The Merchant of Venice

First folio
Modern text


Key line

Enter Portia with her waiting woman Nerissa.Enter Portia with her waiting-woman, Nerissa MV I.ii.1.1
Portia. PORTIA 
By my troth Nerrissa, my little body is a wearie of By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is aweary oftroth, by my
by my truth [exclamation emphasizing an assertion]
MV I.ii.1
aweary, a-weary (adj.)
weary, tired
this great world.this great world. MV I.ii.2
You would be sweet Madam, if your miseriesYou would be, sweet madam, if your miseries MV I.ii.3
were in the same abundance as your good fortunes are:were in the same abundance as your good fortunes are; MV I.ii.4
and yet for ought I see, they are as sicke that surfet withand yet for aught I see, they are as sick that surfeit withsurfeit (v.)

old form: surfet
feed to excess, over-indulge, glut
MV I.ii.5
aught (n.)

old form: ought
anything, [with negative word] nothing
too much, as they that starue with nothing; it is no smaltoo much as they that starve with nothing. It is no mean MV I.ii.6
happinesse therefore to bee seated in the meane, superfluitie happiness, therefore, to be seated in the mean; superfluitymean (n.)
middle, midway
MV I.ii.7
mean (adj.)

old form: meane
average, moderate, middling
superfluity (n.)

old form: superfluitie
excess, indulgence, immoderate living
comes sooner by white haires, but competencie liues comes sooner by white hairs, but competency livescompetency (n.)

old form: competencie
sufficiency without excess, modest means
MV I.ii.8
longer.longer. MV I.ii.9
Portia. PORTIA 
Good sentences, and well pronounc'd.Good sentences, and well pronounced.pronounce (v.)

old form: pronounc'd
deliver, speak, declare
MV I.ii.10
sentence (n.)
maxim, wise saying, precept
They would be better if well followed.They would be better if well followed. MV I.ii.11
Portia. PORTIA 
If to doe were as easie as to know what were good If to do were as easy as to know what were good MV I.ii.12
to doe, Chappels had beene Churches, and poore mens to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men's MV I.ii.13
cottages Princes Pallaces: it is a good Diuine that followes cottages princes' palaces. It is a good divine that followsdivine (n.)

old form: Diuine
clergyman, priest, parson
MV I.ii.14
his owne instructions; I can easier teach twentie what were his own instructions. I can easier teach twenty what were MV I.ii.15
good to be done, then be one of the twentie to follow good to be done than be one of the twenty to follow MV I.ii.16
mine owne teaching: the braine may deuise lawes for the mine own teaching. The brain may devise laws for the MV I.ii.17
blood, but a hot temper leapes ore a colde decree, such a blood, but a hot temper leaps o'er a cold decree, such atemper (n.)
frame of mind, temperament, disposition
MV I.ii.18
blood (n.)
passion, feeling, strong emotion [especially sexual]
hare is madnesse the youth, to skip ore the meshes of good hare is madness the youth to skip o'er the meshes of good MV I.ii.19
counsaile the cripple; but this reason is not in fcounsel the cripple. But this reasoning is not in the MV I.ii.20
ashion to choose me a husband: O mee, the word fashion to choose me a husband. O me, the word MV I.ii.21
choose, I may neither choose whom I would, nor refuse ‘ choose ’! I may neither choose who I would nor refuse MV I.ii.22
whom I dislike, so is the wil of a liuing daughter curb'd who I dislike, so is the will of a living daughter curbed MV I.ii.23
by the will of a dead father: it is not hard Nerrissa, that I by the will of a dead father. Is it not hard, Nerissa, that I MV I.ii.24
cannot choose one, nor refuse none.cannot choose one, nor refuse none? MV I.ii.25
Your father was euer vertuous, and holy men at Your father was ever virtuous, and holy men at MV I.ii.26
their death haue good inspirations, therefore the lotterie their death have good inspirations. Therefore the lottery MV I.ii.27
that hee hath deuised in these three chests of gold, siluer, that he hath devised in these three chests of gold, silver, MV I.ii.28
and leade, whereof who chooses his meaning, chooses you, and lead, whereof who chooses his meaning chooses you, MV I.ii.29
wil no doubt neuer be chosen by any rightly, but one will no doubt never be chosen by any rightly but one MV I.ii.30
who you shall rightly loue: but what warmth is there in who you shall rightly love. But what warmth is there in MV I.ii.31
your affection towards any of these Princely suters that your affection towards any of these princely suitors thataffection (n.)
fancy, inclination, desire
MV I.ii.32
are already come?are already come? MV I.ii.33
I pray thee ouer-name them, and as thou namestI pray thee overname them, and as thou namestovername (v.)

old form: ouer-name
name in succession, read through the list of
MV I.ii.34
them, I will describe them, and according to my description them I will describe them and, according to my description MV I.ii.35
leuell at my affection.level at my affection.level at (v.)

old form: leuell
guess correctly, rightly anticipate
MV I.ii.36
First there is the Neopolitane Prince.First, there is the Neapolitan prince. MV I.ii.37
I that's a colt indeede, for he doth nothing butAy, that's a colt indeed, for he doth nothing butcolt (n.)
foolish youth, callow ass
MV I.ii.38
talke of his horse, and hee makes it a great appropriation to talk of his horse, and he makes it a great appropriation toappropriation (n.)
special attribute, particular feature
MV I.ii.39
his owne good parts that he can shoo him himselfe: I am his own good parts that he can shoe him himself. I am MV I.ii.40
\much afraid my Ladie his mother plaid false with a much afeard my lady his mother played false with afalse (adv.)
unfaithfully, disloyally, inconstantly
MV I.ii.41
afeard (adj.)
afraid, frightened, scared
Smyth.smith. MV I.ii.42
Than is there the Countie Palentine.Then there is the County Palatine.county (n.)

old form: Countie
[title of rank] count
MV I.ii.43
He doth nothing but frowne (as who should say, He doth nothing but frown, as who should say, MV I.ii.44
and you will not haue me, choose: he heares merrie tales An you will not have me, choose.’ He hears merry talesand, an (conj.)
if, whether
MV I.ii.45
and smiles not, I feare hee will proue the weeping Phylosopher and smiles not. I fear he will prove the weeping philosopher MV I.ii.46
when he growes old, being so full of vnmannerly when he grows old, being so full of unmannerly MV I.ii.47
sadnesse in his youth.) I had rather to be married to a deaths head sadness in his youth. I had rather be married to a death's-headdeath's-head (n.)

old form: deaths head
skull, memento mori
MV I.ii.48
with a bone in his mouth, then to either of these: with a bone in his mouth than to either of these. MV I.ii.49
God defend me from these two.God defend me from these two! MV I.ii.50
How say you by the French Lord, Mounsier Le How say you by the French lord, Monsieur Le MV I.ii.51
Boune?Bon? MV I.ii.52
God made him, and therefore let him passe for aGod made him and therefore let him pass for a MV I.ii.53
man, in truth I know it is a sinne to be a mocker, but he,man. In truth, I know it is a sin to be a mocker, but he, MV I.ii.54
why he hath a horse better then the Neopolitans, a better why he hath a horse better than the Neapolitan's, a better MV I.ii.55
bad habite of frowning then the Count Palentine, he is bad habit of frowning than the Count Palatine; he is MV I.ii.56
euery man in no man, if a Trassell sing, he fals straightevery man in no man. If a throstle sing, he falls straightthrostle (n.)

old form: Trassell
MV I.ii.57
straight (adv.)
straightaway, immediately, at once
a capring, he will fence with his own shadow. If I a-capering: he will fence with his own shadow. If Icaper (v.)

old form: capring
dance with joy, leap with delight
MV I.ii.58
should marry him, I should marry twentie husbands: if should marry him, I should marry twenty husbands. If MV I.ii.59
hee would despise me, I would forgiue him, for if he loue he would despise me, I would forgive him, for if he love MV I.ii.60
me to madnesse, I should neuer requite to madness, I shall never requite him.requite (v.), past forms requit, requited
reward, repay, recompense
MV I.ii.61
What say you then to Fauconbridge, the yongWhat say you then to Falconbridge, the young MV I.ii.62
Baron of England?baron of England? MV I.ii.63
You know I say nothing to him, for hee vnderstands You know I say nothing to him, for he understands MV I.ii.64
not me, nor I him: he hath neither Latine, French,not me, nor I him. He hath neither Latin, French, MV I.ii.65
nor Italian, and you will come into the Court & swearenor Italian, and you will come into the court and swear MV I.ii.66
that I haue a poore pennie-worth in the English: hee is athat I have a poor pennyworth in the English. He is apennyworth, penn'orth (n.)

old form: pennie-worth
amount, quantity, sum
MV I.ii.67
proper mans picture, but alas who can conuerse with aproper man's picture, but, alas, who can converse with aproper (adj.)
good-looking, handsome, comely
MV I.ii.68
picture (n.)
appearance, countenance, visible form
dumbe show? how odly he is suited, I thinke he boughtdumb-show? How oddly he is suited! I think he boughtsuit (v.)
dress, clothe, equip
MV I.ii.69
his doublet in Italie, his round hose in France, his bonnethis doublet in Italy, his round hose in France, his bonnetround hose
breeches puffed out at the hips
MV I.ii.70
man's close-fitting jacket with short skirt
bonnet (n.)
hat, cap
in Germanie, and his behauiour euery Germany and his behaviour everywhere. MV I.ii.71
What thinke you of the other Lord his What think you of the Scottish lord, his MV I.ii.72
neighbour? neighbour? MV I.ii.73
That he hath a neighbourly charitie in him, for he That he hath a neighbourly charity in him, for he MV I.ii.74
borrowed a boxe of the eare of the Englishman, and swore borrowed a box of the ear of the Englishman and swore MV I.ii.75
he would pay him againe when hee was able: I thinke the he would pay him again when he was able. I think the MV I.ii.76
Frenchman became his suretie, and seald vnder for Frenchman became his surety and sealed under forseal under (v.)

old form: seald vnder
become security for, set one's seal to
MV I.ii.77
surety (n.)

old form: suretie
person undertaking a legal responsibility in relation to another, guarantor
another.another. MV I.ii.78
How like you the yong Germaine, the Duke ofHow like you the young German, the Duke of MV I.ii.79
Saxonies Nephew?Saxony's nephew? MV I.ii.80
Very vildely in the morning when hee is sober, and Very vilely in the morning when he is sober andvilely, vildly (adv.)

old form: vildely
shamefully, wretchedly, meanly
MV I.ii.81
most vildely in the afternoone when hee is drunke: when he most vilely in the afternoon when he is drunk. When he MV I.ii.82
is best, he is a little worse then a man, and when he is is best he is a little worse than a man, and when he is MV I.ii.83
worst, he is little better then a beast: and the worst fall worst he is little better than a beast. An the worst falland, an (conj.)
if, even if
MV I.ii.84
that euer fell, I hope I shall make shift to goe without him.that ever fell, I hope I shall make shift to go without him.shift (n.)
expedient, measure, arrangement [especially as 'make shift' = contrive]
MV I.ii.85
If he should offer to choose, and choose the rightIf he should offer to choose, and choose the right MV I.ii.86
Casket, you should refuse to performe your Fathers will,casket, you should refuse to perform your father's will MV I.ii.87
if you should refuse to accept him.if you should refuse to accept him. MV I.ii.88
Therefore for feare of the worst, I pray thee set a Therefore, for fear of the worst, I pray thee set a MV I.ii.89
deepe glasse of Reinish-wine on the contrary Casket, for if deep glass of Rhenish wine on the contrary casket, for ifcontrary (adj.)
wrong, incorrect, erroneous
MV I.ii.90
Rhenish (n.)

old form: Reinish
Rhineland wine
the diuell be within, and that temptation without, I know the devil be within and that temptation without, I know MV I.ii.91
he will choose it. I will doe any thing Nerrissa ere I will be he will choose it. I will do anything, Nerissa, ere I will be MV I.ii.92
married to a spunge.married to a sponge. MV I.ii.93
You neede not feare Lady the hauing any of these You need not fear, lady, the having any of these MV I.ii.94
Lords, they haue acquainted me with their determinations, lords. They have acquainted me with their determinations,determination (n.)
mind, decision, resolution
MV I.ii.95
which is indeede to returne to their home, and to which is indeed to return to their home and to MV I.ii.96
trouble you with no more suite, vnlesse you may be won trouble you with no more suit, unless you may be wonsuit (n.)

old form: suite
wooing, courtship
MV I.ii.97
by some other sort then your Fathers imposition, by some other sort than your father's imposition,imposition (n.)
order, charge, command
MV I.ii.98
sort (n.)
way, manner
depending on the Caskets.depending on the caskets. MV I.ii.99
If I liue to be as olde as Sibilla, I will dye as chaste If I live to be as old as Sibylla, I will die as chastechaste (adj.)
celibate, single, unmarried
MV I.ii.100
Sibyl, Sybilla (n.)
priestess inspired by Apollo, her prophecies being written on leaves; Apollo granted her as many years of life as she could hold grains of sand in her hand
as Diana: vnlesse I be obtained by the manner of my as Diana unless I be obtained by the manner of myDiana, Dian (n.)
Roman goddess associated with the Moon, chastity, and hunting
MV I.ii.101
Fathers will: I am glad this parcell of wooers are so father's will. I am glad this parcel of wooers are soparcel (n.)

old form: parcell
small group, company, party
MV I.ii.102
reasonable, for there is not one among them but I doate reasonable, for there is not one among them but I dote MV I.ii.103
on his verie absence: and I wish them a faire on his very absence, and I pray God grant them a fair MV I.ii.104
departure. departure. MV I.ii.105
Doe you not remember Ladie in your Fathers Do you not remember, lady, in your father's MV I.ii.106
time, a Venecian, a Scholler and a Souldior that came time, a Venetian, a scholar and a soldier, that came MV I.ii.107
hither in companie of the Marquesse of Mountferrat?hither in company of the Marquess of Montferrat? MV I.ii.108
Yes, yes, it was Bassanio, as I thinke, so was heeYes, yes, it was Bassanio, as I think, so was he MV I.ii.109
call'd.called. MV I.ii.110
True Madam, hee of all the men that euer myTrue, madam. He, of all the men that ever my MV I.ii.111
foolish eyes look'd vpon, was the best deseruing a fairefoolish eyes looked upon, was the best deserving a fair MV I.ii.112
Lady.lady. MV I.ii.113
I remember him well, and I remember him I remember him well, and I remember him MV I.ii.114
worthy of thy praise.worthy of thy praise. MV I.ii.115
Enter a Seruingman.Enter a Servingman MV I.ii.116
How now, what news? MV I.ii.116
The foure Strangers seeke you Madam to The four strangers seek for you, madam, to MV I.ii.117
take their leaue: and there is a fore-runner come from a take their leave, and there is a forerunner come from a MV I.ii.118
fift, the Prince of Moroco, who brings word the Prince fifth, the Prince of Morocco, who brings word the Prince MV I.ii.119
his Maister will be here to night.his master will be here tonight. MV I.ii.120
If I could bid the fift welcome with so goodIf I could bid the fifth welcome with so good MV I.ii.121
heart as I can bid the other foure farewell, I should beheart as I can bid the other four farewell, I should be MV I.ii.122
glad of his approach: if he haue the condition of a Saint,glad of his approach. If he have the condition of a saintcondition (n.)
disposition, temper, mood, character
MV I.ii.123
and the complexion of a diuell, I had rather hee shouldand the complexion of a devil, I had rather he should MV I.ii.124
shriue me then wiue me. Come Nerrissa, sirra go shrive me than wive me. Come, Nerissa. Sirrah, goshrive (v.)

old form: shriue
hear confession, grant absolution, forgive
MV I.ii.125
sirrah (n.)
sir [commanding, insulting, or familiar, depending on context]
before; whiles wee shut the gate vpon one wooer, anotherbefore. Whiles we shut the gate upon one wooer, anotherbefore (adv.)
ahead, in advance
MV I.ii.126
knocks at the doore. knocks at the door. MV I.ii.127
Exeunt.Exeunt MV I.ii.127
 Previous Act I, Scene II Next  

Jump directly to