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I swear to thee, even by thine own fair eyes,
Mark you but that!
Nay, but hear me : Pardon this fault, and by my soul I swear, I never more will break an path with thee. Anth. I once did lend my body for his
wealth ;5 Which, but for him that had your husband's
ring, Had quite miscarry'd : 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 tbis; And bid him keep it better than the other. Anth. Here, lord Bassanio; swear to keep this ring
3 In each eye, one :] i. e. one self. E.
swear by your double self,] Double is here used for full of duplicity. Malone.
-for 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, Fi in all time of our wealth." STEEVENS.
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?
6 For by this ring the doctor lay with me.
e.] By means of this ring, considered as the proof of Bassanio's infidelity, having used it, it may be supposed, as a kind of token or passport by which he obtained admission to her bed. E.
7 Why this is like the mending of highways, &c.] The aptitude of this comparative illustration is not, at first view, very discoverable': The purpose of mending roads, or highways, even when they stand but little in need of repair, must be that of rendering them still, in some degree, better ; but how a wife can expect that her husband will be improved by a treatment of the kind here alluded to, it is difficult to say. Perhaps, as behaviour of this nature in wives has been sometimes considered as a punishment inflicted for the misconduct of their husbands, Gratiano may mean to remark, that the unkindness done to them, upon the present occasion, is premature and unnecessary, and like mending highways in summer, forasmuch as they have not, certainly, as yet merited it, and, perchance, never may hereafter; or, possibly, in a somewhat grosser sense, that, in so suddenly providing themselves with gallants, the ladies have exhibited a kind of superfluous caution, and, as it were,
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
amaz'd: Here is a letter, read it at your leisure ; [To Bus. 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 return'd ; I have not yet Enter'd my house.--Anthonio, you are welcome; And I have better news in store for
thrown away their pains, having had so little opportunity of experiencing any denierit in their spouses.
may, to some persons, appear a more proper term to follow summer, than where, but the latter heightens the comparison by leaving us to conclude that this absurd“ mending of the ways in summer," was of such, as did not want it at any time. CAPELL.
Viewed in this light, the thought is considerably strengthened by the mention of summer, the season, when the inconvenience even of bad roads is, comparatively speaking, little felt. E.
8 And I have better news in store for you,] There is not, perhaps, to be found in the dramatic writings of any poet a more lame, awkard, and inartificial expedient, for suddenly bringing on a general satisfaction in the catastrophe, than that which here is had recourse to. How Portia should possess the means of acquiring intelligence respecting this happy reverse of Anthonio's fortune, earlier than hini. self, who is just arrived from the very same place,
you expect : unseal this letter soon; There
shall find three of your argosies Are richly come to harbour suddenly : You shall not know by what strange accident. I chanced on this letter. Anth.
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 bed
fellow ; When I am absent, then lie with my
wife. Anth. Sweet lady, you have given me life,
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,
is a matter wonderful to be conceived, and that she should desire to conceal from the knowledge of the company, a circumstance, in its nature so singular and curious, is little less extraordinary, E.
From the rich Jew, a special deed of gift,
Lor. Fair ladies, you drop manna in the way
It is almost morning, And yet, I am sure, you are not satisfy'd Of these events at full:
Let us go
; And charge us there upon interrogatories, And we will answer all things faithfully.
Gra. Let it be so: the first interrogatory, That
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 That I were couching, &c.] For the more common and natural phraseology—“ That I might be
couching, &c.” but, in one one of the quarto copies, the folios, and five succeding editors, it is, according to Mr. Capell,
« Till I were couching,” &c. E.
So sore, as keeping safe, &c.] Sore is, in this place, used adverbially, to signify-with a painful anxiety. E.