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the ring,

the ring,

Por. Even so void is your false heart of truth. .
By Heaven, I will ne'er come in your bed
Until I see the ring.

Ner. Nor I in yours,
Till I again see mine.
Bass.

Sweet Portia, If you

did know to whom I gave the ring, If you did know for whom I

gave And would conceive for what I

gave
And how unwillingly I left the ring,
When nought would be accepted but the ring,
You would abate the strength of your displeasure.

Por. If you had known the virtue of the ring,
Or half her worthiness that gave the ring,
Or your own honor to contain the ring,
You would not then have parted with the ring.
What man is there so much unreasonable,
If you had pleased to have defended it
With any terms of zeal, wanted the modesty
To urge the thing held as a ceremony ?
Nerissa teaches me what to believe;
l'll die for't, but some woman had the ring.

Bass. No, by mine honor, madam, by my soul,
No woman had it, but a civil doctor,
Which did refuse three thousand ducats of me,
And begged the ring; the which I did deny him,
And suffered him to go displeased away ;
Even he that had held up the very life
Of my dear friend. What should I say, sweet lady?
I was enforced to send it after him ;
I was beset with shame and courtesy ;
My honor would not let ingratitude
So much besmear it. Pardon me, good lady;
For, by these blessed candles of the night,
Had

you been there, I think, you would have begged The ring of me to give the worthy doctor.

Por. Let not that doctor e'er come near my house Since he hath got the jewel that I loved,

1 To contain had nearly the same meaning with to retain.
1. e, kept in a measure religiously, or superstitiously,

2

And that which you did swear to keep for me,
I will become as liberal as you.
I'll not deny him any thing I have,
No, not my body, nor my husband's bed.
Know him I shall, I am well sure of it.
Lie not a night from home; watch me, like Argus :
If

you do not, if I be left alone,
Now, by mine honor, which is yet my own,
I'll have that doctor for

my

bedfellow. Ner. And I his clerk ; therefore be well advised, How you do leave me to mine own protection.

Gra. Well, do you so; let not me take him then; For if I do, I'll mar the young

clerk's

pen. Ant. I am the unhappy subject of these quarrels. Por. Sir, grieve not you ; you are welcome notwith

standing
Bass. Portia, forgive me this enforced wrong;
And, in the hearing of these many friends,
I swear to thee, even by thine own fair eyes,
Wherein I see myself,
Por.

Mark you but that!
In both my eyes he doubly sees himself:
In each eye one.-Swear by your double self,
And there's an oath of credit.
Bass.

Nay, but hear me.
Pardon this fault, and by my soul I swear,
I never more will break an oath with thee.

Ant. I once did lend my body for his wealth ;?
Which, but for him that had your husband's ring,

[To PORTIA. Had quite miscarried. I dare be bound again, My soul upon the forfeit, that your lord Will never more break faith advisedly. Por. Then you shall be his surety.

shall be his surety. Give him this; And bid him keep it better than the other.

Ant. Here, lord Bassanio; swear to keep this ring. Bass. By Heaven, it is the same I

gave

the doctor!

1 Double is here used for deceitful, full of duplicity.

2 i. e. for his advantage. VOL. II.

32

Por. I had it of him. Pardon me, Bassanio, For by this ring the doctor lay with me.

Ner. And pardon me, my gentle. Gratiano; For that same scrubbed boy, the doctor's clerk, In lieu of this, last night did lie with me.

Gra. Why, this is like the mending of highways In summer, where the ways are fair enough ; What are we cuckolds, ere we have deserved it?

Por. Speak not so grossly.—You are all amazed. .
Here is a letter; read it at your leisure ;
It comes from Padua, from Bellario;
There you shall find, that Portia was the doctor ;
Nerissa there, her elerk. Lorenzo here
Shall witness, I set forth as soon as you,
And but even now returned. I have not yet
Entered my house.—Antonio, you are welcome,
And I have better news in store for

you,
Than you expect. Unseal this letter soon;
There you shall find, three of your argosies
Are richly come to harbor suddenly;
You shall not know by what strange accident
I chanced on this letter.
Ant.

I am dumb.
Bass. Were you the doctor, and I knew you not ?
Gra. Were you the clerk, that is to make me

cuckold ? Ner. Ay; but the clerk that never means to do it; Unless he live until he be a man.

Bass. Sweet doctor, you shall be my bedfellow, When I am absent, then lie with my wife.

Ant. Sweet lady, you have given me life, and living For here I read for certain, that my ships Are safely come to road. Por.

How now, Lorenzo ? My clerk hath some good comforts too for you.

Ner. Ay, and I'll give them him without a fee.There do I give to you, and Jessica, From the rich Jew, a special deed of gift, After his death, of all he dies possessed of.

Lor. Fair ladies, you drop manna in the way
Of starved people.

Por. It is almost morning,
And yet, I am sure, you are not satisfied
Of these events at full. Let us go in;
And charge us there upon inter’gatories,
And we will answer all things faithfully.

Gra. Let it be so. The first inter’gatory
That my Nerissa shall be sworn on, is,
Whether till the next night she had rather stay,
Or go to bed now, being two hours to day;
But were the day come, I should wish it dark,
That I were couching with the doctor's clerk.
Well, while I live, I'll fear no other thing
So sore, as keeping safe Nerissa's ring. [Exeunt.

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Of the Merchant of Venice the style is even and easy, with few pe

culiarities of diction, or anomalies of construction.

The comic part

raises laughter, and the serious fixes expectation. The probability of either one or the other story cannot be maintained. The union of two actions in one event is in this drama eminently happy. Dryden was much pleased with his own address in connecting the two plots of his Span

ish Friar, which yet. I believe, the critic will find excelled by this play.

JOHNSON

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