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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act II. Scene I.

The Merchant of Venice

Belmont.A Room in PORTIA’S House.

Flourish of Cornets.Enter the PRINCE OF MOROCCO, and his Followers; PORTIA, NERISSA, and Others of her Train.

Mor.Mislike me not for my complexion,

The shadow’d livery of the burnish’d sun,

To whom I am a neighbour and near bred.

Bring me the fairest creature northward born,

Where Phœbus’ fire scarce thaws the icicles,

And let us make incision for your love,

To prove whose blood is reddest, his or mine.

I tell thee, lady, this aspect of mine

Hath fear’d the valiant: by my love, I swear

The best regarded virgins of our clime

Have lov’d it too: I would not change this hue,

Except to steal your thoughts, my gentle queen.

Por.In terms of choice I am not solely led

By nice direction of a maiden’s eyes;

Besides, the lottery of my destiny

Bars me the right of voluntary choosing:

But if my father had not scanted me

And hedg’d me by his wit, to yield myself

His wife who wins me by that means I told you,

Yourself, renowned prince, then stood as fair

As any comer I have look’d on yet

For my affection.

Mor.Even for that I thank you:

Therefore, I pray you, lead me to the caskets

To try my fortune. By this scimitar,—

That slew the Sophy, and a Persian prince

That won three fields of Sultan Solyman,—

I would outstare the sternest eyes that look,

Outbrave the heart most daring on the earth,

Pluck the young sucking cubs from the she-bear,

Yea, mock the lion when he roars for prey,

To win thee, lady. But, alas the while!

If Hercules and Lichas play at dice

Which is the better man, the greater throw

May turn by fortune from the weaker hand:

So is Alcides beaten by his page;

And so may I, blind fortune leading me,

Miss that which one unworthier may attain,

And die with grieving.

Por.You must take your chance;

And either not attempt to choose at all,

Or swear before you choose, if you choose wrong,

Never to speak to lady afterward

In way of marriage: therefore be advis’d.

Mor.Nor will not: come, bring me unto my chance.

Por.First, forward to the temple: after dinner

Your hazard shall be made.

Mor.Good fortune then!

To make me blest or cursed’st among men![Cornets, and exeunt.