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The Merchant of Venice
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Navigate this workThe Merchant of Venice
Act 1, scene 1
Antonio, a Venetian merchant, has invested all his wealth in trading expeditions. Bassanio, his friend and kinsman, asks him for money to go to Belmont, where Bassanio hopes to marry the heiress Portia. Antonio gives Bassanio permission to borrow the money on Antonio’s credit.Enter Antonio, Salarino, and Solanio.
0001 In sooth I know not why I am so sad.
0002 It wearies me, you say it wearies you.
0003 But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,
0004 What stuff ’tis made of, whereof it is born,
0005 5 I am to learn.
0006 And such a want-wit sadness makes of me
0007 That I have much ado to know myself.
0008 Your mind is tossing on the ocean,
0009 There where your argosies with portly sail
0010 10 (Like signiors and rich burghers on the flood,
0011 Or, as it were, the pageants of the sea)
0012 Do overpeer the petty traffickers
0013 That curtsy to them, do them reverence,
0014 As they fly by them with their woven wings.
0015 15 Believe me, sir, had I such venture forth,
0016 The better part of my affections would
0017 Be with my hopes abroad. I should be still
0018 Plucking the grass to know where sits the wind,
0019 Piring in maps for ports and piers and roads;
0020 20 And every object that might make me fear
p. 90021 Misfortune to my ventures, out of doubt
0022 Would make me sad.
SALARINO 0023 My wind cooling my broth
0024 Would blow me to an ague when I thought
0025 25 What harm a wind too great might do at sea.
0026 I should not see the sandy hourglass run
0027 But I should think of shallows and of flats,
0028 And see my wealthy Andrew ⌜docked⌝ in sand,
0029 Vailing her high top lower than her ribs
0030 30 To kiss her burial. Should I go to church
0031 And see the holy edifice of stone
0032 And not bethink me straight of dangerous rocks,
0033 Which, touching but my gentle vessel’s side,
0034 Would scatter all her spices on the stream,
0035 35 Enrobe the roaring waters with my silks,
0036 And, in a word, but even now worth this
0037 And now worth nothing? Shall I have the thought
0038 To think on this, and shall I lack the thought
0039 That such a thing bechanced would make me sad?
0040 40 But tell not me: I know Antonio
0041 Is sad to think upon his merchandise.
0042 Believe me, no. I thank my fortune for it,
0043 My ventures are not in one bottom trusted,
0044 Nor to one place; nor is my whole estate
0045 45 Upon the fortune of this present year:
0046 Therefore my merchandise makes me not sad.
0047 Why then you are in love.
ANTONIO 0048 Fie, fie!
0049 Not in love neither? Then let us say you are sad
0050 50 Because you are not merry; and ’twere as easy
0051 For you to laugh and leap, and say you are merry
0052 Because you are not sad. Now, by two-headed
p. 110054 Nature hath framed strange fellows in her time:
0055 55 Some that will evermore peep through their eyes
0056 And laugh like parrots at a bagpiper,
0057 And other of such vinegar aspect
0058 That they’ll not show their teeth in way of smile
0059 Though Nestor swear the jest be laughable.
Enter Bassanio, Lorenzo, and Gratiano.
0060 60 Here comes Bassanio, your most noble kinsman,
0061 Gratiano, and Lorenzo. Fare you well.
0062 We leave you now with better company.
0063 I would have stayed till I had made you merry,
0064 If worthier friends had not prevented me.
0065 65 Your worth is very dear in my regard.
0066 I take it your own business calls on you,
0067 And you embrace th’ occasion to depart.
0068 Good morrow, my good lords.
0069 Good signiors both, when shall we laugh? Say,
0070 70 when?
0071 You grow exceeding strange. Must it be so?
0072 We’ll make our leisures to attend on yours.
Salarino and Solanio exit.
0073 My Lord Bassanio, since you have found Antonio,
0074 We two will leave you. But at dinner time
0075 75 I pray you have in mind where we must meet.
0076 I will not fail you.
0077 You look not well, Signior Antonio.
0078 You have too much respect upon the world.
p. 130079 They lose it that do buy it with much care.
0080 80 Believe me, you are marvelously changed.
0081 I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano,
0082 A stage where every man must play a part,
0083 And mine a sad one.
GRATIANO 0084 Let me play the fool.
0085 85 With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come,
0086 And let my liver rather heat with wine
0087 Than my heart cool with mortifying groans.
0088 Why should a man whose blood is warm within
0089 Sit like his grandsire cut in alabaster?
0090 90 Sleep when he wakes? And creep into the jaundice
0091 By being peevish? I tell thee what, Antonio
0092 (I love thee, and ’tis my love that speaks):
0093 There are a sort of men whose visages
0094 Do cream and mantle like a standing pond
0095 95 And do a willful stillness entertain
0096 With purpose to be dressed in an opinion
0097 Of wisdom, gravity, profound conceit,
0098 As who should say “I am Sir Oracle,
0099 And when I ope my lips, let no dog bark.”
0100 100 O my Antonio, I do know of these
0101 That therefore only are reputed wise
0102 For saying nothing, when, I am very sure,
0103 If they should speak, would almost damn those ears
0104 Which, hearing them, would call their brothers
0105 105 fools.
0106 I’ll tell thee more of this another time.
0107 But fish not with this melancholy bait
0108 For this fool gudgeon, this opinion.—
0109 Come, good Lorenzo.—Fare you well a while.
0110 110 I’ll end my exhortation after dinner.
0111 Well, we will leave you then till dinner time.
0112 I must be one of these same dumb wise men,
0113 For Gratiano never lets me speak.
0114 Well, keep me company but two years more,
0115 115 Thou shalt not know the sound of thine own
0117 Fare you well. I’ll grow a talker for this gear.
0118 Thanks, i’ faith, for silence is only commendable
0119 In a neat’s tongue dried and a maid not vendible.
⌜Gratiano and Lorenzo⌝ exit.
ANTONIO 0120 120Is that anything now?
BASSANIO 0121 Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of nothing,
0122 more than any man in all Venice. His reasons are as
0123 two grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff: you
0124 shall seek all day ere you find them, and when you
0125 125 have them, they are not worth the search.
0126 Well, tell me now what lady is the same
0127 To whom you swore a secret pilgrimage,
0128 That you today promised to tell me of?
0129 ’Tis not unknown to you, Antonio,
0130 130 How much I have disabled mine estate
0131 By something showing a more swelling port
0132 Than my faint means would grant continuance.
0133 Nor do I now make moan to be abridged
0134 From such a noble rate. But my chief care
0135 135 Is to come fairly off from the great debts
0136 Wherein my time, something too prodigal,
0137 Hath left me gaged. To you, Antonio,
0138 I owe the most in money and in love,
0139 And from your love I have a warranty
0140 140 To unburden all my plots and purposes
0141 How to get clear of all the debts I owe.
0142 I pray you, good Bassanio, let me know it;
p. 170143 And if it stand, as you yourself still do,
0144 Within the eye of honor, be assured
0145 145 My purse, my person, my extremest means
0146 Lie all unlocked to your occasions.
0147 In my school days, when I had lost one shaft,
0148 I shot his fellow of the selfsame flight
0149 The selfsame way with more advisèd watch
0150 150 To find the other forth; and by adventuring both
0151 I oft found both. I urge this childhood proof
0152 Because what follows is pure innocence.
0153 I owe you much, and, like a willful youth,
0154 That which I owe is lost. But if you please
0155 155 To shoot another arrow that self way
0156 Which you did shoot the first, I do not doubt,
0157 As I will watch the aim, or to find both
0158 Or bring your latter hazard back again,
0159 And thankfully rest debtor for the first.
0160 160 You know me well, and herein spend but time
0161 To wind about my love with circumstance;
0162 And out of doubt you do me now more wrong
0163 In making question of my uttermost
0164 Than if you had made waste of all I have.
0165 165 Then do but say to me what I should do
0166 That in your knowledge may by me be done,
0167 And I am prest unto it. Therefore speak.
0168 In Belmont is a lady richly left,
0169 And she is fair, and, fairer than that word,
0170 170 Of wondrous virtues. Sometimes from her eyes
0171 I did receive fair speechless messages.
0172 Her name is Portia, nothing undervalued
0173 To Cato’s daughter, Brutus’ Portia.
0174 Nor is the wide world ignorant of her worth,
0175 175 For the four winds blow in from every coast
p. 190176 Renownèd suitors, and her sunny locks
0177 Hang on her temples like a golden fleece,
0178 Which makes her seat of Belmont Colchos’ strond,
0179 And many Jasons come in quest of her.
0180 180 O my Antonio, had I but the means
0181 To hold a rival place with one of them,
0182 I have a mind presages me such thrift
0183 That I should questionless be fortunate!
0184 Thou know’st that all my fortunes are at sea;
0185 185 Neither have I money nor commodity
0186 To raise a present sum. Therefore go forth:
0187 Try what my credit can in Venice do;
0188 That shall be racked even to the uttermost
0189 To furnish thee to Belmont to fair Portia.
0190 190 Go presently inquire, and so will I,
0191 Where money is, and I no question make
0192 To have it of my trust, or for my sake.