A gentle scroll. Fair lady, by your leave,
I come by note to give and to receive.
145Like one of two contending in a prize
That thinks he hath done well in people’s eyes,
Hearing applause and universal shout,
Giddy in spirit, still gazing in a doubt
Whether these pearls of praise be his or no—
150So, thrice fair lady, stand I even so,
As doubtful whether what I see be true
Until confirmed, signed, ratified by you.
A nice message. My lady, with your permission, this note authorizes me to give myself to you with a kiss. But I’m in a daze, like someone who’s just won a contest and thinks that all the applause and cheering is for him, but isn’t sure yet. And so, beautiful lady, I’m standing here just like that, wondering whether all this can be true until you tell me it is.
You see me, Lord Bassanio, where I stand
Such as I am. Though for myself alone
155I 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 more rich—
That only to stand high in your account
160I might in virtue, beauties, livings, friends
Exceed account. But the full sum of me
Is sum of something which, to term in gross,
Is an unlessoned girl, unschooled, unpracticèd;
Happy in this—she is not yet so old
165But she may learn. 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 lord, her governor, her king.
170Myself 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, but now,
This house, these servants, and this same myself
175Are yours, my lord’s. I give them with this ring,
Which when you part from, lose, or give away,
Let it presage the ruin of your love
You see me standing here, Lord Bassanio. What you see is what you get. Though I wouldn’t wish to be better for my own sake, for your sake I wish I were twenty times more than myself—a thousand times more beautiful and ten thousand times richer—just so you might value me more, so my good qualities, beauty, possessions, and friends would be more than you could calculate. What you’re getting is an innocent and inexperienced girl. I’m happy that at least I’m not too old to learn new things. I’m even happier that I’m not stupid, and I can learn. I’m happiest of all that I’m yours now, my lord, my king, and you can guide me as you wish. Everything I am and everything I have now belongs to you. Just a minute ago I was the owner of this beautiful mansion, master of these servants, and queen over myself. But as of right this second all these things are yours. With this ring I give them all to you.