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And that which you did swear to keep for me,
Ner. And I his clerk; therefore be well advised,
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 the unhappy subject of these quarrels.
Mark you but that!
Nay, but hear me.
Ant. I once did lend my body for his wealth ; 2
[To PORTIA. Had quite miscarried. I dare be bound again, My soul upon the forfeit, that your lord Will never more break faith advisedly.
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. Bass. By Heaven, it is the same I gave the doctor!
1 Double is here used for deceitful, full of duplicity.
2 i. e. for his advantage. VOL. II.
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 deserved it ?
Por. Speak not so grossly.--You are all amazed. Here is a letter; read it at your leisure ; It comes from Padua, from Bellario; 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, 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 harbor suddenly; You shall not know by what strange accident 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 ?
Ner. Ay, and I'll give them him without a fee.-
Lor. Fair ladies, you drop manna in the way
Por. It is almost morning,
Gra. Let it be so. The first intergatory
Of the Merchant of Venice the style is even and easy, with few peculiarities of diction, or anomalies of construction. The comic part raises laughter, and the serious fixes expectation. The probability of either one or the other story cannot be maintained. The union of two actions in one event is in this drama eminently happy. Dryden was much pleased with his own address in connecting the two plots of his Spanish Friar, which yet, I believe, the critic will find excelled by this play.