Speeches (Lines) for Nerissa
in "Merchant of Venice"

Total: 36

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# Act, Scene, Line
(Click to see in context)
Speech text

1

I,2,197

Portia. By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is aweary of
this great world.

Nerissa. 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.


2

I,2,205

Portia. Good sentences and well pronounced.

Nerissa. They would be better, if well followed.


3

I,2,221

Portia. 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
o'er a cold decree: 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?

Nerissa. 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 shall rightly love. But what
warmth is there in your affection towards any of
these princely suitors that are already come?


4

I,2,232

Portia. I pray thee, over-name them; and as thou namest
them, I will describe them; and, according to my
description, level at my affection.

Nerissa. First, there is the Neapolitan prince.


5

I,2,238

Portia. 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 afeard my lady his
mother played false with a smith.

Nerissa. Then there is the County Palatine.


6

I,2,247

Portia. He doth nothing but frown, as who should say '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!

Nerissa. How say you by the French lord, Monsieur Le Bon?


7

I,2,258

Portia. 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.

Nerissa. What say you, then, to Falconbridge, the young baron
of England?


8

I,2,269

Portia. You know I say nothing to him, for he understands
not me, nor I him: he hath neither Latin, French,
nor Italian, 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.

Nerissa. What think you of the Scottish lord, his neighbour?


9

I,2,275

Portia. That he hath a neighbourly charity in him, for he
borrowed a box of the ear of the Englishman and
swore he would pay him again when he was able: I
think the Frenchman became his surety and sealed
under for another.

Nerissa. How like you the young German, the Duke of Saxony's nephew?


10

I,2,282

Portia. Very vilely in the morning, when he is sober, and
most vilely in the afternoon, when he is drunk: when
he is best, he is a little worse than a man, and
when he is worst, he is little better than a beast:
and the worst fall that ever fell, I hope I shall
make shift to go without him.

Nerissa. If he should offer to choose, and choose the right
casket, you should refuse to perform your father's
will, if you should refuse to accept him.


11

I,2,290

Portia. Therefore, for fear of the worst, I pray thee, set a
deep glass of rhenish wine on the contrary casket,
for if the devil be within and that temptation
without, I know he will choose it. I will do any
thing, Nerissa, ere I'll be married to a sponge.

Nerissa. You need not fear, lady, the having any of these
lords: they have acquainted me with their
determinations; which is, indeed, to return to their
home and to trouble you with no more suit, unless
you may be won by some other sort than your father's
imposition depending on the caskets.


12

I,2,302

Portia. If I live to be as old as Sibylla, I will die as
chaste as Diana, unless I be obtained by the manner
of my father's will. I am glad this parcel of wooers
are so reasonable, for there is not one among them
but I dote on his very absence, and I pray God grant
them a fair departure.

Nerissa. Do you not remember, lady, in your father's time, a
Venetian, a scholar and a soldier, that came hither
in company of the Marquis of Montferrat?


13

I,2,306

Portia. Yes, yes, it was Bassanio; as I think, he was so called.

Nerissa. True, madam: he, of all the men that ever my foolish
eyes looked upon, was the best deserving a fair lady.


14

II,9,1129

(stage directions). [Enter NERISSA with a Servitor]

Nerissa. Quick, quick, I pray thee; draw the curtain straight:
The Prince of Arragon hath ta'en his oath,
And comes to his election presently.
[Flourish of cornets. Enter the PRINCE OF ARRAGON,]
PORTIA, and their trains]


15

II,9,1215

Portia. Thus hath the candle singed the moth.
O, these deliberate fools! when they do choose,
They have the wisdom by their wit to lose.

Nerissa. The ancient saying is no heresy,
Hanging and wiving goes by destiny.


16

II,9,1236

Portia. No more, I pray thee: I am half afeard
Thou wilt say anon he is some kin to thee,
Thou spend'st such high-day wit in praising him.
Come, come, Nerissa; for I long to see
Quick Cupid's post that comes so mannerly.

Nerissa. Bassanio, lord Love, if thy will it be!


17

III,2,1556

Bassanio. Madam, you have bereft me of all words,
Only my blood speaks to you in my veins;
And there is such confusion in my powers,
As after some oration fairly spoke
By a beloved prince, there doth appear
Among the buzzing pleased multitude;
Where every something, being blent together,
Turns to a wild of nothing, save of joy,
Express'd and not express'd. But when this ring
Parts from this finger, then parts life from hence:
O, then be bold to say Bassanio's dead!

Nerissa. My lord and lady, it is now our time,
That have stood by and seen our wishes prosper,
To cry, good joy: good joy, my lord and lady!


18

III,2,1580

Portia. Is this true, Nerissa?

Nerissa. Madam, it is, so you stand pleased withal.


19

III,2,1585

Gratiano. We'll play with them the first boy for a thousand ducats.

Nerissa. What, and stake down?


20

III,4,1812

Portia. Come on, Nerissa; I have work in hand
That you yet know not of: we'll see our husbands
Before they think of us.

Nerissa. Shall they see us?


21

III,4,1832

Portia. They shall, Nerissa; but in such a habit,
That they shall think we are accomplished
With that we lack. I'll hold thee any wager,
When we are both accoutred like young men,
I'll prove the prettier fellow of the two,
And wear my dagger with the braver grace,
And speak between the change of man and boy
With a reed voice, and turn two mincing steps
Into a manly stride, and speak of frays
Like a fine bragging youth, and tell quaint lies,
How honourable ladies sought my love,
Which I denying, they fell sick and died;
I could not do withal; then I'll repent,
And wish for all that, that I had not killed them;
And twenty of these puny lies I'll tell,
That men shall swear I have discontinued school
Above a twelvemonth. I have within my mind
A thousand raw tricks of these bragging Jacks,
Which I will practise.

Nerissa. Why, shall we turn to men?


22

IV,1,2054

Duke. Came you from Padua, from Bellario?

Nerissa. From both, my lord. Bellario greets your grace.


23

IV,1,2081

Duke. This letter from Bellario doth commend
A young and learned doctor to our court.
Where is he?

Nerissa. He attendeth here hard by,
To know your answer, whether you'll admit him.


24

IV,1,2238

Gratiano. I have a wife, whom, I protest, I love:
I would she were in heaven, so she could
Entreat some power to change this currish Jew.

Nerissa. 'Tis well you offer it behind her back;
The wish would make else an unquiet house.


25

IV,2,2431

Gratiano. That will I do.

Nerissa. Sir, I would speak with you.
[Aside to PORTIA]
I'll see if I can get my husband's ring,
Which I did make him swear to keep for ever.


26

IV,2,2441

Portia. [Aside to NERISSA] Thou mayst, I warrant.
We shall have old swearing
That they did give the rings away to men;
But we'll outface them, and outswear them too.
[Aloud]
Away! make haste: thou knowist where I will tarry.

Nerissa. Come, good sir, will you show me to this house?


27

V,1,2549

Portia. That light we see is burning in my hall.
How far that little candle throws his beams!
So shines a good deed in a naughty world.

Nerissa. When the moon shone, we did not see the candle.


28

V,1,2555

Portia. So doth the greater glory dim the less:
A substitute shines brightly as a king
Unto the king be by, and then his state
Empties itself, as doth an inland brook
Into the main of waters. Music! hark!

Nerissa. It is your music, madam, of the house.


29

V,1,2558

Portia. Nothing is good, I see, without respect:
Methinks it sounds much sweeter than by day.

Nerissa. Silence bestows that virtue on it, madam.


30

V,1,2616

Gratiano. About a hoop of gold, a paltry ring
That she did give me, whose posy was
For all the world like cutler's poetry
Upon a knife, 'Love me, and leave me not.'

Nerissa. What talk you of the posy or the value?
You swore to me, when I did give it you,
That you would wear it till your hour of death
And that it should lie with you in your grave:
Though not for me, yet for your vehement oaths,
You should have been respective and have kept it.
Gave it a judge's clerk! no, God's my judge,
The clerk will ne'er wear hair on's face that had it.


31

V,1,2625

Gratiano. He will, an if he live to be a man.

Nerissa. Ay, if a woman live to be a man.


32

V,1,2658

Portia. Even so void is your false heart of truth.
By heaven, I will ne'er come in your bed
Until I see the ring.

Nerissa. Nor I in yours
Till I again see mine.


33

V,1,2702

Portia. Let not that doctor e'er come near my house:
Since he hath got the jewel that I loved,
And that which you did swear to keep for me,
I will become as liberal as you;
I'll not deny him any thing I have,
No, not my body nor my husband's bed:
Know him I shall, I am well sure of it:
Lie not a night from home; watch me like Argus:
If you do not, if I be left alone,
Now, by mine honour, which is yet mine own,
I'll have that doctor for my bedfellow.

Nerissa. And I his clerk; therefore be well advised
How you do leave me to mine own protection.


34

V,1,2730

Portia. I had it of him: pardon me, Bassanio;
For, by this ring, the doctor lay with me.

Nerissa. And pardon me, my gentle Gratiano;
For that same scrubbed boy, the doctor's clerk,
In lieu of this last night did lie with me.


35

V,1,2753

Gratiano. Were you the clerk that is to make me cuckold?

Nerissa. Ay, but the clerk that never means to do it,
Unless he live until he be a man.


36

V,1,2762

Portia. How now, Lorenzo!
My clerk hath some good comforts too for you.

Nerissa. Ay, and I'll give them him without a fee.
There do I give to you and Jessica,
From the rich Jew, a special deed of gift,
After his death, of all he dies possess'd of.


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