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I will not choose what many men desire,
Because I will not jump with common spirits,
And rank me with the barbarous multitudes.
Why, then to thee, thou silver treasure-house;
Tell me once more what title thou dost bear:
Who chooseth me, shall get as much as he deserves:
And well said too: For who shall go about
To cozen fortune, and be honorable
Without the stamp of merit? Let none presume
To wear an undeserved dignity.
O, that estates degrees, and offices
Were not derived corruptly! and that clear honor
Were purchased by the merit of the wearer!
How many then should cover, that stand bare?
How many be commanded, that command?
How much low peasantry would then be glean'd
From the true seed of honor? and how much honor
Pick'd from the chaff and ruin of the times,
To be new varnish'd? Well, but to my choice:
Who chooseth me, shall get as much as he deserves :
I will assume desert;-Give me a key for this,
And instantly unlock my fortunes here.
Por. Too long a pause for that which you find there.
Ar. What's here? the portrait of a blinking idiot,
Presenting me a schedule? I will read it.
How much unlike art thou to Portia!
How much unlike my hopes, and my deservings!
Who chooseth me, shall have as much as he deserves :
Did I deserve no more than a fool's head?
Is that my prize? are my deserts no better?
Por. To offend, and judge, are distinct offices,
And of opposed natures.
Ar. What is here?
The fire seven times tried this;
Seven times tried that judgment is,
That did never choose amiss:
Some there be, that shadows kiss:
Such have but a shadow's bliss:
There be fools alive, I wis,2
Silver'd o'er; and so was this.
Still more fool I shall appear
By the time I linger here:
With one fool's head I came to woo,
But I go away with two.-
Sweet, adieu! I'll keep my oath,
Patiently to bear my wroth.3
Bass. So may the outward shows be least themselves;
The world is still deceived with ornament.
In law what plea so tainted and corrupt,
But, being season'd with a gracious voice,
1 The meaning is, how much meanness would be found among the great, and how much greatness, among the mean. 2 I know. 3 My misfortune. *
Obscures the show of evil? In religion,
What damned error, but some sober brow
Will bless it, and approve it' with a text,
Hiding the grossness with fair ornament?
There is no vice so simple, but assumes
Some mark of virtue on its outward parts.
How many cowards, whose hearts are all as false
As stairs of sand, wear yet upon their chins
The beards of Hercules and frowning Mars;
Who, inward search'd, have livers white as milk?
And these assume but valor's excrements
To render them redoubted. Look on beauty,
And you shall see 'tis purchased by the weight;
Which therein works a miracle in nature,
Making them lightest that wear most of it:
So are those crisped2 snaky golden locks,
Which make such wanton gambols with the wind,
Upon supposed fairness, often known
To be the dowry of a second head,
The skull that bred them in the sepulchre.
Thus ornament is but the guiled3 shore
To a most dangerous sea; the beauteous scarf
Veiling an Indian beauty; in a word,
The seeming truth which cunning times put on
To entrap the wisest. Therefore, thou gaudy gold,
Hard food for Midas, I will none of thee:
Nor none of thee, thou pale and common drudge
"Tween man and man: but thou, thou meagre lead,
Which rather threat'nest, than dost promise aught,
Thy plainness moves me more than eloquence,
And here choose I: Joy be the consequence!
Opening the leaden casket. What find I here?
Fair Portia's counterfeit ?4
Here's the scroll,
The continent and summary of my fortune
You that choose not by the view,
Chance as fair, and choose as true!
Since this fortune falls to you,
Be content and seek no new.
If you be well pleased with this,
And hold your fortune for your bliss,
Turn you where your lady is,
And claim her with a loving kiss.
Por. You see me, lord Bassanio, where I stand,
Such as I am: though, for myself alone,
I would not be ambitious in my wish,
To wish myself much better; yet, for you,
I would be trebled twenty times myself;
A thousand times more fair, ten thousand times
That only to stand high on your account,
1 Justify it.
8 The treacherous shore.
4 Counterfeit here means a likeness, a resemblance. 5 That Is the "beard".
I might in virtues, beauties, livings, friends,
Exceed account: but the full sum of me
Is suin of something: which, to term in gross,
Is an unlesson'd girl, unschool'd, unpractised:
Happy in this, she is not yet so old
But she may learn; and happier than this,
She is not bred so dull but she can learn;
Happiest of all, is, that her gentle spirit
Commits itself to yours to be directed,
As from her loid, her governor, her king.
Myself, and what is mine, to you and yours
Is now converted: but now I was the lord
Of this fair mansion, master of my servants,
Queen o'er myself; and even now,
This house, these servants, and this same myself,
Are yours, my lord; I give them with this ring;
Which when you part from, lose, or give away,
Let it presage the ruin of your love,
And be my vantage to exclaim on you.
Merchant of Venice, Acts II. and III.
THE SEVEN AGES.
The banished duke, with Jaques and other lords, are in the forest of Arden, sitting at their plain repast. Orlando, who had been wandering in the forest in quest of food for an old servant, Adam, who could "go no further," suddenly comes upon the party, and with his sword drawn, exclaims,
Forbear, I say;
He dies that touches any of this fruit,
Till I and my affairs are answer'd.
Jaques. An you will not
Be answer'd with reason, I must die.
Duke Sen. What would you have? Your gentleness shall force,
More than your force move us to gentleness.
Orla. I almost die for food, and let me have it.
Duke Sen. Sit down and feed, and welcome to our table.
Orla. Speak you so gently? Pardon me, I pray you;
I thought that all things had been savage here;
And therefore put I on the countenance
Of stern commandment. But whate'er you are,
That in this desert inaccessible,
Under the shade of melancholy boughs,
Lose and neglect the creeping hours of time;
If ever you have look'd on better days;
If ever been where bells have knoll'd to church;
If ever sat at any good man's feast;
If ever from your eyelids wiped a tear,
And know what 'tis to pity, and be pitied;,
Let gentleness my strong enforcement be:
In the which hope, I blush, and hide my sword.
Duke Sen. True it is that we have seen better days;
And have with holy bell been knoll'd to church;
And sat at good men's feasts; and wiped our eyes
Of drops that sacred pity hath engender'd:
And therefore sit you down in gentleness,
And take upon command1 what help we have
That to your wanting may be minister'd.
Orla. Then but forbear your food a little while,
Whiles, like a doe, I go to find my fawn,
And give it food. There is an old poor man,
Who after me hath many a weary step
Limp'd in pure love; till he be first sufficed,-
Oppress'd with two weak evils, age and hunger,—
I will not touch a bit.
Duke Sen. Go find him out,
And we will nothing waste till your return.
Orla. I thank ye: and be bless'd for your good comfort! [Exit
Duke Sen. Thou seest, we are not all alone unhappy >
This wide and universal theatre
Presents more woful pageants than the scene
Wherein we play in.
Jaq. All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms:
And then, the whining school-boy with his satchel,
And shining morning-face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school: And then the lover;
Sighing like furnace, with a woful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow: Then, a soldier;
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth: And then, the justice;
In fair round belly, with good capon lined,
With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern3 instances,
And so he plays his part: The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon;
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side:
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound: Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness, and mere oblivion:
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans every thing. /
As You Like It, Act II. Scene VII.
The Duke of Clarence, having been imprisoned in the Tower, for the purpose of being murdered, by his brother Richard III., thus relates to Sir Robert Brakenbury, the lieutenant of the Tower, his dream of the preceding night:
1 At your command.
? In Shakspeare's time beards were of different cuts, according to different characters and profes sions. The soldier had one fashion, the judge another, &c. 3 Trite, common instances
Brakenbury. Why looks your grace so heavily to-day?
Clarence. O, have pass'd a miserable night,
So full of fearful dreams, of ugly sights,
That as I am a Christian faithful man,1
I would not spend another such a night,
Though "twere to buy a world of happy days;
So full of dismal terror was the time.
Brak. What was your dream, my lord? I pray you tell me.
Clar. Methought, that I had broken from
And was embark'd to cross to Burgandy
And, in my company, my brother Gloster
Who from my cabin tempted me
Upon the hatches; thence we look'd toward England,
And cited up a thousand heavy times,
During the wars of York and Lancaster,
That had befall'n us. As we paced along
Upon the giddy footing of the hatches,
Methought, that Gloster stumbled; and, in falling,
Struck me, that thought to stay him, overboard
Into the tumbling billows of the main.
O Lord! methought, what pain it was to drown!
What dreadful noise of water in mine ears!
What sights of ugly death within mine eyes!
Methought saw a thousand fearful wrecks;
A thousand men, that fishes gnaw'd upon;,
Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl,
Inestimable stones, unvalued2 jewels,
All scatter'd in the bottom of the sea
Some lay in dead men's skulls; and, in those holes,
Where eyes did once inhabit, there were crept
(As 'twere in scorn of eyes) reflecting gems,
That woo'd the slimy bottom of the deep,、
And mock'd the dead bones that lay scatter'd by.
Brak. Had you such leisure in the time of death
To gaze upon these secrets of the deep?
Clar. Methought I had; and often did I strive
To yield the ghost; but still the envious flood
Kept in my soul, and would not let it forth
To seek the empty, vast, and wandering air;
But smother'd it within my panting bulk,
Which almost burst to belch it in the sea.
Brak. Awaked you not with this sore agony?
Clar. O, no, my dream was lengthen'd after life;
O, then began the tempest to my soul!
I pass'd, methought, the melancholy flood,
With that grim ferryman which poets write of,
Unto the kingdom of perpetual night.
The first that there did greet my stranger soul,
Was my great father-in-law, renowned Warwick;
Who cried aloud, What scourge for perjury
Can this dark monarchy afford false Clarence?
And so he vanish'd: Then came wandering by
A shadow like an angel, with bright hair
1 That is, not au infidel.