The Merchant of Venice - Act 3, scene 4
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Act 3, scene 4
Portia entrusts the management of her household to Lorenzo and pretends to leave with Nerissa for a house of an order of nuns. She sends a messenger to Dr. Bellario of Padua and tells Nerissa that they, in disguise as men, will follow their husbands to Venice.Enter Portia, Nerissa, Lorenzo, Jessica, and ⌜Balthazar,⌝
a man of Portia’s.
1731 Madam, although I speak it in your presence,
1732 You have a noble and a true conceit
1733 Of godlike amity, which appears most strongly
1734 In bearing thus the absence of your lord.
1735 5 But if you knew to whom you show this honor,
1736 How true a gentleman you send relief,
1737 How dear a lover of my lord your husband,
1738 I know you would be prouder of the work
1739 Than customary bounty can enforce you.
1740 10 I never did repent for doing good,
1741 Nor shall not now; for in companions
1742 That do converse and waste the time together,
1743 Whose souls do bear an equal yoke of love,
1744 There must be needs a like proportion
1745 15 Of lineaments, of manners, and of spirit;
1746 Which makes me think that this Antonio,
1747 Being the bosom lover of my lord,
1748 Must needs be like my lord. If it be so,
1749 How little is the cost I have bestowed
1750 20 In purchasing the semblance of my soul
1751 From out the state of hellish cruelty!
1753 Therefore no more of it. Hear other things:
1754 Lorenzo, I commit into your hands
1755 25 The husbandry and manage of my house
1756 Until my lord’s return. For mine own part,
1757 I have toward heaven breathed a secret vow
1758 To live in prayer and contemplation,
1759 Only attended by Nerissa here,
1760 30 Until her husband and my lord’s return.
1761 There is a monastery two miles off,
1762 And there we will abide. I do desire you
1763 Not to deny this imposition,
1764 The which my love and some necessity
1765 35 Now lays upon you.
LORENZO 1766 Madam, with all my heart.
1767 I shall obey you in all fair commands.
1768 My people do already know my mind
1769 And will acknowledge you and Jessica
1770 40 In place of Lord Bassanio and myself.
1771 So fare you well till we shall meet again.
1772 Fair thoughts and happy hours attend on you!
1773 I wish your Ladyship all heart’s content.
1774 I thank you for your wish, and am well pleased
1775 45 To wish it back on you. Fare you well, Jessica.
⌜Lorenzo and Jessica⌝ exit.
1776 Now, Balthazar,
1777 As I have ever found thee honest true,
1778 So let me find thee still: take this same letter,
1779 And use thou all th’ endeavor of a man
1780 50 In speed to ⌜Padua.⌝ See thou render this
1781 Into my ⌜cousin’s⌝ hands, Doctor Bellario.
⌜She gives him a paper.⌝
1784 Bring them, I pray thee, with imagined speed
1785 55 Unto the ⌜traject,⌝ to the common ferry
1786 Which trades to Venice. Waste no time in words,
1787 But get thee gone. I shall be there before thee.
1788 Madam, I go with all convenient speed.⌜He exits.⌝
1789 Come on, Nerissa, I have work in hand
1790 60 That you yet know not of. We’ll see our husbands
1791 Before they think of us.
NERISSA 1792 Shall they see us?
1793 They shall, Nerissa, but in such a habit
1794 That they shall think we are accomplishèd
1795 65 With that we lack. I’ll hold thee any wager,
1796 When we are both accoutered like young men,
1797 I’ll prove the prettier fellow of the two,
1798 And wear my dagger with the braver grace,
1799 And speak between the change of man and boy
1800 70 With a reed voice, and turn two mincing steps
1801 Into a manly stride, and speak of frays
1802 Like a fine bragging youth, and tell quaint lies
1803 How honorable ladies sought my love,
1804 Which I denying, they fell sick and died—
1805 75 I could not do withal!—then I’ll repent,
1806 And wish, for all that, that I had not killed them.
1807 And twenty of these puny lies I’ll tell,
1808 That men shall swear I have discontinued school
1809 Above a twelvemonth. I have within my mind
1810 80 A thousand raw tricks of these bragging jacks
1811 Which I will practice.
NERISSA 1812 Why, shall we turn to men?
PORTIA 1813 Fie, what a question’s that,
1814 If thou wert near a lewd interpreter!
1816 When I am in my coach, which stays for us
1817 At the park gate; and therefore haste away,
1818 For we must measure twenty miles today.