William Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice

ACT 1.
SCENE 2. Belmont. A room in PORTIA'S house


By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is aweary of this
great world.

You would be, sweet madam, if your miseries were in the
same abundance as your good fortunes are; and yet, for aught I
see, they are as sick that surfeit with too much as they that
starve with nothing. It is no mean happiness, therefore, to be
seated in the mean: superfluity come sooner by white hairs, but
competency lives longer.

Good sentences, and well pronounced.

They would be better, if well followed.

If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do,
chapels had been churches, and poor men's cottages princes'
palaces. It is a good divine that follows his own instructions; I
can easier teach twenty what were good to be done than to be one
of the twenty to follow mine own teaching. The brain may devise
laws for the blood, but a hot temper leaps o'er a cold decree;
such a hare is madness the youth, to skip o'er the meshes of good
counsel the cripple. But this reasoning is not in the fashion to
choose me a husband. O me, the word 'choose'! I may neither
choose who I would nor refuse who I dislike; so is the will of a
living daughter curb'd by the will of a dead father. Is it not
hard, Nerissa, that I cannot choose one, nor refuse none?

Your father was ever virtuous, and holy men at their death
have good inspirations; therefore the lott'ry that he hath
devised in these three chests, of gold, silver, and lead, whereof
who chooses his meaning chooses you, will no doubt never be
chosen by any rightly but one who you shall rightly love. But
what warmth is there in your affection towards any of these
princely suitors that are already come?

I pray thee over-name them; and as thou namest them, I will
describe them; and according to my description, level at my

First, there is the Neapolitan prince.

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