The Merchant of Venice: Act 1, Scene 1


           Enter ANTONIO, SALERIO,
            and SOLANIO.

      ANTONIO
1. sooth: truth. sad: melancholy.
  1   In sooth, I know not why I am so sad:
  2   It wearies me; you say it wearies you;
  3   But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,
  4   What 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.
  5   I am to learn;
  6   And such a want-wit sadness makes of me,
  7   That I have much ado to know myself.

      SALERIO
  8   Your mind is tossing on the ocean;
9. argosies: large merchant ships. portly: stately.
  9   There, where your argosies with portly sail,
10. signiors: gentlemen of substance.
 10   Like signiors and rich burghers on the flood,
11. pageants: high mobile stages used for the miracle plays—something 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.
 11   Or, as it were, the pageants of the sea,
 12   Do overpeer the petty traffickers,
 13   That cur'sy to them, do them reverence,
 14   As they fly by them with their woven wings.

      SOLANIO
15. venture: speculative commercial enterprise.
 15   Believe me, sir, had I such venture forth,
16. affections: thoughts and feelings.
 16   The better part of my affections would
17. still: continually, constantly.
 17   Be with my hopes abroad. I should be still
 18   Plucking the grass, to know where sits the wind,
19. roads: roadsteads [stretch of water near a shore], anchorages.
 19   Peering in maps for ports and piers and roads;
 20   And every object that might make me fear
21. out of doubt: undoubtedly.
 21   Misfortune to my ventures, out of doubt
 22   Would make me sad.

      SALERIO
 22                           My wind cooling my broth
26. flats: shoals.
 23   Would blow me to an ague, when I thought
 24   What harm a wind too great at sea might do.
 25   I should not see the sandy hour-glass run,
 26   But 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.
 27   And see my wealthy Andrew dock'd in sand,
 28   Vailing her high-top lower than her ribs
 29   To kiss her burial. Should I go to church
 30   And see the holy edifice of stone,
31. bethink me straight: be put in mind straightway.
 31   And not bethink me straight of dangerous rocks,
32. gentle: noble.
 32   Which touching but my gentle vessel's side,
 33   Would scatter all her spices on the stream,
 34   Enrobe the roaring waters with my silks,
35. but even now: i.e., just a moment ago.
 35   And, in a word, but even now worth this,
 36   And now worth nothing? Shall I have the thought
 37   To think on this, and shall I lack the thought
38. bechanc'd: should it happen.
 38   That such a thing bechanc'd would make me sad?
 39   But tell not me; I know, Antonio
 40   Is sad to think upon his merchandise.

      ANTONIO
 41   Believe me, no: I thank my fortune for it,
42. bottom: ship.
 42   My ventures are not in one bottom trusted,
 43   Nor 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.
 44   Upon the fortune of this present year:
 45   Therefore my merchandise makes me not sad.

      SOLANIO
 46   Why, then you are in love.

      ANTONIO
 46                                           Fie, fie!





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.
      SOLANIO
 47   Not in love neither? Then let us say you are sad
 48   Because you are not merry: and 'twere as easy
 49   For you to laugh and leap and say you are merry,
 50   Because you are not sad. Now, by two-headed Janus,
 51   Nature hath framed strange fellows in her time:
 52   Some that will evermore peep through their eyes
 53   And laugh like parrots at a bag-piper,
 54   And other of such vinegar aspect
 55   That 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.
 56   Though Nestor swear the jest be laughable.

           Enter BASSANIO, LORENZO,
           and GRATIANO.

      SOLANIO
 57   Here comes Bassanio, your most noble kinsman,
 58   Gratiano and Lorenzo. Fare ye well:
 59   We leave you now with better company.

      SALERIO
 60   I would have stay'd till I had made you merry,
61. prevented: forestalled.
 61   If worthier friends had not prevented me.

      ANTONIO
 62   Your worth is very dear in my regard.
 63   I take it, your own business calls on you
64. embrace the occasion: take advantage of the opportunity.
 64   And you embrace the occasion to depart.

      SALERIO
 65   Good morrow, my good lords.

      BASSANIO
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.
 66   Good signiors both, when shall we laugh? say, when?
 67   You grow exceeding strange: must it be so?

      SALERIO
68. attend on: wait upon; i.e., suit.
 68   We'll make our leisures to attend on yours.

           Exeunt Salerio and Solanio.

      LORENZO
 69   My Lord Bassanio, since you have found Antonio,
 70   We two will leave you: but at dinner-time,
 71   I pray you, have in mind where we must meet.

      BASSANIO
 72   I will not fail you.

      GRATIANO
 73   You look not well, Signior Antonio;
74. respect upon the world: concern for worldly business affairs.
 74   You have too much respect upon the world:
 75   They lose it that do buy it with much care:
 76   Believe me, you are marvellously changed.

      ANTONIO
 77   I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano;
 78   A 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.
 79   And mine a sad one.

      GRATIANO
 79                                 Let me play the fool:
 80   With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come,
 81   And let my liver rather heat with wine
 82   Than my heart cool with mortifying groans.
 83   Why should a man, whose blood is warm within,
 84   Sit like his grandsire cut in alabaster?
 85   Sleep when he wakes and creep into the jaundice
 86   By being peevish? I tell thee what, Antonio—
 87   I love thee, and it is my love that speaks—
 88   There are a sort of men whose visages
 89   Do cream and mantle like a standing pond,
 90   And do a wilful stillness entertain,
 91   With purpose to be dress'd in an opinion
 92   Of wisdom, gravity, profound conceit,
 93   As who should say 'I am Sir Oracle,
 94   And when I ope my lips let no dog bark!'
95. of these: some men.
 95   O my Antonio, I do know of these
96. therefore: for that reason.
 96   That therefore only are reputed wise
 97   For saying nothing; when, I am very sure,
 98   If 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.
 99   Which, hearing them, would call their brothers fools.
100   I'll tell thee more of this another time:
101   But fish not, with this melancholy bait,
102   For this fool gudgeon, this opinion.
103   Come, good Lorenzo. Fare ye well awhile:
104. exhortation: sermon.
104   I'll end my exhortation after dinner.

      LORENZO
105   Well, we will leave you then till dinner-time:
106   I must be one of these same dumb wise men,
107   For Gratiano never lets me speak.

      GRATIANO
108. keep: if you keep. moe: more.
108   Well, keep me company but two years moe,
109   Thou shalt not know the sound of thine own tongue.

      ANTONIO
110. for this gear: as a consequence of all this talk of yours.
110   Farewell: I'll grow a talker for this gear.

      GRATIANO
111   Thanks, i' faith, for silence is only commendable
112. neat's: ox's. vendible: salable; i.e., marriageable.
112   In a neat's tongue dried and a maid not vendible.

           Exeunt [Gratiano and Lorenzo].

      ANTONIO
113. Is that any thing now?: i.e., did Gratiano make any sense at all?
113   Is that any thing now?

      BASSANIO
114   Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of nothing, more
115. reasons: reasonable statements, sensible ideas.
115   than any man in all Venice. His reasons are as two
116   grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff: you
117   shall seek all day ere you find them, and when you
118   have them, they are not worth the search.

      ANTONIO
119   Well, tell me now what lady is the same
120   To whom you swore a secret pilgrimage,
121   That you today promised to tell me of?

      BASSANIO
122   'Tis not unknown to you, Antonio,
123   How 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.
124   By something showing a more swelling port
125   Than my faint means would grant continuance:
126   Nor do I now make moan to be abridg'd
127. rate: manner of living.
127   From such a noble rate; but my chief care
128. fairly: fitly, honorably; or perhaps completely (cf. line 134). 129. time: youth.
128   Is to come fairly off from the great debts
129   Wherein my time something too prodigal
130. gag'd: pledged.
130   Hath left me gag'd. To you, Antonio,
131   I owe the most, in money and in love,
132   And from your love I have a warranty
133   To unburden all my plots and purposes
134   How to get clear of all the debts I owe.

      ANTONIO
135   I pray you, good Bassanio, let me know it;
136. still: always.
136   And if it stand, as you yourself still do,
137. eye: sight, view.
137   Within the eye of honor, be assured,
138   My purse, my person, my extremest means,
139. occasions: needs.
139   Lie all unlock'd to your occasions.

      BASSANIO
140. shaft: arrow.
140   In my school-days, when I had lost one shaft,
141. his: its. self-same flight: same kind and range.
141   I shot his fellow of the self-same flight
142. advised: considered, careful, deliberate.
142   The self-same way with more advised watch,
143. forth: out.
143   To find the other forth, and by adventuring both
144. urge: put forward, bring up. proof: experience.
144   I oft found both: I urge this childhood proof,
145. innocence: childish folly (?) or childlike sincerity (?).
145   Because what follows is pure innocence.
146. like a wilful youth: i.e., because I have behaved recklessly, as youth does.
146   I owe you much, and, like a wilful youth,
147   That which I owe is lost; but if you please
148. self: same.
148   To shoot another arrow that self way
149   Which you did shoot the first, I do not doubt,
150. or: either.
150   As I will watch the aim, or to find both
151. latter hazard: second risk.
151   Or bring your latter hazard back again
152   And thankfully rest debtor for the first.

      ANTONIO
153. spend but: only waste.
153   You 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.
154   To wind about my love with circumstance;
155   And out of doubt you do me now more wrong
156   In making question of my uttermost
157   Than if you had made waste of all I have:
158   Then do but say to me what I should do
159   That in your knowledge may by me be done,
160. prest unto: ready for.
160   And I am prest unto it: therefore, speak.

      BASSANIO
161. richly left: left a large fortune (by her father's will).
161   In Belmont is a lady richly left;
162. fairer than that word: what is better still.
162   And she is fair, and, fairer than that word,
163. sometimes: formerly.
163   Of wondrous virtues: sometimes from her eyes
164   I did receive fair speechless messages:
165. nothing undervalu'd: in no way inferior.
165   Her name is Portia, nothing undervalu'd
166   To Cato's daughter, Brutus' Portia:
167   Nor is the wide world ignorant of her worth,
168   For the four winds blow in from every coast
169   Renowned suitors, and her sunny locks
170   Hang 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.
171   Which makes her seat of Belmont Colchos' strond,
172   And many Jasons come in quest of her.
173   O my Antonio, had I but the means
174   To hold a rival place with one of them,
175. presages: i.e., which presages. thrift: profit and good fortune; thriving, success. 176. questionless: undoubtedly.
175   I have a mind presages me such thrift,
176   That I should questionless be fortunate!

      ANTONIO
177   Thou know'st that all my fortunes are at sea;
178. commodity: merchandise.
178   Neither have I money nor commodity
179   To raise a present sum: therefore go forth;
180   Try what my credit can in Venice do:
181. rack'd: stretched.
181   That shall be rack'd, even to the uttermost,
182   To furnish thee to Belmont, to fair Portia.
183. presently: immediately.
183   Go, presently inquire, and so will I,
184‑185. no question make / To: have no doubt that I shall.
184   Where 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.
185   To have it of my trust or for my sake.

           Exeunt.