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Baff. No, by mine honour, madam, by my soul,
And begg'd the ring; the which I did deny him,
Of my dear friend. What fhould I fay, fweet lady?
I was befet with fhame and courtefy;
My honour would not let ingratitude
Por. Let not that doctor e'er come near my houfe:
I'll not deny him any thing I have,
No, not my body, nor my husband's bed:
Know him I fhall, I am well fure of it:
Lie not a night from home; watch me, like Argus:
Now, by mine honour, which is yet my own,
Ner. And I his clerk; therefore be well advis'd, How you do leave me to mine own protection.
Gra. Well, do you fo: let me not take him then; For, if I do, I'll mar the young clerk's pen.
Anth. I am the unhappy fubject of thefe quarrels. Por. Sir, grieve not you; You are welcome notwithstanding.
Baff. Portia, forgive me this enforced wrong;
Por. Mark you but that!
In both mine eyes he doubly fees himself:
Baff. Nay, but hear me :
Pardon this fault, and by my foul I swear,
Anth. I once did lend my body for his wealth 3; Which, but for him that had your husband's ring, [To Portia. Had quite mifcarry'd: I dare be bound again, My foul upon the forfeit, that your lord Will never more break faith advifedly.
Por. Then you fhall be his furety: Give him this; And bid him keep it better than the other.
Anth. Here, lord Baffanio; fwear to keep this ring. Baff. By heaven, it is the fame I gave the doctor! Por. I had it of him: pardon me, Baffanio; For by this ring the doctor lay with me.
Ner. And pardon me, my gentle Gratiano; For that fame fcrubbed boy, the doctor's clerk, In lieu of this, laft night did lie with me.
Gra. Why, this is like the mending of high-ways In fummer, where the ways are fair enough: What are we cuckolds, ere we have deferv'd it ?
Por. Speak not fo grofsly. You are all amaz'd ; Here is a letter, read it at your leisure; It comes from Padua, from Bellario:
There you fhall find, that Portia was the doctor;
Shall witness, I fet forth as foon as you,
2 Sewear by your double felf,] Double is here ufed for-full of duplicity. MALONE.
3for his wealth;] For his advantage; to obtain his hap pinefs. Wealth was, at that time, the term oppofite to adverfity, or calamity. JOHNSON.
And I have better news in ftore for you,
Anth. I am dumb.
Baff. 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.
Baff. Sweet doctor, you shall be my bedfellow : When I am abfent, then lie with my wife.
Anth. Sweet lady, you have given me life, and living;
For here I read for certain, that my fhips
Are fafely come to road.
Por. How now, Lorenzo?
My clerk hath fome good comforts too for you.
Lor. Fair ladies, you drop manna in the way
Por. It is almoft morning,
And yet, I am fure, you are not satisfy'd
Gra. Let it be fo: The firft inter'gatory,
Well, while I live, I'll fear no other thing
5 It has been lately discovered, that this fable is taken from a ftory in the Pecorone of Ser Giovanni Fiorentino, a novellift, who wrote in 1378. The story has been published in English, and I have epitomized the tranflation. The tranflator is of opinion, that the choice of the cafkets is borrowed from a tale of Boccace, which I have likewife abridged, though I believe that Shakfpeare must have had fome other novel in view. JOHNSON.
HERE lived at Florence, a merchant whofe name was
was and had three fons. Being near his
end, he called for the two eldeft, and left them heirs: to the youngest he left nothing. This youngeft, whofe name was Giannetto, went to his father, and faid, What has my father done? The father replied, Dear Giannetto, there is none to whom I with better than to you. Go to Venice to your godfather, whofe name is Anfaldo; he has no child, and has wrote to me often to fend you thither to him. He is the richest merchant amongst the Chriftians: if you behave well, you will be certainly a rich man. The fon answered, I am ready to do whatever my dear father fhall command: upon which he gave him his benediction, and in a few days died.
Giannetto went to Anfaldo, and prefented the letter given by the father before his death. Anfaldo reading the letter, cried out, My dearest godfon is welcome to my arms. He then asked news of his father. Giannetto replied, He is dead. I am much grieved, replied Anfaldo, to hear of the death of Bindo; but the joy I feel, in feeing you, mitigates my forrow. He conducted him to his houfe, and gave orders to his fervants, that Giannetto fhould be obeyed, and ferved with more attention than had been paid to himfelf. He then delivered him the keys of his ready money; and told him, Son, spend this money, keep a table, and make yourself known remember, that the more you gain the good will of every body, the more you will be dear to me.
Giannetto now began to give entertainments. He was more obedient and courteous to Anfaldo, than if he had been an hun. dred times his father. Every body in Venice was fond of him. Anfaldo could think of nothing but him; fo much was he pleased with his good manners and behaviour.
It happened, that two of his moft intimate acquaintance defigned to go with two fhips to Alexandria, and told Giannetto, he would do well to take a voyage and fee the world. I would go willingly, faid he, if my father Anfaldo will give leave. His
companions go to Anfaldo, and beg his permiflion for Giannetto to go in the fpring with them to Alexandria; and delire him to provide him a fhip. Anfaldo immediately procured a very fine. hip, loaded it with merchandize, adorned it with streamers, and furnished it with arms; and, as foon as it was ready, he gave orders to the captain and failors to do every thing that Giannetto commanded. It happened one morning early, that Giannetto faw a gulph, with a fine port, and afked the captain how the port was called? He replied that place belongs to a widow lady, who has ruined many gentlemen. In what manner? fays Giannetto. He answered, This lady is a fine and beautiful woman, and has made a law, that whoever arrives here is obliged to go to bed with her, and if he can have the enjoyment of her, he muft take her for his wife, and be lord of all the country; but if he cannot enjoy her, he lofes every thing he has brought with him. Giannetto, after a little reflection. tells the captain to get into the port. He was obeyed; and in an inftant they flide into the port fo easily that the other fhips perceived nothing.
The lady was foon informed of it, and fent for Giannetto, who waited on her immediately. She, taking him by the hand, asked him who he was? whence he came ? and if he knew the custom of the country? He answered, That the knowledge of that cuftom was his only reafon for coming. The lady paid him great honours, and fent for barons, counts, and knights in great numbers, who were her fubjects, to keep Giannetto company. Thefe nobles were highly delighted with the good breeding and manners of Giannetto; and all would have rejoiced to have him for their lord.
The night being come, the lady faid, it feems to be time to go to bed. Giannetto told the lady, he was entirely devoted to her fervice; and immediately two damfels enter with wine and fweetmeats. The lady intreats him to tatte the wine: he takes the sweetmeats, and drinks fome of the wine, which was prepared with ingredients to caufe fleep. He then goes into the bed, where he inftantly falls afleep, and never wakes till late in the morning, but the lady rofe with the fun, and gave orders to unfoad the veffel, which the found full of rich merchandize. After nine o'clock the women fervants go to the bed-fide, order Giannetto to rife and be gone, for he had loft the fhip. The lady gave him a horfe and money, and he leaves the place very melancholy, and goes to Venice. When he arrives, he dares not return home for fhame: but at night goes to the house of a friend, who is furprifed to fee him, and inquires of him the caufe of his return? He anfwers, his fhip had struck on a rock in the night, and was broke in pieces.
This friend, going one day to make a vifit to Anfaldo, found him very difconfolate. I fear, fays Anfaldo, fo much, that this fon of mine is dead, that I have no reit. His friend told him, that