The Merchant of Venice: Act 1, Scene 1
Enter ANTONIO, SALERIO,
1. sooth: truth. sad: melancholy.
1In sooth, I know not why I am so sad:
2It wearies me; you say it wearies you;
3But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,
4What stuff 'tis made of, whereof it is born,
5. I am to learn: I have still to find out, i.e., I don't know.
5I am to learn;
6And such a want-wit sadness makes of me,
7That I have much ado to know myself.
8Your mind is tossing on the ocean;
9. argosies: large merchant ships. portly: stately.
9There, where your argosies with portly sail,
10. signiors: gentlemen of substance.
10Like signiors and rich burghers on the flood,
11. pageants: high mobile stages used for the miracle playssomething like modern floats. 12. overpeer: tower over, look down upon. 13. cur'sy: curtsy; i.e., bob up and down on the waves. do them reverence: make obeisance to them.
11Or, as it were, the pageants of the sea,
12Do overpeer the petty traffickers,
13That cur'sy to them, do them reverence,
14As they fly by them with their woven wings.
15. venture: speculative commercial enterprise.
15Believe me, sir, had I such venture forth,
16. affections: thoughts and feelings.
16The better part of my affections would
17. still: continually, constantly.
17Be with my hopes abroad. I should be still
18Plucking the grass, to know where sits the wind,
19. roads: roadsteads [stretch of water near a shore], anchorages.
19Peering in maps for ports and piers and roads;
20And every object that might make me fear
21. out of doubt: undoubtedly.
21Misfortune to my ventures, out of doubt
22Would make me sad.
22My wind cooling my broth
23Would blow me to an ague, when I thought
24What harm a wind too great at sea might do.
25I should not see the sandy hour-glass run,
26But I should think of shallows and of flats,
27. wealthy: richly laden. Andrew: This was the name of one of two very large ...more 28. Vailing: lowering. high top: topmast. 29. kiss her burial: do homage to her place of burial.
27And see my wealthy Andrew dock'd in sand,
28Vailing her high-top lower than her ribs
29To kiss her burial. Should I go to church
30And see the holy edifice of stone,
31. bethink me straight: be put in mind straightway.
31And not bethink me straight of dangerous rocks,
32. gentle: noble.
32Which touching but my gentle vessel's side,
33Would scatter all her spices on the stream,
34Enrobe the roaring waters with my silks,
35. but even now: i.e., just a moment ago.
35And, in a word, but even now worth this,
36And now worth nothing? Shall I have the thought
37To think on this, and shall I lack the thought
38. bechanc'd: should it happen.
38That such a thing bechanc'd would make me sad?
39But tell not me; I know, Antonio
40Is sad to think upon his merchandise.
41Believe me, no: I thank my fortune for it,
42. bottom: ship.
42My ventures are not in one bottom trusted,
43Nor to one place; nor is my whole estate
44. Upon the fortune of this present year: i.e., risked upon the chance of the present.
44Upon the fortune of this present year:
45Therefore my merchandise makes me not sad.
46Why, then you are in love.
50. Janus: Roman god of all beginnings represented with two faces looking in opposite directions. 52. peep through their eyes: i.e., look out through eyes half closed by laughter. 53. like parrots: i.e., raucously. bag-piper: Bagpipe music was regarded as melancholy.
47Not in love neither? Then let us say you are sad
48Because you are not merry: and 'twere as easy
49For you to laugh and leap and say you are merry,
50Because you are not sad. Now, by two-headed Janus,
51Nature hath framed strange fellows in her time:
52Some that will evermore peep through their eyes
53And laugh like parrots at a bag-piper,
54And other of such vinegar aspect
55That they'll not show their teeth in way of smile,
56. Nestor: the oldest and gravest of the Greek heroes at Troy. He was the venerable senior officer in the Iliad.
56Though Nestor swear the jest be laughable.
Enter BASSANIO, LORENZO,
57Here comes Bassanio, your most noble kinsman,
58Gratiano and Lorenzo. Fare ye well:
59We leave you now with better company.
60I would have stay'd till I had made you merry,
61. prevented: forestalled.
61If worthier friends had not prevented me.
62Your worth is very dear in my regard.
63I take it, your own business calls on you
64. embrace the occasion: take advantage of the opportunity.
64And you embrace the occasion to depart.
65Good morrow, my good lords.
66. when shall we laugh: i.e., when shall we next have a merry time together. 67. strange: like strangers; i.e., reserved, distant. must it be so: must you show reserve; or, must you go.
66Good signiors both, when shall we laugh? say, when?
67You grow exceeding strange: must it be so?
68. attend on: wait upon; i.e., suit.
68We'll make our leisures to attend on yours.
Exeunt Salerio and Solanio.
69My Lord Bassanio, since you have found Antonio,
70We two will leave you: but at dinner-time,
71I pray you, have in mind where we must meet.
72I will not fail you.
73You look not well, Signior Antonio;
74. respect upon the world: concern for worldly business affairs.
74You have too much respect upon the world:
75They lose it that do buy it with much care:
76Believe me, you are marvellously changed.
77I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano;
78A stage where every man must play a part,
80. old: typical of old age (?) or plentiful (?). 81. my liver rather heat with wine: The liver was regarded as the seat of the passions and . . . more 82. mortifying: deadly, killing. Groans and sighs were thought to draw blood from the heart. 84. alabaster: Stone effigies were common on tombs in churches. 85. jaundice: jaundice was thought . . . more
89. cream and mantle: i.e., acquire a lifeless, . . . more standing: stagnant. 90. willful stillness entertain: self-imposed and persistent . . . more 91. opinion: reputation. 92. profound conceit: deep thought.
79And mine a sad one.
79Let me play the fool:
80With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come,
81And let my liver rather heat with wine
82Than my heart cool with mortifying groans.
83Why should a man, whose blood is warm within,
84Sit like his grandsire cut in alabaster?
85Sleep when he wakes and creep into the jaundice
86By being peevish? I tell thee what, Antonio
87I love thee, and it is my love that speaks
88There are a sort of men whose visages
89Do cream and mantle like a standing pond,
90And do a wilful stillness entertain,
91With purpose to be dress'd in an opinion
92Of wisdom, gravity, profound conceit,
93As who should say 'I am Sir Oracle,
94And when I ope my lips let no dog bark!'
95. of these: some men.
95O my Antonio, I do know of these
96. therefore: for that reason.
96That therefore only are reputed wise
97For saying nothing; when, I am very sure,
98If they should speak, would almost damn those ears,
99. would call their brothers fools: would speak such nonsense that those who heard them would immediately call them fools and so risk damnation. . . . more 101. melancholy bait: bait of melancholy. 102. gudgeon: a small fish easily caught and used for bait.
99Which, hearing them, would call their brothers fools.
100I'll tell thee more of this another time:
101But fish not, with this melancholy bait,
102For this fool gudgeon, this opinion.
103Come, good Lorenzo. Fare ye well awhile:
104. exhortation: sermon.
104I'll end my exhortation after dinner.
105Well, we will leave you then till dinner-time:
106I must be one of these same dumb wise men,
107For Gratiano never lets me speak.
108. keep: if you keep. moe: more.
108Well, keep me company but two years moe,
109Thou shalt not know the sound of thine own tongue.
110. for this gear: as a consequence of all this talk of yours.
110Farewell: I'll grow a talker for this gear.
111Thanks, i' faith, for silence is only commendable
112. neat's: ox's. vendible: salable; i.e., marriageable.
112In a neat's tongue dried and a maid not vendible.
Exeunt [Gratiano and Lorenzo].
113. Is that any thing now?: i.e., did Gratiano make any sense at all?
113Is that any thing now?
114Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of nothing, more
115. reasons: reasonable statements, sensible ideas.
115than any man in all Venice. His reasons are as two
116grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff: you
117shall seek all day ere you find them, and when you
118have them, they are not worth the search.
119Well, tell me now what lady is the same
120To whom you swore a secret pilgrimage,
121That you today promised to tell me of?
122'Tis not unknown to you, Antonio,
123How much I have disabled mine estate,
124. something: somewhat (modifies more). swelling port: splendid style of living. 125. grant continuance: allow to continue. 126. to be abridg'd: at being reduced.
124By something showing a more swelling port
125Than my faint means would grant continuance:
126Nor do I now make moan to be abridg'd
127. rate: manner of living.
127From such a noble rate; but my chief care
128. fairly: fitly, honorably; or perhaps completely (cf. line 134). 129. time: youth.
128Is to come fairly off from the great debts
129Wherein my time something too prodigal
130. gag'd: pledged.
130Hath left me gag'd. To you, Antonio,
131I owe the most, in money and in love,
132And from your love I have a warranty
133To unburden all my plots and purposes
134How to get clear of all the debts I owe.
135I pray you, good Bassanio, let me know it;
136. still: always.
136And if it stand, as you yourself still do,
137. eye: sight, view.
137Within the eye of honor, be assured,
138My purse, my person, my extremest means,
139. occasions: needs.
139Lie all unlock'd to your occasions.
140. shaft: arrow.
140In my school-days, when I had lost one shaft,
141. his: its. self-same flight: same kind and range.
141I shot his fellow of the self-same flight
142. advised: considered, careful, deliberate.
142The self-same way with more advised watch,
143. forth: out.
143To find the other forth, and by adventuring both
144. urge: put forward, bring up. proof: experience.
144I oft found both: I urge this childhood proof,
145. innocence: childish folly (?) or childlike sincerity (?).
145Because what follows is pure innocence.
146. like a wilful youth: i.e., because I have behaved recklessly, as youth does.
146I owe you much, and, like a wilful youth,
147That which I owe is lost; but if you please
148. self: same.
148To shoot another arrow that self way
149Which you did shoot the first, I do not doubt,
150. or: either.
150As I will watch the aim, or to find both
151. latter hazard: second risk.
151Or bring your latter hazard back again
152And thankfully rest debtor for the first.
153. spend but: only waste.
153You know me well, and herein spend but time
154. To . . . circumstance: i.e., to approach my favor cautiously, as though stalking me . . . more 155. out of: beyond. 156. In making question of my uttermost: in showing any doubt of my intention to do all I can.
154To wind about my love with circumstance;
155And out of doubt you do me now more wrong
156In making question of my uttermost
157Than if you had made waste of all I have:
158Then do but say to me what I should do
159That in your knowledge may by me be done,
160. prest unto: ready for.
160And I am prest unto it: therefore, speak.
161. richly left: left a large fortune (by her father's will).
161In Belmont is a lady richly left;
162. fairer than that word: what is better still.
162And she is fair, and, fairer than that word,
163. sometimes: formerly.
163Of wondrous virtues: sometimes from her eyes
164I did receive fair speechless messages:
165. nothing undervalu'd: in no way inferior.
165Her name is Portia, nothing undervalu'd
166To Cato's daughter, Brutus' Portia:
167Nor is the wide world ignorant of her worth,
168For the four winds blow in from every coast
169Renowned suitors, and her sunny locks
170Hang on her temples like a golden fleece;
171. Colchos': the country, at the eastern end of the Black Sea, where Jason won the Golden Fleece. strond: strand, shore.
171Which makes her seat of Belmont Colchos' strond,
172And many Jasons come in quest of her.
173O my Antonio, had I but the means
174To hold a rival place with one of them,
175. presages: i.e., which presages. thrift: profit and good fortune; thriving, success. 176. questionless: undoubtedly.
175I have a mind presages me such thrift,
176That I should questionless be fortunate!
177Thou know'st that all my fortunes are at sea;
178. commodity: merchandise.
178Neither have I money nor commodity
179To raise a present sum: therefore go forth;
180Try what my credit can in Venice do:
181. rack'd: stretched.
181That shall be rack'd, even to the uttermost,
182To furnish thee to Belmont, to fair Portia.
183. presently: immediately.
183Go, presently inquire, and so will I,
184‑185. no question make / To: have no doubt that I shall.
184Where money is, and I no question make
185. of my trust or for my sake: on my credit as a businessman, or as a friendly loan.
185To have it of my trust or for my sake.