Open Source Shakespeare

The Merchant of Venice

Act II

Scene 1. Belmont. A room in PORTIA’S house.

Scene 2. Venice. A street.

Scene 3. The same. A room in SHYLOCK’S house.

Scene 4. The same. A street.

Scene 5. The same. Before SHYLOCK’S house.

Scene 6. The same.

Scene 7. Belmont. A room in PORTIA’S house.

Scene 8. Venice. A street.

Scene 9. Belmont. A room in PORTIA’S house.

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Act II, Scene 1

Belmont. A room in PORTIA’S house.


Flourish of cornets. Enter the PRINCE OF MOROCCO [p]and his train; PORTIA, NERISSA, and others attending

  • Prince of Morocco. Mislike me not for my complexion, 515
    The shadow'd livery of the burnish'd sun,
    To whom I am a neighbour and near bred.
    Bring me the fairest creature northward born,
    Where Phoebus' fire scarce thaws the icicles,
    And let us make incision for your love, 520
    To prove whose blood is reddest, his or mine.
    I tell thee, lady, this aspect of mine
    Hath fear'd the valiant: by my love I swear
    The best-regarded virgins of our clime
    Have loved it too: I would not change this hue, 525
    Except to steal your thoughts, my gentle queen.
  • Portia. In terms of choice I am not solely led
    By nice direction of a maiden's eyes;
    Besides, the lottery of my destiny
    Bars me the right of voluntary choosing: 530
    But if my father had not scanted me
    And hedged me by his wit, to yield myself
    His wife who wins me by that means I told you,
    Yourself, renowned prince, then stood as fair
    As any comer I have look'd on yet 535
    For my affection.
  • Prince of Morocco. Even for that I thank you:
    Therefore, I pray you, lead me to the caskets
    To try my fortune. By this scimitar
    That slew the Sophy and a Persian prince 540
    That won three fields of Sultan Solyman,
    I would outstare the sternest eyes that look,
    Outbrave the heart most daring on the earth,
    Pluck the young sucking cubs from the she-bear,
    Yea, mock the lion when he roars for prey, 545
    To win thee, lady. But, alas the while!
    If Hercules and Lichas play at dice
    Which is the better man, the greater throw
    May turn by fortune from the weaker hand:
    So is Alcides beaten by his page; 550
    And so may I, blind fortune leading me,
    Miss that which one unworthier may attain,
    And die with grieving.
  • Portia. You must take your chance,
    And either not attempt to choose at all 555
    Or swear before you choose, if you choose wrong
    Never to speak to lady afterward
    In way of marriage: therefore be advised.
  • Prince of Morocco. Nor will not. Come, bring me unto my chance.
  • Portia. First, forward to the temple: after dinner 560
    Your hazard shall be made.
  • Prince of Morocco. Good fortune then!
    To make me blest or cursed'st among men.

[Cornets, and exeunt]


Act II, Scene 2

Venice. A street.



  • Launcelot Gobbo. Certainly my conscience will serve me to run from
    this Jew my master. The fiend is at mine elbow and
    tempts me saying to me 'Gobbo, Launcelot Gobbo, good
    Launcelot,' or 'good Gobbo,' or good Launcelot
    Gobbo, use your legs, take the start, run away. My 570
    conscience says 'No; take heed,' honest Launcelot;
    take heed, honest Gobbo, or, as aforesaid, 'honest
    Launcelot Gobbo; do not run; scorn running with thy
    heels.' Well, the most courageous fiend bids me
    pack: 'Via!' says the fiend; 'away!' says the 575
    fiend; 'for the heavens, rouse up a brave mind,'
    says the fiend, 'and run.' Well, my conscience,
    hanging about the neck of my heart, says very wisely
    to me 'My honest friend Launcelot, being an honest
    man's son,' or rather an honest woman's son; for, 580
    indeed, my father did something smack, something
    grow to, he had a kind of taste; well, my conscience
    says 'Launcelot, budge not.' 'Budge,' says the
    fiend. 'Budge not,' says my conscience.
    'Conscience,' say I, 'you counsel well;' ' Fiend,' 585
    say I, 'you counsel well:' to be ruled by my
    conscience, I should stay with the Jew my master,
    who, God bless the mark, is a kind of devil; and, to
    run away from the Jew, I should be ruled by the
    fiend, who, saving your reverence, is the devil 590
    himself. Certainly the Jew is the very devil
    incarnal; and, in my conscience, my conscience is
    but a kind of hard conscience, to offer to counsel
    me to stay with the Jew. The fiend gives the more
    friendly counsel: I will run, fiend; my heels are 595
    at your command; I will run.

[Enter Old GOBBO, with a basket]

  • Old Gobbo. Master young man, you, I pray you, which is the way
    to master Jew's?
  • Launcelot Gobbo. [Aside] O heavens, this is my true-begotten father! 600
    who, being more than sand-blind, high-gravel blind,
    knows me not: I will try confusions with him.
  • Old Gobbo. Master young gentleman, I pray you, which is the way
    to master Jew's?
  • Launcelot Gobbo. Turn up on your right hand at the next turning, but, 605
    at the next turning of all, on your left; marry, at
    the very next turning, turn of no hand, but turn
    down indirectly to the Jew's house.
  • Old Gobbo. By God's sonties, 'twill be a hard way to hit. Can
    you tell me whether one Launcelot, 610
    that dwells with him, dwell with him or no?
  • Launcelot Gobbo. Talk you of young Master Launcelot?
    Mark me now; now will I raise the waters. Talk you
    of young Master Launcelot? 615
  • Old Gobbo. No master, sir, but a poor man's son: his father,
    though I say it, is an honest exceeding poor man
    and, God be thanked, well to live.
  • Launcelot Gobbo. Well, let his father be what a' will, we talk of
    young Master Launcelot. 620
  • Old Gobbo. Your worship's friend and Launcelot, sir.
  • Launcelot Gobbo. But I pray you, ergo, old man, ergo, I beseech you,
    talk you of young Master Launcelot?
  • Old Gobbo. Of Launcelot, an't please your mastership.
  • Launcelot Gobbo. Ergo, Master Launcelot. Talk not of Master 625
    Launcelot, father; for the young gentleman,
    according to Fates and Destinies and such odd
    sayings, the Sisters Three and such branches of
    learning, is indeed deceased, or, as you would say
    in plain terms, gone to heaven. 630
  • Old Gobbo. Marry, God forbid! the boy was the very staff of my
    age, my very prop.
  • Launcelot Gobbo. Do I look like a cudgel or a hovel-post, a staff or
    a prop? Do you know me, father?
  • Old Gobbo. Alack the day, I know you not, young gentleman: 635
    but, I pray you, tell me, is my boy, God rest his
    soul, alive or dead?
  • Launcelot Gobbo. Do you not know me, father?
  • Old Gobbo. Alack, sir, I am sand-blind; I know you not.
  • Launcelot Gobbo. Nay, indeed, if you had your eyes, you might fail of 640
    the knowing me: it is a wise father that knows his
    own child. Well, old man, I will tell you news of
    your son: give me your blessing: truth will come
    to light; murder cannot be hid long; a man's son
    may, but at the length truth will out. 645
  • Old Gobbo. Pray you, sir, stand up: I am sure you are not
    Launcelot, my boy.
  • Launcelot Gobbo. Pray you, let's have no more fooling about it, but
    give me your blessing: I am Launcelot, your boy
    that was, your son that is, your child that shall 650
  • Old Gobbo. I cannot think you are my son.
  • Launcelot Gobbo. I know not what I shall think of that: but I am
    Launcelot, the Jew's man, and I am sure Margery your
    wife is my mother. 655
  • Old Gobbo. Her name is Margery, indeed: I'll be sworn, if thou
    be Launcelot, thou art mine own flesh and blood.
    Lord worshipped might he be! what a beard hast thou
    got! thou hast got more hair on thy chin than
    Dobbin my fill-horse has on his tail. 660
  • Launcelot Gobbo. It should seem, then, that Dobbin's tail grows
    backward: I am sure he had more hair of his tail
    than I have of my face when I last saw him.
  • Old Gobbo. Lord, how art thou changed! How dost thou and thy
    master agree? I have brought him a present. How 665
    'gree you now?
  • Launcelot Gobbo. Well, well: but, for mine own part, as I have set
    up my rest to run away, so I will not rest till I
    have run some ground. My master's a very Jew: give
    him a present! give him a halter: I am famished in 670
    his service; you may tell every finger I have with
    my ribs. Father, I am glad you are come: give me
    your present to one Master Bassanio, who, indeed,
    gives rare new liveries: if I serve not him, I
    will run as far as God has any ground. O rare 675
    fortune! here comes the man: to him, father; for I
    am a Jew, if I serve the Jew any longer.

[Enter BASSANIO, with LEONARDO and other followers]

  • Bassanio. You may do so; but let it be so hasted that supper
    be ready at the farthest by five of the clock. See 680
    these letters delivered; put the liveries to making,
    and desire Gratiano to come anon to my lodging.

[Exit a Servant]

  • Launcelot Gobbo. To him, father.
  • Old Gobbo. God bless your worship! 685
  • Bassanio. Gramercy! wouldst thou aught with me?
  • Old Gobbo. Here's my son, sir, a poor boy,—
  • Launcelot Gobbo. Not a poor boy, sir, but the rich Jew's man; that
    would, sir, as my father shall specify—
  • Old Gobbo. He hath a great infection, sir, as one would say, to serve— 690
  • Launcelot Gobbo. Indeed, the short and the long is, I serve the Jew,
    and have a desire, as my father shall specify—
  • Old Gobbo. His master and he, saving your worship's reverence,
    are scarce cater-cousins—
  • Launcelot Gobbo. To be brief, the very truth is that the Jew, having 695
    done me wrong, doth cause me, as my father, being, I
    hope, an old man, shall frutify unto you—
  • Old Gobbo. I have here a dish of doves that I would bestow upon
    your worship, and my suit is—
  • Launcelot Gobbo. In very brief, the suit is impertinent to myself, as 700
    your worship shall know by this honest old man; and,
    though I say it, though old man, yet poor man, my father.
  • Bassanio. One speak for both. What would you?
  • Launcelot Gobbo. Serve you, sir.
  • Old Gobbo. That is the very defect of the matter, sir. 705
  • Bassanio. I know thee well; thou hast obtain'd thy suit:
    Shylock thy master spoke with me this day,
    And hath preferr'd thee, if it be preferment
    To leave a rich Jew's service, to become
    The follower of so poor a gentleman. 710
  • Launcelot Gobbo. The old proverb is very well parted between my
    master Shylock and you, sir: you have the grace of
    God, sir, and he hath enough.
  • Bassanio. Thou speak'st it well. Go, father, with thy son.
    Take leave of thy old master and inquire 715
    My lodging out. Give him a livery
    More guarded than his fellows': see it done.
  • Launcelot Gobbo. Father, in. I cannot get a service, no; I have
    ne'er a tongue in my head. Well, if any man in
    Italy have a fairer table which doth offer to swear 720
    upon a book, I shall have good fortune. Go to,
    here's a simple line of life: here's a small trifle
    of wives: alas, fifteen wives is nothing! eleven
    widows and nine maids is a simple coming-in for one
    man: and then to 'scape drowning thrice, and to be 725
    in peril of my life with the edge of a feather-bed;
    here are simple scapes. Well, if Fortune be a
    woman, she's a good wench for this gear. Father,
    come; I'll take my leave of the Jew in the twinkling of an eye.

[Exeunt Launcelot and Old Gobbo]

  • Bassanio. I pray thee, good Leonardo, think on this:
    These things being bought and orderly bestow'd,
    Return in haste, for I do feast to-night
    My best-esteem'd acquaintance: hie thee, go.
  • Leonardo. My best endeavours shall be done herein. 735


  • Gratiano. Where is your master?
  • Leonardo. Yonder, sir, he walks.


  • Gratiano. Signior Bassanio! 740
  • Bassanio. Gratiano!
  • Gratiano. I have a suit to you.
  • Bassanio. You have obtain'd it.
  • Gratiano. You must not deny me: I must go with you to Belmont.
  • Bassanio. Why then you must. But hear thee, Gratiano; 745
    Thou art too wild, too rude and bold of voice;
    Parts that become thee happily enough
    And in such eyes as ours appear not faults;
    But where thou art not known, why, there they show
    Something too liberal. Pray thee, take pain 750
    To allay with some cold drops of modesty
    Thy skipping spirit, lest through thy wild behavior
    I be misconstrued in the place I go to,
    And lose my hopes.
  • Gratiano. Signior Bassanio, hear me: 755
    If I do not put on a sober habit,
    Talk with respect and swear but now and then,
    Wear prayer-books in my pocket, look demurely,
    Nay more, while grace is saying, hood mine eyes
    Thus with my hat, and sigh and say 'amen,' 760
    Use all the observance of civility,
    Like one well studied in a sad ostent
    To please his grandam, never trust me more.
  • Bassanio. Well, we shall see your bearing.
  • Gratiano. Nay, but I bar to-night: you shall not gauge me 765
    By what we do to-night.
  • Bassanio. No, that were pity:
    I would entreat you rather to put on
    Your boldest suit of mirth, for we have friends
    That purpose merriment. But fare you well: 770
    I have some business.
  • Gratiano. And I must to Lorenzo and the rest:
    But we will visit you at supper-time.



Act II, Scene 3

The same. A room in SHYLOCK’S house.



  • Jessica. I am sorry thou wilt leave my father so:
    Our house is hell, and thou, a merry devil,
    Didst rob it of some taste of tediousness.
    But fare thee well, there is a ducat for thee:
    And, Launcelot, soon at supper shalt thou see 780
    Lorenzo, who is thy new master's guest:
    Give him this letter; do it secretly;
    And so farewell: I would not have my father
    See me in talk with thee.
  • Launcelot Gobbo. Adieu! tears exhibit my tongue. Most beautiful 785
    pagan, most sweet Jew! if a Christian did not play
    the knave and get thee, I am much deceived. But,
    adieu: these foolish drops do something drown my
    manly spirit: adieu.
  • Jessica. Farewell, good Launcelot. 790
    [Exit Launcelot]
    Alack, what heinous sin is it in me
    To be ashamed to be my father's child!
    But though I am a daughter to his blood,
    I am not to his manners. O Lorenzo, 795
    If thou keep promise, I shall end this strife,
    Become a Christian and thy loving wife.



Act II, Scene 4

The same. A street.



  • Lorenzo. Nay, we will slink away in supper-time, 800
    Disguise us at my lodging and return,
    All in an hour.
  • Gratiano. We have not made good preparation.
  • Salarino. We have not spoke us yet of torchbearers.
  • Salanio. 'Tis vile, unless it may be quaintly order'd, 805
    And better in my mind not undertook.
  • Lorenzo. 'Tis now but four o'clock: we have two hours
    To furnish us.
    [Enter LAUNCELOT, with a letter]
    Friend Launcelot, what's the news? 810
  • Launcelot Gobbo. An it shall please you to break up
    this, it shall seem to signify.
  • Lorenzo. I know the hand: in faith, 'tis a fair hand;
    And whiter than the paper it writ on
    Is the fair hand that writ. 815
  • Gratiano. Love-news, in faith.
  • Launcelot Gobbo. By your leave, sir.
  • Lorenzo. Whither goest thou?
  • Launcelot Gobbo. Marry, sir, to bid my old master the
    Jew to sup to-night with my new master the Christian. 820
  • Lorenzo. Hold here, take this: tell gentle Jessica
    I will not fail her; speak it privately.
    Go, gentlemen,
    [Exit Launcelot]
    Will you prepare you for this masque tonight? 825
    I am provided of a torch-bearer.
  • Salanio. Ay, marry, I'll be gone about it straight.
  • Salanio. And so will I.
  • Lorenzo. Meet me and Gratiano
    At Gratiano's lodging some hour hence. 830
  • Salarino. 'Tis good we do so.


  • Gratiano. Was not that letter from fair Jessica?
  • Lorenzo. I must needs tell thee all. She hath directed
    How I shall take her from her father's house, 835
    What gold and jewels she is furnish'd with,
    What page's suit she hath in readiness.
    If e'er the Jew her father come to heaven,
    It will be for his gentle daughter's sake:
    And never dare misfortune cross her foot, 840
    Unless she do it under this excuse,
    That she is issue to a faithless Jew.
    Come, go with me; peruse this as thou goest:
    Fair Jessica shall be my torch-bearer.



Act II, Scene 5

The same. Before SHYLOCK’S house.



  • Shylock. Well, thou shalt see, thy eyes shall be thy judge,
    The difference of old Shylock and Bassanio:—
    What, Jessica!—thou shalt not gormandise,
    As thou hast done with me:—What, Jessica!— 850
    And sleep and snore, and rend apparel out;—
    Why, Jessica, I say!
  • Launcelot Gobbo. Why, Jessica!
  • Shylock. Who bids thee call? I do not bid thee call.
  • Launcelot Gobbo. Your worship was wont to tell me that 855
    I could do nothing without bidding.

[Enter Jessica]

  • Jessica. Call you? what is your will?
  • Shylock. I am bid forth to supper, Jessica:
    There are my keys. But wherefore should I go? 860
    I am not bid for love; they flatter me:
    But yet I'll go in hate, to feed upon
    The prodigal Christian. Jessica, my girl,
    Look to my house. I am right loath to go:
    There is some ill a-brewing towards my rest, 865
    For I did dream of money-bags to-night.
  • Launcelot Gobbo. I beseech you, sir, go: my young master doth expect
    your reproach.
  • Shylock. So do I his.
  • Launcelot Gobbo. An they have conspired together, I will not say you 870
    shall see a masque; but if you do, then it was not
    for nothing that my nose fell a-bleeding on
    Black-Monday last at six o'clock i' the morning,
    falling out that year on Ash-Wednesday was four
    year, in the afternoon. 875
  • Shylock. What, are there masques? Hear you me, Jessica:
    Lock up my doors; and when you hear the drum
    And the vile squealing of the wry-neck'd fife,
    Clamber not you up to the casements then,
    Nor thrust your head into the public street 880
    To gaze on Christian fools with varnish'd faces,
    But stop my house's ears, I mean my casements:
    Let not the sound of shallow foppery enter
    My sober house. By Jacob's staff, I swear,
    I have no mind of feasting forth to-night: 885
    But I will go. Go you before me, sirrah;
    Say I will come.
  • Launcelot Gobbo. I will go before, sir. Mistress, look out at
    window, for all this, There will come a Christian
    boy, will be worth a Jewess' eye. 890


  • Shylock. What says that fool of Hagar's offspring, ha?
  • Jessica. His words were 'Farewell mistress;' nothing else.
  • Shylock. The patch is kind enough, but a huge feeder;
    Snail-slow in profit, and he sleeps by day 895
    More than the wild-cat: drones hive not with me;
    Therefore I part with him, and part with him
    To one that would have him help to waste
    His borrow'd purse. Well, Jessica, go in;
    Perhaps I will return immediately: 900
    Do as I bid you; shut doors after you:
    Fast bind, fast find;
    A proverb never stale in thrifty mind.


  • Jessica. Farewell; and if my fortune be not crost, 905
    I have a father, you a daughter, lost.



Act II, Scene 6

The same.


[Enter GRATIANO and SALARINO, masqued]

  • Gratiano. This is the pent-house under which Lorenzo
    Desired us to make stand. 910
  • Salarino. His hour is almost past.
  • Gratiano. And it is marvel he out-dwells his hour,
    For lovers ever run before the clock.
  • Salarino. O, ten times faster Venus' pigeons fly
    To seal love's bonds new-made, than they are wont 915
    To keep obliged faith unforfeited!
  • Gratiano. That ever holds: who riseth from a feast
    With that keen appetite that he sits down?
    Where is the horse that doth untread again
    His tedious measures with the unbated fire 920
    That he did pace them first? All things that are,
    Are with more spirit chased than enjoy'd.
    How like a younker or a prodigal
    The scarfed bark puts from her native bay,
    Hugg'd and embraced by the strumpet wind! 925
    How like the prodigal doth she return,
    With over-weather'd ribs and ragged sails,
    Lean, rent and beggar'd by the strumpet wind!
  • Salarino. Here comes Lorenzo: more of this hereafter.


  • Lorenzo. Sweet friends, your patience for my long abode;
    Not I, but my affairs, have made you wait:
    When you shall please to play the thieves for wives,
    I'll watch as long for you then. Approach;
    Here dwells my father Jew. Ho! who's within? 935

[Enter JESSICA, above, in boy's clothes]

  • Jessica. Who are you? Tell me, for more certainty,
    Albeit I'll swear that I do know your tongue.
  • Lorenzo. Lorenzo, and thy love.
  • Jessica. Lorenzo, certain, and my love indeed, 940
    For who love I so much? And now who knows
    But you, Lorenzo, whether I am yours?
  • Lorenzo. Heaven and thy thoughts are witness that thou art.
  • Jessica. Here, catch this casket; it is worth the pains.
    I am glad 'tis night, you do not look on me, 945
    For I am much ashamed of my exchange:
    But love is blind and lovers cannot see
    The pretty follies that themselves commit;
    For if they could, Cupid himself would blush
    To see me thus transformed to a boy. 950
  • Lorenzo. Descend, for you must be my torchbearer.
  • Jessica. What, must I hold a candle to my shames?
    They in themselves, good-sooth, are too too light.
    Why, 'tis an office of discovery, love;
    And I should be obscured. 955
  • Lorenzo. So are you, sweet,
    Even in the lovely garnish of a boy.
    But come at once;
    For the close night doth play the runaway,
    And we are stay'd for at Bassanio's feast. 960
  • Jessica. I will make fast the doors, and gild myself
    With some more ducats, and be with you straight.

[Exit above]

  • Gratiano. Now, by my hood, a Gentile and no Jew.
  • Lorenzo. Beshrew me but I love her heartily; 965
    For she is wise, if I can judge of her,
    And fair she is, if that mine eyes be true,
    And true she is, as she hath proved herself,
    And therefore, like herself, wise, fair and true,
    Shall she be placed in my constant soul. 970
    [Enter JESSICA, below]
    What, art thou come? On, gentlemen; away!
    Our masquing mates by this time for us stay.

[Exit with Jessica and Salarino]


  • Antonio. Who's there?
  • Gratiano. Signior Antonio!
  • Antonio. Fie, fie, Gratiano! where are all the rest?
    'Tis nine o'clock: our friends all stay for you.
    No masque to-night: the wind is come about; 980
    Bassanio presently will go aboard:
    I have sent twenty out to seek for you.
  • Gratiano. I am glad on't: I desire no more delight
    Than to be under sail and gone to-night.



Act II, Scene 7

Belmont. A room in PORTIA’S house.


Flourish of cornets. Enter PORTIA, with the PRINCE OF MOROCCO, and their trains

  • Portia. Go draw aside the curtains and discover
    The several caskets to this noble prince.
    Now make your choice.
  • Prince of Morocco. The first, of gold, who this inscription bears, 990
    'Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire;'
    The second, silver, which this promise carries,
    'Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves;'
    This third, dull lead, with warning all as blunt,
    'Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.' 995
    How shall I know if I do choose the right?
  • Portia. The one of them contains my picture, prince:
    If you choose that, then I am yours withal.
  • Prince of Morocco. Some god direct my judgment! Let me see;
    I will survey the inscriptions back again. 1000
    What says this leaden casket?
    'Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.'
    Must give: for what? for lead? hazard for lead?
    This casket threatens. Men that hazard all
    Do it in hope of fair advantages: 1005
    A golden mind stoops not to shows of dross;
    I'll then nor give nor hazard aught for lead.
    What says the silver with her virgin hue?
    'Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.'
    As much as he deserves! Pause there, Morocco, 1010
    And weigh thy value with an even hand:
    If thou be'st rated by thy estimation,
    Thou dost deserve enough; and yet enough
    May not extend so far as to the lady:
    And yet to be afeard of my deserving 1015
    Were but a weak disabling of myself.
    As much as I deserve! Why, that's the lady:
    I do in birth deserve her, and in fortunes,
    In graces and in qualities of breeding;
    But more than these, in love I do deserve. 1020
    What if I stray'd no further, but chose here?
    Let's see once more this saying graved in gold
    'Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.'
    Why, that's the lady; all the world desires her;
    From the four corners of the earth they come, 1025
    To kiss this shrine, this mortal-breathing saint:
    The Hyrcanian deserts and the vasty wilds
    Of wide Arabia are as thoroughfares now
    For princes to come view fair Portia:
    The watery kingdom, whose ambitious head 1030
    Spits in the face of heaven, is no bar
    To stop the foreign spirits, but they come,
    As o'er a brook, to see fair Portia.
    One of these three contains her heavenly picture.
    Is't like that lead contains her? 'Twere damnation 1035
    To think so base a thought: it were too gross
    To rib her cerecloth in the obscure grave.
    Or shall I think in silver she's immured,
    Being ten times undervalued to tried gold?
    O sinful thought! Never so rich a gem 1040
    Was set in worse than gold. They have in England
    A coin that bears the figure of an angel
    Stamped in gold, but that's insculp'd upon;
    But here an angel in a golden bed
    Lies all within. Deliver me the key: 1045
    Here do I choose, and thrive I as I may!
  • Portia. There, take it, prince; and if my form lie there,
    Then I am yours.

[He unlocks the golden casket]

  • Prince of Morocco. O hell! what have we here? 1050
    A carrion Death, within whose empty eye
    There is a written scroll! I'll read the writing.
    All that glitters is not gold;
    Often have you heard that told: 1055
    Many a man his life hath sold
    But my outside to behold:
    Gilded tombs do worms enfold.
    Had you been as wise as bold,
    Young in limbs, in judgment old, 1060
    Your answer had not been inscroll'd:
    Fare you well; your suit is cold.
    Cold, indeed; and labour lost:
    Then, farewell, heat, and welcome, frost!
    Portia, adieu. I have too grieved a heart 1065
    To take a tedious leave: thus losers part.

[Exit with his train. Flourish of cornets]

  • Portia. A gentle riddance. Draw the curtains, go.
    Let all of his complexion choose me so.



Act II, Scene 8

Venice. A street.



  • Salarino. Why, man, I saw Bassanio under sail:
    With him is Gratiano gone along;
    And in their ship I am sure Lorenzo is not.
  • Salanio. The villain Jew with outcries raised the duke, 1075
    Who went with him to search Bassanio's ship.
  • Salarino. He came too late, the ship was under sail:
    But there the duke was given to understand
    That in a gondola were seen together
    Lorenzo and his amorous Jessica: 1080
    Besides, Antonio certified the duke
    They were not with Bassanio in his ship.
  • Salanio. I never heard a passion so confused,
    So strange, outrageous, and so variable,
    As the dog Jew did utter in the streets: 1085
    'My daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter!
    Fled with a Christian! O my Christian ducats!
    Justice! the law! my ducats, and my daughter!
    A sealed bag, two sealed bags of ducats,
    Of double ducats, stolen from me by my daughter! 1090
    And jewels, two stones, two rich and precious stones,
    Stolen by my daughter! Justice! find the girl;
    She hath the stones upon her, and the ducats.'
  • Salarino. Why, all the boys in Venice follow him,
    Crying, his stones, his daughter, and his ducats. 1095
  • Salanio. Let good Antonio look he keep his day,
    Or he shall pay for this.
  • Salarino. Marry, well remember'd.
    I reason'd with a Frenchman yesterday,
    Who told me, in the narrow seas that part 1100
    The French and English, there miscarried
    A vessel of our country richly fraught:
    I thought upon Antonio when he told me;
    And wish'd in silence that it were not his.
  • Salanio. You were best to tell Antonio what you hear; 1105
    Yet do not suddenly, for it may grieve him.
  • Salarino. A kinder gentleman treads not the earth.
    I saw Bassanio and Antonio part:
    Bassanio told him he would make some speed
    Of his return: he answer'd, 'Do not so; 1110
    Slubber not business for my sake, Bassanio
    But stay the very riping of the time;
    And for the Jew's bond which he hath of me,
    Let it not enter in your mind of love:
    Be merry, and employ your chiefest thoughts 1115
    To courtship and such fair ostents of love
    As shall conveniently become you there:'
    And even there, his eye being big with tears,
    Turning his face, he put his hand behind him,
    And with affection wondrous sensible 1120
    He wrung Bassanio's hand; and so they parted.
  • Salanio. I think he only loves the world for him.
    I pray thee, let us go and find him out
    And quicken his embraced heaviness
    With some delight or other. 1125
  • Salarino. Do we so.



Act II, Scene 9

Belmont. A room in PORTIA’S house.


[Enter NERISSA with a Servitor]

  • Nerissa. Quick, quick, I pray thee; draw the curtain straight:
    The Prince of Arragon hath ta'en his oath, 1130
    And comes to his election presently.
    [Flourish of cornets. Enter the PRINCE OF ARRAGON,]
    PORTIA, and their trains]
  • Portia. Behold, there stand the caskets, noble prince:
    If you choose that wherein I am contain'd, 1135
    Straight shall our nuptial rites be solemnized:
    But if you fail, without more speech, my lord,
    You must be gone from hence immediately.
  • Prince of Arragon. I am enjoin'd by oath to observe three things:
    First, never to unfold to any one 1140
    Which casket 'twas I chose; next, if I fail
    Of the right casket, never in my life
    To woo a maid in way of marriage: Lastly,
    If I do fail in fortune of my choice,
    Immediately to leave you and be gone. 1145
  • Portia. To these injunctions every one doth swear
    That comes to hazard for my worthless self.
  • Prince of Arragon. And so have I address'd me. Fortune now
    To my heart's hope! Gold; silver; and base lead.
    'Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.' 1150
    You shall look fairer, ere I give or hazard.
    What says the golden chest? ha! let me see:
    'Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.'
    What many men desire! that 'many' may be meant
    By the fool multitude, that choose by show, 1155
    Not learning more than the fond eye doth teach;
    Which pries not to the interior, but, like the martlet,
    Builds in the weather on the outward wall,
    Even in the force and road of casualty.
    I will not choose what many men desire, 1160
    Because I will not jump with common spirits
    And rank me with the barbarous multitudes.
    Why, then to thee, thou silver treasure-house;
    Tell me once more what title thou dost bear:
    'Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves:' 1165
    And well said too; for who shall go about
    To cozen fortune and be honourable
    Without the stamp of merit? Let none presume
    To wear an undeserved dignity.
    O, that estates, degrees and offices 1170
    Were not derived corruptly, and that clear honour
    Were purchased by the merit of the wearer!
    How many then should cover that stand bare!
    How many be commanded that command!
    How much low peasantry would then be glean'd 1175
    From the true seed of honour! and how much honour
    Pick'd from the chaff and ruin of the times
    To be new-varnish'd! Well, but to my choice:
    'Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.'
    I will assume desert. Give me a key for this, 1180
    And instantly unlock my fortunes here.

[He opens the silver casket]

  • Portia. Too long a pause for that which you find there.
  • Prince of Arragon. What's here? the portrait of a blinking idiot,
    Presenting me a schedule! I will read it. 1185
    How much unlike art thou to Portia!
    How much unlike my hopes and my deservings!
    'Who chooseth me shall have as much as he deserves.'
    Did I deserve no more than a fool's head?
    Is that my prize? are my deserts no better? 1190
  • Portia. To offend, and judge, are distinct offices
    And of opposed natures.
  • Prince of Arragon. What is here?
    The fire seven times tried this: 1195
    Seven times tried that judgment is,
    That did never choose amiss.
    Some there be that shadows kiss;
    Such have but a shadow's bliss:
    There be fools alive, I wis, 1200
    Silver'd o'er; and so was this.
    Take what wife you will to bed,
    I will ever be your head:
    So be gone: you are sped.
    Still more fool I shall appear 1205
    By the time I linger here
    With one fool's head I came to woo,
    But I go away with two.
    Sweet, adieu. I'll keep my oath,
    Patiently to bear my wroth. 1210

[Exeunt Arragon and train]

  • 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, 1215
    Hanging and wiving goes by destiny.
  • Portia. Come, draw the curtain, Nerissa.

[Enter a Servant]

  • Servant. Where is my lady?
  • Portia. Here: what would my lord? 1220
  • Servant. Madam, there is alighted at your gate
    A young Venetian, one that comes before
    To signify the approaching of his lord;
    From whom he bringeth sensible regreets,
    To wit, besides commends and courteous breath, 1225
    Gifts of rich value. Yet I have not seen
    So likely an ambassador of love:
    A day in April never came so sweet,
    To show how costly summer was at hand,
    As this fore-spurrer comes before his lord. 1230
  • 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. 1235
  • Nerissa. Bassanio, lord Love, if thy will it be!