This page contains the original text of Act 2, Scene 1 of The Merchant of Venice. Shakespeare’s original The Merchant of Venice text is extremely long, so we’ve split the text into one Scene per page. All Acts and Scenes are listed on the The Merchant of Venice text page, or linked to from the bottom of this page.
ACT 2. SCENE 1. Belmont. A room in PORTIA’S house.
Flourish of cornets. Enter the PRINCE OF MOROCCO and his train; PORTIA, NERISSA, and others attending
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nor will not. Come, bring me unto my chance.
First, forward to the temple: after dinner
Your hazard shall be made.
Good fortune then!
To make me blest or cursed’st among men.
Cornets, and exeunt
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