The Merchant of Venice: Act 2, Scene 7
[Flourish of cornets.] Enter PORTIA
with [the PRINCE of] MOROCCO,
and both their TRAINS.
1. discover: reveal.
1Go draw aside the curtains and discover
2The several caskets to this noble prince.
3Now make your choice.
4The first, of gold, who this inscription bears,
5"Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire."
6The second, silver, which this promise carries,
7"Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves."
8. all as: equally.
8This third, dull lead, with warning all as blunt,
9"Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath."
10How shall I know if I do choose the right?
11The one of them contains my picture, prince:
12. then I am yours withal: i.e., then you will have me as a bride as well as having my picture.
12If you choose that, then I am yours withal.
13Some god direct my judgment! Let me see;
14I will survey the inscriptions back again.
15What says this leaden casket?
16"Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath."
17Must give: for what? for lead? hazard for lead?
18This casket threatens. Men that hazard all
19Do it in hope of fair advantages:
20A golden mind stoops not to shows of dross;
21. nor give: neither give.
21I'll then nor give nor hazard aught for lead.
22What says the silver with her virgin hue?
23"Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves."
24As much as he deserves! Pause there, Morocco,
25. even: impartial.
25And weigh thy value with an even hand:
26. estimation: valuation.
26If thou be'st rated by thy estimation,
27Thou dost deserve enough; and yet enough
28May not extend so far as to the lady:
29And yet to be afeard of my deserving
30. disabling: underrating, undervaluing.
30Were but a weak disabling of myself.
31As much as I deserve! Why, that's the lady:
32I do in birth deserve her, and in fortunes,
33In graces and in qualities of breeding;
34But more than these, in love I do deserve.
35What if I stray'd no further, but chose here?
36Let's see once more this saying graved in gold
37"Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire."
38Why, that's the lady; all the world desires her;
39From the four corners of the earth they come,
40. shrine: image.
40To kiss this shrine, this mortal-breathing saint:
41. Hyrcanian: a desolate area southeast of the Caspian Sea. deserts: unpopulated areas, wastes. 42. throughfares: thoroughfares.
41The Hyrcanian deserts and the vasty wilds
42Of wide Arabia are as thoroughfares now
43For princes to come view fair Portia:
44The watery kingdom, whose ambitious head
45Spits in the face of heaven, is no bar
46To stop the foreign spirits, but they come,
47As o'er a brook, to see fair Portia.
48One of these three contains her heavenly picture.
49Is't like that lead contains her? 'Twere damnation
50To think so base a thought: it were too gross
51. rib: enclose. cerecloth: shroud, wax cloth used in wrapping for burial.
51To rib her cerecloth in the obscure grave.
52Or shall I think in silver she's immured,
53. Being ten times undervalued to: which is worth only one tenth as much as.
53Being ten times undervalued to tried gold?
54O sinful thought! Never so rich a gem
55Was set in worse than gold. They have in England
56. angel: a gold coin which bore the figure of the archangel Michael. 57. insculp'd upon: engraved on the surface. Morocco goes on to make the point that whereas the figure of an angel is on the surface of the coin, the golden casket holds an angel (Portia's portrait) within.
56A coin that bears the figure of an angel
57Stamped in gold, but that's insculp'd upon;
58But here an angel in a golden bed
59Lies all within. Deliver me the key:
60Here do I choose, and thrive I as I may!
61There, take it, prince; and if my form lie there,
62Then I am yours.
[He unlocks the golden casket.]
62O hell! what have we here?
63. carrion Death: death's-head.
63A carrion Death, within whose empty eye
64There is a written scroll! I'll read the writing.
65"All that glitters is not gold;
66Often have you heard that told:
67Many a man his life hath sold
68But my outside to behold:
69Gilded tombs do worms enfold.
70Had you been as wise as bold,
71Young in limbs, in judgment old,
72. inscroll'd: written on this scroll.
72Your answer had not been inscroll'd:
73Fare you well; your suit is cold."
74Cold, indeed; and labor lost:
75Then, farewell, heat, and welcome, frost!
76Portia, adieu. I have too grieved a heart
77To take a tedious leave: thus losers part.
Exit [with his train].
78A gentle riddance. Draw the curtains, go.
79. complexion: "Complexion" can also mean "temperament," but it's clear that Portia does not want to be married to a black man.
79Let all of his complexion choose me so.