Page images
PDF
EPUB

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 16: 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.
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;

[Kissing her. I come by note, to give, and to receive. Like one of two contending in a prize, That thinks he hath done well in people's eyes,

16 i. e. unfurnished with a companion or fellow. In Fletcher's Lover's Progress, Alcidon says to Clarangé, on delivering Lidian's challenge, which Clarangé accepts:

you are a noble gentleman,
Will't please you bring a friend; we are two of us,

And pity, either of us should be unfurnish'd.' The hint for this passage appears to have been taken from Greene's History of Faire Bellora; afterwards published under the title of A Paire of Turtle Doves : ‘If Apelles had beene tasked to have drawne her counterfeit, her two bright burning lampes would have so dazzled his quick-seeing sences, that quite dispairing to expresse with his cunning pensill so admirable a worke of nature, he had been inforced to have staid his hand, and left this earthly Venus unfinished. A preceding passage in Bassanio's speech might have been suggested by the same novel: What are our curled and crisped lockes, but snares and nets to catch and entangle the hearts of gazers, &c.'

[ocr errors]

Hearing applause, and universal shout,
Giddy in spirit, still gazing, in a doubt
Whether those peals of praise be his or no;
So, thrice fair lady, stand I, even so;
As doubtful whether what I see be true,
Until confirm’d, sign’d, ratified by you.

Por. 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
More rich;
That only to stand high on your account,
I might in virtues, beauties, livings, friends,
Exceed account: but the full sum of me
Is sum of something 17; which, to term in gross,
Is an unlesson'd girl, unschool'd, unpractis’d:
Happy in this, she is not yet so old
But she may learn; happier than this,
She is not bred so dull but she can learn;
Happiest of all, is, that her gentle spirit
Commits itself to yours to be directed,
As from her lord, her governor, her king.
Myself, and what is mine, to

you,

and Is now converted: 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.

17 The folio reads, “Is sum of nothing, which may probably be the true reading, as it is Portia's intention, in this speech, to undervalue herself.

yours

Bass. Madam, you have bereft me of all words, Only my blood speaks to you in my veins : And there is such confusion in my powers, As, after some oration fairly spoke By a beloved prince, there doth appear Among the buzzing pleased multitude: Where every something, being blent together, Turns to a wild of nothing, save of joy, Express'd, and not express’d: But when this ring Parts from this finger, then parts life from hence; 0, then be bold to say, Bassanio's dead.

Ner. My lord and lady, it is now our time, That have stood by, and seen our wishes prosper, To cry, good joy; Good joy, my lord, and lady!

Gra. 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 18 :
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 canst 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 19
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.

18 That is, none away from me; none that I shall lose, if you gain it.

19 Pause, delay.

Por.

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

marriage. 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 down.
But who comes here? Lorenzo, and his infidel?
What, and my old Venetian friend, Salerio?

Enter LORENZO, JESSICA, and SALERIO. Bass. Lorenzo, and Salerio, 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.

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 Salerio by the way, He did entreat me, past all saying nay, To come with him along. Sale.

I did, my lord, And I have reason for it. Signior Antonio Commends him to you. [Gives BASSANIO a letter. Bass.

Ere I

ope

his letter, I pray you, tell me how my good friend doth.

Sale. Not sick, my lord, unless it be in mind; Nor well, unless in mind : his letter there Will show you his estate.

Gra. Nerissa, cheer yon stranger; bid her wel

come.

Your hand, Salerio; What's the news from Venice?
How doth that royal merchant, good Antonio?
I know, he will be glad of our success;
We are the Jasons, we have won the fleece.
Sale.'Would you had won the fleece that he hath lost!
Por. There are some shrewd contents in yon?

same paper,
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 20 man. What, worse and worse?-
With leave, Bassanio; I am half yourself,
And I must freely have the half of any thing
That this same paper brings you.
Bass.

0, sweet Portia, Here are a few of the unpleasant'st 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 engag'd 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. Issuing life-blood-But is it true, Salerio ? Have all his ventures fail'd ? What, not one hit ? From Tripolis, from Mexico, and England, From Lisbon, Barbary, and India ?

20 It should be remembered that stedfast, sad, grave, sober, were ancient syr nes of constant.

« PreviousContinue »