The Merchant of Venice
Act 3, Scene 4
Enter PORTIA, NERISSA, LORENZO, JESSICA, and BALTHAZAR, a man of PORTIA’s
PORTIA, NERISSA, LORENZO, and JESSICA enter with BALTHAZAR, a servant of PORTIA’s.
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.
Madam, I hope you don’t mind my saying that I admire your noble respect for friendship, which you show in letting your husband go off to help his friend like this. If you only knew the man you’re helping out, and what a faithful gentleman he is and how much he loves your husband, I know you’d be even prouder of your kindness than you normally might be.
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.
I’ve never regretted doing good, and I don’t now. Friends who spend a lot of time together and really care equally for each other must have many traits in common. Since Antonio’s my husband’s best friend, they must be very similar men. In that case, the money I’ve sent is a small price to pay to rescue someone who resembles my Bassanio, who’s like my own soul.—Anyway, let’s change the subject, since I feel like I’m starting to flatter myself. I have a favor to ask of you. Lorenzo, please take charge of the management of my house until my husband comes back.