A line-by-line translation

The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice Translation Act 3, Scene 4

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Enter PORTIA, NERISSA, LORENZO, JESSICA, and BALTHAZAR, a man of PORTIA’s

LORENZO

Madam, although I speak it in your presence, You have a noble and a true conceit Of godlike amity, which appears most strongly In bearing thus the absence of your lord. But if you knew to whom you show this honor, How true a gentleman you send relief, How dear a lover of my lord your husband, I know you would be prouder of the work Than customary bounty can enforce you.

LORENZO

Madam, if I may say so in front of you, I believe you have the noble and true goodwill of a god, which is most apparent in the way you are dealing with the absence of your husband. If you knew the man whom you are helping, how honest a gentleman you are sending relief to, how close a friend of your husband he is, then I know you would be even prouder of what you are doing than you are now.

PORTIA

I never did repent for doing good, Nor shall not now; for in companions That do converse and waste the time together Whose souls do bear an equal yoke of love, There must be needs a like proportion Of lineaments, of manners, and of spirit, Which makes me think that this Antonio, Being the bosom lover of my lord, Must needs be like my lord. If it be so, How little is the cost I have bestowed In purchasing the semblance of my soul From out the state of hellish cruelty! This comes too near the praising of myself. Therefore no more of it. Hear other things. Lorenzo, I commit into your hands The husbandry and manage of my house Until my lord’s return. For mine own part, I have toward heaven breathed a secret vow To live in prayer and contemplation, Only attended by Nerissa here Until her husband and my lord’s return. There is a monastery two miles off, And there will we abide. I do desire you Not to deny this imposition, The which my love and some necessity Now lays upon you.

PORTIA

I have never regretted doing good, and I will not do so now. Friends who converse and spend time together a lot, who love each other equally, share similar manners and spirit, so I think that this Antonio, being so close to my husband, must be like him. If he is as good as my husband, then it is a small sum of money that I have spent in purchasing his rescue from hellish cruelty, since he resembles my soul, my husband. But I'm coming too close to praising myself. Therefore I won't say anything more. Let's talk about something else. Lorenzo, I put you in charge of managing my household until my husband returns. As for myself, I have made a secret vow to heaven to live a life of prayer and contemplation, accompanied only by Nerissa here, until both our husbands return. There is a monastery two miles away where we will stay. I ask you not to refuse the duty I've asked of you, which necessity and my love for you compels me to lay on you.

LORENZO

Madam, with all my heart.I shall obey you in all fair commands.

LORENZO

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PORTIA

My people do already know my mind And will acknowledge you and Jessica In place of Lord Bassanio and myself. So fare you well till we shall meet again.

PORTIA

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LORENZO

Fair thoughts and happy hours attend on you!

LORENZO

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JESSICA

I wish your ladyship all heart’s content.

JESSICA

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PORTIA

I thank you for your wish, and am well pleasedTo wish it back on you. Fare you well, Jessica.

PORTIA

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Exeunt JESSICA and LORENZO

Now, Balthazar, As I have ever found thee honest true, So let me find thee still. [gives BALTHAZAR a letter] Take this same letter, And use thou all th' endeavour of a man In speed to Padua. See thou render this Into my cousin’s hands, Doctor Bellario. 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 Which trades to Venice. Waste no time in words, But get thee gone. I shall be there before thee.

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BALTHAZAR

Madam, I go with all convenient speed.

BALTHAZAR

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Exit BALTHAZAR

PORTIA

Come on, Nerissa, I have work in handThat you yet know not of. We’ll see our husbandsBefore they think of us.

PORTIA

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NERISSA

Shall they see us?

NERISSA

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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, I’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 Like 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. And 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

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NERISSA

Why, shall we turn to men?

NERISSA

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PORTIA

Fie, what a question’s that If thou wert near a lewd interpreter! But come, I’ll tell thee all my whole device When I am in my coach, which stays for us At the park gate. And therefore haste away, For we must measure twenty miles today.

PORTIA

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Exeunt

The merchant of venice
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Matt cosby
About the Translator: Matt Cosby
Matt Cosby graduated from Amherst College in 2011, and currently works as a writer and editor for LitCharts. He is from Florida but now lives in Portland, Oregon, where he also makes art, plays the piano, and goes to dog parks.