The Merchant of Venice
Act 1, Scene 2
Belmont. A room in Portia’s house.
- Enter Portia with her waiting-woman, Nerissa.
Portia2 - 3
- By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is a-weary of this
- great world.
Nerissa4 - 9
- 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.
- Good sentences, and well pronounc’d.
- They would be better if well follow’d.
Portia12 - 24
- 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 to be one of the twenty to follow mine 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 the fashion to choose me a
- husband. O me, the word choose! I may neither choose who I
- would, nor refuse who 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?
Nerissa25 - 31
- Your father was ever virtuous, and holy men at their death
- have good inspirations; therefore the lott’ry that he hath
- devis’d 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?
Portia32 - 34
- I pray thee over-name them, and as thou namest them, I will
- describe them; and according to my description level at my
- First, there is the Neapolitan prince.
Portia36 - 39
- Ay, that’s a colt indeed, for he doth nothing but 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 afeard my
- lady his mother play’d false with a smith.
- Then is there the County Palentine.
Portia41 - 46
- He doth nothing but frown, as who should say, “And you will
- not have me, choose.” He hears merry tales and smiles not. I
- fear he will prove the weeping philosopher 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!
- How say you by the French lord, Monsieur Le Bon?
Portia48 - 56
- 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 Palentine; he is every man
- in no man. If a throstle sing, he falls straight a-cap’ring.
- He will fence with his own shadow. If I should marry him, I
- should marry twenty husbands. If he would despise me, I
- would forgive him, for if he love me to madness, I shall
- never requite him.
Nerissa57 - 58
- What say you then to Falconbridge, the young baron of
Portia59 - 66
- You know I say nothing to him, for he understands not me,
- nor I him. He hath neither Latin, French, nor Italian, and
- you will 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 behavior
- every where.
- What think you of the Scottish lord, his neighbor?
Portia68 - 71
- That he hath a neighborly 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 seal’d under for another.
- How like you the young German, the Duke of Saxony’s nephew?
Portia73 - 77
- Very vildly in the morning, when he is sober, and most
- vildly 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.
Nerissa78 - 80
- If he should offer to choose, and choose the right casket,
- you should refuse to perform your father’s will, if you
- should refuse to accept him.
Portia81 - 85
- 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
- choose it. I will do any thing, Nerissa, ere I will be
- married to a sponge.
Nerissa86 - 90
- 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 caskets.
Portia91 - 95
- 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 dote on his very absence,
- and I pray God grant them a fair departure.
Nerissa96 - 98
- Do you not remember, lady, in your father’s time, a
- Venetian, a scholar and a soldier, that came hither in
- company of the Marquis of Montferrat?
- Yes, yes, it was Bassanio—as I think, so was he call’d.
Nerissa100 - 101
- True, madam; he, of all the men that ever my foolish eyes
- look’d upon, was the best deserving a fair lady.
Portia102 - 105
- I remember him well, and I remember him worthy of thy
- Enter a Servingman.
- How now, what news?
Portia’s Servant106 - 109
- The four strangers seek for you, madam, to take their leave;
- and there is a forerunner come from a fift, the Prince of
- Morocco, who brings word the Prince his master will be here
Portia110 - 116
- If I could bid the fifth welcome with so good heart as I can
- bid the other four farewell, I should be glad of his
- approach. If he have the condition of a saint, and the
- complexion of a devil, I had rather he should shrive me than
- wive me.
- Come, Nerissa. Sirrah, go before.
- Whiles we shut the gate upon one wooer, another knocks at the door.