Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Janelle Jenstad
Not Peer Reviewed

The Merchant of Venice (Folio 1, 1623)

Actus Secundus.
Enter Morochus a tawnie Moore all in white, and three or
foure followers accordingly, with Portia,
Nerrissa, and their traine.
Flo. Cornets.
Mor. Mislike me not for my complexion,
The shadowed liuerie of the burnisht sunne,
520To whom I am a neighbour, and neere bred.
Bring me the fairest creature North-ward borne,
Where Phoebus fire scarce thawes the ysicles,
And let vs make incision for your loue,
To proue whose blood is reddest, his or mine.
525I tell thee Ladie this aspect of mine
Hath feard the valiant, (by my loue I sweare)
The best regarded Virgins of our Clyme
Haue lou'd it to: I would not change this hue,
Except to steale your thoughts my gentle Queene.
530Por. In tearmes of choise I am not solie led
By nice direction of a maidens eies:
Besides, the lottrie of my destenie
Bars me the right of voluntarie choosing:
But if my Father had not scanted me,
535And hedg'd me by his wit to yeelde my selfe
His wife, who wins me by that meanes I told you,
Your selfe (renowned Prince) than stood as faire
As any commer I haue look'd on yet
For my affection.
540Mor. Euen for that I thanke you,
Therefore I pray you leade me to the Caskets
To trie my fortune: By this Symitare
That slew the Sophie, and a Persian Prince
That won three fields of Sultan Solyman,
545I would ore-stare the sternest eies that looke:
Out-braue the heart most daring on the earth:
Plucke the yong sucking Cubs from the she Beare,
Yea, mocke the Lion when he rores for pray
To win the Ladie. But alas, the while
550If Hercules and Lychas plaie at dice
Which is the better man, the greater throw
May turne by fortune from the weaker hand:
So is Alcides beaten by his rage,
And so may I, blinde fortune leading me
555Misse that which one vnworthier may attaine,
And die with grieuing.
Port. You must take your chance,
And either not attempt to choose at all,
Or sweare before you choose, if you choose wrong
560Neuer to speake to Ladie afterward
In way of marriage, therefore be aduis'd.
Mor. Nor will not, come bring me vnto my chance.
Por. First forward to the temple, after dinner
Your hazard shall be made.
565Mor. Good fortune then,
To make me blest or cursed'st among men.