Por. Behold, there stand the caskets noble Prince, If you choose that wherein I am contain'd, Straight shall our nuptiall rights be solemniz'd: But if thou faile, without more speech my Lord, You must be gone from hence immediately

Ar. I am enioynd by oath to obserue three things; First, neuer to vnfold to any one Which casket 'twas I chose; next, if I faile Of the right casket, neuer in my life To wooe a maide in way of marriage: Lastly, if I doe faile in fortune of my choyse, Immediately to leaue you, and be gone

Por. To these iniunctions euery one doth sweare That comes to hazard for my worthlesse selfe

Ar. And so haue I addrest me, fortune now To my hearts hope: gold, siluer, and base lead. Who chooseth me must giue and hazard all he hath. You shall looke fairer ere I giue or hazard. What saies the golden chest, ha, let me see. Who chooseth me, shall gaine what many men desire: What many men desire, that many may be meant By the foole multitude that choose by show, Not learning more then the fond eye doth teach, Which pries not to th' interior, but like the Martlet Builds in the weather on the outward wall, Euen in the force and rode of casualtie. I will not choose what many men desire, Because I will not iumpe with common spirits, And ranke me with the barbarous multitudes. Why then to thee thou Siluer treasure house, Tell me once more, what title thou doost beare; Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserues: And well said too; for who shall goe about To cosen Fortune, and be honourable Without the stampe of merrit, let none presume To weare an vndeserued dignitie: O that estates, degrees, and offices, Were not deriu'd corruptly, and that cleare honour Were purchast by the merrit of the wearer; How many then should couer that stand bare? How many be commanded that command? How much low pleasantry would then be gleaned From the true seede of honor? And how much honor Pickt from the chaffe and ruine of the times, To be new varnisht: Well, but to my choise. Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserues. I will assume desert; giue me a key for this, And instantly vnlocke my fortunes here

Por. Too long a pause for that which you finde there

Ar. What's here, the portrait of a blinking idiot Presenting me a scedule, I will reade it: How much vnlike art thou to Portia? How much vnlike my hopes and my deseruings? Who chooseth me, shall haue as much as he deserues. Did I deserue no more then a fooles head, Is that my prize, are my deserts no better? Por. To offend and iudge are distinct offices, And of opposed natures

Ar. What is here? The fier seauen times tried this, Seauen times tried that iudgement is, That did neuer choose amis, Some there be that shadowes kisse, Such haue but a shadowes blisse: There be fooles aliue Iwis Siluer'd o're, and so was this: Take what wife you will to bed, I will euer be your head: So be gone, you are sped

Ar. Still more foole I shall appeare By the time I linger here, With one fooles head I came to woo, But I goe away with two. Sweet adue, Ile keepe my oath, Patiently to beare my wroath

Por. Thus hath the candle sing'd the moath: O these deliberate fooles when they doe choose, They haue the wisdome by their wit to loose

Ner. The ancient saying is no heresie, Hanging and wiuing goes by destinie

Por. Come draw the curtaine Nerrissa. Enter Messenger.

Mes. Where is my Lady? Por. Here, what would my Lord? Mes. Madam, there is a-lighted at your gate A yong Venetian, one that comes before To signifie th' approaching of his Lord, From whom he bringeth sensible regreets; To wit (besides commends and curteous breath) Gifts of rich value; yet I haue not seene So likely an Embassador of loue. A day in Aprill neuer came so sweete To show how costly Sommer was at hand, As this fore-spurrer comes before his Lord

Por. No more I pray thee, I am halfe a-feard Thou wilt say anone he is some kin to thee, Thou spend'st such high-day wit in praising him: Come, come Nerryssa, for I long to see Quicke Cupids Post, that comes so mannerly

Ner. Bassanio Lord, loue if thy will it be.


William Shakespeare
Classic Literature Library

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