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The Merchant of Venice

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

75You look not well, Signor Antonio.
You have too much respect upon the world.
They lose it that do buy it with much care.
Believe me, you are marvelously changed.
You don’t look well, Antonio. You’re taking things too seriously. People with too much invested in the world always get hurt. I’m telling you, you don’t look like yourself.
I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano—
80A stage where every man must play a part,
And mine a sad one.
For me the world is just the world, Gratiano—a stage where every person has a part to play. I play a sad one.
    Let me play the fool.
With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.
And let my liver rather heat with wine
Than my heart cool with mortifying groans.
85Why should a man whose blood is warm within
Sit like his grandsire cut in alabaster,
Sleep when he wakes, and creep into the jaundice
By being peevish? I tell thee what, Antonio—
I love thee, and ’tis my love that speaks—
90There are a sort of men whose visages
Do cream and mantle like a standing pond,
And do a willful stillness entertain
With purpose to be dressed in an opinion
Of wisdom, gravity, profound conceit,
95As who should say, “I am Sir Oracle,
And when I ope my lips, let no dog bark!”
O my Antonio, I do know of these
That therefore only are reputed wise
For saying nothing, when I am very sure
100If they should speak, would almost damn those ears
Which, hearing them, would call their brothers fools.
I’ll tell thee more of this another time.
But fish not with this melancholy bait
For this fool gudgeon, this opinion.—
105Come, good Lorenzo.—Fare ye well awhile.
I’ll end my exhortation after dinner.
Then I’ll play the happy fool and get laugh lines on my face. I’d rather overload my liver with wine than starve my heart by denying myself fun. Why should any living man sit still like a statue? Why should he sleep when he’s awake? Why should he get ulcers from being crabby all the time? I love you, and I’m telling you this because I care about you, Antonio—there are men who always look serious. Their faces never move or show any expression, like stagnant ponds covered with scum. They’re silent and stern, and they think they’re wise and deep, important and respectable. When they talk, they think everybody else should keep quiet, and that even dogs should stop barking. I know a lot of men like that, Antonio. The only reason they’re considered wise is because they don’t say anything. I’m sure if they ever opened their mouths, everyone would see what fools they are. I’ll talk to you more about this some other time. In the meantime, cheer up. Don’t go around looking so glum. That’s my opinion, but what do I know? I’m a fool.—Let’s go, Lorenzo.—Goodbye for now. I’ll finish my lecture after dinner.