The Merchant of Venice

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Act ii scene i. belmont. a room in portia's house.

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

MOROCCO

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 Phoebus' 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 loved it too: I would not change this hue, 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: 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 For my affection.

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 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.

PORTIA

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 advised.

MOROCCO

Nor will not. Come, bring me unto my chance.

PORTIA

First, forward to the temple: after dinner Your hazard shall be made.

MOROCCO

Good fortune then! To make me blest or cursed'st among men.

Cornets, and exeunt

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