PORTIA By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is aweary of this great world.
NERISSA You would be, sweet madam, if your miseries were in the same abundance as your good fortunes are: and yet, for aught I see, they are as sick that surfeit with too much as they that starve with nothing. It is no mean happiness therefore, to be seated in the mean: superfluity comes sooner by white hairs, but competency lives longer.
PORTIA Good sentences and well pronounced.
NERISSA They would be better, if well followed.
PORTIA If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches and poor men’s cottages princes’ palaces. It is a good divine that
follows his own instructions: I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done, than be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching. The brain may
devise laws for the blood, but a hot temper leaps o’er a cold decree: such a hare is madness the youth, to skip o’er the meshes of good counsel the
cripple. But this reasoning is not in the fashion to choose me a husband. O me, the word ‘choose!’ I may neither choose whom I would nor refuse whom I dislike; so is the will of a living daughter curbed by the will of a dead father. Is it not hard, Nerissa, that I cannot choose one nor refuse none?
NERISSA Your father was ever virtuous; and holy men at their death have good inspirations: therefore the lottery, that he hath devised in these three chests of gold, silver and lead, whereof who chooses his meaning chooses you, will, no doubt, never be chosen by any rightly but one who shall rightly love. But what warmth is there in your affection towards any of these princely suitors that are already come?
PORTIA I pray thee, over-name them; and as thou namest them, I will describe them; and, according to my description, level at my affection.
(b) Using your understanding of the extract, explain how the following lines might be
performed. (in bold)
(c) In the extract, Nerissa discusses wealth.
Comment on the importance of wealth in one other part of the play.