The Merchant of Venice
|ACT III SCENE IV||Belmont. A room in PORTIA’S house.|
|[ Enter PORTIA, NERISSA, LORENZO, JESSICA, and BALTHASAR ]|
|LORENZO||Madam, although I speak it in your presence,|
|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,|
|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,||10|
|Nor shall not now: for in companions|
|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,|
|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||20|
|From out the state of hellish misery!|
|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,|
|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:||30|
|There is a monastery two miles off;|
|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;|
|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.||40|
|And so farewell, till we shall meet again.|
|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]|
|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|
|Into my cousin’s hand, Doctor Bellario;||50|
|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,|
|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|
|Before they think of us.|
|NERISSA||Shall they see us?|
|PORTIA||They shall, Nerissa; but in such a habit,||60|
|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,||70|
|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?|
|PORTIA||Fie, what a question’s that,|
|If thou wert near a lewd interpreter!|
|But come, I’ll tell thee all my whole device|
|When I am in my coach, which stays for us||82|
|At the park gate; and therefore haste away,|
|For we must measure twenty miles to-day.|
Next: The Merchant of Venice, Act 3, Scene 5
Explanatory Notes for Act 3, Scene 4
From The Merchant of Venice. Ed. Felix E. Schelling. New York: American Book Co.
Portia intrusts her house to the keeping of Lorenzo and Jessica, and, giving it out that she intends to retire with Nerissa to a neighboring monastery until their plighted lords’ return, sends a messenger to her cousin Bellario, and tells Nerissa of her plan to visit Venice in disguise.
6. [To] How true a gentleman, the dative case. In modern English we use the dative only when it comes between the verb and its object: “You send your friend money.”
7. lover. This word was commonly used of friendship between men. See Coriolanus, v. 2. 14: “Thy general is my lover.”
9. customary bounty [your ordinary benevolence] can enforce you [to be].
11. Nor shall not. The double negative as above, i. 2. 28.
15. lineaments, features.
22. the praising of myself. “The frequently precedes a verbal that is followed by an object” (Abbott).
25. husbandry, stewardship.
34. The which. See above, i. 3. 4, and note thereon.
34. my love and some necessity Now lays. Note the singular verb with two subjects.
49. Padua, famous for the learned jurists of its university.
52. with imagined speed, such as can only be thought. Compare Henry V, iii. prologue: “Thus with imagined wing our swift scene flies.”
53. tranect, perhaps better traject from the Italian traghetto, a ferry.
59. Before they think of us [of our seeing them].
63. accoutred, dressed.
66. And speak between, etc. And speak with high, shrill voice such as boys have when they are changing from childhood to manhood.
67. mincing, short, dainty.
72. I could not do withal, I could not help it. A very common phrase and capable of no other interpretation. Cf. below, iv. 1. 412, and the note thereon.
77. Jacks, a term of contempt. See Much Ado About Nothing, i. 1. 185: “Do you play the flaunting Jack?”
81. all my whole device. Compare 1 Henry VI, i. I. 126: “All the whole army.”
82. my coach. Towards the close of Elizabeth’s reign coaches had become very common in England, although the queen had ridden to her coronation on horseback.
How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice. Ed. Felix E. Schelling. New York: American Book Co., 1903.