The Merchant of Venice - Act 3, scene 2
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Act 3, scene 2
Portia advises Bassanio to postpone choosing for fear he should make the wrong choice. Bassanio declares himself unable to live in uncertainty. Portia is overjoyed when Bassanio correctly chooses the lead chest containing her picture. Giving Bassanio a ring as a symbolic act to indicate her giving to him both herself and everything that is hers, Portia insists that he treasure the ring. Gratiano announces that he and Nerissa will also marry. Salerio, Lorenzo, and Jessica arrive with the news of Antonio’s financial ruin and the apparently certain destruction that he will soon suffer at Shylock’s hands. Portia offers to pay the debt many times over and tells Bassanio to return to Venice immediately after their wedding to save Antonio.Enter Bassanio, Portia, and all their trains, Gratiano,
1353 I pray you tarry, pause a day or two
1354 Before you hazard, for in choosing wrong
1355 I lose your company; therefore forbear a while.
1356 There’s something tells me (but it is not love)
1357 5 I would not lose you, and you know yourself
1358 Hate counsels not in such a quality.
1359 But lest you should not understand me well
1360 (And yet a maiden hath no tongue but thought)
1361 I would detain you here some month or two
1362 10 Before you venture for me. I could teach you
1363 How to choose right, but then I am forsworn.
1364 So will I never be. So may you miss me.
1365 But if you do, you’ll make me wish a sin,
1366 That I had been forsworn. Beshrew your eyes,
1367 15 They have o’erlooked me and divided me.
1368 One half of me is yours, the other half yours—
1369 Mine own, I would say—but if mine, then yours,
1370 And so all yours. O, these naughty times
1371 Puts bars between the owners and their rights!
1372 20 And so though yours, not yours. Prove it so,
1373 Let Fortune go to hell for it, not I.
1374 I speak too long, but ’tis to peize the time,
1375 To eche it, and to draw it out in length,
1376 To stay you from election.
1378 For as I am, I live upon the rack.
1379 Upon the rack, Bassanio? Then confess
1380 What treason there is mingled with your love.
1381 None but that ugly treason of mistrust,
1382 30 Which makes me fear th’ enjoying of my love.
1383 There may as well be amity and life
1384 ’Tween snow and fire, as treason and my love.
1385 Ay, but I fear you speak upon the rack
1386 Where men enforcèd do speak anything.
1387 35 Promise me life and I’ll confess the truth.
1388 Well, then, confess and live.
BASSANIO 1389 “Confess and love”
1390 Had been the very sum of my confession.
1391 O happy torment, when my torturer
1392 40 Doth teach me answers for deliverance!
1393 But let me to my fortune and the caskets.
1394 Away, then. I am locked in one of them.
1395 If you do love me, you will find me out.—
1396 Nerissa and the rest, stand all aloof.
1397 45 Let music sound while he doth make his choice.
1398 Then if he lose he makes a swanlike end,
1399 Fading in music. That the comparison
1400 May stand more proper, my eye shall be the stream
1401 And wat’ry deathbed for him. He may win,
1402 50 And what is music then? Then music is
1403 Even as the flourish when true subjects bow
1404 To a new-crownèd monarch. Such it is
1405 As are those dulcet sounds in break of day
1406 That creep into the dreaming bridegroom’s ear
1407 55 And summon him to marriage. Now he goes,
1409 Than young Alcides when he did redeem
1410 The virgin tribute paid by howling Troy
1411 To the sea-monster. I stand for sacrifice;
1412 60 The rest aloof are the Dardanian wives,
1413 With blearèd visages, come forth to view
1414 The issue of th’ exploit. Go, Hercules!
1415 Live thou, I live. With much much more dismay
1416 I view the fight than thou that mak’st the fray.
A song the whilst Bassanio comments on
the caskets to himself.
1417 65 Tell me where is fancy bred,
1418 Or in the heart, or in the head?
1419 How begot, how nourishèd?
1420 Reply, reply.
1421 It is engendered in the eye,
1422 70 With gazing fed, and fancy dies
1423 In the cradle where it lies.
1424 Let us all ring fancy’s knell.
1425 I’ll begin it.—Ding, dong, bell.
ALL 1426 Ding, dong, bell.
1427 75 So may the outward shows be least themselves;
1428 The world is still deceived with ornament.
1429 In law, what plea so tainted and corrupt
1430 But, being seasoned with a gracious voice,
1431 Obscures the show of evil? In religion,
1432 80 What damnèd error but some sober brow
1433 Will bless it and approve it with a text,
1434 Hiding the grossness with fair ornament?
1435 There is no ⌜vice⌝ so simple but assumes
1436 Some mark of virtue on his outward parts.
1437 85 How many cowards whose hearts are all as false
1438 As ⌜stairs⌝ of sand, wear yet upon their chins
1439 The beards of Hercules and frowning Mars,
1441 And these assume but valor’s excrement
1442 90 To render them redoubted. Look on beauty,
1443 And you shall see ’tis purchased by the weight,
1444 Which therein works a miracle in nature,
1445 Making them lightest that wear most of it.
1446 So are those crispèd snaky golden locks,
1447 95 Which maketh such wanton gambols with the wind
1448 Upon supposèd fairness, often known
1449 To be the dowry of a second head,
1450 The skull that bred them in the sepulcher.
1451 Thus ornament is but the guilèd shore
1452 100 To a most dangerous sea, the beauteous scarf
1453 Veiling an Indian beauty; in a word,
1454 The seeming truth which cunning times put on
1455 To entrap the wisest. Therefore, then, thou gaudy
1457 105 Hard food for Midas, I will none of thee.
1458 Nor none of thee, thou pale and common drudge
1459 ’Tween man and man. But thou, thou meager lead,
1460 Which rather threaten’st than dost promise aught,
1461 Thy paleness moves me more than eloquence,
1462 110 And here choose I. Joy be the consequence!
⌜Bassanio is given a key.⌝
1463 How all the other passions fleet to air,
1464 As doubtful thoughts and rash embraced despair,
1465 And shudd’ring fear, and green-eyed jealousy!
1466 O love, be moderate, allay thy ecstasy,
1467 115 In measure rain thy joy, scant this excess!
1468 I feel too much thy blessing. Make it less,
1469 For fear I surfeit.
⌜Bassanio opens the lead casket.⌝
BASSANIO 1470 What find I here?
1471 Fair Portia’s counterfeit! What demigod
1472 120 Hath come so near creation? Move these eyes?
1474 Seem they in motion? Here are severed lips
1475 Parted with sugar breath; so sweet a bar
1476 Should sunder such sweet friends. Here in her hairs
1477 125 The painter plays the spider, and hath woven
1478 A golden mesh t’ entrap the hearts of men
1479 Faster than gnats in cobwebs. But her eyes!
1480 How could he see to do them? Having made one,
1481 Methinks it should have power to steal both his
1482 130 And leave itself unfurnished. Yet look how far
1483 The substance of my praise doth wrong this shadow
1484 In underprizing it, so far this shadow
1485 Doth limp behind the substance. Here’s the scroll,
1486 The continent and summary of my fortune.
⌜He reads the scroll.⌝
1487 135 You that choose not by the view
1488 Chance as fair and choose as true.
1489 Since this fortune falls to you,
1490 Be content and seek no new.
1491 If you be well pleased with this
1492 140 And hold your fortune for your bliss,
1493 Turn you where your lady is,
1494 And claim her with a loving kiss.
1495 A gentle scroll! Fair lady, by your leave,
1496 I come by note to give and to receive.
1497 145 Like one of two contending in a prize
1498 That thinks he hath done well in people’s eyes,
1499 Hearing applause and universal shout,
1500 Giddy in spirit, still gazing in a doubt
1501 Whether those peals of praise be his or no,
1502 150 So, thrice-fair lady, stand I even so,
1503 As doubtful whether what I see be true,
1504 Until confirmed, signed, ratified by you.
1505 You see me, Lord Bassanio, where I stand,
1506 Such as I am. Though for myself alone
1508 To wish myself much better, yet for you
1509 I would be trebled twenty times myself,
1510 A thousand times more fair, ten thousand times
1511 More rich, that only to stand high in your account
1512 160 I might in virtues, beauties, livings, friends,
1513 Exceed account. But the full sum of me
1514 Is sum of something, which, to term in gross,
1515 Is an unlessoned girl, unschooled, unpracticed;
1516 Happy in this, she is not yet so old
1517 165 But she may learn; happier than this,
1518 She is not bred so dull but she can learn;
1519 Happiest of all, is that her gentle spirit
1520 Commits itself to yours to be directed
1521 As from her lord, her governor, her king.
1522 170 Myself, and what is mine, to you and yours
1523 Is now converted. But now I was the lord
1524 Of this fair mansion, master of my servants,
1525 Queen o’er myself; and even now, but now,
1526 This house, these servants, and this same myself
1527 175 Are yours, my lord’s. I give them with this ring,
⌜Handing him a ring.⌝
1528 Which, when you part from, lose, or give away,
1529 Let it presage the ruin of your love,
1530 And be my vantage to exclaim on you.
1531 Madam, you have bereft me of all words.
1532 180 Only my blood speaks to you in my veins,
1533 And there is such confusion in my powers
1534 As after some oration fairly spoke
1535 By a belovèd prince there doth appear
1536 Among the buzzing pleasèd multitude,
1537 185 Where every something being blent together
1538 Turns to a wild of nothing, save of joy
1539 Expressed and not expressed. But when this ring
1540 Parts from this finger, then parts life from hence.
1541 O, then be bold to say Bassanio’s dead!
1542 190 My lord and lady, it is now our time,
1543 That have stood by and seen our wishes prosper,
1544 To cry “Good joy, good joy, my lord and lady!”
1545 My Lord Bassanio, and my gentle lady,
1546 I wish you all the joy that you can wish,
1547 195 For I am sure you can wish none from me.
1548 And when your honors mean to solemnize
1549 The bargain of your faith, I do beseech you
1550 Even at that time I may be married too.
1551 With all my heart, so thou canst get a wife.
1552 200 I thank your Lordship, you have got me one.
1553 My eyes, my lord, can look as swift as yours:
1554 You saw the mistress, I beheld the maid.
1555 You loved, I loved; for intermission
1556 No more pertains to me, my lord, than you.
1557 205 Your fortune stood upon the caskets there,
1558 And so did mine, too, as the matter falls.
1559 For wooing here until I sweat again,
1560 And swearing till my very roof was dry
1561 With oaths of love, at last (if promise last)
1562 210 I got a promise of this fair one here
1563 To have her love, provided that your fortune
1564 Achieved her mistress.
PORTIA 1565 Is this true, Nerissa?
1566 Madam, it is, so you stand pleased withal.
1567 215 And do you, Gratiano, mean good faith?
GRATIANO 1568 Yes, faith, my lord.
1569 Our feast shall be much honored in your marriage.
GRATIANO 1570 We’ll play with them the first boy for a
1571 thousand ducats.
GRATIANO 1573 No, we shall ne’er win at that sport and
1574 stake down.
Enter Lorenzo, Jessica, and Salerio, a messenger
1575 But who comes here? Lorenzo and his infidel?
1576 What, and my old Venetian friend Salerio?
1577 225 Lorenzo and Salerio, welcome hither—
1578 If that the youth of my new int’rest here
1579 Have power to bid you welcome. ⌜To Portia.⌝ By
1580 your leave,
1581 I bid my very friends and countrymen,
1582 230 Sweet Portia, welcome.
1583 So do I, my lord. They are entirely welcome.
LORENZO, ⌜to Bassanio⌝
1584 I thank your Honor. For my part, my lord,
1585 My purpose was not to have seen you here,
1586 But meeting with Salerio by the way,
1587 235 He did entreat me past all saying nay
1588 To come with him along.
SALERIO 1589 I did, my lord,
1590 And I have reason for it.⌜Handing him a paper.⌝
1591 Signior Antonio
1592 240 Commends him to you.
BASSANIO 1593 Ere I ope his letter,
1594 I pray you tell me how my good friend doth.
1595 Not sick, my lord, unless it be in mind,
1596 Nor well, unless in mind. His letter there
1597 245 Will show you his estate.
⌜Bassanio⌝ opens the letter.
1598 Nerissa, cheer yond stranger, bid her welcome.—
1599 Your hand, Salerio. What’s the news from Venice?
1601 I know he will be glad of our success.
1602 250 We are the Jasons, we have won the Fleece.
1603 I would you had won the fleece that he hath lost.
1604 There are some shrewd contents in yond same
1606 That steals the color from Bassanio’s cheek.
1607 255 Some dear friend dead, else nothing in the world
1608 Could turn so much the constitution
1609 Of any constant man. What, worse and worse?—
1610 With leave, Bassanio, I am half yourself,
1611 And I must freely have the half of anything
1612 260 That this same paper brings you.
BASSANIO 1613 O sweet Portia,
1614 Here are a few of the unpleasant’st words
1615 That ever blotted paper. Gentle lady,
1616 When I did first impart my love to you,
1617 265 I freely told you all the wealth I had
1618 Ran in my veins: I was a gentleman.
1619 And then I told you true; and yet, dear lady,
1620 Rating myself at nothing, you shall see
1621 How much I was a braggart. When I told you
1622 270 My state was nothing, I should then have told you
1623 That I was worse than nothing; for indeed
1624 I have engaged myself to a dear friend,
1625 Engaged my friend to his mere enemy
1626 To feed my means. Here is a letter, lady,
1627 275 The paper as the body of my friend,
1628 And every word in it a gaping wound
1629 Issuing life blood.—But is it true, Salerio?
1630 Hath all his ventures failed? What, not one hit?
1631 From Tripolis, from Mexico and England,
1632 280 From Lisbon, Barbary, and India,
1633 And not one vessel ’scape the dreadful touch
1634 Of merchant-marring rocks?
1636 Besides, it should appear that if he had
1637 285 The present money to discharge the Jew,
1638 He would not take it. Never did I know
1639 A creature that did bear the shape of man
1640 So keen and greedy to confound a man.
1641 He plies the Duke at morning and at night,
1642 290 And doth impeach the freedom of the state
1643 If they deny him justice. Twenty merchants,
1644 The Duke himself, and the magnificoes
1645 Of greatest port have all persuaded with him,
1646 But none can drive him from the envious plea
1647 295 Of forfeiture, of justice, and his bond.
1648 When I was with him, I have heard him swear
1649 To Tubal and to Chus, his countrymen,
1650 That he would rather have Antonio’s flesh
1651 Than twenty times the value of the sum
1652 300 That he did owe him. And I know, my lord,
1653 If law, authority, and power deny not,
1654 It will go hard with poor Antonio.
1655 Is it your dear friend that is thus in trouble?
1656 The dearest friend to me, the kindest man,
1657 305 The best conditioned and unwearied spirit
1658 In doing courtesies, and one in whom
1659 The ancient Roman honor more appears
1660 Than any that draws breath in Italy.
PORTIA 1661 What sum owes he the Jew?
1662 310 For me, three thousand ducats.
PORTIA 1663 What, no more?
1664 Pay him six thousand and deface the bond.
1665 Double six thousand and then treble that,
1666 Before a friend of this description
1667 315 Shall lose a hair through Bassanio’s fault.
1669 And then away to Venice to your friend!
1670 For never shall you lie by Portia’s side
1671 With an unquiet soul. You shall have gold
1672 320 To pay the petty debt twenty times over.
1673 When it is paid, bring your true friend along.
1674 My maid Nerissa and myself meantime
1675 Will live as maids and widows. Come, away,
1676 For you shall hence upon your wedding day.
1677 325 Bid your friends welcome, show a merry cheer;
1678 Since you are dear bought, I will love you dear.
1679 But let me hear the letter of your friend.
1680 Sweet Bassanio, my ships have all miscarried, my
1681 creditors grow cruel, my estate is very low, my bond to
1682 330 the Jew is forfeit, and since in paying it, it is impossible
1683 I should live, all debts are cleared between you and I if
1684 I might but see you at my death. Notwithstanding, use
1685 your pleasure. If your love do not persuade you to
1686 come, let not my letter.
1687 335 O love, dispatch all business and begone!
1688 Since I have your good leave to go away,
1689 I will make haste. But till I come again,
1690 No bed shall e’er be guilty of my stay,
1691 Nor rest be interposer ’twixt us twain.