The Merchant of Venice: Act 3, Scene 2
Enter BASSANIO, PORTIA,
and all their TRAINS.
1I pray you, tarry: pause a day or two
2. in choosing: if you choose.
2Before you hazard; for, in choosing wrong,
3I lose your company: therefore forbear awhile.
4There's something tells me, but it is not love,
5I would not lose you; and you know yourself,
6. quality: way, manner.
6Hate counsels not in such a quality.
7But lest you should not understand me well,
8And yet a maiden hath no tongue but thought,
9I would detain you here some month or two
10Before you venture for me. I could teach you
11How to choose right, but I am then forsworn;
12So will I never be: so may you miss me;
13But if you do, you'll make me wish a sin,
14That I had been forsworn. Beshrew your eyes,
15. o'erlook'd: bewitched.
15They have o'erlook'd me and divided me;
16One half of me is yours, the other half yours,
17Mine own, I would say; but if mine, then yours,
18. naughty: worthless, wicked.
18And so all yours. O, these naughty times
19Put bars between the owners and their rights!
20. Prove it so: should it prove so.
20And so, though yours, not yours. Prove it so,
21Let fortune go to hell for it, not I.
22. peize: weigh down, retard.
22I speak too long; but 'tis to peize the time,
23. eche: eke out, augment.
23To eche it and to draw it out in length,
24To stay you from election.
24Let me choose
25For as I am, I live upon the rack.
26‑27. confess / What treason: The rack was used to extort confessions of treason.
26Upon the rack, Bassanio! then confess
27What treason there is mingled with your love.
28. mistrust: misapprehension, doubt, uncertainty.
28None but that ugly treason of mistrust,
29. fear: fearful about, feel apprehensive about.
29Which makes me fear the enjoying of my love:
30There may as well be amity and life
31'Tween snow and fire, as treason and my love.
32Ay, but I fear you speak upon the rack,
33Where men enforced do speak anything.
34Promise me life, and I'll confess the truth.
35Well then, confess and live.
35"Confess" and "love"
36Had been the very sum of my confession:
37O happy torment, when my torturer
38Doth teach me answers for deliverance!
39. fortune and the caskets: Presumably the curtains are drawn at this point, as in previous "casket" scenes, revealing the three caskets.
39But let me to my fortune and the caskets.
40Away, then! I am lock'd in one of them:
41If you do love me, you will find me out.
42Nerissa and the rest, stand all aloof.
43Let music sound while he doth make his choice;
44. swan-like end: The swan was thought to sing before dying.
44Then, if he lose, he makes a swan-like end,
45Fading in music: that the comparison
46May stand more proper, my eye shall be the stream
47And watery death-bed for him. He may win;
48And what is music then? Then music is
49. flourish: fanfare of trumpets.
54. presence: nobility of appearance. 54‑57 much . . . sea-monster: "Alcides" was an earlier Hercules . . . more 56. howling: lamenting. 57. stand for sacrifice: represent the sacrificial victim.
54. presence: nobility of appearance. 54‑57 much . . . sea-monster: "Alcides" was an earlier Hercules . . . more 56. howling: lamenting. 57. stand for sacrifice: represent the sacrificial victim.
49Even as the flourish when true subjects bow
50To a new-crowned monarch: such it is
51As are those dulcet sounds in break of day
52That creep into the dreaming bridegroom's ear,
53And summon him to marriage. Now he goes,
54With no less presence, but with much more love,
55Than young Alcides, when he did redeem
56The virgin tribute paid by howling Troy
57To the sea-monster: I stand for sacrifice
58. Dardanian: Trojan.
58The rest aloof are the Dardanian wives,
59. bleared: weeping.
59With bleared visages, come forth to view
60. issue: outcome.
60The issue of the exploit. Go, Hercules!
61. Live thou: if you live.
61Live thou, I live: with much, much more dismay
62I view the fight than thou that makest the fray.
A song, whilst Bassanio comments
on the caskets to himself.
63. fancy: love, infatuation.
63Tell me where is fancy bred,
64. Or: Either.
64Or in the heart, or in the head?
65How begot, how nourished?
66[All.] Reply, reply.
67. engend'red in the eyes: born in the eyes.
67It is engend'red in the eyes,
68With gazing fed; and fancy dies
69. In the cradle: i.e., in the eyes where it was born. The point is that "fancy" is superficial and dies when the beautiful loved one is out of sight. That Bassanio has gotten the hint is apparent in his next line.
69In the cradle where it lies.
70Let us all ring fancy's knell
71I'll begin it,Ding, dong, bell.
72All. Ding, dong, bell.
73. So . . . themselves: i.e., thus what looks best on the outside . . . more 74. still: ever, continually.
73So may the outward shows be least themselves:
74The world is still deceived with ornament.
75In law, what plea so tainted and corrupt,
76But, being seasoned with a gracious voice,
77Obscures the show of evil? In religion,
78What damned error, but some sober brow
79. approve: prove, confirm
79Will bless it and approve it with a text,
80Hiding the grossness with fair ornament?
81. simple: unadulterated, unmixed.
81There is no vice so simple but assumes
82Some mark of virtue on his outward parts:
83. all: just.
83How many cowards, whose hearts are all as false
84. stairs: steps.
84As stairs of sand, wear yet upon their chins
85The beards of Hercules and frowning Mars;
86. livers . . . milk: The liver was thought to be the seat of courage; a coward . . . more 87. excrement: outgrowth; i.e., external attributes . . . more 88. render them redoubted: make themselves feared.
86Who, inward search'd, have livers white as milk;
87And these assume but valour's excrement
88To render them redoubted! Look on beauty,
89And you shall see 'tis purchased by the weight;
90Which therein works a miracle in nature,
91. lightest: most wanton, most lascivious (with a pun on the sense least heavy). 92. crisped: curled. snaky: long and waving.
91Making them lightest that wear most of it:
92So are those crisped snaky golden locks
93Which make such wanton gambols with the wind,
94. supposed fairness: i.e., a supposedly beautiful and fair-haired woman. 95‑96. To be . . . sepulcher: i.e., to be a wig of hair taken from a woman now dead. dowry: possession. a second: another. 97. guiled: guileful, treacherous.
94Upon supposed fairness, often known
95To be the dowry of a second head,
96The skull that bred them in the sepulcher.
97Thus ornament is but the guiled shore
98To a most dangerous sea; the beauteous scarf
99. Indian: i.e., swarthy (pejorative ).
99Veiling an Indian beauty; in a word,
100The seeming truth which cunning times put on
101To entrap the wisest. Therefore, thou gaudy gold,
102. Midas: Phrygian king who turned whatever he touched to gold, including his food. 103‑104. pale and common drudge / 'Tween man and man: i.e., silver, used in commerce. common drudge: public slave.
102Hard food for Midas, I will none of thee;
103Nor none of thee, thou pale and common drudge
104'Tween man and man: but thou, thou meagre lead,
105Which rather threatenest than dost promise aught,
106. Thy paleness: Many editors emend "paleness" to "plainness" (following the example of Theobald, an 18th-century editor), because Bassanio's entire speech has concerned the deceptiveness of ornament and outward show.
106Thy paleness moves me more than eloquence;
107And here choose I; joy be the consequence!
108How all the other passions fleet to air,
109. As: such as. doubtful: fearful.
109As doubtful thoughts, and rash-embraced despair,
110And shuddering fear, and green-eyed jealousy! O love,
111Be moderate; allay thy ecstasy,
112. In measure rein thy joy: pour out your joy moderately. scant: lessen, diminish.
112In measure rein thy joy; scant this excess.
113I feel too much thy blessing: make it less,
114For fear I surfeit.
114What find I here?
[Opening the leaden casket.]
115. counterfeit: portrait. demi-god: i.e., the painter as creator.
115Fair Portia's counterfeit! What demi-god
116Hath come so near creation? Move these eyes?
117. Or whether: or.
117Or whether, riding on the balls of mine,
118. sever'd: separated.
118Seem they in motion? Here are sever'd lips,
119. so sweet a bar: i.e., Portia's breath.
119Parted with sugar breath: so sweet a bar
120. sweet friends: i.e., her lips.
120Should sunder such sweet friends. Here in her hairs
121The painter plays the spider and hath woven
122A golden mesh to entrap the hearts of men,
123. Faster: more firmly.
123Faster than gnats in cobwebs; but her eyes,
124How could he see to do them? having made one,
125Methinks it should have power to steal both his
126. unfurnish'd: i.e., without its mate. look how far: however far, as far as. 127. substance: i.e., verbal expression. shadow: painting, portrait. 128. underprizing it: i.e., understating its beauty. 129. the substance: the subject; i.e., Portia herself. 130. continent: container.
126And leave itself unfurnish'd. Yet look, how far
127The substance of my praise doth wrong this shadow
128In underprizing it, so far this shadow
129Doth limp behind the substance. Here's the scroll,
130The continent and summary of my fortune.
131"You that choose not by the view,
132. Chance as fair: hazard as fortunately.
132Chance as fair and choose as true!
133Since this fortune falls to you,
134Be content and seek no new,
135If you be well pleased with this
136And hold your fortune for your bliss,
137Turn you where your lady is
138And claim her with a loving kiss."
139A gentle scroll. Fair lady, by your leave;
140. note: authorization in writing (the scroll). give and to receive: i.e., proffer a kiss . . . more 141. prize: competition.
140I come by note, to give and to receive.
141Like one of two contending in a prize,
142That thinks he hath done well in people's eyes,
143Hearing applause and universal shout,
144Giddy in spirit, still gazing in a doubt
145. his: for him.
145Whether these pearls of praise be his or no;
146So, thrice fair lady, stand I, even so;
147As doubtful whether what I see be true,
148Until confirm'd, sign'd, ratified by you.
149You see me, Lord Bassanio, where I stand,
150Such as I am: though for myself alone
151I would not be ambitious in my wish,
152To wish myself much better; yet, for you
153I would be trebled twenty times myself;
154A thousand times more fair, ten thousand times more rich;
155. account: estimation.
155That only to stand high in your account,
156. livings: possessions.
156I might in virtue, beauties, livings, friends,
157. account: calculation.
157Exceed account; but the full sum of me
158. Is sum of something: i.e., adds up to something. term in gross: state in full.
158Is sum of something, which, to term in gross,
159Is an unlesson'd girl, unschool'd, unpractised;
160. Happy: fortunate.
160Happy in this, she is not yet so old
161But she may learn; happier than this,
162She is not bred so dull but she can learn;
163Happiest of all is that her gentle spirit
164Commits itself to yours to be directed,
165. from: by.
165As from her lord, her governor, her king.
166Myself and what is mine to you and yours
167. But now: only a short while ago, just now.
167Is now converted: but now I was the lord
168Of this fair mansion, master of my servants,
169Queen o'er myself: and even now, but now,
170This house, these servants and this same myself
171Are yours, my lord: I give them with this ring;
172Which when you part from, lose, or give away,
173. ruin: decay.
173Let it presage the ruin of your love
174. vantage: opportunity. exclaim on: accuse, reproach.
174And be my vantage to exclaim on you.
175Madam, you have bereft me of all words,
176Only my blood speaks to you in my veins;
177. powers: faculties.
177And there is such confusion in my powers,
178As after some oration fairly spoke
179By a beloved prince, there doth appear
180Among the buzzing pleased multitude;
181. blent: blended, confused.
181Where every something, being blent together,
182Turns to a wild of nothing, save of joy,
183Express'd and not express'd. But when this ring
184Parts from this finger, then parts life from hence:
185. be bold to say: say with confidence.
185O, then be bold to say Bassanio's dead!
186My lord and lady, it is now our time,
187. That: we who.
187That have stood by and seen our wishes prosper,
188To cry, good joy: good joy, my lord and lady!
189My lord Bassanio and my gentle lady,
190I wish you all the joy that you can wish;
191. you can wish none from me: i.e., you feel no need to be wished more joy by me (than you have already wished for yourselves).
191For I am sure you can wish none from me:
192And when your honors mean to solemnize
193The bargain of your faith, I do beseech you,
194Even at that time I may be married too.
195. so: provided.
195With all my heart, so thou canst get a wife.
196I thank your lordship, you have got me one.
197My eyes, my lord, can look as swift as yours:
198You saw the mistress, I beheld the maid;
199. intermission: delay (in falling in love).
199You loved, I loved for intermission.
200No more pertains to me, my lord, than you.
201Your fortune stood upon the casket there,
202And so did mine too, as the matter falls;
203. sweat again: sweated repeatedly.
203For wooing here until I sweat again,
204. roof: i.e., roof of my mouth.
204And sweating until my very roof was dry
205. if promise last: i.e., if Nerissa's promise should last, hold out.
205With oaths of love, at last, if promise last,
206I got a promise of this fair one here
207To have her love, provided that your fortune
208Achieved her mistress.
208Is this true, Nerissa?
209. so: provided.
209Madam, it is, so you stand pleased withal.
210And do you, Gratiano, mean good faith?
211Yes, faith, my lord.
212Our feast shall be much honor'd in your marriage.
213. play: make a wager.
213We'll play with them the first boy for a
215. stake down: money to cover the bet paid down in advance (but Gratiano makes a bawdy pun on the term).
215What, and stake down?
216No; we shall ne'er win at that sport, and
218But who comes here? Lorenzo and his infidel? What,
219and my old Venetian friend Salerio?
Enter LORENZO, JESSICA,
and SALERIO, a Messenger from Venice.
220Lorenzo and Salerio, welcome hither;
221‑222. If that the youth of my new interest here / Have power: i.e., if my place in this household, still so new, gives me the right. 223. very: true.
221If that the youth of my new interest here
222Have power to bid you welcome. By your leave,
223I bid my very friends and countrymen,
224Sweet Portia, welcome.
224So do I, my lord:
225. entirely: heartily.
225They are entirely welcome.
226I thank your honor. For my part, my lord,
227My purpose was not to have seen you here;
228But meeting with Salerio by the way,
229He did entreat me, past all saying nay,
230To come with him along.
230I did, my lord;
231And I have reason for it. Signior Antonio
232. Commends him: desires to be remembered, sends his greetings.
232Commends him to you.
[Gives Bassanio a letter.]
232Ere I ope his letter,
233I pray you, tell me how my good friend doth.
234Not sick, my lord, unless it be in mind;
235Nor well, unless in mind: his letter there
236. estate: condition, situation.
236Will show you his estate.
[Bassanio] open[s] the letter.
237Nerissa, cheer yon stranger; bid her welcome.
238Your hand, Salerio: what's the news from Venice?
239. royal merchant: i.e., prince of merchants.
239How doth that royal merchant, good Antonio?
240I know he will be glad of our success;
241. Jasons, we have won the fleece: In his first appearance in the play, Bassanio compared Portia to the Golden Fleece which Jason won. See Act 1, Scene 1
241We are the Jasons, we have won the fleece.
242I would you had won the fleece that he hath lost.
243. shrowd: cursed, shrewd, grievous.
243There are some shrowd contents in yon same paper,
244That steals the color from Bassanio's cheek:
245Some dear friend dead; else nothing in the world
246. constitution: state of mind.
246Could turn so much the constitution
247. constant: settled, not swayed by passion, steadfast.
247Of any constant man. What, worse and worse!
248With leave, Bassanio: I am half yourself,
249And I must freely have the half of anything
250That this same paper brings you.
250O sweet Portia,
251Here are a few of the unpleasant'st words
252That ever blotted paper! Gentle lady,
253When I did first impart my love to you,
254I freely told you, all the wealth I had
255Ran in my veins, I was a gentleman;
256And then I told you true: and yet, dear lady,
257Rating myself at nothing, you shall see
258How much I was a braggart. When I told you
259. state: estate, property.
259My state was nothing, I should then have told you
260That I was worse than nothing; for, indeed,
261I have engaged myself to a dear friend,
262. mere: absolute.
262Engaged my friend to his mere enemy,
263To feed my means. Here is a letter, lady;
264. The paper as the body of my friend: i.e., the letter, like my friend's body, torn open.
264The paper as the body of my friend,
265And every word in it a gaping wound,
266Issuing life-blood. But is it true, Salerio?
267. hit: successful venture.
267Have all his ventures fail'd? What, not one hit?
268From Tripolis, from Mexico and England,
269From Lisbon, Barbary and India?
270And not one vessel 'scape the dreadful touch
271. merchant-marring: destructive to merchant ships.
271Of merchant-marring rocks?
271Not one, my lord.
272Besides, it should appear, that if he had
273. present: ready. discharge: settle his obligation to, pay off. 274. He: i.e., Shylock, the Jew.
273The present money to discharge the Jew,
274He would not take it. Never did I know
275A creature, that did bear the shape of man,
276. keen: savage. confound: destroy.
276So keen and greedy to confound a man:
277He plies the duke at morning and at night,
278. impeach the freedom of the state: i.e., accuse Venice of failing to enforce legal contracts.
278And doth impeach the freedom of the state,
279If they deny him justice: twenty merchants,
280. magnificoes: grandees, chief men of Venice.
280The duke himself, and the magnificoes
281. port: state, dignity. persuaded: argued, pleaded.
281Of greatest port, have all persuaded with him;
282. envious: malicious.
282But none can drive him from the envious plea
283Of forfeiture, of justice and his bond.
284When I was with him I have heard him swear
285To Tubal and to Chus, his countrymen,
286That he would rather have Antonio's flesh
287Than twenty times the value of the sum
288That he did owe him: and I know, my lord,
289If law, authority and power deny not,
290It will go hard with poor Antonio.
291Is it your dear friend that is thus in trouble?
292The dearest friend to me, the kindest man,
293. best-condition'd: best-natured. unwearied: i.e., most unwearied.
293The best-condition'd and unwearied spirit
294In doing courtesies, and one in whom
295The ancient Roman honor more appears
296Than any that draws breath in Italy.
297What sum owes he the Jew?
298For me three thousand ducats.
298What, no more?
299. deface: destroy.
299Pay him six thousand, and deface the bond;
300Double six thousand, and then treble that,
301Before a friend of this description
302Shall lose a hair through Bassanio's fault.
303First go with me to church and call me wife,
304And then away to Venice to your friend;
305For never shall you lie by Portia's side
306With an unquiet soul. You shall have gold
307To pay the petty debt twenty times over:
308When it is paid, bring your true friend along.
309My maid Nerissa and myself meantime
310Will live as maids and widows. Come, away!
311For you shall hence upon your wedding-day:
312. cheer: countenance.
312Bid your friends welcome, show a merry cheer:
313. dear bought: obtained at a high price.
313Since you are dear bought, I will love you dear.
314But let me hear the letter of your friend.
315"Sweet Bassanio, my ships have all
316miscarried, my creditors grow cruel, my estate is
317very low, my bond to the Jew is forfeit; and since
318in paying it, it is impossible I should live, all
319debts are cleared between you and I, if I might but
320‑321. use your / pleasure: follow your own inclination.
320see you at my death. Notwithstanding, use your
321pleasure: if your love do not persuade you to come,
322let not my letter."
323O love, dispatch all business, and be gone!
324Since I have your good leave to go away,
325I will make haste: but, till I come again,
326No bed shall e'er be guilty of my stay,
327No rest be interposer 'twixt us twain.