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190 If

Gra. My Lord Bassanio gave his ring away
Unto the judge that begg’d it and indeed

Deserved it too; and then the boy, his clerk, 180 That took some pains in writing, he begg’d mine;

And neither man nor master would take aught
But the two rings.

What ring gave you, my lord ?
Not that, I hope, which you received of me.

Bass. If I could add a lie unto a fault,
185 I would deny it; but you see my finger
Hath not the ring upon it; it is gone.

Por. Even so void is your false heart of truth.

Bass. Sweet Portia,
If you did know to whom I gave the ring,

did know for whom I gave the ring
And would conceive for what I gave the ring
And how unwillingly I left the ring,
When nought would be accepted but the ring,

You would abate the strength of your displeasure. 195 Por. If


had known the virtue of the ring,
Or half her worthiness that gave the ring,

your own honour to contain the ring,
You would not then have parted with the ring.

What man is there so much unreasonable,

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 :
I'll die for’t but some woman had the ring.

Bass. No, by my honour, madam, by my soul,
No woman had it, but a civil doctor,
Which did refuse three thousand ducats of me
And begg’d the ring; the which I did deny him

And suffer'd him to go displeased away; 210 Even he that did uphold 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 honour would not let ingratitude 215 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 begg'd
The ring of me to give the worthy doctor.

Por. Let not that doctor e'er come near my house: 220 Since he hath got the jewel that I loved,

And that which you did swear to keep for me.
I will become as liberal as you;
I'll not deny him anything I have.

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

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 -



but that! 230 In both my eyes he doubly sees himself;

In each eye, one: swear by your double self,
And there's an oath of credit.

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,
Had quite miscarried : I dare be bound again,
My soul upon the forfeit, that your lord

Will never more break faith advisedly.
240 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.


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Bass. By heaven, it is the same I gave the doctor!

Por. I had of him. You are all amazed : 245 Here is a letter; read it at your leisure;

It comes from Padua, from Bellario:

you shall find that Portia was the doctor, Nerissa there her clerk: Lorenzo here

Shall witness I set forth as soon as you,
250 And even but now return’d; I have not yet

Enter'd 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 255 Are richly come to harbour suddenly:

You shall not know by what strange accident
I chanced on this letter.

I am dumb.
Bass. Were you the doctor, and I knew you not ?

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

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,
265 From the rich Jew, a special deed of gift,
After his death, of all he dies possess'd of.

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

It is almost morning, And yet I am sure you are not satisfied 270 Of these events at full. Let us go in;

And charge us there upon inter’gatories,
And we will answer all things faithfully.

Gra. Well, while I live I'll fear no other thing
So sore as keeping safe Nerissa's ring.



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Enter Salarino and Salanio. The names of these gentlemen

are variously spelled in the early Folios and Quartos, and the similarity of the abbreviations there used has led modern editors to question what is the proper assignment of speeches. As the two are not important persons of the play, our uncertainty as to Shakespeare's intention need

not trouble us. 5 I am to learn. We should now say, “I have to learn,” i.e. “I

do not know.” On the line, see Introduction, IV. d. 8

A trisyllable, as in Milton's Hymn on the Nativity, where it rhymes with “began.” See Introduction, IV. h. 2. 9 argosies: large merchant ships, which, it is now supposed,

took their name from the Dalmatian seaport Ragusa, sometimes called in sixteenth-century English Arragosa. The associations of the word are rich, as these vessels

had generally a precious freight. 11 pageants. Shakespeare probably had in mind here the

huge representations of divers objects — ships among them - drawn about the London streets in a procession, like the “floats” of modern times. Line 11 is parenthetical. (A pageant seems to have been, originally, the wagon or movable stage on which a single play of the Collective Mysteries was presented. The word was next applied to the short Scriptural play itself, as, for example, “the pageant of Noah's flood”; and later it was used for any

gorgeous spectacle.) 12 traffickers : traders ; here used, it is evident, for small trading-vessels.


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