The Merchant of Venice

William Shakespeare
No Fear Act 5 Scene 1
No Fear Act 5 Scene 1 Page 8

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GRATIANO

(to NERISSA) By yonder moon I swear you do me wrong.
In faith, I gave it to the judge’s clerk.
Would he were gelt that had it, for my part,
Since you do take it, love, so much at heart.

GRATIANO

(to NERISSA) I swear by that moon over there that you’re doing me wrong! I’m telling the truth! I gave it to the judge’s clerk. I wish the guy I gave it to had been castrated, since you’re getting so upset about it.

PORTIA

145A quarrel, ho, already? What’s the matter?

PORTIA

What, an argument already? What’s the matter?

GRATIANO

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.”

GRATIANO

We’re arguing about a hoop of gold, a cheap little ring she gave me, that had a little inscription on it, nothing more than a knife-maker’s attempt at poetry. It said, “Love me and don’t leave me.”

NERISSA

150What 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,
155You should have been respective and have kept it.
Gave it a judge’s clerk! No, God’s my judge.
The clerk will ne'er wear hair on ’s face that had it.

NERISSA

How can you talk about the quality of the poem or the value of the ring? You swore to me when I gave it to you that you would wear it till you died, and that it would be buried with you. If you didn’t want to take care of it for my sake, you should have just because you made so many vows that you’d take care of it. And now you claim you gave it to a judge’s clerk! No, I swear to God that clerk will never grow a beard on his face.

GRATIANO

He will, an if he live to be a man.

GRATIANO

He will if he lives long enough to become a man.

NERISSA

Ay, if a woman live to be a man.

NERISSA

Yes, if a woman grows up to be a man.

GRATIANO

160Now, by this hand, I gave it to a youth,
A kind of boy, a little scrubbèd boy
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.

GRATIANO

I swear I gave it to a youth, a kind of boy, a little stunted boy, no taller than yourself. He was the judge’s clerk, a chatty boy who wanted it as a fee. I didn’t have the heart to say no to him.

PORTIA

165You 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 so riveted with faith unto your flesh.

PORTIA

I have to be honest with you. You were wrong to give away your wife’s first gift so thoughtlessly, a thing you swore to keep on your finger and bound faithfully to your body.