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Act 2, Scene 1

[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,     [5]
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     [10]
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     [15]
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     [20]
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     [25]
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,     [30]
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;     [35]
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     [40]
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     [45]
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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