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  • Title: The Merchant of Venice (Folio 1, 1623)
  • Editor: Janelle Jenstad

  • Copyright Janelle Jenstad. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Janelle Jenstad
    Not Peer Reviewed

    The Merchant of Venice (Folio 1, 1623)

    The Merchant of Venice. 183
    When neither is attended: and I thinke
    The Nightingale if she should sing by day
    When euery Goose is cackling, would be thought
    2520No better a Musitian then the Wren?
    How many things by season, season'd are
    To their right praise, and true perfection:
    Peace, how the Moone sleepes with Endimion,
    And would not be awak'd.
    2525Musicke ceases.
    Lor. That is the voice,
    Or I am much deceiu'd of Portia.
    Por. He knowes me as the blinde man knowes the
    Cuckow by the bad voice?
    2530Lor. Deere Lady welcome home?
    Por. We haue bene praying for our husbands welfare
    Which speed we hope the better for our words,
    Are they return'd?
    Lor. Madam, they are not yet:
    2535But there is come a Messenger before
    To signifie their comming.
    Por. Go in Nerrissa,
    Giue order to my seruants, that they take
    No note at all of our being absent hence,
    2540Nor you Lorenzo, Iessica nor you.
    A Tucket sounds.
    Lor. Your husband is at hand, I heare his Trumpet,
    We are no tell-tales Madam, feare you not.
    Por. This night methinkes is but the daylight sicke,
    2545It lookes a little paler, 'tis a day,
    Such as the day is, when the Sun is hid.

    Enter Bassanio, Anthonio, Gratiano, and their

    Bas. We should hold day with the Antipodes,
    2550If you would walke in absence of the sunne.
    Por. Let me giue light, but let me not be light,
    For a light wife doth make a heauie husband,
    And neuer be Bassanio so for me,
    But God sort all: you are welcome home my Lord.
    2555Bass. I thanke you Madam, giue welcom to my friend
    This is the man, this is Anthonio,
    To whom I am so infinitely bound.
    Por. You should in all sence be much bound to him,
    For as I heare he was much bound for you.
    2560Anth. No more then I am wel acquitted of.
    Por. Sir, you are verie welcome to our house:
    It must appeare in other waies then words,
    Therefore I scant this breathing curtesie.
    Gra. By yonder Moone I sweare you do me wrong,
    2565Infaith I gaue it to the Iudges Clearke,
    Would he were gelt that had it for my part,
    Since you do take it Loue so much at hart.
    Por. A quarrel hoe alreadie, what's the matter?
    Gra. About a hoope of Gold, a paltry Ring
    2570That she did giue me, whose Poesie was
    For all the world like Cutlers Poetry
    Vpon a knife; Loue mee, and leaue mee not.
    Ner. What talke you of the Poesie or the valew:
    You swore to me when I did giue it you,
    2575That you would weare it til the houre of death,
    And that it should lye with you in your graue,
    Though not for me, yet for your vehement oaths,
    You should haue beene respectiue and haue kept it.
    Gaue it a Iudges Clearke: but wel I know
    2580The Clearke wil nere weare haire on's face that had it.
    Gra. He wil, and if he liue to be a man.
    Nerrissa. I, if a Woman liue to be a man.
    Gra. Now by this hand I gaue it to a youth,
    A kinde of boy, a little scrubbed boy,
    2585No 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,
    2590A 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,
    2595Nor 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,
    2600And 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,
    2605And 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,
    2610I 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.
    2615Ner. 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,
    2620And 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,
    2625Or 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
    2630To 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,
    2635Which 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?
    2640I 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,
    2645Had you bene there, I thinke you would haue beg'd
    The Ring of me, to giue the worthie Doctor?
    Q2 Por.