The Merchant of Venice

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 3 Scene 4

page Act 3 Scene 4 Page 3

Original Text

Modern Text

And look what notes and garments he doth give thee,
Bring them, I pray thee, with imagined speed
Unto the traject, to the common ferry
55Which trades to Venice. Waste no time in words,
But get thee gone. I shall be there before thee.
And as quickly as possible, take whatever letters and clothes he gives you to the public ferry that goes back and forth to Venice. Don’t waste time talking now. Just go. I’ll meet you at the ferry.

BALTHAZAR

Madam, I go with all convenient speed.

BALTHAZAR

I’ll go as fast as I can, madam.
Exit BALTHAZAR
He exits.

PORTIA

Come on, Nerissa, I have work in hand
That you yet know not of. We’ll see our husbands
60Before they think of us.

PORTIA

Come on, Nerissa, I have many things to do that you don’t even know about yet. We’ll see our husbands before they even have a chance to miss us.

NERISSA

    Shall they see us?

NERISSA

Will they see us?

PORTIA

They shall, Nerissa, but in such a habit
That they shall think we are accomplishèd
With that we lack. I’ll hold thee any wager,
When we are both accoutred like young men,
65I’ll prove the prettier fellow of the two,
And wear my dagger with the braver grace,
And speak between the change of man and boy
With a reed voice, and turn two mincing steps
Into a manly stride, and speak of frays
70Like a fine bragging youth, and tell quaint lies,
How honorable ladies sought my love,
Which I denying, they fell sick and died—
I could not do withal!—Then I’ll repent
And wish for all that, that I had not killed them.
75And twenty of these puny lies I’ll tell,
That men shall swear I have discontinued school
Above a twelvemonth. I have within my mind
A thousand raw tricks of these bragging jacks
Which I will practice.

PORTIA

They will, Nerissa, but we’ll be disguised as men. I’ll bet you anything that I’ll be handsomer than you when we’re both dressed up. I’ll wear my sword more gracefully, and speak like a teenage boy, and walk with a manly stride rather than my ladylike steps. I’ll talk about fights like a bragging youth, and I’ll tell cute lies about honorable ladies who fell in love with me and got sick and died when I rejected them. They just died, what could I do! Then I’ll start feeling sorry for them, wishing I hadn’t killed them. I’ll tell twenty lies like that, so men will think I graduated from school at least a year ago. I know a thousand immature tricks like that, and I’ll use them all.