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The Merchant of Venice

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Act III, Scene 4

Belmont. A room in PORTIA’S house.



  • Lorenzo. Madam, although I speak it in your presence, 1750
    You have a noble and a true conceit
    Of godlike amity; which appears most strongly
    In bearing thus the absence of your lord.
    But if you knew to whom you show this honour,
    How true a gentleman you send relief, 1755
    How dear a lover of my lord your husband,
    I know you would be prouder of the work
    Than customary bounty can enforce you.
  • Portia. I never did repent for doing good,
    Nor shall not now: for in companions 1760
    That do converse and waste the time together,
    Whose souls do bear an equal yoke Of love,
    There must be needs a like proportion
    Of lineaments, of manners and of spirit;
    Which makes me think that this Antonio, 1765
    Being the bosom lover of my lord,
    Must needs be like my lord. If it be so,
    How little is the cost I have bestow'd
    In purchasing the semblance of my soul
    From out the state of hellish misery! 1770
    This comes too near the praising of myself;
    Therefore no more of it: hear other things.
    Lorenzo, I commit into your hands
    The husbandry and manage of my house
    Until my lord's return: for mine own part, 1775
    I have toward heaven breathed a secret vow
    To live in prayer and contemplation,
    Only attended by Nerissa here,
    Until her husband and my lord's return:
    There is a monastery two miles off; 1780
    And there will we abide. I do desire you
    Not to deny this imposition;
    The which my love and some necessity
    Now lays upon you.
  • Lorenzo. Madam, with all my heart; 1785
    I shall obey you in all fair commands.
  • Portia. My people do already know my mind,
    And will acknowledge you and Jessica
    In place of Lord Bassanio and myself.
    And so farewell, till we shall meet again. 1790
  • Lorenzo. Fair thoughts and happy hours attend on you!
  • Jessica. I wish your ladyship all heart's content.
  • Portia. I thank you for your wish, and am well pleased
    To wish it back on you: fare you well Jessica.
    [Exeunt JESSICA and LORENZO] 1795
    Now, Balthasar,
    As I have ever found thee honest-true,
    So let me find thee still. Take this same letter,
    And use thou all the endeavour of a man
    In speed to Padua: see thou render this 1800
    Into my cousin's hand, Doctor Bellario;
    And, look, what notes and garments he doth give thee,
    Bring them, I pray thee, with imagined speed
    Unto the tranect, to the common ferry
    Which trades to Venice. Waste no time in words, 1805
    But get thee gone: I shall be there before thee.
  • Balthasar. Madam, I go with all convenient speed.


  • Portia. Come on, Nerissa; I have work in hand
    That you yet know not of: we'll see our husbands 1810
    Before they think of us.
  • 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, 1815
    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 1820
    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, 1825
    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, 1830
    Which I will practise.
  • Nerissa. Why, shall we turn to men?
  • Portia. Fie, what a question's that,
    If thou wert near a lewd interpreter!
    But come, I'll tell thee all my whole device 1835
    When I am in my coach, which stays for us
    At the park gate; and therefore haste away,
    For we must measure twenty miles to-day.