The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare, chapter name ACT 1 SCENE 4 —SALOON OF THE CASKETS IN PORTIA'S HOUSE, AT BELMONT


Flourish of Cornets. Enter the PRINCE OF MOROCCO, and his Train; PORTIA, NERISSA, and other of her Attendants.

Mor. Mislike me not for my complexion,

The shadow'd livery of the burning 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.

By love, I swear, I would not change this hue,

Except to steal your thoughts, my gentle queen.

I'll try my fortune;

E'en though I may (blind fortune leading me)

Miss that which one unworthier may attain,

And die with grieving.

Por. 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 advis'd.

Mor. Nor will not; come, bring me unto my chance.

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.

The first, of gold, who 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 deserves."

The third, dull lead, with warning all as blunt:

"Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath."

One of these three contains her heavenly picture.

Is't like that lead contains her? 'Twere perdition

To think so base a thought;

Or shall I think in silver she's immur'd,

Being ten times undervalued to tried gold?

O sinful thought. Never so rich a gem

Was set in worse than gold.

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. What have we here?

A carrion death, within whose empty eye

There is a written scroll. I'll read the writing.

"All that glitters is not gold,Often have you heard that told:

"Had you been as wise as bold,Young in limbs, in judgment old,Your answer had not been inscrol'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.


Por. A gentle riddance:—go:—

Let all of his complexion choose me so.