Por. A quarrel, ho, already? what's the matter?
Gra. About a hoop of gold, a paltry ring
That she did give me; whose posy was
For all the world, like cutler's poetry?
Upon a knife, Love me, and leave me not.

Ner. What talk you of the posy, or the value ?
You swore to me, when I did give it you,
That you would wear it till your hour of death;
And that it should lie with you in your grave:
Though not for me, yet for your vehement oaths,
You should have been respective,' and have kept it.
Gave it a judge's clerk!—but well I know,
The clerk will ne'er wear hair on his face, that had it.
Gra. He will, an if he live to be a man.
Ner. Ay, if a woman live to be a man.
Gra. Now, by this hand, I gave it to a youth,
A kind of boy; a little scrubbed boy,
No higher than thyself, the judge's clerk;
A prating boy,2 that begg'd it as a fee;

8 That she did give me; whose posy was -] For the sake of measure, I suppose we should read:

“That she did give to me; &c. So, afterwards:

“Now, by this hand, I gave it to a youth.” Steevens. 9 like cutler's poetry --) Knives, as Sir J. Hawkins ob. serves, were formerly inscribed, by means of aqua fortis, with short sentences in distich. In Decker's Satiromastix, Sir Ed. ward Vaughan, says: “You shall swear by Phæbus, who is your poet's good lord and master, that hereafter you will not hire Horace to give you poesies for rings, or handkerchers, or knives, which you understand not.” Reed.

1- have been respective,] Respective has the same meaning as respectful. Mr. M. Mason thinks it rather means regardful. See Ring Fohn, Act I. Steevens.

Chapman, Marston, and other poets of that time, use this word in the same sense. [i. e. for respectful.] Malone. 2 a youth

A kind of boy; a little scrubbed boy,
No higher than thyself, the judge's clerk;

A prating boy, &c.] It is certain from the words of the context and the tenour of the story, that Gratiano does not here speak contemptuously of the judge's clerk, who was no other than Nerissa disguised in man's clothes. He only means to de. scribe the person and appearance of this supposed youth, which he does by insinuating what seemed to be the precise time of his I could not for my heart deny it him.

Por. You were to blame, I must be plain with you,
To part so slightly with your wife's first gift;
A thing stuck on with oaths upon your finger,
And riveted so with faith unto your flesh.
I gave my love a ring, and made him swear
Never to part with it; and here he stands;
I dare be sworn for him, he would not leave it,
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 of grief;
An 'twere to me, I should be mad at it.
· Bass. Why, I were best to cut my left hand off,
And swear, I lost the ring defending it. [Aside.

Gra. My lord Bassanio gave his ring away
Unto the judge that begg'd it, and, indeed,
Deserv'd it too; and then the boy, his clerk,
That took some pains in writing, he begg'd mine:

age: he represents him as having the look of a young stripling, of a boy beginning to advance towards puberty. I am therefore of opinion, that the poet wrote:

“- a little stubbed boy." In many counties it is a common provincialism to call young birds not yet fledged stubbed young ones. But, what is more to our purpose, the author of The History and Antiquities of Glastonbury, printed by Hearne, an antiquarian, and a plain unaffected writer, says, that “ Saunders must be a stubbed boy, if not a man, at the dissolution of Abbeys,” &c. edit. 1722, Pref. sig. n. 2. It therefore seems to have been a common expression for stripling, the very idea which the speaker means to convey. If the emen. dation be just here, we should also correct Nerissa's speech which follows:

“ For that same stubbed boy, the doctor's clerk,

“ In lieu of this did lie with me last night.” T. Warton. I believe scrubbed and stubbed have a like meaning, and signify stunted, or shrub-like. So, in P. Holland's translation of Pliny's Natural History: “ – but such will never prove fair trees, but skrubs only.” Steevens.

Stubbed in the sense contended for by Mr. Warton was in use so late as the Restoration. In The Parliamentary Register, July 30, 1660, is an advertisement enquiring after a person described as" a thick short stubbed fellow, round faced, ruddy complexion, dark brown hair and eyebrows, with a sad gray suit.” Reed.

Scrubbed perhaps meant dirty, as well as short. Cole, in his Dictionary, 1672, renders it by the Latin word squalidus.

Malone. VOL. IV.


And neither man, nor master, would take aught
But the two rings.

What ring gave you, my lord?
Not that, I hope, which you receiv'd of me.

Bass. If I could add a lie unto a fault,
I would deny it; but you see, my finger
Hath not the ring upon it, it is gone.

Por. Even so void is your false heart of truth.
By heaven, I will ne'er come in your bed
Until I see the ring.

Nor I in yours,
Till I again see mine.

Sweet Portia,
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 naught would be accepted but the ring,
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, s
You would not then have parted with the ring.
What man is there so much unreasonable,
If you had pleas'd to have defended it
With any terms of zeal, wanted the modesty
To urge the thing held as a ceremony ?"

3 - contain the ring, ] The old copies concur in this reading.

Fohnson. Mr. Pope and the other modern editors read-to retain, but contain might in our author's time have had nearly the same meaning. The word has been already employed in this sense:

Cannot contain their urine for affection.” So also, in Montaigne's Essaies, translated by Florio, 1603, B. II, c. üi: “Why dost thou complaine against this world? It doth not containe thee: if thou livest in paine and sorow, thy base courage is the cause of it; to die there wanteth but will." Again, in Bacon's Essaies, 4to. 1625, p. 327: “To containe an. ger from mischiefe, though it take hold of a man, there be two things." Malone. 4 What man- wanted the modesty

To urge the thing held as a ceremony? This is a very licen. tious expression. The sense is, What man could have so little

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 me,
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 life
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, 5
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: If you do not, if I be left alone, Now, by mine honour, which is yet my own, I'll have that doctor for my bedfellow.

Ner. And I his clerk; therefore be well advis'd, How you do leave me to mine own protection.

modesty, or wanted modesty so much, as to urge the demand of a thing kept on an account in some sort religious. Johnson. Thus Calphurnia says to Julius Cæsar:

“ Cæsar, I never stood on ceremonies.Steevens. 5 candles of the night, 7 We have again the same expression in one of our author's Sonnets, in Macbeth, and Romeo and Ju. liet. It likewise occurs in Diella, Certaine Sonnets adjoyned to the amorous Poeme of Don Diego, and Gineura, by R. L. 1596:

“He who can count the candles of the skie,

“Reckon the sands whereon Pactolus flows,” &c. Malone. In some Saxon poetry preserved in Hickes's Thesaurus, Vol. I, p. 181, the sun is called God's candle. So that this periphrasis for the stars, such a favourite with our poet, might have been an expression not grown obsolete in his days. H. White.

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.
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,

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.

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 POR 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.
Bnoe. 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 high-ways
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:

6- swear by your double self,] Double is here used in a bad sense for-full of duplicity. Malone ,

7for his wealth ;] For his advantage; to obtain his happiness. Wealth was, at that time, the term opposite to adversity, or calamity. Johnson.

So, in The Litany: “ In all time of our tribulation; in all time of our wealth;" Steevens.

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