Gra. Now by this hand I gaue it to a youth, A kinde of boy, a little scrubbed boy, No higher then thy selfe, the Iudges Clearke, A prating boy that begg'd it as a Fee, I could not for my heart deny it him

Por. You were too blame, I must be plaine with you, To part so slightly with your wiues first gift, A thing stucke on with oathes vpon your finger, And so riueted with faith vnto your flesh. I gaue my Loue a Ring, and made him sweare Neuer to part with it, and heere he stands: I dare be sworne for him, he would not leaue it, Nor plucke it from his finger, for the wealth That the world masters. Now in faith Gratiano, You giue your wife too vnkinde a cause of greefe, And 'twere to me I should be mad at it

Bass. Why I were best to cut my left hand off, And sweare I lost the Ring defending it

Gra. My Lord Bassanio gaue his Ring away Vnto the Iudge that beg'd it, and indeede Deseru'd it too: and then the Boy his Clearke That tooke some paines in writing, he begg'd mine, And neyther man nor master would take ought But the two Rings

Por. What Ring gaue you my Lord? Not that I hope which you receiu'd of me

Bass. If I could adde a lie vnto a fault, I would deny it: but you see my finger Hath not the Ring vpon it, it is gone

Por. Euen so voide is your false heart of truth. By heauen I wil nere come in your bed Vntil I see the Ring

Ner. Nor I in yours, til I againe see mine

Bass. Sweet Portia, If you did know to whom I gaue the Ring, If you did know for whom I gaue the Ring, And would conceiue for what I gaue the Ring, And how vnwillingly I left the Ring, When nought would be accepted but the Ring, You would abate the strength of your displeasure? Por. If you had knowne the vertue of the Ring, Or halfe her worthinesse that gaue the Ring, Or your owne honour to containe the Ring, You would not then haue parted with the Ring: What man is there so much vnreasonable, If you had pleas'd to haue defended it With any termes of Zeale: wanted the modestie To vrge the thing held as a ceremonie: Nerrissa teaches me what to beleeue, Ile die for't, but some Woman had the Ring? Bass. No by mine honor Madam, by my soule No Woman had it, but a ciuill Doctor, Which did refuse three thousand Ducates of me, And beg'd the Ring; the which I did denie him, And suffer'd him to go displeas'd away: Euen he that had held vp the verie life Of my deere friend. What should I say sweete Lady? I was inforc'd to send it after him, I was beset with shame and curtesie, My honor would not let ingratitude So much besmeare it. Pardon me good Lady, And by these blessed Candles of the night, Had you bene there, I thinke you would haue beg'd The Ring of me, to giue the worthie Doctor? Por. Let not that Doctor ere come neere my house, Since he hath got the iewell that I loued, And that which you did sweare to keepe for me, I will become as liberall as you, Ile not deny him any thing I haue, No, not my body, nor my husbands bed: Know him I shall, I am well sure of it. Lie not a night from home. Watch me like Argos, If you doe not, if I be left alone, Now by mine honour which is yet mine owne, Ile haue the Doctor for my bedfellow

Nerrissa. And I his Clarke: therefore be well aduis'd How you doe leaue me to mine owne protection

Gra. Well, doe you so: let not me take him then, For if I doe, ile mar the yong Clarks pen

Ant. I am th' vnhappy subiect of these quarrels

The Merchant of Venice Page 33

William Shakespeare Plays

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