An. You know me well, and herein spend but time To winde about my loue with circumstance, And out of doubt you doe more wrong In making question of my vttermost Then if you had made waste of all I haue: Then doe but say to me what I should doe That in your knowledge may by me be done, And I am prest vnto it: therefore speake
Bass. In Belmont is a Lady richly left, And she is faire, and fairer then that word, Of wondrous vertues, sometimes from her eyes I did receiue faire speechlesse messages: Her name is Portia, nothing vndervallewd To Cato's daughter, Brutus Portia, Nor is the wide world ignorant of her worth, For the four windes blow in from euery coast Renowned sutors, and her sunny locks Hang on her temples like a golden fleece, Which makes her seat of Belmont Cholchos strond, And many Iasons come in quest of her. O my Anthonio, had I but the meanes To hold a riuall place with one of them, I haue a minde presages me such thrift, That I should questionlesse be fortunate
Anth. Thou knowst that all my fortunes are at sea, Neither haue I money, nor commodity To raise a present summe, therefore goe forth Try what my credit can in Venice doe, That shall be rackt euen to the vttermost, To furnish thee to Belmont to faire Portia. Goe presently enquire, and so will I Where money is, and I no question make To haue it of my trust, or for my sake.
Enter Portia with her waiting woman Nerissa.
Portia. By my troth Nerrissa, my little body is a wearie of this great world
Ner. You would be sweet Madam, if your miseries were in the same abundance as your good fortunes are: and yet for ought I see, they are as sicke that surfet with too much, as they that starue with nothing; it is no smal happinesse therefore to bee seated in the meane, superfluitie comes sooner by white haires, but competencie liues longer
Portia. Good sentences, and well pronounc'd
Ner. They would be better if well followed
Portia. If to doe were as easie as to know what were good to doe, Chappels had beene Churches, and poore mens cottages Princes Pallaces: it is a good Diuine that followes his owne instructions; I can easier teach twentie what were good to be done, then be one of the twentie to follow mine owne teaching: the braine may deuise lawes for the blood, but a hot temper leapes ore a colde decree, such a hare is madnesse the youth, to skip ore the meshes of good counsaile the cripple; but this reason is not in fashion to choose me a husband: O mee, the word choose, I may neither choose whom I would, nor refuse whom I dislike, so is the wil of a liuing daughter curb'd by the will of a dead father: it is not hard Nerrissa, that I cannot choose one, nor refuse none
Ner. Your father was euer vertuous, and holy men at their death haue good inspirations, therefore the lotterie that hee hath deuised in these three chests of gold, siluer, and leade, whereof who chooses his meaning, chooses you, wil no doubt neuer be chosen by any rightly, but one who you shall rightly loue: but what warmth is there in your affection towards any of these Princely suters that are already come? Por. I pray thee ouer-name them, and as thou namest them, I will describe them, and according to my description leuell at my affection
Ner. First there is the Neopolitane Prince
Por. I that's a colt indeede, for he doth nothing but talke of his horse, and hee makes it a great appropriation to his owne good parts that he can shoo him himselfe: I am much afraid my Ladie his mother plaid false with a Smyth