thy of thy praise. How now ? what news.
Enter a Servant.