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A thing stuck on with oaths upon your finger,
Bass. Why, I were best to cut my left hand off, And swear, I lost the ring defending it. [Aside.
Gra. My lord Bassanio gave his ring away Unto the judge that begg'd it, and, indeed, Deserv'd it too ;' and then the boy, his clerk, That took some pains in writing, he begg'd mine: And neither man, nor master, would take aught But the two rings. Por.
What ring gave you, my lord? Not that, I hope, which you receiv'd of me.
Bass. If I could add a lie unto a fault,
Por. Even so void is your false heart of truth,
Nor I in yours,
When naught would be accepted but the ring,
Por. If you had known the virtue of the ring;
Buss. 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: 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:
do not, if I be left alone,
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.
Nay, but hear me:
Ant. I once did lend my body for his wealth;a 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: 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 desery'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;
I am dumb.
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 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.-
Lor. Fair ladies, you drop manna in the way
It is almost morning,
Gra. Let it be so: The first intergatory, That
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. [Ereunt.
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