The Merchant of Venice

William Shakespeare
No Fear Act 5 Scene 1
No Fear Act 5 Scene 1 Page 10

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BASSANIO

    Sweet Portia,
If you did know to whom I gave the ring,
If you did know for whom I gave the ring,
195And 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.

BASSANIO

My dear Portia, if you knew who I gave the ring to, for whose sake I gave the ring to him, why I gave it to him, and how unwilling I was to leave it when he wouldn’t accept anything but the ring, you wouldn’t be so angry.

PORTIA

If you had known the virtue of the ring,
200Or half her worthiness that gave the ring,
Or your own honor to contain the ring,
You would not then have parted with the ring.
What man is there so much unreasonable,
If you had pleased to have defended it
205With any terms of zeal, wanted the modesty
To urge the thing held as a ceremony?
Nerissa teaches me what to believe.
I’ll die for ’t but some woman had the ring.

PORTIA

If you’d known how much that ring meant, how much the woman who gave it to you is worth, or how much your honor depended on your keeping the ring, you wouldn’t have let it go. Who would be so unreasonable as to insist on taking the ring if you’d defended it with any kind of zeal? Who would have had so little self-restraint that they’d insist on getting a ring with ceremonial value? Nerissa’s got the right idea. I’ll bet my life you gave some woman the ring!

BASSANIO

No, by my honor, madam, by my soul,
210No woman had it but a civil doctor,
Which did refuse three thousand ducats of me
And begged the ring, the which I did deny him
And suffered him to go displeased away—
Even he that did uphold the very life
215Of my dear friend. What should I say, sweet lady?
I was enforced to send it after him.
I was beset with shame and courtesy.
My honor would not let ingratitude
So much besmear it. Pardon me, good lady,
220For by these blessèd candles of the night,
Had you been there I think you would have begged
The ring of me to give the worthy doctor.

BASSANIO

No, I swear, madam. No woman got it from me, but an expert in civil law who refused three thousand ducats but asked instead for the ring, which I denied him. I watched him leave looking discontented, even though he had saved the life of my good friend. What could I say, my dear? I had to send it to him. I was ashamed and wanted to show my good manners. I just couldn’t dishonor myself by acting ungrateful to him. Please forgive me, good lady. If you’d been there, I think you would have begged me to give him the ring.