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By being peevish? I tell thee what, Antonio,-
Lor. Well, we will leave you then till dinner-time.
Gra. Well, keep me company but two years more, Thou shalt not know the sound of thine own tongue. Ant. Farewell
. I'll grow a talker for this gear.' Gra. Thanks, i’faith; for silence is only com
mendable In a neat's tongue dried, and a maid not vendible.
[Exeunt GRA. and LOR. Ant. Is that any thing now?
Bass. Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of nothing; more than any man in all Venice. His reasons are as two grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff; you shall seek all day ere you find them; and, when you have them, they are not worth the search.
Ant. Well ; tell me now, what lady is this same
i Gear usually signifies matter, subject, or business in general. It is here, perhaps, a colloquial expression of no very determined import It occurs again in this play, Act ii. Sc. 2: “ If Fortune be a woman, she's a good wench for this gear.”
To whom you swore a secret pilgrimage,
Bass. 'Tis not unknown to you, Antonio,
, let me know it;
Bass. In my school-days, when I had lost one shaft,
That in your knowledge may by me be done,
Bass. In Belmont is a lady richly left,
Ant. Thou know'st, that all my fortunes are at sea; Neither have I money, nor commodity To raise a present sum. Therefore go forth, Try what my credit can in Venice do ; That shall be racked, even to the uttermost, To furnish thee to Belmont, to fair Portia. Go, presently inquire, and so will I, Where money is; and I no question make, , To have it of my trust, or for my sake. [Exeunt.
SCENE II. Belmont. A Room in Portia's House.
Enter Portia and NERISSA. Por. By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is aweary 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 aught I see, they are as sick, that surfeit with too much, as they that starve with nothing. It is no mean happiness, therefore, to be seated in the mean ; superfluity comes sooner by white hairs, but competency lives longer.
1 Prest, that is, ready; from the old French word of the same orthography, now pret.
Por. Good sentences, and well pronounced.
Por. If to do, were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men's cottages princes' palaces. It is a good divine that follows his own instructions. I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done, than be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching. The brain may devise laws for the blood ; but a hot temper leaps over a cold degree ; such a hare is madness the youth, to skip o'er the meshes of good counsel the cripple. But this reasoning is not in the fashion to choose me a husband.O me, the word choose! I may neither choose whom I would, nor refuse whom I dislike; so is the will of a living daughter curbed by the will of a dead father. Is it not hard, Nerissa, that I cannot choose 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 chests, of gold, silver, and lead, (whereof who chooses his meaning, chooses you,) will, no doubt, never be chosen by any rightly, but one who you shall rightly love. But what warmth is there in your affection towards any
of these princely suitors that are already come ?
Por. I pray thee, over-name them; and as thou namest them, I will describe them; and according to my description, level at my affection.
Ner. First, 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 shoe him himself. I am much afraid my lady his mother played false with a smith.
Ner. Then, is there the county' palatine.
Por. He doth nothing but frown; as who should say, An if you will not have me, choose. He hears merry tales, and smiles not; I fear he will prove the weeping philosopher when he grows old, being so 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 say you by the French lord, monsieur Le Bon ? Por. God made him, and therefore let him pass
for a man. In truth, I know it is a sin to be a mocker; but, he! why, he hath a horse better than the Neapolitan's; a better bad habit of frowning than the count palatine; he is every man in no man; if a throstle sing, he falls straight 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 shall never requite him.
Ner. What say you then to Faulconbridge, the young baron of England?
Por. You know, I say nothing to him; for he understands not me, nor I him; he hath neither Latin, French, nor Italian;3 and you will come into the court and swear, 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 suited! I think, he bought his doublet in Italy, his round hose in France, his bonnet in Germany, and his behavior every where.
Ner. What think you of the Scottish lord, his neighbor?
Por. That he hath a neighborly charity in him; for
1 This is an allusion to the count Albertus Alasco, a Polish palatine, who was in London in 1583.
2 A thrush ; properly the missel-thrush.
3 A satire on the ignorance of young English travellers in Shakspeare's time.
4 A proper man is a handsome man.