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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 honour to contain the ring,
You would not then have parted with the ring:
What man is there so much unreasonable,

you had pleas’d 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 mine honour, madam, by my soul,
No woman had it, but a civil doctor,
Which did refuse three thousand ducats of

And begg’d the ring ; the which I did deny him,
And suffer'd him to go displeas'd away ;
Even he that had held up the very

Of my dear friend. What should I say, sweet lady ?
I was enforc'd to send it after him ;
I was beset with shame and courtesy ;
My honour 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 begg'd
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 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 :
Lie not a night from home; watch me, like Argus :

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


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 th' unhappy subject of these quarrels.
Por. Sir, grieve not you ; You are welcome notwith-

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


lord Will never more break faith advisedly.

Por. Then you shall be bis 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!

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 :


shall find, that Portia was the doctor ;
Nerissa there, her clerk : Lorenzo here
Shall witness, I set forth as soon as you,
And but even 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 -
Are richly come to harbour suddenly:
You shall not know by what strange accident

[8] For his advantage; to obtain his happiness. Wealth was, at that time, the terin opposite to adversity or calamity. JOHNSON. -So, in The Litany: "LA all time of our tribulation; in all time of our wealth."


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 possess’d 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 intergatories,
And we will answer all things faithfully.

Gra. Let it be so: The first intergatory


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.


[9] It has been lately discovered, that this fable is taken from a story in the Pecorone of Ser Giovanni Fiorentino, a novelist who wrote in 1378. The story has been published in English, and I have epitomised the translation. The translator is of opinion, that the choice of the caskets is borrowed from a tale of Boccace, though I believe that Shakespeare must have had some other novel in View. JOHNSON.


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THERE lived at Florence a merchant, whose name was Bindo. He was rich, and had three sons. Being near his end, he called for the two eldest, and left them heirs : to the youngest he left nothing. This youngest, whose name was Giannetto, went to his father and said, What has my father done? The father replied, Dear Giannetto, there is none to whom I wish better than to you. Go to Venice to your godfather, whose name is Ansaldo; he has no child, and has wrote to me often to send you thither to him. He is the richest merchant amongst the Christians: if you behave well, you will certainly be a rich man. The son answered, I am ready to do whatever my dear father shall command : upon which he gave him his benediction, and in a few days died.

Giannetto went to Ansaldo, and presented the letter given by the father before his death. Ansaldo reading the letter, cried out, My dearest godson is welcome to my armg. He then asked news of his father. Giannetto replied, He is dead. I am much grieved, replied Ansaldo, to hear of the death of Bindo; but the joy I feel, in seeing you, mitigates my sorrow. He conducted him to his house, and gave orders to his servants, that Giannetto should be obeyed, and served with more attention than had been paid to himself. He then delivered him the keys of his ready money; and told him, Son, spend this money, keep a table, and make yourself kdown: remember, that the more you gain the good will of every body, the more you will be dear to me.

Giannetto now began to give entertainments. He was more obedient and courteous to Ansaldo, than if he had been an hundred times his father. Every body in Venice was fond of him. Ansaldo could think of nothing but him; so much was he pleased with his good manners and behaviour.

It happened, that two of his most intimate acquaintance designed to go with two ships to Alexandria, and told Giannetto, he would do well to take a voyage and see the world. I would go willingly, said he, if my father Ansaldo would give leave. His companions go to Ansaldo, and beg his permission for Giannetto to go in the spring with them to Alexandria; and desire him to provide him a ship. Ansaldo immediately procured a very fine sbip, loaded it with merchandize, adorned it with streamers, and furnished it with arms; and, as soon as it was ready, he gaye orders to the captain and sailors to do every thing that Giannetto commanded. It happened one morning early, that Giannetto saw a gulph, with a fine port, and asked the captain how the port was called? He replied, That place belongs to a widow iady, who has ruined many gentlemen. In what manner, said Giannetto. He answered, This lady is a fine and beautiful woman, and has made a law, that whoever arrives here is obliged to go to bed with her, and if he can ha the enjoyment of her, he must take her for his wife, and be lord of all the country; but if he cannot enjoy her, he loses every thing he bas brought with him. Giannetto, after a little reflec. tion, tells the captain to get into the port. He was obeyed; and in an instant they slide into port so easily that the other ships perceived nothing.

The lady was soon informed of it, and sent for Giannetto, who waited on her immediately She, taking him by the hand, asked him who he was? whence he came? and if he knew the custom of the country? He answered, That the knowledge of that custom was his only reason for coming. The lady paid him great honours, and sent for barons, counts, and knights in great numbers, who were her subjects, to keep Giannetto company: These oobles were highly delighted with the good breeding and manners of Giannetto ; and all would have rejoiced to have had him for their lord.

The night being come, the lady said, it seems to be time to go to bed. Giannetto told the lady, he was entirely devoted to her service; and immediately two damsels enter with wine and sweet-meats. The lady entreats him to taste the wine; he takes the sweet-meats, and drinks some of the wine, which was prepared with ingredients to cause sleep. He then goes into the bed, where he instantly falls asleep, and never wakes till late in the morning; but the lady rose with the sun, and gave orders to unload the vessel, which she found full of rich merchandize. After nine o'clock, the women servants go to the bed-side, order Giannetto to rise and begone, for he had lost the ship. The lady gave him a horse and money, and he leaves the place very melancholy, and goes to Venice. When he arrives he dares not return home for shame · but at night goes to the house of a friend, who is surprised to see hin, and

inquires of him the cause of his return. He answers, his ship had struck on a rock in the night, and was broke in pieces.

īnis friend, going one day to make a visit to Ansaldo, found him very disconsolate. I fear, says Ansaldo, so much, that this son of mine is dead, that I have no rest. His friend told him that he had been shipwrecked, and had lost his all, but that he himself was safe. Ansaldo instantly gets up, and runs to find him. My dear son, says he, you need not fear my displeasure; it is a common accident; trouble yourself no further. He takes him home, all the way telling him to be cheerful and easy

The news was soon known all over Venice, and every one was concerned for Giannetto. Some time after, his companions arriving from Alexandria very rich, demanded what was become of their friend, and having heard the story, ran to see him, and rejoiced with him for his safety ; telling him, that next spring he might gain as much as he lost the last. But Giannetto had no other thoughts than of his return to the lady ; and was resolved to marry her or die. Ansaldo told him frequently not to be cast down. Giannetto said, he should never be happy, till he was at liberty to make another voyage. Ansaldo provided another ship of more value than the first. He agaio entered the port of Belmont, and the lady looking on the port from her bed-chamber, and seeing the ship, asked her maid, 'if she knew the streamers ! the maid said, it was the ship of the young man who arrived the last year. You are in the right, answered the lady; he must surely bave a great regard for me, for never any one came a second time: the maid said, she had never seen a more agreeable man. He went to the castle, and presented himself to the lady ; who, as soon as she saw him, embraced him, and the day was passed in joy and revels. Bed-time being come, the lady entreated him to go to rest : when they were seated in the chamber, the two damsels enter with wine and sweet-meats; and having eat and drank them, they go to bed, and immediately Gianpetto falls asleep: the lady undressed, and lay down by his side ; but he waked not the whole night. In the morning the lady rises, and gives orders to strip the ship. He has a horse and money given to him, and away he goes, and never stops till he gets to Venice; and at night goes to the same friend, who with astonishment asked him, what was the matter? I am undone, says Giannetto. His friend answered, You are the cause of the ruin of Ansaldo, and your shame ought to be greater than the loss you bave suffered. Giannetto lived privately many days. At last, he took a resolution of seeing Ansaldo, who rose from his chair, and running to embrace him, told him he was welcome : Giannetto with tears returned his embraces. Apsaldo heard his tale: do got grieve, my dear son, says he, we have still enough : the sea enriches some men, others it ruins.

Poor Giannetto's head was day and night full of the thoughts of his bad success. When Ansaldo inquired what was the matter, he confessed, he never could be con• tented, till he was in a condition to regain all that he lost. When Ansaldo found him resolved, he began to sell every thing he had, to furnish this other fine ship with merchandize : but, as he wanted still ten thousand ducats, he applied himself to a Jew at Mestri, and borrowed them on condition, that if they were not paid on the feast of St. John in the next month of June, that the Jew might take a pound of flesh from any part of his body he pleased. Ansaldo agreed, and the Jew had an obligation drawn, and witnessed with all the form and ceremony necessary; and then counted the ten thousand ducats of gold, with which Ansaldo bought what was still wanting for the vessel. This last ship was finer and better freighted than the other two, and his companions made ready for the voyage, with a design that whatever they gained should be for their friend. When it was time to depart, Ansaldo told Giannetto, that since he well knew of the obligation to the Jew, he entreated, that if any misfortune happened, he would return to Venice, that he might see him before he died; and then he could leave the world with satisfaction. Giannetto promised to do every thiog that he conceived might give him pleasure. Ansaldo gave him bis blessing, they took their leave, and the ships set out. · Giannetto had notbing in his head but to steal into Belmont ; and he prevailed with one of the sailors in the night to sail the vessel into the port. It was told the lady, that Giannetto was arrived in port. She saw from the window the vessel, and immediately sent for him.

Gjanetto goes to the castle, the day is spent in joy and feasting; and to honour him, a tournament is ordered, and many barons and knights tilted that day. GianRetto did wonders, so well did he understand the lance, and was so graceful a figure on horseback : he pleased so much, that all were desirous to have him for their lord.

The lady, when it was the usual time, catching him by the hand, begged him to tuke his rest. When be passed the door of the chamber, one of the damsels in a whisper said to him, Make a pretence to drink the liquor, but touch not one drop.

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