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The Merchant of Venice - Act 2, scene 1
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Navigate this workThe Merchant of Venice - Act 2, scene 1
Act 2, scene 1
At Belmont the Prince of Morocco greets Portia, who tells him the terms of the contest: if he chooses the wrong chest, he must never again seek to marry. He accepts these terms.Enter ⌜the Prince of⌝ Morocco, a tawny Moor all in
white, and three or four followers accordingly, with
Portia, Nerissa, and their train.
0521 Mislike me not for my complexion,
0522 The shadowed livery of the burnished sun,
0523 To whom I am a neighbor and near bred.
0524 Bring me the fairest creature northward born,
0525 5 Where Phoebus’ fire scarce thaws the icicles,
0526 And let us make incision for your love
0527 To prove whose blood is reddest, his or mine.
0528 I tell thee, lady, this aspect of mine
0529 Hath feared the valiant; by my love I swear
0530 10 The best regarded virgins of our clime
0531 Have loved it too. I would not change this hue
0532 Except to steal your thoughts, my gentle queen.
0533 In terms of choice I am not solely led
0534 By nice direction of a maiden’s eyes;
0535 15 Besides, the lott’ry of my destiny
0536 Bars me the right of voluntary choosing.
0537 But if my father had not scanted me
0538 And hedged me by his wit to yield myself
0539 His wife who wins me by that means I told you,
p. 450540 20 Yourself, renownèd prince, then stood as fair
0541 As any comer I have looked on yet
0542 For my affection.
MOROCCO 0543 Even for that I thank you.
0544 Therefore I pray you lead me to the caskets
0545 25 To try my fortune. By this scimitar
0546 That slew the Sophy and a Persian prince,
0547 That won three fields of Sultan Solyman,
0548 I would o’erstare the sternest eyes that look,
0549 Outbrave the heart most daring on the Earth,
0550 30 Pluck the young sucking cubs from the she-bear,
0551 Yea, mock the lion when he roars for prey,
0552 To win ⌜thee,⌝ lady. But, alas the while!
0553 If Hercules and Lychas play at dice
0554 Which is the better man, the greater throw
0555 35 May turn by fortune from the weaker hand;
0556 So is Alcides beaten by his ⌜page,⌝
0557 And so may I, blind Fortune leading me,
0558 Miss that which one unworthier may attain,
0559 And die with grieving.
PORTIA 0560 40 You must take your chance
0561 And either not attempt to choose at all
0562 Or swear before you choose, if you choose wrong
0563 Never to speak to lady afterward
0564 In way of marriage. Therefore be advised.
0565 45 Nor will not. Come, bring me unto my chance.
0566 First, forward to the temple. After dinner
0567 Your hazard shall be made.
MOROCCO 0568 Good fortune then,
0569 To make me blest—or cursed’st among men!