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And do a wilful stillness 1 entertain,
With purpose to be dress'd in an opinion
Oi wisdom, gravity, profound conceit;
As who should say, 'I am sir Oracle,
And, when I ope my lips, let no dog bark!”
O, my Antonio, I do know of these,
That therefore only are reputed wise,
For saying nothing ; who, I am very sure,
If they should speak, would almost damn those ears.
Which, hearing them, would call their brothers

fools.
I'll tell thee more of this another time :
But fish not, with this melancholy bait,
For this fool's gudgeon, this opinion.-
Come, good Lorenzo :-fare

ye

well awhile : 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. Ant. Farewell: I'll grow a talker for this gear. Gra. Thanks, i' faith; for silence is only com

mendable In a neat's tongue dried, and a maid not vendible.

[Exeunt Gratiano and Lorenzo.

1 Obstinate silence.

Ant. Is that any thing now ? 1

Bas. 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.

Ant. Weil ; tell me now, what lady is the

same

To whom you swore a secret pilgrimage,
That you to-day promised to tell me of ?

Bas. 'Tis not unknown to you, Antonio,
How much I have disabled mine estate,
by something showing a more swelling port
Ihan my faint means would grant continuance :
Nor do I now make moan to be abridged
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 honor, be assured,
My purse, my person, my extremest means,
Lie all unlock'd to your occasions.

Can any meaning be affixed to what he has said?

Bas. In my school-days, when I had lost one

shaft, I shot his fellow of the self-same flight The self-same way, with more advised watch, To find the other forth; and by adventuring both, I oft found both. I urge this childhood proof, Because what follows is

pure

innocence.
I owe you much; and, like a wilful youth,
That which I owe is lost: but if you please
To shoot another arrow that self way
Which

you

did shoot the first, I do not doubt,
As I will watch the aim, or to find both,
Or bring your latter hazard back again,
Ånd thankfully rest debtor for the first.
Ant. You know me well; and herein spend but

time.
To wind about my love with circumstance :
And, out of doubt, you do me now more wrong,
In making question of my uttermost,
Than if you had made waste of all I have.
Then do but say to me what I should do,
That in your knowlege may by me be done,
And am prest 1 unto it: therefore speak.

Bas. In Belmont is a lady richly left,
And she is fair, and, fairer than that word,
Of wondrous virtues : sometimes 2 from her eyes
I did receive fair speechless messages.
Her name is Portia ; nothing undervalued

1 Ready; from the French word prét.

2 Formerly.

To Cato's daughter, Brutus' Portia.
Nor is the wide world ignorant of her worth ;
For the four winds blow in from every coast
Renowned suitors; and her sunny

locks Hang on her temples like a golden fleece ; Which makes her seat of Belmont, Colchos' strand, And many Jasons come in

quest of her. O my Antonio, had I but the means To hold a rival place with one of them, I have a mind presages me such thrift, That I should questionless be fortunate. Ant. Thou know'st, that all my fortunes are at

sea ; Neither have I money, nor commodity To raise a present sum : therefore go forth ; Try what my credit can in Venice do; That shall be rack’d, even to the uttermost, To furnish thee to Belmont, to fair Portia. Go, presently inquire, and so will I, Where money is; and I no question make, To have it of my trust, or for my sake. [Exeunt.

SCENE II.

Belmont. A room in Portia's house.

Enter PORTIA and NERISSA.

weary of this

Por. By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is 8

great world. 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, 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 hairs, 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 divine 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 curbed by the will of a dead father.—Is it not hard, Nerissa, that I cannot choose one, nor refuse Done?

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

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