William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, famous for the lines, "prick us do we not laugh, wrong us will we not avenge", tells the story of love, honour and justice.
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HOME > Plays > The Merchant of Venice > Act II. Scene IVI.

The Merchant of Venice

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Act II. Scene VII.

Scene VII.—Belmont. A Room in PORTIA'S
House.

Flourish of Cornets. Enter PORTIA, with the
PRINCE OF MOROCCO, and their Trains.

Por. Go, draw aside the curtains, and dis-
cover
The several caskets to this noble prince.
Now make your choice.
Mor. The first, of gold, which this inscription
bears:
Who chooseth me shall gain what many men
desire.
The second, silver, which this promise carries:
Who chooseth me shall get as much as he de-
serves.
This third, dull lead, with warning all as blunt:
Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he
hath.
How shall I know if I do choose the right?
Por. The one of them contains my picture,
prince:
If you choose that, then I am yours withal.
Mor. Some god direct my judgment! Let me
see:
I will survey the inscriptions back again:
What says this leaden casket?
Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he
hath.
Must give: For what? for lead? hazard for
lead?
This casket threatens. Men that hazard all
Do it in hope of fair advantages:
A golden mind stoops not to shows of dross;
I'll then nor give nor hazard aught for lead.
What says the silver with her virgin hue?
Who chooseth me shall get as much as he de-
serves.
As much as he deserves! Pause there, Morocco,
And weigh thy value with an even hand.
If thou be'st rated by thy estimation,
Thou dost deserve enough; and yet enough
May not extend so far as to the lady:
And yet to be afeard of my deserving
Were but a weak disabling of myself.
As much as I deserve! Why, that's the lady:
I do in birth deserve her, and in fortunes,
In graces, and in qualities of breeding;
But more than these, in love I do deserve.
What if I stray'd no further, but chose here?
Let's see once more this saying grav'd in gold:
Who chooseth me shall gain what many men
desire.
Why, that's the lady: all the world desires her;
From the four corners of the earth they come,
To kiss this shrine, this mortal-breathing saint:
The Hyrcanian deserts and the vasty wilds
Of wide Arabia are as throughfares now
For princes to come view fair Portia:
The watery kingdom, whose ambitious head
Spits in the face of heaven, is no bar
To stop the foreign spirits, but they come,
As o'er a brook, to see fair Portia.
One of these three contains her heavenly picture.
Is't like that lead contains her? 'Twere dam-
nation
To think so base a thought: it were too gross
To rib her cerecloth in the obscure grave.
Or shall I think in silver she's immur'd,
Being ten times undervalu'd to tried gold?
O sinful thought! Never so rich a gem
Was set in worse than gold. They have in
England
A coin that bears the figure of an angel
Stamp'd in gold, but that's insculp'd upon;
But here an angel in a golden bed
Lies all within. Deliver me the key:
Here do I choose, and thrive I as I may!
Por. There, take it, prince; and if my form
lie there,
Then I am yours.
[He unlocks the golden casket.
Mor. O hell! what have we here?
A carrion Death, within whose empty eye
There is a written scroll I'll read the writing.
All that glisters is not gold;
Often have you heard that told:
Many a man his life hath sold
But my outside to behold:
Gilded tombs do worms infold.
Had you been as wise as bold,
Young in limbs, in judgment old,
Your answer had not been inscroll'd:
Fare you well; your suit is cold.
Cold, indeed; and labour lost:
Then, farewell, heat, and welcome, frost!
Portia, adieu. I have too griev'd a heart
To take a tedious leave: thus losers part.
[Exit with his Train. Flourish of Cornets.
Por. A gentle riddance. Draw the curtains:
go.
Let all of his complexion choose me so.
[Exeunt.
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