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The Merchant of Venice - Act 2, scene 9
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Navigate this workThe Merchant of Venice - Act 2, scene 9
Act 2, scene 9
At Belmont the Prince of Arragon attempts to win Portia by choosing the silver chest, but finds in it the picture of a blinking idiot. He leaves. A messenger announces the arrival of a splendid envoy from another suitor. Nerissa prays that this one is Bassanio.Enter Nerissa and a Servitor.
1115 Quick, quick, I pray thee, draw the curtain straight.
1116 The Prince of Arragon hath ta’en his oath
1117 And comes to his election presently.
Enter ⌜the Prince of⌝ Arragon, his train, and Portia.
1118 Behold, there stand the caskets, noble prince.
1119 5 If you choose that wherein I am contained,
1120 Straight shall our nuptial rites be solemnized.
p. 851121 But if you fail, without more speech, my lord,
1122 You must be gone from hence immediately.
1123 I am enjoined by oath to observe three things:
1124 10 First, never to unfold to anyone
1125 Which casket ’twas I chose; next, if I fail
1126 Of the right casket, never in my life
1127 To woo a maid in way of marriage;
1128 Lastly, if I do fail in fortune of my choice,
1129 15 Immediately to leave you, and be gone.
1130 To these injunctions everyone doth swear
1131 That comes to hazard for my worthless self.
1132 And so have I addressed me. Fortune now
1133 To my heart’s hope! Gold, silver, and base lead.
1134 20 “Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he
1136 You shall look fairer ere I give or hazard.
1137 What says the golden chest? Ha, let me see:
1138 “Who chooseth me shall gain what many men
1139 25 desire.”
1140 What many men desire—that “many” may be
1142 By the fool multitude that choose by show,
1143 Not learning more than the fond eye doth teach,
1144 30 Which pries not to th’ interior, but like the martlet
1145 Builds in the weather on the outward wall,
1146 Even in the force and road of casualty.
1147 I will not choose what many men desire,
1148 Because I will not jump with common spirits
1149 35 And rank me with the barbarous multitudes.
1150 Why, then, to thee, thou silver treasure house.
1151 Tell me once more what title thou dost bear.
1152 “Who chooseth me shall get as much as he
p. 871154 40 And well said, too; for who shall go about
1155 To cozen fortune and be honorable
1156 Without the stamp of merit? Let none presume
1157 To wear an undeservèd dignity.
1158 O, that estates, degrees, and offices
1159 45 Were not derived corruptly, and that clear honor
1160 Were purchased by the merit of the wearer!
1161 How many then should cover that stand bare?
1162 How many be commanded that command?
1163 How much low peasantry would then be gleaned
1164 50 From the true seed of honor? And how much honor
1165 Picked from the chaff and ruin of the times,
1166 To be new varnished? Well, but to my choice.
1167 “Who chooseth me shall get as much as he
1169 55 I will assume desert. Give me a key for this,
⌜He is given a key.⌝
1170 And instantly unlock my fortunes here.
⌜He opens the silver casket.⌝
1171 Too long a pause for that which you find there.
1172 What’s here? The portrait of a blinking idiot
1173 Presenting me a schedule! I will read it.—
1174 60 How much unlike art thou to Portia!
1175 How much unlike my hopes and my deservings.
1176 “Who chooseth me shall have as much as he
1178 Did I deserve no more than a fool’s head?
1179 65 Is that my prize? Are my deserts no better?
1180 To offend and judge are distinct offices
1181 And of opposèd natures.
ARRAGON 1182 What is here?
1183 The fire seven times tried this;
1184 70 Seven times tried that judgment is
1185 That did never choose amiss.
1186 Some there be that shadows kiss;
1187 Such have but a shadow’s bliss.
1188 There be fools alive, iwis,
1189 75 Silvered o’er—and so was this.
1190 Take what wife you will to bed,
1191 I will ever be your head.
1192 So begone; you are sped.
1193 Still more fool I shall appear
1194 80 By the time I linger here.
1195 With one fool’s head I came to woo,
1196 But I go away with two.
1197 Sweet, adieu. I’ll keep my oath,
1198 Patiently to bear my wroth.⌜He exits with his train.⌝
1199 85 Thus hath the candle singed the moth.
1200 O, these deliberate fools, when they do choose,
1201 They have the wisdom by their wit to lose.
1202 The ancient saying is no heresy:
1203 Hanging and wiving goes by destiny.
PORTIA 1204 90Come, draw the curtain, Nerissa.
1205 Where is my lady?
PORTIA 1206 Here. What would my
1208 Madam, there is alighted at your gate
1209 95 A young Venetian, one that comes before
1210 To signify th’ approaching of his lord,
1211 From whom he bringeth sensible regreets;
1212 To wit (besides commends and courteous breath),
1213 Gifts of rich value; yet I have not seen
p. 911214 100 So likely an ambassador of love.
1215 A day in April never came so sweet,
1216 To show how costly summer was at hand,
1217 As this fore-spurrer comes before his lord.
1218 No more, I pray thee. I am half afeard
1219 105 Thou wilt say anon he is some kin to thee,
1220 Thou spend’st such high-day wit in praising him!
1221 Come, come, Nerissa, for I long to see
1222 Quick Cupid’s post that comes so mannerly.
1223 Bassanio, Lord Love, if thy will it be!