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To part so slightly with your wife's first gift;
gave my love a ring, and made him swear
Bass. Why, I were best to cut my left hand off,
Gra. My lord Bassanio gave his ring away
What ring gave you, my lord ?
Bass. If I could add a lie unto a fault,
Por. Even so void is your false heart of truth.
Por. If you had known the virtue of the ring,
Nor I in yours,
Or half her worthiness that gave the ring,
your own honour to contain 17 the ring,
Bass. No, by mine honour, madam, by my soul,
house: Since he hath got the jewel that I lov’d, And that which you did swear to keep for me, I will become as liberal as you:
17 To contain had nearly the same meaning with to retain. So in Bacon's Essays, 4to. 1625, p. 327: “To containe anger from mischiefe, though it take hold of a man, there be two things ?'
18 i.e. kept in a measure religiously, or superstitiously. Johnson remarks, that this is a very licentious expression, but we have it again in Julius Cæsar, Calphurnia says:
•Cæsar, I never stood on ceremonies,
But now they fright me.' 19 We have again the same expression in one of Shakspeare's Sonnets, in Macbeth, and in Romeo and Jaliet.
I'll not deny him any thing I have,
you do not, if I be left alone,
bedfellow. Ner. And I his clerk; therefore be well advis’d, 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.
but that! In both my eyes he doubly sees himself: In each eye, one:-swear by your double 20 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 21; 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
lord Will never more break faith advisedly.
20 Double is here used for deceitful, full of duplicity.
21 i. e. for his advantage; to obtain his happiness. Wealth was the term generally opposed to adversity or calamity. So in The Litany: 'in all time of our wealth. It is only another form of weal; we say indifferently common-weal, or commonwealth.
Por. Then you 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
the doctor! 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 deserv'd it?
Por. Speak not so grossly.—You are all amaz'd: Here is a letter, read it at your leisure; It comes from Padua, from Bellario: There
shall find, that Portia was the doctor;
my house.—Antonio, you are welcome;
I am dumb.
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; VOL. III.
For here I read for certain, that my ships
Ner. Ay, and I'll give them him without a fee.-
Lor. Fair ladies, you drop manna in the way
It is almost morning,
Gra. Let it be so: The first inter’gatory That ту
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.
OF THE MERCHANT OF VENICE the style is even and easy, with few peculiarities of diction, or anomalies of construction. The comick 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 SPANISH FRIAR, which yet, I believe, the critick will find excelled by this play.