Open Source Shakespeare

The Merchant of Venice

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Act II, Scene 1

Belmont. A room in PORTIA’S house.


Flourish of cornets. Enter the PRINCE OF MOROCCO [p]and his train; PORTIA, NERISSA, and others attending

  • Prince of Morocco. Mislike me not for my complexion, 515
    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 Phoebus' fire scarce thaws the icicles,
    And let us make incision for your love, 520
    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 loved it too: I would not change this hue, 525
    Except to steal your thoughts, my gentle queen.
  • Portia. 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: 530
    But if my father had not scanted me
    And hedged 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 535
    For my affection.
  • Prince of Morocco. 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 540
    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, 545
    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; 550
    And so may I, blind fortune leading me,
    Miss that which one unworthier may attain,
    And die with grieving.
  • Portia. You must take your chance,
    And either not attempt to choose at all 555
    Or swear before you choose, if you choose wrong
    Never to speak to lady afterward
    In way of marriage: therefore be advised.
  • Prince of Morocco. Nor will not. Come, bring me unto my chance.
  • Portia. First, forward to the temple: after dinner 560
    Your hazard shall be made.
  • Prince of Morocco. Good fortune then!
    To make me blest or cursed'st among men.

[Cornets, and exeunt]