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Enter BASSANIO, LORENZO, and GRATIANO.
Salan. Here comes Bassanio, your most noble kinsman,
Gratiano, and Lorenzo: Fare you well;
We leave you now with better company.
Salar. I would have staid till I had made you merry, If worthier friends had not prevented
Ant. Your worth is very dear in my regard.
Bass. Good signiors both, when shall we laugh?
You grow exceeding strange: Must it be so? Salar. We'll make our leisures to attend on yours. [Exeunt SALAR. and SALAN.
Lor. My lord Bassanio, since you have found
We two will leave you: but, at dinner-time,
Gra. You look not well, signior Antonio;
Ant. I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano; A stage, where every man must play a part, And mine a sad one.
Sleep when he wakes? and creep into the jaundice
And do a wilful3 stillness entertain,
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. Ant. Farewell: I'll grow a talker for this gear1.. Gra. Thanks, i'faith; for silence is only commendable
In a neat's tongue dried, and a maid not vendible. [Exeunt GRA. and LOR.
Ant. Is that any thing now? Bass. 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 you find them; and, when you have them, they are not worth the search. Ant. Well; tell me now, what lady is this same To whom you swore a secret pilgrimage, That you to-day promis'd to tell me of?
3 i. c. an obstinate silence.
4 Gear usually signifies matter, subject, or business in general. It is here, perhaps, a colloquial expression of no very determined import. It occurs again in this play, Act ii. Sc. 2: If Fortune be a woman, she's a good wench for this gear.'
Bass. 'Tis not unknown to you, Antonio, bað How much I have disabled mine estate, By something showing a more swelling port5 Than my faint means would grant continuance: Nor do I now make moan to be abridg'd From such a noble rate; but my chief care Is, to come fairly off from the great debts, Wherein my time, something too prodigal, Hath left me gaged: To you, Antonio, I owe the most, in money, and in love; And from your love I have a warranty To unburthen all my plots, and purposes, How to get clear of all the debts I owe. Ant. I pray you, good Bassanio, let me know it; And, if it stand, as you yourself still do, Within the eye of honour, be assur'd, My purse, my person, my extremest means, Lie all unlock'd to your occasions.
Bass. In my school-days, when I had lost one shaft, I shot his fellow of the selfsame flight
The selfsame way, with more advised watch,
I owe you much; and, like a wilful youth,
Ant. You know me well; and herein spend but time,
To wind about my love with circumstance;
5 Port is state or equipage. So in The Taming of a Shrew, Act i. Sc. 1.
Thou shalt be master, Tranio, in my stead,,
Keep house, and port, and servants, as I should.
6 This method of finding a lost arrow is prescribed by P. Crescentius in his treatise De Agricultura, lib. x. c. xxviii. and is also mentioned in Howel's Letters, vol. i. p. 183, edit. 1655, 12mo.
And, out of doubt, you do me now more wrong,
Than if you had made waste of all I have:
Nor is the wide world ignorant of her worth;
Ant. Thou know'st, that all my fortunes are at sea;
Belmont. A Room in Portia's House.
Enter PORTIA and NERISSA.
Por. By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is aweary of this great world.
Prest, that is, ready; from the old French word of the same orthography, now pret.
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 see, they are as sick, that surfeit with too much, as they that starve with nothing: It is no mean happiness therefore, to be seated in the mean; superfluity comes sooner by white hairs1, but competency lives longer.
Por. Good sentences, and well pronounced. Ner. They would be better if well followed. Por. If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men's cottages princes' palaces. It is a good dine that follows his own instructions: I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done, than be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching. The brain may devise laws for the blood; but a hot temper leaps over 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 the fashion to choose me a husband:-0 me, the word choose! I may neither choose 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, Nerissa, that I cannot choose 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 chooses his meaning, chooses you), will, no doubt, never be chosen by any rightly, but one who 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 namest them, I will describe them; and, according to my description level at my affection.
1 i. e. superfluity sooner acquires white hairs; becomes old. We still say, how did he come by it?