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A kind of boy, a little scrubbed boy,

70 No higher than thyself, the judge's clerk, A prating boy, that begged it as a fee : I could not for my heart deny it him.

Portia. You were to blame-I must be plain with youTo part so slightly with your wife's first gift; 75 A thing stuck on with oaths upon your finger, And riveted with faith unto your flesh. I gave my love a ring, and made him swear

[Bassanio walks aside in great confusion. Never to part with it; and here he stands ; I dare be sworn for him, he would not leave it 80 Nor pluck it from his finger, for the wealth That the world masters. Now, in faith, Gratiano, You give your wife too unkind a cause for grief : An 'twere to me, I should be mad at it. Bassanio [aside]. Why, I were best to cut my left hand off,

85 And swear I lost the ring defending it.

Gratiano. My Lord Bassanio gave his ring away Unto the judge that begged it, and indeed Deserved it too ; and then the boy, his clerk, That took some pains in writing, he begged mine : go And neither man nor master would take aught But the two rings. Portia.

What ring gave you, my lord ? Not that, I hope, which you received of me. Bassanio [holding up his hand). If I could add a lie

unto a fault, I would deny it; but you see my finger

95 Hath not the ring upon it-it is gone.

Portia. Even so void is your false heart of truth. [She walks away as if in anger, Bassanio following her.

Bassanio. If you did know to whom I gave the ring, If you 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.

Portia. If you had known the virtue of the ring, Or half her worthiness that gave the ring,

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

100 JIO


What man is there so much unreasonable,
If you had pleased to have defended it
With any terms of zeal, wanted the modesty
To urge the thing held as a ceremony ?

[She stops suddenly and faces him. Nerissa teaches me what to believe : I'll die for 't, but some woman had the ring.

Bassanio. No, by mine honour, madam, by my soul, No woman had it, but a civil doctor,

115 Which did refuse three thousand ducats of me, And begged the ring : the which I did deny him, And suffered him to go displeased away; Even he that had held up 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 So much besmear it. Pardon me, good lady ; For, by these blessed candles of the night,

125 Had you been there, I think you would have begged The ring of me to give the worthy doctor.

Portia. Let not that doctor e'er come near my house : Since he hath got the jewel that I loved, And that which you did swear to keep for me, 130 I will become as liberal as you ; I'll not deny him anything I have.

Antonio. I am the unhappy subject of these quarrels. Portia. Sir, grieve not you; you are welcome not

withstanding Bassanio. Portia, forgive me this enforced wrong ; 135 And, in the hearing of these many friends, I swear to thee, even by thine own fair eyes, Wherein I see myself, Portia.

Mark you but that ! In both my eyes he doubly sees himself; In each eye, one : swear by your double self, 140 And there's an oath of credit. Bassanio.

Nay, but hear me : Pardon this fault, and by my soul I swear, I never more will break an oath with thee.

Antonio. I once did lend my body for his wealth ; Which, but for him that had your husband's ring, 145 Had quite miscarried : I dare be bound again,

this ring.

My soul upon the forfeit, that your lord
Will never more break faith advisedly.
Portia. Then you shall be his surety. [She puts the ring

into his hand.] Give him this, And bid him keep it better than the other. 150

Antonio [giving it). Here, Lord Bassanio; swear to keep Bassanio. By heaven! it is the same I gave the doctor! Portia. I had it of him. [Nerissa restores Gratiano's

ring.] You are all amazed : Here is a letter; read it at your leisure ; It comes from Padua, from Bellario :

155 There you 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 returned, I have not yet Entered my house. Antonio, you are welcome ; 160 And I have better news in store for you Than you expect : unseal this letter soon.

[Antonio opens the letter. Bassanio. Were you the doctor and I knew you not ? Antonio. Sweet lady, you have given me life and

living ; For here I read that certain of my ships

165 Are safely come to road. Portia.

How now, Lorenzo ! My clerk hath some good comforts too for you. Nerissa. Aye, and I'll give them him without a fee.

[She puts the deed into his hands. There do I give to you and Jessica, From the rich Jew, a special deed of gift,

170 After his death, of all he dies possessed of.

Lorenzo. Fair ladies, you drop manna in the way Of starvèd people. Portia.

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

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

[They all go merrily into the house.



SCENE I. A ROYAL GUEST. King Edward IV, in disguise, has met John Hobs, the

honest tanner of Tamworth, and for a jest has promised to sup with him as Ned, the King's butler.

Enter Hobs and his daughter Nell. Hobs. Come, Nell! come, daughter. Is your hands and your face washed ?

Nell Aye, forsooth, father.

Hobs. Ye must be cleanly, I tell ye; for there comes a courtnol hither to-night, the King's mastership's 5 butler, Ned, a spruce youth; but beware ye be not in love nor overtaken by him, for courtiers be slippery lads.

Nell. No, forsooth, father.
Hobs. God's blessing on thee!

on thee! That half-year's schooling at Lichfield was better to thee than house and 10 land. It has put such manners into thee-Aye, forsooth, and No, forsooth, at every word. You have a clean smock

I like your apparel well. Is supper ready ? Nell. Aye, forsooth, father.

Hobs. Have we a good barley bag-pudding, a piece of 15 fat bacon, a god cow-heel, a hard cheese, and a brown loaf ?

Nell. All this, forsooth, and more. Ye shall have a posset; but indeed the rats have spoiled your hard cheese.

Hobs. Now, the devil choke them! So they have eat me a farthing candle the other night.

Dudgeon (within). What, master, master !
Hobs. How now, knave? what say'st thou, Dudgeon ?
Dudgeon. Here's guests come. Where's Helen ?

25 Hobs. What guests be they ?

Dudgeon. A courtnol; one Ned, the King's butcher, he says, and his friend too.

Hobs. Ned, the King's butcher ? Ha, ha! the King's butler. Take their horses and walk them, and bid them 30


20 40

come near house. Nell, lay the cloth and clap supper o' the board.

[Exit Neu. Enter King Edward and Sellenger. Mass, here's Ned, indeed, and another misproud ruffian. Welcome, Ned! I like thy honesty; thou keepest promise.

35 King. I' faith, honest tanner, I'll ever keep promise with thee. Prithee, bid my friend welcome.

Hobs. By my troth, ye are both welcome to Tamworth. Friend, I know not your name.

Sellenger. My name is Tom Twist.
Hobs. Believe, ye that list.

But ye are welcome both; and I like you both well but for one thing.

Sellenger. What 's that ?

Hobs. Nay, that I keep to myself; for I sigh to see 45 and think that pride brings many one to extruction.

King. Prithee, tell us thy meaning.

Hobs. Troth, I doubt ye ne'er came truly by all these gay rags. 'Tis not your bare wages and thin fees ye have of the King can keep ye thus fine; but either ye 50 must rob the King privily, or his subjects openly, to maintain your prodigality.

Sellenger. Think'st thou so, tanner ?

Hobs. 'Tis no matter what I think. Come, let 's go to supper. What Nell! What Dudgeon! Where be 55 these folks ?

Enter Nell and Dudgeon, with a table covered.
Daughter, bid my friends welcome.
Nell. Ye are welcome, gentlemen, as I may say.
Sellenger. I thank ye, fair maid.

[They both kiss her. King. A pretty wench, by my fay!

60 Hobs. How likest her, Ned ?

King. I like her so well, I would you would make me your son-in-law.

Hobs. And I like thee so well, Ned, that, hadst thou an occupation (for service is no heritage: a young courtier 65 and an old beggar), I could find in my heart to cast her away upon thee; and if thou wilt forsake the court and turn tanner, or bind thyself to a shoemaker in

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