Merchant of Venice


SCENE I. Belmont. A room in PORTIA's house.

[Flourish of cornets. Enter the PRINCE of MOROCCO, and his


PORTIA, NERISSA, and Others of her train.]

PRINCE OF Morocco.

Mislike me not for my complexion,

The shadow'd livery of the burnish'd sun,

To whom I am a neighbour, and near bred.

Bring me the fairest creature northward born,

Where Phoebus' fire scarce thaws the icicles,

And let us make incision for your love

To prove whose blood is reddest, his or mine.

I tell thee, lady, this aspect of mine

Hath fear'd the valiant; by my love, I swear

The best-regarded virgins of our clime

Have lov'd it too. I would not change this hue,

Except to steal your thoughts, my gentle queen.


In terms of choice I am not solely led

By nice direction of a maiden's eyes;

Besides, the lottery of my destiny

Bars me the right of voluntary choosing;

But, if my father had not scanted me

And hedg'd me by his wit, to yield myself

His wife who wins me by that means I told you,

Yourself, renowned Prince, then stood as fair

As any comer I have look'd on yet

For my affection.


Even for that I thank you:

Therefore, I pray you, lead me to the caskets

To try my fortune. By this scimitar, -

That slew the Sophy and a Persian prince,

That won three fields of Sultan Solyman, -

I would o'erstare the sternest eyes that look,

Outbrave the heart most daring on the earth,

Pluck the young sucking cubs from the she-bear,

Yea, mock the lion when he roars for prey,

To win thee, lady. But, alas the while!

If Hercules and Lichas play at dice

Which is the better man, the greater throw

May turn by fortune from the weaker hand:

So is Alcides beaten by his page;

And so may I, blind Fortune leading me,

Miss that which one unworthier may attain,

And die with grieving.


You must take your chance,

And either not attempt to choose at all,

Or swear before you choose, if you choose wrong,

Never to speak to lady afterward

In way of marriage; therefore be advis'd.


Nor will not; come, bring me unto my chance.


First, forward to the temple: after dinner

Your hazard shall be made.


Good fortune then!

To make me blest or cursed'st among men!

[Cornets, and exeunt.]

SCENE 2. Venice. A street



Certainly my conscience will serve me to run from this

Jew my master. The fiend is at mine elbow and tempts me, saying

to me 'Gobbo, Launcelot Gobbo, good Launcelot' or 'good Gobbo' or

'good Launcelot Gobbo, use your legs, take the start, run away.'

My conscience says 'No; take heed, honest Launcelot, take heed,

honest Gobbo' or, as aforesaid, 'honest Launcelot Gobbo, do not

run; scorn running with thy heels.' Well, the most courageous

fiend bids me pack. 'Via!' says the fiend; 'away!' says the

fiend. 'For the heavens, rouse up a brave mind,' says the fiend

'and run.' Well, my conscience, hanging about the neck of my

heart, says very wisely to me 'My honest friend Launcelot, being

an honest man's son' - or rather 'an honest woman's son'; - for

indeed my father did something smack, something grow to, he had a

kind of taste; - well, my conscience says 'Launcelot, budge not.'

'Budge,' says the fiend. 'Budge not,' says my conscience.

'Conscience,' say I, (you counsel well.' 'Fiend,' say I, 'you

counsel well.' To be ruled by my conscience, I should stay with

the Jew my master, who, God bless the mark! is a kind of devil;

and, to run away from the Jew, I should be ruled by the fiend,

who, saving your reverence! is the devil himself. Certainly the

Jew is the very devil incarnal; and, in my conscience, my

conscience is but a kind of hard conscience, to offer to counsel

me to stay with the Jew. The fiend gives the more friendly

counsel: I will run, fiend; my heels are at your commandment; I

will run.

[Enter OLD GOBBO, with a basket]


Master young man, you, I pray you; which is the way to Master



[Aside] O heavens! This is my true-begotten father, who, being


than sand-blind, high-gravel blind, knows me not: I will try

confusions with him.


Master young gentleman, I pray you, which is the way to Master



Turn up on your right hand at the next turning, but, at

the next turning of all, on your left; marry, at the very next

turning, turn of no hand, but turn down indirectly to the Jew's



Be God's sonties, 'twill be a hard way to hit. Can you tell

me whether one Launcelot, that dwells with him, dwell with him or



Talk you of young Master Launcelot? [Aside] Mark me

now; now will I raise the waters. Talk you of young Master



No master, sir, but a poor man's son; his father, though I

say't, is an honest exceeding poor man, and, God be thanked, well

to live.


Well, let his father be what 'a will, we talk of young

Master Launcelot.


Your worship's friend, and Launcelot, sir.


But I pray you, ergo, old man, ergo, I beseech you, talk

you of young Master Launcelot?


Of Launcelot, an't please your mastership.


Ergo, Master Launcelot. Talk not of Master Launcelot,

father; for the young gentleman, - according to Fates and


and such odd sayings, the Sisters Three and such branches of

learning, - is indeed deceased; or, as you would say in plain

terms, gone to heaven.


Marry, God forbid! The boy was the very staff of my age, my

very prop.


Do I look like a cudgel or a hovel-post, a staff or a prop? Do

you know me, father?


Alack the day! I know you not, young gentleman; but I pray

you tell me, is my boy - God rest his soul! - alive or dead?


Do you not know me, father?


Alack, sir, I am sand-blind; I know you not.


Nay, indeed, if you had your eyes, you might fail of the

knowing me: it is a wise father that knows his own child. Well,

old man, I will tell you news of your son. Give me your blessing;

truth will come to light; murder cannot be hid long; a man's son

may, but in the end truth will out.


Pray you, sir, stand up; I am sure you are not Launcelot, my boy.


Pray you, let's have no more fooling about it, but give

me your blessing; I am Launcelot, your boy that was, your son

that is, your child that shall be.


I cannot think you are my son.


I know not what I shall think of that; but I am Launcelot, the

Jew's man, and I am sure Margery your wife is my mother.


Her name is Margery, indeed: I'll be sworn, if thou be

Launcelot, thou art mine own flesh and blood. Lord worshipped

might he be, what a beard hast thou got! Thou hast got more hair

on thy chin than Dobbin my thill-horse has on his tail.


It should seem, then, that Dobbin's tail grows backward;

I am sure he had more hair on his tail than I have on my face

when I last saw him.


Lord! how art thou changed! How dost thou and thy master

agree? I have brought him a present. How 'gree you now?


Well, well; but, for mine own part, as I have set up my

rest to run away, so I will not rest till I have run some ground.

My master's a very Jew. Give him a present! Give him a halter. I

am famished in his service; you may tell every finger I have with

my ribs. Father, I am glad you are come; give me your present to

one Master Bassanio, who indeed gives rare new liveries. If I

serve not him, I will run as far as God has any ground. O rare

fortune! Here comes the man: to him, father; for I am a Jew, if I

serve the Jew any longer.

[Enter BASSANIO, with LEONARDO, with and other Followers.]


You may do so; but let it be so hasted that supper be

ready at the farthest by five of the clock. See these letters

delivered, put the liveries to making, and desire Gratiano to

come anon to my lodging.

[Exit a SERVANT]


To him, father.


God bless your worship!


Gramercy; wouldst thou aught with me?


Here's my son, sir, a poor boy -


Not a poor boy, sir, but the rich Jew's man, that would,

sir, - as my father shall specify -


He hath a great infection, sir, as one would say, to serve -


Indeed the short and the long is, I serve the Jew, and

have a desire, as my father shall specify -


His master and he, saving your worship's reverence, are

scarce cater-cousins -


To be brief, the very truth is that the Jew, having done

me wrong, doth cause me, - as my father, being I hope an old man,

shall frutify unto you -


I have here a dish of doves that I would bestow upon your

worship; and my suit is -


In very brief, the suit is impertinent to myself, as

your worship shall know by this honest old man; and, though I say

it, though old man, yet poor man, my father.


One speak for both. What would you?


Serve you, sir.


That is the very defect of the matter, sir.


I know thee well; thou hast obtain'd thy suit.

Shylock thy master spoke with me this day,

And hath preferr'd thee, if it be preferment

To leave a rich Jew's service to become

The follower of so poor a gentleman.


The old proverb is very well parted between my master

Shylock and you, sir: you have the grace of God, sir, and he hath



Thou speak'st it well. Go, father, with thy son.

Take leave of thy old master, and inquire

My lodging out. [To a SERVANT] Give him a livery

More guarded than his fellows'; see it done.


Father, in. I cannot get a service, no! I have ne'er a

tongue in my head! [Looking on his palm] Well; if any man in

Italy have a fairer table which doth offer to swear upon a book,


shall have good fortune. Go to; here's a simple line of life:

here's a small trifle of wives; alas, fifteen wives is nothing;

a'leven widows and nine maids is a simple coming-in for one man.

And then to scape drowning thrice, and to be in peril of my life

with the edge of a feather-bed; here are simple 'scapes. Well, if

Fortune be a woman, she's a good wench for this gear. Father,

come; I'll take my leave of the Jew in the twinkling of an eye.



I pray thee, good Leonardo, think on this:

These things being bought and orderly bestow'd,

Return in haste, for I do feast to-night

My best esteem'd acquaintance; hie thee, go.


My best endeavours shall be done herein.



Where's your master?


Yonder, sir, he walks.



Signior Bassanio! -




I have suit to you.


You have obtain'd it.


You must not deny me: I must go with you to Belmont.


Why, then you must. But hear thee, Gratiano;

Thou art too wild, too rude, and bold of voice;

Parts that become thee happily enough,

And in such eyes as ours appear not faults;

But where thou art not known, why there they show

Something too liberal. Pray thee, take pain

To allay with some cold drops of modesty

Thy skipping spirit, lest through thy wild behaviour

I be misconstrued in the place I go to,

And lose my hopes.


Signior Bassanio, hear me:

If I do not put on a sober habit,

Talk with respect, and swear but now and then,

Wear prayer-books in my pocket, look demurely,

Nay more, while grace is saying, hood mine eyes

Thus with my hat, and sigh, and say 'amen';

Use all the observance of civility,

Like one well studied in a sad ostent

To please his grandam, never trust me more.


Well, we shall see your bearing.


Nay, but I bar to-night; you shall not gauge me

By what we do to-night.


No, that were pity;

I would entreat you rather to put on

Your boldest suit of mirth, for we have friends

That purpose merriment. But fare you well;

I have some business.


And I must to Lorenzo and the rest;

But we will visit you at supper-time.


SCENE 3. The same. A room in SHYLOCK's house.



I am sorry thou wilt leave my father so:

Our house is hell, and thou, a merry devil,

Didst rob it of some taste of tediousness.

But fare thee well; there is a ducat for thee;

And, Launcelot, soon at supper shalt thou see

Lorenzo, who is thy new master's guest:

Give him this letter; do it secretly.

And so farewell. I would not have my father

See me in talk with thee.


Adieu! tears exhibit my tongue. Most beautiful pagan,

most sweet Jew! If a Christian do not play the knave and get

thee, I am much deceived. But, adieu! these foolish drops do

something drown my manly spirit; adieu!


Farewell, good Launcelot.


Alack, what heinous sin is it in me

To be asham'd to be my father's child!

But though I am a daughter to his blood,

I am not to his manners. O Lorenzo!

If thou keep promise, I shall end this strife,

Become a Christian and thy loving wife.


SCENE 4. The same. A street



Nay, we will slink away in supper-time,

Disguise us at my lodging, and return

All in an hour.


We have not made good preparation.


We have not spoke us yet of torch-bearers.


'Tis vile, unless it may be quaintly order'd,

And better in my mind not undertook.


'Tis now but four o'clock; we have two hours

To furnish us.

[Enter LAUNCELOT, With a letter.]

Friend Launcelot, what's the news?


An it shall please you to break up this, it shall seem

to signify.


I know the hand; in faith, 'tis a fair hand,

And whiter than the paper it writ on

Is the fair hand that writ.


Love news, in faith.


By your leave, sir.


Whither goest thou?


Marry, sir, to bid my old master, the Jew, to sup

to-night with my new master, the Christian.


Hold, here, take this. Tell gentle Jessica

I will not fail her; speak it privately.

Go, gentlemen,


Will you prepare you for this masque to-night?

I am provided of a torch-bearer.


Ay, marry, I'll be gone about it straight.


And so will I.


Meet me and Gratiano

At Gratiano's lodging some hour hence.


'Tis good we do so.



Was not that letter from fair Jessica?


I must needs tell thee all. She hath directed

How I shall take her from her father's house;

What gold and jewels she is furnish'd with;

What page's suit she hath in readiness.

If e'er the Jew her father come to heaven,

It will be for his gentle daughter's sake;

And never dare misfortune cross her foot,

Unless she do it under this excuse,

That she is issue to a faithless Jew.

Come, go with me, peruse this as thou goest;

Fair Jessica shall be my torch-bearer.


SCENE 5. The same. Before SHYLOCK'S house



Well, thou shalt see; thy eyes shall be thy judge,

The difference of old Shylock and Bassanio: -

What, Jessica! - Thou shalt not gormandize,

As thou hast done with me; - What, Jessica! -

And sleep and snore, and rend apparel out -

Why, Jessica, I say!


Why, Jessica!


Who bids thee call? I do not bid thee call.


Your worship was wont to tell me I could do nothing

without bidding.

[Enter JESSICA.]


Call you? What is your will?


I am bid forth to supper, Jessica:

There are my keys. But wherefore should I go?

I am not bid for love; they flatter me;

But yet I'll go in hate, to feed upon

The prodigal Christian. Jessica, my girl,

Look to my house. I am right loath to go;

There is some ill a-brewing towards my rest,

For I did dream of money-bags to-night.


I beseech you, sir, go: my young master doth expect your



So do I his.


And they have conspired together; I will not say you

shall see a masque, but if you do, then it was not for nothing

that my nose fell a-bleeding on Black Monday last at six o'clock

i' the morning, falling out that year on Ash-Wednesday was four

year in the afternoon.


What! are there masques? Hear you me, Jessica:

Lock up my doors, and when you hear the drum,

And the vile squealing of the wry-neck'd fife,

Clamber not you up to the casements then,

Nor thrust your head into the public street

To gaze on Christian fools with varnish'd faces;

But stop my house's ears- I mean my casements;

Let not the sound of shallow fopp'ry enter

My sober house. By Jacob's staff, I swear

I have no mind of feasting forth to-night;

But I will go. Go you before me, sirrah;

Say I will come.


I will go before, sir. Mistress, look out at window for all this;

There will come a Christian by

Will be worth a Jewess' eye.



What says that fool of Hagar's offspring, ha?


His words were 'Farewell, mistress'; nothing else.


The patch is kind enough, but a huge feeder;

Snail-slow in profit, and he sleeps by day

More than the wild-cat; drones hive not with me,

Therefore I part with him; and part with him

To one that I would have him help to waste

His borrow'd purse. Well, Jessica, go in;

Perhaps I will return immediately:

Do as I bid you, shut doors after you:

'Fast bind, fast find,'

A proverb never stale in thrifty mind.



Farewell; and if my fortune be not crost,

I have a father, you a daughter, lost.


SCENE 6. The same.

[Enter GRATIANO and SALARINO, masqued.]


This is the pent-house under which Lorenzo

Desir'd us to make stand.


His hour is almost past.


And it is marvel he out-dwells his hour,

For lovers ever run before the clock.


O! ten times faster Venus' pigeons fly

To seal love's bonds new made than they are wont

To keep obliged faith unforfeited!


That ever holds: who riseth from a feast

With that keen appetite that he sits down?

Where is the horse that doth untread again

His tedious measures with the unbated fire

That he did pace them first? All things that are

Are with more spirit chased than enjoy'd.

How like a younker or a prodigal

The scarfed bark puts from her native bay,

Hugg'd and embraced by the strumpet wind!

How like the prodigal doth she return,

With over-weather'd ribs and ragged sails,

Lean, rent, and beggar'd by the strumpet wind!


Here comes Lorenzo; more of this hereafter.

[Enter LORENZO.]


Sweet friends, your patience for my long abode;

Not I, but my affairs, have made you wait:

When you shall please to play the thieves for wives,

I'll watch as long for you then. Approach;

Here dwells my father Jew. Ho! who's within?

[Enter JESSICA, above, in boy's clothes.]


Who are you? Tell me, for more certainty,

Albeit I'll swear that I do know your tongue.


Lorenzo, and thy love.


Lorenzo, certain; and my love indeed,

For who love I so much? And now who knows

But you, Lorenzo, whether I am yours?


Heaven and thy thoughts are witness that thou art.


Here, catch this casket; it is worth the pains.

I am glad 'tis night, you do not look on me,

For I am much asham'd of my exchange;

But love is blind, and lovers cannot see

The pretty follies that themselves commit,

For, if they could, Cupid himself would blush

To see me thus transformed to a boy.


Descend, for you must be my torch-bearer.


What! must I hold a candle to my shames?

They in themselves, good sooth, are too-too light.

Why, 'tis an office of discovery, love,

And I should be obscur'd.


So are you, sweet,

Even in the lovely garnish of a boy.

But come at once;

For the close night doth play the runaway,

And we are stay'd for at Bassanio's feast.


I will make fast the doors, and gild myself

With some moe ducats, and be with you straight.

[Exit above.]


Now, by my hood, a Gentile, and no Jew.


Beshrew me, but I love her heartily;

For she is wise, if I can judge of her,

And fair she is, if that mine eyes be true,

And true she is, as she hath prov'd herself;

And therefore, like herself, wise, fair, and true,

Shall she be placed in my constant soul.

[Enter JESSICA.]

What, art thou come? On, gentlemen, away!

Our masquing mates by this time for us stay.

[Exit with JESSICA and SALARINO.]



Who's there?


Signior Antonio!


Fie, fie, Gratiano! where are all the rest?

'Tis nine o'clock; our friends all stay for you.

No masque to-night: the wind is come about;

Bassanio presently will go aboard:

I have sent twenty out to seek for you.


I am glad on't: I desire no more delight

Than to be under sail and gone to-night.


SCENE 7. Belmont. A room in PORTIA's house.

[Flourish of cornets. Enter PORTIA, with the PRINCE OF MOROCCO,

and their trains.]


Go draw aside the curtains and discover

The several caskets to this noble prince.

Now make your choice.


The first, of gold, who this inscription bears:

'Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.'

The second, silver, which this promise carries:

'Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.'

This third, dull lead, with warning all as blunt:

'Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.'

How shall I know if I do choose the right?


The one of them contains my picture, prince;

If you choose that, then I am yours withal.


Some god direct my judgment! Let me see;

I will survey the inscriptions back again.

What says this leaden casket?

'Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.'

Must give: for what? For lead? Hazard for lead!

This casket threatens; men that hazard all

Do it in hope of fair advantages:

A golden mind stoops not to shows of dross;

I'll then nor give nor hazard aught for lead.

What says the silver with her virgin hue?

'Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.'

As much as he deserves! Pause there, Morocco,

And weigh thy value with an even hand.

If thou be'st rated by thy estimation,

Thou dost deserve enough, and yet enough

May not extend so far as to the lady;

And yet to be afeard of my deserving

Were but a weak disabling of myself.

As much as I deserve! Why, that's the lady:

I do in birth deserve her, and in fortunes,

In graces, and in qualities of breeding;

But more than these, in love I do deserve.

What if I stray'd no farther, but chose here?

Let's see once more this saying grav'd in gold:

'Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.'

Why, that's the lady: all the world desires her;

From the four corners of the earth they come,

To kiss this shrine, this mortal-breathing saint:

The Hyrcanian deserts and the vasty wilds

Of wide Arabia are as throughfares now

For princes to come view fair Portia:

The watery kingdom, whose ambitious head

Spits in the face of heaven, is no bar

To stop the foreign spirits, but they come

As o'er a brook to see fair Portia.

One of these three contains her heavenly picture.

Is't like that lead contains her? 'Twere damnation

To think so base a thought; it were too gross

To rib her cerecloth in the obscure grave.

Or shall I think in silver she's immur'd,

Being ten times undervalu'd to tried gold?

O sinful thought! Never so rich a gem

Was set in worse than gold. They have in England

A coin that bears the figure of an angel

Stamped in gold; but that's insculp'd upon;

But here an angel in a golden bed

Lies all within. Deliver me the key;

Here do I choose, and thrive I as I may!


There, take it, prince, and if my form lie there,

Then I am yours.

[He unlocks the golden casket.]


O hell! what have we here?

A carrion Death, within whose empty eye

There is a written scroll! I'll read the writing.

'All that glisters is not gold,

Often have you heard that told;

Many a man his life hath sold

But my outside to behold:

Gilded tombs do worms infold.

Had you been as wise as bold,

Young in limbs, in judgment old,

Your answer had not been inscroll'd:

Fare you well, your suit is cold.'

Cold indeed; and labour lost:

Then, farewell, heat, and welcome, frost!

Portia, adieu! I have too griev'd a heart

To take a tedious leave; thus losers part.

[Exit with his train. Flourish of cornets.]


A gentle riddance. Draw the curtains: go.

Let all of his complexion choose me so.


SCENE 8. Venice. A street



Why, man, I saw Bassanio under sail;

With him is Gratiano gone along;

And in their ship I am sure Lorenzo is not.


The villain Jew with outcries rais'd the Duke,

Who went with him to search Bassanio's ship.


He came too late, the ship was under sail;

But there the duke was given to understand

That in a gondola were seen together

Lorenzo and his amorous Jessica.

Besides, Antonio certified the duke

They were not with Bassanio in his ship.


I never heard a passion so confus'd,

So strange, outrageous, and so variable,

As the dog Jew did utter in the streets.

'My daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter!

Fled with a Christian! O my Christian ducats!

Justice! the law! my ducats and my daughter!

A sealed bag, two sealed bags of ducats,

Of double ducats, stol'n from me by my daughter!

And jewels! two stones, two rich and precious stones,

Stol'n by my daughter! Justice! find the girl!

She hath the stones upon her and the ducats.'


Why, all the boys in Venice follow him,

Crying, his stones, his daughter, and his ducats.


Let good Antonio look he keep his day,

Or he shall pay for this.


Marry, well remember'd.

I reason'd with a Frenchman yesterday,

Who told me, - in the narrow seas that part

The French and English, - there miscarried

A vessel of our country richly fraught.

I thought upon Antonio when he told me,

And wish'd in silence that it were not his.


You were best to tell Antonio what you hear;

Yet do not suddenly, for it may grieve him.


A kinder gentleman treads not the earth.

I saw Bassanio and Antonio part:

Bassanio told him he would make some speed

Of his return. He answer'd 'Do not so;

Slubber not business for my sake, Bassanio,

But stay the very riping of the time;

And for the Jew's bond which he hath of me,

Let it not enter in your mind of love:

Be merry, and employ your chiefest thoughts

To courtship, and such fair ostents of love

As shall conveniently become you there.'

And even there, his eye being big with tears,

Turning his face, he put his hand behind him,

And with affection wondrous sensible

He wrung Bassanio's hand; and so they parted.


I think he only loves the world for him.

I pray thee, let us go and find him out,

And quicken his embraced heaviness

With some delight or other.


Do we so.


SCENE 9. Belmont. A room in PORTIA's house.

[Enter NERISSA, with a SERVITOR.]


Quick, quick, I pray thee, draw the curtain straight;

The Prince of Arragon hath ta'en his oath,

And comes to his election presently.

[Flourish of cornets. Enter the PRINCE OF ARRAGON, PORTIA, and

their Trains.]


Behold, there stand the caskets, noble Prince:

If you choose that wherein I am contain'd,

Straight shall our nuptial rites be solemniz'd;

But if you fail, without more speech, my lord,

You must be gone from hence immediately.


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;


If I do fail in fortune of my choice,

Immediately to leave you and be gone.


To these injunctions every one doth swear

That comes to hazard for my worthless self.


And so have I address'd me. Fortune now

To my heart's hope! Gold, silver, and base lead.

'Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.'

You shall look fairer ere I give or hazard.

What says the golden chest? Ha! let me see:

'Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.'

What many men desire! that 'many' may be meant

By the fool multitude, that choose by show,

Not learning more than the fond eye doth teach;

Which pries not to th' interior, but, like the martlet,

Builds in the weather on the outward wall,

Even in the force and road of casualty.

I will not choose what many men desire,

Because I will not jump with common spirits

And rank me with the barbarous multitudes.

Why, then to thee, thou silver treasure-house;

Tell me once more what title thou dost bear:

'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? Let none presume

To wear an undeserved dignity.

O! 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;

How much low peasantry would then be glean'd

From the true seed of honour; and how much honour

Pick'd from the chaff and ruin of the times

To be new varnish'd! Well, but to my choice:

'Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.'

I will assume desert. Give me a key for this,

And instantly unlock my fortunes here.

[He opens the silver casket.]


Too long a pause for that which you find there.


What's here? The portrait of a blinking idiot,

Presenting me a schedule! I will read it.

How much unlike art thou to Portia!

How much unlike my hopes and my deservings!

'Who chooseth me shall have as much as he deserves.'

Did I deserve no more than a fool's head?

Is that my prize? Are my deserts no better?


To offend, and judge, are distinct offices,

And of opposed natures.


What is here?

'The fire seven times tried this;

Seven times tried that judgment is

That did never choose amiss.

Some there be that shadows kiss;

Such have but a shadow's bliss;

There be fools alive, I wis,

Silver'd o'er, and so was this.

Take what wife you will to bed,

I will ever be your head:

So be gone; you are sped.'

Still more fool I shall appear

By the time I linger here;

With one fool's head I came to woo,

But I go away with two.

Sweet, adieu! I'll keep my oath,

Patiently to bear my wroth.

[Exit ARAGON with his train.]


Thus hath the candle sing'd the moth.

O, these deliberate fools! When they do choose,

They have the wisdom by their wit to lose.


The ancient saying is no heresy:

'Hanging and wiving goes by destiny.'


Come, draw the curtain, Nerissa.

[Enter a SERVANT.]


Where is my lady?


Here; what would my lord?


Madam, there is alighted at your gate

A young Venetian, one that comes before

To signify th' approaching of his lord;

From whom he bringeth sensible regreets;

To wit, - besides commends and courteous breath, -

Gifts of rich value. Yet I have not seen

So likely an ambassador of love.

A day in April never came so sweet,

To show how costly summer was at hand,

As this fore-spurrer comes before his lord.


No more, I pray thee; I am half afeard

Thou wilt say anon he is some kin to thee,

Thou spend'st such high-day wit in praising him.

Come, come, Nerissa, for I long to see

Quick Cupid's post that comes so mannerly.


Bassanio, lord Love, if thy will it be!