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To wind about my love with circumstance;
Than if you had made wafte of all I have.
Her name is Portia, nothing undervalu'd
Nor is the wide world ign'rant of her worth;
0 my Anthonio, had I but the means
Anth. Thou know'ft, that all my fortunes are at fea,
Nor have I money, nor commodity
To raise a prefent fum; therefore, go forth;
Three Cafkets are fet out, one of gold, another of filver, and another of lead.
Enter Portia and Neriffa.
Por. B of this great world.
Y my troth, Neriffa, my little body is weary
Ner. You would be, fweet madam, if your miseries were in the fame abundance as your good fortunes are; and yet, for aught I fee, they are as fick, that furfeit with too much, as they that ftarve with nothing; therefore it is no mean happiness to be feated in the mean; fuperfluity comes fooner by white hairs, but competency lives longer.
Por. Good fentences, and well pronounc'd. Ner. They would be better, if well follow'd. Por. If to do, were as eafy as to know what were good to do, chaples had been churches; and poor men's cottages, Princes' palaces. He is a good divine, that follows his own inftructions; I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done, than to be one of the twenty to follow my own teaching.
brain may devife laws for the blood, but a hot temper leaps o'er a cold decree; fuch a hare is madness the youth, to skip o'er the meshes of good counfel the cripple! But this reafoning is not in fashion to chuse me a husband: O me, the word, chufe! I may neither chufe whom I would, nor refuse whom I diflike; fo is the will of a living daughter curb'd by the will of a dead father: is it not hard, Neriffa, that I cannot chuse 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 chefts of
gold, filver, and lead, (whereof who chufes his meaning, chufes you) will no doubt never be chofen by any rightly, but one whom you fhall rightly love. But what warmth is there in your affection towards any of these princely fuitors, that are already come? Por. I pray thee, over-name them; and as thou nam'ft them, I will defcribe them; and, according to my defcription, level at my affection.
Ner. Firft, there is the Neapolitan Prince.
Por. 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 fhoe him himself: I am much afraid, my lady, his mother, play'd falfe with a fmith.
Ner. Then, there is the Count Palatine.
Por. He doth nothing but frown, as who fhould fay, if you will not have me, chufe: he hears merry tales, and fmiles not; I fear, he will prove the weeping philofopher when he grows old, being fo 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!
Ner. How fay you by the French Lord, Monfieur
Por. God made him, and therefore let him pafs for a man; in truth, I know, it is a fin to be a mocker; but, he! why, he hath a horfe better than the Neapolitan's; a better bad habit of frowning than the Count Palatine; he is every man in no man; if a throftle fing, he falls ftrait a capering; 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 fhall never requite him.
Ner. What fay you then to Faulconbridge, the Baron of England?
Por. You know, I fay nothing to him, for he understands not me, nor I him; he hath neither Latin, French, nor Italian; and you may come into the court and fwear, 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 fuited! I think, he bought his doublet in Italy, his round hose in France, his bonnet in Germany, and his behaviour every where.
Ner. What think you of the Scotish lord, his neighbour?
Por. That he hath a neighbourly 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 furety, and fealed under for another.
Ner. How like you the young German, the Duke of Saxony's nephew?
Por. Very vilely in the morning when he is fober, and most vilely 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.
Ner. If he fhould offer to chufe, and chuse the right cafket, you should refufe to perform your father's will, if you fhould refufe to accept him.
Por. Therefore, for fear of the worst, I pray thee, fet a deep glass of Rhenish wine on the contrary cafket; for if the devil be within, and that temptation without, I know, he will chufe it. I will do any thing, Neriffa, ere I will be marry'd to a fpunge.
Ner. You need not fear, lady, the having any of thefe lords: they have acquainted me with their de
I think, the Frenchman became his furety,] Alluding to the conftant Affistance, or rather constant Promises of Affiftance, that the French gave the Scots in their Quarrels with the English. This Alliance is here humourously satirized. terminations,
terminations, which is, indeed, to return to their home, and to trouble you with no more fuit; unless you may be won by fome other fort than your father's impofition, depending on the caskets.
Por. If I live to be as old as Sibylla, I will die as chafte as Diana, unless I be obtain'd by the manner of my father's will: I am glad, this parcel of wooers are fo reasonable; for there is not one among them but I doat on his very absence, and wish them a fair departure.
Ner. Do you not remember, lady, in your father's time, a Venetian, a scholar and a foldier, that came hither in company of the Marquifs of Mountferrat? Por. Yes, yes, it was Baffanio; as I think, he was fo call'd.
Ner. True, Madam; he, of all the men that ever my foolish eyes look'd upon, was the best deserving a fair lady.
Por. I remember him well, and I remember him worthy of thy praife. How now? what news?
Enter a Servant.
Ser. The four strangers feek for you, madam, to take their leave; and there is a fore-runner come from a fifth, the Prince of Morocco, who brings word, the Prince, his mafter, will be here to night.
Por. If I could bid the fifth welcome with fo good heart as I can bid the other four farewel, I fhould be glad of his approach; if he have the condition of a faint, and the complexion of a devil, I had rather he should shrive me, than wive me. Come, Neriffa. Sirrah, go before; while we fhut the gate upon one wooer, another knocks at the door. [Exeunt.